Tag Archives: Alawite

Muslim cleric calls Christians scum of the earth

Who is going to tell him he is dressed like Santa Claus?

EoZ//Tunisian cleric Adel Almi has called for his country’s citizens not to celebrate Christmas, saying that it is forbidden for Muslims to take Christian or Jewish customs. He quoted the Quranic verse saying that Christians and Jews will not be satisfied until Muslims take their religion.

He added, “Islam teaches the world not to take on the outdated customs of the scum of the earth.”

Adel Almi heads “The Association of Moderation Awareness and Reform.”

He recently called for a Tunisian woman who posted topless photos on Facebook as a protest for women’s rights to be stoned to death.

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The sectarian cleansing of Homs by Assad

How Bashar Assad’s forces have embarked on a ‘scorched earth’ policy — looting and destroying the homes of Sunni refugees and sabotaging sacred Islamic sites — as they battle to retake the city.

By Ruth Sherlock,

Bashar Assad’s militias are “cleansing” towns and villages of their Sunni Muslim inhabitants across the Syrian province of Homs, refugee families and residents have told The Daily Telegraph.

The Shabiha, a loyalist militia drawn largely from the Syrian president’s Alawite sect, is systematically looting and destroying the homes of any Sunnis who have fled the province, a key battleground in the country’s civil war.

“They pushed out the rebel fighters and now they are trying to push out all the Sunnis,” said Bilal, a 23-year-old from the Sunni village of Talkalakh in Homs province. “They took our houses, threatened us, destroyed our villages.”

Assad’s regime has trained its military might on rebel strongholds in Homs province, winning back the border towns of Qusair and Talkalakh and shelling areas of the provincial capital.

The offensive is so intense that rebels admit that they cannot hold out for much longer. It has also taken on a sectarian character, with the army Monday bombarding the Sunni mausoleum of Khaled bin Walid, a companion of the Prophet Mohammed, in Homs. Whether this was intentional or a mistake is unclear.

After each campaign, Alawite civilians and loyalist paramilitaries from the National Defence Force have stormed the newly recaptured towns and villages, looting Sunni homes and often setting them on fire, with the apparent aim of ensuring that the owners have nothing left to return to.

“They even they took the sinks of the bathrooms. The things they couldn’t carry, they burnt,” said Zacharia, a 23-year-old rebel fighter who escaped Talkalakh a week ago after government troops stormed the town.

“After the army were finished, the Shabiha came: they divided the houses up between them, and started taking away the spoils.”

Local people believe the regime is trying to cleanse the area of its Sunni residents with the aim of creating a rump state for the minority Alawites. This would run from the capital, Damascus, to the Alawite coastal heartland of Latakia. Homs is the vital link connecting the two regions. Some experts are skeptical, believing that the regime, buoyed by its recent military victories, is focused simply on crushing the insurgency across the country.

But expelling Sunnis, who have tended to back the rebels, would be a way for Assad’s forces to consolidate their control over hard-won terrain: “The regime hasn’t been in a position to allow people back into the areas they have taken,” said Peter Harling from the International Crisis Group. “Wherever people come back, the problems come back with them.”

The civil war has exposed the country’s sectarian fault lines, igniting hatred between communities that previously coexisted. Talkalakh is surrounded by 52 largely Alawite villages, where people are leading the campaign against their Sunni neighbours, according to refugees.

“This is not just about criminals wanting to make money. They want to kill all the Sunnis,” said Fayez, a resident of Talkalakh who fled with his family to neighbouring Lebanon. “We used to hear them at night. They used to scream down from their villages, ‘We are coming for you. We don’t want Sunnis on our land’.”

Other residents said Alawite neighbours were now storing the stolen goods on their farms.

Most of the Sunnis of Talkalakh have now fled, but those who have stayed are being given incentives to leave. Alawite businessmen from neighbouring villages are offering to buy the homes of Sunnis, on the condition that they leave. “They come up to people and say ‘we can buy your house. You need the money and why do you want to stay in this village? It’s better to get out’,” said one man speaking by phone from Talkalakh.

The attacks have not been discouraged by the government. Residents say the Syrian army has watched the looters from the sidelines, and in some cases helped them.

In Homs, stolen goods are taken to a loyalist Alawite district and sold at what has become known as “the Sunni Market”. A female activist, calling herself Yam al-Homsi, secretly filmed the market. “I pretended I wanted to buy a cheap laptop. The market has everything you can imagine; from Adidas trainers to furniture,” she said.

“They even took the doors, tiles and electric cables from the homes. The Shabiha are organized: some loot the houses, whilst others sell the goods. They are not ashamed. One man told me it was a ‘gift from the war’.”

More than 500,000 refugees, most of them Sunni, have now fled into neighbouring Lebanon. Some have little hope of returning to their homes. “Maybe in the future if Syria is free, I hope the relationship can be good again between Sunni and Alawites,” said Bilal, speaking from the empty building on the Lebanon-Syria border that is now his home. “But I don’t think it can happen.”

The Kurds and the Future of Syria

By

kurdsThe recent announcement by the Obama administration that it intends to provide arms and funds to the Syrian rebels, begs a number of key questions.  One such question is why the administration has not been cultivating a democratic and secular alternative to the radical Islamist led rebel camp that hijacked the Syrian revolution. In fact, there is an alternative to the radical Islamist rebels on one hand, and the repressive Assad dictatorship on the other, according to Sherkoh Abbas, President of the Kurdistan National Assembly of Syria (KNAS).

In an interview this reporter had with Sherkoh Abbas on Thursday, June 20, 2013, Abbas stated that it is vital for the U.S. administration to support a federalized Syria, “by establishing a Kurdish Federal region in the North, a Druze region in the Southwest, an Alawite region in western Syria, in addition to a Sunni region in the rest of Syria. If Syria does not become a federal state, two outcomes would emerge from the current ethnic cleansing we are witnessing.  Should the Assad regime prevail, it would restore its dictatorial character with the help of Iran, Hezbollah, Shiite-led Iraq, Russia, and China. On the other hand, should the Muslim Brotherhood led rebels win, supported by Turkey, the U.S., EU, and the Gulf Arab monarchies, they would initiate a bloodbath, cleansing particularly minority groups that either worked or appeared to be working with the Assad regime.”  Regardless of which side wins, according to Abbas, it will be to the disadvantage of the minority groups such as the Kurds, Christians, Druze and even the Alawites.

Abbas added that unless Syria becomes a federated state where ethnic and religious communities possess their own autonomous region, the stability, safety, and security in the entire Middle East region will be jeopardized.  Moreover, the instability currently in Syria will spill over to the neighboring states such as Jordan. In addition, the Islamist organizations will get stronger and pose an even greater threat.

Asked about the impact the U.S. intervention would have on the ongoing conflict in Syria, Abbas replied, “Obama’s efforts to aid the Syrian rebels will not help the situation because it is supporting one extremist camp now associated with the rebels (Arab nationalists and radical Islamists) that has been issuing threats to the minority groups in Syria. This will increase the support of Alawis, Christians, Shia, and Druze for the Assad regime.  The Kurds are on the sidelines and do not support either side, since neither one of the camps has shown goodwill toward the Kurds.” Abbas elaborated further that the U.S. supplied weapons will eventually end up in the hands of the radical Islamists who will use them against the neighboring states and U.S. allies (i.e. Israel, Jordan). According to Abbas, Obama needs to refrain from supporting political Islam and work with democratic groups to promote a federated Syria.

And what do the Kurds in their own region of Syria want? Sherkoh Abbas was emphatic about that.  They would like independence, if they could choose. Kurds have the moral right to assert their self-determination, just like all other people. Reality, however, dictates that at the moment, the best option possible is a status similar to that of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq.  Unfortunately, Abbas explained, the Kurdish region is under the control of the Assad regime through its Kurdish surrogates – the so-called Democratic Union Party (PYD). The PYD is used to “interface with people of the region instead of having direct control by the Assad regime in Damascus.” The regime has replaced its former Arab staff with some Kurds (PYD) in response to the suspected sympathies these Sunni Arabs (local/settlers) supposedly held for the rebels.  The Assad regime can trust the PYD Kurds more than the Sunni Arabs. Moreover, the PYD is used as an instrument to control the Kurds, and prevent them from declaring independence or full autonomy.

Can Syria remain a unitary state? No, says Abbas in an equally unequivocal voice.  He explained that both the Assad regime and the radical Islamist rebels have positioned themselves to carve out their particular stakes.  The Alawi-led Assad regime and their fellow Shiite sympathizers seek to maintain a unitary Syrian state, but are keenly aware that this is a dim prospect at best.  The regime has, therefore, cleansed the area of Western Syria to secure it as a fall back. The Sunni Islamist rebels are seething with revenge for the high murder toll committed by the Alawi-Shiite regime of Bashar Assad in the current civil war (upward of 95,000 killed) and his father Hafez, who committed the Hama massacre in 1982 of close to 30,000 individuals associated with the Muslim Brotherhood. The Sunni Islamists are determined to expunge the Alawi-Shiite presence from Syria.

If the Assad regime wins, it will appear as a victory for Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah, and a defeat for America and Western Europe.  In addition, Iran would become a regional power and would dictate terms to the greater Middle East region from Iraq to Tunisia. This could lead to the Arab Gulf states breaking their alliance with the U.S. and moving toward Russia and China to protect their interests.  The U.S. will lose its influence and prestige in the region and beyond.

Obama’s inability to stop Iran’s nuclear project through negotiations, and his unwillingness to use military means has prompted the U.S. President to seek a face-saving agreement with Iran. Obama wants the Iranian nuclear project to be under Russian control.  And Russia, reeling from its Cold War defeat and the end of the Soviet Union, is using Iran to bolster its position in the region while Iran seeks to become the regional hegemon.

The U.S. policy vis-à-vis Iran in the Syrian conflict should be to foster a new Syria, which means a federated Syria with equal power to minorities such as Kurds, Alawis, Christians, Druze, and, of course, Sunni Arabs.  The decentralization of Syria would also reduce, if not eliminate, Iran’s influence and its proxies in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East.  A setback for Iran in the Syrian conflict would eventually translate into a suspended nuclear program, and the eventual demise of the mullahtocracy.

Abbas summed up the situation saying, “As the Sunni and Shiite (Alawi) camps are battling to eradicate each other, and the Kurds have become the linchpin for mediating a solution for Syria’s bloodletting.  Yet, the Obama administration has chosen to ignore the Kurds and instead, support the largely radical Islamist Sunni rebels.  This comes at the expense of a vast majority of Syrians from multi-ethnic and religious groups that make up today’s Syria. Obama’s choice is unfortunately a prescription for failure.  The alternative to the two bad choices, namely, the Assad regime and its Iranian sponsors on one hand and the Islamist rebels on the other, is a democratic, multi-ethnic and multi-religious Syria, with the Kurds at the center of such a democratic alliance.”

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