Afghans Need Islam Not Talibans

 

Flag of Taliban

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US Central Command in Qatar has opened negotiations with Taliban leadership ahead of planned exit from Afghanistan. Talibans have proved two things. One, they are fearlessly loyal to their religion. Two, they are an invincible fighting force. Afghan Mujahideen faced off two superpowers back to back. An accomplishment second only to another nation, 1400 years ago, in 6th century Arabia. Why then did Talibans fail as a government?

6th century Arabia was considered a backyard of Persia, much like north Africa was for Rome. Present day Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine were under Roman Empire, while Iraq, Iran and Yemen were Persian strongholds. In the middle was a big desert inhabited by lawless bedouins. Ancient civilizations of Nile, Palmyra, Petra, Babylon and Sana overshadowed the desert Arabs, who had no written law, constitution, government structure, legislative assemblies or judicial systems. They resembled Native American (unfortunately and rudely called Red Indians) tribes in North America. Their backwardness was a natural boundary for expansionist empires.

Establishment of the first Islamic State in Medina by the Holy Prophet Muhammad sallillahu alaihi wa sallam changed all that, with remarkable speed. Lawless bedouins became the defenders of the Holy Law. From pagan culture they became the vanguards of Monotheistic belief. A nation known for highway robbery challenged the might and prestige of Empires and Emperors. It was not because they were numerically superior, nor was it due to advanced weapons. They had undergone a dramatic metamorphosis, which transformed their civilization, and gave them a new vision. They brought with them an enlightened thought of the universe, with amazing simplicity, logic, rationality and reason. All of which were backed by a spiritual energy worth dying for.

Afghans are born warriors, and fiercely independent minded. That however is not enough to be a civilized nation. They must stand up for justice, in Afghanistan and beyond. They must understand that they will need more than guns to make their nation an ideal Islamic nation. Good Governance, Rule of Law and Independent Judiciary based on Islamic principles would be a starting point. None of which can be achieved without respect for the sanctity and dignity of human life.

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Remembering Syria, Salahaddin and the Crusades

Deutsch: Salahdin English: Statue of Salahaddi...

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Syria will be the second most important Arab state to fall in the Arab Spring. While Egypt could liberate Sinai Syria’s Golan Heights remain under occupation since 1967, which should make Syria most bitter enemy of Israel. To add to that, Hamas and Hizbullah, fiercest fighters against Israel, are also either centered in Syria or supported by it. Syria’s strategic and historical connection makes it the central piece in a puzzle overcomplicated by sectarian religious beliefs and high drama of political intrigue.

 

Historically, Damascus was the seat of the mighty Umayyads who expanded the Islamic Caliphate into North Africa and Europe through Spain in the west, and speard all over to Central Asia and Hindustan in the East. Damascus (or Dimashq in Arabic) was linked with beauty, wealth, scholarship and prestige by Islamic rulers of past. It was also the garrison town of two famous sultans who used Damascus as the military base for their wars. Nuruddin Zinki and Salahaddin Ayyubi made Dimashq their military headquarters for their famous battles against the occupying forces of 11th century Crusaders who came mostly from France, England, Germany, Italy, Russia, Austria and Hungary under their individual kings. It was the 11th century mix of NATO and Zionist hardliners rolled into one.

 

Occupied Jerusalem of 11th century would have been more powerful than today’s because all the might of 11th century NATO was at her disposal. Franks, as they were referred to by Muslims, came with their best weapons and finest horses and fiercest soldiers. They built impregnable castles and fortified their towns with advanced defence weapons of their time. Most importantly, Franks were united under a common cause sanctified by their highest religious authority, the Pope himself. They were guaranteed heaven for killing the infidels (muslims) because muslims were thought to be idol worshippers. The invasion of Al-Quds was not for territory, it was a religious war carried with a promise for eternal salvation.

 

Muslims, on the other hand, were in their worst stage. Fatimids had captured most of North Africa and Ash-Sham (present day Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine) from the Abbasid caliphs in Baghdad. This meant that there were three caliphates in the Islamic world. Abbasids in Baghdad, Fatimids in Cairo and Umayyads in Andalusia (Muslim Spain). Fighting the powerful Franks under these circumstances must have been harder than fighting Israel today.

 

In such situation, Nuruddin Zinki rose up to the challenge. He started a campaign to dislodge the weak petty kings from power in various Islamic provinces and towns, in order to unite them under the command of a central ruler. It may have been the Arab Spring of his time. Zinki and his lieutenant Salahddin Ayubi were successful to retake almost all of Ash-Sham. Salahddin Ayubi was then sent to rest Cairo away from Fatimid rule. With the fall of Fatimids, and the death of Zinki, Cairo and Damascus came under the governorship of Sultan Salahddin Ayubi, who gave his allegiance to the Abbasid Caliph. United provinces of Egypt and Syria under Salahddin found its new capital in Damascus. Here, Salahddin united the armed forces of Egypt and Syria, equipped them with the fastest horses, trained them in the deserts and strategized for war against the might of all Europe. On 27, Ramadan 1187 Salahddin Ayubi entered the holy city. He cleansed Masjid Al Aqsa with rose water before placing the special Mimbar made by Zinki at the place of khutbah.

 

Egypt and Syria are disunited just like every other Arab Muslim country. Jordan and Lebanon act like small satellite states for any powerful country having an interest in that region. Gulf countries remain divided along tribal borders without credible defense force. Arab Spring is threatening to change all that. The fall of Syria, which is more imminent now, will trigger a new great game in the Ash-Sham region. Arab League has suspended its ‘Observer’ mission to Syria, while others are starting to recognize the Syrian Transition Council already. Turkey has finally made the ‘moral’ move to withdraw its support for Assad. Iran might be the only country to support Baathist Assad. This can’t be a long term solution anyway. Its time for Assad to leave. It’s time for new players, and Muslim Brotherhood is poised to be at center stage.

India To Buy Iran Oil in Rupees

India will not follow US embargoes on Iranian oil. This is in contrast to European countries who most likely will suspend Iran oil imports. EU is more vulnerable to US pressures due to its economic crisis. Financial bail out packages could be linked to an anti Iran stance.

But India has a different equation with Iran. Relationships between India and Iran go back to India’s cultural ties with the Islamic world dating back by 1000 years. The face of cultural India is undeniably Islamic, as in Taj Mahal, Red Fort and other Mughal monuments. Persian was the court language of Mughal India for almost 500 years. Besides cultural and population ties, India has economic and strategic relationships with Iran.

India needs access to Central Asian countries through Iran as Pakistan will not allow that trade passage. Around 12% of India’s oil needs are met from Iran. There is apparently no direct benefit for India to limit oil imports from Teheran except to please Iran’s adversary.

Indian Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai says: “We have accepted sanctions which are made by the United Nations. Other sanctions do not apply to individual countries. We don’t accept that position.” Indeed, he went further, noting that an Indian delegation would travel to Iran to “work out a mechanism for uninterrupted purchase of oil from Iran.” And India and Iran have reportedly agreed to settle some of their oil trade in rupees to avoid restrictions on dollar-denominated trade. India-Iran relations will throw the US administration at odds with its favored regional superpower for the sub-con.

Looking Back at Tahrir Square

Last year we were glued to the TV, watching thousand of young Egyptians protest against new pharaoh. Western nations were shocked. They did not anticipate the domino effect to hit Israel’s most important rival so quickly. Without Mubarak treaty with Israelmay not continue. Islamists might spring to power. Muslim Brotherhood could kick start a campaign for a global Caliphate. The press conferences in western capitals showed their uneasy and often confusing directions in decision making. Were they with the revolutionaries or against them? Will the US support the dictator Mubarak like they supported the Shah, or will they support the revolutionaries of freedom and liberty. Initially, US did not support freedom and liberty in Egypt. They hoped for Mubarak to use his forces to crush the rebellion. Mubarak collapsed. Why are the revolutionaries back in Tahrir Square after a year?

Egypt is too important an Arab state to be left alone by Israel and her partners. The peace treaty between Egypt and Israel has been the corner stone of Israel’s strategy so far. Israel can’t afford a hostile Egyptian government especially not an Islamic one. It would be in the best interest of Israel to create disunity, mistrust and suspicion between civil and military administrators in Cairo. Only a crisis driven Misr is good for Israel. As Misr moves from one crisis to another, it is also warranting a good case for the military to step in and normalise the situation. For the moment, Masris have shown their deep understanding of regional politics and that is why they are back in Tahrir Square. Unfortunately, their armed forces are betraying that all important trust.

Man Made Famine in Somalia

Special UN envoy to Somalia Augustine Mahiga arrived in Mogadishu on 24 Jan 2012 after Islamist group Al-Shabaab was evicted from the capital. It also coincides with Canadian oil company Africa Oil’s first drilling operation in semi autonomous Puntland in Northern Somalia. UN Somalia mission could mean recognition by the international community after the country descended into chaos in 1991 following the collapse of  Siad Barre’s dictatorial regime. Siad Barre’s government was accused of corruption and giving generous concessions to international oil companies in the country’s lucrative oil reserves, estimated to be around 200 billion barrels, or around USD 2 trillion in value. One survey placed Somalia second only to Sudan, another war torn country, for oil production importance in East Africa.

Somalia gained independence from colonial rule after the merger of British Somaliland and Italian Somaliland on 01, July 1960. After the fall of Barre’s regime in 1991 there were no governments until 2004 when Transitional Federal Government (TFG) was formed with Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed as its elected President. In 2006 Islamic Courts Union (ICU) emerged as the most powerful party ending warlordism and ruling by Islamic shariah.

TFG has ambassadors in various countries, and it represents Somalia in the UN, Arab League, OAU and other multi-lateral organizations. The ICU leaders are Sheikh Sharif Ahmed and Sheikh Dahir Aweys. US and Ethiopia accused Dhahir Aweys of links to terrorism and in late 2006, joint offensive by US-Ethiopian forces drove ICU out of power. ICU has since gone underground.

In 2009, Sharif Yusuf Ahmed, former chairman of ICU, was elected President, after an alliance between TFG and ICU, starting a counteroffensive to regain control of southern Somalia from Islamists. Within months Islamist groups Al-Shabaab and Hizbul Islam took control of 80% of South Central Somalia. In October 2011 Kenya and Somali Army formed a joint force to push Islamists out of Mogadishu. Last week, January 2012, Al Shabaab fighters withdrew from Mogadishu and cleared the road for UN special envoy to begin his mission. Most critical to UN mission now should be to end the famine. Food and medicine for people should receive first priority and the UN can start that by providing World Food Program with necessary funds.

Thousands of people died needlessly and millions of dollars were wasted because of not responding fast enough to early signs of famine in East Africa, aid agencies commented. Famine of Somalia is a man made disaster for which international community must share its horror. Most rich donor nations waited until the crisis in the Horn of Africa was in full swing before donating a substantial amount of money, according to aid groups. A food shortage had been predicted as early as August 2010, but most donors did not respond until famine was declared in parts of Somalia in July 2011.

“We all bear responsibility for this dangerous delay that cost lives in East Africa and need to learn the lessons of the late response,” said Oxfam head Barbara Stocking. The British government estimates that between 50,000 and 100,000 people died from the famine, mostly Somalis. Ethiopia and Kenya were also affected but aid agencies were able to work more easily there than in war-ravaged Somalia. More than half of those who died are believed to be children. The United Nations says 250,000 Somalis are still at risk of starvation and more than 13 million people need aid.

Canada’s Africa Oil recently started drilling for oil in the north. How much of the oil wealth will reach common Somalis is still doubtful. Benefits of mass level employment through oil exploration is unlikely as oil companies are expected to book most of the cash from Somalia’s oil sales. Somali government would be right to demand for food security for their people in exchange for their concessions to oil companies. Human lives take priority over profits.