West Asia News and Discussions (YEMEN, gulf)

All threads that are locked or marked for deletion will be moved to this forum. The topics will be cleared from this archive on the 1st and 16th of each month.
Prem
BRF Oldie
Posts: 21155
Joined: 01 Jul 1999 11:31
Location: Weighing and Waiting 8T Yconomy

Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby Prem » 21 Oct 2014 05:55

UlanBatori wrote:Wow! Israel (Jewish, they don't count the 'others' I suppose, since those are threatening to outgrow and outvote the Jews) is 8,252,500So yes, Kurdistan could be a major force.

Thier main advantage will be Non Arabic outlook and location. They can be good partner with Israel and others to keep the local animals under control. Turkish elites loath and fear them. Demographics within Turkey are gonna change drastically in favour of Kurd in near future. All they need now is sea port through Syria. Joke on Twitter was Kurdars are new Sardars as they have turned the tide against all odds .

IndraD
BRF Oldie
Posts: 7267
Joined: 26 Dec 2008 15:38
Location: भारत का निश्चेत गगन

Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby IndraD » 21 Oct 2014 20:08

Image

A Turkey soldier dragging a Kurd on streets

JE Menon
Forum Moderator
Posts: 7038
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30

Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby JE Menon » 21 Oct 2014 20:15

They used to do the above with tanks and other vehicles ^^

vishvak
BR Mainsite Crew
Posts: 5835
Joined: 12 Aug 2011 21:19

Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby vishvak » 21 Oct 2014 20:20

And the goody two shoes of Europe are silent when it comes to NATO member Turkey.

Turkey has also protested weaponry against ISIL by Germany to PKK forces. Turks are very open about where they stand, it is only Europeans who can't seem to know.

JE Menon
Forum Moderator
Posts: 7038
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30

Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby JE Menon » 21 Oct 2014 20:25

The Europeans know. That is why they will never let Turkey into the EU. It is the Americans who have been pressuring them to let Turkey in, without much success. Of course, with regard to the Turks perspectives have been altering rather fast over the past 18 months or so...

pankajs
BRF Oldie
Posts: 13865
Joined: 13 Aug 2009 20:56

Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby pankajs » 21 Oct 2014 22:42

Wall Street Journal ‏@WSJ 2h2 hours ago

Islamic State's sway spreads to Lebanon, with support evident in some poor neighborhoods http://on.wsj.com/1wlEGUa

vivek.rao
BRF Oldie
Posts: 3775
Joined: 11 Aug 2016 06:14

Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby vivek.rao » 22 Oct 2014 01:47

So Kurds are sunnis too?

TSJones
BRF Oldie
Posts: 3022
Joined: 14 Oct 1999 11:31

Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby TSJones » 22 Oct 2014 04:17

JE Menon wrote:The Europeans know. That is why they will never let Turkey into the EU. It is the Americans who have been pressuring them to let Turkey in, without much success. Of course, with regard to the Turks perspectives have been altering rather fast over the past 18 months or so...


A former acquaintance of mine had a brother who was in the Turkish army. He was badly wounded in a Kurd ambush about 15 years ago. There is no love lost between the Turks and the Kurds.

UlanBatori
BRF Oldie
Posts: 14045
Joined: 11 Aug 2016 06:14

Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby UlanBatori » 22 Oct 2014 07:14

I don't see how NATO can accommodate the breakup of Turkey with Free Kurdistan. What happens to "an attack on one is an attack on all" philosophy of NATO?

So the best hope for Kurdistan (aka Israel-2) is an ISIS revolution that consumes Turkey, and allows NATO to bomb Turkey. Like they have managed to get inside Syria now.

Prem
BRF Oldie
Posts: 21155
Joined: 01 Jul 1999 11:31
Location: Weighing and Waiting 8T Yconomy

Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby Prem » 22 Oct 2014 08:04

Eventually Turkey will have 40-45% of population with Kurdish bloodline.Rich Kurdistan then bake, slice and gobble up "Turkey" on one special Thanksgiving day. In this case , revenge better served as Baked , carved and warm Dish.

JE Menon
Forum Moderator
Posts: 7038
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30

Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby JE Menon » 22 Oct 2014 10:31

>>A former acquaintance of mine had a brother who was in the Turkish army. He was badly wounded in a Kurd ambush about 15 years ago. There is no love lost between the Turks and the Kurds.

Indeed. There is in fact, active hate. The Turkish Kurds have been especially oppressed under Kemalism, and only recently have things begun to improve marginally. The Kurds in northern Iraq, engage more freely with the Turks on a commercial level, but there too no love is lost. The Kurds themselves are heavily clannish and infighting can be no less brutal and bloody - though again, at least in Iraqi Kurdistan - clan differences (mainly between the Barzani and Talabani groups) have not been settled by their respective peshmergas in recent years. But the Kurds are fighters, tough fighters - having done basically not much else for decades now; until, of course, the US invaded Iraq again in 2003. Things have never been so good for them in recent history as it has for the last few years. I've been to Erbil a couple of times between 2010-11, and it was a bustling place with lots of Ford, Chrysler and Dodge muscle cars powering about. Even the cops had Ford Mustangs if I remember right - donated by the US. The Kurds hate the Arabs too. In the aircraft on my way out, a couple of Lebanese kids tried to insist on speaking to the stewardesses in Arabic and were slapped down in Kurdish and English so fast, they didn't know what hit them.

Vikas
BRF Oldie
Posts: 6828
Joined: 03 Dec 2005 02:40
Location: Where DST doesn't bother me
Contact:

Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby Vikas » 22 Oct 2014 12:23

So why Kurds and Arabs have problem if Kurds too are Arabic Sunni Muslims. Should they not be on the same side or atleast should not Arabs be shouting for them while Kurds bring down Turks.
If I remember correctly, the much touted Salahdin too was a Kurd who led Sunni Islamic Army.

BTW going by the historical data of the region, If Kurds ever become a independent nation, They too will be shouting 'Death to Jews and Death to Amreeka' in few years time.

Supratik
BRF Oldie
Posts: 6435
Joined: 09 Nov 2005 10:21
Location: USA

Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby Supratik » 22 Oct 2014 13:18

Kurds are a separate ethnic group than Arabs. Kurds have diverse religious beliefs and have been more liberal than others in the region. Iraq is an unnatural state like Pakistan build by the Europeans. It would eventually split into three - Sunni Arab, Shia Arab and Kurd or become like Lebanon - permanently unstable with power shared by all three groups.

pankajs
BRF Oldie
Posts: 13865
Joined: 13 Aug 2009 20:56

Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby pankajs » 22 Oct 2014 14:30

Kobane News ! ‏@Shiyoki87

Sirina #Shim Last tweet before the #Turkish government killed her. #Turkey #Usa #America #Lebanon #twitterkurds
Image

vishvak
BR Mainsite Crew
Posts: 5835
Joined: 12 Aug 2011 21:19

Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby vishvak » 22 Oct 2014 18:45

Just ro note- the world food org and other NGOs are all secular, just as those treating kids and men (and not absent women!) who were attacked with chemical weapon allegedly by Assad. One can calculate therefore-and not prove- that only men and kids are helped by these NGOs.

pankajs
BRF Oldie
Posts: 13865
Joined: 13 Aug 2009 20:56

Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby pankajs » 22 Oct 2014 18:54

Hitarth Maru ‏@Hitarth1987 34m34 minutes ago

'I've been raped 30 times and it's not even lunchtime': plight of a Yazidi woman after ISIS sold her into sex slavery http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... z3GmR2pVnf

An American journalist has been killed in a car crash in Turkey just days after claiming she claimed the Turkish intelligence services had threatened her over her reporting of the siege of Kobane.

Serena Shim{My previous post}, who worked for Iran's state-owned Press TV as Turkey correspondent, died in the city of Suruc after the car in which she was travelling reportedly collided with a 'heavy vehicle'.

Shim's death came just days after she spoke on camera of her fears of being arrested, claiming Turkish intelligence agents had accused her of spying after one of her reports suggested ISIS militants were being smuggled back and forth over the Syrian border in the back of aid vehicles.

...
Only last Friday Shim was interviewed on camera by Press TV about her fears of being arrested by Turkish intelligence agencies.

In the short interview she alleged that she had been approached and accused of spying after a report in which he said she claimed to have received images of Islamic State terrorists being smuggled over the Turkey-Syria in vehicles belonging to the World Food Organization and other aid groups.

Shim described herself as 'surprised' at the accusation, 'because I have nothing to hide and I have never done anything aside my job.'

Singha
BRF Oldie
Posts: 66601
Joined: 13 Aug 2004 19:42
Location: the grasshopper lies heavy

Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby Singha » 22 Oct 2014 18:56

so turkey is playing the same game as TSP - bending to american pressure grudgingly to let the kurds have some help, while nurturing and helping the ISIS serpents via the back door.

I think Ulanbatori said turkey is the TSP of the middle east and he was dead right. their fortunes can only go downhill from here. I had ambitions one day of visiting constantinople and even capadoccia to view the grand monuments but I wont waste my resources on such a miserable regime. egypt plans also went out of window with the faithful taking over.
only jordan and the nabatean ruins of petra hang by a thread - slim as it is.

pankajs
BRF Oldie
Posts: 13865
Joined: 13 Aug 2009 20:56

Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby pankajs » 22 Oct 2014 19:00

Another similarity .. it sits strategically between Middle east and Europe and hopes to become the conduit for ME gas and oil to Europe via pipelines.

vishvak
BR Mainsite Crew
Posts: 5835
Joined: 12 Aug 2011 21:19

Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby vishvak » 22 Oct 2014 19:00

Well, if the secular NGOs provide help to each community equally and fairly, why would militants allow NGOs to operate freely? Yazidis are obvious victims in this fraud of selective secularism. Hopefully BRICS NGO support structures are initiated quickly to provide help in fair way and not selective farce.

pankajs
BRF Oldie
Posts: 13865
Joined: 13 Aug 2009 20:56

Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby pankajs » 22 Oct 2014 22:44

http://mobile.nytimes.com/2014/10/22/wo ... -isis.html

New Freedoms in Tunisia Drive Support for ISIS
Nearly four years after the Arab Spring revolt, Tunisia remains its lone success as chaos engulfs much of the region. But that is not its only distinction: Tunisia has sent more foreign fighters than any other country to Iraq and Syria to join the extremist group that calls itself the Islamic State.

And throughout the working-class suburbs of the capital, young men are eager to talk about why.

“Don’t you see it as a source of pride?” challenged Sufian Abbas, 31, a student sitting at a street cafe in the densely packed Ettadhamen district with a half-dozen like-minded friends.

JE Menon
Forum Moderator
Posts: 7038
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30

Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby JE Menon » 22 Oct 2014 23:14

>>“Don’t you see it as a source of pride?” challenged Sufian Abbas, 31, a student sitting at a street cafe in the densely packed Ettadhamen district with a half-dozen like-minded friends.

You get ideas such the one in black bold, when you are described as in the red bold...

UlanBatori
BRF Oldie
Posts: 14045
Joined: 11 Aug 2016 06:14

Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby UlanBatori » 23 Oct 2014 02:56

So young if one were enrolled at the CIIS ( Communist Caliph-Hornia Islamic Institute of Insurrection Integral School)Studies)

UlanBatori
BRF Oldie
Posts: 14045
Joined: 11 Aug 2016 06:14

Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby UlanBatori » 23 Oct 2014 03:08

BTW, AiiYYOO!! I had nothing to do with calling Turkey TSP of Middle East. We have predicted that Kurdistan is Israel #2, but assuming that they have people in power all round the world to keep them viable. They sure have desperate fighters, much better than any other of The Faithful (i.e., they actually FIGHT, not just rape and mutilate unarmed civilians, which is completely unprecedented in the Jehad)

anmol
BRFite
Posts: 1836
Joined: 05 May 2009 17:39

Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby anmol » 23 Oct 2014 07:17

There’s Only One Way to Beat ISIS: Work With Assad and Iran
by Leslie H. Gelb, thedailybeast.com
10.18.14

Earlier this week, outside Washington, the Obama team hosted senior military leaders from nations pledged to help fight the so-called Islamic State, in a mission the Pentagon is now calling Operation Inherent Resolve. Representatives from 21 of the 60-odd countries appeared. Everyone, of course, was too polite to inquire about the embarrassing number of absentees. Nor did they comment on how little these partners have contributed to the war effort thus far, or on the fact that no new serious help has been promised. Least surprising of all was the absence of the only two nations that could help fight the jihadis now and in a tangible form.

In the short term the only way to check ISIS, as the self-declared caliphate is widely known, is for the United States to work with Bashar Assad’s Syria, and with Iran. It is a tricky and perilous path, but there are no realistic alternatives.

In short, here’s why: First, air power alone can’t stop, let alone, defeat ISIS. Even those who now demand an escalation of the overly restrained U.S. air campaign don’t argue that it is a solution. Second, neither Iraq nor American-backed Syrian rebels can field viable ground forces, at least for some time. Just look at their performance to date and see if the U.S. can afford to pretend otherwise.

White House officials won’t publicly discuss the limited effectiveness of their air campaign because it’s the only action the U.S. and its partners can now agree to take. Privately, however, they understand well that missiles, drones, and bombs can help Kurdish forces near Kurdistan, damage some jihadi-controlled oil refineries, and keep the militants from massing forces and armor. But that’s about it.

The White House, however, does not grapple with the essentiality of good ground forces now. Instead, it resorts to its usual wishful thinking. The Iraqi army, the Obama team says, wouldn’t fight for Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, but it will fight for a more responsive government. The solution was to depose Maliki, the sectarian Shiite prime minster, and to replace him with a more flexible Shiite who might accommodate the unhappy Sunnis and Kurds.

No such luck. The newly installed regime shows little sign of being able to cure Iraq’s political ills, and Iraqi troops have become no more effective. It is not even certain that they can or will defend Baghdad or the oil facilities to the south.

Neither can the Obama team shake its years-long rhetoric about salvation resting with equipping an army of Syrian democrats, the so-called moderate rebels. These rebels have formidable advocates in Washington, from Republicans like Sen. John McCain to the likes of Hillary Clinton and Leon Panetta, but these devotees are overlooking basic facts.

Factions within the Syrian National Coalition, the supposed overall leadership body for the rebels, haven’t been able to agree among themselves and exercise little oversight over rebel troops in the field. The rebels inside Syria, those whom Americans truly would like to help, are almost totally disorganized themselves. Their politics run from democratic to Islamic fundamentalist, and many have simply sold to the jihadis the very arms given to them by the U.S.

Washington should, in fact, undertake a careful long-term program to arm and train these rebels so that over time they will be strong enough to fight and/or bargain with the Alawite Shiites in Damascus. It makes no sense, however, for Obama to continue promising urgent delivery of hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of arms to groups that could not possibly absorb them.

Now is not the time for false virtue or moral absolutism. The working principle now has to be first threats first.

This rhetoric aside, the Obama team and the Pentagon know full well the limits of the rebels and are beginning to search out a realistic alternative. This foreign policy sleight of hand was revealed last month when Secretary of State John Kerry let slip America’s intention to “de-conflict” with Assad. One apparent result of these subtle moves is that Assad seems to be turning off his air-defense system when U.S. aircraft attack his territory. For its part, the U.S. hasn’t hit major oil fields under ISIS control. Presumably this is because Assad wants them working when he takes over again.

Only Assad’s Syria and Iran can and would provide plausible ground forces in short order. Turkey, the other possible partner, has shown itself to be more interested in checking its own Kurdish population than in fighting ISIS abroad. On paper, Assad’s army numbers over 100,000, and his air force contains around 300 jets. Even if his actual fighting force is half that, Syria’s is still the best positioned and most usable outfit among the neighboring Arab states. Iran’s forces are even more potent.

Assad has thus far proved cagey. He hasn’t made the defeat of ISIS his top priority. He remains zeroed in on the rebels, while brokering his own stolen oil internationally on behalf of the ISIS jihadis who took it. Recently, however, Assad has been signaling that he sees things differently, but he won’t turn his attention fully to ISIS without quiet assurances from the Americans—and probably the Russians, too—that this won’t disadvantage him against the rebels. Russia, brimming with unhappy, armed Muslims, is even more threatened by the existence of ISIS than the United States. Moscow could help facilitate cooperation between Syria, Iran, and the U.S., not because Vladimir Putin is kind-hearted, but because it is in his obvious interest.

Cooperating with Assad is also the only feasible way, at present, to lessen the humanitarian nightmare in Syria. Thus, the first condition for cooperation must be his agreement to respect humanitarian zones in rebel held areas linked to a mutual ceasefire. This arrangement would be without prejudice as to the ultimate resolution of Syria’s political crisis, but it could help resolve matters peacefully and permit both parties to focus on fighting the Islamic extremists.

As for Iran, its leaders, both reformists and hardliners, regard the Sunni Islamic State as a mortal threat to Shiite governments in Tehran, Damascus, and Baghdad. The Iranians have the military means and good reason to be effective partners; the ever-present risk is that their revolutionary ideology will run amok. If a deal can be arranged, Tehran’s ground forces should be restricted to Baghdad and southern Iraq. Going northward would antagonize Iraqi Sunnis, whom Washington and Baghdad are currently wooing. Luring those Sunnis back into a functioning Iraqi state will be a Herculean task, but, by and large, Iraqi Sunnis are not religious crazies and might be persuaded by tangible offers of considerable local autonomy.

The long-term strategic risks are clear: Iran and Assad’s Syria could emerge from this anti-jihadi alliance with much more power in the Mideast and beyond. No one needs to be reminded that the men in charge in Damascus and Tehran are really nasty guys. At the end of the day, however, both have been mainly self-protective powers. Assad has been more of a threat to his own people than to his neighborhood. Iran’s revolutionary propaganda, its backing of regional terrorist groups like Hezbollah and its nuclear program bear close watching, but underneath these are potential avenues for cooperation worth testing and pursuing. The potent shared interest in defeating ISIS is one such avenue.

Historically, Washington is not allergic to cooperation with devils. The U.S. allied with Stalin to fight Hitler. The U.S. has banded with the Arab Gulf states for decades, and no bunch of American “friends” has done more to damage American security than the likes of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar. For decades, their leaders have provided hundreds of millions of dollars in cash and arms to the very terrorists threatening the U.S and its partners across the globe.

Now is not the time for false virtue or moral absolutism. The working principle now has to be first threats first. And the first threat to American interests today is ISIS and its cohorts. If they gain a base of operations in the belly of the Mideast, they will intimidate nations around the world while launching terrorist attacks against those that remain resolute. They have to be hit very hard where they are and hit now—and there’s no way to do it other than working carefully, very carefully, with the devils we know.

vishvak
BR Mainsite Crew
Posts: 5835
Joined: 12 Aug 2011 21:19

Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby vishvak » 23 Oct 2014 10:51

Turkey protests USA help against ISIL to Kurds.
link
Earlier Turkey protested against aid to PKK by Germany against ISIL, besides aid from Iraq into Syria. Turkey also bombed PKK forces once.
link

Pakis will behave similarly but for preparedness of defense personnel.

pankajs
BRF Oldie
Posts: 13865
Joined: 13 Aug 2009 20:56

Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby pankajs » 23 Oct 2014 13:16

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world ... 11769.html

War with Isis: US and Iraq draw up a plan for ground force attack on Islamist militants

The United States and Iraq are drawing up a campaign plan for offensive operations by Iraqi ground forces to gradually reclaim towns and cities that have been occupied by Isis, according to a senior US official.

The plan, described as methodical and time-consuming, will not begin in earnest for several months and is designed to ensure that Iraqi forces do not over-extend themselves before they are capable of taking and holding territory controlled by the militants.

It may also include American advisers in the field with the Iraqis, should that be recommended by American military commanders, said the official, who updated reporters on administration strategy on the condition of anonymity. The advisers, the official said, would not participate in combat. President Barack Obama has said repeatedly that no US ground forces would be deployed to Iraq.

...
The administration official said that the Syrian Kurds, while politically at odds with their Iraqi brethren, have agreed to accept an influx of peshmerga fighters. Details of the size and composition of the Iraqi Kurdish force, which is expected to cross into Kobani from Turkey, are to be finalised in the next few days.

But the US administration has said repeatedly that Iraq remains its main concern.

pankajs
BRF Oldie
Posts: 13865
Joined: 13 Aug 2009 20:56

Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby pankajs » 23 Oct 2014 13:24

http://online.wsj.com/articles/iraqs-ku ... 17814.html

Growing Kurdish Unity Helps West, Worries Turkey
ISTANBUL—Kurds in Iraq and Syria set aside long-held rivalries and took steps to unify their forces this week to battle Islamic State, gaining greater international legitimacy but magnifying fears in Turkey that a powerful enemy is on the rise.

The Kurdistan regional government in Iraq approved on Wednesday the deployment of 150 soldiers equipped with heavy weapons to relieve fellow Kurds in the besieged Syrian city of Kobani. Turkey, under U.S. pressure, agreed to allow those reinforcements to transit its territory despite concerns that this could indirectly strengthen a Kurdish militant group in Turkey that has fought the state for decades.

The U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, is increasingly relying on Kurdish ground forces. This is also a concern for the Iraqi government in Baghdad, which worries Kurds there will assert demands for independence more forcefully.

“Kurdistan has emerged as the most reliable partner in the international community in the war against ISIS,” said Barham Salih, former prime minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq. “We have different views but we have a resourceful enemy at the gate and now there is a consensus emerging.”

...
Mr. Barzani is an ally of Turkey, which supports the deployment of Peshmerga forces. But Ankara sees the Syrian Kurdish militia in Kobani as an enemy because of its close links with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, a group the U.S. and Turkey both list as a terrorist organization.

“The Peshmerga will arrive in Kobani within days,” said Fuad Hussein, chief adviser to Mr. Barzani. “We still have many differences but we are fighting Islamic State together across this territory.”

...
The battle for Kobani has infected Turkish politics, sparking protests and clashes in which 40 Kurds died and threatening to derail the peace process.

Turkey’s estimated 15 million Kurds are bitter over the government’s failure to aid the city while many Turks demand tougher action to stem the rise of Syrian Kurds linked to the PKK.

...
“Turkey is worried that the Syrian Kurds are emerging as heroes and wants to contain that by backing greater influence for their Iraqi Kurdish allies,” said Henri Barkey, professor of international relations at Lehigh University. “Until now, the U.S. deferred to the Turks on Kurdish issues. But on the Syrian Kurds, they didn’t and Ankara is reeling.”

...
Kurds battling Islamic State have won support in Western capitals for their avowedly secular and pro-Western stance and for demonstrating impressive battlefield resolve.

“The Kurds have struck more deals than anyone expected because they are galvanized by a common threats from ISIS,” said Wladimir Van Wilgenburg, analyst at the Jamestown Foundation who attended the meeting in Dohuk. “They now have a model for collaboration across borders, even though it is unclear whether it will hold and what Turkey’s reaction will be.”

In Kobani on Wednesday, Idris Nassan, a local Kurdish official, said the city’s defenders were eagerly awaiting reinforcements as battles raged on.

Iraqi Kurdish officials said Wednesday that final details of the Peshmerga deployment were still being hammered out but the fighters would likely travel overland through Turkey in a convoy carrying artillery, submachine guns and other heavy arms.

Iraqi Kurdish official Hemin Hawrami said the heavy weapons would help the besieged fighters, who say they need armor-piercing weapons to fight the better-armed Islamic State militants.

pankajs
BRF Oldie
Posts: 13865
Joined: 13 Aug 2009 20:56

Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby pankajs » 23 Oct 2014 16:01

Vera Graziadei @verafilatova · Oct 22

"I'm shocked, SHOCKED, to discover that USAID is supporting ISIS. I mean, really, who knew?" @corbettreport http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2 ... ce=twitter
U.S. Humanitarian Aid Going to ISIS
While U.S. warplanes strike at the militants of the so-called Islamic State in both Syria and Iraq, truckloads of U.S. and Western aid has been flowing into territory controlled by the jihadists, assisting them to build their terror-inspiring “caliphate.”

The aid—mainly food and medical equipment—is meant for Syrians displaced from their hometowns, and for hungry civilians. It is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, European donors, and the United Nations. Whether it continues is now the subject of anguished debate among officials in Washington and European. The fear is that stopping aid would hurt innocent civilians and would be used for propaganda purposes by the militants, who would likely blame the West for added hardship.

...
Quite the reverse, the aid convoys have to pay off ISIS emirs (leaders) for the convoys to enter the eastern Syrian extremist strongholds of Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor, providing yet another income stream for ISIS militants, who are funding themselves from oil smuggling, extortion, and the sale of whatever they can loot, including rare antiquities from museums and archaeological sites.

“The convoys have to be approved by ISIS and you have to pay them: The bribes are disguised and itemized as transportation costs,” says an aid coordinator who spoke to The Daily Beast on the condition he not be identified in this article. The kickbacks are either paid by foreign or local nongovernmental organizations tasked with distributing the aid, or by the Turkish or Syrian transportation companies contracted to deliver it.

...
“I am alarmed that we are providing support for ISIS governance,” says Jonathan Schanzer, a Mideast expert with the Washington D.C.-based think tank Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “By doing so we are indemnifying the militants by satisfying the core demands of local people, who could turn on ISIS if they got frustrated.”

U.S. and Western relief agencies have been caught before in an aid dilemma when it comes to the war on terror. Last December, the Overseas Development Institute, an independent British think tank focusing on international development and humanitarian issues, reported that aid agencies in Somalia had been paying militants from the al Qaeda offshoot al-Shabab for access to areas under their control during the 2011 famine.

...
Aid coordinators with NGOs partnering USAID and other Western government agencies, including Britain’s Department for International Development, say ISIS insist that the NGOs, foreign and local, employ people ISIS approves on their staffs inside Syria. “There is always at least one ISIS person on the payroll; they force people on us,” says an aid coordinator. “And when a convoy is being prepared, the negotiations go through them about whether the convoy can proceed. They contact their emirs and a price is worked out. We don’t have to wrangle with individual ISIS field commanders once approval is given to get the convoy in, as the militants are highly hierarchical.” He adds: “None of the fighters will dare touch it, if an emir has given permission.”

IndraD
BRF Oldie
Posts: 7267
Joined: 26 Dec 2008 15:38
Location: भारत का निश्चेत गगन

Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby IndraD » 23 Oct 2014 19:17

Singha wrote:so turkey is playing the same game as TSP - bending to american pressure grudgingly to let the kurds have some help, while nurturing and helping the ISIS serpents via the back door.

I think Ulanbatori said turkey is the TSP of the middle east and he was dead right. their fortunes can only go downhill from here. I had ambitions one day of visiting constantinople and even capadoccia to view the grand monuments but I wont waste my resources on such a miserable regime. egypt plans also went out of window with the faithful taking over.
only jordan and the nabatean ruins of petra hang by a thread - slim as it is.


I have read several comments on daily mail, other newspapers in UK where Brits have vowed never to visit Turkey again or ever

vishvak
BR Mainsite Crew
Posts: 5835
Joined: 12 Aug 2011 21:19

Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby vishvak » 23 Oct 2014 20:20

There you go, one org not knowing what other is doing while ISIL goes on with their cut. Reminds of captives of IS sultenate merely getting a bite of bread everyday for lunch. The IS sultenate is taking all for a ride and secular NGOs doing the other - taken for ride - part.

Who would have thunk only about such a huge blind spot in dealing with 'international' genocidal sultenate.

ramana
Forum Moderator
Posts: 54390
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30

Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby ramana » 23 Oct 2014 22:05

Folks off late we saw many interpretations that Yazdi are a Hindu sub-sect and many calls for India to intervene. While I do agree that Yazdi face extinction from ISIS and deserve support one needs to be clear that they are an Abrahamic sect in Iraq. Iraq is truly the cauldron of religions that have influenced the West. Here is a NPR interview with Gerald Russell, a UK diplomat who retired and became a ancient religions scholar and wrote a book.

"Disappearing Religions: Heirs to Forgotten Kingdoms"

Transcript of Terry Gross interview with Gerald Russell


Copyright ©2014 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. Several ancient religions that have survived as small minority groups in the Middle East are now facing the possibility of extinction as a result of the threats posed by ISIS, other Islamist groups and the Syrian Civil War. These disappearing religions, including the Yazidis who are being slaughtered by ISIS, are the subject of the new book "Heirs To Forgotten Kingdoms" by my guest, Gerard Russell. The groups he writes about, including the Yazidis, Druze, Zoroastrians, Coptic Christians and Samaritans, offer insights into the origins of the world's major religions.

Russell met followers of these religions and attended religious ceremonies during the 15 years he spent as a British and UN diplomat while living in Egypt, Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and Jerusalem. He dedicated four years to researching this book. In August, he was in Sinjar interviewing Yazidis who had just fled from ISIS. Russell is now a senior associate at the Foreign Policy Center in London and a senior fellow with the New America Foundation.

Gerard Russell, welcome to FRESH AIR. ISIS is slaughtering and driving out these minority religions. Are some of them on the verge of extinction even though they've lasted so many centuries?

GERARD RUSSELL: They are. It is a terrible thing to see. Leonard Woolley, who was an archaeologist who excavated the ancient city of Uruk in southern Iraq, talks about discovering a most beautiful piece of wooden sculpture, and it's survived for thousands of years in the sand of the desert. And as he excavates it, it begins to rain, and he sees this fabulous ancient relic disintegrate in the sudden moisture, and it's suddenly gone, having survived all that time.

And looking at the religions of the Middle East, sometimes I feel similarly - that here we are - the Mandaeans, for example, who have survived since at least the second century AD but who actually keep much more ancient forms of Babylonian magic and beliefs are - 90 percent of them have now left Iraq - 90 percent, that is, of those who were there in 2003. So we've only in 11 years seen the almost total disappearance of that way of life. They, of course, live. I mean, they've moved to other countries, but when they're scattered around the world, what's yet to be seen is how much they can keep of their culture alive.

GROSS: Well, one of the things that protected these religions over the centuries is that many of the followers would live in remote regions and mountains where they were protected by the geography itself. And now that ISIS is making inroads in places in Syria and Iraq, those places are under attack, too, and there's no place to go.

RUSSELL: Basically, you're right. I mean there are, you know, strictly speaking, a few little places left. And so what, in a way, we see - one of the instruments that has destroyed these religions is unfortunately the motorcar because for as long as they were really, really hard to reach, they could - you know, didn't necessarily destroy them. If there was a government that wished them harm, they could always hide. But now, it's so much harder. It's partly that modernity which has made life so tough for them.

But I'm afraid it's also, you know, changes in the social climate which have really in the last few decades made things so much more threatening for minorities in the Muslim world than it was before.

GROSS: Let's talk about the Yazidis. We've been hearing so much about them because they are so directly under attack from ISIS. Many of the Yazidis were slaughtered. Many other survivors fled to Sinjar Mountain where many of them had to be rescued because there was no food - there was no way of surviving there. So let's talk about the Yazidis and what their religion represents. First of all, when does it date back to?

RUSSELL: They trace it to a founder who was called Sheikh Adi ibn Musafir who was essentially a 12th-century Muslim preacher. But it's a very peculiar thing because, of course, they aren't Muslim. So how they can be founded by a Muslim preacher is one of the great mysteries of the religion.

However, their rituals - their traditions and customs and ideas have a lot in common with much, much more ancient religions, you know, dating back thousands of years - uncounted thousands of years because when they appeared to...


GROSS: Predating Christianity.

RUSSELL: Oh, yes. And early Christian reports do mention people that they tend to call Magians in that region of the world, and they talk a bit about their beliefs. But I would suggest that if we go back even further in time to Babylon and to Syria, we'll find that people then practiced traditions and customs which the Yazidi people have inherited. So they go back a long, long time.

GROSS: Are they monotheistic? :lol:

RUSSELL: Well, they do - they believe in an unknowable God. So in a sense, of course, so do Christians and Jews and others. And in fact, Maimonides, the Jewish scholar, was very keen on, you know, stressing unknowability of God - that you could only say what God is not, and not what God is.

The Yazidis kind of take that a bit further, really. I mean for them, God is almost so remote that you don't really focus your attention on God. They focus their attention on a figure they call Melek Taus, who is an angel - the archangel, if you like - in the form of a peacock. And to make it even more complicated, this archangel is - they would call him Azazel. In other words, he is the same as Lucifer - as, if you like, Satan. Now, that's a word they never use and regard it as very insulting - the archangel who rebelled against God, but in their view was then forgiven and restored to favor.

So it's quite a sort of esoteric idea. But for them, the Peacock Angel is a figure of good and a figure that they speak of and revere a little bit as Western religions regard God, although, as I say, it's not exactly that way.

GROSS: So the Peacock Angel is a fallen angel that we might compare to Lucifer, but the angel was redeemed. The angel reformed and then put out the fires of hell with his tears.

RUSSELL: That's right. And this connects to a very old debate which happened in Iraq, or what we now call Iraq a thousand - 600 - 700 years ago. In Iran, traditionally there was a religion called Zoroastrianism which taught that there was - the world is a battleground between good and evil. So if Christians and Muslims and others explain evil by saying - you know, by - essentially wrestle with that somewhat and say, you know, God created the best world there could be, but evil comes as a result of imperfect mankind's decision and so forth. The Zoroastrians had a simpler idea which was that evil is the creation of an evil god, in effect. Now, modern Zoroastrianism doesn't quite correspond to this, but at the time, that's what people believed in Iran.

So the Zoroastrians and Christians used to argue. And the Zoroastrians would say to the Christians, well, if you've got an omnipotent God - that you believe in an omnipotent God, how come there's devil who's allowed to tempt people, who seems to have all this power? And some Christians at the time responded to that by saying that even the devil could repent, and that at the end of time, even the demons of hell would enter heaven. This isn't, of course, conventional Christian thinking, but it was a feature of some Christian thinking in that region at that time.

And it may be that this has influenced the Yazidis who certainly have had a lot of interaction with Christians over the centuries. And it looks as if this idea of the redemption of all things - that there is no such thing as hell anymore - that there's no devil, there's no such thing as evil in that Zoroastrian sense, if you like - that's a strong part of their thinking.

GROSS: Which is interesting because they have been persecuted through the centuries. I mean, you say that they list 72 different massive persecutions. And of course, now they're being nearly eradicated by ISIS.

RUSSELL: It's ironic that these people who were denounced as Satan worshipers - it seems to me there's no clearer act of Satan than the way that they have been treated by ISIS.

GROSS: Yeah, so they're denounced as Satan worshippers because they believe in this redeemed Lucifer-type angel.

RUSSELL: That's right.

GROSS: But, you know, are they really being misunderstood or, like, what...

RUSSELL: Well, for sure.

GROSS: Why are they accused of being devil worshippers?

RUSSELL: Well, for one thing, it's traditional. You know, it was traditional Christian polemic in the Middle East long, long ago, and it's traditional Muslim polemic today to sort of have a label for every other religion in essence. And in the Muslim view, the Christians and Jews get off relatively lightly. But there tends to be a sort of slightly more negative connotation to the names that are given to other religions. And the Mandaeans, for example, are called star worshippers. The Yazidis are called devil worshippers.

I wouldn't wish anyone to think that this is devil worship in the sense that we often talk about it in the West today. It's nothing like that. What it is is something so deeply esoteric that you begin to understand why these religions keep their beliefs secret from their followers because they're so hard to get to the bottom of and so complicated in the way they've been interpreted. But really, this is about a belief that even the devil can be redeemed. :!:

GROSS: Yazidis are forbidden from wearing blue. Did you get an explanation for that?

RUSSELL: (Laughter) No. No, this remained puzzling. I mean, most of them, these days, are not quite so strict anymore. And I was told that the wearing of mustaches used to be absolutely obligatory in Sinjar 30 years ago, but today it's no longer so. The eating of lettuce is also taboo. There are, you know, hints about it. Blue is a sinister color for other groups in Iraq.

And, you know, we don't know very much. We don't know everything about ancient Mesopotamia. I mean, it's had civilization for 7,000 years, which is an extraordinary length of time. We don't know everything about it partly because unlike the ancient Egyptians who carved a lot of things in stone - the Mesopotamians did have cuneiform tablets, but a lot of their buildings were made of mud brick and have disintegrated because it's a much less dry climate than Egypt. And therefore, we do have some gaps in our knowledge, and for all I know, the color blue may have had great significance in ancient Iraq.

The eating of lettuce is a bit more peculiar, but in ancient pagan times, some religions did have these sort of food taboos. And it was important to them, perhaps a little bit as we have diets today - and, you know, you have the Atkins diet, you've got the diets where you don't eat meat and so forth or you do eat meat and nothing else. Pythagoras, who was an ancient philosopher - Greek philosopher, used to teach his followers not to beans, and nobody understood why. And it was a great mystery. And the Pythagoreans, if they were ever put to the question, they would refuse to say why they couldn't eat beans. And no one still knows the answer. And it may be similar with the Yazidis and lettuce. It's something forbidden and even, in a way, you know, so esoteric that whoever knew what the reason was may have died and not passed it on.

GROSS: So you mentioned Pythagoras's bean prohibition. Maybe he foreshadowed the famous Mel Brooks scene in "Blazing Saddles" where everybody's eating beans, and they're sitting around the campfire and (Laughter) releasing a lot of air, shall we say? :rotfl:

RUSSELL: (Laughter) That might be it. This was one of the theories that people came up with, you know? That might be the reason, but Pythagoras refused to say, so no one knows.

GROSS: Right.

RUSSELL: And no one knows about the lettuce, which - sometimes it was for and even odder reason which is that the Yazidis do believe in reincarnation but not, I think, in vegetable form. But there are actually religions in the Middle East - the Alawites in Syria who do believe that you can be reincarnated as a plant. And, therefore, particular plants are not eaten because they're viewed as being potentially possessing human souls, odd as that may sound.

GROSS: If you're just joining us, my guest is Gerard Russell, and he's the author of the new book "Heirs To Forgotten Kingdoms: Journeys Into The Disappearing Religions Of The Middle East." And he worked as a diplomat in the Middle East for about 15 years. He is now a senior associate at the Foreign Policy Center in London and a senior fellow at the New America Foundation. Let's take a short break, then we'll talk some more. This is FRESH AIR.

(MUSIC)

GROSS: This is FRESH AIR. And if you're just joining us, we're talking about disappearing religions in the Middle East, including religions that are under attack now because of ISIS and because of the civil war in Syria. My guest, Gerard Russell, is the author of the new book "Heirs To Forgotten Kingdoms: Journeys Into The Disappearing Religions Of The Middle East." He spent 15 years as a British diplomat in the Middle East. He's now a senior associate at the Foreign Policy Centre in London and a senior fellow at the New America Foundation.

You write it made you - that encountering these ancient religions made you think of how the world might have looked different. For instance, what if Constantine, who ruled the Roman Empire, hadn't become a Christian in 312? His conversion led to Christianity becoming the official religion of the Roman Empire, and it spread Christianity around the world. Have you thought about alternate scenarios, things that nearly happened but didn't?

RUSSELL: There were a number of other candidates. In the second century AD, the Romans were very taken with a religion called Mithraism, the worship of Mithras, which is the closest relation that we know of to the Yazidis of Iraq, who've recently come under persecution and attack from the Islamic State. So that's one candidate. Another was the Manichaeans, another Iraqi religion by the way, in origin, who swept the world - I mean, reached as far as Africa, where Saint Augustine was a convert. In the East they reached China. They actually persisted in China for centuries. And almost, almost an Emperor of Rome was a Manichaean. And had that happened, who knows whether history would have turned out very, very differently? And we'd have, I suspect, a much more austere, actually - much more austere religion than Christianity or Islam or Judaism, all of whom, at some level, are much more life-affirming than the Manichaeans were. :rotfl: Again, they too do have a surviving relation in Iraq, the Mandaeans, who once more have become subject to the most terrible persecution.

GROSS: And it sounds like secrecy was very important to these religions, in part because they were always being persecuted. So to protect themselves and to protect their rituals, they kept things secret, even secret from some of their own followers.

RUSSELL: Yes, that's right. It's a curious thing. And when first encountering the Yazidis, who aren't the most secretive group - the Alawites probably are the most secretive. But when encountering the Yazidis and finding that they gave different versions of everything, basically, there was no consensus among them, it really came home to me how we see religion in the West as being a set of ideas. So one can convert from one religion to another. And essentially, the idea is one's looking for the solution to certain questions. In the Middle East, that isn't necessarily what people are looking for. They're looking for their community. And it's about belonging. And one meets Yazidis who either don't know what the religion teaches - some of them are atheists. I met one who explicitly rejects, you know - to what extent he knows the religion, he doesn't agree with it intellectually. But he's passionately committed to his identity as a Yazidi. So they have a different concept of what it means to be religious. And I would say that the secrecy, therefore, is a surprise when you come across it. But it is partly to protect themselves. And a lot of them will adopt - essentially, these days, adopt Islam outwardly. And it can be very hard to tell whether this is genuine or not because their ideas, when you look deep into their religion, are so far from Orthodox Islam. It's hard to know whether they are an interpretation of Islam or, frankly, another religion that has taken on the mantle of Islam and the name. Another thing, though, that they have in mind when they practice secrecy is that a lot of them go back to very, very ancient traditions in which religion is really a sort of almost a magical property. Your priests, your elders have the - an ability to communicate with the divine power. And you wish to benefit from that. But you don't need to sort of have it yourself. You don't need to sort of have a dialogue with God or indeed, God's angels. You leave that to the holy man or indeed, the holy woman - because some of these religions do have holy women. And in that sense, it's perhaps less surprising that the religious faithful, if you like, don't necessarily know what the religion teaches.

GROSS: You mention in your book that historically, a lot of these ancient religions, which are on the verge of extinction now, did better in the Islamic world than in the Christian world, although right now they're under attack by ISIS. Why is that?

RUSSELL: Well, I'd say if we go back in time, and obviously one has to say I'm not judging now by the standards of today. One has to sort of realize that historically, people behaved in a fairly awful way to each other. And it was normal to treat people who were seen as being disloyal to the state, essentially, with ruthlessness and without any mercy. So in that context, when the Muslim Arabs captured land off the Byzantines, there is some evidence that even some Christian groups welcomed this. There is a prayer from a Jacobite monastery, the Jacobites being a sort of version of Christianity that the Byzantines didn't like, which says, you know, God, lead the sons of Ishmael to us out of the South to liberate us from the Byzantines.

GROSS: So when the prayer refers to sounds of Ishmael, that means Muslims?

RUSSELL: Yeah, Muslim Arabs would regard themselves, traditionally, as descended from Ishmael, in the biblical story. And this isn't uncommon, too, among other religions, which, of course, hadn't really done so well under Christianity. The Byzantines were not utterly repressive, but they certainly weren't particularly nice to religious minorities. And a lot of them ended up doing somewhat better under Islam for about the first 300 years. But after that time, you do find much greater instances of persecution, of suppression of other religions and of suppression of different versions of Islam. Ibn Taymiyyah, who is this famous, very conservative cleric, came up in the later Middle Ages with formulas condemning not only the Druze and other religions like them, but also women preachers and a whole series of things which it's very interesting to know existed in Islam, but which stopped from then on until you reach the 19th century, when you come back into an age, really, of enlightenment and enfranchisement in the Middle East very slowly. It begins in Egypt, really, in the 1860s and proceeds, you know, until, I would say, the latter part of the 20th century, when things began to go backwards.

GROSS: Gerard Russell will be back in the second half of the show. His new book about disappearing religions of the Middle East is called, "Heirs To Forgotten Kingdoms." I'm Terry Gross, and this is FRESH AIR.

(MUSIC)

GROSS: This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. We're talking about disappearing ancient religions of the Middle East, including the Yazidis, Coptic Christians, Zoroastrians, Samaritans and Druze, religions that have dwindled to small sects. Their very existence is being threatened by Islamist militants and the Syrian Civil War. My guest Gerard Russell is the author of the new book of "Heirs To Forgotten Kingdoms." Russell lived in the Middle East for 15 years serving as a British and U.N. diplomat.

So you went to a Yazidi refugee camp in August after they were driven out by ISIS - driven out of the town of Sinjar. Tell us one of the stories you heard from one of the refugees.

RUSSELL: Well, I mean some of them were incapable of speech. It was a great sort of crowded room and in the corner of it, a woman sitting with her child, saying nothing. What the men told me very often, it was that they had been - in the middle of the night - attacked by ISIS. ISIS tends to move around with Humvees which it's captured from armed forces in Iraq and Syria. And the local Yazidis often have served in the Iraqi army. They can fight and they had a bit of ammunition and they fought off ISIS for a while alongside the Kurdish Peshmerga. But the ISIS began to use mortars and the Kurdish Peshmerga retreated and at that point the Yazidis started to run, as well. And what they told me - I mean there was one old man who I think had been carried a large part of the way - that they'd had to run for 25 miles, let's say, up and down hills until they'd reached safety. And ISIS came after them, you know, shooting at them. Not necessarily wanting to kill them all. What they wanted to do was drive them out, which they succeeded in doing, of course, but seizing the women. And one man I met - a policeman, as it happens - had been engaged in the battle against ISIS. He then came back towards his home when the ranks broke, if you like. And what he found was ISIS had just got there before him and were bundling his wife into a car. And he never saw her again.

GROSS: That's so horrible. Obviously, it was really important to you to visit Yazidis who had fled from ISIS. It was probably a dangerous trip for you. Tell us a little bit about going and why you were willing to take the risks.

RUSSELL: I obviously feel quite passionately about what's happening there and I very much want to understand what's going on there so that - to be able to advise people better back here. And you know, a sense of debt. I learned much from them. I like and enjoyed learning about their religion and I felt such a sense of tragedy that these people whom I had befriended had undergone this terrible suffering. So I went back to northern Iraq and you know, it's never good to go to a place where all the airlines are basically refusing to fly. But it was - it's a rather eerie place because the front line is so undefined. It is not clear. You look out at a place, it looks very peaceful. We were taken to the front line. We were shown a car on the other side of the river which was perhaps an ISIS car, it certainly was on their side of the river. And you feel - here is a very tranquil place. It doesn't look like there's anything going on. But actually, of course, at any moment it may happen or it may not. They come quite suddenly and they attack very suddenly. A lot of people are so afraid of them that because of their atrocities, which are actually quite calculated, everyone runs away when they approach. And so what they can do is, they don't need to deploy great numbers. They can create a huge sensation just by sending a few cars and everyone runs because they know the story of what happened to the Yazidis. And that, I'm afraid is - you know, I was somewhat baffled by why they'd done what they'd done to the Yazidis because it didn't seem strategically useful. But when you think of it in those terms, I'm afraid that's why they did it - in order, quite simply, to terrorize. And it has made them - it's been effective, in those terms.

So I did have that experience on the front line and I did meet the Yazidis in their refugee camp where they told me what a sense of insecurity they still had. Many of them had actually been - not just once, but twice - they had been attacked because they fled first to a refugee camp where ISIS actually caught up with them and then they fled again. And this was their second refugee camp and they were very nervous that ISIS would come again. I'm very glad to say that the air strikes came in time and that, you know, I don't think that's a likely prospect now. But they are without much medical care. They're without much food. They're without much water and facing the winter, which will be cold. And they've had the hot, dry summer but now they're going to have the cold, wet winter.

GROSS: What are the odds, do you think, that this religion will survive?

RUSSELL: Well, it is - I mean, they've had a terrible time for hundreds of years. And they've always managed to pull through. What I think they face is more existential. When I talked to them, so many of them said, you know, we're giving up on Iraq. We don't want to live here anymore.

And I think a lot of them in the coming years will try to emigrate. This has already happened to the Mandaeans and it's largely happened to the Christians, to whom I also talked when I was in northern Iraq.
And again, overwhelmingly what they feel is just this sense of, you know, we've had it. We don't want to be here. We're not wanted here.

And when you have that sense of not being wanted, it's more destructive in a way than - even than the sort of physical damage because psychologically that makes them all want to go. And eventually they will, if they all want to. They eventually will. I think it's tragic for the Middle East because actually it was at its best when it was most diverse. And when it's been able to make use of these different communities, it has really prospered from doing so. And it's a terrible omen to see these little communities evaporate. Furthermore, I worry how will they hold their religion together? You know, mystery religion, only a few people understand the secrets of it. Not all of them are very good at teaching it. They don't wish to. How will that survive?

GROSS: If you're just joining us, my guest is Gerard Russell. He's the author of the new book "Heirs To Forgotten Kingdoms: Journeys Into The Disappearing Religions Of The Middle East." He was a British diplomat in the Middle East for 15 years. One of those years he was with the U.N.

He's now a senior associate at the Foreign Policy Center in London and a senior fellow at the New America Foundation.

Let's take a short break then we'll talk some more. This is FRESH AIR.

(MUSIC)

GROSS: This is FRESH AIR and if you're just joining us, my guest is Gerard Russell. He's the author of the new book "Heirs To Forgotten Kingdoms: Journeys Into The Disappearing Religions Of The Middle East." He spent a lot of time in the Middle East - 15 years as a British diplomat, one year with the U.N. He's now a senior fellow at the New America Foundation and a senior associate at the Foreign Policy Center in London.

Coptic Christians in Egypt are being discriminated against. Many of them are afraid. Many Coptic churches have been attacked by extremist Muslims in the past few years. Can you give us a sense of what makes the Coptic Christians unique?

RUSSELL: First off, they are the largest of all of the minorities of the Middle East. That's, you know, people disagree so much about the numbers, but let's imagine it maybe 5, 6 million people. Certainly larger than any other group in the Arab world. Second, you know, hugely committed. I mean, very, very religious. And I lived there for year and went to a Coptic church every week. And you know, there are more people I would reckon at church in Egypt than there are in England because they - almost all of them - very, very devout. And actually they would constantly reproach me about Western Christians and say, you know, why are you so lax? The thing that is interesting about them historically is that they preserve elements of ancient Egypt.

So for those who are aficionados of the pharaohs, there are still things you can see, living traditions that have survived. Particularly the names of the months which are still - the Egyptian Coptic church still uses the Egyptian pharaonic months and even some of the songs and music. And for a time actually, the Coptic priests used to shave their heads just as the ancient temple priests used to. And they still do sing, on Good Friday for example, Easter Sunday. They sing hymns like "Golgotha" which is a sort of coptic hymn but it's music. Its tune is presumed to have survived from pharaonic times to have been the sound to which the pharaohs were mummified. So that was what was sung, that was chanted during the mummification. And it's been adopted by the Christian church and used still in ceremonies today. So you can hear, you know, what Tutankhamen might've heard, had he been alive at the time of his mummifying ceremony in churches today in Egypt.

GROSS: And why are Coptic churches under attack now in parts of Egypt?

RUSSELL: Unfortunately it is because there is so much less understanding, I think, in Egypt today of the importance and value of the Christian community there. And it is something which really needs to be addressed. The Copts did pretty well in Egypt from about 1860 'til 1930, 1940. But what you've had in the last 50, 60 years is the rise of Islamic politics - people who say, let's define ourselves by religion and we are Muslim first and Egyptian second. And what that means is that a Christian Egyptian is automatically diminished because if you are a group like the Muslim brotherhood, then you're going to regard Christians as people you might protect perhaps, but you're not going to say they're equals because what you have in mind is an Islamic state. I don't wish to confuse it with the ISIS, but you know, this is a thing which all Islamist movements aim towards. And therefore it makes it harder and harder for people to regard themselves as equals in that society and then they slowly detach themselves and migrate elsewhere. The discrimination can be quite subtle. It can be in the workplace. It can be pretty overt, as well. And although it may not seem like a big thing to say that the head of state cannot be a non-Muslim and you may say, well, that's understandable, if you like. But it filters down to society and becomes the case then that heads of department, heads of universities, it's generally assumed that they cannot be Christians, either. And it becomes a systematic pattern of discrimination, which I really think is to Egypt's detriment.

GROSS: Are there ancient forms of Judaism that are left in the Middle East?

RUSSELL: Well, in Nablus - on a small mountain above Nablus - there is a group called the Samaritans. And the Samaritans are descendants of those very people whom Jesus met, talks about in the gospels. But also descended - as they see it, certainly - from the ancient tribes of Israel, particularly the tribe of Joseph, which it was thought - in Scripture we think of those 10 lost tribes - but actually, in the Samaritans' view they weren't all lost. Some of them remained behind and the Samaritans of today are their descendants. And because they haven't changed in the way that Jews changed after the destruction of the temple by the Romans, they've kept a lot of the ceremonies that Jews have not kept, which include the Passover sacrifice, which they still do, literally on top of the mountain. They slaughter lambs. And they still have the priests. I mean, the Jews have priests too, but the Samaritan priests really are still in charge, religiously, of the community. So they do their best in every way to live exactly according to the letter of the Torah of the first five books of the Old Testament. They don't accept anything that comes after that time. And although you may see them and they look absolutely like everybody else - they don't dress outwardly any different - they are rigorous in their observance. They are rigorous in their prayer and their observance of Shabbat. Very, very strict, indeed.

GROSS: And according to your book there are 750 - approximately - Samaritans left in the world.

RUSSELL: Yes. They went down even further than that. They went down to below 150 in 1917. A real - I mean, just extraordinary that a people could be reduced to that number and then resurrect themselves, essentially, to come back to life. And now, you know, now a number five times that that number. So a remarkable story, actually, a reverse story of extinction. They have come back from the brink.

GROSS: Most of the Jews living in the Middle East, with the exception of Israel, have been forced out. In Baghdad you went to the last vestige of the Jewish culture there. It was a Jewish community center. What did you find there?

RUSSELL: I went there in 2003. It was shortly after the war and a friendly journalist gave me a lift. And I noticed first off entering the place what a, kind of, bit of suspicion there was from the neighbors who were watching us through the windows, which made me feel nervous about going in and what might happen while I was there. But I discovered there in the upper room a pile of typewriters and old books. Books printed in the 1950s. Hebrew school books for the Iraqi Jews who lived - some of them stayed in Baghdad until the '70s.

GROSS: I think we all have some understanding of how religion can be a force for good and a force for evil. And, you know, being in the Middle East for 15 years you witnessed both up close. You were on Sinjar Mountain speaking with Yazidis who were driven out, Yazidis who had relatives slaughtered by ISIS. But in the Middle East you also went to, you know, the prayer services of these ancient and disappearing religions and found much beauty there. And I'm wondering what kind of a feeling all this has left you, about religion as a force for good and a force for evil.

RUSSELL: I actually came out of it feeling better about religion. And that may sound strange because of all the things that you described that have happened in the Middle East. When I go to communities in America - and one of the things in the book that I've done is to go to some of these communities in Chicago and Michigan and so forth - I find that...

GROSS: The communities of the ancient Middle Eastern religions?

RUSSELL: ...Exactly. The Chaldeans, the Druze and others. And I actually find that when they come to America they become more religious. It becomes more important to them. It's part of their identity and it's a way for them to keep a sense of who they are. And that, seems to me, is indicative of the fact that actually it brings people more than it takes away. Because it isn't the case that people come to a peaceful environment and then want to throw off their religion and go off and become atheists. Not at all, actually. They become very proud of who they are and very proud of their beliefs and it gives them strength. It gives them strength as a community and it enables them to help each other.

So what it is, is essentially a kind of bond where you can trust someone because of the community to which they belong. And it straddles social groups. It straddles economic groups. It straddles races in a way that no other force can do in modern society, even politics doesn't necessarily unite people from all these different communities and groups. So to me to be able - for myself as a Catholic - to go to places like Iraq and to find there are communities of people there very, very different from me but they have actually the same community, ultimately, to which we belong, is a very remarkable thing. And a powerful way to step across cultures and still feel that you're bonded with your people back home, but also with people far, far away.

GROSS: Well, Gerard Russell, I thank you so much for talking with us.

RUSSELL: Thank you very much, indeed.

GROSS: Gerard Russell is the author of the new book "Heirs To Forgotten Kingdoms: Journeys Into The Disappearing Religions Of The Middle East."



So the key points about Yazdis are:
- An off shoot of Abrahamic/Zorastarian/Christian doctrines
- Includes older Assyrian ideas of Peacock Angel who is redeemed.
- Founded in 12th century by Sheikh Adi Bin Musafir. Shiekh implies some Arab person. Bin Musafir means son of a traveler.
- Not Hindus by any stretch.
So no misinformed sympathy.
They deserve sympathy for their persecution by ISIS

Some points about Coptics in Egypt:
- They are old time Pharoah religions with a Christian veneer
- Maybe created to survive the Greek onslaught under the Ptolemys.
- Current Islamist onslaught is really to extinguish and complete the Abrahamic mission.


Big picture ISIS/Arab Spring etc are completing the Abrahamization of Middle East which is the mother lode of religious ideas which have spread to the West.

For the West to continue these ancient wells have to be dried out.

ISIS is doing their job very brutally.

Please tweet this if you think its useful.

SandeepA
BRFite
Posts: 661
Joined: 22 Oct 2000 11:31

Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby SandeepA » 23 Oct 2014 22:39

Ramana-garu
I think this Yazdi religion is very similar to a particular cult in Hinduism too - The Shirdi Sai Baba worshippers. This is also an essentially Hindu worship but founded by a Muslim monk. The followers are almost entirely Hindu and the Muslim founder is a total unknown in Muslim world.

pankajs
BRF Oldie
Posts: 13865
Joined: 13 Aug 2009 20:56

Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby pankajs » 23 Oct 2014 23:12

Fox News Politics ‏@foxnewspolitics 2h2 hours ago

UPDATE: US: Islamic State earns $1M per day in black market oil sales http://fxn.ws/1D1imS1 #DisruptingISIL

Muppalla
BRF Oldie
Posts: 7089
Joined: 12 Jun 1999 11:31

Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby Muppalla » 23 Oct 2014 23:50


habal
BRF Oldie
Posts: 6881
Joined: 24 Dec 2009 18:46

Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby habal » 24 Oct 2014 09:32

US airdrops weapons to ISIL in Kobane

http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2014/10/21 ... s-of-isil/

A new video has emerged from northern Syria showing the weapons the US says is sending to Kurdish forces end up in the hands of the ISIL terrorists.

The video shows masked insurgents inspecting the military equipment which was airdropped in areas controlled by ISIL near the Syrian border city of Kobani.

The supplies include several boxes of hand grenades and RPGs, as parachutes used for the airdrops were clearly visible on the ground in the video.

The US Central Command said on Sunday it has airdropped weapons and ammunition, and medical supplies for the Kurdish forces defending Kobani.

vishvak
BR Mainsite Crew
Posts: 5835
Joined: 12 Aug 2011 21:19

Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby vishvak » 24 Oct 2014 12:14

Muppalla wrote:The Yazidi Deception: An Overview
A good read.

The proof of the pudding lies in eating. Yazidis, like Jews, are community who keep to themselves and don't run around beheading others because one God said so.

In fact, the one God people are mistreating yazidis by practicing untouchability and calling names - devil worshipers. The devil is export idea from one God people, lets not forget it.

habal
BRF Oldie
Posts: 6881
Joined: 24 Dec 2009 18:46

Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby habal » 24 Oct 2014 12:27

It's the same theme across the middle-east, just slight variations in the narrative, which depending upon age may deviate more drastically with time. yazidis inadvertently reveal more about the one-God theme by holding true to older scriptures. The fallen-angel that the yazidis talk about may well be the one-God that the Islamists, Judaists talked about later.

Now obviously that needs to be covered up.

member_20317
BRF Oldie
Posts: 3167
Joined: 11 Aug 2016 06:14

Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby member_20317 » 24 Oct 2014 12:42

Yazidis are Abrahmics are two disjoint set. Abrahmics came in only after Abraham or at the earliest upon creation of Adam which we all know happened 4000 years back and the God is an Abrahmic contortion of pristine Hinduism. Yazidis came in much much before than that, rather they were the original people of these lands, alongwith many more people who are today only 'subject of the study'. The Yazidis display the Abrahmic practices to the extent they do, for either of the 2 following reasons:

1) Prior Claim - they started it and Abrahmics digested it.

2) Expedience. The exact reason, that some Hindus show western bootlicking propensities.

Muppalla ji, that is an anonymous blog aka one who does not have the guts to stand up for his views but wants to control the narrative. Furthermore it is full of contradictions about Hinduism itself, if not about Yazidis. Yazidis cannot represent themselves currently, hence perhaps, the hit job.

You can tell us about Yazidis being Abrahmics only when they accumulate karmas like one.

vishvak
BR Mainsite Crew
Posts: 5835
Joined: 12 Aug 2011 21:19

Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby vishvak » 24 Oct 2014 12:45

How can yazidis' fallen angel be blamed for Judaism, Christians & Islamic (common?) fallen angel, hainji?

All your fallen angel (and goats too) belong to me? :evil:
Last edited by vishvak on 24 Oct 2014 12:49, edited 1 time in total.

habal
BRF Oldie
Posts: 6881
Joined: 24 Dec 2009 18:46

Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby habal » 24 Oct 2014 12:48

It's the same angel, different set of narratives. Says me.


Return to “Trash Can Archive”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests