Monday, November 16, 2015

The Genealogy, Ideology, and Future of ISIL and its Derivatives

Abstract: The organization known today simply as the “Islamic State,” or by its Arabic acronym, Daesh (English, ISIL), has historical and ideological roots that go beyond the territories it now controls. These deep roots give Daesh confidence that it will succeed in dominating the world, but give others reasons to believe that it will fail in controlling even a single nation. Mixing puritan religious and political discourses, ISIL managed to dominate all other armed opposition groups in conflict zones (Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Libya) and has inspired individuals in many other countries (Egypt, Pakistan, France, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Tunisia) to carry out brutal attacks in its name.

Dogmatic Origins: Traditionism

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Turkey’s elections results prioritize stability, continuity, and inclusion

Turkey’s elections, despite the difficult circumstances and some of the intimidating practices against Kurdish voters and the media, are  victory for those who believe in an empowered citizenship and peaceful transition of power. This is especially important because, in Islamic societies, fostering shared governance and strengthening democratic institutions are urgent needed. Participation in elections is powerful rebuke to those who believe in changing political order through violence and military coups. I do not speak the Turkish language, therefore, I cannot claim that I know the motives of the Turkish voters. However, statistics and persistent trends suggest that the winners of these elections should not use it to continue ignoring voices of dissent.

First, Turkish nationalism is retreating before religious conservatism. During these redo elections, the AKP siphoned more public support from the Nationalist Movement party (MHP) than from any other party. Voters' support for MHP dropped to 11.96% from 16.5% (June’s results).

Sunday, November 01, 2015

The Vienna Talks are the first serious attempt to end the war in Syria

On Friday 30, it became clear that the war in Syria is not a civil war. It is now a global proxy war, initiated by Saudi Arabia and Qatar to eliminate Arab governments that do not reliably support the Saudi (or Arab League) position. When the international community was threatened by the spread of violence outside the Syrian border, the U.S. and other European countries intervened to force their regional allies to scale back their belligerence. Russia also intervened in support of its traditional allies in the region. These interventions transformed what was at first a regional proxy war into a global proxy war. That escalation occurred because of several historical and geopolitical factors.

Russia, with a long-standing strategic alliance with Syria that goes as far back as the USSR, supported the Syrian government and found itself on the same side as Iran. Iran has had an alliance with Syria since the Iraq-Iran war during which the Gulf States supported Saddam Hussein, who initiated an eight-year old war that killed nearly one million people. The U.S.’s primary regional ally is Saudi Arabia. France and the UK, two countries with billions of dollars in trade and arms deals with Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates sided with Saudi Arabia as well. Turkey, governed by the AKP since 2002, took the side of the Muslim Brotherhood, with whom they share an ideological and sectarian affinity and whose armed militia was crushed in Hama in 1982 by Bashar al-Assad’s father. Jordan, whose massacre of Palestinians in 1970 caused Syria to send an armored division into Jordan, sided with Assad’s opponents. These are just few of the historical and geopolitical reasons behind the strange anti- and pro-Assad alliances. These are self-interested actors, brought together for a single purpose: to overthrow the Assad regime. This was not about defending the rights of the Syrian people or punishing a belligerent authoritarian with blood on his hands—all Arab regimes have blood on their hands. None of these countries on either side really cared about the Syrian people, which is why most of them have failed to take in any Syrian refugees. Even Turkey, which initially opened the door to the families of the rebel fighters, is now pushing them into the sea and driving them into Europe.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Why is AKP - led Turkish government punishing Kurds and leftists for ISIL suicide crimes?

When ISIL suicide bombers killed more than 32 people at a cultural center in Suruç, near Kobani, the AKP led government unleashed waves of airstrikes against PKK fighters in southern Turkey and northern Iraq, instead of launching punishing trikes against ISIL. When two suicide bombers targeted a peace coalition activists, mostly Kurds and leftists, killing more than 96 people, Prime Minister Davutoglu, blamed “the Islamic State, Kurdish militant factions, or far-leftist radicals.” 

Just one day after the attack, Turkish warplanes struck PKK targets in northern Iraq and southeastern Turkey, killing “some 30-35 PKK guerrillas on Sunday alone.” No reported strikes against ISIL. Which brings us to the obvious question: Why is the AKP government punishing Kurds for crimes committed by ISIL?

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Race, Religion, and Politics in American society

When presidential hopeful Ben Carson appeared on Iowa Press (October 2), he was given a chance to explain to Iowans why he thinks that a Muslim should not be a president. He argued that Islam, because of sharia law, is not compatible with the U.S. constitution and because of that he thinks that American Muslims cannot be presidents of the United States. When he was told that the Bible, too, is not compatible with the constitution and a passage from the Old Testament was quoted for him, he dismissed that by saying that the New Testament superseded the Old Testament. He claimed that nothing in Christianity contradicted the constitution, because the Founders were Christians, not deists as some claim, and a Christian could not produce a document that would contradict Christianity. Ben Carson did not hide the fact that his political ideas are inspired by Biblical teachings but he disputed the fact that Christianity is incompatible with the U.S. constitution. 

Friday, October 02, 2015

Syria’s protest movement that gave birth to a World War

The peaceful protest movement that started in Syria in 2011 was transformed by foreign governments’ involvement into a civil war fueled by sectarian and ethnic dreams. Now, we can see that Syria is no longer ground for a civil or proxy war, it is scene of a world war. There are two sides in this conflict. Although each side prefers to frame its identify in appealing descriptors like Friends Of Syria, Anti-Terror Coalition, Preservers Of Legitimacy, and Pro-International Law and Order Nations, the two sides are fixated on one man: Bashar al-Assad. From the moment some Syrians began protesting, the US-Saudi coalition jumped on the opportunity and planned to oust Assad no matter the cost. The Russian-Iranian coalition did not want that to happen no matter the cost. Every other claim about Assad's regime abuse of human rights, forcing a wave of refugees, denying his people democracy, committing war crimes, being authoritarian, and  lacking legitimacy are nice sounding slogans needed to disguise the real agenda. After all, any one of these nations that is directly involved in this crisis is guilty of the same offenses: they all have a record of human rights abuses, ill treatment of refugees, subversion of democracy, war crimes, and authoritarian behavior. Some of these governments never held even sham elections to test their actual legitimacy. Now, each side is undertaking military action to support its side achieve the one goal: remove/strengthen Bashar al-Assad. 

Russia's direct military involvement should not surprise anyone: Russia's leaders have been preparing for it for years. Now, parties of this international conflict are well known. On one side, we have the so-called Friends-Of-Syria or Anti-ISIL nations that supported, trained, and equipped the Free Syrian Army (FSA), which metamorphosed after 2012 into ISIL, al-Nusra, Ahrar al-Sham, Jaysh al-Islam, Jaysh al-Fath, thuwar Suria, and other smaller armed groups. On the other side, we have nations that declared their support for nations' sovereignty, Preservers-Of-Legitimacy (POL), as they want to be called. 

Over time, the coalition of FOS shrunk from nearly 100 nations in 2011, to merely seven nations today: UK, US, France, Germany, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar. On Friday Oct. 2, these countries released a joint statement, saying that Russian strikes would “only fuel more extremism.”  But they did not explain why Russian strikes would fuel extremism but strikes carried out by FOS would not. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Proposition for ending the crisis in Syria: concurrent devolution of power regionally and military action against genocidal fighters nationally

Syrians as refugees because of this level of destruction of their cities
Politics is the art of compromise. Successful politicians rarely give ultimatums because doing so would limit their ability to navigate complex issues. In 2012, President Obama underestimated the complexity of the crisis in Syria. He drew a “red line” for President Assad: the use of chemical weapons would have “enormous consequences” and would “change [his] calculus” on American military intervention in Syria’s civil war. A year later, someone used weaponized chemicals, killing hundreds of civilians. Although no investigation was conducted to identify the perpetrator at that time, the U.S., encouraged by its regional allies like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey, accused the government of Bashar al-Assad. Just days before world leaders were to meet in New York, U.S. bombing of Syria was all but certain. Then two key events changed the course of history. First, Prime Minister David Cameron, initially supportive of military intervention, was restrained by the British parliament. As of September 7, 2013, the U.S. Congress was also set to not authorize the use of force in Syria, especially if it was not authorized by the UNSC. Second, U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, made a “silly mistake”, to borrow the words of some observers.

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