Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Iran, the United States and Potential Iraq Deal-Spoilers

From Reva Bhalla at Stratfor

As the leader of the Sunni Arabs, the Saudis believe they have every right to be part of the formal negotiating process ... Meanwhile, the Iranians evidently are working to allay Sunni Arab fears by publicizing Tehran's Iraq proposal (with considerable concessions to Iraq's Sunnis) in the mainstream Arab press and stepping up diplomatic engagements with Sunni governments. The House of Saud does not want U.S. troops to withdraw from Iraq while Iran uses its proxies to create an excuse to intervene militarily. The Saudis also do not want Iraq war-hardened Saudi jihadist veterans to return home and attack the kingdom. Though the Saudis might see an Iran-U.S. deal as inevitable, they will keep their ties to the full spectrum of Sunni militants to use as their main deal-breaker should an Iraq settlement fail to address their interests.

Lebanon a launch pad for al-Qa'ida's new phase

From Martin Chulov of The Australian

As the encircled Islamists in north Lebanon heralded their last stand this weekend, regional governments were coming to terms with a much broader battle - al-Qa'ida's opening salvos in the western Middle East. From the Horn of Africa to the eastern shores of the Atlantic, from Afghanistan to Lebanon, and as far away as Spain, the rise of Salafi Islamic Jihadism has taken on a dangerous new impetus that is likely to reshape the global war on terror ... "The game plan here appears to be to import elements of the Iraqi insurgency and kick it off here between the Sunnis and the Shi'ites," said one well-placed security officer." Fatah al-Islam are an advance guard."

Iraqi Papers Tuesday: Sufi Shrine Attacked

From Amer Mohsen at IRAQSlogger.com

A bombing in Baghdad took the lives of at least two dozen people and targeted a major Sufi mosque and shrine in the city ... Al-Mada accused “takfiris” (literally: people who excommunicate others) of being behind the attack, a hint towards extremist Sunni groups. Several strands of Salafism in Sunni Islam find Sufi beliefs and religious practices to be objectionable, and in some cases, heretical, and it would not be far-fetched to assume that zealous extremists may have been behind the attack –- especially groups inspired by the Wahhabi tradition, which is especially harsh vis-à-vis Sufism.

For Cloaked Saudi Women, Color Is the New Black

From Faiza Saleh Ambah of the Washington Post

The change is most striking in Jiddah, the kingdom's most cosmopolitan city, where many young women now wear their head scarves around their shoulders and leave their abayas open to reveal pants and T-shirts ... The redefinition of the abaya mirrors the greater, though still limited, personal freedoms allowed in the kingdom over the past five years. A major factor in the change was the involvement of young Saudis in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Many people began to question the official Wahhabi ideology that was believed to have partly inspired the hijackers and that had long dictated the country's ultraconservative lifestyle.

Tripoli: The Salafi Gateway

From Sanaa al Jack of Asharq Alawsat

Dr. Ahmad Musuly, professor of political science and Islamic studies at the American University in Beirut, told Asharq Al Awsat: "Some of these movements act violently and some accept the present situation. Salafis in Lebanon were receptive to peace and could settle for Islamic values and thought. The switch to violence was associated with the rise of al Qaeda. Militant takfiri groups emerged that embraced al Qaeda's thinking and called for the elimination of everything that contradicted their ideology and the establishment of an Islamic state by force. These groups were based in the Palestinian refugee camps where authority is absent." He pointed out that "The thing in common between the Salafi groups is the same thinking—a return to the pious ancestors' course, rejection of the schools of thought and adhering to basic texts."

Marrying cousins creating political problems

From Laina Farhat-Holzman at the Santa Cruz Sentinel

The Journal of Psychohistory explored this issue several years ago in three devastating articles on the dysfunction of polygamous — and population-exploded — Muslim families. Osama Bin Laden's family demonstrates the dysfunction of polygamy combined with the poisoning of Wahhabi Islam — and we have tasted that rage. We also see the dynamic of dysfunctional families in the horrible increase in suicide bombers [25% increase since 2005]. Young women, notoriously unhappy in these dysfunctional families, are being recruited by terrorists for suicide missions. Manuals have been captured that chart how to identify and recruit an unhappy woman who will be willing — or coerced — to die.

Journey into terror of my brother the 7/7 leader

From Shiv Malik of The Sunday Times (UK)

The ringleader of the July 7 suicide bombers converted to violent jihadism at least six years before he blew himself up on the London Underground, his brother has revealed in his first interview. Gultasab Khan, a taxi driver from Beeston, Leeds, disclosed that Mohammad Sidique Khan had visited the family’s spiritual adviser in 1999 and told him he wanted to travel to Afghanistan to train for jihad (holy war) ... He describes how in the mid 1990s Sidique Khan converted to wahhabism, the fundamentalist strain of Islam espoused by the September 11 hijackers. From there he moved into the ranks of violent jihadists – before the 2001 attacks on America or the Iraq invasion two years later.