Sunday, November 29, 2015

Faces Behind the Thin Screen by: Mohammad Adeeb (Former Member of Parliament)

Faces Behind the Thin Screen

Modi’s Intentional Stony Silence, Encouraging Culprits.
Real Players of Partition Game Must be Exposed

by: Mohammad Adeeb
(Former Member of Parliament)
The moment, India was divided into two nations, Indian Muslims, as a community also got chopped into two—Indian Muslims and Pakistani Muslims. A good portion of the community migrated to be a part of the newly born nation. It’s an open secret now that Pakistan was not solely created by Jinnah, but had come into being, with the warm will and full agreement of the Indian leadership—sans Maulana Azad. In fact, most of congress leaders also desired a Pakistan, in order to secure, their monopoly in the remaining part of India. But, an undeniable fact is that, those Muslims, who chose to stay in India and refused to go to Jinnah’s Pakistan, were evidently against the very idea of Pakistan. Otherwise like others, they could migrate enmass to the so-called new homeland of Muslims. It’s an evident truth that all those Muslims, who preferred not to leave their ancestral homes and abandon their places of birth, as they honestly thought, India was their only homeland. They never really wanted any Pakistan, which was in fact, the outcome of a conspiracy, schemed by the British rulers and a host of the leaders in undivided India, who were greedy of posts and positions, in two separate countries. Majority of Muslims in India of those days was against the very demand of Pakistan. Similarly, today’s Indian Muslims can in no way be held responsible for the partition of the country. Needless to say that the present Indian Muslim Community comprises the new generation of Muslims, who have been born, in Independent India.

Ironically, the Muslims, who by their choice, stayed in India have been treated by the majority community in all worst possible manners. The just approach of the government and people of India should have been to value the sentiments of the Muslims, who had willingly decided to stay back, in India. Their commitment to secularism and intolerance should have been termed as credible and honourable. But, what actually came up was a hostile attitude, which turned the lives of Muslims in India, into hell. They have neither been protected, nor encouraged and nor made a partner in the overall progress of the new nation, during last 68 years or so. The new innocent generation of Muslims in India is held responsible, for the partition of the country, without any fault of theirs, and they are being punished for the sins, they have never committed. No sane person can endorse this tyrannical practice. But, no body seems to be ready to acknowledge the truth of history that Indian Muslims were neither for Pakistan before partition and nor they are pro-Pakistan, today. Indian Muslim community has been victimised through all sorts of aggressive and oppressive tactics, threatening their lives, honour and property. They have incessantly been tortured, physically and mentally, for all these years.

Now the situation has taken a new turn for worse. Since, the BJP has come into power on its own, following last general elections and Mr. Narendra Modi has taken reins of power as Prime Minister, the Muslims at large, have been targeted regularly for the last one and a half year. If one Dick asks Muslims to leave India enmass and settle in Pakistan, then the other Tom threatens to destroy all mosques and turn them into temples and another Harry demands a blanket ban on cow slaughter or even slaughtering the buffaloes. Simultaneously, some fanatic elements lure poor Muslims to abandon their faith and enter the fold of Hinduism. They even make luxurious offers, which are never supposed to be turned into reality. It seems that earlier whatever feeble and formal checks were in force to contain the communal forces and merchants of hate have now been removed. The intentional, stony silence of Prime Minister Modi and the other top Brass of BJP, leads one to the simple conclusion that they are all equal partners in encouraging and patronising communal, fascist and fanatic elements, who are on the prowl now. Obviously, if an incumbent government, takes tough instance, in any regard, no one can afford to oppose it, leave alone, challenging it.
The nadir is that even a Chief Minister in chair—Haryana CM. Mr. M.L. Khattar—advises Muslims, either to abandon beef eating or cross the border to live in Pakistan. This is perhaps the worst example of a responsible person, not less than a Chief Minister of a State to resort to such irresponsible pronouncements, like a slogan monger in the market. Perhaps, he takes India, as his personal estate, where he rules the roost, as a theocrat. Here, let’s ask them what would be the fate of those non-Muslims, in a larger number, of course who are habitual consumers of cow-meat.

Now, it’s happening in India, our motherland that an incumbent Chief Minister of a State—who is supposed to be the guardian of all citizens in his State—issues irresponsible and stupid statements, before the media, like the above-mentioned one and the Prime Minister and other senior leaders of the party, simply perform their natural and moral duly, merely by saying that ‘this might be his (CM’s) personal view’. They do not take any action in this regard, except some lip service, which is always available in abundance. Chief Minister’s post is the top position in a State and he is supposed to restrain from loose talking, like slogan mongers. By now, he must have been in the dock for such dirty utterances or should have been dismissed from his post, to save the situation.

In fact, all such practices are a part of a larger conspiracy and a dubious scheming, aimed at putting all the secular forces in the country, at stake, in general and Muslims in particular. This is all evident from the ugly events, which have taken place in near past. For instance, Shiv Sena’s vandalism against Pakistan Cricket Control Board, hackling of an MLA in Kashmir, blackening of the face of an elder man, dragging, beating and ultimately killing of an innocent Muslim in Dadri and that merely on the basis of a baseless rumour, targeting Muslims by Sakshi Maharaj of BJP in Orissa and not only that, he promised to establish complete Hindutva in the country by 2019. As I said earlier, this is all a part of the conspiracies, hatched several years ago. The unveiled objective of this unholy tactics is to eliminate secularism from the country, altogether and impose Hindutva on the people for ever. This is only the beginning of the execution of evil planning, as the fanatics see a favouring authority, at the helm, at the centre and in various states.

Now, this is a moment of great concern for all Muslims. If the community and its so-called leadership, still prefer to hide faces in the sand, like an ostrich or they still choose to be comfortable in their ivory towers, and do not wake up to the prevailing situation, even now, then no body can save them from what is in store for them and what is in the offing; they may either be annihilated or made slaves, deprived of their faith and liberty. They would be subjected to all sorts of tortures and tyrannies. Neither, their honour nor their lives would be spared, in the changed circumstances and then, no body would descend from any sky to rescue them, as they would be victims of their own deeds, faults and follies.

Perhaps, due to the compulsions of the governance and on account of some strategic demands, the Prime Minister, some of his ministers and even the BJP President, seem to be worried, due to the threatening and poisonous statements and propagation of hate by some elements, in their own ranks, hurting Muslims, at large, adding salts to their existing injuries and drifting them away from BJP, further, on one hand and affecting non-Muslim secular forces, on the other, to the extent that all such people are losing their faith—whatsoever it was—in the incumbent government and the political party in power, getting fed up of the both, day in and day out. Beyond that, such irresponsible practices are spoiling the credibility of the Government, globally. Hence, in order to mend the situation, somehow, Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh and Arun Jaitley have begun to stress, in their speeches publicly and before the media, on the point that they themselves, their government and their party are at all not linked with all the threatening and poisonous slogan mongering, by some of their own party members and all such utterances are their personal acts. But, again this is only a theatrical gesture, in an effort to deceive people and to make them believe that the powers in place and the party at the helm, have nothing to do with all this. But I do not think any body would buy these hollow explanations, as this new tactics is also a part of the old game of misguiding fellow countrymen and just another unholy attempt to make them fool, once again.

But, the million dollar question is; if the ‘sincere and sane’ leaders of BJP really disagree with slogan mongers, then why they are not reprimanded, punished and thrown away from the government and party. The mischief has gone to the alarming extent that Giri Raj Singh, a BJP leader, had announced, at an election rally, and that too in the presence of P.M. Modi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh that those, who are opposed to Modi, becoming PM of the country, may wilfully migrate to Pakistan. The Election Commission took a serious notice of the statement and began legal proceedings, against him. Resultantly, he fled away from the scene and later surrendered in a court of law. Now, the same Giri Raj Singh is a union minister. What message is hidden in such a practice? What does Modi really want or prefer to do? Does it speak of his actual thinking?

When, poor Akhlaq of Dadri was beaten to death by some 200 BJP workers, then leaders from all political parties—though for the sake of vote bank politics or a mere show biz—visited the victim’s family in the village and offered condolence and a few words of sympathy. But our Prime Minister, not even spoke a word in that regard. He maintained his strategic silence, on such a sensitive issue.

The President of India, Hon. Pranab Mukherjee, in a highly responsible manner, sensed the gravity of the state of affairs and felt greatly concerned over the prevailing situation. He has a bright political, past behind him and is bestowed with a rich experience. He rose to the occasion and condemned all such happenings. In fact, he had realised, where the Gandhi’s nation was heading to? Then, Modiji emerged from his slumber and expressed his grief on Aklaq’s death, in a very formal manner. His grief waited for a full fortnight to come out and that too in an election rally.

Let’s see, this is the attitude of the Prime Minister of 130 crore of people, including 25 crore Muslims. The conclusion is that the present state of affairs is simply distressing and pessimistic, for Indian Muslims. Nevertheless, there is a ray of hope, at the last corner of the tunnel, that a good majority of secular people still exists in the country. The evident proof of this fact is that some Sahitya Akademi members have openly spoken against the growing intolerance and rising communalism, in the country. A number of awardees have returned their awards and titles, as a mark of protest. Not only that, numerous scientists, artists and film makers have also joined them. They all have raised their collective voice of protest and anguish, in a unified manner. They have made the whole world believe, a fresh that secularism and sanity are still alive in India.

This beautiful development fills new confidence, in people, like us. It assures all that if such elements are still alive and pro-active in the country, then the evil forces of fanaticism, communalism and fascism would continuously be defeated, not only once, but again and again.

If Mr. Modi, really believes in his pronouncement that he is the Prime Minister of all the people of the nation, then his first and foremost duty is that he should make his politics transparent. The way, his government is serious in bringing the documents, regarding Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose’s disappearance and mysterious death, then in the same vein, it is even more important that the political players, functional behind the game of partition of the country should also be brought to the book, so that the reality may be exposed and the RSS, its affiliated outfits and other like-minded people would become aware of the actual state of affairs. Thus, possibly a long standing misunderstanding may also vanish and the truth may finally prevail.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

America enabled radical Islam: How the CIA, George W. Bush and many others helped create ISIS - Written by Abdel Bari Atwan - al-Quds al-Arabi


SUNDAY, OCT 18, 2015 09:29 PM IST

America enabled radical Islam: How the CIA, George W. Bush and many others helped create ISIS

We have tried to harness the power of radical Islam for our own interests for decades. ISIS is partially on America

Inline image 1
America enabled radical Islam: How the CIA, George W. Bush and many others helped create ISIS(Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)
Since 1980, the United States has intervened in the affairs of fourteen Muslim countries, at worst invading or bombing them. They are (in chronological order) Iran, Libya, Lebanon, Kuwait, Iraq, Somalia, Bosnia, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Sudan, Kosovo, Yemen, Pakistan, and now Syria. Latterly these efforts have been in the name of the War on Terror and the attempt to curb Islamic extremism.
Yet for centuries Western countries have sought to harness the power of radical Islam to serve the interests of their own foreign policy. In the case of Britain, this dates back to the days of the Ottoman Empire; in more recent times, the US/UK alliance first courted, then turned against, Islamists in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria. In my view, the policies of the United States and Britain—which see them supporting and arming a variety of groups for short-term military, political, or diplomatic advantage—have directly contributed to the rise of IS.
Supporting the Caliphate
The Turkish Ottoman Empire was, for centuries, the largest Muslim political entity the world has ever known, encompassing much of North Africa, southeastern Europe, and the Middle East. From the sixteenth century onwards, Britain not only championed the Ottoman Empire but also supported and endorsed the institution of the caliphate and the Sultan’s claim to be the caliph and leader of the ummah (the Muslim world).
Britain’s support for the Ottoman Caliph—a policy known as the Eastern Question—was entirely motivated by self-interest. Initially this was so the Ottoman lands would act as a buffer against its regional imperial rivals, France and Russia; subsequently, following the colonization of India, the Ottoman territories acted to protect Britain’s eastward trade routes. This support was not merely diplomatic; it translated into military action. In the Crimean War (1854–56), Britain fought with the Ottoman Empire against Russia and won.
It was only with the onset of the First World War in 1914 that this 400-year-old regional paradigm unraveled. When Mehmed V sided with the Germans, Britain was reluctantly excluded from dealing with the caliphate’s catchment of over 15 million Muslims, reasoning that “whoever controlled the person of the Caliph, controlled Sunni Islam.” London decided that an Arab uprising to unseat Mehmed would enable them to reassign the role of caliph to a trusted and more malleable ally: Hussein bin Ali Hussein, the sherif of Mecca and a direct descendant, it is claimed, of the Prophet Muhammad. The British employed racism to garner support for the uprising, appealing to the Arabs’ sense of ownership over Islam, which had originated in Mecca and Medina, not among the Turks of Constantinople. A 1914 British proclamation declared, “There is no nation among the Muslims which is now capable of upholding the Islamic Caliphate except the Arab nation.” A letter was dispatched to Sherif Hussein, fomenting his ambition and suggesting, “It may be that an Arab of true race will assume the Caliphate at Mecca or Medina” (Medina being the seat of the first caliphate after the death of the Prophet). Again, the British were prepared to defend the caliphate with the sword, promising to “guarantee the Holy Places against all external aggression.” It is a strange thought that, just 100 years ago, the prosecutors of today’s War on Terror were promising to restore the Islamic caliphate to the Arab world and defend it militarily.
The Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire, fomented by the British, got underway in 1916, the same year that the infamous Sykes-Picot Agreement was made in secret, carving up between the British and French the very lands Sherif Hussein had been promised. Betrayal, manipulation, and self-interest were, and remain, the name of the game when it comes to Western meddling in the Middle East. The revolt would last two years and was a major factor in the fall of the Ottoman Empire. At the same time, the British Army and allied forces, including the Arab Irregulars, were fighting the Ottomans on the battlefields of the First World War. A key figure in these battles was T. E. Lawrence, who became known as Lawrence of Arabia because of the loyalty he engendered in the hearts of Sherif Hussein and his son, Emir Faisal. He was given the status of honorary son by the former, and he fought under the command of the latter in many battles, later becoming Faisal’s advisor. When the Ottomans put a £15,000 reward on Lawrence’s head, no Arab was tempted to betray him.
Sadly this honorable behavior and respect were not reciprocated. In a memo to British intelligence in 1916, Lawrence described the hidden agenda behind the Arab uprising: “The Arabs are even less stable than the Turks. If properly handled they would remain in a state of political mosaic, a tissue of small jealous principalities, incapable of cohesion . . . incapable of co-ordinated action against us.” In a subsequent missive he explained, “When war broke out, an urgent need to divide Islam was added. . . . Hussein was ultimately chosen because of the rift he would create in Islam. In other words, divide and rule.”
Oil Security and Western Foreign Policy
Let us fast-forward to the 1950s and ’60s, by which time oil had become a major factor in the West’s foreign policy agenda. Again, the principle of “divide and rule” was put to work: a 1958 British cabinet memo noted, “Our interest lies . . . in keeping the four principal oil-producing areas [Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iran, and Iraq] under separate political control.” The results of this policy saw the West arming both sides in the Iran-Iraq war—which brought both powers to the brink of total destruction in the 1980s—and then intervening militarily with a force of almost 700,000 men in the First Gulf War (to prevent Iraq annexing Kuwait) in 1990–91.
The United States, UK, and European powers were also deeply troubled by the cohesive potential of Arab Nationalism, a hugely popular movement led by Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser and his (at that time) mighty allies in Iraq and Syria. The idea of these three huge, left-leaning regional powers becoming politically and militarily united was unacceptable in the Cold War context and remained so after the fall of the Soviet Empire because of the regional threat to Israel. To counteract the rise of pan-Arabism, the West began to support Islamist tendencies within each country—mostly branches of the Muslim Brotherhood—and also worked hard in the diplomatic field to create strong and binding relationships with Islamic, pro-Western monarchies in Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, and Jordan. These relationships endure to this day.
The most extreme manifestation of radical Sunni Islam was Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabism, which it had started to disseminate via a string of international organizations and its self-designated Global Islamic Mission. In 1962, Saudi Arabia oversaw the establishment of The Muslim World League, which was largely staffed by exiled members of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood’s relationship with the West (and with the Gulf monarchies) has always been inconsistent and entirely selfish. In the run-up to, during, and after, the 2011 “Arab Spring” revolution against Hosni Mubarak, the United States and UK were actively supporting the Muslim Brotherhood as the most credible (or only) experienced political entity. In 2014, both countries came under pressure from the Saudis to declare the Muslim Brotherhood a terror group: though neither has yet gone that far, the UK duly launched an official investigation into the group, headed by UK Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Sir John Jenkins, while in the United States a bill was introduced in Congress, the Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Designation Act of 2014.
The House of Saud itself feared an “Arab Spring” revolution and encouraged and applauded the June 2013 coup that deposed the Brotherhood’s legitimately elected President Morsi; Saudi King Abdullah phoned coup leader al-Sisi (now the Egyptian president) within hours to congratulate him on his success. Egypt under al-Sisi would prove a better friend to Israel and, like Saudi Arabia, would brutally extinguish any new uprisings, giving the kingdom moral support in its own battle for survival. Saudi political pragmatism (or, as some might frame it, hypocrisy) has been progressively informed by its close relationship with the United States and UK— and is now one of the most significant drivers of the Middle East’s present chaos, including the emergence of ISIS.
Communism: The First Public Enemy Number One
From the 1950s on, the Muslim Brotherhood was supported and funded by the CIA. When Nasser decided to stamp out the movement in Egypt, the CIA helped its leaders migrate to Saudi Arabia, where they were assimilated into the Wahhabi kingdom’s own particular brand of fundamentalism, many rising to positions of great influence. While Saudi Arabia actively prevented the formation of a home-grown branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, it encouraged and financed the movement abroad in other Arab countries. One of the most prominent leaders of the Western-backed Afghan Jihad (1979–89) was a Cairo-educated Muslim Brotherhood member: Burhanuddin Rabbani, head of Jamaat-i-Islami ( JI).
America and, to a lesser extent, Britain fretted about the rise of communism, which was perceived and portrayed as the “enemy of freedom”—a term that would later be applied to the Islamic extremists. In geopolitical terms, by the end of the Second World War, the Soviet Union comprised one-sixth of the world’s land mass and was a superpower capable of mounting a devastating challenge to the United States. The White House was also concerned about the future alignment of China, where the Chinese Communist Party had seized power in 1949. Communism was enthusiastically embraced by millions of idealistic post-war Americans and Europeans, posing a perceived domestic political threat. Meanwhile the West observed with horror the increasing popularity of communism and socialism in the Middle East; revolutionary, pro-Soviet, Arab regimes would create an enormous strategic disadvantage and threaten oil security.
For the West, radical Islam represented the best way to counter the encroachment of Arab nationalism communism.
Following the Six-Day War in 1967, US and UK governmental planners noted with satisfaction that Arab unity and sense of a shared cause were finding expression in a revival of Islamic fundamentalism and widespread calls for the implementation of Sharia law. This revival continued through the 1970s and, by the end of the decade, produced the pan-Arab mujahideen that would battle the Soviet armies in Afghanistan for the next ten years.
As in Syria and Iraq, the Sunni jihadists were not alone in the insurgency. There were seven major Sunni groups, armed and funded (to the tune of $6 billion) by the United States and Saudi Arabia, as well as the UK, Pakistan, and China. Abdullah Azzam’s Maktab al-Khidamat (the Services Office), which included bin Laden and from which al Qaeda would emerge, was at this point only a sub-group of one of these, the Gulbuddin faction (founded in 1977 by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar). Often overlooked in retelling the story of this particular Afghan war is the fact that the insurgency was pan-Islamic: there were eight Shi‘i groups, trained and funded by Iran.
Of the Sunni entities it was backing, the CIA preferred the Afghan-Arabs (as the foreign fighters from Arab countries came to be known) because they found them “easier to read” than their indigenous counterparts. In 2003, Australian-British journalist John Pilger conducted research and concluded, “More than 100,000 Islamic militants were trained in Pakistan between 1986 and 1992, in camps overseen by the CIA and MI6, with the SAS training future al Qaeda and Taliban fighters in bomb-making and other black arts. Their leaders were trained at a CIA camp in Virginia.” That Western interference in Afghanistan actually precedes the Soviet invasion by several months is rarely acknowledged. In the context of this book it is worth tracing the motives and methods employed by foreign powers to further their own ends in that territory, as these have been repeated and modified in Iraq and Syria.
Afghanistan’s location and long borders with Iran and Pakistan make it a strategic prize, and rival powers have often fought to control it. A coup in 1978 (the third in five years) brought the pro-Soviet Muhammad Taraki to power, setting off alarm bells in Islamabad, Washington, London, and Riyadh. The Pakistani ISI first tried to foment an Islamist uprising, but this failed owing to lack of popular support. Next, five months before the Soviet invasion, President Jimmy Carter sent covert aid to Islamist opposition groups with the help of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Carter’s National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, wrote in a memo to his boss that if the Islamists rose up it would “induce a Soviet military intervention, likely to fail, and give the USSR its own Vietnam.” Another coup in September 1979 brought Deputy Prime Minister Hafizullah Amin to power; Moscow invaded in December, killing Amin and replacing him with its own man, Babrak Karmal. Brzezinski then sent Carter a memo outlining his advised strategy: “We should concert with Islamic countries both a propaganda campaign and a covert action campaign to help the rebels.”
On December 18, 1979, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher enthusiastically endorsed Washington’s approach at a meeting of the Foreign Policy Association in New York, even praising the Iranian Revolution and concluding, “The Middle East is an area where we have much at stake. . . . It is in our own interest that they build on their own deep, religious traditions. We do not wish to see them succumb to the fraudulent appeal of imported Marxism.”
Because IS is a product of Western interference in Iraq and Syria, none of the powers that backed the Afghan mujahideen anticipated the emergence of alQaeda, with its vehemently anti-Western agenda and ambition to re-establish the caliphate. Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf wrote in his autobiography, “Neither Pakistan nor the US realized what Osama bin Laden would do with the organization we had all allowed him to establish.”
Defining Extremism: The Western Dilemma
In the course of the 1990s, radical political Islam became more extremist—a shift that was encouraged and funded by Saudi Arabia. The star of the Muslim Brotherhood began to wane as its leaders were castigated for being too “moderate” and for participating in the democratic process in Egypt; standing as “independents” (since the Muslim Brotherhood was banned), its candidates fared well, becoming the main opposition force to President Hosni Mubarak. There was another reason for the Muslim Brotherhood falling out of favor with Riyadh—it had supported Saddam Hussein’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait. The House of Saud now linked its survival with the rise of the Salafi-jihadist tendency, which was consistent with its own custom-fit Wahhabi ideology.
The West viewed this shift into a more radical gear with some alarm as the Salafists’ battle became international: Arab jihadists traveled to Eastern Europe to fight with the Bosnian Muslims from 1992; New York’s World Trade Center was first bombed by radical Islamists in 1993; and in 1995, North African jihadists from the al Qaeda–linked GIA (Armed Islamic Group, Algeria) planted bombs on the Paris Metro, killing 8 and injuring more than 100.
The United States and UK adopted a remarkably laid-back approach to this new wave of radical Islam. The UK government and security services did not consider that the extremists presented a real danger, allowing the establishment of what the media labeled “Londonistan” through the 1990s. It could be argued that this was a successful arrangement in that, in return for being allowed to live in the British capital and go about their business in peace, the jihadists did not commit any act of violence on British streets. The Syrian jihadist Abu Musab al-Suri (aka Setmariam Nasar) was a leading light among the Londonistan jihadist community, which also included Osama bin Laden’s so-called ambassador to London, Khalid al-Fawwaz. Al-Suri confirmed to me that a tacit covenant was in place between M16 and the extremists.
Saudi entities and individuals funded al Qaeda and other violent Salafist groups to the tune of $300 million through the 1990s, and the United States and UK remained stalwartly supportive. A year after Margaret Thatcher left parliament for good, she told a 1993 meeting of the Chatham House international affairs think tank, “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a strong force for moderation and stability on the world stage.” When challenged on Riyadh’s appalling human rights record—which included (and still includes) public executions, floggings, stonings, oppression of women, the incarceration of peaceful dissidents, and violent dispersal of any kind of demonstration—she retorted, “I have no intention of meddling in its internal affairs.” Later, Tony Blair would talk of the Middle East’s Axis of Moderation, meaning Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, Turkey, the Palestinian Authority, and Israel.
The First Gulf War brought two changes into play. The first was that Saudi Arabia now became completely dependent, militarily, on the United States for its survival. The second was that, in an attempt to weaken Saddam Hussein, the CIA encouraged Shi‘i groups in southern Iraq to rebel, resulting in thousands of Shi‘a being slaughtered by regime helicopter fire. George H. W. Bush spent $40 million on clandestine operations in Iraq, flying Shi‘i and Kurdish leaders to Saudi Arabia for training, and creating and funding two opposition groups: the Iraqi National Accord, led by Iyad Alawi (who would collaborate in a failed coup plotted by the CIA’s Iraq Operations Group in 1996) and the Iraqi National Congress, led by Ahmad Chalabi (who was close to Dick Cheney when he was Defense Secretary). And yet, for the next twelve years, Saddam Hussein remained in power despite the punitive sanctions regime.
Washington and London continued to believe that an alliance with “moderate” Islam was key to defeating the extremists. A 2004 Whitehall paper by former UK Ambassador to Damascus Basil Eastwood and Richard Murphy, who had been assistant secretary of state under Reagan, noted: “In the Arab Middle East, the awkward truth is that the most significant movements which enjoy popular support are those associated with political Islam.” For the first time, they identified two distinct groups within the political Islamists: those “who seek change but do not advocate violence to overthrow regimes, and the Jihadists . . . who do.”
This new paradigm gained traction. In 2006, Tony Blair made it clear that the coming fight in the Middle East would be between the moderate Islamists and the extremists. The West, he told an audience in the World Affairs Council in Los Angeles, should seek to “empower” the moderates. “We want moderate, mainstream Islam to triumph over reactionary Islam.” Blair enlarged on the economic benefits this would accrue to the large transnational enterprises and organizations he championed: “A victory for the moderates means an Islam that is open: open to globalization.”
The West continues to behave as if Saudi Arabia can deliver the world from the menace of extremism. Yet the kingdom has spent $50 billion promoting Wahhabism around the world, and most of the funding for al Qaeda—amounting to billions of dollars—still comes from private individuals and organizations in Saudi Arabia. The Sinjar Records (documents captured in Iraq by coalition forces in 2007) provided a clear picture of where foreign jihadists were coming from: Saudi nationals accounted for 45 percent of foreign fighters in Iraq. They swell the ranks of IS today.
The Arab revolutions muddied the waters even more, particularly in Libya and Syria, making it almost impossible to distinguish between moderates and extremists. In Libya the West’s intervention strengthened the radicals and liberated stockpiles of Gaddafi’s sophisticated weapons, which were immediately spirited away by the truckload to jihadist strongholds. In the light of that error, President Obama dithered in Syria, much to the fury of his Saudi allies, allowing the most radical of the extremists to prevail: Islamic State.
Excerpted from “Islamic State: The Digital Caliphate” by Abdel Bari Atwan. Published by the University of California Press. Copyright © 2015 by Abdel Bari Atwan. Reprinted with permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.
Abdel Bari Atwan is a Palestinian writer and journalist. He was the editor in chief of the London-based daily al-Quds al-Arabi for 25 years and now edits the Rai al-Youm news web site

Friday, November 27, 2015

CIA’s 20:20 Vision for the future Caliphate is Short Sighted written by Abid Mustafa

CIA’s 20:20 Vision for the future Caliphate is Short Sighted 

written by Abid Mustafa

In December 2004, The National Intelligence Council of the CIA predicted that in the year 2020 a new Caliphate would emerge on the world stage. The findings were published in a 123-page report titled “Mapping the Global Future”. The aim of the report is to prepare the next Bush administration for challenges that lie ahead by projecting current trends that may pose a threat to US interest. The report is presented to the US president, members of Congress, cabinet members and key officials involved in policymaking.
“They talk about wanting to re-establish what you could refer to as the Seventh Century Caliphate. This was the world as it was organized 1,200, 1,300 years, in effect, when Islam or Islamic people controlled everything from Portugal and Spain in the West; all through the Mediterranean to North Africa; all of North Africa; the Middle East; up into the Balkans; the Central Asian republics; the southern tip of Russia; a good swath of India; and on around to modern day Indonesia. In one sense from Bali and Jakarta on one end, to Madrid on the other.”
— Former US Vice President Cheney
In December 2004, The National Intelligence Council of the CIA predicted that in the year 2020 a new Caliphate would emerge on the world stage. The findings were published in a 123-page report titled “Mapping the Global Future”. The aim of the report is to prepare the next Bush administration for challenges that lie ahead by projecting current trends that may pose a threat to US interest. The report is presented to the US president, members of Congress, cabinet members and key officials involved in policymaking.
What is striking about the report is that it is full of references about political Islam and the various challenges it poses to US interests in the foreseeable future. There is even a fictional scenario depicting the emergence of Caliphate state in 2020 and its impact on the international situation.
However, the report is predicated on assumptions which undermine the validity of the report in various parts, especially the section on the Caliphate. Below is a critique of some of the arguments postulated in the fictional scenario: –
The report asserts that the strength of the new Caliphate will be borne out of the efforts of a global Islamic movement taking power. While it may be true that a global Islamic movement may instigate civil disobedience or initiate a coup to bring about the Caliphate, its strength and longevity is dependent upon something entirely different.
Intellectual conviction in a common set of values amongst the citizens of a state is the measure of the state’s strength and not the movement, which founded the state. The Soviet Union collapsed not because it was deficient in technology, but because its people abandoned communism and the communist party was powerless to convince them otherwise.
An accurate appraisal of the convictions of the Muslim masses for the resumption of the Islamic way of life through the re-establishment of the Caliphate is the single most important factor in determining whether the Caliphate will succeed or fail in the 21st century. This is more important than technology and resources, both of which can be quickly gained as long as the Caliphate is able to defend itself and base its progress exclusively on the Islamic ideology. Whenever Islamic movements are taken as the sole gauge for estimating the extent of Islamic revival in Muslim countries, a skewed picture will always emerge. The CIA is not alone in employing this false standard. The practice is wide spread and has tainted the analysis of respected think tanks and the writings of some notable commentators such as Francis Fukuyama and Samuel P. Huntington.
This flaw is not the result of their malice towards Islam, but is due to their adherence to the philosophy of individualism, which has marred their understanding of society and reduced it to a collection of individuals.
A proper understanding of society reveals that it is composed of individuals, which are bonded together by common thoughts and emotions, and live under a specific system. The degree of support amongst people towards the existing system of governance or for an alternative system of ruling can only be ascertained through the evaluation of these common thoughts and emotions.
The attachment to individualism has led the West to grossly underestimate the penetration of Islamic thoughts and sentiments in the Muslim countries, and also to miscalculate the wide spread support for the re-establishment of the Caliphate.
Another point of contention in the report is the claim that the emergence of the Caliphate will not cause the regimes in Muslim countries to collapse one after the other – the domino effect.
Again this understanding is derived from an incorrect understanding of society. A cursory study of the Muslim world shows that there exists strong polarisation in viewpoints between the regimes and the people they govern. Before the collapse of the Baath regime, Saddam an atheist was delivering speeches laced with Islamic terms. He did this, because he realised that the people were no longer motivated by Baathism, secularism or Arabism and only responded to Islam. Similarly, when Musharraf sided with America’ s war against Afghanistan he had to quote lengthy passages from life of the Messenger (SAW) to justify his stance.
The conflict between maintaining the secular order and preventing political Islam from assuming power is a daily occurrence in much of the Muslim world. The regimes in the Muslim world are viewed as the custodians of western interests and antagonistic towards Islam. Muslims simply loathed these regimes and are eager to extinguish their existence. The only reason these regimes survive is because of the dogged support from western governments.
Today, the Islamic Ummah stands on the cusp of a monumental change, just as the Warsaw pact countries stood some 18 years ago. The iron curtain came down because people had changed their viewpoint from communism to capitalism. Likewise the Muslim Ummah has abandoned both communism and capitalism, and is waiting for the emergence of the Caliphate, which will cause these regimes to collapse in spectacular fashion, only to be absorbed by the Caliphate.
Finally the report claims that Muslims would find the temptations of western materialism too much to bear, causing them to flee the shores of the new Caliphate. This view is obviously founded on the prevalent western notion that the Caliphate is the antithesis to modernisation.
Another factor that enhances this perception amongst westerners is the current exodus of Muslims from the Islamic world to the west. Nothing could be further from the truth.
First, the Caliphate that Muslims want to establish is the rightly guided Caliphate, which was at the zenith of human civilisation. A historical fact widely recognised by several eminent experts on Islam- most notably Bernard Lewis.
Second, the mass migration of Muslims to the West is a consequence of western foreign policy ventures in the Muslim world and not because of Muslim infatuation with western values. Most migrants, if not all are either economic migrants or political asylum seekers escaping the tyranny of regimes often supported by western governments. Even those Muslims, who have settled in the west, have yet to embrace secular values for fear of corrupting their Islam.
The recent endeavour by Europe to coerce its Muslim population to adopt western values speaks volumes for Europe’ s obsession with secularising Muslims and runs counter to the stereotyped image projected by the western media that Muslim countries are pleading to be westernised.
The typecasting of Muslims is based on the erroneous understanding of anti-western feeling that pervades the Muslim world. Often in western circles, anti-western sentiments are equated with the total rejection of western civilisation and attributed to the fundamentalist camp.
To make matters worse, the desire amongst Muslims to own western goods are interpreted as a craving for the western way of life. Westerners often classify those who display admiration for western goods into the moderate camp.
To pigeonhole Muslims into the two camps based on such interpretations is wrong. This is because the anti-western rhetoric found amongst Muslims is a denunciation of western culture and not of western goods. Likewise, the expression for the admiration for western products is an acknowledgement of the superior quality of the goods and is not an affirmation for the wholesale acceptance of western culture.
For the first time in many years, the Muslim world has undergone a radical transformation in reconciling which aspects of the western way of life can be accepted or rejected with Islam. Muslims today accept western goods such as DVDs, Satellites Dishes, and TVs only because such items do not contradict their Islamic viewpoint. On the other hand western concepts such as freedom, democracy and individualism are discarded because are deemed to contradict Islam. Previously, the Muslim world was torn between two factions i.e. the modernists who wanted to adopt everything from the West and the traditionalists who were keen to rebuff all aspects of western civilisation. This mentality stifled progress and allowed the West to establish their hegemony over Muslim lands.
Today, it is not Muslims who are holding themselves back from human advancement and meeting the demands of the 21st century, but rather it is the West that chooses to suppress these developments and insists on imposing its values upon the Muslim masses in connivance with the regimes of the Muslim world.
This attitude has not only contributed to the West’ s misunderstanding of Islam, but has encouraged the West to define an inequitable relationship with the Muslim world.
Furthermore, the mindset has prompted the West to shun everything to do with Islam. West’ s occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan has already highlighted the abuse of the Muslim people, the pillage of their land and denigration of Islam.
If this attitude is not reversed then the West will find itself in a precarious position on two fronts.
First, the Caliphate will be a strong, progressive state charting a new destiny for the Muslim people after liberating them from the political, military and economic hegemony of the West. The West weakened by this abrupt loss of control will struggle to maintain its dominance in world affairs.
Secondly, the Caliphate will swiftly harness the synergy between Islam and science, thereby surpassing the West in terms of inventions, technologies and new scientific discoveries. Given the West’ s negative attitudes towards all things Islamic, it will find itself closing the doors to knowledge and shielding its people from progress and challenges of 21st century

Sunday, November 22, 2015

How Bombay’s businessmen and the Congress helped create the Shiv Sena - Book Excerpt from 'Hindu Hriday Samrat' by Sujata Anandan

How Bombay’s businessmen and the Congress helped create the Shiv Sena

Shiv Sena was founded on 19 June 1966. In this extract from 'Hindu Hriday Samrat', the author describes how disparate groups got together to free Bombay from the grip of ‘the communists’.
Sujata Anandan  · Jun 19, 2015 · 07:00 pm
How Bombay’s businessmen and the Congress helped create the Shiv Sena
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Madhav Deshpande... an architect by profession...[was] in many ways, the real architect of the Shiv Sena – or, at least, of the concept of a regional force to oppose the then all-powerful Congress for its perceived neglect of the Marathi people, their culture and ethos...

The Shiv Sena was formed in 1966 but it took Thackeray another decade to register his organization as a political party. ‘It was the fear of the Emergency (in 1975) that prompted him to declare a party hierarchy,’ Deshpande had told me then. ‘And nowhere in the party document that they drummed up at the time does Bal Thackeray figure as any functionary. In fact, from president down to secretary and even treasurer, everyone is a non- entity. Thackeray was afraid of being arrested for political activity and so he thought up this brilliant move – to hold power without any responsibility – to escape the consequences.’...

'The communists'

‘All the powerful Congress leaders from the state like SK Patil – the city’s uncrowned king at the time – looked to Delhi to promote themselves and their careers and no one really cared for Maharashtra except to use it to gain a foothold at the Centre,’ says Deshpande. He and many others like him also discovered that the Maharashtrian people and their culture were being subsumed by the larger Indian one and that it did not really show up in the big picture. Bombay’s was just a business community and while the Congress looked towards it to fund its programmes, politically the city was in the grip of ‘the communists’, who, of course, cared neither for Bombay nor for Maharashtra, nor even for New Delhi. Rather, as goes the well- known accusation against them, ‘they unfurled their umbrellas when it rained in the Soviet Union and all their agenda was set by Moscow’.

However, while most Congressmen might indeed have been looking towards New Delhi, there were still a handful of influential ones who did care for the local ethos. In the typical fashion of Congressmen even today, they decided to do something about it – but without really making it official. So did Deshpande. So did Bal Thackeray. And so also did the businessmen of Bombay, who shared the Congress leaders’ paranoia about the communists-led trade unions in this industrial hub of India which had most workers in their grip. Each went about it in their own way but somewhere – and soon – these streams did meet.

'Rise and unite'

So, along with three other friends – Padmakar Adhikari, an architect like himself as also his business partner, Shyam Deshmukh, who worked with a large industrial house in the suburbs and so could be depended upon to muster the labour force together, and Vasant Pradhan, a railway employee who later trained to be a lawyer to help fight the cases of workers – he set up an organization called ‘Ooth ani Ekjut Ho’ or ‘Rise and Unite’. They would visit the community centres and gyms every evening and talk to the workers about their rights and the need to build a parallel regional force that would challenge and take on not just the Congress but also the communists....

Once Thackeray had decided to set up the Shiv Sena, he lost no time in making the announcement in an issue of the Marmik – it appeared as a small notice at the bottom of the centre-spread. The party’s formal launch went almost unnoticed at first (just a coconut cracked at the doorstep of the Thackerays’ home at Kadam Mansion, off Ranade Road in Dadar, marked it). Deshpande and his friends, who were leaving no stone unturned to raise awareness among Maharashtrians and unite them under one banner, did not miss the small print. ‘We realized here was another man like us, fired by the need to do justice to the aspirations of the locals, and we decided that we must not divide the efforts.’ They merged their ‘Ooth ani Ekjuth Ho’ into the Shiv Sena.

‘One man and one magazine'

Marmik’s circulation was then growing by leaps and bounds (around 50,000 at the time with a readership of nearly two lakh, if not more) and people were responding in good measure to Thackeray’s ideas. But when Deshpande met him after seeing the notice in the magazine to ask what the structure of his organization was like, Thackeray was surprised. ‘Structure? There’s no structure. There’s just me, some friends and that announcement so far,’ he said.

‘That will not do,’ said Deshpande. ‘One man and one magazine are just not enough.’ And the architect that he was, he drew up an elaborate ‘structure’ – a hierarchy of what is now called shakha pramukhs (branch heads) and vibhag pramukhs (division heads), drawing upon both the mandals and the Bombay Municipal Corporation’s own division of the city into wards. It is the cadre structure that has stood the Shiv Sena in good stead till today – and saved the party from near-certain decimation at the 2012 municipal elections in Mumbai.

Deshpande also made two discoveries: that Thackeray was rather ‘piddi’ (cowardly) and that he had a great way with words. ‘His turn of phrase was such that he could enthrall the crowds and hypnotize the audiences – provided we could persuade or drag him out of his comfort zone and get him to the dais.’ Since none of the four founders of the Shiv Sena’s precursor – the Rise and Unite movement – had had as much success at holding the attention of their listeners, they decided to push Thackeray to the forefront and declare him the face of their regional movement. Both the Congress and the Communist Party of India (CPI) had split by then and were speaking in two voices for each ideology.

‘That is why we merged our movement into the Shiv Sena and we decided we would have just one voice and that that voice would be Bal Thackeray’s. The Shiv Sena was never meant to be owned by Thackeray or his offspring. Sadly, that is what the movement has been reduced to today,’ rues Deshpande. But before its decline, there was the rise and rise of the Sena, and Bombay’s businessmen and the Congress party had as much to do with its creation and nurture as had Deshpande and his friends. Though ‘Mumbai’ is seen as a city owned by Shiv Sainiks today, it had belonged to the communist parties in the 1960s and the frequent strikes and demands by workers had tired Bombay’s entrepreneurs to the core. At the time, the left parties were the only political challenge to the Congress and both its leaders and the businessmen who funded the Congress wished to see the back of the communist trade unions whose domination even the Congress-sponsored trade unions had failed to break.

Congress bags of cash

By Deshpande’s own admission, Congress leaders then sent him bags of cash to take care of meetings that the Sena might hold or to put up candidates against those of the communist parties to cut into their vote bank by raising the regional sentiment against that of workers’ unity. That’s how they defeated former Union defence minister VK Krishna Menon who had contested from Bombay North with communist support after he was denied a ticket by the Congress on account of his role in India’s debacle in the 1962 war with China. The Sena was also encouraged to form its own workers’ union (the Kamgar Sena, as it is called today) to bring the Marathi and the workers’ sentiments together. The organization (it was not yet a political party) was also covertly protected by the then ruling party in the state, the Congress, then headed by Vasantrao Naik whose record as Maharashtra’s longest-serving chief minister for eleven years remains unbroken. The government clearly looked the other way when one Kamgar Sena leader (who later ended up as a minister in the only Shiv Sena government in Maharashtra so far) was accused of killing a legislator, Krishna Desai, belonging to the Communist Party of India (Marxist) or the CPI(M). Four decades later, though sixteen of Thackeray’s ‘boys’ were convicted for the murder, the case against the mastermind and the Sena tiger who had then congratulated those ‘boys’ for killing Desai by stating that ‘we must not miss a single opportunity to massacre communists,’ is still meandering through the courts. No government has made any effort to bring them to justice. In the subsequent by-election in 1970, the Sena wrested that seat from the CPI(M) with covert Congress support, marking its maiden entry into the state legislature.

Stunning response

Thackeray had not expected a good response to his call to rally when he published a notice for one in the Marmik. He had wanted a small town hall or a school ground as the venue of the first Shiv Sena meeting, just to test the waters. But Deshpande says he overruled the objections of all others and persuaded Thackeray to go for Shivaji Park, Bombay’s best known and, perhaps, the largest open space, a rallying ground for all political parties. (An earlier meeting of the Sena had already been held in a closed hall.)

‘Thackeray was not so sure about the regional sentiment then but I had gauged the response at our meetings at the mandals and the vyayamshalas. Even the policemen who were on bundobast duty that day in 1966 when the first real public meeting was held had been sceptical and mocked me at the start of the meeting. But the response stunned everybody, including Thackeray. There had been no posters, no mobilization, only that notice in Marmik. And yet Shivaji Park was overflowing that day. I knew that we had arrived.’

The bulk of that crowd was drawn from the working classes, and from the ranks of the unemployed and even uneducated people with idle minds. Not surprisingly, the Shiv Sena gathered enough muscle power in no time at all. With the combination of moneybags and political patronage extended to the Shiv Sena by the Congress to do its dirty work, it is no wonder that the Sena became an irresistible force that met, on its own terms, the Communist Party of India (which too packed a few dirty tricks, like murder of opponents, up its sleeves), and eventually broke its back.

Little surprise then, says Deshpande, that they uncovered a conspiracy by the left (for which there is no police record) to assassinate Bal Thackeray. And even less of a surprise, therefore, that whoever Thackeray might have loved or hated (enemies today, friends tomorrow), he abhorred communists the most. Even more than the Congress, Muslims or even more than the south Indians and north Indians, all of whom he has hated at times and befriended at others, he hated the left: he had a constant paranoia of the left. They were his enemies and he would not be persuaded otherwise. That, in a sense, was truly his only ideology.

Congress  backing

The Shiv Sena always had the backing of the Congress, which had an unbroken stint as the ruling party from Independence up until 1995... Through the years of the Shiv Sena’s growth though, the authorities always looked the other way: the Congress had set up Thackeray in business for its own purposes and had to allow the Sena chief some room to secure his own gains. So Shiv Sainiks could get away with much lawlessness with impunity. Moreover, even if successive Congress governments had cracked the whip, they were soon handicapped by the fact that many lower-rung policemen had become Sena sympathizers and closet supporters of Thackeray, a fact that emerged in the open and proved very detrimental to everybody’s interests during the 1992-93 riots in Bombay following the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya.


WHEN THE SHIV SENA supported the candidature of Pratibha Patil of the Congress for presidency in 2007, Bal Thackeray could pass it off as a move in keeping with the Sena’s raison d’ĂȘtre, the Marathi manoos. The Shiv Sena was, after all, a nativist party and it had always fought for the rights of local Maharashtrians who many, including those in the Congress, thought were being treated as outsiders in their own homeland. The BJP, with whom the Sena has had an alliance now for nearly three decades, could do little to persuade Thackeray otherwise. But they could do even less when, inexplicably, Thackeray decided to once again support the candidature of a Congressman, Pranab Mukherjee, at the subsequent presidential election in 2012, even without any overt appeal from the Congress to his party to do so.

But Thackeray was only going back to his roots in facilitating a Congress victory in those elections. After all, it was this party which had not only helped establish the Shiv Sena in 1966 but had also, both covertly and overtly, flagged its agenda from time to time with some clever and well-thought-out moves of its own. In 1969, when the Shiv Sena decided to block the entry of Morarji Desai, a former chief minister of the undivided Bombay state, into the city, the then chief minister, Vasantrao Naik, decided to look the other way at first. By most accounts, the police were asked to ignore the troublemakers on the streets. Action was taken against the rioters and Bal Thackeray only when things went completely out of hand and it was well-nigh impossible to ignore the growing mayhem across the metropolis.

The Shiv Sena, at that point of time, was proving to be a handy tool in destroying the communist parties which, in some ways, ruled Bombay without quite being in power, much like the Shiv Sena did in later years. Thackeray had also helped the Congress defeat the Communist Party candidates in the legislative assembly and parliamentary elections in those early years. And with the then Maharashtra home minister Balasaheb Desai proving a powerful ally in his pursuit of the Marathi agenda, the Sena grew by leaps and bounds, even winning about forty of the 140 seats in the Bombay Municipal Corporation in 1968 on the Marathi card, just two years after blazing into existence.

Seamless integration

Before Independence, which brought with it universal adult franchise to India without any of the struggles that European nations and even the US had to witness even as late as the twentieth century, only taxpayers could vote or stand for civic elections under the British regime. Not surprisingly then, most of these eligible people were Parsis, Bohra Muslims, Hindu Gujaratis and the British themselves. You could count local Maharashtrians among the voters on the fingers of just one hand. This skewed composition continued well into the years after Independence. The non-Maharashtrians dominated the municipal corporation, despite universal adult franchise, simply because of the headstart that some other groups had had in these matters in the preceding years.

So Thackeray’s ‘Bombay for Maharashtrians’ agenda found great resonance across the board, even among traditional Congress politicians. It is not surprising then that there was, and still continues to be, an almost seamless integration between Congress ideologues and the Marathi agenda of the Shiv Sena.


Excerpted with permission from Hindu Hriday Samrat by Sujata Anandan, published by HarperCollins India
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