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Books and Documents

The War Within Islam

Turkey's Failed Grand Design for the Middle East
Burak Bekdil

In many ways, the recent crisis between Qatar and its Gulf and other Muslim "friends" marked, among other things, the last nail in the coffin of Turkey's "grand Middle Eastern design." Once again, Turkey's leaders were trapped by their own ideological shallowness into betting on a losing horse....

 

The Long-Term Cost of Saudi Succession Shake-Up
Bruce Riedel

Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy and theocracy. The king has complete authority and control. His choice of his favourite son is likely to provoke quiet muttering and complaining in the family and the clerical establishment, but not a challenge. The longer-term costs of upsetting the legitimacy of the line of succession in the midst of low oil prices and regional tensions are much more worrisome. The young prince is poised to inherit a kingdom under stress at home and abroad....

 

Qatar, the Mouse That Roared
Eric Margolis

Qatar’s efforts at modernizing are being met with furious opposition by the leaders of Mideast reaction – feudal kingdom Saudi Arabia, military dictatorship Egypt and their feudal satraps in the UAE and Bahrain. Trump’s green-lighting this foolish venture shows how poorly informed and dunderheaded he is. The other Gulf States should grow up and stop acting like feuding Bedouins....

 
The Qatar Ultimatum
Clifford D. May

The Qatar Ultimatum
Clifford D. May

Qatar has now reached a fork in the road. The emir can support the Arab/Sunni bloc committed to fighting terrorism – Sunni and Shia alike -- announced during President Trump’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia. Or he can throw in with Iran and Russia, once-great empires with neo-imperialist ambitions. But his license to play both ends against the middle appears to have expired....

 

The Arab Epics of 1967: The Six-Day War at 50
Nael ElToukhy

The Arab-Israeli war of 1967 — and the Egyptian-Syrian defeat in it — was one of the most significant moments for the modern Middle East, an overwhelming experience, especially for the Egyptians who suffered not just military and political but also psychological consequences. The story of 1967 is one that Egyptians should explore and remember with nuance and sophistication — and reality....

 
Will Iran Descend Into Chaos?
Christopher De Bellaigue

Will Iran Descend Into Chaos?
Christopher De Bellaigue

The fear now is that if Iran is increasingly exposed to Jihadi attacks, attitudes toward Sunnis — in particular the country’s Sunni minority — will harden. “If we don’t slap the enemy” outside our borders, Iran’s public prosecutor told the public in March, “he’ll come to your door.” And what if he is perceived to be already inside?...

 

Feuds between Bedouin Tribes and Inter-Arab Brawls Are Not Pakistan’s Business
Pervez Hoodbhoy

Feuds between Bedouin tribes and inter-Arab brawls are not our business. It matters hugely to KSA — but not at all to us — that the largest mosque in Doha (Qatar) is wrongly named as the Shaykh Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab Mosque. Nor do we care that an unnamed Qatari prince is right or wrong in claiming Abd al-Wahhab as his great grandfather.....

Pakistan, Gripped By Fear, Tries To Normalise Blasphemy Laws, Anti-Liberal Violence
Khaled Ahmed

Blasphemy in Pakistan has acquired a broad meaning; “innuendo” can get you in trouble, but being “liberal” is signal enough for the pious seeking easy paradise. Section 225-C of the Pakistan Penal Code explains how the punishment of death can be attracted: “Whoever insults the sacred name of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) by words either spoken or written, or by visible representation, or by imputation, innuendo or insinuation, directly or indirectly, will be punished by hanging”.....

 

Same Same but Different: The GCC Continues To Clash over Islamists
Courtney Freer

At the end of May, the Saudi Minister of Islamic Affairs demanded that Qatar change the name of its state mosque, which is now dubbed Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Wahhab Mosque, amid claims that al-Thani ruling family is not descendant of al-Wahhab (Qatar and Saudi Arabia are the only countries whose official religion is Wahhabism)....

 

Since Mr. Trump has surrounded himself with a coterie of advisers obsessed with the twin threats of Iranian influence and “radical Islamic terror,” it makes sense that the Saudis decided this was the moment to act. Punishing Qatar and isolating Iran also fit with the Israeli government’s assessment of its strategic interests, as it confronts Hezbollah forces to its north and Hamas in Gaza on its south-western border....

 

King Salman and PM Najib Collaborate To Protect Indian Jihadi Zakir Naik
Zakir Naik

Salman and Najib working together to protect Zakir Naik raises the likelihood that the Saudis and Malaysians are running a joint pool of funds to finance terrorism and related activities in the region, which includes money stolen from 1MDB and from Saudi contributions.PM Najib himself has used the argument of mixed funds in his defence against his theft from another state owned company, SRC International, which was once wholly-owned 1MDB subsidiary.....

Arab Version of the Six Day War: The Great Lie That Refuses To Die
Ben Macintyre

On June 5, 1967, Israel destroyed Egypt’s air force and attacked the planes of Syria and Jordan. Then Israeli forces advanced on Sinai, Jerusalem’s Old City, Suez and the Golan Heights. Six days later Israel had achieved a stunning victory over the encircling Arab armies, and the map of the Middle East was redrawn....

 

A Family Feud: Saudi Arabia Cuts Off Qatar
The Economist

The British kept the Saudis from extending their rule to its coastal protectorates in the 1920s. More recently, Qatar has reached out to an unlikely assembly of Israel, Iran, Turkey and America for support. Of late, though, its alliances have seemed to fray. Israel has deepened its security relationship with Qatar’s rivals, the UAE, and to a lesser extent, Saudi Arabia....

The woes of Bengalis, Burmese and Iranians of Karachi
Saher Baloch and Bilal Karim Mughal

Members of these families have been travelling between Iran and Karachi, in some cases even before Pakistan came into being. Many of them are involved in exporting bedspreads, draperies, rice, lentils and vegetables from Pakistan to Iran and importing dry fruits, sweets, pickles and carpets from Iran to Pakistan — all through legal channels. Some others smuggle petroleum products from Iran into Pakistan and illegal migrants from Pakistan into Iran.....

 

Pre-1947 Lahore, Rich in Writers, Poets and Pluralism, Pushed At the Boundaries of Knowledge
Khaled Ahmed

But Khushwant Singh, sent by his rich father in Delhi to start a lawyer’s career in Lahore, noted that the Unionists didn’t really integrate culturally. They were united by one cultural factor, the Punjabi language, while divided by its two different scripts containing mystical verse that all Unionists could relate to. The religious lot was there too, and was deeply divided. The RSS held drills in posh Model Town; the tough Islamic schools of the Deobandi and Wahhabi brands flourished in the inner city....

 

Paradoxes of ‘New Turkey’
Sinem Adar

This is a Kafkaesque moment. Time flows fast without giving one the mental space and energy to reflect and understand. Maybe we had lost many chances in the past for reflection and understanding before we reached this moment. This is perhaps a form of divine justice for all the past and present injustices committed by the republic against all the undesired and unwanted minds and bodies. Who knows? The history of the Turkish Republic remains to be one of constant and systematic violence. ...

 

Pakistan: Speechless Republic
Haroon Baloch

And it’s a naked truth that justice to blasphemy accused has always been done extra-judicially in Pakistan, as we witnessed in the case of Mashal Khan more recently. The frequency of cases pertaining to online blasphemy in Pakistan has risen in two years’ time. Bytes for All’s monitoring records of one-year (May 2016 to May 2017) contain at least eight cases where blasphemy accusations were levelled against individuals for their online religious expression....

Afghanistan-Pakistan: Border Disorder
Tushar Ranjan Mohanty

While border clashes between Afghanistan and Pakistan are not a new occurrence, the situation in the past few months has been more warlike than usual. Both countries accuse each other of providing jihadists with safe zones to launch attacks across the border. On May 18, 2017, the Pakistan Army claimed that it has satellite images and ground reports that proved Afghanistan's "involvement" in cross-border terrorist acts and infiltration of terrorists from Afghan areas into Pakistan.....

 

Indonesia: A Changing State
Farooq Sulehria

The ‘Shariahfication’ of Indonesia has occurred at a time when the country is emerging as an inspiring example of the successful transition to democracy. On the one hand, elections have been conducted in the country every five years since 1999 while on the other the Muslim vote bank has shrunk progressively with every fresh round of general elections. This appears to be paradoxical – especially when the current scholarship on Indonesia holds ‘Islamist’ parties responsible for moving Indonesia towards Islamisation....

 

Insulting Ataturk Still Serious Crime in Turkey
Mustafa Akyol

They claimed that Ataturk had a “hall of lovers,” and Yesilyurt even threw out speculation that Afet Inan — Ataturk’s famous foster child — was, in fact, his “illegitimate wife.” The two hosts seemed to agree, and the editor of the show wrote on the screen that Inan, a most respected female figure of the early republic, could well be “the unmarried first lady of the republic.”....

 

Fethullah Gulen: The Turkey I No Longer Know
Fethullah Gulen

Erdogan’s persecution of his people is not simply a domestic matter. The ongoing pursuit of civil society, journalists, academics and Kurds in Turkey is threatening the long-term stability of the country. The Turkish population already is strongly polarized on the AKP regime. A Turkey under a dictatorial regime, providing haven to violent radicals and pushing its Kurdish citizens into desperation, would be a nightmare for Middle East security...

 
Assad's Hollow Crown
Jonathan Spyer

Assad's Hollow Crown
Jonathan Spyer

Consider the claim: Sunni Arab Jihadi fighters in Homs had deliberately set about destroying the Christian heritage in the area because the Jihadis are in alliance with a broader Jewish and Zionist plan to destroy non-Jewish cultural heritage in the Middle East. This is part of a Jewish plan to pretend that theirs is the oldest culture in the area, or the world. Such an idea is obviously insane. It is also to be found among the mainstream of discussion in regime-controlled Syria…..

 

The Arab Gulf States, Israel, and Turkey All Prefer Anarchy to Assad
Philip Giraldi

So the Saudis would like to see a Syria in which the Sunni Arabs are dominant, which will presumably lead to discrimination against Shi’ites, Alawites, and Christians—as well as a severing of political ties with Iran. In reality, a broken Syria would likely turn out much like neighbouring Iraq, with minorities in trouble and a lack of effective central control....

 
Pakistan: Census Anxieties
Tushar Ranjan Mohanty

Pakistan: Census Anxieties
Tushar Ranjan Mohanty

There are also fears among the large population of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and Temporarily Displaced Persons (TDPs) of being left out, as well as Baloch nationalists who are targeted through an aggressive process of demographic re-engineering in Balochistan, and who fear that Afghans in the province may be enumerated as Pashtuns.....

 

Pakistan’s Triangle of Hate
Mohammed Hanif

Pakistani society is still deeply divided over what the Taliban represent. Some see them as barbarians at our door who want to destroy the last vestiges of our faltering democratic and civil order. Others think of them as our misguided brothers: The Taliban, too, want a just society; it’s only their methods that are unacceptable.....

 
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