Category Archives: Middle Eastern

How Al Qaeda Was Born

Although the Muslim Brotherhood is officially opposed to Al Qaeda and tends to take a legalist and democratic approach to obtaining power, the organization is nevertheless very radical and many radical Muslims gravitate to the MB as the only game in town. In turn, as they radicalize in the MB, the more radicalized people spin off  to Al Qaeda, ISIS and other radical jihadi groups.  Then some of the Al Qaeda people spin back into the Brotherhood, this time hiding their radical views.

It is not well known, but Hamas is nothing less than the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood. The MB is illegal in Saudi Arabia, Syria and Qatar. They led an uprising in 1982 in Syria where 30,000 people were killed. The survivors went to Europe and also to Saudi Arabia where they met up with Egyptian MB members who were working and teaching in the Kingdom. These MB religious folk were then in turn influenced by the allegedly quietist Wahhabism, the official doctrine of Saudi Arabia. The MB religious teachers then supercharged Wahhabism while Wahhabism itself radicalized the MB teachers in terms of Islamic doctrine. It was this mixture of the Ikhwan and Wahhabism that eventually morphed into bin Laden’s Al Qaeda. From and around Al Qaeda all sorts of other radical jihadi groups emerged, especially in Iraq and Syria. Most of the groups in Syria are either Al Qaeda linked or inspired or if not, are not a great deal different from Syrian Al Qaeda, now called Al Nusra.

Another origin of Al Qaeda was in Egypt where as above, the MB served as a nursery of sorts for Islamic radicals. Radicals kept spinning off the MB and forming more radicalized splits. Sayed Qutb was one of the first, and Al Qaeda is simply Qutbism writ large. He was executed by Nasser in the 1950’s.

Another split occurred in the late 1970’s, when another radical group spun off of the MB and evolved into various factions. One of these factions developed the Qutbist notion that the entire Muslim world was now living in a state of jahaliyya or pre-Islamic ignorance. The entire society of Muslim Egypt was tainted by infidel and anti-Islamic influences. Some of these people dropped out of society and went to live like hermits in caves in the desert. They saw the entire society as corrupt and evil, so they had no alternative but to completely drop out of it and live in isolated hermitage like early Christians.

It was here that Zayman al-Zawahiri, the Egyptian eye surgeon and bin Laden’s 2nd in command, got his start. He developed some followers in the city he lived in and he eventually dropped out of society and went to live in caves with the rest of the radicals.

Around this time, a lot of these radicals got wrapped up in plot to assassinate Anwar Sadat, mostly for the crime of making peace with Israel. The assassins, of which there were several, were ex-MB members who had spun off from the group. About 1,000 radicals were rounded up after the assassination. Al-Zawahiri was one of them. There is footage of a wild-eyed Zawahiri in a crowded jail cell with ~40 other men. He is gripping the cell bars and shouting along with many others.

After his release, Zawahiri went on to form the Egyptian Islamic Jihad. This and several other very radical jihadi groups waged war on the Egyptian state in the early 80’s. Zawahiri’s movement, which had ~1,500 members, was crushed by the state. Jihadis were taken out into the Egyptian desert, tied to a pole and left there. It didn’t take long for them to perish from lack of food or water. In this way, the movement was crushed. Zawahiri fled Egypt and may have taken up with bin Laden in Sudan for a while.

The remains of Islamic Jihad combined with the nascent Al Qaeda forming in the Kingdom via the mixture of Egyptian and Syrian MB and Saudi Wahhabis to form the nucleus of the early Al Qaeda.

Al Qaeda got increasingly radicalized during bin Laden’s stay there. Finally both men went to Afghanistan for the Afghan jihad which radicalized huge numbers of Muslims all over the world, mostly in the Arab World. As they fought in Afghanistan, they become increasingly radicalized. Zawahiri had always argued for fighting the “near enemy” first – the secular Arab regimes, but bin Laden’s radical theory was to switch from a war only against the near enemy to a war against the “far enemy,” which bin Laden called the US for its support for Israel and the secular Arab dictatorships.

The MB is hated and outlawed in Qatar and Saudi Arabia more on the grounds of rivalry than anything else. Qatar and the Saudis see the Ikhwan as a threat to royal power. After a military coup overthrew the elected MB government in Egypt, the new leader Sisi has formed a major alliance with the Saudis and the Qataris. The Saudis have responded by flooding Sisi’s government with oil money.

In Jordan, most of the Parliament is made of the MB members, which is one reason why the powers of the Parliament have been severely limited by the King.

The MB is quite active in north Lebanon near Tripoli where Lebanon’s 20% Sunnis live. These people have become increasingly radicalized and are now engaged in open warfare with Alawis living in some of these cities. Some of these Sunnis also seem to have gone to Syria to join up with the jihadi groups. The MB in this part of Lebanon is known for its dislike of Lebanon’s Shia and Hezbollah.

The MB was formed by Hassan Al-Banna, an Egyptian schoolteacher, in 1922. It is one of the oldest radical Muslim groups in the world.

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The Deep Ties Between the Jews and the House of Saud Go Back Over 75 Years

Weizmann_-_Churchill_-_Boss_of_Bosses

In this comment, Churchill got Prince Ibn Saud to agree to let the British put the House of Saud in power in Saudi Arabia in order that they could control Mecca and Medina and to allow the Saudis to become “the Kings of the Arabs.” In recent, Ibn Saud would agree to let Weitzmann invade, conquer and usurp Palestine’s Arabs to create a Jewish Homeland.

It appears to be dated March 4, 1941, but the deep alliance between the British and the vile House of Saud goes way back before that.

 

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Thank You, Winston Churchill: The House of Saud and the UK, A Bloody Marriage Begun a Century Ago

White the House of Saud was conquering most of the peninsula for the princes around 1920, British warplanes under Winston Churchill were bombing all of these areas, leveling whole cities and massacring countless civilians. Much of the Hijaz was leveled as this region had always hated and the Najdis now in power as the House. All of the gorgeous architecture was leveled by Saud’s Wahhabi warriors from the Najd because the Wahhabis felt that anything but the most drab architecture was sacrilegious. Hijazis were massacred in huge numbers and piles of bodies lay on the ground.

The Najdis had to impose their will be force as Wahhabism had only been popular in the Najd and was widely disliked everywhere else, especially in the Hejaz where a much more peaceful, tolerant and artistic form of Islam (almost Sufi-like) had long held sway. The Wahhabis conquered that whole peninsula at the point of a sword. Everyone who resisted or imposed them was executed. The  death toll was gruesome. Of course the British helped the whole way, offering needed help to kill more civilians and level more sacreligiously beautiful buildings.

At the same time, Iraqis were in armed rebellion against British colonial rule in Iraq. The charming Churchill responded by bombing them with chemical weapons. Yes, not only Saddam gassed Iraqis. The first man to gas the Arabs was Winston Churchill.

Churchill was a real bastard. He was a mean old coot and a reactionary to boot. He was also depressed most of his fat miserable life. He called it his “black dog.” It descended on him most mornings and lasted most of the day. That sounds like melancholic depression, as that is worse in the mornings. He was also a profoundly racist man. Read some of his statements about Jews and Arabs. Pitiful.

Some hero.

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The Old “Arab Israelis Have It So Good” Argument

Malla: Well, I did some research on this and it seems the Mizrahi had a more realistic opinion about Arabs and non Whites in general, while the Ashkenazim (and maybe Sephardics), especially during the early days of Israel, had a more idealistic opinion of the Third World. But the Mizrahi themselves are non-Whites. If Arabs and non-Whites then so are Mizrahis because Mizrahis are just Arabs. Besides, many Ashkenazis came with socialistic ideas of kibbutz farming and hippieness, while the Mizrahi were more realistic.

Check this interesting video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f80NnYflDU8

Check out the Ashkenazi/Mizrahi couple at 6:52. So it seems more Mizrahi (Middle Eastern Jews) are more right wing and support predatory violent behavior towards Arabs and Palestinians, while the Ashkenazis (Euro Jews) vote more left and are friendlier to Arabs (idealistic mindset). I do not know how the Sephardics and Ethiopians Jews vote.

Besides, Israel has a massive poverty rate, one of the highest in OECD countries. No wonder they get pissed by migrants from Africa taking way their jobs.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_SSd0rgTc1E

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPuQwFX2J2A

But Israel has an overall high standard of living. Arabs in Israel, in spite of whatever racism they face, have a higher standard of living and social freedoms than most other Arab countries. Only Tunisia and Christian-dominated Lebanon come close in social freedom, and the Gulf states are the only ones who have more income among Arabs.

This is similar to the case in Rhodesia and South Africa where the Blacks had a higher standard of living than Blacks in the rest of the African continent. Or Singapore, where the Indians and Malays have a higher standard of living than Malaysia and definitely (much, much, much) higher standard of living than India thanks to the huge Chinese population. Singapore’s quality of life is comparable to other Chinese majority developed places like Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. One may ask that if Anglo-Celts and other Northern Euros never came to Australia would such an Australia (Australia full of only aborigines) be so developed as it is today or it would be more like Papua New Guinea.

It’s pretty bad to compare the surrounding Arabs with New Guineans and Aborigines. The whole Arab World is built up to Hell. They’re all modern countries over there. I have seen photos of Libya before the war, and it looks like Miami. I saw a recent photo of Casablanca, and it looked like LA. I have seen photos of the rest of the region, even war-torn Syria and Iraq, and they look like regular modern countries. There’s not a lot of difference between in the ordinary street scene between Amman, Beirut, Damascus or even Cairo and Tel Aviv. It all looks the same, like any modern built-up country.

There is none of the horrible poverty you see in India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Latin America or Black Africa.

Arabs will not tolerate that sort of abject shantytown type poverty. They are basically socialist people who don’t care about money too much and believe that everyone should be well taken care of. Social safety nets are ordinary things in every Arab country. There’s no debate about this sort of thing. They are not individualists. They are collectivists. And they don’t think rich people are better than poor people. They are not particularly greedy, and they have a “We are all part of one village” mindset wherever they live.

Semi-feudalism came late to the Arab World via the Ottomans, and it never worked well. There were landed gentry and fellahin, or landless peasants. Nasser was the man who confiscated the land from the land barons and gave it to the landless peasants. If you went around the whole Arab World back then, even in say Yemen, there was a portrait of Nasser on every wall. Now in Western or Latin American culture, doing that is called Communism, and everyone hates it. But the Arabs love this sort of thing.

Baath nationalist parties came in in Syria and Iraq around 1960, a revolutionary socialist state arose in Libya in 1969, and another one was birthed in Algeria in 1964. Land was confiscated from feudal latifundiaists in all of these place and distributed to the peasants. The governments were all officially socialist, secularization was enforced even at gunpoint if it took that, huge safety nets were set up, and the state even got involved in quite a few of the larger industries and became a major employer. All of this was wildly popular all over the region.

US style radical individualism and Libertarian free market capitalism is totally anathema to all of those societies. For one thing, it goes against Islam, as Islam is a socialist religion. In feudal times, large Arab landowners enlisted the help of the local imams in interpreting parts of the Koran where it said, “Some are rich, and some are poor, and that’s all just fine” or something to that effect, but it never worked well. It ended up turning the local imams into hated figures like the priests of Catholic Church in the West and Latin America who always sided with the rich against the people.

So this whole idea that the Israeli Arabs have it good for having some extra money falls flat on Arab and even Arab Israeli ears. Standard of living is not number one on their list of the most important things in life.

If the Arabs are all so jealous of Israel, why are the non-oil Arabs are not jealous of the oil Arabs? Typical Jews to reduce everything down to money. Arabs don’t care that much about money. They don’t revolve their whole lives around money or sit around hating Jews for having more skyscrapers. That’s not important to your average Arab.

I have never in my life heard one Arab tell me they were jealous of Israel.

In Palestine, White European racist fascists invaded the region, started wars with everyone around them, and, being high IQ, produced a developed economy. So what? These jerks get brownie points because they are rich? I’m supposed to love them because they’re rich and hate those Arabs because they’re poor?

The commenter is an Indian, that’s why he thinks that way. We are socialists here; we don’t think like this. Actually I think the more money someone has, the worse of a person he tends to be, but that’s just me.

All of these arguments were used by the South Africans who practiced a very similar White settler-colonial project far after this stuff went out of style.

Arabs in Israel are not happy people. They’re angry, and they have no loyalty to the state at all. The Jewish fascists say the Arabs are traitors, and the Jews are actually correct on that score. Indeed they have no loyalty to the state and do not even see themselves as Israelis.

The similarities between Israel and apartheid South Africa are striking. It’s notable that Israel was long one of South Africa’s strongest allies, and towards the end, it was one of their only allies. Arab Israelis are are institutionally treated as second class citizens in exactly the same way the Blacks were under apartheid. 

Were those Blacks happier on their South African Nigger Plantation because they had a higher standard of living? They were not, but this was the argument that was used to show that they were happy Negroes toiling away cheerfully in the sun for their beloved White slavemasters. Similarly, South Africa moved into the neighborhood and in a matter of time, like Israel, it was soon also embroiled in wars with most if not all of its neighbors. Similarly, South Africa, like Israel, had zero friends in the region.

Blacks in South Africa and Arabs in Israel don’t want money and stuff. White Gentiles and Jews only care about money, and they don’t care about humans, so they think everyone else feels that way too. But they don’t. People want to be free, even if being free means not having as much stuff. Stuff doesn’t make people happy. You can keep giving your slave the latest gadgetry in his slave quarters, but he’s still not a free man.

Same with South Africa. Hey look, these White European racist fascists came in here and built up the region and made a big economy because they have higher IQ’s! So what. I am supposed to like them more because they are rich and hate those Africans because they are poor? I realize this is Indian thinking, but we socialists do not think that way.

Arabs have more political rights in all of the Arab World. In the Arab World, they are not systematically discriminated against due to their religion or ethnicity.

I would argue that those Arabs in Israel do not want all of those social freedoms. Freedom to do what?

And what social freedoms do they have there that they do not have in the rest of the region? How are the social freedoms of Arab Israeli Christians better than those of Arab Christians in Lebanon or Syria? Someone needs to clue me.

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America Is Israel Once Again

I’ve always said this country is USreal. Israel and America are one country. That’s the reason for the overwhelming US support for that shitty little country festering over there in the Middle Eastern desert. It’s not due to any Jewish conspiracy. That would mean that the US media and political class secretly hate Israel and only support them because the Jew-Nazis are forcing them to. But that’s not what’s going on. America and Israel are joined at the hip. This nation has a profound, deep, wild love for Israel.

Israel was created by Jewish fascists. It’s fascism for Jews. It always has been. Ethnic nationalism is fascism. Ultranationalism is fascism. There no other way to slice the cake. For a while there, they were electing some weird “Labor Party” leftwingers who were sort of Strasserites or leftwing Jew-Nazis. That’s all done and over with now. For decades now, the Jews have been electing very much openly fascist candidates for President. The Likud Party is a fascist political party. Its philosophy is Revisionist Zionism. Revisionist Zionism is open fascism. The founder of this  movement was named Jabotinsky. Jabotinsky was regarded by everyone as a fascist. His seminal tract was called “The Iron Wall.” Jabotinsky was an open admirer of fascist movements in Europe at the time.

Since all US Jews love Israel, this means that all US Jews are either fascists or support fascism. But they’re hypocrites like Jews always are. Jews love Jewish fascism. Jewish fascism is just fine and dandy for Jews. They wouldn’t have it any other way. According to US Jews, Jewish fascism is the best political system for the Jews. Now we can argue why we feel that way, but that’s the truth.

However, being Jewish hypocrites, they hate everyone else’s fascism. Except the US Jews are supporting ISIS, Al Qaeda and all rest of the arguably Islamic fascists. The US Jews are also supporting the openly Nazi government in Ukraine. I guess you can argue they are doing this because this fascist movements are fighting the enemies of the Jews. So the Jews love fascism for Jews, and they will openly support any fascists who attack their enemies.

On the other hand, they have a wild paranoia of all other types of fascism and even the fascism they support above is very dangerous to Jews to say the least. The Jews correctly believe that most if not all other types of fascism will eventually turn on the Jews sometime or another.

Once again, as I have said endlessly, America is a Jewish country. Trump is just Sharon and Netanyahu rolled into one. The Jews have been electing open fascists for 20 years now in Israel, and now Jewish America is following the lead and doing the exact same thing.

But did we just elect an antisemitic fascist? It’s hard to say. Americans still overwhelmingly support Israel, even as they elected Mr. Trump. Go to websites of Trump supporters and the support for Israel is over the top. Mr. Trump himself is an extremely strong supporter of Israel.

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The Last Thing on Earth Israel Wants Is a Peace Agreement

The Israelis will do anything they can to avoid a peace agreement. That’s the last thing in the world that they want, and they will fight forever against having to compromise one inch.

“Israelis” were thinking this way before there was even an Israel. Read The Iron Wall.

Sure it was written 100 years ago, but the majority of Israelis are now Jabotinskyists, and Jabotinsky is the intellectual author of the modern Israeli Right and even the fake left Labor Party which looks increasingly Revisionist Zionist itself.

Problem is you cannot really defeat these Muslims. Remember Shamil? Sure, Russia beat him. It only took them 40 years to do so! But the ghost of Shamil kept rising again and again to attack the Bear. You can only defeat these people temporarily. Sure, they will surrender, but decades later, they will rise again.

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“Time to Rekindle the UN Spark,” by Eric Walberg

New article by my friend Eric Walberg.

Time to Rekindle UN Spark

Eric Walberg

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon recently held a commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the squashing of UN resolution 3379, equating Zionism with racism. It was passed in 1975 by a vote of 72 to 35 (with 32 abstentions). The festive event this year was attended by US Secretary of State John Kerry and head of the Israeli Labour Party and Zionist Union Isaac Herzog, son of Chaim Herzog, president of Israel from 1983 to 1993, and star of the 1975 UN session.

The 1975 vote took place approximately one year after resolution 3237 granted the PLO “observer status”, following Yasser Arafat’s “olive branch” speech to the General Assembly in November 1974. It succeeded only because the Soviet Union and its allies were there to support the Arab and Islamic majority countries.

It was revoked in December 1991 by UN resolution 46/86. At the commemoration this year, Ban Ki-moon recalled Chaim Herzog’s words in 1975, “I appeal to the community of nations to always act to uphold the principles of the United Nations Charter to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbors.” Such nice platitudes coming from the Israeli ambassador—community, principles, tolerance, peace…

It is odd that this year’s festivities actually celebrate the passing of the resolution, rather than its demise, commemorating the chutzpah of Israeli UN representative Herzog, who stole the show, recounting how magnanimous Israel is with its Arab citizens, who apparently held the same rights as Jews, worked in border and police defense forces, were elected to parliament, studied at universities…

He pointed to Arabs coming from elsewhere for medical treatment, and to “the fact that it is as natural for an Arab to serve in public office in Israel as it is incongruous to think of a Jew serving in any public office in an Arab country.” The UN ambassador finished his tirade by ripping up the resolution and defiantly stating he would have UN Avenues in Haifa, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv renamed Zionism Avenues.

Herzog didn’t mention how traditionally Jews lived freely under Muslim rule and often served Muslim leaders as advisers, how Arab anger today is directly due to Israel’s murderous, illegal actions against the rightful citizens of what was once the Roman province of Syria Palaestina. He didn’t mention the millions of Palestinians denied their basic rights because Israel is apparently free of racism.

At least the 1975 gathering had some punch. There was no substance in the commemoration in 2015. Kerry waffled, despite a weeks-long wave of violence that has claimed the lives of at least 77 Palestinians along with 10 Israelis. No mention of that. He said that a two-state solution in the Middle East was “not an impossible dream” but would require courage. Yawn.

Kerry called the 1975 resolution “ominous” because it gave “a global license to hate” the state of Israel. But then “hate” covers just about any word of criticism of Israel. After all, election fever is rising in the US and the Israel lobby is alive and well.

Bush Senior’s Half Truths

It is more instructive to deconstruct the speech by US President HW Bush, who introduced the UN motion overturning resolution 3379 in 1991, which he said “mocks this pledge and the principles upon which the United Nations was founded. Zionism is not a policy; it is the idea that led to the creation of a home for the Jewish people, to the State of Israel. To equate Zionism with the intolerable sin of racism is to twist history.”

He was half correct. Zionism is an idea, one that turned into a policy of racial exclusion and victimization of the Palestinian natives, whose land and property the new immigrants stole, even as they conducted a state policy of terror against the natives. Bush made no explanation of why Zionism is not a policy. But the Soviet voice was gone by 1991; only the US voice was heard defending the pious hope that Israel would one day make peace with the Palestinians based on the original 1947 UN Resolution 181 to partition the territory.

Bush’s claim that Zionism is not a policy of racism simply flies in the face of reality. But then the US itself was founded on an idea much like Zionism. The Puritans, Quakers and many other religious groups immigrated intending to establish an ideal Christian society modeled on the Bible, an idea which also was a policy of genocide of the American natives.

The 17th philosopher Francis Bacon penned a utopian novel New Atlantis based on his enthusiastic support for establishing the British colonies in North America, depicting the creation of a utopian land where “generosity and enlightenment, dignity and splendor, piety and public spirit” are the commonly held qualities of the inhabitants of the mythical Bensalem.

The idea of a “new Jerusalem” is the bedrock of the US idea.
Even such a respected philosopher was able to disregard the racist policy of genocide against the American natives in the name of “generosity and enlightenment etc.” No one noticed that, from the start, that the idea of the US (Bensalem) was a racist idea, just as its policies were. Only in the 19th century did international opprobrium finally push the US to abolish its most glaring racist policy—slavery.

But by then, the idea of a Jewish state in Palestine was already being mooted by British politicians such as Lord Shaftsbury, and Israel was finally forced down the UN throat by FDR and Truman. For Shaftsbury et al, it was merely a logical development of western ‘civilization‘.

Bush lauded the crushing of the racism resolution in 1991 as “a real chance to fulfill the UN Charter’s ambition of working ‘to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person’.” Yet he was unable to see that the emperor (himself) and his offspring were wearing no clothes, that it is Israel that is the scourge of war, the violator of human rights and human dignity.

Bush stated that the UN “cannot claim to seek peace and at the same time challenge Israel’s right to exist.” Again a half truth. No one intended to wipe Israel off the map, as long as it was a nation that followed international norms, in particular human rights of the peoples who live there or who will return there from refugee camps when a peaceful solution to the stand-off is agreed. But this is only possible if we address Bush’s other half truth that lies at the heart of Zionism, both as idea and policy.

Bush’s other mistake was to define the State of Israel as “a home for the Jewish people”. This makes Israel racist by definition, just as Hitler identified Germany as the home of the Aryan people, a similarly vague, racist definition of the state.

Bush’s Lesson: Don’t Cross Israel

There is a bitter irony in Bush’s kowtowing to Israel in 1991. In September he had asked Congress to delay Israel’s request for $10 billion in loan guarantees to help settle Soviet Jews, trying to force Israel to stop its illegal settlement construction and negotiate a real peace. He no doubt was recalling how Eisenhower had made Israel bend to the US game plan in 1956. Ford/ Kissinger/ Carter had too, though just barely in the 1970s, curbing somewhat Israel’s colonial ambitions. Both times, ironically, US leaders relied on the Soviet ‘threat’ to give them some backbone.

But ‘in victory, defeat’. The Soviet ‘threat’, providing the US some leverage with Israel, was no more, and in the meantime, the Israel lobby in Washington had become too powerful for a president to counter. The Zionists were in no mood to swallow their pride and obey a newly holier-than-thou imperial Washington.

Bush senior found he had no allies for his plan to bring Israel into line. He scurried to the UN to burnish his credentials, but to no avail. The Israel lobby mobilized, found their ideal candidate in Bill Clinton, and Bush suddenly was being attacked in the media. Incessant negative publicity as election day approached did the trick. He lost his re-election bid, going from a 90% approval rate following the Iraq invasion to 37% on election day.

It is time for a new resolution 3379, something with teeth that will wake Israel up and push it to admit its sins. There is no hope to find a sponsor in Washington. However, the support for Palestinians struggling for their rights continues to grow. The EU, BDS and others boycott settlement goods are having their effect. Israel‘s neighbors continue to resist. As US power wanes, there is hope that the UN will once again find some backbone.

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“France’s Response to Paris Attacks Encourages ISIS’s Caliphate Fantasy,” by Eric Walberg

Eric is a personal friend of mine and he published this on Academia.edu so that usually means anyone can grab it as long as you credit them. Lately, Eric writes for the Iranian media, presumably for money. I believe Kieth Preston is also writing for the Iranians these days.

I am putting this up mostly to provoke discussion.

France’s Response to Paris Attacks Encourages ISIS’s Caliphate Fantasy

Eric Walberg

France’s emotional response to the recent tragedy, devoid of reason and ignoring history, just makes matters worse.

 

The death toll in the November 13 attacks in Paris stands at 127. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani sent a message to his French counterpart Francois Hollande condemning the attacks. “In the name of the Iranian nation, itself a victim of the evil scourge of terrorism, I strongly condemn these inhumane crimes and condole with the bereaved French nation and government.”

In contrast, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu opened his weekly Cabinet meeting by calling on world leaders to condemn terror against … Israel. He began by addressing the killing of two Israelis, ignoring the 81 Palestinians who have died in protests this month. “The time has come for the nations of the world to condemn terrorism against us as much as they condemn terrorism anywhere else in the world.” He pledged Israeli intelligence assistance to France, adding “An attack on any of us needs to be seen as an attack on all of us.”

Translate: France’s tragedy is a wake-up call for solidarity with … Israel.

France’s Colonial Legacy

Until 2012, France was spared serious terrorist attacks, but its enduring colonial mentality continues to stoke anger. Most evident recently was the official defense of anti-Muslim hate literature published by the magazine Charlie Hebdo. Rather than persecuting the Islamophobes, which would have prevented blowback by enraged Muslims, the French insistence on freedom led to an attack in January on the Paris offices of the magazine, killing 12 people and wounding 11 others.

Worse yet, the new Socialist President Hollande pushed ahead with a return to outright colonial invasion, with air strikes and arms to Syrian rebels in opposition to both the Syrian government and ISIS supporters. This confused policy only makes sense if the intent is to dismantle the Syrian state and refashion a Syrian puppet government, harking back to France’s invasion of Syria-Lebanon following WWI in collusion with Britain, when they destroyed the Ottoman state and set up puppet regimes across the Middle East.

France was slow to adjust to post-WWII decolonization, and stubbornly maintained its military presence not only in Vietnam but in the Middle East. Along with Britain, now both humiliated bankrupt powers, it was in no position to enforce its will, and it handed over its colonial possessions to the US either directly or via the new world order institutions. Plus, of course, intrigue where a glimmer of independence appeared, as in Iran in 1953 or Egypt 1956.

Worst of all was the horror France inflicted for more than a century in Algeria. Algeria had to suffer a long, brutal war of liberation in which a million Algerians died before France finally left in 1962. French meddling in Algeria since has only compounded the animosity, especially the support given the military coup in 1992 in which 200,000 Algerians died.

France’s current return to openly colonial policies, first in Afghanistan, then Libya, Mali and now Syria, are guaranteed to have dire consequences. To its credit, France did not support the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, but there are now 3,200 French troops there.

France and US Support the Terrorists

France and the US have played a dangerous and foolish hand in their great games of asserting world power, at times using jihadists (1980s in Afghanistan) and at other times attacking them (1990s+ in Afghanistan), sometimes both at the same time (2011+ in Syria).

“Thank God for the Saudis and Prince Bandar,” John McCain told CNN in January 2014. Is McCain not aware that two of the most successful factions fighting Syrian President Assad’s forces are Islamist extremist groups Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS, and that their success is due to the support they have received from Qatar and Saudi Arabia? A senior Qatari official told The Atlantic journalist Steve Clemons that “he can identify al-Nusra commanders by the blocks they control in various Syrian cities. But ISIS is another matter. As one senior Qatari official stated, ‘ISIS has been a Saudi project.’”

France doesn’t have a wild card like McCain, but, like the US, supports Islamic fundamentalists in Syria and elsewhere through its ties with the Saudi and Qatari regimes and its actions in Syria. Even after it became obvious to everyone that the regime change project in Syria has led to an expansion of terrorism, Hollande was still pursuing it.

But then this hypocrisy goes for all the western nations, in the first place Canada, which has been bombing Syrian rebels and, at the same time, just signed a $14.8b arms deal with Saudi Arabia. The largest arms exports contract in Canadian history will be remembered as going to one of the worst human rights violators in the world and a funder of ISIS-related groups in Syria and Iraq.

In fact, Canada’s record on bombing Muslims in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, on restricting burqas and promoting ‘free speech’ defaming Islam, mirrors France, and led to a shooting last year that penetrated the parliament buildings in Ottawa and had Prime Minister Harper cowering in his closet.

Harper’s answer, when he had stopped shaking, was the same as Hollande’s: he insisted that “Canada will not be intimidated” by acts of violence and remained committed to Canada’s efforts “to work with our allies around the world and fight against the terrorist organizations … who bring their savagery to our shores.” He did admit that “we’re all aware and deeply troubled that both attacks were carried out by Canadian citizens, by young men born and raised in this peaceful country,” but, like Hollande today, failed to draw the logical conclusion.

Powder Keg

France has the largest Muslim population in Europe at 4m. Despite its claims of “liberty, equality and brotherhood”, it is considered the most racist country in Europe. French-Algerian communities still live on impoverished housing estates, go to bad schools, and have few opportunities for social advancement.

Discrimination in everything from jobs to housing is routine. There are few French-Algerians in politics, the law, the media or any other profession, though the prisons are full. Hollande refuses to reverse measures like the burqa ban and has highlighted his opposition to halal meat and praying in the street because of a lack of mosques.

Populist rightwing politicians like Nicolas Sarkozy and the National Front’s Marine Le Pen routinely portray alienated migrant communities as France’s enemy within. Le Pen garnered 20% of the popular vote in the first round of May’s presidential elections.

In their communique, the perpetrators of the recent attacks listed France’s crimes as leading a “new crusade” in Syria, as well as defending Charlie Hebdo magazine, and just because of general French decadence and racism. They claimed their targets were well chose ― a football match between ‘crusaders’ France and Germany attended by Hollande, and the Bataclan exhibition where “hundreds of pagans gathered for a concert of prostitution and vice” (the California group Eagles of Death Metal).

“This is for Syria,” were the last words of one of the Paris attackers. But he could have said it was for Mali, or Libya, or Iraq. France is very proactive against Islamists worldwide, especially in the face of what is frequently seen as British and American retreat. Over 10,000 French troops are currently deployed abroad. In addition to Iraq, there are over 5,000 troops in western and central Africa. Last week Hollande announced that France will deploy an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf to assist the fight against ISIS.

As with Osama Bin Laden’s strategy of promoting dramatic terrorist attacks in the West to provoke a crackdown and to radicalize Muslims, the strategy behind the current attacks is to generate a French crackdown to encourage Muslims to follow ISIS’s caliphate fantasy. It has worked all too well so far, and Hollande’s vow to be “ruthless” in his response leads him and France in the wrong direction.

In his address on recent events, Iran’s Leader Imam Khameini acknowledged that “there are voices of criticism in the West about its colonial past. But they only criticize the distant past. Why should the revision of collective conscience apply to the distant past and not to the current problems?”

Originally published here.

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“Understanding ISIS,” by Muhammad ibn Kateb Al Ashari

This document was available for download on Academia.edu so I assume the author has no plans to make money off of it as he is offering it int the public domain like that. I did a heavy edit on it and I think I made it a lot better. Nice short overview on Wahhabism, Ibn Taymiyyah, Saudi Arabia and ISIS. Good for people who don’t know a lot about the subject and not bad even for those of us who do. Hope you enjoy. We need more pieces like this.

In the name of Allah Most Gracious Most Merciful

To understand ISIS you must understand Wahhabism

Muhammad ibn Kateb Al Ashari

The dramatic arrival of Da’ish (ISIS) on the stage of Iraq has shocked many in the West. Many have been perplexed and horrified by its violence and evident magnetism for Sunni youth.

To understand ISIS, you need to understand Saudi Arabia. The dominant strand of Saudi identity derives directly from Muhammad ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhab (the founder of Wahhabism) and the use to which his radical, exclusionist puritanism was put by Ibn Saud. The latter was then no more than a minor leader amongst many continually sparring and raiding Bedouin tribes in the baking and desperately poor deserts of the Nejd.

The alliance between Ibn Abdul Wahhab and Al-Saud helped secure Saud’s power grab and instituted Ibn Abdul Wahhab’s monopoly on traditional Islamic scholarship.

Wahhab’s theology was something new. It was a revolution based on Abd al-Wahhab’s Jacobin-like hatred for the putrescence and deviationism that he perceived in his shallow understanding of Islamic sciences – hence his call to purge Islam of all heresies and idolatries.

The American author and journalist Steven Coll described how this austere and censorious disciple of the 14th century scholar Ibn Taymiyyah, Abd al-Wahhab, despised “the decorous, arty, tobacco smoking, hashish imbibing, drum pounding Egyptian and Ottoman nobility who traveled across Arabia to pray at Mecca.”

But the history of Wahhabism is even older than that. If you want to understand Wahhabism, you need to understand that Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab was only the Lenin or Wahhabism, whereas his ideological mentor, the Marx of Wahhabism, existed long before in Ibn Taymiyyah.

Before, I proceed in to Wahhabism, I will touch on Ibn Taymiyyah first.

The controversy surrounding Ibn Taymiyyah is not new or modern. Islamic scholars of his time were divided. Those who first met him often praised him, while others who learned of him through his writings and views scorned him. But he remains more of a despised icon than a revered one, and numerous classical writings show that his influence was short lived until the rise of Wahhabism.

Ibn Taymiyyah’s extreme fatwas have been used by ISIS and Al Qaeda today.

The most important fatwa upon which ISIS bases its holy war or jihad is the “Mardin” fatwa. This fatwa illustrates the extremism which marked all of Ibn Taymiyyah’s fatwas. He was born in Mardin on the border between present-day Syria and Turkey in 1263. When he was 7 years old, the Mongols attacked and overran his town. Ibn Taymiyyah moved to Damascus to live with his grandmother.

Jihadists believe that when he became an Islamic jurist, Ibn Taymiyyah issued a fatwa encouraging the fight against Mardin and its people, although the fatwa has been a source of disagreement among Muslim scholars for a long time. Many hardliners and advocates of Salafist jihadi ideology perceive this fatwa as permission to wage war to impose Sharia even within Islamic countries.

Ibn Taymiyyah had another fatwa on “collateral damage,” which stipulated that the mujahedeen who intended to target infidels were allowed to kill other Muslims who might stand in the way of reaching the mujahedeen’s goal. Al-Qaeda used this fatwa to justify the killing of large numbers of Iraqis with car bombs and improvised explosive devices after the US invasion in 2003.

You can say that Ibn Taymiyyah was misunderstood, but the fact remains that Ibn Taymiyyah has been a much loved and inspirational icon of Wahhabism, and fatwas like these are very disturbing. A lot is at stake here if you accept criticism of ibn Taymiyyah. The whole Salafi theology is based on his views and opinions, so it is common to see people defending him and his fatwas. Even many non-Salafist Sunnis will defend him.

Fast forward 500 years to the deserts of central Saudi Arabia. Here Wahhabism was birthed from Taymiyyah’s seeds.

One of the main tenets of Abd al-Wahhab’s doctrine is the key idea of takfir. Under the takfiri doctrine, Abd al-Wahhab and his followers could deem fellow Muslims infidels should they engage in activities that in any way could be said to encroach on the sovereignty of the absolute Authority in the Wahhabis’ understanding of the religion.

Abd al-Wahhab denounced all Muslims who honored the dead, saints, or angels. He held that such sentiments detracted from the complete subservience one must feel towards God and only God. Wahhabi Islam thus bans any veneration of the pious and prophets, pilgrimages to tombs and even faraway mosques, religious festivals celebrating prophets including celebrating Prophet Muhammad’s birthday and prohibits the use of gravestones when burying the dead.

In traditional Islam, engaging in these acts could be no more than disliked or not recommended, but disbelief or heresy by which the blood of a Muslim and their properties become lawful was not a possibility.

Understanding the Wahhabi movement is essential to understand the wars in the Middle East and the Wahhabi vs Shia conflict and the struggle of traditional mainstream Islamic theology to survive in the face of billions of Petro-Wahhabi dollars of Saudi Arabia.

This conflict is actually about who controls Middle East: Shias or Wahhabis. Sunnis have been the main players in the region for centuries due to numbers but also as a continuation of the message of Prophet and His companions. Sunni scholars have traditionally felt that they remained duty-bound to preserve Islamic orthodoxy in Islamic lands, hence their dominance over the Middle East and Arabia in particular makes sense..

Islamic theologians during ibn Taymiyyah’s time successfully silenced his views, and for centuries he were nearly forgotten until the British used support for Taymiyyah-influenced Wahhabism as a cynical tool against the Ottomans who were at the time more or less representative of traditional Islam. The British succeeded in defeating Ottomans politically 100 years ago, but now, a century later, they now have had to deal with their own Frankenstein monster, the Wahhabi ISIS.

The question is, Will ISIS be used by West as a pretext to launch global war against Islamic countries? If this happens, one of two things may happen. First, we will discover that Wahhabism has very foolishly succeeded yet again in assisting the demise of Islamic lands. If however ISIS succeeds, the demise of Islamic lands and Islam itself as well as West is a highly likely possibility unless a third option is activated – empowering traditional Islam and subduing both Wahhabism and Western imperialism. This third path may be the only way to avoid global annihilation.

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Slavery in the Muslim World: The Tradition Is Not Yet Dead

From here.

Bottom line is, yes, slavery has been present in the Islamic World from Day One. In fact, one can make a case that slavery was an inherent and even emblematic aspect of Islam since its inception. It only left the Muslim World due to pressure from the West when the West emancipated its own slaves in the late 1800’s. Officially, most of the Muslim World dumped theirs. Yet the practice continued. Saudi Arabia only outlawed slavery in 1962. An advertisement for a castrated Black slave for sale recently appeared in a Saudi publication. Mauritania only outlawed slavery a few years ago, and the ban is hardly enforced.

As societies collapsed, the peculiar institution experienced a recrudescence. Libyan ports now export many slaves destined for Europe. Syrian teenage girls in Jordanian refugee camps are trafficked to brothels in Amman and sold to visiting Gulf men for $140-175 for a “temporary marriage.” In Northern Nigeria, even before Boko Haram kidnapped scores of teenage Christian girls, Muslim men had been importing concubine slave girls from the north to serve as “fifth wives.” The abuse and rape of female domestics in the Gulf who are little more than slaves of their owners has been documented for years.

Worst of all is the migrant labor scam that the Gulf states have been running for decades involving workers from South Asia, especially Pakistan and India,  and Southeast Asia, particularly the Philippines. For all intents and purposes, work which is tied to contracts with the employer is little more than slavery, let’s face it. Gulf employers of these men have referred to them as slaves. They are housed in the most miserable conditions in a very wealthy country and worked to exhaustion and sometimes to death in ferocious heat with little protection or rest. A number of deaths have occurred to poor working conditions. Some poor countries to the east have forbidden their workers from going to the Gulf to work. There has been a bit of a crackdown, but it was mostly fake. Kuwait gave its “slaves” rights recently, but the Emir has not yet signed the bill. Qatar is worried about its reputation as the Olympics are coming soon, but its response instead of cleaning up its act has been to cover the whole mess up and beat up and detain the protesters. Any progress elsewhere in the Gulf has been frozen in recent years. Instead we get the predictable fake backlash whereby the Gulf states say that critics of their Slave System are “Islamophobes.”

The progress for serious progressive change for alleviating remaining vestiges of slavery in the Arab World seem dim at the moment as the region undergoes a retrenchment, a backlash and a hardening of reaction.

The link between Islam and slavery goes back from the start, so ISIS is not doing anything new. The fact that the formal Muslim states of the world continue to refuse to clean up their mess is most discouraging, but it too may be blamed on tradition.

“Spoils of war,” snaps Dabiq, the English-language journal of Islamic State (IS). The reference is to thousands of Yazidi women the group forced into sex slavery after taking their mountain, Sinjar, in August last year. Far from being a perversion, it claims that forced concubinage is a religious practice sanctified by the Koran.

In a chapter called Women, the Koran sanctions the marriage of up to four wives, or “those that your right hands possess”. Literalists, like those behind the Dabiq article, have interpreted these words as meaning “captured in battle”.

Its purported female author, Umm Sumayyah, celebrated the revival of Islam’s slave-markets and even proffered the hope that Michelle Obama, the wife of America’s president, might soon be sold there. “I and those with me at home prostrated to Allah in gratitude on the day the first slave-girl entered our home,” she wrote. Sympathizers have done the same, most notably the allied Nigerian militant group, Boko Haram, which last year kidnapped an entire girls’ school in Chibok.

Religious preachers have responded with a chorus of protests. “The re-introduction of slavery is forbidden in Islam. It was abolished by universal consensus,” declared an open letter sent by 140 Muslim scholars to IS’s “caliph”, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, earlier this year. “You have taken women as concubines and thus revived…corruption and lewdness on the earth.”

But while IS’s embrace of outright slavery has been singled out for censure, religious and political leaders have been more circumspect about other “slave-like” conditions prevalent across the region. IS’s targeting of an entire sect for kidnapping, killing and sex trafficking, and its bragging, are exceptional; forced labor for sexual and other forms of exploitation is not.

From Morocco, where thousands of children work as petites bonnes, or maids, to the Syrian refugee camps in Jordan where girls are forced into prostitution, to the unsanctioned rape and abuse of domestics in the Gulf, aid workers say servitude is rife.

Scholars are sharply divided over how much cultural mores are to blame. Apologists say that, in a concession to the age, the Prophet Muhammad tolerated slavery, but—according to a prominent American theologian trained in Salafi seminaries, Yasir Qadhi—he did so grudgingly and advocated abolition.

Repeatedly in the Koran the Prophet calls for the manumission of slaves and release of captives, seeking to alleviate the slave systems run by the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines and Jewish Himyarite kings of Yemen. He freed one slave, a chief’s daughter, by marrying her, and chose Bilal, another slave he had freed, to recite the first call to prayer after his conquest of Mecca. His message was liberation from worldly oppression, says Mr Qadhi  – enslavement to God, not man.

Other scholars insist, however, that IS’s treatment of Yazidis adheres to Islamic tradition. “They are in full compliance with Koranic understanding in its early stages,” says Professor Ehud Toledano, a leading authority on Islamic slavery at Tel Aviv University. Moreover, “what the Prophet has permitted, Muslims cannot forbid.”

The Prophet’s calls to release slaves only spurred a search for fresh stock as the new empire spread, driven by commerce, from sub-Saharan Africa to the Persian Gulf.

To quash a black revolt in the salt mines of southern Iraq, the Abbasid caliphs in Baghdad conscripted Turkish slaves into their army. Within a few generations these formed a power base, and from 1250 to 1517 an entire slave caste, the Mamluks (Arabic for “chattel”), ruled Egypt.

A path to power

Their successors, the Ottoman Turks, perfected the system. After conquering south-eastern Europe in the late 14th century, they imposed the devshirme, or tribute, enslaving the children of the rural poor, on the basis that they were more pagan than Christian, and therefore not subject to the protections Islam gave to People of the Book. Far from resisting this, many parents were happy to deliver their offspring into the white slave elite that ran the empire.

Under this system, enslaved boys climbed the ranks of the army and civil service. Girls entered the harem as concubines to bear sultans. All anticipated, and often earned, power and wealth. Unlike the feudal system of Christian Europe, this one was meritocratic and generated a diverse gene pool. Mehmet II, perhaps the greatest of the Ottoman sultans, who ruled in the 15th century, had the fair skin of his mother, a slave girl from the empire’s north-western reaches.

All this ended because of abolition in the West. After severing the trans-Atlantic slave trade in the 19th century, Western abolitionists turned on the Islamic world’s, and within decades had brought down a system that had administered not just the Ottoman empire but the Sherifian empire of Morocco, the Sultanate of Oman with its colonies on the Swahili-speaking coast and West Africa’s Sokoto Caliphate.

With Western encouragement, Serb and Greek rebels sloughed off devshirme. Fearful of French ambitions, the mufti of Tunis wooed the British by closing his slave-markets in 1846. A few years later, the sultan in Istanbul followed suit.

Some tried to resist, including Morocco’s sultan and the cotton merchants of Egypt, who had imported African slaves to make up the shortages left by the ravages of America’s civil war. But colonial pressure proved unstoppable. Under Britain’s consul-general, Evelyn Baring, Earl of Cromer, Egypt’s legislative assembly dutifully abolished slavery at the end of the 19th century. The Ottoman register for 1906 still lists 194 eunuchs and 500 women in the imperial harem, but two years later they were gone.

For almost a century the Middle East, on paper at least, was free of slaves. “Human beings are born free, and no one has the right to enslave, humiliate, oppress or exploit them,” proclaimed the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam in 1990. Early jihadist groups followed the trend, characterizing themselves as liberation movements and, as such, rejecting slavery.

But though slavery per se may be condemned, observers point to the persistence of servitude. The Global Slavery Index (GSI), whose estimates are computed by an Australian NGO working with Hull University, claims that of 14 states with over 1% of the population enslaved, more than half are Muslim. Prime offenders range from the region’s poorest state, Mauritania, to its richest per head, Qatar.

The criteria and data used by GSI have been criticized, but evidence supports the thrust of its findings. Many Arab states took far longer to criminalize slavery than to ban it. Mauritania, the world’s leading enslaver, did not do so until 2007. Where bans exist, they are rarely enforced. The year after Qatar abolished slavery in 1952, the emir took his slaves to the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

Government inspections and prosecutions are rarities. “The security chiefs, the judges and the lawyers all belong to the class that historically owned slaves,” says Sarah Mathewson of London-based Anti-Slavery International. “They are part of the problem.”

No labor practice has drawn more international criticism than the kafala system, which ties migrant workers to their employers. This is not slavery as IS imposes it; migrants come voluntarily, drawn by the huge wealth gap between their own countries and the Gulf. But the system “facilitates slavery”, says Nicholas McGeehan, who reports for Human Rights Watch on conditions in the desert camps where most such workers live.

The Gulf’s 2.4m domestic servants are even more vulnerable. Most do not enjoy the least protection under labor laws. Housed and, in some cases, locked in under their employer’s roof, they are prey to sexual exploitation.

Irons and red-hot bars

Again, these workers have come voluntarily; but disquieting echoes persist. Many Gulf nationals can be heard referring to their domestics as malikat (slaves). Since several Asian governments have suspended or banned their female nationals from domestic work in the Gulf out of concern for their welfare, recruitment agencies are turning to parts of Africa, such as Uganda, which once exported female slaves. Some domestic servants are abused with irons and red-hot bars: resonant, says Mr McGeehan, of slave-branding in the past.

Elsewhere in the region, the collapse of law and order provides further cover for a comeback of old practices. Syrian refugee camps in Jordan provide a supply of girls for both the capital’s brothels and for Gulf men trawling websites, which offer short-term marriages for brokerage fees of $140-270 each. Trafficking has soared in Libya’s Mediterranean ports, which under the Ottomans exported sub-Saharan labor to Europe. Long before Boko Haram kidnapped girls, Anti-Slavery International had warned that Nigerian businessmen were buying “fifth wives”—concubines alongside the four wives permitted by Islam—from neighboring Niger.

Gulf states insist they are dealing with the problem. In June Kuwait’s parliament granted domestic servants labor rights, the first Gulf state to do so. It is also the only Gulf state to have opened a refuge for female migrants. Qatar, fearful that reported abuses might upset its hosting of the World Cup in 2022, has promised to improve migrant housing.

And earlier this year Mauritania’s government ordered preachers at Friday prayers to publicize a fatwa by the country’s leading clerics declaring: “Slavery has no legal foundation in sharia law.” Observers fear, though, that this is window-dressing. And Kuwait’s emir has yet to ratify the new labour-rights law.

Rather than stop the abuse, Gulf officials prefer to round on their critics, accusing them of Islamophobia just as their forebears did. Oman and Saudi Arabia have long been closed to Western human-rights groups investigating the treatment of migrants. Now the UAE and Qatar, under pressure after a wave of fatalities among workers building venues for the 2022 World Cup, are keeping them out, too.

Internal protests are even riskier. Over the past two years hundreds of migrant laborers building Abu Dhabi’s Guggenheim and Louvre Museums have been detained, roughed up and deported, says Human Rights Watch, after strikes over unpaid wages. Aminetou Mint Moctar, a rare Mauritanian Arab on the board of SOS Esclaves, a local association campaigning for the rights of haratin, or descendants of black slaves, has received death threats.

Is it too much to hope that the Islamic clerics denouncing slavery might also condemn other instances of forced and abusive labor? Activists and Gulf migrants are doubtful. Even migrants’ own embassies can be strangely mute, not wanting criticism to curb the vital flow of remittances. When Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, visited the UAE this week, his nationals there complained that migrant rights were last on his list. Western governments generally have other priorities. One is simply to defeat IS, whose extreme revival of slavery owes at least something to the region’s persistent and pervasive tolerance of servitude.

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