To write today about the present day Arab world, I don’t know where to start with. Where do I start? I realize that no matter from where politically, historically, geographically and culturally I decide to begin, it won’t be long before many related issues crop up then I have to wait ‘deus ex machina’ to wind up the article.
At this moment of penning this article, one of the world history’s largest, and immensely more brutal, genocide is taking place in Iraq. For weeks, hundreds of pick-up trucks had been streaming across the Syrian border into Iraq carrying thousands of murderous men who claim to be an army of Allah. They are killing in the name of Islam and they are killing without compunction. They killed the soldiers who had surrendered; they killed government officials who had never held a gun; they tortured, they crucified; they lined up their prisoners and shot them so that they could fell into mass graves that they had themselves dug. And these self-proclaimed Soldiers of God delight in filming their prisoners as they pray for their lives and as they wait to die.
It was only yesterday the ISIS declared Abubakar Al Baghdadi as the ceremonial Caliph of Islam and demanded for his allegiance from rest of the Muslims of the world. They claimed that new State is to known as only ‘Islamic State’ without borders. In past few weeks, the Sunni fighters of ISIS have been able to press forward and captured the Iraqi cities of Mosul, Tikrit and Ramadi.
The Kurds of Iraq took advantage of this chaos and tried to expand their territory. They are now demanding the greater autonomy. Sitting atop an ocean of newly conquered oil fields and emboldened by the breakdown of the Iraqi state, Kurdish President Masoud Barzani declared that the Kurds would not cede their newly conquered territory. “We cannot remain hostages for the unknown …The time is here for the Kurdistan people to determine their future,” he said.
Israel, the real culprit of Human Rights in the new world order, is ready to take advantage of burning situation. The Prime of Israel has come first in the world to back Kurds in parting the several centuries old ways from Arab. He is forgetting the Biblical saying – “Those who would take advantage of another’s misfortunes in order to benefit themselves, or who seek to profit themselves through another’s weakness or incompetence, are transgressors both of principles and the precepts of the Word of God.”
Toasting on the mayhem in Iraq, Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is calling for the establishment of an independent Kurdistan as part of a broader alliance with moderate forces across the region, He asserted that Israel would have to maintain a long-term military presence in the West Bank to keep a Jihadi juggernaut from powering its way to the outskirts of Tel Aviv. It underscored how profoundly events can ripple across an increasingly interlocked Middle East.
According to PM Netan, the territorial gains made this month by the Al Qaida-inspired Jihadi group called the ‘Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant’ now ‘Islamic State’ could endanger neighboring Jordan, with which Israel has a peace agreement it considers vital to its security.
For the benefit of the reader I would delve a little into the history of relations between Kurds and Jews.
Jerusalem has an old affinity with Kurds. It begins with The great Muslims fighter, Saladin, Arabic in full Ṣalaḥ al-Din Yusuf ibn Ayyub (“Righteousness of the Faith, Joseph, Son of Job”), the most famous of Muslim Heroes. In wars against the Christian Crusaders, he achieved great success and captured Jerusalem on October 2, 1187, ending its nearly nine decades of occupation by the Christian Franks. He was born into a prominent Kurdish family. Saladin, in 1169 at the age of 31, was appointed both commander of the Syrian troops in Egypt and vizier of the Faṭimid caliph there.
In 1171, he abolished the weak and unpopular Shia Fatimid caliphate proclaiming a return to Sunni Islam in Egypt. He soon moved into Syria with a small but strictly disciplined army to claim the regency on behalf of the young son of his former suzerain. Soon, however, he abandoned this claim, and from 1174 until 1186 he zealously pursued a goal of uniting, under his own standard, all the Muslim territories of Syria, northern Mesopotamia, Palestine, and Egypt.
His court included Maimonides, the great Jewish religious authority, as a royal physician. There were three prominent Jewish sects in Egypt: Rabbanites, Karaites, and Samaritans, all considered to be the ‘dhimmi’, “protected people,” tolerated by the Muslim majority but disarmed and made to pay tribute. Following are some notes of this famous Jewish physician:
“My duties to the Sultan [Saladin’s son] are very heavy. I am obliged to visit him every day, early in the morning, and when he or any of his children or concubines are indisposed, I cannot leave Cairo but must stay during most of the day in the palace. It also frequently happens that one or two of the officers fall sick and I must attend to their healing. Hence, as a rule, every day, early in the morning, I go to Cairo and, even if nothing unusual happens there, I do not return to Fostat until the afternoon. Then I am famished but I find the antechambers filled with people, both Jews and Gentiles, nobles and common people, judges and policemen, friends and enemies – a mixed multitude who await the time of my return.”
So, we can conclude the friendship of Kurds and Jews has its roots in history. We should not be surprised at this new cuddling of love.
But, the situation on the ground is becoming complex with the US and Iran’s intervention. The march of ISIS soldiers has been halted by Iraq Armed Forces. The declaration of Caliphate ISIS is a just a propaganda ploy. That is going to snowball into the geopolitical, religious and existential threat for Saudi Arabia and rest of the monarchies of Middle East.
The Frankenstein they have created is going to ask for their blood and position soon. The Saudi monarch considers himself equivalent to Caliphate of Islam and had already given himself rather humble title – ‘Khadim-e-Haramen-o-Shareefain.” It literally means – “The Custodian of Two Holy Mosques.” How could he accept the marginalization of his Exalted position if Abubakar Baghdadi is accepted as the Caliphate of Muslims.
Turkey and Iran have also large minorities of Kurds in their own territories and if not today, tomorrow the Turkish and Iranian Kurds are going to unite with the new Kurdistan. They would force another re-drawl of maps and dislocation and new diasporas.
Interesting to know that the South of Iraq is densely populated with strong battle hardened rich Shia tribals. Most of the Holy Shrines of Shias are located in South of Iraq. The Iraq Army and the full might of Iran would work to the hilt if ISIS threat materializes and these Sunni militants harm the Shia places of worship. Shias of the world would do all that they could to protect the Holy Shrines of their Imams. No one is going for easy win and no one is going to accept defeat unless a real defeat is carved on ground.
The story is still unfolding.
By: Naim Naqvi
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