Manufacturing The Killing Fields In Pakistan

 
Sunday January 10 and Monday January 11, 2016 | Last updated Tuesday, January 19, 2016
Part-X of Manufacturing The Killing Fields in Pakistan: Part-I, Part-II, Part-III, Part-IV, Part-V, Part-VI, Part-VII, Part-VIII, Part-IX, Part-X
The provocation template of exercising foreign policy using proxy service providers to seed international dysfunction is only an open secret. It is not a state secret. America's current best friend, the absolutist kingdom of Saudi Arabia, just like America's former best friend, the absolutist dictator Iraqi Saddaam Hussein, is about to taste the fruit of supping with the devil without a very long spoon. As Henry Kissinger is known to have once quipped: “it may be dangerous to be America's enemy, but to be America's friend is fatal.”
Nawaz Sharif, the incumbent prime minister of Pakistan, owes his life to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. A lesson that he learnt in a hurry after having witnessed the fate of the former prime minister who has hanged by the predecessor military dictator of Pakistan, and saw history repeating itself without the Saudi intervention offering him refuge. The prime minister of Pakistan can only repay his personal debt in national blood.
What is also not inexplicable is the Pakistan Army COAS quickly rushing to dignify the Saudi regime's brutality under the most banal propaganda rubric that would easily resonate with the public mind --- threat to holy Saudi Arabia! Their marching orders, one may intelligently surmise, must have come directly from Washington. Because, like all militaries of the world prepared for proxy services, Pakistan's too takes its policy and priority cues from her own principal paymasters. As cliché as it may be, there is still no free lunch!
To those who think all is well in Pakistan, that our Generals and rulers have made things better at the homefront wrt terror and there is nothing major going on wrt the latest Shia-Sunni conflagration being set-up globally, read for yourself the latest headlines in Pakistan's largest English news daily, Dawn, reproduced below. Pakistan is being set-up to be in the very eye of the storm. Being an ostrich must be a great blessing for my Pakistani friends, busy as each one of us is in the pursuit of our “American Dream” regardless of where we live. I was informed most reliably yesterday for instance by my friend in Lahore that our General COAS, the top man in charge of the country's defense, and the most honest man in Pakistan, has things under full control.
This morning's News headlines inform us otherwise. All kinds of propaganda craft is being brought to bear to add fuel to the making of these new killing fields just as it was during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s where brother killed brother, 8 million, an order of magnitude more than the fratricide in the American Civil War. See this excerpt from an ancient political treatise (presented as historical fiction) if you think the cracks and lacunas among Shia and Sunni don't exist, or are not known to the arsonists who will come galloping as the fire brigade next, just as they are today the 'harawal dasta', the Marines if you will, fueling and then prognosticating the fire in preparation for the main Army's arrival.
These historical fissures among Muslims which are perennially ripe for blood-harvest by those who are neither Shia nor Sunni, have to be closed off. And closed off fundamentally, not just with Band-Aids that peel off with the tiniest of scratching. Historical fault-lines by themselves need be of no more significance or consequence than as a scholarly footnote to the source of rich diversity among a latter day people, variegated as we all are in myriad cultures and civilizations. It is only when the footnote falls into the hands of Machiavelli and becomes enlarged as the entire book, that fratricidal blood flows in the streets and among nations. History vouches for the veracity of that truth. See Averting Shia-Sunni World War.
Please dare to care.... take a stand.
Pakistanis must not become sentimentalized by our religion, which we tend to mostly wear on our sleeves only, to take sides on the narratives being brought to us, but rather galvanized by perceptively understanding who are the victims and who are the victimizers. We must stand up for the victims. That is us. For it is the victims, us, who are made the canon fodder in the geopolitical games of the elite. I will not be that canon fodder. Neither should you. Take that stand. Reject the entire fictional narrative; it is being orchestrated by hard acts of state terror to create a cycle of reactionary violence at the international level designed to percolate down to our own streets and neighbourhoods
You can imagine the killing of the Saudi Shia dissent scholar Sheikh Nimr by the Saudi kingdom to be virtually equivalent to the killing of Franz Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria-Este, whose calculated assassination in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914 precipitated Austria-Hungary's declaration of war against Serbia leading to World War I. That world war led to 50 million dead and all existent empires replaced by the rising Pax Americana. That Pax Americana is to be replaced by World Government through these upcoming manufactured world wars. That's the general blueprint. 9/11 was its first provocation for the final push to global transformation. Shia-Sunni conflagration is to be the next in the long series of incrementally creating world order out of chaos.
The template of Machiavellian provocation to diabolically induce the anticipated chain reaction is ubiquitous in Pax Americana history. The ex post facto “oops” narrative of April Glaspie, the US Ambassador to Iraq before Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990, to newspaper reporters before her sudden and unexplained demise demonstrates how dysfunction in international relations is fabricated and used as pretext for launching premeditated imperial foreign policy: “Obviously, I didn't think, and nobody else did, that the Iraqis were going to take all of Kuwait.” Saddaam Hussein was given the green light to invade Kuwait in the aftermath of the eight year Iran-Iraq war after Kuwait (as one may sensibly surmise) was goaded into extracting more oil from a heavily contested oil rich region between Iraq and Kuwait. With Iraq increasing its troop concentrations on the border, April Glaspie reported Saddaam Hussein's candid request for the American position to the State Department, and she was told to report back to Saddaam Hussein: “We have no opinion on your Arab - Arab conflicts, such as your dispute with Kuwait.” (See April Glaspie's transcript of meeting with Saddaam Hussein, July 25, 1990 - Presidential Palace – Baghdad)
Once the highly predictable and easily manipulatable Iraqi dictator took the military step of invading Kuwait a week later after the sly blank-check had been given to him by the superpower, just as he had been given in invading Iran a decade earlier under the full military and economic support of the United States, this time the United States made Muslim Iraq public enemy number one and bombed that nation back to pre-history with a full scale military invasion. George Bush Sr., the president of the United States at the time, after his overt laissez faire diplomatic green lighting Saddaam Hussein's adventurism, suddenly drew a line in the sand. In his address to the American nation on the eve of America's new “just war”, he piously dignified American terror: “This is an historic moment. We have in this past year made great progress in ending a long era of conflict and Cold War. We have before us the opportunity to forge for ourselves and for future generations, a NEW WORLD ORDER. A world for the rule of law, not the law of the jungle, governs the conduct of nations. When we are successful, and we will be, we have a real chance at this new world order. An order in which a credible United Nations can use its peace keeping role to fulfill the promise and vision of the UN's founders.” (George H. W. Bush Sr., January 16, 1991, watch-speech, transcript)
That engineered “just war” which began with aerial bombing in a reign of nightly terror by the Christian superpower, was followed by thirteen long years of crippling full spectrum economic sanctions and no-fly zones maintained by his successor president, William Jefferson Clinton. And that was followed by another full scale military invasion and nightly aerial bombing terror in 2003 by the prodigal son following in his father's footsteps, George W. Bush Jr., in the pretext of Iraq possessing WMDs that Saddaam Hussein was about to launch upon the United States and its Allies any minute. In 2005, like April Glaspie in the previous decade, the Iraq Study Group offered its ex post facto mea culpa of “intelligence failure”, a well worn template with much mileage evidently still left in it, after the fait accompli had been diabolically engineered and the “mission accomplished”. Cheap public blood, especially Muslim blood, repeatedly shed by game-theory laced highly predictable and manufactured “happenstances” of history that lead to the desired foreign policy outcome in a sea of fabricated chaos! We know what that desired ultimate outcome is: New World Order that “fulfills the promise and vision of the UN's founders.” The bibliography on this subject is extensive and rich, but the scholarly ostriches of Pakistan, like the rest of the world, find it both convenient to their careers and lucrative to their pocket-books to pretend that it does not exist.
Sheikh Nimr's grotesque execution by barbaric beheading at the hands of his own state, her on-going military invasion and bombing of impoverished mostly Shia Yemen (Zaidi denomination) using mercenary armies, her purchasing a coalition of 34 nations along the Sunni axis, are all calculated provocations to get Shia Iran (Ithna Ashari denomination) to declare war on Sunni Saudi Arabia (Wahabi-Salafi denomination) for her global oppression of the Shias using her American sponsored Takfiri brigades (see Understanding ISIS and Imperial Surrogates and 'Terror Central' in Operation Gladio Redux). How long can the Iranian leadership, boldly proclaiming to be the valih-e-faqih-muslimeen, hold out from intervention without losing legitimacy to that title in the mind of the taqlidi Shia flock worldwide? Once forced to sit on the Russian roulette table, there can be no winners. So far, it appears that Iran under valih-e-faqih Ayatollah Khamenei, has pragmatically understood the devil that she has been supping with for her recently concluded JCPOA treaty to unilaterally disarm herself of all potential nuclear weapons technology in exchange for international relief from the long running economic sanctions. The revolutionary state has sagaciously resisted her national instinct to rush headlong into any holy war set up for it, as it did during the reign of the first valih-e-faqih of Iran, the late Ayatollah (imam) Khomeini, who identified America as the Great Satan and watered her cemeteries with the youthful blood of a generation in the name of Sacred Defence.
In that same vein of engineered Machiavellian provocation, how long before a Hezbollah Pakistan is born by the existential necessity of self-defence, to offer armed resistance to the Takfiris in Pakistan shedding Shia blood with impunity with the state looking the other way? (See The New SAVAK in Pakistan). For all that spilled Muslim blood in Pakistan and elsewhere, the Pakistanis have not been galvanized into displaying public furor of any consequence.
Apathy is a strong motivator for any people to look the other way, or at best do the obligatory feel-good “weekend jihad” and get on with the pursuit of their “American Dream” the rest of the week. But any perceived threat to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the custodian of Mecca and Medina, is a different story altogether. With proper propaganda support, that would easily become the universal cause célèbre for yet another sacred defence! The new narrative is a most brilliant play from Machiavelli's playbook of engineering conflagration.
This time it is engineered to flashpoint, and assisted by the state apparatuses of the vassal states, as with the carefully crafted public rhetoric of '“strong response” to threats to his country’s territorial integrity,' the Pakistani rulers repeatedly assured the Saudi Defence minister (see news reports below). Instead of holding Saudi Arabia to the much touted human rights standards for its barbaric beheadings and causing the death of thousands of pilgrims in the preceding Hajj season, with no respect shown to the dead pilgrim bodies which were subsequently buried anonymously in mass graves and no apologies offered to their grieving families and nations, the Pakistani officials, military and political, rushed to declare their oath of allegiance to the kingdom that bankrolls Pakistan and provides safe haven to its out-of-favor political leaders during military take-overs.
Caption Saudi defence minister was received by Prime Minister's Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and Defence Minster Khawaja Asif. (Dawn.com)

Caption Saudi defence minister was received by Prime Minister's Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and Defence Minster Khawaja Asif.─ Photo: PID (Dawn.com)
Nawaz Sharif, the incumbent prime minister of Pakistan, owes his life to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. A lesson that he learnt in a hurry after having witnessed the fate of the former prime minister who has hanged by the predecessor military dictator of Pakistan, and saw history repeating itself without the Saudi intervention offering him refuge. The prime minister of Pakistan can only repay his personal debt in national blood.
Caption Saudi Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir shaking hands with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif before their meeting at the PM House. (Dawn.com)

Caption ISLAMABAD: Saudi Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir shaking hands with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif before their meeting at the PM House.—INP (Dawn.com)
Caption Saudi deputy crown prince and Defence Minister Muhammad Bin Salman along with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at PM House (Dawn.com)

Caption Saudi deputy crown prince and Defence Minister Muhammad Bin Salman along with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at PM House.─ Photo: PM House (Dawn.com)
Caption Saudi deputy crown prince and Defence Minister met COAS General Raheel Sharif, COAS at General Headquarters. (Dawn.com)

Caption Saudi deputy crown prince and Defence Minister met COAS General Raheel Sharif, COAS at General Headquarters.─ Photo: ISPR (Dawn.com)
Caption It was agreed that the two countries would cooperate in developing an effective counter narrative to defeat the extremist mindset. (Dawn.com)

Caption It was agreed that the two countries would cooperate in developing an effective counter narrative to defeat the extremist mindset. ─ Photo: PID (Dawn.com)
Caption Threat to S. Arabia will evoke strong response, says army (Dawn.com)

Caption ISLAMABAD: While Chief of Army Staff Gen Raheel Sharif assured visiting Saudi Defence Minister Mohammad bin Salman on Sunday of “strong response” to threats to his country’s territorial integrity, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif called for resolving its crisis with Iran through diplomacy and offered Pakistan’s good offices in this regard. (Dawn.com)
What is also not inexplicable is the Pakistan Army COAS quickly rushing to dignify the Saudi regime's brutality under the most banal propaganda rubric that would easily resonate with the public mind --- threat to holy Saudi Arabia! To protect the holy lands from the impoverished Yemenis, Pakistan's Defence Minister, Khawaja Asif, unabashedly admitted on the National Assembly floor that Pakistan has agreements with Saudi Arabia, stating: “our people do provide training to the Saudi troops.” (January 19, 2016). Training to do what? To bomb impoverished Yemen in partnership with the Western Allies' proxy war services, as even headlined in the British press: “British military advisers are in control rooms assisting the Saudi-led coalition staging bombing raids across Yemen that have killed thousands of civilians, the Saudi foreign minister and the Ministry of Defence have confirmed.” (January 15, 2016). Pakistan military advising and training the Saudis for bombing Yemen – Why? What threat does the Shia rebellion in the North of that impoverished country to demand equality and justice from their own government present to Western backed Saudi kingdom? Only as the provocation template to induce Iran into the Shia-Sunni battlefield being mercilessly carved out in Muslim blood, with Pakistan, the eager beaver proxy services provider to the world, already declaring its chosen side! Then they shall come as “peace makers”, as the Holy Qur'an vouches the war-mongers always deceitfully do: “When it is said to them: "Make not mischief on the earth", they say: "Why, we only want to make peace!"” (2:11). Lo and behold, after choosing sides, after aiding and abetting the Saudi aggressors in their propaganda narrative of the so called 34-nation Sunni coalition to wage “war on terror” from which Shia Iran is carefully kept out “due to trust deficit”, Nawaz Sharif accompanied by his COAS gallantly trot off to both nations to become the valiant “peace makers” (“Saudi Arabia, Iran brotherly countries: PM Nawaz”, January 19, 2016).
Beyond the pretenses and public relations which wear thin, for the royal welcome mat eagerly laid out in Pakistan for Saudi Defence and Foreign Ministers, Pakistan's military's marching orders to provide proxy services to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, one may intelligently surmise, must have come directly from the head of Western Alliance, Washington. Because, like all militaries of the world prepared for proxy services, Pakistan's too takes its policy and priority cues from her own principal paymasters. As cliché as it may be, there is still no free lunch!
To be faithful to one's own nation one must not have foreign paymasters, nor harvest one's own nation to make up the difference. Perhaps that truism is no longer obvious to anyone.
The provocation template of exercising foreign policy using proxy service providers to seed international dysfunction is only an open secret. It is not a state secret. America's current best friend, the absolutist kingdom of Saudi Arabia, just like America's former best friend, the absolutist dictator Iraqi Saddaam Hussein, is about to taste the fruit of supping with the devil without a very long spoon. As Henry Kissinger is known to have once quipped: “it may be dangerous to be America's enemy, but to be America's friend is fatal.”
The war imposed upon us is principally an intellectually fueled war. Those who don't use their intellect cannot ever confront it. Those who do, unfortunately have no power unless people together use their collective national intellect. Fools and useful idiots will always overwhelm the most profound intellect as has happened throughout human history. Mobs are swayed by emotions and sentimentalism and before their rising noon tide, the tallest intelligence, the fairest virtue, bows her head in acquiescence when they come to burn her house down. The people of the Indian subcontinent are given to this predilection more than almost any other people. The blood partition of 1947 is empirical evidence of that fact that nothing was left sacred by the Hindu-Muslim-Sikh mobs incited by events beyond their control and acumen, swearing blood revenge upon each other. Neighbour killed neighbour, friend killed friend, just because they were not part of the same religion. That same fire of separation on ideological grounds, “us vs. them”, is being rekindled among the same people, specifically of riot prone Pakistan. But this time along their natural fissures, the sectarian boundary.
If simpleton minds think it cannot happen, that all this is far fetched, just see how the militaries of Shia majority Iraq and Shia majority Iran so easily decimated each other in the name of their respective “divine mandate”. Just imagine the momentousness of the “divine mandate” when Mecca and Medina are presented as being in danger! Muslim masses are mere putty in the hands of propagandist and religious authority figures. Where the billion Muslims have stayed largely impervious to the Saudi kingdom obliterating archeological vestiges of the early advent of Islam and its noble Prophet from their Hijaz territories, only because there has been no adverse propaganda campaign against that imperial evil, and also because the systematic destruction is carried out under the positive propaganda cover of expanding Hajj services to accommodate the larger number of people coming for pilgrimage, the Muslim masses will be mobilized instantly to put on their jihad robes and pile on top of each other to reach heaven with the right provocation. The fratricide is indefinitely sustainable when accompanied by, as Brzezinski put it, “a high degree of doctrinal motivation, intellectual commitment, and patriotic gratification.”
Caption Zbigniew Brzezinski “God is on your side”
The mobilization exercises to recruit the mujahideen for America's proxy war against the USSR in Afghanistan among the Sunnis worldwide, but mainly in Afghanistan-Pakistan, and the baseej and other canon fodder in Shia Iran by Ayatollah Khomeini for the American sponsored Iran-Iraq war during that same period to birth-pang the infamous “arc of crisis”, which, as Brzezinski prognosticated in the Time Magazine of January 1979: “An arc of crisis stretches along the shores of the Indian Ocean, with fragile social and political structures in a region of vital importance to us threatened with fragmentation. The resulting political chaos could well be filled by elements hostile to our values and sympathetic to our adversaries.”, have unequivocally demonstrated the success of “God is on your side” applied thickly enough!
Let's not fall for it again. Inform our leaders, our generals, our rulers, our scholars, our opinion-makers, that we do not wish to be participant in their games. That we are not sheep and that we refuse to service the mutton eaters!
Let each one of us feel the burden of responsibility to douse the dry kiln wood around us and within our reach, in plentiful water before the imperial spark succeeds in setting it all ablaze.


Zahir Ebrahim
Project Humanbeingsfirst.org
California





News Headlines from Pakistan's largest English News Daily, Dawn.com
(a record for posterity – for who pays any attention today)




Threat to S. Arabia will evoke strong response, says army

Baqir Sajjad Syed — Updated Jan 11, 2016 10:38am




Saudi deputy crown prince and Defence Minister Muhammad Bin Salman along with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at PM House.─ Photo: PM House

It was agreed that the two countries would cooperate in developing an effective counter narrative to defeat the extremist mindset. ─ Photo: PID




ISLAMABAD: While Chief of Army Staff Gen Raheel Sharif assured visiting Saudi Defence Minister Mohammad bin Salman on Sunday of “strong response” to threats to his country’s territorial integrity, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif called for resolving its crisis with Iran through diplomacy and offered Pakistan’s good offices in this regard.
“Pakistan has historically pursued the policy of promoting brotherhood among member states of the OIC. Pakistan has also always expressed its readiness to offer its good offices to brotherly Muslim countries for resolution of their differences,” the prime minister was quoted by his office as having told the Saudi deputy crown prince.
Prince Mohammad met the army chief and the prime minister during his seven-hour stay here. Defence Minister Khawaja Asif received him at the airport, but curiously there was no counterpart meeting.


Saudi defence minister was received by Prime Minister's Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and Defence Minster Khawaja Asif.─ Photo: PID
The Saudi prince, whose visit came close on the heels of one by Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir, was reportedly here to find out how Pakistan could militarily assist his country.
The prime minister recalled the “historical, cultural, and religious” ties and reiterated the established commitment of standing with the “people of Saudi Arabia” in case of any threat to its territorial integrity, while also stressing the need for peacefully resolving the conflict.

PM offers Saudi prince help to diplomatically resolve crisis with Iran


In his meeting with the Saudi minister at the General Headquarters, the army chief delivered a stronger message — probably offering the visiting leader the sound bite that he came looking for.


Saudi deputy crown prince and Defence Minister met COAS General Raheel Sharif, COAS at General Headquarters.─ Photo: ISPR
Gen Sharif, according to ISPR, “re-asserted that any threat to Saudi Arabia’s territorial integrity would evoke a strong response from Pakistan”.
Negotiations between GHQ and Saudi officials on defence cooperation preceded Prince Mohammad’s visit. The discussions are being kept highly secret.
Although it is publicly unknown what the military has committed to the Saudis, Gen Sharif found it enough to say that the defence relationship with the country was held “in highest esteem”.
Amid speculations on the matter, a government source was reported as saying that the military had committed deployment of troops in Saudi Arabia.
However, the claim could not be verified and military spokesman Lt Gen Asim Bajwa was unavailable for comments because he is out of the country.
Defence Minister Mohammad told Gen Sharif that his country would extend “full support to Pakistan’s position on all matters”.
The execution this month of Saudi Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqir Al Nimr and the subsequent reaction from Iran, including storming of the Saudi embassy in Tehran, sparked the crisis in the already tense relationship between the two countries. Saudi Arabia responded by cutting off its diplomatic relations with Iran and many of its Arab allies followed suit.
Foreign Minister Jubeir said after a special session of the Gulf Cooperation Council a day earlier that Saudi Arabia was mulling additional steps against Iran, but Defence Minister Mohammad hinted in a media interview that confrontation would not be allowed to escalate into an all-out war.
Besides discussing the tensions with Iran, the Saudi prince was also here to promote a counter-terrorism coalition, which is said to be his brainchild.
Video posted by PML-N official Facebook page
Prime Minister Sharif welcomed the initiative and reaffirmed support for the coalition of ‘like-minded Islamic countries’.
“Pakistan supports efforts to counter terrorism and extremism,” he said in his meeting with the visiting minister.
“The two leaders agreed to strengthen bilateral relations between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia and deepen the cooperation in all fields, including defence, security, fight against terrorism, trade and investment and meeting manpower requirements of the kingdom,” the official statement said.
It was also agreed that the two countries would cooperate in developing an effective counter-narrative to defeat the extremist mindset.
Published in Dawn, January 11th, 2016

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Threat to S. Arabia will evoke strong response from Pakistan: PM

Dawn.com — Updated Jan 10, 2016 09:26pm



Saudi deputy crown prince and Defence Minister Muhammad Bin Salman along with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at PM House.─ Photo: PM House
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in his meeting with Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Crown Prince and Defence Minister Muhammad Bin Salman and assured Saudi Arabia of Pakistan's support if if any threat arises to its territorial integrity.
According to a statement released from Prime Minister House, the prime minister also exchanged views with the Saudi dignitary on bilateral relations and regional security.
Video posted by PML-N official Facebook page

Meeting with COAS

Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif met the Saudi Defence Minister at General Headquarters this afternoon and discussed matters related to regional security and defence cooperation.
During his meeting with Muhammad Bin Salman, the COAS said that Pakistan enjoys close and brotherly relations with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and attaches great importance to their security.
About the country's defence ties with Saudi Arabia, Raheel Sharif repeated that Pakistan holds its defence ties with the Kingdom in highest esteem and any threat to Saudi Arabia’s territorial integrity would evoke a strong response from Pakistan.
According to ISPR, Saudi Defence Minister also expressed similar thoughts and also appreciated Pakistan's armed forces over their successes in fight against terrorism.
The crown prince reaffitmed Kingdom’s full support to Pakistan’s position on all matters


Saudi defence minister was received by Prime Minister's Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and Defence Minster Khawaja Asif.─ Photo: PID
Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, who is also the deputy prime minister and minister for defence, arrived here on Sunday for a day-long trip for seeking Pakistan’s support as the kingdom mulls additional steps against Iran.
This is the second high-profile visitor from Riyadh in three days. Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir visited Islamabad on Thursday for discussing Riyadh’s tensions with Tehran and the counter-terrorism coalition that Saudi Arabia had announced.
Prince Muhammad followed up on the discussions FM Jubeir had here and met Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif and Prime Minister Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif.

A military cooperation arrangement is expected to be concluded


The Saudi defence minister will also meet meet Minister for Defence Khawaja Asif.
Pakistan has indicated it could consider the Saudi invitation to join the 34-nation coalition (proposed by Riyadh before the Iran spat). However, no official announcement has been made so far.
Islamabad has criticised Iran for reacting to Saudi cleric Sheikh Nimr’s execution and sees it as interference in internal matters of the kingdom.
FM Jubeir on Saturday, after an extraordinary meeting of the foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council, said that Saudi Arabia could take further steps against Iran if tensions were to escalate.
A source said that the Saudi defence minister is expected to conclude a military cooperation arrangement during the trip, which the two sides have been negotiating recently.
Saudi Assistant Defence Minister for Military Affairs Muhammad Bin Abdullah al-Ayish earlier visited GHQ and his trip was followed by discussions at other levels. Details of the cooperation agreement are being kept under wraps.
A military official described intensified contacts as part of Riyadh’s heightened diplomatic outreach to allied countries amid aggravating tensions with Iran.
Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Gen Rashad Mahmood is also expected to visit Saudi Arabia later this month.




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S. Arabia assured of support

Baqir Sajjad Syed — Updated Jan 08, 2016 10:22am



ISLAMABAD: Saudi Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir shaking hands with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif before their meeting at the PM House.—INP
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan reaffirmed on Thursday its support to Saudi Arabia, which is embroiled in a tense standoff with Iran, and the counter-terrorism coalition that it (Riyadh) was setting up.
The reiteration of support for the Saudi government was made during a shortened visit by Saudi Foreign Minister Dr Adel Al-Jubeir to Islamabad for discussions on his country’s diplomatic row with Iran and the multinational coalition against terrorism it (Saudi Arabia) had announced.
“People of Pakistan held the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in high esteem and also had deep respect for the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques. … (they) will always stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Saudi Arabia against any threat to its territorial integrity and sovereignty,” PM Sharif told FM Jubeir, while assuring him of Pakistan’s unconditional support.
Additionally, a media statement said the two sides discussed regional and global issues of common concern and agreed on promoting multi-faceted cooperation.

Foreign Minister Jubeir holds talks with Sharif, army chief


The Saudi foreign minister started his whirlwind tour of Islamabad with a meeting with Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif at GHQ and then visited Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at his residence before concluding the trip with a meeting with Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz.
Mr Jubeir, who led a 17-member delegation, stayed in Islamabad for a little over six hours. His trip was officially described as a ‘working visit’.
He was to originally visit Islamabad on Sunday, but postponed it at the eleventh hour due to the storming of Saudi embassy in Tehran by protesters agitating against the execution of Saudi dissident Sheikh Nimr Baqir Al-Nimr.
As the Saudi foreign minister landed in Islamabad, protesters from various religious parties held a protest demonstration in the federal capital’s D-Chowk against Pakistan’s decision to join the Saudi-led coalition and execution of Sheikh Nimr.
The Foreign Office cancelled a planned joint press conference by Mr Aziz and Mr Jubeir to avoid possible media questions over the recent regional developments involving Saudi Arabia.
A statement issued by the Foreign Office said that Mr Jubeir talked about tensions with Iran during his meetings.
Pakistan, which had already con­demned the Saudi embassy incident, went a step further by noting it “believes in respect for international norms and adherence to non-interference”.

Counter-terrorism coalition

Besides the tensions with Iran, the Saudi foreign minister was said to have briefed Prime Minister Sharif on details of the counter-terrorism coalition.
Saudi Arabia had last month announced that it was establishing a 34-nation coalition to fight terrorism. The government at the time of announcement of the coalition, in which Pakistan had been included, conceded that it did not know much about the group, but still agreed to join it. It was also said that the extent of involvement in the activities would be decided after Riyadh shared the details.
Speaking to Mr Jubeir, Mr Sharif said: “Pakistan welcomes Saudi Arabia’s initiative and supports all such regional and international efforts to counter terrorism and extremism.”
During the delegation-level meeting the two sides led by the respective foreign ministers, agreed on engaging the clergy for formulating a narrative against extremism and terrorism.
Published in Dawn, January 8th, 2016



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Shia protesters oppose Pakistan's involvement in Saudi-led coalition

AFP — Published Jan 08, 2016 09:20pm




A woman holds a sign for cleric Nimr al-Nimr, who was executed along with others in Saudi Arabia. —Reuters
ISLAMABAD: Hundreds of people joined a Shia-led protest in Islamabad on Friday against the government's decision to join Saudi Arabia's 34-country coalition against extremism, as Riyadh's foreign minister ended a two-day visit to the country.
The protesters presented a memorandum to the Foreign Office spokesman demanding Pakistan to drop out of the alliance, which was announced in December and is seen as the latest sign of a more assertive foreign policy by the Saudi kingdom, the dominant Muslim power in the Middle East.
“Neither the Pakistan army nor the nation is for rent, we will oppose any attempts to sell the army to the house of Saud for a few billion riyals,” said Shia activist Gul-e-Zahra, addressing the Friday's rally.
Pakistan announced on Thursday they would join the Saudi-led military alliance to fight “terrorism” in the Islamic world, following a meeting between Riyadh's foreign minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
Saudi Arabia announced the coalition last month, naming Pakistan as a member, but Islamabad had initially reacted cautiously saying it needed further details before deciding the extent of its participation.
In a separate rally in the capital, an estimated 1,500 people chanted slogans against Saudi's execution of Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr on January 2, which sparked a deepening crisis between Riyadh and regional rival Iran.


An ASWJ supporter holds a placard to condemn the attack on Saudi consulate in Iran. —Reuters
Small scale rallies against the Saudi coalition were also organised in Lahore, however, protests were also held in Islamabad against Iran, with demonstrators accusing Tehran of “meddling “in Saudi Arabia's internal affairs.
The protesters chanted slogans vowing to “lay down their lives for the protection of the custodians of the holy cities”, a term used for the ruling Saudi family.



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Iran-Saudi row may widen sectarian divide: Pew survey

Anwar Iqbal — Updated Jan 08, 2016 07:55am

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WASHINGTON: The conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran is likely to further widen an existing sectarian divide in the Middle East, pitting Muslims against Muslims, warns a US survey released on Thursday.
The survey by the Washington-based Pew Research Centre shows that in Jordan, a predominantly Sunni country, 78 per cent of the public have a favourable view of Saudi Arabia, compared with only 8 per cent who have a positive opinion of Iran.
In the Palestinian territories, where again Sunnis predominate, about half — 51pc — have a favourable view of Saudi Arabia.
Here, there is a split by location. Among Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip, 60pc have a positive opinion of Saudi Arabia, compared with 46pc among West Bank residents.
Meanwhile, only 34pc in the Palestinian territories express a positive opinion of Iran, with more support coming from the West Bank (40pc) than from Gaza (24pc).
Overall, 48pc in Lebanon have a favourable view of Saudi Arabia versus 41pc who like Iran. However, as is usually the case in Lebanon, opinion is divided among three main religious groups in the country: Christians, Sunni Muslims and Shia Muslims.
An overwhelming number of Sunni Lebanese have a favourable view of Saudi Arabia (82pc), while Iran’s favourability among Sunnis sits at 5pc.
An even greater divide exists among the Lebanese Shia population, with 95pc saying they like Iran, while only 3pc say the same about Saudi Arabia.
Christians in Lebanon tend to have more favourable views of Saudi Arabia (54pc) than Iran (29pc).
In two other Middle Eastern nations surveyed, there is little support for either Saudi Arabia or Iran. In Turkey, around two-in-ten have favourable views of each power.
And in Israel, even fewer like Riyadh (14pc) or Tehran (5pc). In Israel, the Arab population is about as positive toward Saudi Arabia (37pc favourable) as it is Iran (34pc), despite the fact that the Israeli Muslim population is predominantly Sunni.
Jews in Israel, however, have little regard for Saudi Arabia (10pc favourable) or for Iran — for which there is little per cent favourability among Israeli Jews.
Published in Dawn, January 8th, 2016






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What the Dawn article left out:
Pew Reseaarch: The Middle East’s sectarian divide on views of Saudi Arabia, Iran, January 7, 2016, http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/01/07/the-middle-easts-sectarian-divide-on-views-of-saudi-arabia-iran/
The recent execution of Shia leader Nimr al-Nimr, along with dozens of other prisoners, by the Saudi Arabian government has sparked a furor in the Middle East. The storming of the Saudi Embassy amid protests in Iran, a predominantly Shia Muslim nation with long-standing animosity toward predominantly Sunni Saudi Arabia, has led to the cutting of diplomatic ties between the two powers. Saudi allies in the region, such as Bahrain, have followed suit.
The tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran are often characterized as sectarian – that is, Iran and its Shia allies versus Saudi Arabia and its Sunni brethren. And this characterization plays out to a large degree in public attitudes toward the two countries in five Middle Eastern nations Pew Research Center surveyed in spring 2015. In Jordan, a predominantly Sunni Muslim nation, 78% of the public have a favorable view of Saudi Arabia, compared with only 8% who have a positive opinion of Iran.


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Saudi execution exposes dangerous political and religious divisions

Reuters — Published Jan 06, 2016 03:59pm

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LONDON: Saudi Arabia's execution of Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr has exposed the dangerous political, religious and socio-economic fault lines which run through the kingdom and the Gulf.
News of the execution sparked some unrest among Shia communities in Saudi Arabia's oil-rich Eastern Province and in neighbouring Bahrain as well as in southern Iraq.
Iran's supreme leader effectively called for the overthrow of the Saudi monarchy, drawing a furious response from the Saudi government, which accused the Islamic Republic of interfering in the kingdom's internal affairs.
Iranian protesters stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran, and Saudi Arabia responded by breaking off diplomatic relations and encouraging allied Sunni governments to do the same.
Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United Nations (UN) told reporters on Monday "we are not natural born enemies of Iran".
But restoring diplomatic relations would only be possible if Iran were to "cease and desist from interfering in the internal affairs of other countries, including our own".
The rivalry between the two big powers in the Gulf is often simplified to a contest between a conservative Sunni monarchy and a revolutionary Shia republic; the reality is more complicated and worrying.
Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province lies at the dangerous intersection of great power rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia, sectarian conflict between Sunni and Shia, social and economic grievances, and the world's largest oil reserves.

Fault lines

Researchers at Columbia University have put together an outstanding collection of maps illustrating the cultural, religious, tribal and linguistic divisions across the Gulf region.
They show Shia majority areas stretching in an arc up through Iran, across southern Iraq and down along the eastern coast of Saudi Arabia into Bahrain, with a further output in the highlands of northern Yemen.
Iran has taken a special interest in the Shia communities in all these countries; and in some cases the government in Tehran, especially the Revolutionary Guards and other elements, have tried to export their influence.
But it is also clear that many of these Shia communities have strong local grievances and much of the unrest has local roots rather than simply being stirred up by Iran.
Shia communities in Iraq, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia have all suffered discrimination and marginalisation at the hands of Sunni-dominated governments and societies over the last century.
What adds to the destabilising cocktail is that areas that are home to many Shia communities are also where most of the region's oil and gas fields and remaining reserves are.
Southern Shia-dominated Iraq contains far more oil and gas than the Sunni-majority areas in the centre of the country.
And in Saudi Arabia, Eastern Province is where almost all the country's oil and gas reserves are to be found.
Conditions in the Eastern Province remain relatively opaque because access and reporting are controlled by the Saudi government, which also strongly discourages international discussion about political risks affecting the kingdom.
The potential for serious unrest is one of those low probability, high consequence risks that are difficult to estimate properly but which should not be ignored.
Unrest remains a tail risk rather than a central risk. It is much more likely the Eastern Province will remain peaceful, and much less likely that it will see social upheaval.
No one will make money betting on political instability in Saudi Arabia or unrest in the oilfields because the probability in any given year is low.
The risk of unrest could be as low as 5 per cent or even 1pc but that is not the same as zero. The same could have been said about the risk of upheaval in Egypt or Tunisia before 2011.
The risks are real enough that they are perceived as a serious danger by the Saudi government, which continues to maintain a heavy security presence in the area, and they help explain why the confrontation between Riyadh and Tehran is so bitter and so personal.

Complex kingdom

In most parts of the Middle East, national boundaries do not correspond to religious, cultural, linguistic or tribal divisions, and Saudi Arabia is no exception.
The kingdom is an amalgamation of the conservative central region (Najd) with the western coast (Hijaz) and the eastern oases along the Gulf coast (al-Hasa), all of which were separately administered until comparatively recently.
King Abdulaziz, ruler of the Najd, conquered al-Hasa in 1913 from the disintegrating Ottoman Empire, and added the Hijaz in 1924/25, finally unifying the country in 1932. But there are still major cultural and religious differences between the regions and even within them.
Much of the ruling political and religious elite is drawn from the Najd, which is also identified with the austere Wahhabi form of Islam.
Hijaz was the home of more liberal interpretations of Islam while the majority of the population in al-Hasa followed Shia Islam.
As part of an effort at nation-building, conservative religious views from the Najd have been imposed on other parts of the country.
According to the US government's Commission on International Religious Freedom, the modern Saudi state "privileges its own interpretation of Sunni Islam over all other interpretations" and "restricts most forms of public religious expression inconsistent with its particular interpretation of Sunni Islam".
One result is a long history of tension between Sunnis, especially those following a strict Wahhabi interpretation, and the Shia communities in al-Hasa, now renamed the Eastern Province.
"Authorities continue to repress and discriminate against dissident clerics and members of the Shia community” the Commission on International Religious Freedom wrote in its latest annual report.
"The Shia community also faces discrimination in education, employment, the military, political representation, and the judiciary," the Commission concluded, according to the International Religious Freedom Report 2015. The Saudi government denies any discrimination.
Recent reports have noted progress towards ending official discrimination, but how much unofficial discrimination remains is unclear because the Saudi government strongly discourages research.
As recently as 2012, the Commission found: "There are no Shia ministers in the government, only 5 of the 150-member Shura (Consultative Council) are Shia Muslims, and there are very few Shia Muslim leaders in high-level government positions, particularly in the security agencies."
"In predominantly Sunni Muslim areas of the country outside the Eastern Province, Shia and Ismaili Muslims face harassment, arrest and detention," it concluded, according to the International Religious Freedom Report 2012.

Violent protests

Sectarian tensions between Sunnis and Shias have periodically resulted in unrest in the Eastern Province ─ including two major labour strikes against the Arabian American Oil Company (Aramco) in 1953 and 1956, a full-scale uprising in 1979/80, and demonstrations in 2011.
The 1953 and 1956 strikes "were sparked by grievances over low wages, poor working and living conditions, and racism," according to historian Toby Jones of Rutgers University, according to 'Desert Kingdom: How Oil and Water Forged Modern Saudi Arabia'.
"From the beginning, Aramco was acutely aware of compatibility issues between Sunni and Shia Muslims," the company's former chief executive Frank Jungers wrote in his memoir, 'The Caravan Goes On: How Aramco and Saudi Arabia Grew Up Together'.
"The Shias were definitely in the minority nationally but made up the majority in the Eastern Province and tended to live in separate areas. The company was careful as a matter of policy not to allow this religious difference to become a factor in the training or evaluation of an employee," Jungers explained.
Aramco worked hard to professionalise its labour force, but the fact Jungers mentioned religious differences so prominently underscores the potential for tension.
In 1979, protests erupted in Qatif and a number of other Shia areas of the Eastern Province, as well as in neighbouring Bahrain, and became violent following confrontations with the security forces.
The unrest, which had a strong sectarian element, came only a few months after the shah was violently overthrown and the Islamic Revolution brought to power Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomenei in Iran.
The new government in Tehran sought to export its revolutionary ideology and openly encouraged Shia communities in neighbouring Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia to revolt against their Sunni rulers.
Khomenei's government broadcast its revolutionary message by beaming a powerful radio signal directly into the Eastern Province.
"There is little doubt that the Iranian Revolution helped galvanize politics and energise dissent among Shia in neighbouring countries," according to Jones. "The revolution helped explain both the timing and some of the forces that encouraged Saudis to take to the streets."
In 2011, there were again violent protests in the Eastern Province and Bahrain as part of the wider Arab Spring, again mostly involving Shia communities, which were put down by the security services.
Following Nimr's execution, hundreds of protesters marched through Qatif on Saturday, according to eyewitness reports.


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First circulated in email on Sunday January 10, 2015 | Published Monday January 11, 2015 | Last updated Tuesday, January 19, 2016 11:00 am 7934


Manufacturing The Killing Fields In Pakistan – The reality behind the Headlines in today's Dawn 25/25

Averting Shia-Sunni World War by Zahir Ebrahim

 
Friday, January 08, 2016
AsSalaam-O-Alekum, to Muslims and Non-Muslims alike --- all that word means in English vernacular is “Peace be with you”. I like that greeting. Peace be with you. Why can't I greet all my fellow man with that greeting? I find no such restriction in the Holy Qur'an which enjoins peace as well as justice to be established among all mankind. So I like that greeting. Perhaps a more pertinent greeting might have been “Justice and Peace be with you”. But that is not the traditional greeting of Islam which calls itself the religion of justice and peace. The Islamic greeting is only “peace be with you”. I wonder why?
And I wonder why Muslim historiography suggests that AsSalaam-O-Alekum is to only be used for greeting among the Muslims themselves, not for greeting non-Muslims, despite the categorical universal teaching of the Holy Qur'an being in direct contradiction to that Jewish-like feeling of exceptionalism. And most Muslims buy it. The more religious ones actually frown when non-Muslims are greeted with AsSalaam-O-Alekum. I say frown on – for the sands of time shall soon leave you on the antediluvian shores of history you source your religion from.
Even more bizarre, what does this greeting mean when Muslims are seen to be killing each other across the planet, and the non-Muslims stare at us in befuddlement? What peace? Muslims are killers and should even be kept away from the United States of America --- that is even the charged political slogan of the newest presidential campaign for the 2016 presidential elections.
The manufactured reality that has been accorded to “Islamic” terror and its soldiers of heaven, Al-Qaeda, Taliban, ISIS, Daesh, good terrorists vs. bad terrorists, good rebels vs. bad rebels, the new Saudi-Iran confrontation on the brew, holy Muslim nations flying the flag of Islam seen to be vying with each other for seeking heaven with Western weapons while the Western alliance keeps bombing and/or sanctioning them to smithereens – only to record the few immediate headlines that greet the general public on a daily basis – what is this fiction of “peace” that Muslims imagine themselves to be the sponsors of, must surely occur to every non-Muslim spectator on planet earth.
Non-Muslims must surely wonder how civilizationally primitive we bunch of Muslims are, 1.6 billion to 2 billion in number, and none the wiser on how to live in amity in our own modernity with any degree of sophistication and wherewithal. They see us continuing to live in antiquity --- divided as we are along ancient historical lines of Shia and Sunni. What is that all about --- non-Muslims can never quite get their heads wrapped around that display of “peace and harmony” among Muslims themselves for their fourteen century long history of antagonism towards each other despite their common Good Book and common beloved Prophet. Just like the Muslims cannot get their heads wrapped around Catholics vs. Protestants, both sharing the same Good Book and common sweet Jesus, and still fighting each other to death through the ages in the name of the same peace-loving Jesus Christ. The last ferocious battle witnessed in my own times, in Ireland. The Catholics and Protestants seem to have as much in common with each other beyond their Good Book and their beloved Savior as the Shias and Sunnis.
I can't and don't wish to speak to the Christian diversity, let Christians solve their own problems if they deem it to be a problem without Muslims pretending to be holier than thou, but I can sure speak, and must speak, to the problem of my own heritage, for it is indeed a problem. Muslims have a common Good Book --- yet virtually all sects among Muslims understand its meaning differently. Why? Because each and every sect among Muslims lives in history. We let historical narratives penned by the hand of man inform us of our religion Islam instead of the singular common scripture of Islam, the Holy Qur'an, inform us of our understanding of Islam. This fact has been true in every single generation after the Prophet of Islam. The previous generations defined what Islam was for the succeeding generations in virtually a geometric progression instead of the Holy Qur'an determining it exclusively. Today what Islam is among Muslims and what Islam is in the Holy Qur'an can appear to someone like Mr. Spock of the Star Trek fable, to even be separate religions. For what else can explain Saudi Arabia vs. Iran today --- the custodian of the two most sacred pilgrimage sites of Islam pitted against the self-proclaimed valih-e-faqih-e-muslimeen?
War among Muslims today may be made imminent no differently than how it was made imminent between Iran and Iraq for eight long years just three decades ago. I hope I am wrong but these clouds of war have been most Machiavellianly setup to quickly mutate into an all out war between Sunnidom vs. Shiadom --- that's bringing into its blood-fold the sympathies and loyalties for one side or other all 1.6 to 2 billion Muslim peoples. Peace? What peace? And Justice, never mind that platitude --- for it hasn't been practiced among any people from time immemorial.
The real source of all these wars and fratricidal killings among Muslims is the historical bifurcation between Shia and Sunni. The Western hegemons harvest these cracks and lacunas today with as much cunning as the Muslim kingdoms did in antiquity. We can't blame the West altogether for their greedy opportunism to conquer lesser civilizations if we insist on behaving like one. And we surely can't blame them for their exercise of cunning because they learnt the fine art of fratricide and hegemony from Muslim caliphs themselves over the past fourteen centuries.
There is a profligate king in Saudi Arabia holding the Islam flag. There is a holy jurist in Iran holding the Islam flag. The king upholds some variant of Sunni Islam. The jurist upholds some variant of Shia Islam. The West supports the king and is arming his nation to the teeth. The West sanctions the jurist and disarming his nation of effective self-defense. And now they are about to be pitted against each other to become the cause of millions of new entrants to heaven with the Saudi grand mufti declaring Iranians 'not Muslims'. While neither the king of Saudis nor valih-e-faqih of Iran will die in battle, you and me will be called upon to seek heaven by taking sides. And most of us will do so along the Shia-Sunni divide. How predictable is that? It is no prediction. It is not even stochastic. It is exactly deterministic. Those Sunnis who do not like the Saudis will either still support them or stay neutral – for heaven forbid they support the Shia Iran. That is the reality of antagonism between these two macro sects of Muslims today.
See this excerpt from an ancient political treatise (presented as historical fiction) if you think the cracks and lacunas among Shia and Sunni don't exist, or are not known to the arsonists who will come galloping as the fire brigade next, just as they are today the 'harawal dasta', the Marines if you will, fueling and then prognosticating the fire in preparation for the main Army's arrival.
It was the same calculus during the eight year Iran-Iraq war in 1980s. Almost the entire Sunnidom supported Iraq even though some of the Sunni nations did not particularly like Saddaam Hussein. Even when Saddaam was the prima facie aggressor. The history is about to repeat itself, at multiple levels. And as before, the narrative in the Western world will remain under the full control of the sponsors of this war. The same narrative is simply re-echoed in the East.
You can imagine the killing of the Saudi Shia dissent scholar Sheikh Nimr by the Saudi kingdom to be virtually equivalent to the killing of Franz Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria-Este, whose calculated assassination in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914 precipitated Austria-Hungary's declaration of war against Serbia leading to World War I. That world war led to 50 million dead and all existent empires replaced by the rising Pax Americana. That Pax Americana is to be replaced by World Government through these upcoming manufactured world wars. That's the general blueprint. 9/11 was its first provocation for the final push to global transformation. Shia-Sunni conflagration is to be the next in the long series of creating world order out of chaos. All kinds of sophisticated propaganda craft is already being brought to bear to add fuel to the making of these new killing fields just as it was during Iran-Iraq war where brother killed brother, 8 million, an order of magnitude more than the fratricide in the American Civil War.
As history of war is evidence, once brought to the Russian-roulette table, the bloodshed cannot be averted. The time for its prevention is before the die of fait accompli is cast – and all provocations are being brought to bear on this very scenario, of igniting the Shia-Sunni world war. Only the most recent salvo of which is: Saudi Arabia's grand mufti says Iranians are 'not Muslims. Meanwhile, the pious superpower policeman of the world, the United States of America, is openly arming this most virulent strain of Sunnism, the posterchild of Sunnidom as the custodian of Islam's holy sites, the Wahabi-Salafi despotic kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The contribution of this American vassal state to aiding and abetting America's terror systems, is neither secret history nor hidden from anyone.
Can we do something about this age old Shia-Sunni antagonism which is perennially ripe for harvest? These undeniable historical fissures among Muslims are continually enlarged by those who are neither Shia nor Sunni, for their own agendas, and this brazen fact should be obvious to even the most pollyannaish dunceheads. While we can Band-Aid these fissures or pretend we have no fundamental problems ourselves, and all problems are with the West's drive for hegemony and supremacy that leads their Anglo-Saxon instinct for primacy to the doorstep of Machiavelli, the reality stares us in the face. The problem is not solely in the superstars, but in ourselves that we are stupid underlings. As the war of words between Saudi Arabia and Iran heats up, and as Muslim countries and Muslim public start aligning with one or the other side along their sectarian lines (witness here, here, here here, here, here, here, here, here), what can ordinary peoples, you and me, often the spectators of history, and also its canon fodder, do?
I see only one rational and practical solution. Transcend the Shia-Sunni divide by approaching what is common and sacred between them both. The Holy Qur'an! It exists among us in the same pristine form that it did at the time of the Prophet of Islam --- or at least, that is the common belief among all the 1.6 to 2 billion Muslims on earth today.
But that model hasn't really worked in history --- why would it work now? You ask...
I would like to submit for your reading pleasure the following series of articles that I composed as a most ordinary student of reality (haqeeqat), on the topics that most divide Muslims along the Shia-Sunni bifurcation. Most of us fall into one of those two macro sectarian categories by virtue of birth and socialization. Whatever subsequent studies some might undertake to understand their respective inheritance, either on their own, or as seminary students en route to scholarship and ullema status, is often froth with the trappings of both data availability bias and confirmation bias. Meaning, incestuous self-reinforcement of the theology, beliefs as well as practices, we each grow up under, while remaining unconscious or at least oblivious of that fact. The self-evident fact is that religion is our inheritance, like the DNA.
But the question that often arises in the mind of the young intelligent Muslim and the young intellectual Muslim, and which he and she is not able to ask openly while living among the patriarchy and their orthodoxy, is should religion be an inheritance? The fact that one is born in a Muslim home already inclines one towards it and decides the fate outright. Whether one is born in a Shia home or Sunni home and any of its sub-sects is only a secondary issue. The question the intelligent Muslim asks, given that one is born in a Muslim civilization, and given that Muslims are so easily pit against one another, does the sectarian divide also have to be an inheritance, or can one just be a Muslim? The inquisitive mind not satisfied by status quo ventures further afield and asks, what does the Holy Qur'an itself say about matters that both the Shia and the Sunni scholars merely presuppose in their theology and which they each argue with such self-righteousness and convictions?
For such youngsters, and I mean by that term those young at heart as well as mind who are unafraid to challenge the idiocy of orthodoxy and want no part of it, here are links to the essays composed thus far based on whatever humble and limited study that this scribe has been able to undertake and deconstruct away from their respective orthodox versions. I offer these humble writings to the laity and their scholars alike, for two reasons: 1) as a means of demonstrating and understanding how we believe what we believe regarding Islamic topics, and what great distance it might sometimes be from what its singular scripture the Holy Qur'an itself conveys on the topic by both its omissions and commissions; and 2) as a means of introducing the lamentably long-dead idea of using the intellect to parse and comprehend the teaching and guidance in the Holy Qur'an directly from the Holy Qur'an itself, using its own verses as the primary source of its own 'tawil' and interpretation. This automatically leads to an informed mind that is sensibly able to compare what socialization/culture/history/home and our overemphasis on "experts" have bequeathed to us as religion, vs. what the actual unadulterated teaching is that is still easy to be found in the Holy Qur'an by anyone with an iota of intelligence and seriousness in disposition to perform their own due diligence.
The results are rather surprising, even shocking, and I share that surprise here both as a learning and teaching tool, as well as in furtherance of the pursuit of the unasked question: what the religion of Islam is for each new generation if its understanding is not to remain ossified in the narratives of antiquity. That unasked question does not imply changing the meaning of Islam or altering the Divine Guidance contained in its singular scripture the Holy Qur'an, as is the primary misdirection in the West today to suit its Western interpretation and Western narrative, but to understand Islam directly from its own unadulterated singular source using our own time and space as the reference point. Just as the people of the past had the opportunity to do the same thing in their own epoch. Why are we taking their understanding of Islam circumscribed by their own time and space, as our own?
This, even on the face of it, appears absurd. To be shackled to their understanding of Islam through our own socialization and confirmation biases, and our paying homage to our elders and deference to our scholars by using their brains in lieu of our own, is an insult to the religion of Islam which has proclaimed itself for all time and all space. The religion of Islam has proclaimed itself in the Holy Qur'an as the Divine Guidance from the Lord of the Worlds, to each and every man and each and every woman in all times with no more Prophets or Messengers to be sent. If that assertion is believed to be true, and no Muslim doubts that it is in fact not just true, but The Truth, then each generation and every people in every civilization must try to understand Islam by decoding its message contained in its own singular scripture, the Holy Qur'an, afresh for their own time and space.
That is so darn obvious that it even surprises me, one not too bright, how easily Islam has thus far been ossified and shackled in the narratives of history not just by the pulpits, but by ordinary peoples themselves. What I offer below is one tiny drop in that new ocean of revisiting the religion of Islam directly from the Holy Qur'an using our own frame of reference to decipher and understand its message. What shall we find in it?
In the interest of forging Muslim unity (what with all the emphasis worldwide to divide Muslims along sectarian lines and have them kill each other), I have taken up the topics that divide us fundamentally, often on idiotic grounds due to want of knowledge of the Holy Qur'an itself. More to come, if life and opportunity permit, and if motivation persists. Discussion is encouraged. Corrections are welcome; it will surely help cogency if corrections are offered not as “expert” opinions of this and that “scholar”, but from the same source as these analyses are themselves based upon, the Holy Qur'an.
Articles in the series: What does the Holy Qur'an Say
In addition, I have been studying the subject of Imam Mahdi like many Muslims who are interested in this topic, and have realized that what the vast majority of Muslims, both Shia and Sunni, have been led to believe about eschatology appears to be entirely Indeterminate in the Holy Qur'an! Most of what we are taught is actually from books and pages outside of the Holy Qur'an. What does the Holy Qur'an itself have to say about Imam Mahdi – the Awaited Savior of humanity – if anything at all? The exploration of this question (in item [6] above) led to writing the following letter which I hope may inspire many more Muslims to dare to use their own intellect to try to decipher the message of the Holy Qur'an and to base their faith upon that decipherment in their own time and space.
Such individual endeavors automatically plant the fundamental seeds of amity among Muslims: to gather around the Holy Qur'an for comprehending any and all issues which divide us, as the primary source of seeking understanding of the Divine scripture. To understand what the Holy Qur'an itself teaches on its own topics, instead of what the pen of holy man says it teaches. This endeavor, undertaken with a desire to learn rather than to confirm presuppositions, dissuades from the idiotic sectarian disunity that is evidently natural to us, preventing us from becoming one people, an ummah, because of the artifacts of history, historiography, hagiography and the unfortunate socialization into that orthodoxy. We are all beholden to this socialized orthodoxy by birth such that despite our best intentions, we, in fact, end up following the religion of our forefathers as in the infamous age of Jahiliya of antiquity. Is our age, the modern age, fundamentally all that different?
Without hesitation I advance the argument that our base attitudes are really not all that much different despite our traveling in modern airliners instead of on camels and horses. Our civilization may have marched on outwardly, but inwardly, we are still living in the past. We still continue to draw on our meagre understanding of what is largely the socialized past, to inform us on how to interpret our present. Socialization into our history as part of both culture, and what is deemed religious, continues to inform our beliefs and order our rituals. It is that base reality which fundamentally divides us into Shia and Sunni by birth. This is self-evident. The end result, under Machiavellian doctrinal motivation and tickling of the right sensibilities --- fratricide, Muslims killing Muslims. Whereas, the Holy Qur'an, which contains none of that history, historiography, or hagiography, nor sects and partisanship, easily unites us if we only permit the Good Book to speak for itself. If we only permit its verses to be the main source of interpretation for its own verses, without referring to what the hand of man conjured up to become the happenstances of history (historical events) and its partisan narratives (hadith literature, who said what to whom). By definition history and its narratives are anecdotal, for, indeed, an alternate history and alternate future is always possible. Whereas the Good Book, the Holy Qur'an, is Divine Guidance for all histories and all futures of mankind --- empowering mankind to change its own conditions and its own futures --- if one accepts its assertion of timeless Divine Guidance to all mankind. How can one particular instance of history among a tribal people circumscribe its understanding? It sensibly follows that it cannot. For that reason none of the particulars of the period of revelations is in the Holy Qur'an which otherwise uses ample histories and parables of other nations past to forewarn Muslims of what can become of them if they followed the same paths.
Preventing that transition of understanding the Holy Scripture from its own verses in the light of one's own times, is not just in the interest of both the empire du jour and the clergy classes for the abundant opportunities of divide and control that status quo confers, but also self-interest. Who likes to accept that they have been largely socialized into myths as religion?
Compounding that reality of social control is the cognitive infiltration from the dominance of Western modernity that is wholly materialistic, and which altogether denies the legitimacy of spiritual existence and Divine Guidance. Charles Taliaferro, a professor of philosophy at St. Olaf College, says in his interview to Tehran Times (January 7, 2016): “[T]here is not an intensive quest in European and American university and college courses to reconstruct the life of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Perhaps this is partly a reflection of what many historians in the West believe about Jesus: they think it very difficult to get behind the primary sources to Jesus himself and so they focus more on the emergence and history of Christianity rather than highlight the historical Jesus. As a philosopher I believe that such skepticism about the historical Jesus and Muhammad is based on philosophical assumptions of secular naturalism which presupposes by definition that prophecy and revelation is impossible, an assumption that, in my view, is unjustified. Historically, there are Western sources that depict Islam as a dangerous threat to Western civilization. ...”
Well, not just historically, but it is very much the present narrative in the West. And our own new Muslim and non-Muslim generations in both hemispheres are growing up under that universal cultural rubric. Whatever we know or believe or understand of Islam is a reaction to the mantras and presuppositions of our own time, just as it was in the past for the mantras and presuppositions of their own time. That fundamental presupposition today, as the quoted philosopher says, is “secular naturalism which presupposes by definition that prophecy and revelation is impossible,”. Evidently, a lot more Muslims also believe that to be true despite all our pious proclamations if one were to judge from our lack of study of the scripture itself. While it is understandable that non Muslims may have little interest in studying the Holy Qur'an, strangely, few Muslims dare to apply their own intellect to study a scripture which so boldly presupposes and continually affirms that the Holy Qur'an is indeed a revealed book. We instead go to our own elders for the source of our religious beliefs.
Well, that is precisely what the Arabs in their age of Jahiliya did too. They did not believe that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was a Prophet of God bringing them Divine revelations as Guidance from Beyond. They instead relied on their own elders for their beliefs. It is irrelevant what their beliefs were. The source of their belief was their own socialization, their own elders, their own heritage. Shocking? What do you do when you open up your favorite hadith and history books? Or your favorite exegeses? You are using your elders, long dead, to tell you what your socialized religion is. That fact has divided us into Shia and Sunni. Not the Holy Qur'an, but the pious works of our elders. That observation is beyond doubt. It is self-evident.
The revealing term used by professor Charles Taliaferro, “secular naturalism”, begs a few sentences of explanation for those who may be unfamiliar with its scope and how we are all affected by it without often realizing it. It fundamentally means that the laws of nature are general, universal, and a-religious. These natural laws determine the “how” of nature and apply in all frames of reference to everything in existence, including to man. The rational and objectifying processes of science applied by man to understand these natural laws are the best method to discover and harness this “how” of nature. In the laws of nature there is no such construct as moral law. Morality is but a subjective value system, and all spiritual questions of the “why” of existence are immanent, i.e., philosophical, in the mind of man, entirely abstract, and not part of the laws of nature. Naturalists separate the two quests between objective and subjective: science deals with “how”, religion deals with “why”. That core presupposition of modern Jahiliya, that there is nothing beyond the laws of nature, automatically precludes all notions of divinity, and consequently, also divine revelation, prophethood, etc., thus making morality and world religions a mere utilitarian convention among their respective philosophers for inducing social harmony, or social control, among the sheep.
This materialist conception of nature stemming from the core philosophy of “secular naturalism”, taken to its natural conclusion leads society and civilization to the path of social Darwinianism and Nietzschean Nihilism when led by his ablest Superman. Whence, all things concerning the affairs of man become relative and arbitrary, where ends justify means, wolves appear in sheep clothing, and where might and intelligence, abilities and skills, cunning and sophistication determine the survival of the species under the natural law of the Jungle, survival of the fittest. In that existential reality of rule by force, or might disguised as moral law, the ones with more narrative power win in controlling their flock --- and this is how divide and conquer has always succeeded in the service of the most cunning power.
The narrative today emanating from all pulpits, including the geopolitical pulpits, after the “militant Islam” mantras and after getting Muslims to kill each other in many different guises, is eschatology, the Last Days, the arrival of Imam Mahdi, the Awaited Savior of mankind.
Is that concept of divine interventionism and eschatology which is common to both Shia and Sunni theology with minor variations, in the Holy Qur'an itself?
It is important to learn this fact because as those given to the study of geopolitics can easily fear, the narrative of eschatology may well become a key source of doctrinal motivation, intellectual commitment, and patriotic gratification, for both camps in the long war being engineered between the 1.6 to 2 billion Shiadom vs. Sunnidom by those obeying the secular natural laws and its corollaries.
Let's not fall for the fabricated narratives of Machiavelli again and again. Inform our leaders, our generals, our rulers, our scholars, our opinion-makers, that we do not wish to be participant in their geopolitical games. That we are not sheep and that we refuse to service the mutton eaters. That we have no quarrel among Shia and Sunni and that we choose to proactively gather on the Holy Qur'an to bridge our reactionary chasms of history instead of on their narratives.


Thank you.




First Published Friday, January 8, 2016 05:56 am | Last Updated Friday, September 9, 2016 01:00 pm 4891


Averting Shia-Sunni World War by Zahir Ebrahim 11 / 11