Category Archives: Foreign Affairs

Are Shia True Muslims?

Shireen T. Hunter writes:

This widely held Arab belief that Iranians are not real Muslims is based on the premise that they never fully converted to Islam. Instead, they developed Shi’ism, which is allegedly nothing more than their old religion with a thin guise of Islam. Moreover, Arabs believe that the Iranians did so in order to subvert and undermine their true and pure Islam. In a Cairo bookshop near Al-Azhar several years ago, I saw a book for sale entitled Shia Conspiracy Against Islam. Since then, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and others, along with religious figures such as the Egypt-born resident of Qatar Sheik Yusuf Qaradawi, have sponsored many more books on Shi’ism’s threat to Islam and Iran’s plans to convert Sunnis to Shi’ism.

The idea of Shi’ism as an Iranian creation has, of course, no historical validity. The split that occurred within the Muslim community of Arabia immediately after the Prophet Muhammad’s demise and that eventually led to the Sunni-Shi’a divide, was a purely Arab phenomenon. At the time, Arab/Islamic armies had not yet conquered Iran. Later, some Iranians might have seen in the Shi’a split from Sunnism a reflection of some of their ancient values and rites. But they certainly did not invent Shi’ism. The first impetus for the Iranian embrace of the House of Ali came after the Arab invasion and the policy of ethnic discrimination practiced by Iran’s new Arab rulers, beginning with the first Caliph Omar, despite Islam’s claim to the racial and ethnic equality of all Muslims. The Abbasids even perpetuated this practice, although Persian Muslims had contributed considerably to their victory over the Umayyad dynasty.

If Iranians are non-Muslims then Islam’s edict that Muslims should not fight other Muslims does not apply to them. Therefore, you can kill Shi’a Iranians just like any other infidel without any twinge of conscience. In the current atmosphere of tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran, spreading the view of Iranians as non-Muslims has considerable political ramifications. For example, it can help the Saudis enlist other Muslims in their fight, both overt and covert, against Iran. Already, groups such as the Taliban, the Islamic State, and al-Qaeda have internalized this Saudi view and view the Iranians as infidels.

It’s not surprising for the Saudi mufti, out of political expediency, to call Iranians Majus. What is sad is that present-day Iranians should see this appellation as an insult. But then Iran’s Islamists have been waging a campaign against the country’s indigenous culture for at least 60 years. Since their victory in the 1979 revolution, they have worked relentlessly to erase all vestiges of Iran’s indigenous culture and to subsume it under a state-sponsored, politicized, and ideologized form of Islam that is totally alien to Iran’s traditional Shia Islam, which is closely intertwined with Iran’s early civilization.

That’s very interesting to me. I have a book on Zoroastrianism, but it’s only portions of surviving texts. As I understand it, much has been lost.

This sounds like a potentially worse split than the Protestant-Catholic split of Christianity.

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Will Democrats Become the War Party?

At the conclusion of Zaid Jilani’s Neoconservatives Declare War on Donald Trump, he writes:

With Trump’s ascendancy, it’s possible that the parties will reorient their views on war and peace, with Trump moving the GOP to a more dovish direction and Clinton moving the Democrats towards greater support for war.

Even if Democrats come to dominate in the US, having conservatives identify as dovish would be a wonderful thing.

This would lead to a natural dichotomy between empire and GK Chesterton’s Patriotic Idea. Secessionists (eg. Basques and Catalans) and non-interventionists would come to be seen in a positive light. No longer would the left-wing enjoy the moral high ground, and conservatism, rather than Sanders’s socialism, might come to be in vogue among students.

In other news, Brexit is now the majority choice. The EU has been a disaster, and I hope a breakup leads to greater peace and stability. Following the EU might go NATO. And following NATO we might see the break up of Russia, which would hopefully not lead to a Napoleon of Notting Hill scenario.

“Don’t you really think the sacred Notting Hill at all absurd?”

“Absurd?” asked Wayne, blankly. “Why should I?”

The King stared back equally blankly.

“I beg your pardon?” he said.

“Notting Hill,” said the Provost, simply, “is a rise or high ground
of the common earth, on which men have built houses to live,
in which they are born, fall in love, pray, marry, and die.
Why should I think it absurd?”

How humane you are, how tender, how considerate. You will make war
for a frontier, or the imports of a foreign harbour; you will shed
blood for the precise duty on lace, or the salute to an admiral.
But for the things that make life itself worthy or miserable…how
humane you are.

Germany Shaken by Assault on Women

Reuters:

About 90 women have reported being robbed, threatened or sexually molested at New Year celebrations outside Cologne’s cathedral by young, mostly drunk, men, police said on Tuesday, in events they have described as ‘a new dimension in crime’.

I propose Germany return to being a nation-state… Problem resolved. And killing people in the ME will do nothing to aid this crisis. If anything, ME meddling has made matters there worse.

Since America largely still directs the world, it’s noteworthy that only Donald Trump, Rand Paul, and Bernie Sanders have proposed anything half-productive for improving the ME and thus reducing the refugee crisis.

If any other Republican or Democrat is elected, the problems there will only grow worse. Trump has made clear his willingness to work with Russia, which is essential to peace. Everyone bashes Trump, yet he’s one of the few grown-ups willing to work towards peace.

Saudis Execute Leading Shia Cleric

From antiwar, Soaring Unrest After Saudis Execute Top Shi’ite Cleric:

Nimr was detained in 2012 for his role in organizing a protest demanding an end to discrimination against the Shi’ite minority in Saudi Arabia. Nimr’s detention was already wildly controversial, and he was reportedly tortured while in custody.

In Iran the response was more straightforward, as Shi’ite demonstrators marched on the Saudi Embassy in Tehran. The situation got out of hand before long, however, and the embassy was set on fire, leading the Saudis to condemn Iran as “terrorists.”

Iran and Saudi Arabia (SA) are already conflicting in Syria and Yemen. SA has broken off diplomatic ties with Iran.