Islamic Unity: Bin Ladin’s Version v. Khameini’s





Mr. Furnish, Ph.D (Islamic History), is Assistant Professor, History, Georgia Perimeter College, Dunwoody, GA 30338. Mr. Furnish is the author of Holiest Wars: Islamic Mahdis, Their Jihads and Osama bin Laden (Praeger, 2005). He is the proprietor of www.mahdiwatch.org.

Usamah bin Ladin’s September 2007 video address has been analyzed five ways from Friday: as an anti-capitalist screed; yet another indictment of Bush administration Middle East policy; a coded go-ahead for another attack on the U.S.;  vindication of Noam Chomsky and Michael Scheuer; and even as a fashion statement (journalists have not been so agog over a beard since Lincoln ran for President).  But considering that Bin Ladin is in effect one of two global poles of authority for anti-Western Islam, it would be useful to take the analysis in another direction and compare his latest fulmination to similar statements coming, lately, out of Tehran. 1  Bin Ladin and the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) government, most obviously Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khameini, seem to be engaged in a parallel (if not quite complementary) quest for leadership of the Islamic world that has global ramifications.

One of Bin Ladin’s favorite ongoing tropes is that President Bush is fomenting Muslim disunity by, among other things, “working with the leaders of one [Muslim] sect against another….”2  Khameini agrees but goes further, alleging that America and “the Zionists,” following the example of Britain, continue “making divide [sic] among Islamic denominations.”3  Britain is of course the bugbear of Iranian conspiracy-mongering, where ayatollahs are not the only ones to see James Bond behind every Iranian problem.  Bin Ladin, rather, focuses on today’s, rather than yesterday’s, Great Satan.

Bin Ladin also denounces the Great Satan’s political system, trumpeting that the American failure in Iraq demonstrates the “failure of your democratic system, despite it raising the slogans of justice, liberty, equality and humanitarianism.”  He also needles Americans in general for having  “permitted Bush to complete his first term, and stranger still, [having] chose[n] him for a second term, which gave him a clear mandate from you…to continue to murder our people in Iraq and Afghanistan.” Bin Ladin also goes after Democrats in particular, because “you elected the Democratic party [to end the war], but the Democrats….continue to agree to the spending of tens of billions to continue the killing and war….”  Similarly, Khameini lumps “Western liberal democracy” with its “deceitful nature” on the ash heap of history along with “imported and controversial ideas such as Socialism and Marxism….”4 

America’s domestic sins are bad enough; but Bin Ladin, like Iran’s Supreme Leader, brands the U.S. as the greatest oppressor (and hypocrite) on the international stage: “It is time for humankind to know that the talk of the rights of man and freedom are lies produced by the White House and its allies in Europe to deceive humans, take control of their destinies and subjugate them.” Here is a partial litany of the world’s woes that can be laid at the Americans’ door: “Iraq and Afghanistan and their tragedies; and the reeling of many of you under the burden of interest-related debts; insane taxes and real estate mortgages; global warming and its woes; and the abject poverty and tragic hunger in Africa.; all this is but one side of the grim face of the global system.”  Khameini wholeheartedly agrees, while managing to work Israel into the mix:

The cancerous networks of Zionism and the rogue war mongering U.S.  are today the main and most dangerous centers of global arrogance….A glance at the frightening crimes of the usurper Zionist regime in Palestine carried out with full support of the U.S. government and a study of the occupier’s crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan reveals….[t]hey commit the most heinous crimes while claiming to fight against terrorism. In the name of freeing nations, they impose dictatorships and plunder the countries they invade.5

Bin Ladin envisions “the collapse of the American empire,” much as what happened to the Soviet one.  Khameini is even more optimistic, opining that “America has been through a weakening trend so that it no longer enjoys its previous grandeur and power”6 and that the “Islamic Ummah with its natural wealth and the great cultural and historical heritage, its wide ranging geographical and demographical advantage will not allow the colonial powers to continue sucking its blood and violating its honor and sanctities as they have been doing for the last 200 years.”7 

There are a few major points of divergence between the Sunni and Shi`i worlds’ major frondeurs against the global democratic capitalist system, however.  Bin Ladin says that there are two ways for the war to end: with American defeat, or by mass American conversions to Islam: “It is imperative you…search for an alternative, upright methodology….the methodology of Allah.”  He states it even more baldly toward the end of his video: “I invite you to embrace Islam.”  Then he tries to ecumenically sweeten the pot by reminding American Christians that “the name of the Prophet of Allah  Jesus and his mother…are mentioned in the Noble Quran dozens of times, and that in the Quran there is a chapter whose name is ‘Maryam’….”  Iran’s ruling ayatollah has never held out conversion to Islam as an alternative for Americans, to the best of my knowledge.  Perhaps Bin Ladin is laying the groundwork for another catastrosphic attack by offering conversion, because as Michael Scheuer (and others) have observed the Islamic traditions concerning hudnah, or “truce,” mandate that an enemy be offered the opportunity to embrace the faith of Muhammad.  He may be, in effect, covering all his bases with his own constitutents before trying to replicate (or surpass) 9/11. 

Alternatively, there are some ideas emanating from Tehran’s side that don’t seem to resonate with (or are downright detestable to) Bin Ladin, such as: the need to revitalize the Organization of the Islamic Conference [OIC] and for closer cooperation between Islamic governments;8 a need for Muslims to embrace “Gnosticism9 and spirituality, as well as “mysticism coupled with social activities [action], as well as self-humility towards God coupled with jihad.”10  Bin Ladin, coming as he does from a puritanical Wahhabi/Salafi milieu—yet nonetheless from outside the Islamic body politic—no doubt sees the OIC as corrupt and run by false Muslims, the Islamic governments as incapable of cooperation and worthless in any case, and the mystical proclivities of Iranian Shi`ism as anathema.  So Bin Ladin and Khameini are not totally simpatico.  In fact, there is a veiled criticism of al-Qa`idah by the latter in a recent Iranian strategic document aimed at Islamic unity: “religious scholars and thinkers who strive to bring unity among Muslims should do all what they can [sic] to avoid expressing views that could cause incitement among their followers….If they express divisive views…then definitely their role won’t be regarded as a unifying one.”11

Bin Ladin’s September 2007 declaration seems to be aimed both at the entire Muslim world and at the  American domestic political scene; it’s chock-full of specific references to modern American history and appeals to American Christians; and it contains that beguiling invitation to come to Mecca.  Khameini’s approach, as distilled from several of his speeches and publications, is aimed squarely, and solely, at the Islamic world; it’s more ideological and less concrete; and, rather counterintuitively,12 is more anti-Israel.   However, on the strategic level, the two de facto candidates for world leader of Muslims agree to a large extent, for both see the U.S. in decline and the Islamic world ascendant; reject Western-style democracy; and blame nefarious Western intelligence agencies (rather than indigenous political, religious and cultural differences) for keeping Muslims divided and leaderless.  Both Bin Ladin and Khameini desire, above all, Islamic unity leading to the destruction of the United States—and  no doubt each man thinks he’s the one to achieve both and thus, even, to restore the caliphate. 

NOTES

1 As such, I will focus in my analysis on those aspects of Bin Ladin’s video statement which echo those being disseminated by Tehran’s al-Majma` al-`Alami lil-Taqrib bayna al-Madhahib al-Islamiyah, or “The World Assembly for Reconciliation between the Islamic Denominations”—referred to by the IRI as the “World Forum for Proximity of Islamic Schools of Thought,” http://www.taghrib.ir/tmain_en.aspx?lng=en

2 As of this writing, no complete Arabic text of Bin Ladin’s missive is available, so all of the quotes here are from the text at http://msnbcmedia.msn.com/i/msnbc/sections/news/070907_bin_laden_transcript.pdf

3 “Supreme Leader: The Intelligence Bodies of Enemies  Preventing the Unity of Muslims,” August 20, 2007, available at www.taghrib.ir/tmain_prn.aspx?lng=en&mode-prn&artid=5172

4 “Islamic Awakening from the Viewpoint of the Supreme Leader,” May 18, 2007, available at www.taghrib.ir/tmain_prn.aspx?lng=en&mode=prn&artid=4112

5Ibid.

6 “Supreme Leader: The Intelligence Bodies….”

7 “Islamic Awakening….”

8Ibid.

9`Irfan, in Persian, means esoteric or mystical knowledge of God.

10 “Supreme Leader: The Intelligence Bodies…”

11 Rasul Ja’fari, “Twelve Strategic Proposals for the Realization of Islamic Integration,” May 22, 2007, available at www.taghrib.ir/tmain_prn.aspx?lng=en&mode=prn&artid=4181

12 Remember, Iran is not Arab; has no borders with Israel; and is Shi`i—whereas the Palestinians are Sunni (or Christian).


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omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007


Omar: "much" does not mean "all".)

(Re: Omar vs. Osama/(Eckstein DOES NOT deserve a special reply to his posts.)/Mr Friedman (#113663)
by art eckstein on September 22, 2007 at 1:29 PM)

Nor does it it mean MOST nor "a good proportion".
According to British and UN records it was less than 8%, which is NOT even "much".
With some honesty and objectivity that would have been "a little" !
The following table `gives the exact ratio/district.
For example ; Jerusalem:
84%(Arab owned) 2%(Jewish owned) 14%(Public and other)
"Land ownership of Palestine by district as of 1945
District Arab owned Jewish owned Public and other
Acre
87% 3% 10%
Beersheba
15% <1% 85%
Beisan
44% 34% 22%
Gaza
75% 4% 21%
Haifa
42% 35% 23%
Hebron
96% <1% 4%
Jaffa
47% 39% 14%
Jenin
84% <1% 16%
Jerusalem
84% 2% 14%
Nablus
87% <1% 13%
Nazareth
52% 28% 20%
Ramallah
99% <1% 1%
Ramle
77% 14% 9%
Safad
68% 18% 14%
Tiberias
51% 38% 11%
Tulkarm
78% 17% 5%
Data from the Land Ownership of Palestine[51]"


(http://www.palestineremembered.com/Acre/Maps/Story573.html)


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007


Omar: "much" does not mean "all".)

(Re: Omar vs. Osama/(Eckstein DOES NOT deserve a special reply to his posts.)/Mr Friedman (#113663)
by art eckstein on September 22, 2007 at 1:29 PM)

Nor does it it mean MOST nor "a good proportion".
According to British and UN records it was less than 8%, which is NOT even "much".
With some honesty and objectivity that would have been "a little" !
The following table `gives the exact ratio/district.
For example ; Jerusalem:
84%(Arab owned) 2%(Jewish owned) 14%(Public and other)
"Land ownership of Palestine by district as of 1945
District Arab owned Jewish owned Public and other
Acre
87% 3% 10%
Beersheba
15% <1% 85%
Beisan
44% 34% 22%
Gaza
75% 4% 21%
Haifa
42% 35% 23%
Hebron
96% <1% 4%
Jaffa
47% 39% 14%
Jenin
84% <1% 16%
Jerusalem
84% 2% 14%
Nablus
87% <1% 13%
Nazareth
52% 28% 20%
Ramallah
99% <1% 1%
Ramle
77% 14% 9%
Safad
68% 18% 14%
Tiberias
51% 38% 11%
Tulkarm
78% 17% 5%
Data from the Land Ownership of Palestine[51]"


(http://www.palestineremembered.com/Acre/Maps/Story573.html)



omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Eckstein
(Re: Omar vs. Osama/(Eckstein DOES NOT deserve a special reply to his posts.)/Mr Friedman (#113691)
by art eckstein on September 23, 2007 at 9:10 AM)

If look closely and objectively at those figures

(Land Ownership in Palestine (#113688)
by omar ibrahim baker on September 23, 2007 at 4:15 AM)

you will find out that the majority of land in ALL districts of Palestine were Palestinian ARAB , both Moslem and Christian,owned.

The overall ratio of Jewish owned land was LESS than 8% ( some 7.4% if I recall correctly )of the total area of Palestine.

That is NOT "much" as you claimed; that is "a little" by any standard particularly when the question of "land ownership" becomes a basis for a “sovereignty” claim.

These figures also belie the Zionist claim of Arabs selling land at "extravagant prices".

However, and this is a very important point, before the "colonialist" designs of the Zionist movement were unveiled by the Balfour Declaration the presence of Jews in Palestine was ACCEPTABLE by the majority of the Palestinian people.

The ambition of the Zionist movement , as declared by Wiesman, for a "Jewish Homeland (in Palestine) as Jewish as France is French" left no doubt in Palestinian Arab minds as to the ultimate colonialist objective .

Hence past, present and FUTURE opposition to and strugle against Zionist colonialism of Palestine .


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Omar: "much" does not mean "all".)

(Re: Omar vs. Osama/(Eckstein DOES NOT deserve a special reply to his posts.)/Mr Friedman (#113663)
by art eckstein on September 22, 2007 at 1:29 PM)

Nor does it it mean MOST nor "a good proportion".
Eckstein
(Re: Omar vs. Osama/(Eckstein DOES NOT deserve a special reply to his posts.)/Mr Friedman (#113691)
by art eckstein on September 23, 2007 at 9:10 AM)

If look closely and objectively at those figures

(Land Ownership in Palestine (#113688)
by omar ibrahim baker on September 23, 2007 at 4:15 AM)

you will find out that the majority of land in ALL districts of Palestine were Palestinian ARAB , both Moslem and Christian,owned.

The overall ratio of Jewish owned land was LESS than 8% ( some 7.4% if I recall correctly )of the total area of Palestine.

That is NOT "much" as you claimed; that is "a little" by any standard particularly when the question of "land ownership" becomes a basis for a “sovereignty” claim.

These figures also belie the Zionist claim of Arabs selling land at "extravagant prices".

However, and this is a very important point, before the "colonialist" designs of the Zionist movement were unveiled by the Balfour Declaration the presence of Jews in Palestine was ACCEPTABLE by the majority of the Palestinian people.

The ambition of the Zionist movement , as declared by Wiesman, for a "Jewish Homeland (in Palestine) as Jewish as France is French" left no doubt in Palestinian Arab minds as to the ultimate colonialist objective .

Hence past, present and FUTURE opposition to and strugle against Zionist colonialism of Palestine .


According to British and UN records it was less than 8%, which is NOT even "much".
With some honesty and objectivity that would have been "a little" !

The following table `gives the exact ratio/district.
For example ; Jerusalem:
84%(Arab owned) 2%(Jewish owned) 14%(Public and other)
"Land ownership of Palestine by district as of 1945
District Arab owned Jewish owned Public and other
Acre
87% 3% 10%
Beersheba
15% <1% 85%
Beisan
44% 34% 22%
Gaza
75% 4% 21%
Haifa
42% 35% 23%
Hebron
96% <1% 4%
Jaffa
47% 39% 14%
Jenin
84% <1% 16%
Jerusalem
84% 2% 14%
Nablus
87% <1% 13%
Nazareth
52% 28% 20%
Ramallah
99% <1% 1%
Ramle
77% 14% 9%
Safad
68% 18% 14%
Tiberias
51% 38% 11%
Tulkarm
78% 17% 5%
Data from the Land Ownership of Palestine[51]"


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Fahreddin
Sorry for the delayed reply.
Was out of town with no access to a PC and an internet connection.
It is not what Iran is offering the Arabs or vice versa.
It is the question of an anti America/Israel pan Islam, ie Islamist as distinct from nationalist (Persian or Arab), common front that the Islamists in both Iran and Arab countries are working on.

In many ways and places it,the Arab-Irani common front, is alreadsy in place and working eg in occupied Palestine and with Hisbu Lah in Lebanon .
In other places it is severely strained eg in Iraq.
More globally the Islamist common front is in evidence in Afghanistan and Somalia etc.

Generally it is the question of a common pan Islam common front against American imperialism and Israeli colonialism.

Back to the essential question of the thread; in this quest for a common front Ben Laden is a very minor contender for Islamic leadership compared with Iran.


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007



Professor Furnish, as with all other members of the herd, wastes no opportunity to imply that Ben Laden is a major force in Islam Dom.

The obvious objective is to implicate Islam , by association with its planner and executor, in the tragedy of 9/11.
Except in Afghanistan Ben laden is a minor, though spectacular, figure in the Islamist movement leading an anomalous fringe organization.

Although he does not suffer from a dearth of admirers he, and Al Qaeda in general, has absolutely no real influence or political presence where it really counts; that is as wide spread popularly supported organization .
His clandestine organization, whose real size and power is extremely dubious, has given the US- imperialist/Israel-Zionist alliance the necessary bogeyman with which to smear all opposition and silence all doubters and taint all genuine resistance to this alliance as in Iraq.
That is not only a replay of the old but handy and pervasive "communist" or "red" charge of yore but is actually playing into Ben Laden's hand with the general public.

When the genuine patriotic all Iraqi resistance to American invasion and occupation of Iraq was attributed mainly to Ben Laden's Al Qaeda Al Qaeda's standing with the general public soared.

That ploy, played out of despair by the Bush administration, equally played into neocon-Zionist hands whose innermost and fondest objective is for a long lasting , historical, long enduring Arab-Moslem/American-Christian enmity.

The obvious beneficiary of such long running enmity is Israel in particular and Zionism in general; and what better ploy to engender and further this desired enmity than to create a standing and representative value for Ben Laden where in reality nothing of that magnitude exists??

Professor Furnish with this essay of his has done his share in this disinformation campaign that in no way serves America's , nor the Arabs-Moslems', long term interests.


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Friedman is generous with advise that ultimately serves his, correct, understanding of the situation which boils down to:" Atatürk's accomplishments occurred not a small part because he determined ....(to) accept the loss of lands " which is the real issue with Zionism and Israel; Loss of national land to a colonialist movement manned by aliens.

However quite often he surprises me with his short sightedness or rather his acquiescence to subject his "thinking" to the demands of the Zionist movement!
Had he been his old, rational?, self he would appreciate the significance of what is going on in Turkey these very days.
That in spite of several decades of Kemalist "reforms" the Turkish people is rejecting the Kemalist heritage at every possible and available opportunity!

Quite often I find it baffling that the Zionist movement, notwithstanding the many intelligent elements within its ranks, is utterly stupidly unseeing when it comes to understanding the mettle of its adversaries and of the inevitable debacle of the foredoomed cause it is embracing and defending.
Blind dogmas do blind absolutely.
Friedman is NO exception.


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Freidman
For many, me included, the issue was never theocracy or secularism!
The issue was, always is, who is for acceptance of and submission to, or at least resignation to, US imperialism and Israeli colonialism AND who is for rejection of and opposition to US imperialism and Israeli colonialism.

Both Iran, under the leadership of Mossadegh, and the Arabs, under the leadership of Nasser and the Baath/Saddam attempted the "nationalist" way of resistance.
Both failed and had to find recourse in Islam to continue their fight against American imperialism and Israeli colonialism.

The importance of this development is that unlike the nationalist way, which earlier pitted them against each other, the new Islamist way brought them together into a common front.
The strategic advantages and regional implications of this development, particularly vis a vi Israel, are too plain to need further amplification.

Iran at one time a strategic ally of both Israel and the USA is now their deadliest enemy in the region.

As I have pointed out in many past posts the rise of Islamism followed, and was a direct product of, the failure of the nationalist way of opposition and resistance to US imperialism and Israeli colonialism.

Failure to understand the absolute primacy of this fight for independence and sovereignty against both incursive and alien enemies will only lead to further disinformation of Western, particularly American, public opinion.

However whereas the USA can withdraw from this melee and retain its essential and vital interests in the region Israel can NOT except and until it deZionizes!
Hence Israel's determination to bring in the USA despite the fact that the USA is NOT an implacable and intrinsic regional enemy and is unlike a Zionist Israel which IS.

That is the crux of the matter no matter how you prefer to characterize it.


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Mr Fahreddin Tahir

You do stretch the analogy between Arab and Turkish conditions beyond breaking point.
Similarities do exist but conditions are NOT identical.

I take issue with some of the points you made:

1-" Ataturk was a General who knew what war was and said war is murder unless it is to defend your country. If we look at the Arabic Iranian situation under this light, there are reasons to fight but the war being fought is not being fought for these reasons."

We believe that by any standard and among many other things :
a-the colonization of Palestine by the racist aggressive Zionist movement which led to the dislocation, dispossession, disfranchisement and subjugation of its people and their supplant by aliens
and

b-the invasion, conquest and virtual destruction of Iraq

by the Zionist movement and the USA respectively are good enough reasons for a LIBERATION war against both.

Ataturk would have agreed to that had Turkey been subjected to same; I guess.

2-"If I were running Arab policies I would stop fighting Israel and try to mobilise her support for development of my countries."

This sentence of yours betrays a complete misunderstanding of the "nature" and "mission" of Israel.

Israel was created and is sustained, with considerable help from the then and present dominant imperialist powers GB and the USA, to hinder and obstruct Arab unity and Arab progress.
As simply put as possible Israel‘s only hope to dominate the region is for the region’s disunity, fragmentation and lack of progress to continue.
Israel can NOT realistically hope or expect to dominate a united and advanced region.

Mr Tahir
I am afraid that despite your obvious good intentions you have fallen prey to the lies and pretensions of Israeli and US propaganda.
To believe that either is embarked on a "civilizing", "progress inducing" mission in the region is not only utterly naive BUT is belied by their every day policies for all to see.

Israel is the product and the armed arm of the "colonialist" Zionist movement with further expansionist designs to achieve "Greater Israel” and regional hegemony while the USA, particularly under Bush, is unabashedly embarked on an imperialist mission to dominate all, or most, of the world; with a special interest in the Middle East.


3- "The Palestinian refugees are a problem but a fraction of what the wars are costing would be enough to give them a future worth living."

This seems to imply that you believe that the Palestinian question is SOLELY, or predominantly, a question of "refugees".

It is that AND much more.(Google if you can my post ”What is Israel ?” here at HNN)

Intrinsically the Palestinian question is a question of an “imperialist” supported "colonialist" conquest by aliens aiming at establishing a regional base out of which to dominate the whole region, including Turkey, to ensure continued imperialist domination.

I wish you the best and wish our neigbour the Turkish people progress and happiness.


Post Script: As you must have noticed by now both Friedman and Eckstein are tireless in their advocacy and defense of Zionist/Israeli "colonialism" and, but less openly, US imperialism.

Anything they have to say about regional progress etc is subject to that dominant aim and, as such,is that much hot air.
Their only real concern is the future of the Zionist colonialist project of Palestine, which is Israel.

Salaam.


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Mr Fahreddin Tahir

You do stretch the analogy between Arab and Turkish conditions beyond breaking point.
Similarities do exist but conditions are NOT identical.

I take issue with some of the points you made:

1-" Ataturk was a General who knew what war was and said war is murder unless it is to defend your country. If we look at the Arabic Iranian situation under this light, there are reasons to fight but the war being fought is not being fought for these reasons."

We believe that by any standard and among many other things :
a-the colonization of Palestine by the racist aggressive Zionist movement which led to the dislocation, dispossession, disfranchisement and subjugation of its people and their supplant by aliens
and

b-the invasion, conquest and virtual destruction of Iraq by the Zionist movement and the USA respectively are good enough reasons for a LIBERATION war against both.

Ataturk would have agreed to that had Turkey been subjected to same; I guess.

2-"If I were running Arab policies I would stop fighting Israel and try to mobilise her support for development of my countries."

This sentence of yours betrays a complete misunderstanding of the "nature" and "mission" of Israel.

Israel was created and is sustained, with considerable help from the then and present dominant imperialist powers GB and the USA, to hinder and obstruct Arab unity and Arab progress.
As simply put as possible Israel‘s only hope to dominate the region is for the region’s disunity, fragmentation and lack of progress to continue.
Israel can NOT realistically hope or expect to dominate a united and advanced region.

Mr Tahir
I am afraid that despite your obvious good intentions you have fallen prey to the lies and pretensions of Israeli and US propaganda.
To believe that either is embarked on a "civilizing", "progress inducing" mission in the region is not only utterly naive BUT is belied by their every day policies for all to see.

Israel is the product and the armed arm of the "colonialist" Zionist movement with further expansionist designs to achieve "Greater Israel” and regional hegemony while the USA, particularly under Bush, is unabashedly embarked on an imperialist mission to dominate all, or most, of the world; with a special interest in the Middle East.


3- "The Palestinian refugees are a problem but a fraction of what the wars are costing would be enough to give them a future worth living."

This seems to imply that you believe that the Palestinian question is SOLELY, or predominantly, a question of "refugees".

It is that AND much more.(Google if you can my post ”What is Israel ?” here at HNN)

Intrinsically the Palestinian question is a question of an “imperialist” supported "colonialist" conquest by aliens aiming at establishing a regional base out of which to dominate the whole region, including Turkey, to ensure continued imperialist domination.

I wish you the best and wish our neigbour the Turkish people progress and happiness.


Post Script: As you must have noticed by now both Friedman and Eckstein are tireless in their advocacy and defense of Zionist/Israeli "colonialism" and, but less openly, US imperialism.

Anything they have to say about regional progress etc is subject to that dominant aim and, as such,is that much hot air.
Their only real concern is the future of the Zionist colonialist project of Palestine, which is Israel.

Salaam.


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Post 1967 the masses followed closely by the professionals then increasingly by the engaged, nonwesternized,intellectuals in the Arab Middle East and North Africa have turned to Islam as their best bet for a "saviour" from Israel and the USA; in that order.

For a short period thereafter Iraq, under Saddam and the Baath, seemed to offer a promising alternative to Nasser's failed leadership which practically ended in 1967.
.
That short lived "nationalist" revival, which witnessed the Iraq/Iran war and was accompanied by heightened "nationalist" awareness and allegiance there from, declined steeply with the strangulation of Iraq through the sanctions post the Kuwait war.
It was irrevocably ended with the American conquest of Iraq.

Post US invasion and conquest of Iraq three major developments took place:

1- The overwhelmingly Sunni Islamist movement became the unchallenged and undisputed leader of the masses and the professionals and a rising Islamist, as distinct from the past nationalist/Marxist, intelligentsia.

2-Iran attained unprecedented stature, esteem and influence through its declared anti Israel policies ,its nuclear program and its consequent ceaseless defiance of the USA .
And also, by all means not a smaller measure, from the two successive successes of Hisbu Lah against Israel .
First the unconditional withdrawal/retreat of Israeli forces from Southern Lebanon under Hisbu Lah pressure then, second,its robust resistance to Israel in their recent 30 days plus summer confrontation out of which Israel, for the first time, DID NOT come out victorious .

Hisbu Lah, more than any other single factor, helped bridge the divide between Sunni Arabs and Shiite Iranians.
(Sectarian fighting in Iraq did and DOES put a severe strain on Iran's standing with the Arabs but nothing threatening to its overall influence and general standing).

3-The USA, for destroying Iraq and its total identification with Israeli policies, became the prime enemy of the Arabs with Israel a close second.

As things stand now:
a- Iran is a major senior player and has tremendous influence

b-Ben Laden is , at best, a fringe element with very little real influence; a very junior player

c-The Sunni/Shiite divide is a secondary consideration in the general perception of Arabs as far as the Moslem-Arabs/USA-Israel conflict is concerned.

No rational parallelism could be draw between Iran (Khameini) and Ben Laden as to their respective rivalry/influence on near future developments in the Middle East.


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

The Aggrandizement of Ben Laden (#113546)
by omar ibrahim baker on September 19, 2007 at 12:56 PM


Professor Furnish, as with all other members of the herd, wastes no opportunity to imply that Ben Laden is a major force in Islam Dom.

The obvious objective is to implicate Islam , by association with its planner and executor, in the tragedy of 9/11.
Except in Afghanistan Ben laden is a minor, though spectacular, figure in the Islamist movement leading an anomalous fringe organization.

Although he does not suffer from a dearth of admirers he, and Al Qaeda in general, has absolutely no real influence or political presence where it really counts; that is as wide spread popularly supported organization .
His clandestine organization, whose real size and power is extremely dubious, has given the US- imperialist/Israel-Zionist alliance the necessary bogeyman with which to smear all opposition and silence all doubters and taint all genuine resistance to this alliance as in Iraq.
That is not only a replay of the old but handy and pervasive "communist" or "red" charge of yore but is actually playing into Ben Laden's hand with the general public.

When the genuine patriotic all Iraqi resistance to American invasion and occupation of Iraq was attributed mainly to Ben Laden's Al Qaeda Al Qaeda's standing with the general public soared.

That ploy, played out of despair by the Bush administration, equally played into neocon-Zionist hands whose innermost and fondest objective is for a long lasting , historical, long enduring Arab-Moslem/American-Christian enmity.

The obvious beneficiary of such long running enmity is Israel in particular and Zionism in general; and what better ploy to engender and further this desired enmity than to create a standing and representative value for Ben Laden where in reality nothing of that magnitude exists??

Professor Furnish with this essay of his has done his share in this disinformation campaign that in no way serves America's , nor the Arabs-Moslems', long term interests.
(Eckstein DOES NOT deserve a special reply to his posts.)


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Mr Friedman
1- The available evidence is that Israel consistently refuses to delineate its final borders.
Its expansionist desins are all too plain to deny.
Presently they include the rest of historical Palestine and as much as possible from the Syrian Golan heights.
If you believe that settlements in both are NOT a fore runner of an expansionist drive you would be naive, which is unlikely, or, almost certainly, you would be consciously misinforming the readers of this blog.

Historically the Zionist movement has had three different definitions of "Eretz Israel".
These Zionist definitions of the "land of Israel" are:

a-To include ALL of historical Palestine.

b-To include All of historical Palestine plus Transjordan

c-To include all lands from the Nile to the Euphrates.
That, (c), would include parts of Egypt, a great part of Syria and Iraq, all of Lebanon and of course both (a) and (b) above.

I, for one among many, consider these to be the “phases" of the overall Zionist vision of the desired Jewish state of "Greater Israel."

2- Ben Laden has been inflated beyond any reasonable or likely limits for obvious US neocon "imperialist" and Israeli "colonialist" objectives: to engender a deep and long lasting Arab-Moslem/US-W. European-Christian enmity.

With so much that is being written and said by every body it is possible for any one to cull quotations to support one's opinion and contentions no matter how ridiculous and outrageous they are ; the way you and sk Eckstein do.

The important thing is to ask one self:
"How representative these quotations are of the general, overall, tendency and aspirations of the people they are attributed to??"
None of your, and sk Eckstein’s, quotations are representative of the general, overall, aspirations of the Arabs and Moslems nor of the prevalent Arab-Moslem mood.

Our ambitions go no further than LIBERATION from US imperialism and Zionist/Israeli colonialism for us to proceed unfettered by both to building our nations and developing our human and material resources.

3- Ataturk conceded lands from the Ottoman EMPIRE to their indigenous, native populations who proceeded to rule themselves.
In Palestine we, the indigenous native resident and dislocated Arab population of Palestine, are asked to concede our lands to alien
"colons" and to submit to the rule of these alien "colons"!

If you fail to see the huge basic difference between the two conditions there is very little I can do with your blindness!
(However if you persist on using this false analogy you would be persisting in insulting the intelligence of your readers.
The readers of these posts are NOT as stupid and as ignorant as you assume!)


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Mr Tahir
Respectfully I disagree with the bulk of your post and, amicably, reject the bulk of your advise.
Both are though , presumably, well intentioned but sadly fail to recognize the essence of the issue at hand and the significance of the seminal, existentional conflict with the Zionist movement.

More to the point:
1-If the Turkish peole was/is , and yourself, are happy with the decisions made by Ataturk it is NOT for me to say, or advise, otherwise.

2-Your vision of Israel as a collection of people looking for a place in which to live away from their historical unhappiness is way, way off the mark and is the TYPICAL PORTRAYAL of Israel by the Zionist movement.

The truth of the matter is that Israel is the outcome of a colonialist project that DISLOCATED, DISPOSSESSED, DISFRANCHISED and SUBJUGATED the indigenous Arab population of Palestine and SUPPLANTED them with ALIEN "colons" chosed and screened on an unmitigated RACIST basis.

That is unacceptable to the ARAB nation and incresingly to the Moslem world, including Turkey.

For you to fully apreciate the meaning of Israel in Turkish terms imagine, God forbiding, the people of IZMIR provence being dislocated by a colonialist invasion and supplanted by aliens then forming a state of their own there supported and in alliance with an imperialist great power.

What will happen to Turkey then and how will Turkey react??

I do NOT believe that would be acceptable to the valiant Turkish people nor to you personally.
(I urge you to read my post about "The Meaning of Israel" ; should you fail to get it through Google post your email and I will email it to you.)
Regards and Salaam!


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Mr Friedman
We have been here before ;however , for the record, I note the following:

1-You fail to address the question of the government which established the settlements in the first place in both occupied Palestinian territories and the occupied Syrian Golan Heights.
That was and is, with further construction, an indeniable first step towards annexation .

You ,in your inimitable ludicrous way make it a question of "low rents" etc.

If you really believe that you must be stupid ,if you do not, as I suspect, you must be considering your readers as "stupid". That would be stupid.

2-You fail to address the question of the Zionist doctrinaire definition of the "land of Israel"!

3-If you feel going the Fahreddin way that is your prerogative.
We do not nor will we ever go that way.

He, despite his good intentions, is under the false impression that "Israel" would be a peaceful entity; we know better what Israel is, from bitter experience, and will not be deluded into false PR claims.

A nation born out of the DISLOCATION, DISPOSSESSION, DISFRANCHISEMENT and SUBJUGATION of an indigenous people then supplanting them with ALIENS selected and screened on RACIST basis can not be but faithful to its criminal mode of birth and to the RACIST doctrine , Zionism, which inspired its criminal colonialist project.

Colonialism is dead all over the world, the colonialist Zionist project will sooner or later follow and Palestine will return to its rightful owners.


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Mr Friedman
Since you are so fond of the Ataturk model I note that you fail to address my reply:

"3- Ataturk conceded lands from the Ottoman EMPIRE to their indigenous, native populations who proceeded to rule themselves.
In Palestine we, the indigenous native resident and dislocated Arab population of Palestine, are asked to concede our lands to alien
"colons" and to submit to the rule of these alien "colons"!

If you fail to see the huge basic difference between the two conditions there is very little I can do with your blindness!
(However if you persist on using this false analogy you would be persisting in insulting the intelligence of your readers.
The readers of these posts are NOT as stupid and as ignorant as you assume!)"


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Mr Tahir
Re your:
"They preferred the British to the Turks ....... It was not a very intelligent choice. "
With that I AGREE unreservedly!
It was a grave historical mistake for which we are paying to this very day!


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Mr Friedman
Are you being Ecksteined ie resorting to a childish play on words??
To my challenge :

"Mr Friedman
Since you are so fond of the Ataturk model I note that you fail to address my reply:

"3- Ataturk conceded lands from the Ottoman EMPIRE to their indigenous, native populations who proceeded to rule themselves.
In Palestine we, the indigenous native resident and dislocated Arab population of Palestine, are asked to concede our lands to alien
"colons" and to submit to the rule of these alien "colons"!

If you fail to see the huge basic difference between the two conditions there is very little I can do with your blindness!"

("Re: The issue at hand (#113625)
by omar ibrahim baker on September 21, 2007 at 5:44 PM)

All you have to say is:


"Omar,

You did not read my views carefully. The Ottoman Empire conceded no land."

(Re: The issue at hand (#113626)
by N. Friedman on September 21, 2007 at 6:01 PM_)

In which all you did was to challenge my use of the word "conceded".
That is childish !!


However back to the point you are trying desperately to evade which IS:

"3- Ataturk conceded lands from the Ottoman EMPIRE to their indigenous, native populations who proceeded to rule themselves.
In Palestine we, the indigenous native resident and dislocated Arab population of Palestine, are asked to concede our lands to alien
"colons" and to submit to the rule of these alien "colons"! "

That is the point: Ataturk "conceded" , substantially,Greek lands to the Greek people, Bulgarian lands to the Bulgarian people etc.

ATATURK DID NOT concede TURKISH, as distinct from Ottoman ruled, lands to alien colonialists!!
I can NOT make it plainer; Mr Friedman!

(Mr Tahir ; please note "substantially")


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Beneath the recycled bits of journalistic detritus, is there any substance to this comparison? It is doubtful.

This is basically an apples / oranges situation.

1. The Sunni-Shiite split means that Osama and Khamanei are ultimately playing to different world audiences. One of the "ilk" amongst the HNN posters was so enamoured of this split a year ago that he typed his fingers off in a deluge of posts trying to make me into the Idiot of the Century for suggesting that the success of the (Shiite) Lebanese Hezbollah in demonstrating the end of Israeli military invincibility might
give encouragement to other (Sunni) Palestinian, Jordanian or Egyptian foes of Israel.

2. Khameini is the powerful leader of a major country. Bin Laden rules a cave in West Pakistan.

3. Khameini sounds confident. His country is the one big winner from the Chickenhawks' broken Iraq pottery barn. Bin Laden sounds more desperate. Asking Americans to convert to Islam looks a flailing attempt to restoke the "Clash of Civilization" mania, utterly ignoring the obvious hypocrisy of his being a towering example of a barbaric criminal outside of ANY civilization, past, present, future, factual or fantasized.


art eckstein - 9/23/2007

You can't look at Palestine entire; you have to look at the areas that were to become Israel under the UN partition, including the Jezreel Valley and Haifa.

That the Israelis gained more territory is because the Arab states attacked them with the intention of committing genocide, and the Israelis won the war.
Just like the Russians extended their western frontiers because of their victory in WWII over the Nazis. It happens.


art eckstein - 9/23/2007

Omar, if you look closely at those statistics, you will see that the area that was originally mandated by the UN in the 1947 partition as the israeli part are those areas where Jewish land ownership was significant (e.g., Haifa; Tiberias). In Jerusalem in 1948, 40% of the population was Jewish (that didn't mean they owned that much property, but I'm sure you see the point).


Fahrettin Tahir - 9/23/2007

Omar, you keep agreeing that the Palestinian case is the right one. The question to be answered is not whose is the just cause, but where the Islamic World should use its limited resources. Fighting for Palestine or catching up with the West. That is not a judicial question, it is a matter of political priorities. As things stand, Dar-ul Islam is losing the "War of Civilisations" by fighting the wrong battles. The only battle which matters in the long run is in technology and science.


N. Friedman - 9/22/2007

Omar,

I left out the fact that in, for example, Greece, it was not just Muslims booted out. Christians from outside what had been the Ottoman Empire moved in.


art eckstein - 9/22/2007

In any case, much of the land that became Israel was legally sold to the Zionist organizations--at inflated prices--by the Arab owners of that land. That land was not forced out of anyone, nor was it seized by conquest, nor was it stolen. (Omar: "much" does not mean "all".)

Hezbollah is currently following the same principle in southern Lebanon as the Zionists followed 100 years ago: buying up the land of non-Shiites.


N. Friedman - 9/22/2007

Omar,

I read and understood your point. I think you still do not understand my point.

A good number of the people who were forced out of Europe from portions of Southern Europe were not "colonists" from the Ottoman Empire. They were Europeans of Muslim confession. The Bosporus was not a dividing line between ethnic groups. The split was religious, not ethnic. Muslims were booted out. Christians remained. So, there are large numbers of European natives who became, after modern Turkey came about, Turks. So, your theory is wrong.


Fahrettin Tahir - 9/22/2007

Ataturk was a General, one of the most succesful generals of all time. He had realistic targets at war and when he reached them he stopped. If it had been realistic to liberate Saloniki or Mosul he would have done so. He realised it would lead to a war he could not win so he didn't try.

During the first World War some Arabs allied with the British. My grandfather was in Palestine in the Ottoman Army, fightig to keep it Arab but the people shooting at him were Arabs. They preferred the British to the Turks who were giving them citizenship in the common country, see the film Lawrence of Arabia. So they got the British. It was not a very intelligent choice.


N. Friedman - 9/22/2007

Professor,

Attaturk, as noted by Bernard Lewis, took the view that Turkey would live with its borders as determined. He determined not to anymore have an imperial foreign policy and, most especially, not one pre-determined by religious prescription. Which is to say, I think you are confusing his effort to form a country out of the ruins of WWI with what occurred when things settled down.


art eckstein - 9/22/2007

Ataturk conceded NOTHING he was not militarily forced to give up. That includes, e.g., the Mosul area in what is now Iraq. The Ottoman EMPIRE conceded NOTHING it was not militarily forced to give up. You are fantasizing, Omar.

In Palestine, Jews bought land at inflated prices from the legal owners, exactly as Hezbollah is buying up all the non-Shiite land in southern Lebanon. When the Arabs attacked Israel after the formation of the state--which was THEIR choice to do--they lost. Many Palestinians fled during the war voluntarily or were forced out: the number is put at about 750,000. A LARGER number of Jews were expelled from Arab lands between 1948 and 1960: perhaps 850,000 They lost everything--just like the Palestinians who fled or were expelled. Even steven. Some Arab owns their houses now, their shops, their land, Omar. And indeed the MAJORITY of the current Israeli population is made up OF descendants of those refugees from ARAB lands who lost everything, not people from Europe.

A tragedy for many individuals, yes. Many such things happened in the last period of WWII and the early period of decolonization. 12 million Germans fled eastern Europe, where they had lived for hundreds of years, as the Red Army advanced in 1945; 2 million of them died, 1 million women were raped by the Russians. 14 million Hindus and Muslims fled Pakistan and India in 1947-1948, and millions again died. Compared to these tragedies, the Palestinian and Jewish tragedies are not that large, though obviously terrible for individuals.

And yet you don't see Germans trying to blow up busses in Warsaw or Danzig. You don't see Jews trying to blow up supermarkets in Marrakech. You don't see Hindus attacking schools filled with children in Islamabad. What keeps the Palestinian trauma alive, as Omar himself has emphasized, is not that it is a "natural" reaction of refugess but rather that it is the conscious decision of the Palestinians to keep the trauma alive.

As Farhettin says, it is not rational. Its basis is racist and theological--the intolerable dishonor of dhimmis ruling in what was once Muslim land (though before that it was Christian land, and before THAT it was Jewish land), and the intolerable dishonor of Jews shooting effectively at Arabs, even if all they were doing was SHOOTING BACK


art eckstein - 9/22/2007

Ataturk conceded NOTHING he was not militarily forced to give up. That includes, e.g., the Mosul area in what is now Iraq. The Ottoman EMPIRE conceded NOTHING it was not militarily forced to give up. You are fantasizing.

In Palestine, Jews bought land at inflated prices from the legal owners, exactly as Hezbollah is buying up all the non-Shiite land in southern Lebanon. When the Arabs attacked Israel after the formation of the state--which was their choice--they lost. Many Palestinians fled during the war voluntarily or were forced out: the number is put at about 750,000. A LARGER number of Jews were expelled from Arab lands between 1948 and 1960: perhaps 850,000 They lost everything--just like the Palestinians who fled or were expelled. Even steven. And indeed the MAJORITY of the current Israeli population is made up of descendants of those refugees from ARAB lands, not from Europe.

A tragedy for many individuals. Such things happened in the last period of WWII and the early period of decolonization. 12 million Germans fled eastern Europe, where they had lived for hundreds of years, as the Red Army advanced in 1945; 2 million of them died died, 1 million women were raped. 14 million Hindus and Muslims fled Pakistan and India in 1947-1948, and millions again died. Compared to these tragedies, the Palestinian and Jewish tragedies are not that large, though obviously terrible for individuals.

You don't see Germans trying to blow up busses in Warsaw or Danzig. You don't see Jews trying to blow up supermarkets in Marrakech. You don't see Hindus attacking schools in Islamabad. What keeps the trauma alive, as Omar has emphasized, is not a "natural" reaction of refugess but rather the conscious decision of the Palestinians to keep the trauma alive. As Farhettin says, it is not rational.

Its basis is racist and theological--the intolerable dishonor of dhimmis ruling in what was once Muslim land (though before that it was Christian land, and before THAT it was Jewish land), and the intolerable dishonor of Jews shooting effectively at Arabs even if all they're doing is SHOOTING BACK.


N. Friedman - 9/21/2007

Omar,

You did not read my views carefully. The Ottoman Empire conceded no land. It was pushed out of land and its people were pushed out with them - people as European as those who remained. Turkey, under Attaturk, decided to let the matter go. Turkey, unlike your group, had some sense. Your group wants endless, senseless war that does nothing except get people killed.

If you had read me carefully, I could care less if Israel annexes and settles all the land it won in the 1967 war. Now, I do not favor displacing people by means of settlement, which is another matter.

But, as I said, the Arab side can screw itself. It made its own problems. It is politically immature and incapable of compromising. Taking those attitudes, I can only say, the losses your side suffers are the costs of war, a war desired by the Arab side.

Your side, as your leaders said, wanted war. Had they wanted peace, there would have been no war.

And, as I said, if it ends the dispute, then I would favor Israel ceding the land. I await your side's willingness to bury the hatchet. Until then, your side can rot in the cesspool it has created.

I do not fail to address the government that settles people. They made their decisions and have to live with the consequences, just like your leaders, who decide to that blowing up religious ceremonies is acceptable. And, more importantly, I recall that the party which was behind the PLO is called Fatah - meaning, for those unfamiliar with the word in the Arab tradition, conquest and settlement. So, what you speak about is conquest and settlement of people who - you have to admit - were mostly not born in the country. That is called conquest.


art eckstein - 9/21/2007

From the London Times Online, Sept. 7, 2007:

"Almost half of Britain’s mosques are under the control of a hardline Islamic sect whose leading preacher loathes Western values and has called on Muslims to “shed blood” for Allah, an investigation by The Times has found.

Riyadh ul Haq, who supports armed jihad and preaches contempt for Jews, Christians and Hindus, is in line to become the spiritual leader of the Deobandi sect in Britain. The ultra-conservative movement, which gave birth to the Taleban in Afghanistan, now runs more than 600 of Britain’s 1,350 mosques, according to a police report seen by The Times.

The Times investigation casts serious doubts on government statements that foreign preachers are to blame for spreading the creed of radical Islam in Britain’s mosques and its policy of enouraging the recruitment of more “home-grown” preachers.

Mr ul Haq, 36, was educated and trained at an Islamic seminary in Britain and is part of a new generation of British imams who share a similar radical agenda. He heaps scorn on any Muslims who say they are “proud to be British” and argues that friendship with a Jew or a Christian makes “a mockery of Allah’s religion."

And:

"The Times has gained access to numerous talks and sermons delivered in recent years by Mr ul Haq and other graduates of Britain’s most influential Deobandi seminary near Bury, Greater Manchester.

Intended for a Muslim-only audience, they reveal a deep-rooted hatred of Western society, admiration for the Taleban and a passionate zeal for martyrdom “in the way of Allah”.

The seminary outlaws art, television, music and chess, demands “entire concealment” for women and views football as “a cancer that has infected our youth”.

Mahmood Chandia, a Bury graduate who is now a university lecturer, claims in one sermon that music is a way in which Jews spread “the Satanic web” to corrupt young Muslims.

“Nearly every university in England has a department which is called the music department, and in others, where the Satanic influence is more, they call it the Royal College of Music,” he says."

Please note, Omar, that this major Muslim religious figure in Britain, ul Haq, is violently opposed to any friendship with CHRISTIANS, seeing such friendship as a "mockery of Allah's religion." CHRISTIANS, Omar--i.e., infidels. Same line as bin Laden.

Israel is not mentioned by Muslims (or anyone else) in this article. it is BRITAIN they hate and wish to destroy, and the WEST in general, for its "corrupt culture."

Sorry to provide you with more and specific EVIDENCE that the Islamists ambitions are hardly limited to the destruction of little Israel. I know that EVIDENCE is something you so hate to have to deal with. No doubt your response to my providing specific EVIDENCE will be...I know...insults. Because that's all you have.


N. Friedman - 9/21/2007

Omar,

You claim "The available evidence is that Israel consistently refuses to delineate its final borders.
Its expansionist desins are all too plain to deny."

The first part of the claim is true. The second part of the claim has no basis in fact. On what imaginable basis could Israel manage to conquer and rule the Arabs? How is that remotely possible? And, how would that benefit Israel which cannot even effectively rule Arabs already under its governance? An Israeli who holds such a belief is a complete moron. And Israelis tend not to be complete morons.

Those who have settled in the captured territories have all sorts of reasons. The main one is that the land is a whole lot less expensive than in Israel proper. There are those of a religious lunatic bent, although fewer than is alleged, who believe that the land you call the West Bank, because it is the true ancestral Jewish homeland - the same as noted in Arab sources such as the Koran -, it cannot be ceded. There are those who think that conceding land to Arabs leads nowhere because of moronic attitudes like the one you demonstrate in your writings.

The majority of Israelis likely think that the land should be held until such time as Arabs accept Israel's legitimacy - something you seem unwilling even to contemplate. Were it me - which it is not so my opinion is rather irrelevant, as I do not have to live with the situation -, I would tell the Arabs to screw themselves as the land was taken fair and square in war, a war evidently desired by the Arab side; but were the Arabs someday to come and say (and really mean it - not just taqiyyah) that it is time bury the hatchet, then I would cede land if such were necessary in order to end the dispute. I can, in any event, expect Israel to hold onto the captured land for a very, very long time because the Arab side is too immature to reach a compromise.

You assert: Ben Laden has been inflated beyond any reasonable or likely limits for obvious US neocon "imperialist" and Israeli "colonialist" objectives: to engender a deep and long lasting Arab-Moslem/US-W. European-Christian enmity.

Having thousands of civilians killed by religious lunatics who fly planes into buildings in the name of their religion tends to focus the mind. Having Arabs cheer at such events tends to help show who stands where. Having little in the way of condemnation by Islamists has also tended to focus the mind.

By contrast, Fahrettin's call ("stop the war") is the genuine article. His is a voice of sanity. His is the voice of a civilized person.

And, by further contrast with religious lunatics, modern Turks protesting religious lunatics killing Turkish Jews also suggests who stands where.

No one is culling quotations out of context. There, of course, is more than one way to interpret documents. Fahrettin suggests that bin Laden has lesser aims but uses inflated rhetoric to, for example, fire up the "troops." Truth, he would say, is a casualty of war. Fahrettin suggests the same about the Iranian thug Ahmadinejad and that he does not mean what he says. He might be correct. I am inclined to think that he is not correct about either al Qaeda or Ahadinejad but, of course, I could be wrong.

Eventually, Omar, the impact of the lunatic ravings and lunatic activity directed at civilians will, whether or not correctly understood, be seen by Israelis and other Westerners as sufficient provocation to destroy the Arabs and the Iranians. I certainly hope things do not come to that. I have no use for war. But consider what Fahrettin notes: "Seen from the West, the man [Ahmadinejad] is irrational and they are afraid of him. It is stupid to scare people who have better weapons than you do."

I note, lastly, Fahrettin's point that, in fact, huge numbers of refugees landed in Turkey - and, I would note, all along Asia Minor down to Acre in what is now Israel (with quite a number claiming to be Palestinian Arabs) - from Ottoman Europe. Such were not, by any stretch of the imagination, settlers in Europe. They were Europeans, having lived there for 5 to 7 centuries or were converts to Islam, having been of European stock since long before Muhammad!!! Such land in Europe was, in its time, as much Muslim land as you think Israel ought to be.

So, your argument denying the parallel, brought to the foreground by Fahrettin, with modern Turkey is wrong.


N. Friedman - 9/21/2007

Omar,

Come now. You can do better than that. The available evidence, Omar, is that Jews have no grand plan to conquer the Arabs or harm Islam. The available evidence is that Israel's interests are limited to little Israel, which is a difficult enough project.

The evidence about al Qaeda is important. Why? Because his lunatic group has killed thousands of Americans in the US, hundreds of other people and because they promise to kill more Americans and other people. The evidence about the Muslim Brotherhood's aims - from internal documents - is important because it shows they share the ends, but not necessarily all of the specific means, with al Qaeda.

Consider: When the Hamas branch of the Muslim Brotherhood employs tactics not so different from those of al Qaeda, one reasonably sees an affinity. No one has to push that notion. It pushes itself.

You would also do well to consider: Palestinian Arabs are creating their own cesspool by their aims and tactics instead of working to solve their readily solvable problems. Instead, endless energy is wasted on a dispute that could have settled in the 1930's or anytime after.

Attaturk's built a nation from an empire which had lost more than a hundred, if not a thousand, times the territory of lost by Arabs in historic Palestine and suffered ten, if not a hundred, times more refugees than were suffered by Palestinian Arabs. He was a realistic idealist, who thought that the future was in secularism, modernity, science and the deemphasis of religion. He opposed Imperialism of the type associated with the former Ottoman Empire. He accepted the losses of territory and the in-flight of millions of refugees. But unlike those who follow your notions, his view was to make something with what you have, not to fight endless wars that bring only death and destruction.


Fahrettin Tahir - 9/21/2007


Omar,

You are wrong in presuming that nothing similar to Israel has happened to Turkey. At the beginning of the 19th century, Crimea and Bulgaria (including what is now northern Greece and a part of Rumenia) were Turkish majority countries. They had become that in the 4th century, much earlier than the Arabisation of the Middle East. Crete had a moajority of Greek speaking Moslems, Most of Yugoslavia slavic speaking Moslems. Caucasia was Moslem majority region. During the 19th century these areas were turned into Christian majority countries by mass murder of Moslems and forcing out the survivors. At apoint where the world had far less inhabitants than today 5 Millions were killed and 5 Millions forced out. Turkey is full of people who are descended from Europeans who were forced out because they were moslems. This was far worse than anything the Israelis did to the Palestinians. You people discuss here the fate of a couple of villages whose inhabitants were slaughtered in 1947, I am speaking about 5 Millions! Alone Crimea would today be a country of 11 Millions Turks of whom only 250 000 actually live there! Various goverments of Turkey did their best to integrate the survivors and were ultimately succesful. Ataturk came to power in a disasterous situation. He consolidated what he could and instead of trying to recover lost lands concentrated on building up what he had. Do not forget: he was born in Saloniki, now a Greek town after the Greeks forced out the Moslems and the Germans the Jews who also used to live there in peace. He did not try to recover his home, but to give the Turkish people a future. The Germans wanted a Europe without Jews as the Greeks wanted a Europe without Moslems. That is our historic experience.

In 1947 Turkey opposed to the foundation of Israel because they knew the Middle East better than the Zionists who were hoping that Israel would be solution of the centuries long prosecution the Jews has lived through in Europe. Now they are there and you see a monster, I see a couple of million Jews scared of what might happen. There was one holocaust. They are afraid of a second one. The original plan has not worked, the Arabs don’t accept them as neighbors. At the beginning of the 20th century there weren’t so many Arabs as there are today and they might have had dreams of Greater Israel, but nobody can dream that today. They are definitely not going to dominate the Middle East and I don’t think they are dreaming of that, though they are of course thinking of how to weaken their enemies, as long as these insist on remaining enemies. They just want to survive. For that they need allies and the Americans are the only people who can assure that they survive. In return they have dance to the Americans’ tune. Time has shown that the Arabs can not defeat this coalition. It makes no sense fight on. War only makes sense if you can reach your objectives with the available means and the target is worth the sacrifice.

You have to think about the alternatives. They are there. Without a mortal threat to Israel they will have less reason to support all the Americans do and the Jewish lobby would the rethink about the policies they would support. That would leave the Arabs to deal with the Americans’ greatest fear, that the Arabs will stop the supply of oil and push the World into an economic crisis. Here large Arab infrastructure, industrial and education investment plans to catch up with the West would by nature of demanding large amounts of money would serve both sides. I am sure than a Iraq pursuing such targets would not have been invaded by “W” as an Iran with the same targets would not be seen as the danger of Ahmedinejat with the bomb. Seen from the West, the man is irrational and they are afraid of him. It is stupid to scare people who have better weapons than you do.

The Europeans have spent a 1000 years fighting each other about borders and have now started to cooperate and build a continent where borders do not matter. That is what the Moslems also have to learn. Instead the Iraqis kill each other abot where the borders between Shiites and Sunnites should be and the Kurds force out people living in their homes if they speak the wrong language.

I also do not believe that Ben Laden or Ahmedinejat are planning to conquer the World to circumcise George Bush. But they will quote them telling that to their supporters. This is war you see and truth is the first casualty at war. Don’t get annoyed about propaganda, stop the war. Islam will have won, when our space ships are faster than theirs and Moslems Doctors have the treatments for their illnesses. Every other target is a waste of human lives.


art eckstein - 9/21/2007

I notice, too, that Omar doesn't even try to deal with the long quotation I posted from Osama Bin Ladin, a quotation which greatly undermines Omar's point that if Israel would only disappear, the Islamist terror would end. He just ignores it.

The Islamist terror-project, according to Osama, is the conquest of the entire world. And one can see it in Turkey: if Israel were the only issue, why are Islamists interested in trying to turn Turkey into an Islamic Republic? It's the islamofascist imperialist IDEOLOGY and THEOLOGY that is the reason for the attack on Turkey, which has been a secular state for 80 years. It is an ideology and theology which aims at worldwide conquest in the name of Allah.

And, as Osama says, he intends to be "ruthless" in this project of worldwide conquest until their are no more infidels. Well, I think we can all guess what bin Ladin means by "ruthless", can we not?


art eckstein - 9/21/2007

But N.F., as we have learned all too well from many examples, the last being the astounding debate we had with Omar two weeks ago concerning the Ethical Code of the IDF, Omar is simply impervious to facts.

Omar has only ideology and ignorance and hatred, and his response to being presented with facts that make him uncomfortable is personal vituperation. He is an example of exactly what is mentally and intellectually wrong with so much of the Arab world.

Omar DOES perform a service in his latest rant above, however, by making it clear that the issue for him is NOT the specially intense suffering of the Palestinian refugees, because as Farhettin says, many wars have caused far more suffering and far more refugees. Rather, it's a matter of Muslim honor--what's intolerable is that Jews won a war against Arabs, and this must be wiped out from historical memory, or redeemed by destruction of their state. If Israel were a Muslim state, Omar wouldn't care how many refugees were created at its creation--just like he rarely mentions Darfur. It's the dishonor that Jews beat Muslims that is intolerable. This is a worthwhile insight for us to possess into the theologically-based mindset of Israel's Muslim neighborhood.

(BTW, Omar has never acknowledged that more Jewish refugees were created by their expulsion from Muslim lands after 1948 than Palestinian refugees were created by the War of 1948--a war that was, after all, started by Arab states.)

Fahrettin is clearly correct that if Arab govts had really cared about their people they would have made peace with israel and saved all that useless money spent on defeats, and employed Israel instead to help in regional development, and allowed the Jews their tiny state. But...that would be rational.




N. Friedman - 9/21/2007

Omar,

I have many interests in life. Israel is hardly my main interest. It is far from it.

The remainder of your comments amount to opinions. They are based on no facts. In fact, were you to acquaint yourself with the facts, you could not hold most of the various opinions you hold.




art eckstein - 9/20/2007

Fahrettin, to bolster your analysis: with all the trillions of dollars earned in oil wealth from Algeria to Indonesia, no Muslim country has a university that places within the top FIVE HUNDRED in the world as these are rated by the University of Shanghai, China.

What an incredibly sad commentary on Muslim governments. Guns yes, books no. (Except for The Book.)

(Israel alone, with no oil wealth and a tiny population, has five universities in the top 400, and one in the top 100.)

Your solution is clearly the correct one.


N. Friedman - 9/20/2007

Fahrettin,

Touché!!!

While I may question a detail or two of what you write, I agree with the bulk of your analysis. In fact, I think it is rather brilliant!!!


N. Friedman - 9/20/2007

Art,

Perhaps Omar mistakenly thinks that the Islamist beast will fade into the dark were it to destroy Israel. Such delusion has historical precedent.


Fahrettin Tahir - 9/20/2007

Actually I do not believe that the Turkish Islamists are a Western product. The West sees them rise and tries to use them to forward their own interests not understanding that they are a potential disaster for everyone. Islamists have always been there but were discredited in the 1920ies by collaborating with British and Greek occupiers and took until now to recover. Ataturk was a General who knew what war was and said war is murder unless it is to defend your country. If we look at the Arabic Iranian situation under this light, there are reasons to fight but the war being fought is not being fought for these reasons.

The Arabs and the Iranians have oil and with it a wealth rarely seen in the history of the world. They could invest in in their countries and catch up with the West, but this is not happening. The Arab Sheikhs and princes use it to buy weapons they can not use, or invest it in the West, making it even richer. The Iranians could but fighting wars is more glorious than building a future for their people. One day the oil will be gone, the desert will remain and with it memories of glorious wars fought and lost. Lost. Even if they could get rid of Israel in some way after the usual 40 days and 40 nights of jubilations on the morning of the 41st day they would still have the same problems as today and would be no closer to a solution of these problems.

If I were running Arab policies I would stop fighting Israel and try to mobilise her support for development of my countries.This is what Turkey is doing, she is using Israel as an ally. Israel gives Turkey technology the West will not and political support against her adversaries. They would do the same thing for the Arabs if the Arabs gave her people a future. Most Israelis being from Arab countries and the rest refugess from the West, where they were deported by Romans and suffered 2000 years this should no be difficult to understand. The Palestinianrefugees are a problem but afraction of what the wars are costing would be enough to give them a future worth living. It would stop Israel having to rely on the West and arranging her policies to satisfy the West’s interests in the Arab world. The Arab world could then concentrate on economic development, with which it could save the Islamic world from the miserable state it is today. Kashmir? All the other places where Moslems die? They would all be far better off if there was an Arab Economic Power behind them. The fact that there was such a power would help them more than all the bombs and throat cutting with which the Islamic World makes the news today.

Mosaddeq failed because the CIA had him overthrown and replaced by the Shah who would let the British keep stealing the oil. The result was the Ayatollahs. Long live the CIA! Nasser failed not because he was secular but because he used his time on the stage to fight losing wars against Israel instead of fighting for social and economic development like Ataturk. Saddam failed because he too kept fighting wars. Losing wars in fact. Ataturk did not fail. The Turkish people are not voting against him but for prosperity which Arab and European support for the Islamists has been bringing.The danger is that the Islamists will use the chance for a counter revolution which they promised they would not do in order to get elected. But theirs is the tradition of takiyye, tell any lie you like as long as it serves what you think is God’s way.


N. Friedman - 9/20/2007

Fahrettin,

Do not take this the wrong way because my view, based on my historical reading, is somewhat kind toward the Ottoman Empire.

On the other hand, the problem with the Ottoman Empire really dates a long time before the 19th Century. The typical history of the country describes - and correctly describes - a succession of truly brilliant political leaders who led the empire from victory to victory and the acquisition of more and more territory and created a society that made real accomplishments.

However, by the 17th Century, the failure to adopt the new sciences and engineering, philosophy, political and other developments that were, by then, for a considerable time already occurring in Europe began to impact substantially on the balance of power between Europe and the Ottoman Empire. So did the fact that Europeans held territory in historic India, which helped, in a sense, to encircle the Empire.

On September 11, 1683, the Ottoman Empire fought at Vienna and was, as you surely know, beaten back. After that, the Empire lost a long string of important battles and was forced to cede more and more land and to sign less than satisfactory treaties with her enemies.

At first, the elites in the Empire did not evidently widely recognize - and certainly did not well understand - that the losses were not going to be temporary setbacks (e.g. due to mistakes on the battle field or the like) but were the result of a revolutionary new way of thinking and new manner of societal organization. And, the idea of modernizing society and adopting that more scientific mindset did not really dawn on the elites of the Ottoman Empire at that time.

By the time that the nature of the problem was better understood - in the 18th Century, it was already far too late and, in any event, called for changes in society which were, most likely, not possible for a theocracy committed to remaining a theocracy.

Among the needed changes was, given the rise of nationalism as a political force - and which affected the Christian population which was exposed to European ideas (e.g. by the printing press) -, was a change that would have made such people equals, hence preventing the internal contradictions which made Greeks and Serbs, etc., want independence.

That sort of change, however, was perhaps not really possible for a true theocracy. In any event, the problem of defining a new societal identity substantially weakened a country which, in any event, had made itself weak by failing, in any event, to modernize scientifically - the two problems being closely linked.

The country you grew up in, by contrast, made the leap to modernity. And, you are surely correct that the advantage of the West is a transitory one, at least vis a vis those who adopt the modern way of thinking. But, then again, adopting the modern way of thinking is tied to accepting the values of that different way of thinking. That, to me, is what leaves Arabs, at the moment, out of things and in the dark.

Returning to your point. The Ottoman Empire made war whenever it could to advance its interests. It was no different, in that regard, than the 19th Century Europeans who you indicate made it more difficult for the Empire - which they surely did. That, unfortunately, was the world that existed and the rules that all involved - Ottoman, Persian, European, Indian, Chinese, etc., etc. - accepted when they were in a position to advance their aims, if necessary by force.

Which is to say, already by the 19th Century, it truly was really long too late for the Ottoman Empire to recover. I might add. The reform movements ultimately enacted led to the centralization of power which, in turn, undermined the social and political restraints on the country's leaders. That, in turn, created not only a theocracy but a rather tyrannical one - which had not always been the case.

What might have been had the Union and Progress party not seized power I certainly do not know. But I cannot imagine a theocratic polity playing a lead role in a modern world. Such a polity is described by you with reference to Arabs as being akin to the Taliban. Maybe, in Turkey it would have been "Taliban light" but I think the real future was and is, in the end, to have followed Attaturk's brilliant lead.


Fahrettin Tahir - 9/20/2007

What I am saying is that Europeans used a temporary advantage in technology to hurt the rest of the world in such a way that they could not catch up. Of course Turkey did not initiate the steel industry but without all the wars to which Ottoman Turkey was subjected during the 19th century she would have been able to catch up.


A. M. Eckstein - 9/20/2007

Omar claims that the savagely violent Islamcist movement, with its continual intentional targetting of civilians, will fade away once Israel is destroyed.

But that is not the position of Bin Ladin himself. Here's one example of what Bin Ladin himself says:

"As to the relationship between Muslims and infidels, this is summarized by the Most High's Word: 'We renounce you. Enmity and hate shall forever reign between us--till you believe in Allah alone.' So here is an enmity, evidence by fierce hostility from the heart. And this fierce hostility--that is, battle--ceases only if the infidel submits to the authority of Islam, or if his blood is forbidden from being shed, or if Muslims are at that point in time weak and incapable. But if the hate at any time extinguishes from the heart, this is great apostasy! Allah Almighty's Word to his Prophet recounts in summation the true relationship of Muslim and infidel: 'O Prophet! Wage war agains the infidesl and hypocrites and be ruthless. Their abode is hell--an evil fate!' Such, then, is the basis and foundation of the relationship between the Muslima ndthe infidel. Battle, animosity, hatred--directed from the Muslim to the infidel--is the foudnation of our religion. And we consider this a justice and a kindness to them."

So, it's all-out hatred, conflict and not only war but ruthless war (and we all well know what the brute Bin Ladin means by that) until, not the end of Israel, no, but until EVERY INFIDEL CONVERTS TO ISLAM. Period.

So, not for the first or the tenth time on these blogs, Omar is either dreadfully wrong or he is being intentonally deceptive.


N. Friedman - 9/20/2007

Further correction.

I meant WWI in reference to the Versailles Treaty.


N. Friedman - 9/20/2007

CORRECTION:

I meant WWI, not WWII.


N. Friedman - 9/20/2007

Omar,

I enjoy when you are being candid. Yes, you are correct that Islamists among Arabs grew in popularity as the pan-Arabists fell. Whether such is causally linked or, if linked, how they are linked is another question. I think there is, for what it is worth, some amount of truth to your point although, on the other hand, there was a religious revival in the making anyway.

One point you make is very interesting. You write: "For many, me included, the issue was never theocracy or secularism!"

To me, the issue with what you write is whether you adequately understand the Islamists and what their victory would, in the end, mean for you and the world.

My take on the Islamists is that they do not have a limited agenda, as your comments suggest you think - i.e. they have a far more ambitious agenda than destroying little Israel and pushing the US out of the Middle East. In fact, I think they have a nearly unlimited agenda. And, while destroying little Israel may be of concern to Islamists, they would certainly not stop at the beaches of Tel Aviv.

The Islamists have issued various documents which enumerate their causes. To Westerners and secular people more generally, these causes sound so crazy that it is wrongly assumed that such agenda could never be believed by anyone. That is, however, a delusion as the Islamists mean exactly what they say when they speak among themselves.

Before WWII, it was not an uncommon view among, for example, European rulers to believe, even as late as 1938 - 1939 and notwithstanding overwhelming evidence to the contrary, that the Germany had very limited objectives essentially limited to addressing Germany's legitimate grievances that arose from the Versailles Treaty at the end of WWII. And, in Germany and elsewhere, there were some who thought - like you think vis a vis the Islamists taking on the Israelis through an united Islamist front - that Germany's leaders would destroy what was thought to be the communist menace and then fade into the night.

Both of these notions turned out to be illusions. The reality was that the Germany's leaders meant exactly what they said and were willing to use any means, including plunging the entire world into a war that effectively destroyed Germany, killed tens of millions of soldiers and civilians and crushed Germany as a military power dominating Europe and substantially diminished the dominance of European nations on the world stage.

In the case of the Islamists, they certainly mean what they say when they say they aim to conquer Europe. And, those Islamists who champion the Kashmir cause believe they will destroy India by severing Kashmir because such would lead to the other internal Indian nations pining to leave India - the end result being Muslim dominance over the Hindus. And, documents found in the US show that members of the Brotherhood have the same sort of goal for the US and the West more generally. They write:

The process of settlement [of Islam in the United States] is a "Civilization-Jihadist" process with all the word means. The Ikhwan must understand that all their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and "sabotaging" their miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God's religion is made victorious over all religions. Without this level of understanding, we are not up to this challenge and have not prepared ourselves for Jihad yet. It is a Muslim's destiny to perform Jihad and work wherever he is and wherever he lands until the final hour comes, and there is no escape from that destiny except for those who choose to slack.

The Islamists are fanatics, Omar. They will not end their struggle by destroying Israel or by driving the US out of the Middle East. Such would merely wet their appetite and add to their strength. And, taking on the West would not likely lead toward their victory, as they suspect. It would instead lead to the West destroying the Muslim regions, as the West will in due course resort to its historic violent pattern, which is at least as violent as occurs in your part of the world, only the West has unlimited firepower. Frankly, the Islamists are a cancer.


N. Friedman - 9/20/2007

Omar,

I leave it to Fahrettin to answer you about Turkey and its politics. However, I think he would strongly disagree with you. Note his comment:

Imperial Turkey had a moderate Islam. The Republic secularized. The Fathers of the Republic understood that that was the civilised future. Secularist Turkey is the most advanced country in the Islamic World.

And

How nice it would be if Turkish military might joined the west in military solutions of problems! If the traditional leader of the islamic world from 1517 to 1917 took leadership again to teach the Arabs a moderate Islam!

And

In the meanwhile the Islamists replace key government positions with what are in effect turkish taliban, religiously educated people. The press is being brough under control with big money, Turks call this “Putin press.”

Turkey is being ruined by idiots because the west think that will forward their interests.

The other times the west tried to use Islamists to get what it wanted, it backfired, but this time it will work, so they hope.


And, in fact, he blames the West in large measure for the rise of the Islamists in Turkey.

The issue here, Omar, is where the future really is. Is it with theocratic thinking - which, to employ Fahrettin's language, leads to the Taliban -? or, is it with secular thinking - the world created by Atatürk? The latter approach would make real demands on the Arab regions, requiring people to reject comforting, but antiquated, notions of past glory. The former is comforting, easy, reactionary and, in the end, a dead end.

Fahrettin understands that secularism is the way forward, not theocracy. On this we agree. He and I disagree on historical detail but he clearly believes in facts, is a gentleman, intelligent and insightful.


N. Friedman - 9/19/2007

Fahrettin,

I am not an apologist for Christians or Europeans. However, any serious book on European history reveals their extraordinary accomplishments, political, philosophical, social and scientific. Such developments are essentially unequaled in human history.

At the same time, European history is in every way barbaric and more than a little bit spotted by bloodshed. So, I agree with that part of your remark. And, the great advances seem to have made, in the end, the bloodshed even worse (e.g. WWI and WWII).

Recall the great advances from European Christians with names such as Newton, Leibniz, Descartes, Bacon, Gutenberg, Brahe, Galileo, Mendeleev, Pasteur, etc., etc. and the many great political ideas that arose first in Europe. So, I cannot remotely accept your view that Europe were mired in the same way as the Ottoman Empire.

And, I certainly know that violence is not the product of any one civilization or religion. That is all true. But, the fact is that the contemporary world, for better and worse, was made by advances from people who adopted the European approach to thinking. Those who did not have fallen far behind and, instead, adopt notions - really dead ends - like Omar proposes.

You claim that Ottoman Europe shared in that way of thinking. Such, I note, is not true in the way you propose. It is, as I noted, true that those with access to the printing press and the ideas it could transmit were leap years ahead of those without it. And, as I said, those denied access to such ideas could not possibly keep up with the advances made by those with it. After all, how, without the printing press, could scientific ideas spread widely?

A last note: I am not saying that the printing press is the whole story. But, it was both symptomatic of the problem and a means to perpetuate the problem. It was quite important. But, it was certainly not the only factor.


Fahrettin Tahir - 9/19/2007

I recently read in the Economist that in 1800 the life expectation in England was 23 years. Marx writes about the horrible living conditions of the English working class. I think the degree to which the west was socially advanced is greatly exagerated by propaganda. They had better weapons and used them to destroy whatever other civilisations the rest of the world had. Then they philosophised about what made them superior, their religion, their race, you say the printing press, pick your choice. The Arab world my be very backward, but Turkey in Europe was not the Arab world and quite close to the west, until it was destroyed. If the Christian Populations were what you say they were they would not have killed so many people for being Moslems. What am I saying - look at what happened in Cyprus in the 1960ies, Bosnia in the 1990ies! That is your Christian Population. Every bit as fanatical as the most fanatical Moslem you will find.


N. Friedman - 9/19/2007

Fahrettin,

My point about the printing press is that it prevented the spread of modern scientific thinking and ideas, which in turn undermined industry, scientific inquiry, military capability, politics and further created a society where the governing religious group, but not the other groups, were kept from the very ideas that would have benefited them and helped to keep the Europeans from forcing their will on the empire.

By contrast, the Christian and Jewish population of the empire were exposed to European scientific ideas, to Europe's revolutionary political ideas (e.g. those related to the French Revolution), etc. Consider that the impact of Europe's revolutionary ideas - heard first and foremost by those with access to the product of the printing press was to unleash strong nationalist movements in non-Muslims populations, stirring up demands for equality, independence and freedom, etc., etc. Greeks, after all, fomented revolutionary ideas that came from Europe.

By contrast, on the Muslim side in the empire, a main thing that restricting the press could do was to maintain ignorance about science and the ideas affecting non-Muslims and the view that such people were up to no good and acting against Muslims - thus stirring up further the very division in society that helped tear apart the Ottoman Empire.

Now, I do not claim that the printing press is the whole story. But, it is a very important part of what occurred. Other factors were the unwillingness of the Ottoman elite to accept the notion that European Christians had anything of interest for Ottoman Muslims other than armaments - a fruit of learning sans the ability ideas that created the armaments. Lewis, in his brilliant book, The Muslim Discovery of Europe, traces this all the way back to the time, before the Ottoman Empire, when, in fact, the Europeans were seen, probably rather correctly, by Muslim Arabs and Berbers as being ignorant barbarians. That led to the sort of contempt which, for example, Europeans show now towards parts of Africa - which is, perhaps, in a comparatively backwards condition with little to teach in the way of political and scientific ideas.

Hence, the scientific and political revolutions of Europe were, by virtue of this mindset in the Ottoman Empire, substantially invisible events - until, of course, the fruits of the new learning caused widespread loss of land, the need to permit capitulations to European travelers and merchants, the need to enter into treaties with European due to losing wars, the arrival of very large numbers of refugees, etc.,etc..

To understand this point about contempt for the outside world, think about what passes for critical thinking in the Arab regions, which appear still to cling, to some considerable extent, to a pre-scientific mindset.


Fahrettin Tahir - 9/19/2007

When I talk about the dead, I am not talking about military losses, but the civilians slaughtered. The figures for military losses you give might be accurate, but not the civilian dead. But I can not prove it, there are no English language resources I could quote. Take my word for it: the issue is Pandoras Box, which the West is now trying to open by trying to force Turkey to accept their interpretation of the Armenian problem.

What really sealed the fate of the empire was not the printing press or a power hungry elite (elsewhere was no better) but the lack of industry. The local merchants did not invest the money they were making into industry and the government could not continue its industrialisation effort of the 1840ies because the Crimean war and the war of 1877 bankrupted Turkey allowing England to force a liberal trading regime which would not allow Ottoman industrialisation.


N. Friedman - 9/19/2007

Fahrettin,

You have the matter exactly correct. What Iran offers to Arabs is struggle and war. And, note Omar's post that answers you. He hopes for a common front to fight that war.

Omar should be forced to read more about the great Mustafa Kemal, aka Atatürk, and what he accomplished and how much Turkey accomplished due to his reforms. And, Atatürk's accomplishments occurred not a small part because he determined to end imperial notions and accept the loss of lands that had once been part of the Ottoman Empire and to ignore the views of those with fanatical religious ideas. Atatürk's ideas might help liberate Omar from his antiquated ideas and ideals.


N. Friedman - 9/19/2007

Fahrettin,

There may always be historians who leave out important facts. And it may well be the case that European historians, in particular, downplayed and continue to downplay the impact on Ottoman Muslims of that empires decline and contraction. So, to that extent, I think you have a good point.

On the other hand, I note that the big facts surrounding WWI have been very carefully studied so that large scale death is not, to my knowledge, something that could be missed, even where those killed were not viewed as Europeans. And that study includes the place of the events surrounding the withdrawal of the Ottoman Empire from the Balkans. After all, it was in the Balkans that the fire that sparked that horrible war was lit. So, any complete history of WWI could not ignore the Balkan conflicts that preceded WWI.

You are correct that there was large scale migration of Muslim refugees as well as of Muslims consciously moved by the Ottoman Empire. And, there was also substantially voluntary flight of Muslims, most particularly from land conquered by the Russia.

Refugees were resettled all over Asia Minor and even at least as far South as Acre in what is now Israel. That last point is not much noted by Arabs as it undermines in considerable part the claim of a single, long standing Palestinian Arab people. Be that as it may, the migratory and resettlement behavior is well documented, whether or not widely discussed.

While I have not studied the Greek independence war in particular, Wikipedia notes that there were 115,000 Ottoman and 5,000 Egyptian killed in the fighting. I have no particular reason to doubt such numbers as they are consistent with the force strength of those involved.

The massacre in Bulgaria led to a war with Russia. Russia lost about 200,000 men in the war. Presumably, the losses on the Ottoman side were also large. In any event, the war led to a treaty which, in turn, resulted in loss of territory by the Ottoman side.

You indicate that the printing press came to Turkey in 1712. That is half so. First, the printing press was used in Turkey since the 1500's but Muslims were forbidden to have such presses. And, while the restriction was lifted in theory for Muslims in the early 1700's, the government and Muslim religious authorities saw it as problematic and closed down Muslim printing presses for several more decades.

The point is that the failure to allow those who were part of the ruling religious class to employ for centuries the most socially revolutionary of tools, viz. the printing press, was a remarkable self-inflicted wound that helped to undermine the Ottoman Empire. I might add, the restriction on the printing press continued into the 19th Century in Arab lands. That helps explain quite a bit about the self-inflicted wounds which continue in Arab lands.

You are correct that the Ottoman leaders were worried about the demise of their Empire. That, however, does not mean that siding with the Germans was a wise course. It was certainly not the only course available.

And, I can only remark that the failure of the Empire to address adequately the treatment of non-Muslims served to allow Europeans to convince their populations of the basic depravity of the Ottoman Empire helped provide a rationalization for intervening in Ottoman affairs.

So far as the Armenians are concerned, I think there is something to be said that after losing much of Greece and the Balkans, the Empire intended not to have a repeat with Armenians. And, the fate of Armenians did find its way onto the plate of the European agenda. That much is all, I think, true.

There were, in fact, Sultans in favor of reforming the empire and introducing reforms. However, the conviction toward reform was checked by other forces such as the potential loss of power by the rulers, the religious authorities who thought such reforms to be un-Islamic and reactionary politics that saw loss of privileges held by Muslims. And, some of the Sultans were outright hostile to reform, such as Abdul Hamid II. I think that Bernard Lewis' book, The Emergence of Modern Turkey, does an excellent job showing how this all played out, with those who were reformers and those who opposed it.

One last point. Armenians were not angels. But, what was done to them has to go down as one of the low points in all contemporary history. There were, after all, three sets of massacres, one in 1894 - 1896, one in 1908 and one during WWI. They really cannot be seen as a mere reaction to Armenians politics and behavior, most of which was loyal to the Empire - albeit directed toward reform so that Armenians might be treated as equals - although some no doubt hoped to emulate the Greeks.

Rather, the fate of the Armenians was sealed by the fact that the Ottoman Empire was a theocratic empire that ascribed societal place by religious confession which magnified disputes, the fact that the ultimate impact of reform efforts was not reform but the concentration of power in the hands of the rulers and the fact that the empire failed too long to realize that it was in decline and, hence, in desperate need of fundamental social and educational reform.


Fahrettin Tahir - 9/18/2007

I agree that debating the number of dead is essentially a tasteless activity. Sometimes it can not be avoided.

There are no western resources on the number of Moslems of Turkish culture killed towards the end of the Ottoman Empire. It is all very hygenic. It breaks up. Turks go home. Hardly any dead to complain about. I have read only one book about the Independence of Greece which tells that at that point 1/3 of Greeces population were moslems and they were all killed. No single survivor. Turkish sources tell of 5 Million displaced and an equal number killed during the 19th century. I served 4 months in the Turkish Army. There for the first time in my life I met a Turk who had no ancestors forced out of what was once Turkey in Europe. There are estimated to be 14 Million Turkish citizens of Balkan descent, 5 Million Crimean Tatars and 7 Million Caucasians in Turkey today. Add to that 10 Million Balkan Moslems today and you get 24 Millions even without any being killed. Greece has 10 Million inhabitants, Serbia 10, Bulgaria also about 10 of that a large number are Moslems so that even after all the killing there are approximately equal numbers of Balkan Moslems and Christians.

It is true that the so called Bulgarian atrocities 1876 where possible 25 000 Christians were killed in a revolt play a major role in what the West thinks about Turkey. Upon that the Russian Army marched into Bulgaria, killed 500 000 Moslems, forced a further 500 000 out to make Bulgaria a Christian majority country. That was the liberation of Bulgaria from the Turkish yoke. That is never mentioned. 25 000 killed in a revolt? The British killed 10 000 000 Indians after the Sepoy mutiny which took place at about the same time. We are talking about a time, where this was nothing unusual. But the dead were colored people, they don’t count.

The German magazine der Spiegel once wrote in an article about the Armenians that during what the West calls the liberation of Bulgaria the Armenian ptriarch in Istanbul sent a telegram to the Tsar of Russia to please do the same thing in what he called Armenia. Turkey had in 1876 introduce parliamentary democracy with equal rights for all, and this was how they were thanking the Turk. They were disappointed to say the least.

Read history books written at the end of the 19th century. They report that the day would soon come when Islam would disappear out of Europe. Leo Trotski writes in his articles about the Balkan war that the civilised nations after ending Turkey in Europe had now agreed on the partition of Anatolia. (at one point he quotes an Armenian protesting to the Queen of Bulgaria about what the Bulgarians were doing to the Turks, because he says they would react by doing same thing to Armenians. The Queen of Bulgaria tells him it would soon be over and they could do the same to the Turks. They knew what they were doing and which consequence that would have) The Ottoman government tried to reach an agreement with the leaders of the Armenians at the beginning of the war. They demanded that the Eastern half of Anatolia where the Armenians were perhaps 15% of the population be given to them. They knew that was what they would be what they would get from the Russians, in whose service they started to slaughter the civilian moslem population. This was what made the Ottoman government decide to remove them from Anatolia. Fact is several hundred thousand Moslems were killed by Armenians and several hundred thousand Armenians killed by the Moslems. Ziya Gokalp, an intellectual who lived through that called this mukatele, meaning mutual murder. If the Ottoman government wanted to kill Christians they could also have killed the Italians living in Turkey, at this point there were estimated quarter of a million and Turkey was at war with Italy, but the Italians were loyal. Actually so were the Greeks during World War one, which is why nothing happened to them although Greece had behaved criminally in the Balkan war. That changed when Greece invaded Western Turkey after the war.

The printing press came to Turkey in 1712, after 1776 when Crimea was invaded there was a massive effort to modernize. Bvy 1850 Turkey had a modern state Organisation an the fiorts democratioc structures, 1876 were the first democratic ( for that time at least) elections. Karl Marx writes in his articles about the Crimean war (his book The Eastern Question) that the Pashas knew very well what to do but the Russians making war on Turkey every 20 years would not let them. They literally bled Turkey. This only ended after the communist revolution forced the West to defend Turkey without conditions. 1908 was the revolution against Abdel Hamit ( who has an Armenian mother and so claimed his enemies the Armenian gardener of the palace as his father) after which came the most liberal regime in Turkish history, which ended when nobody got killed in the Balkan war.

Turkish nationalism was not the reason for all this. It came to power after the Balkan war, when the Turks realized that their hopes of a peaceful future with all the ethnic groups of the empire were unrealistic. That made them seek alternatives. The Russians had shown them pan slavism so they imitated it. Recovering lost lands was out of the question, they accepted this by giving the Bulgarians yet more land to get them to enter the alliance with Germany.

They were desparate tu survive.


N. Friedman - 9/17/2007

Correction:

Strike the sentence that reads: "Some 250,000 Armenians were massacred on his watch during the years 1894 - 1896, but one cannot, I think, entirely understand what happened to the Armenians without noting that their survival in the Empire was a question not only to the Committee on Union and Progress but to the governing forces that preceded them."

Substitute:

Some 250,000 Armenians were massacred on his watch during the years 1894 - 1896. As such, one cannot, I think, entirely understand what happened to the Armenians without noting that their survival in the Empire was a question not only to the Committee on Union and Progress during WWI but to also the governing forces that preceded them.


N. Friedman - 9/17/2007

Fahrettin,

I do not prefer to quibble over the numbers dead and other historical detail but, in this case, I think you have some serious errors in what you write. My reading does not confirm remotely the extent of casualties from the two Balkan wars combined. I shall, moreover, quote to you from what is usually a reliable online source of information, onwar.com. In this case, losses on all sides in the first Balkan war were on the order of 85,000 people. In the second Balkan war, the losses on all sides were on the order of 61,000 people. That is terrible enough but it is nothing akin to the 1.5 million Muslims killed.

Second, the aim in those wars was not to eliminate the Ottoman Empire from the map. The war aims of those involved were rather more modestmodest.

Further, the Ottoman Empire sided with the Germans not out of necessity. It is worth reading what appears on the BBC website which, in this case, conforms rather well with what most historical observers, including the great Bernard Lewis, have written. According to the BBC:

The Ottoman Empire had recently been humiliated by setbacks in Libya and the Balkans. Participation in what had begun as a European war might seem to outside observers, therefore, to have been suicidal, but key elements in the government, impressed by German industrial and military power and motivated by dreams of imperial glory, greeted the expanding war as an opportunity to regain lost territories and incorporate new lands and nationalities into the empire.

Now, historians who have written about what happened to the Armenians - for example, Vahakn Dadrian and Peter Balakian - focus, among other things, on Pan-Turanianism as a political force that helped place the Armenians into a central role in the war aims of the Ottoman Empire. Dadrian, in particular, focuses on the religious division that was important to the theocratic Ottoman Empire and Balakian provides considerable detail on how religion was used by the Ottoman authorities to advance their agenda. And, also going back to the horrible massacres of the late 19th Century which Abdul Hamid II essentially organized, another underlying issue was the so-called Armenian Question, about which Abdul Hamid is said to have said that the way to eliminate the Armenian Question is to eliminate the Armenians. Some 250,000 Armenians were massacred on his watch during the years 1894 - 1896, but one cannot, I think, entirely understand what happened to the Armenians without noting that their survival in the Empire was a question not only to the Committee on Union and Progress but to the governing forces that preceded them.

In any event, such is not a pretty picture but the events were a long time ago and those involved in the decisions made during WWI, not to mention the earlier massacres of 1908 and in the 1890's are nearly all dead.

You note, lastly, as follows:

Now with Armenian activities to get their suffering to be recognized as genocide there is a discussion of what the others did to the Turks. If mass killings and forced displacement of people are wrong, as the Chrsitian world is trying to force Turkey to accept, then there will be a debate about what happened in the Balkans. This would not be conductive for peace in that instable region.

I think that is, generally speaking, a fair point. However, I think the issue needs to be broadened substantially. After all, the Greeks rebelled from Ottoman Rule much earlier and many people were killed. There were revolts in the Balkans during the 19th Century leading to, if I recall correctly, a million Muslims refugees. But, at the same time, there were massacres in Bulgaria against the Christian population in 1876, with about 25,000 people being slaughtered.

And, of course, underlying all of this was the weakness of the Ottoman Empire which the Europeans exploited, using arguments such a "humanitarian intervention" as justification for a number of political demands as well as invasions that were, in many, but not all, instances, motivated by imperialist aims. So, it is correct to add European political intrigue into the mix.

At the same time, it is correct to note that the once mighty Ottoman Empire was its own worst enemy, where scientific ways of thinking failed to penetrate beyond the surface and where even use of the printing press was denied to Muslims until very, very late - notwithstanding the fact that the Empire permitted non-Muslims to use them from early on. So, there were many self-inflicted wounds which the European powers exploited, often shamelessly although, at times, with other, more humanitarian aims, aims as well (e.g. the intervention into what is now Lebanon in order to save the Maronites from being massacred).


Elliott Aron Green - 9/16/2007

Peter, before you denounce the Chickenhawks [the Bush Admin] for wrecking Iraq and making Iran [according to you] the big winner of the Iraq war, you might recall that Khomeini and his gang --including Ahmedinejad-- were helped to take power in Iran precisely by the Carter Admin, Democrats to be sure. Zbig Brzezinski, who for some reason now enjoys an "elder statesman" reputation in the USA, was the prime mover in Carter's regime in helping Khomeini take over Iran. Bear that in mind, please.


Fahrettin Tahir - 9/16/2007

My comment about Turkish speaking peoples in the Balkans was to stress that the they did not come with the Ottoman Empire in the 14the century but were there far longer. The renamed themselves into Turks when they became Moslems, as did non turkish speaking groups as well. So Bosnian and Cretan Moslems, who still speak Slavonic and Greek in exile, there are also Armenian speaking Moslem Turks. But Greek means to us and them Christian, that is how it is defined. I realise that Europeans and Americans see it differently, taking language as the criterion which would make some of us Greek and some of the Greeks and Armenians Turks as they speak Turkish as a native language.

For me Turkey effectively had no choise but to join Germans in World War I. The British and French, in order to get Russian support against Germany agreed to Turkey being erased from the map. The first result was the Balkan war 1912 in which 1,5 Million Moslems were killed, and it was then quite clear that Anatolia was to be next, the Turks being exterminated so that Greeks and Armenians could take over. By joining the Germans in World War I Turkey could assure that the Russian Empire was knocked out and she would survive. It was a very bloody but ultimately successful policy. It would have been much better for everybody if the Allies had left her in peace, but they were determined not to. As Talat, who organised the Armenian disaster said, Turkey was a country being attacked by bandits, she would do anything to be left alone, but they would not let her. This is never mentioned in western debates about this period of history. They implicitly blame the Turks for not letting themselves be slaughtered. The point is not much debated in Turkey, who prefer to forget what was a horrible time in history. Now with Armenian activities to get their suffering to be recognized as genocide there is a discussion of what the others did to the Turks. If mass killings and forced displacement of people are wrong, as the Chrsitian world is trying to force Turkey to accept, then there will be a debate about what happened in the Balkans. This would not be conductive for peace in that instable region.

I have tried to give an impression of the press debate about Jews in Turkey, as far as I can follow it through the internet. I do not live there and thus have no access to scholarly works. I am not saying that they acted as Jews. They were acting as patriots fighting for their country at a difficult time in history. There was one islamist journalist saying that the journalist who fired the first shot against the Greeks when they occupied Izmir in 1919 was a Jew who was responsible for the bloodbath on Turkish soldiers that folowed, most people think he was a national hero. There is a statue of him in the square in front of the governors office. That type of thing.

Israels main value to Turkey is as a source of military technology and support against Greek and Armenian intrigues in the US. Neither the Arabs nor Iran pose a military threat to Turkey. The problem is Arab oil money subsidizing the Islamists but there is nothing Israel could do about that.


N. Friedman - 9/16/2007

CORRECTION:

"syndicalist" should read "syncretist"


N. Friedman - 9/16/2007

Fahrettin,

My reading about the origins of the Ottoman Empire confirm, whether or not quite in detail, the view that there was no absolute division between Greeks and Turks at the the Ottoman Empire was founded. And the division that eventually came to be was no doubt a question of religion, with Muslims largely being pushed out of what became modern Greece and Christians pushed out of what is now modern Turkey. I would note, however, that the exact fabric of what originated one place or the other is obscured as the Ottoman Empire came to be in a period of the decline of the Byzantine Empire.

As for the Union and Progress party, I am a bit skeptical about the number of Jews involved. The position of Jews in the Empire had no doubt fallen acutely in the 19th Century. But, I do not know about any large scale support for Union and Progress. I would be interested in reading some documents or a scholarly article on the subject.

My recollection is that the number was very few. I also recall that there may have been one or more persons from a syndicalist Jewish/Muslim religion that had some attraction at the time.

I see your point about 1517. Indeed, obtaining the Caliphate would tie to an imperial foreign policy.

I cannot comment on Turkey's ties to Israel other than to note that Bernard Lewis was involved in developing such relationship, whatever the actual roots are. I do see it in Turkey's interest to contain imperial behavior by Arabs and, now, Persians and that Israel is certainly helpful in that regard, from Turkey's point of view. The current mess in Turkey's politics may undermine that over the long term, with Turkey being swallowed up by Islamist militancy. I would hope not.

I also note that the secularists of the Union and Progress became themselves tied up in the militancy of German imperialism, using that to not very good ends, which resulted in the final collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the loss of territory, the demise of the country's Christians and, when they were defeated, a terrible treaty that led to a short term occupation of Istanbul by European troops - only to have Attaturk mount a rebellion that drove them out and led to a better treaty along with a modern secularizing - at least until recently - new country, Turkey.


Fahrettin Tahir - 9/16/2007


There are two different attitudes to Jews and Arabs in Turkey both of which have historic reasons. If you look at the map today you get the impression that Anatolia is Turkey. This is wrong. Historically the Balkans, which the Turks called Rumelia, the land of Rome, was European Turkey, wheras Anatolia was Asiatic Turkey. Rumelia had been dominated by Turks after the Volkerwanderung of the 4th century (when they did not yet call themselves Turks) and being islamised in the 14th was the center of the Empire. In the Russian invasion 1878 and the Balkan war 1912 the Moslem majority was forced out, during the whole of the 19th century 5 Million European Moslems of Turkish culture but not necessarily Turkish language were killed to make the local Christians the majority they are today. Modern Turkey was created by these Balkan Moslems, who were Europeans. Ataturk was born in Saloniki/Thessaloniki, which at that time had a Jewish majority The Jews of Saloniki helped train the elites who led the party of Union and Progress, in fact some of which were converted or not converted Jews. Union and Progress later changed to become the Republican Peoples’ Party, Ataturks instrument in modernisation and today the main opposition party. So the secularists of this tradition have a positive attitude to Jews and distrust the Arabs. Inonu, the second man of the republic, said Turkey should avoid getting mixed up in Arab affairs. There is no discussion in Turkey whatsoever of the holocoust as a lie, because European Moslems understand that the Christians of Europe dealed the same way with them as with the Jews.

Islamists are more an Anatolian creed. Todays president Gul is of Arab ancestry from Siirt, Prime minister Erdogan is from the Eastern Black sea shore and has an Arab wife. Theirs is the party of the lower classes of Anatolia. These people tend to admire the Arabs as the Prophet’s race. Their theory of Turkey’s modernisation is that the Sultan Abdulhamit refused to sell Palestine to the Zionists, wherupon the Jews set to destroy Turkey by modernisation, using the fools of Union and Progress and the Devil Ataturk. The Jews are guilty of the crime of modernisation. The more radical of them will claim all the generals and sometimes all the secularists are Jews. Erdogan when he became prime minister had no more urgent thing to do than to call Israel a terrorist state, whether he did this because he believes it because he wanted the Arabs support is anybodys’ guess. Fact is they are being supported by Europe, where it is claimed that they are Islamic Calvinists who are going to modernize Islam, wheras the secularists are nationalists, which sound very much like Nazis.

I put 1517 because this was the year when the Ottoman Empire conquered Egypt and took over the Caliphate.


N. Friedman - 9/15/2007

Fahrettin,

I cannot say that I have sufficient facts known to me to address the details of any assistance that Bush may have extended to the Turkish Islamists. That may be exactly as you say.

I would note this much. If what you say is so, the policy sounds rather shameful and short-sighted.

I also note the possibility that there has recently been some re-thinking, to some extent, in Washington. My only evidence, mind you, are a number of stories that appeared in the Israeli paper on September 13, 2007 with reference to Israeli planes overflying Turkey - something, I assume, may have had the support of the US government. According to the reports, such event occurred with the assistance of the Turkish spy agency - which I assume, based on what the report implies, is in the hands of secular authorities - to the possible consternation of the PM and his Islamist government. The Jerusalem Post, for example, reported on September 13, 2007:

Turkey provided Israel with intelligence on Syria prior to last week's alleged IAF flyover into the country, Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Jarida claimed on Thursday.

According to the report, the country had a central role in delivering precise information regarding targets in Syria that were to be hit by Israeli planes. Further, the report claimed that the Israeli pilots were given authorization by the Turkish army to use its airspace in order to carry out the operation.

Sources told Al-Jarida that Turkish intelligence did not coordinate the move with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. "Coordination of the [release of information] occurred far away from the political echelon," it said.


I understand the notion advanced by Attaturk that Turkey would be a Republic with no imperial mission including most especially no imperial mission of a religious character as was the case with the Ottoman Empire and the various Islamic empires that preceded that great empire. I understood him also to attempt to implement a reformist approach to religion and religious education. While, as in all countries, imperfectly implemented - and to note, religion continues to play varying political roles in most Western countries (although more than occasionally denied by European elites, also in Europe) -, Turkey made remarkable strides toward modernity under the Kemalist banner. So, it really would be a shame if the US undermined that great advance based on short-term gains to punish the secularists for doubting the wisdom of Bush's invasion of Iraq.

Such a result would also be truly ironic and tragic, on top of everything else. Consider that just after 9/11, senior Bush administration officials met with the great scholar of Islam and the Ottoman Empire, Bernard Lewis. Lewis, as you may well know, is in every sense of the word enamored of all things Turkish and likely the world's leading expert on the creation of the Turkish Republic out of the ashes of the Ottoman Empire.

Lewis may well have spoken of parallels from Ottoman history that might apply to the emergence of a possible republic in Iraq - an emergence being held back, on such a reading, by Saddam, all to the great detriment of the Arab regions. It would be a terrible irony - not to mention no present to the world including most especially to the Muslim regions of the world - if Bush's invasion saw a reactionary reversion to theocratic imperialism not only in Iraq but in Turkey.

One other point. I would look back to the years around and after 1453, not 1517, to define the beginning of true Ottoman imperialism. Up to the conquest of Constantinople, as it was then called, the Ottomans had more of the ghazi spirit than the true imperial spirit. With the conquest of the grand imperial capitol of the Byzantine Empire, a grander imperial outlook could and certainly did develop.


Fahrettin Tahir - 9/15/2007

That is all correct of course. But I would like to mention another factor.

The late Shah of Iran was heard complaining after he was overthrown, that the US had used her influence to stop the Iranian generals from hitting the Islamist revolutionary movement hard. He was implying that the US ( and France, where Khomeiny was enjoying life) had engineered the Islamic Revolution because they thought it in their interest to do so. They were trying to use Islam to destabilize the Soviet Empire. At least in Afghanistan this did work although it can now be seen that Communist Afghanistan would have been much more to everydoby’s interest, including the Afghans.

As I mentioned some time ago that Saudi Arabia was a western invention, it found tough opposition in this site.

So let us now look at what is going on inTurkey. This has the advandage of being verifyable in the newspapers.

Imperial Turkey had a moderate Islam. The Republic secularized. The Fathers of the Republic understood that that was the civilised future. Secularist Turkey is the most advanced country in the Islamic World. For the West that had two disadvantages. First the secularists fought hard for the national interest. They would for example not let the Greeg eat Cyprus and insisted that the treaties which define Cyprus as a binational state be respected and enforced this respect by force of arms, when nothing else worked. Second they kept out of the problems the west was having with the moslem world. The belief was that the national state of Turkey had nothing to gain by becoming a party in unsolvable problems.

How nice it would be if Turkish military might joined the west in military solutions of problems! If the traditional leader of the islamic world from 1517 to 1917 took leadership again to teach the Arabs a moderate Islam!

So when W was preparing the invasion of Iraq and the secularist governemnt said no and the Islamists said yes, as they would say anything to come to power somebody engineered an economic collapse of Turkey ( not hard because they running their economy the way the US said they sould be were very vulnarable) and the US dictated an unpopular stabilisation program, sent in one of their people to help run the country, this fellow than borught about a collapse of the government at the very point where it was most unpopular and the Islamists won the elections.

They did not do as they promised on Iraq as they will not do anything else they promise but who loves the rose loves the thorns as well.

The islamists got unlimited support from the west and the Arabs who love them and so five years of rapid economic growth has won them another election. The European press is full of praise for a government which promises to give them all they ever desired. They are moderate Islamist their opponents are said to be antidemocratic fascists. Nobel laurate Orhan Pamuk, a man who makes his money by saying whatever the West wants him say was the latest to repeat this stupid propaganda phrase.

In the meanwhile the Islamists replace key government positions with what are in effect turkish taliban, religiously educated people. The press is being brough under control with big money, Turks call this “Putin press.”

Turkey is being ruined by idiots because the west think that will forward their interests.

The other times the west tried to use Islamists to get what it wanted, it backfired, but this time it will work, so they hope.


N. Friedman - 9/14/2007

Fahrettin,

As always, you have astute comments.

I tend to agree with you that Iran seeks, as you say, to reach out to the Arab masses in order to lead them. That Arabs will in large numbers voluntarily follow Iran is another story that remains to be seen. At present, I would say such is rather unlikely both because Iran is Persian, not Arab, and because Iran is Shi'a, not Sunni.

But, there are circumstances that might alter the underlying difficulties for Iran as leader - if that is really the goal -. Were Iran to, for example, destroy Israel (as many Israelis believe Iran intends) - which does appear to be a dream of many Arabs -, that might put Iran in a leadership role it does not otherwise likely hold.

I wonder though. Iran may merely be seeking cover to pursue purely Iranian objectives. Hence, badmouthing Israel and the West may serve as propaganda cover to preclude Arab states from too vehemently opposing Iran's nuclear "energy" policy.

Teaching kids religion instead of science and humanities leads nowhere. It helps, however, explain how Iran, with all its oil, has oil shortages. But, it also helps explain how Iranians could voluntarily allow their children to march into minefields armed only with keys to paradise. That suggests a society truly drunk on religion. So, Iran's agenda could well be delusional, as the comments of the country's president suggest.

As for bin Laden, well, I think you have him about right. He may see himself as the new Saladin, there to rescue the Arabs and Islam from, in this case, modernity and the West; and, if successful at that, to lead a holy struggle to conquer his followers' perceived enemies.

And, I think you are right that he may grossly overstate the possible. I recall reading The Looming Tower by Lawrence Wright in which he notes that the Afghans thought rather little of the ability of the foreign Arab "jihadis" who helped the Afghans liberate Afghanistan from Soviet domination.


Fahrettin Tahir - 9/13/2007

Omar,

I do not quite understand what Iran is offering the Arab masses except more war? What is their perspective for the future? What good is Iran's influence and standing for anybody including Iran?


Fahrettin Tahir - 9/12/2007

I think Iran is reaching out to the Arab masses and not their governments. It should be remembered that Iran does have some democratic structures wheras most Arab states don't. For me the misconception is that getting the Arab masses to sypathise with Iran is going to get them anywhere. I guess this is what you are also saying. I can't imagine anybody imagining that they are going to dominate the World by religion. But then perhaps I am too rational. Essentially, I don't understand why they spend such an effort for war when they could use their oil wealth to better the living standards of their people. Especially since Iran as an economic power would have far more influence than any number of nuts. Same thing for the Saudis. There was an article in the Economist, which said they were not able to industrialize, because they were teaching their children nothing but religion, with which they were economically worthless. They formulated it differently but that is what it meant. As for Bin Laden, he is a rich guy who has dedicated his life to killing people. Possibly he overestimates the role Afghanistan played in the downfall of the Soviet Empire and thinks he will repeat his performance for the US.


William J. Haywood - 9/11/2007

So Osama and Khameini have both differences and similarities.

Cool.

What am I missing?


N. Friedman - 9/11/2007

Fahrettin,

Good points, as always, from you.

I have one comment for you to consider. In disputes, one or both sides not infrequently turns out to have a misconception or misconceptions - sometimes a fatal misconception. Is it not possible that Iran has misconceived its potential to lead Arab Sunnis? Also, is it not possible that bin Laden & Co. have misconceived their potential to destroy the US?

I think the misconception by such people is that religion is the way forward to dominate the world. Whatever flaws the West has, the adoption of secular governance is not one of them, at least as I see things.


Fahrettin Tahir - 9/11/2007

The sunnitic majority of Moslems is never going to accept a leadership by Iranian Shiites. Neither does a Ben laden have any chance of doing anything beyond some terrorism. Destroy the US? Is that a joke?


N. Friedman - 9/10/2007

Egypt Steve,

Since you see a big distinction between a Caliphate and a Shi'a version of rule (e.g. an imamate), it might be helpful to have you explain why you think the distinction is important for non-Muslims to consider in the context raised by Professor Furnish.

I think the distinction has less to it than meets the eyes, except to note the obvious, namely, that Shia and Sunnis are rival sects. But, it seems to me that the important point for a non-Muslim is that Shia and Sunni, while rivals, promote a similar vision for the future, namely, one where Muslims, not Christians, dominate.


Tim R. Furnish - 9/10/2007

E.S.,
Wow, going ad hominem on the first response! Who, pray tell, am I and "my ilk?"


Steve Vinson - 9/10/2007

there's some slippage in your argument here. Striving for even "global power over Islamdom" led by Shi'ite jurists does *not* equal re-establishing the caliphate in the sense that Sunni jihadists use the term. Basically you and your ilk, in trying to sell the vast Islamo-fascist conspiracy, ignore the very real differences between and among Islamists that make their actual potency and danger to the west far less than you make it out to be.


Tim R. Furnish - 9/10/2007

Mr. Steve,
When the Hidden Imam re-emerges as the Mahdi, he will restore the caliphate on a global level, true. But if you think that Khomeini and Khameini and the other supporters of vilayet-i faqih are not striving for global power over Islamdom--Sunni as well as Shi`i--then, sir, you have not been reading what they write or watching what they do.


Steve Vinson - 9/10/2007

Furnish writes:

Both Bin Ladin and Khameini desire, above all, Islamic unity leading to the destruction of the United States—and no doubt each man thinks he’s the one to achieve both and thus, even, to restore the caliphate.

Balderdash! One of the most fundamental tenets of Shi'ite theology is rejection of the caliphate. They accept only members of the prophet's family as acceptable leaders of Islam, and reject any claims to pan-Islamic leadership pending the return of the "Hidden Imam."


N. Friedman - 9/10/2007

Professor,

Very fine work. Excellent.

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