Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Prince of Darkness?

Dangerous Man: Prince Bandar bin Sultan, former Saudi Ambassador to the United States, now Chief of the Saudi Intelligence Agency and prime diplomatic mover in the battle to topple Bashar al Assad, now stands accused of being behind the chemical warfare attacks against Syrian civilians on 21 August 2013.
 
HE IS ARGUABLY one of the most dangerous men on the planet. He has counselled presidents and kings, militants and terrorists, and the almost unlimited resources at his disposal means that his words are all-too-readily translated into deeds. The regime he serves stands high among the world’s most reactionary and corrupt. He is Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Director-General of the Saudi Intelligence Agency.
 
In early-August, the Prince met with President Vladimir Putin on the outskirts of Moscow where he allegedly attempted to broker an increased-oil-price for acquiescence-over-Syria deal with the Russian President.
 
According to Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, writing in The Telegraph, the Saudi intelligence chief offered Putin a “mix of inducements and threats” to end the impasse over Syria.
 
Among the latter was the following chilling statement: “I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics next year. The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the games are controlled by us.”
 
No Mafia boss could have spelled out more clearly the consequences of not accepting the Prince’s “guarantee”. In the crude language of the criminal underworld, the Russians were being told: “Give us a free hand in Syria or Sochi 2014 will be bloodier than Munich 1972.”
 
Prince Bandar may have underestimated President Putin (a former intelligence director himself) whose ice-cold ruthlessness has been demonstrated on many occasions since becoming Russia’s leader in 2000. Within hours of his supposedly secret discussions with Putin, the Prince’s threats and inducements were in the hands of the state-controlled Russian media. Attempts to blackmail Russia are seldom successful.
 
That was in early August. Two weeks later, on 21-22 August, the world woke up to the news that hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Syrian civilians living in the rebel-controlled Ghouta suburb of the Syrian capital, Damascus, had been attacked with what appeared to be chemical weapons, specifically, the deadly nerve agent Sarin. The author of the attack was said to be Bashar al Assad, the Syrian President.
 
The prohibitive “red line” announced by US President Barack Obama more than a year earlier, had been crossed.
 
But was President Assad really so foolish as to order the use of a weapons system which he knew would bring the United States and (most of) its allies into the battle against his government?
 
Transmissions originally intercepted by the Israeli security agency, Mossad, and released by the US military as “proof” of the Syrian government’s complicity in the chemical attack are actually capable of multiple interpretations.
 
What the recording contains are the panicked responses of senior Syrian officers desperate to clarify what has happened. Have chemical weapons been used? On whose authority? To what effect?
 
The intercept, far from providing conclusive evidence of Syrian Government involvement, suggests exactly the opposite. What the Israelis overheard sounds much more like the terrified response of a government whose worst nightmare has just become a reality.
 
Even the American intelligence officer responding to Foreign Policy magazine admitted: “We don’t know exactly why it happened. We just know it was pretty fucking stupid.”
 
And now the world is learning that what happened in Damascus on 21 August may not have originated in President Assad’s bunker, but hundreds of kilometres away, in Saudi Arabia.
 
On the Mint Press News website, a legitimate US media outlet based in Minnesota, freelance journalists Dale Gavlak and Yahya Ababneh have posted a story alleging that: “[F]rom numerous interviews with doctors, Ghouta residents, rebel fighters and their families, a different picture emerges. Many believe that certain rebels received chemical weapons via the Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, and were responsible for carrying out the deadly gas attack.”
 
If true, this report casts the events of the past fortnight in an entirely different light. Gavlak’s story (and we are dealing here with a reputable journalist whose work has been published by the Associated Press, the BBC, PBS and Salon.com) offers us an explanation that makes a great deal more sense than the USA’s or the Saudi-dominated Arab League’s version of events.
 
After all, who had the most to gain by the introduction of chemical weapons to the Syrian conflict? Certainly not the beleaguered Syrian government. The Saudis, on the other hand, have long been the implacable foes of the secular Baathist political movements that once held sway in Iraq and Syria.
 
Almost before the ashes of the twin towers had cooled, it was the Saudis who were urging President George W. Bush to direct the righteous wrath of the American people not only against the hapless Afghans, but upon Saudi Arabia’s most hated enemy, Iraq. The American journalist, Bob Woodward, has even asserted that the decision to invade Iraq was communicated to the Saudi Ambassador to the US before President Bush’s own Secretary of State, Colin Powell.
 
The name of that Saudi Ambassador? Prince Bandar bin Sultan.
 
This essay was originally published in The Press of Tuesday, 3 September 2013.

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

Strange, we bomb children, we shoot children, we starve children – and people don't turn a hair. Yet for some strange reason we are not allowed to gas them – the world is truly fucked up.

Davo Stevens said...

This whole issue with who did the dirty deed is buried in the murk of propaganda. We will never know who was responsible for that nasty deed.

The Civil War in Syria is getting dirtier by the day.

Brendan said...

Chris

Your article makes it clear that an early 'rush to judgement' over who was responsible for the chemical weapons attack was illadvised.

The civilized world, apart from a number of its high profile leaders agree.

The Flying Tortoise said...

Thankyou for that.
Very illuminating...

Anonymous said...

Quote from Chris' article:
"hat the recording contains are the panicked responses of senior Syrian officers desperate to clarify what has happened. Have chemical weapons been used? On whose authority? To what effect?

The intercept, far from providing conclusive evidence of Syrian Government involvement, suggests exactly the opposite. What the Israelis overheard sounds much more like the terrified response of a government whose worst nightmare has just become a reality."

Respect, Chris, I appreciate that you are a reader of information with some substance, which is not easily available to the ordinary New Zealander, who relies on a misinforming, largely useless mainstream media and goes through her or his daily life as a thoroughly brainwashed "happy go lucky" consumer, stressed out worker and manipulated follower of policies that are selected and thought out for them to digest.

Indeed, and that is closer to what I had been suspecting all along re this chemical weapon attack on innocent civilians in a suburb of Damascus, which appears to be held by rebel forces.

My suspicion was that it may have been committed by some elements within the Syrian army or secret services, who have turned rogue, as the breakdown of systems in Syria has led to lack of government control over their own forces and staff.

But what you disclose here gives it a new dimension, and it sounds credible enough, to deserve very serious consideration. Indeed, the Saudis have a lot to answer, and it was wealthy donors in Saudi Arabia and some other gulf states, who happily donated millions for the cause of Osama Bin Laden also, during and after the Afghan wars.

So yes, I see this as a potentially true story, and that it makes a damned more sense than what the Pentagon, the White House and US media tell us. All they go on about is that there is proof now of the chemical attack having been one where sarin was used, nothing more. They do not have proof of who did it, although there is talk of some missiles being launched and having landed in certain spots.

It does not seem to make sense for the Syrian government to authorise such a chemical attack on their own people, so near the government head quarters and control centres, and while so many people nowadays have smart phones, that can send images around the globe within seconds. It would be utter stupidity or desperation for any Syrian government forces to have done this.

Yet for a final opinion I will wait and see what else may come out soon.

Thanks for another excellent story, Chris, you are one of the few "enlightened" and informed writers in this country.

Sadly we have too many listen to tweets by twits and right wing misinformation by government cheer-leading talk back hosts.

David said...

As they say "The first casualty of war is the truth" - the arguably most concerning thing is that while in this case the United States hasn't acted immediately, how many other situations around the world are there where potentially countries could act before the truth has a chance to get out. With so much intrigue, it could easily be Nuclear World War time before any one of us knows it.

Chris Trotter said...

To: Anonymous@7:25AM

+1

Charles Pigden said...

Chris, Your readers may be interested in a long open letter from Professor William R. Polk posted on 'The Philosopher's Stone' website of retired philosopher Robert Paul Wolff on 30/8/13 .

Victor said...

Firstly, Chris, thanks for bringing the Evans-Pritchard item to the fore. He’s normally worth reading, however Ultra High Tory his standpoint.

Secondly, Evans-Pritchart paints a plausible picture of what MIGHT have happened. But I’m not wholly convinced by the scenario.

Putin and Prince Bandar might indeed have had the discussion as outlined. If so, Bandar may well have been exaggerating Riyadh’s ability to turn Chechen (and other) Jihadis on and off.

It's certainly conceivable that he would have exaggerated deliberately, so as to sweeten the desired deal over oil prices.

In any event, the Saudis don’t have an impressive record of turning Jihadis on and off (cf: Afghanistan, Al Qaeda etc.). And, of course, Sunni fundamentalism now has an alternative sponsor in the form of Qatar.

Putin would have understood all of this, which may well have been one of the many reasons why he turned down the Prince’s offer, assuming it was made in the first place.

I’m also sceptical as to whether anyone other than the Syrian government could have deployed either sufficient quantities of Sarin or of the chemical agents needed to render it lethal on a large scale.

The regime has been reported as having up to 1,000 metric tons of chemical agents. Moreover, about a year ago, Der Spiegel (which does not, to my knowledge, have an axe to grind) reported that the Assad regime was testing new delivery systems for chemical warheads.

Moreover, I’m impressed by the seriousness with which the French government is treating such evidence of regime involvement as it possesses. I suspect that French security organs have a better idea than anyone else of what goes on in their former empire.

But I agree with you that it’s hard to see what the Syrian regime’s motive could have been in stepping so obviously over Obama’s “red line”.

True, the regime would have had tactical grounds for using all available force, as the area affected lies directly on the main rout from Damascus to the North East, where Assad’s forces seem to be under considerable pressure from the Kurds. But that’s hardly a sufficient reason for risking the armed wrath of the US of A.

The best explanation I’ve been able to come up with is that Assad was calculating on a war-weary America failing to respond and hence losing a considerable dose of credibility. He may well have been encouraged in this view by the hardliners in Teheran and perhaps in Moscow. Certainly, Putin will be enjoying Obama’s discomfiture (not to mention, Cameron’s) at the G8 gathering this week.

And none of the above should be taken as implying that I want the US to respond militarily. This tragic, bloody complex mess will only grow more tragic, bloody and complex if it does.

thor42 said...

*Excellent* column, Chris (and heck, I'm a right-winger!).

You have hit the nail on the head here. The Saudis are very much a nest of vipers - not surprising given that their country was the birthplace of Islam.

Witness the hundreds of millions of dollars that they spend each year building mosques all over the world (but particularly in the West). Most of those mosques will have Wahhabi imams in them, preaching their ultra-conservative brand of Islam, filled with hatred for us non-Muslims.

In contrast, not far away from there, the Egyptian people have well and truly shown their disgust for the Muslim Brotherhood,and I have seen signs here and there around the 'net that they may even be making a push against *Islam itself*. The West could learn a huge amount from the Egyptian people and their willingness to take action for what they believe in.

(Apologies for drifting a bit off-topic, away from the Syria situation.
My view is very much that it is a complete mess that *no* action from outside can make any better, so I side with Putin et al in being against a military strike.)

To finish with, here are several very useful links about Islam that may show why I (and many others) are critical of it. We know what we're talking about.... :)

http://www.politicalislam.com/blog/the-good-in-the-koran/

http://www.citizenwarrior.com/2010/08/what-about-good-verses-in-quran.html

http://www.inquiryintoislam.com/2011/04/intolerance-toward-non-muslims-in-quran.html

Fact of the day - 61% of the Quran is about *non-Muslims*. Us.
Amazing, ay?
More interesting stats about Islam here -
http://themuslimissue.wordpress.com/2012/11/04/statistical-islam/


That above fact is just one reason why I (and a number of others) call it an "ideology" rather than a "religion". When you dig into it, you find that "religion" is actually a very small part of Islam.

Cheers - keep up the good columns like this one!

The Flying Tortoise said...

Chris, if you are correct and I have no reason to dispute the information you have presented here, how is it that this theory involving The Prince of Darkness is not being presented on mainstream media?

Patricia said...

I had a Saudi Arabian boy living with me for nearly three years while he was here at University. A lovely boy. Anyway he is back in Saudi now and he skypes me most weeks. Last night when he called we had a most interesting discussion on the War in Syria and the Black Prince. He knew all about what you wrote Chris. His take on the situation is that there are vast reservoirs of gas in Saudi and Qatar: that Europe is solely dependant on Russia for gas and so feels vulnerable. Saudi et al want to pipe the gas up through Jordan and Syria to Turkey. Europe wants that too. Russia who is friends with Syria and Iran both of whom Saudi Arabia hates, (religion again - a bit like the old Protestant and Catholic nonsense) would lose much power both regionally and in Europe so an inducement of, apparently, 2 years profit from the Black Prince, wouldn't cut the ice. The chaos of Iraq meant the pipe could not go through there to Turkey. The US is in the mess too probably because it sees opportunities for its big companies and also to have a go at its arch enemy Russia. Anyway here is a letter to the Financial Times which explains it all.

"Sir, Iran is backing Assad. Gulf states are against Assad!
Assad is against Muslim Brotherhood. Muslim Brotherhood and Obama are against General Sisi.
But Gulf states are pro Sisi! Which means they are against Muslim Brotherhood!
Iran is pro Hamas, but Hamas is backing Muslim Brotherhood!
Obama is backing Muslim Brotherhood, yet Hamas is against the US!
Gulf states are pro US. But Turkey is with Gulf states against Assad; yet Turkey is pro Muslim Brotherhood against General Sisi. And General Sisi is being backed by the Gulf states!
Welcome to the Middle East and have a nice day."

Davo Stevens said...

@Thor: Yep, The Saudis are a "Nest of Vipers" as you put it.

The Wahabbis are a bunch of extreme Shia with some very strange beliefs. But it's interesting reading venomous comments from a believer of Christianity which is any bit as bad. Perhaps 60% of the Bible is dedicated to 'Killing all Non-believers'.

Assad is an Alawite (branch of Sunni) as most of the rulers there are. The Shia (rulers of Saudi Arabia and Yemen are Shia) have about as much love of their fellow Sunni as the Catholics and Protestants in Nth Ireland.

There is too much deliberate misunderstanding of Islam in the West. There are about 1.3 billion Muslims in the world and they are not plotting the downfall of Christianity, they are in fact, just like us, working their bums off so they can pay their bills at the end of the month.

Victor said...

Davo

You're a bit wrong there, mate.

The Wahhabis are extreme Sunnis,the Alawites are a sort of Shia and your notion that 60% of the Bible is dedicated to "Killing all non Believers" won't stand statistical scrutiny.

Better luck next time!

Chris Trotter said...

Oi, Davo, no!

The Wahabbists are an ultra-conservative branch of Sunni - not Shia - Islam.

Wahabbism is characterised by its hostility to all but the foundational texts and commentaries of the Islamic faith as guides to right behaviour, and is, in fact, extremely hostile towards followers of the Shia tradition.

Wahabbism has emerged as one of the most powerful branches of Islam due to its historic alliance with the House of Saud.

Victor said...

Patricia

There's a lot of truth in what you say and I love the bit from the FT.

But a critical factor in the Middle East is that the US needs the place a whole lot less than it used to, now that it's starting to waddle towards oil self-sufficiency.

So, for this and other reasons (see previous post), I tend to the (admittedly rather banal) view that the US is starting to bang the drums of war for no better reason than that Obama foolishly drew his red line and the Syrians seem to have stepped over it.

If he doesn't "do something", the US will be deemed to have not kept its word. This will have serious consequences for its credibility not just in the Middle East but, elsewhere, including here in the Asia Pacific region.

On the other hand, if Obama does "do something", he's almost bound to make a terrible situation worse and expend American lives and treasure in the process.

My guess is that the old hands such as Kerry and Biden are hopping mad with their boss. And (although I'm not normally an Obamaphobe) I really can't blame them.

For my part, I try to keep to two essential rules when trying to work out what's happening in the Middle East.

The first is that everything is more complex than it seems to be at first glance.

The second is that it's rarely as complex as the region's ubiquitous conspiracy theorists would have us believe.

Sometime (just sometimes) what you see is actually what you get.

Davo Stevens said...

Quite right Chris. My mistake!

They are extreme Sunni not Shia.

I'll blame it on the previous night's blow out on Pinot Noir!

thor42 said...

@Davo Stevens - "it's interesting to read venomous comments from a believer of Christianity..."

Uhh, *what?* I'm an *atheist!* I've been an atheist since I was about 12! I have no idea where you got the idea that I was a Christian!

Anyway - I know what I'm talking about, and doing a "tu quoque" by pointing at Christianity by no means lets Islam off the hook.

There are *huge* differences between Islam and Christianity. For a start, Islam can *never* change.
Why? Because the Koran is regarded as the perfect word of Allah,and there is no "perfecting of perfection". This means that the violent verses are there to stay.

I do not "misunderstand" Islam, Davo. I understand it very well.

May I ask you how much *you* know about Islam? You're saying that the Wahhabis were Shi'a speaks volumes, I'm afraid.

The reason I ask is simple. It is not the place of someone who knows little about Islam to lecture to someone who knows a great deal about it.

What *I* say about Islam is exactly the same as what *apostates* say about Islam. Here, have a look -
http://apostatesofislam.com/

Quote - "..we committed the ultimate sin of thinking and questioned the belief that was imposed on us and we came to realize that far from being a religion of truth, Islam is a hoax, it is hallucination of a sick mind and nothing but lies and deceits. "

Do *they* "misunderstand" Islam too, Davo?

On what grounds do you think that I "misunderstand" Islam?

Islam's primary goal is to see the world converted to Islam. That is not just "hearsay" or "opinion"
- that is *fact*.
Denying it will not make it any less true.

Check out this site - it is for those who are not familiar with the doctrines of Islam -
http://www.inquiryintoislam.com/

Anonymous said...

Like to see a reference for '60% of the bible is about killing unbelievers'

Davo Stevens said...

Yep Thor I made a mistake. I bet you've made a few too.

Yes I do know quite a bit about Islam having lived in Islamic countries during my life.

It is no different for the extreme forms of Christianity. The problem we have is that we only see the worst side of it from extremists. It does have a benign side to it as well.

Christians have nothing to crow about, go and read their history and the bloodshed they have caused throughout history.

All religions have a single purpose; to control the people and Christianity is no different nor is Judaism. Islam is just the same. Hell, go and live in the US for a while and you will see how that country is almost totally controlled by Christians, many of whom are of an extreme nature. At least, NZ is far more secular.

Getting back to Syria; the conflict there has reached a stalemate with neither side "Winning" and the people are caught in the crossfire.

I can understand the reluctance of the west to get involved after the fiascos in Afganistan, Iraq and Libya.

In closing I served 4 tours of duty in Vietnam, and I experienced first hand how the US army works. Ialso did several stints as a UN Peacekeeper in Cyprus and Lebanon.

charles said...

For heaven sake what a bunch of spineless conspiracy theorists most of you are, starting with you Chris. You increasingly driven by the form of madness. It's a wonder you didn't allege the Key government did it. Real conspiracies exist but are rare and almost always found out. The stuffup or pure idiocy is 100 times more common and that is very likely what happened with the Assad bros sarin massacre. Murder of civilians on an industrial scale with gas is almost top of the war crimes list and you pathetic apologists and cowards for suggesting the West should say ' oh well, too messy to deal with and maybe some mad Saudi did it anyway'. You are now looking very stupid and purely driven by your anti Americanism as the Russians now are accepting it probably was their insane fascist Alawite clients who gased their enemy. Not their own people you fools! Another tribe.
Obama and the French (both of the left for a change) are to be congratulated for their cautious build up to exacting retribution on the Assads. If it results in escalation of the war then so be it. That will be entirely the fault of the bastards who gassed 1400 civilians. Evil thrives where good people do nothing, assisted by warped lefties like you lot.

Anonymous said...

And Christians DON'T want to convert everyone?

I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump off. So I ran over and said "Stop! don't do it!" "Why shouldn't I?" he said. I said, "Well, there's so much to live for!" He said, "Like what?" I said, "Well...are you religious or atheist?" He said, "Religious." I said, "Me too! Are you christian or buddhist?" He said, "Christian." I said, "Me too! Are you catholic or protestant?" He said, "Protestant." I said, "Me too! Are you episcopalian or baptist?" He said, "Baptist!" I said,"Wow! Me too! Are you baptist church of god or baptist church of the lord?" He said, "Baptist church of god!" I said, "Me too! Are you original baptist church of god, or are you reformed baptist church of god?" He said,"Reformed Baptist church of god!" I said, "Me too! Are you reformed baptist church of god, reformation of 1879, or reformed baptist church of god, reformation of 1915?" He said, "Reformed baptist church of god, reformation of 1915!" I said, "Die, heretic scum", and pushed him off. -- Emo Phillips

Davo Stevens said...

Some Christian History:

CHRISTIAN VIOLENCE

Nowhere in Islamic history can one find a doctrine similar to Saint Augustine's cognite intrare ("lead them in"—i.e. "force them to convert"). In fact the Qur'an says the exact opposite: There is no compulsion in religion ( 2:256 ). Augustine's frightening idea that all must be compelled to "conform" to the "true Christian faith" has unleashed centuries of unparalleled bloodshed. Indeed, Christians have suffered more under the rule of Christian civilization than under pre- Christian Roman rule or any other rule in history. Millions were tortured and slaughtered in the name of Christianity during the periods of the Arian, Donatist and Albigensian heresies, to say nothing of the various Inquisitions, or the Crusades, when the European armies were saying, as they slaughtered both Christian and Muslim Arabs: "Kill them all, God will know his own." Needless to say, these transgressions— and indeed all the transgressions of Christians throughout the ages—have absolutely nothing to do with Jesus Christ and or even the New Testament as such. Indeed, no Muslim by definition would ever or will ever blame this on Jesus Christ (the Word made Flesh, for Christians and Muslims). So how is it that Sookhdeo blames Muslim transgressions (even though far less than
"Christian" ones) on the Qur'an (the Word made Book, for Muslims)?

By no means was such indiscriminate violence limited to Europe's "Dark Ages" or to one period of Christian history. The Reformation and Counter Reformation took inter- Christian slaughter to new extremes; two thirds of the Christian population of Europe being slaughtered during this time. Then there were (among many others wars, pogroms, revolutions and genocides) the Napoleonic Wars ( 1792-1815 ); the African slave trade that claimed the lives of 10 million; and the Colonial Conquests. Estimates for the number of Native Americans slaughtered by the Europeans in North, Central and South America run as high as 20 million within three generations.

Despite the ravages of Europe's violent past, in the 20 th century, Western Civilization took warfare to new extremes. A conservative estimate puts the total number of brutal deaths in the 20 th century at more than 250 million. Of these, Muslims are responsible for less than 10 million deaths. Christians, or those coming from Christian backgrounds account for more than 200 million of these! The greatest death totals come from World War I (about 20 million, at least 90 % of which were inflicted by "Christians") and World War II ( 90 million, at least 50% of which were inflicted by "Christians," the majority of the rest occurring in the Far East). Given this grim history, it appears that we Europeans must all come to grips with the fact that Islamic civilization has actually been incomparably less brutal than Christian civilization. Did the Holocaust of over 6 million Jews occur out of the background of a Muslim Civilization?

http://khalid3.blogspot.com/2006/04/christians-killed-250-million.html

http://www.truthbeknown.com/victims.htm

http://www.scribd.com/doc/21962463/CHRISTIAN-MISSIONARY-ATROCITIES

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20071003050050AAKVnVo

Need I go on?

No religion is perfect but to just accuse Islam of atrocities whilst ignoring Christians checkered history is just plain wrong. Each is as bad as each other.

Of course Christianity is pure and peaceful which is why Nth. Ireland was and is such a peaceful place!

I am not attacking Christianity nor am I defending Islam. Both have committed terrible atrocities. It's not the religious beleifs that are the problem, it's the beliefs of certain followers.

Victor said...

Davo

Whilst we're indulging in mea culpas, may I add a pre-emptive apology for the paragraph which states:

"But a critical factor in the Middle East is that the US needs the place a whole lot less than it used to, now that it's starting to waddle towards oil self-sufficiency."

In the words of Hillary Clinton: "I mis-spoke". And I can't blame it on Pinot Noir but merely on mental decrepitude.

The US is hardly on the road to oil self-sufficiency. But it is once more a major oil producer and virtually in the same league as Saudi and the Gulf states. And this does somewhat reduce the resonance of oil-based explanations for its Middle East policies.

Flying Tortoise

The theory outlined in this article HAS been in the mainstream media.

Chris freely acknowledges that he's drawn much of it from Ambrose Evans-Pritchart's item in the Daily Telegraph, the print edition of which sells around half a million copies daily and which also has a huge web readership.

There's no global plot to keep us ignorant of this theory. Or, if there is, the plot hasn't succeeded.

TM said...

Islam is not the problem. It is the politicisation of Islam (or any religion) which is the problem.

What I don't understand is that it is very well known the whole conflict in Syria is a proxy war, yet the media have completely glossed over this and made it out to be about some crazy dictator gassing his people. The media haven't questioned the motives of those directly involved in the conflict or those behind the scenes.

TM said...

Also there has been comment (including directly from Obama) that because Assad had Sarin gas, he must have launched the attack. But if a small crazy Japanese sect can get their hands on it to poison the Tokyo subway, then a well equipped rebel military force backed by a few 100 billion in cash in a country with fairly porous borders may not have much trouble aquiring it.

peter petterson said...

Just the type to invite home for dinner-not!

thor42 said...

@Anonymous "Like to see a reference to "60% of the Bible is about killing unbelievers".

Yes, so would I, Anonymous.

On the other hand, there are many interesting stats about the texts of Islam here -
http://themuslimissue.wordpress.com/2012/11/04/statistical-islam/

On this page, there is a list of concessions that the West has made (and is making) to Islam -
http://concess.blogspot.co.nz/2010/08/master-list-of-concessions.html

I have another word for these concessions - "appeasement".
It never works.

thor42 said...

@Davo - "It's not the religious beleifs that are the problem, it's the beliefs of certain followers."

Oh, but it *is* the religion, Davo. I have seen the "beliefs of certain followers" line many many times.
In fact, the Muslims who *do* commit the violent acts are following the Quran and Sira to the letter. It is *they* who are the "true Muslims". I say this as a person who is very familiar with the Islamic texts and Islamic doctrine.

Oh, and by the way, the verse you quote - 2:256 - about there being "no compulsion in religion"?
It has been *abrogated* - superceded - by the "Verse of the Sword".

See here -
http://www.wikiislam.net/wiki/List_of_Abrogations_in_the_Qur%27an#Surah_2


Islam is actually *extremely* simple, Davo. Allow me to quote this excellent page -
http://wikiislam.net/wiki/Factual_Persuasion_-_Shaping

"Mohammed is the supreme authority in Islam. No Muslim, no media pundit, no imam, no book, no article, not even the president of the US can be above Mohammed. Once you know Mohammed, you know the truth of Islam."

"Islam is simple. Islam is the political, religious and cultural doctrine found in the Trilogy.

After you understand this, your world changes. When you read an article in the New York Times by a government/university expert on Islam, you will see it has no merit until the conclusion of the experts is checked against the Sunna. If the “expert” agrees with Mohammed or Allah, then the conclusions are correct. If they violate the Sunna or the Koran, they are wrong."

"Think about this. There is only one Islam—the Sunna and the Koran. Why do we need the experts? No one needs a Muslim to define Islam. The Koran and Sunna do that for us. Once you know the doctrine, Islam is easy. You can grade the news reports, the government propaganda, the smart articles. You will see that none of the experts ever speak about the “why” of Islam. When you know the doctrine, you will always know why."

So - where do you get your info about Islam, Davo? Is it from the Islamic texts, or is it just from hearsay?

Just to finish, a nice tidbit about "forced conversion" -
http://wikiislam.net/wiki/Forced_Conversion



Davo Stevens said...

Good points TM. Agreed in the most part.

Sarin has a particular problem in that the components (two) must be mixed just before disposal. This involves considerable expertise in delivery.

The Jap attack was a very small scale on an underground train system which would confine the gas for a short period of time. Sarin breaks down very quickly in air so it has to be delivered in a way that maximises the damage it can cause.

The usual delivery is the two components are delivered by rocket and on contact the parts mix releasing the gas. Shells don't work with Sarin as the propellant mixes the components before it can be released.

Who did the deed? You guess is as good as mine but it does point to Assad rather than the rebels as Assad has the capability. We will probably never know.

I lived in Dubai, Yemen and Saudi Arabia and I too am an atheist but I kept my head down whilst I was there and never had any trouble at all with the local people. In fact I found them to be kind and generous in the most part. In Saudi Arabia the majority of the people are Shia (The Royal family are Sunni) and were just like us; working to pay their bills and not in the least interested in world domination.

Victor said...

TM

The sarin attack in Tokyo killed 13 people.That's less than 1% of the estimated death toll from the atrocity in Damascus.

Now, I accept that this latter estimate might be grossly excessive. There again, it might be a severe under-estimate.

Either way, this is a far bigger event than occurred in Tokyo and certainly suggests a degree of planning and military/bureaucratic coordination.

Yes, I agree that the civil war in Syria is also something of a proxy war. But it's a false dichotomy to assume from this that the Syrian regime is not capable of committing atrocities in its own right.

Perhaps it did so in coordination with one of its sponsors (or a faction therein).

By the way, the BND (German Intelligence service) claims to have picked up a telephone call from a Hezbollah operative to the Iranian embassy in Damascus announcing that the attack was about to be launched.

How the word reacts to this apparent flouting of Obama's injudicious 'red line' is, of course, another and far more complex matter.

But of this I'm certain; whatever is now done or not done with respect top this incident will have significant consequences far beyond the confines of the Middle East.

Davo Stevens said...

It is hypocritical for those of us who live in Christian nation and criticise Islam. As I have pointed out repeatedly each is as bad as the other.

Living here in NZ we have little knowledge of Islamic life and we see only the actions of the extremists. So it's easy to think that all Muslims are like that but I know from my own experience that they are not.

To a Muslim Islam is a way of life not just a belief and to the people in the Southern States of the US Evangelical Baptists are the way of life there.

Nothing in this world happens in isolation, everything has a cause and an effect. The Cause is things like the establishment of Israel on some-one elses territory and then ethnically clensing it. The overthrow of Mossadeq of Persia and installing the Shah, a man who made Sadd look like an angel. Mubarrak, Guadaffi, Saudi Royal Family, et al. All put in power by firstly the UK then the US and backed by the power of those two powers. The ordinary people were suppressed and it stands to reason that they would harbour some resentment toward the West in general.

The Wahabbis have taken that resentment and raised it to an art form.

When Russia dropped into Afganistan the US vis the CIA collected as many of them as the could and shipped them to The Base (al Quaida) in Afganistan. They put their good mate OBL in charge of the training there. The CIA supplied them with arms and was paid in heroin for those weapons. When the Russians left the US just walked away and left them to their own devices. If you are going to create a monster make sure when you have finished with him to lock him up and throw away the key or he'll come back and bite you on the arse. Just like OBL did.

This is the last I will say on the subject. As for the bible, I suggest you go through it from start to finish and make a note of all the references to making Christianity the only religion in the world and to kill those who refuse. You in for a very big surprise.

Victor said...

davo

This is also my last contribution to this thread.

By far the largest part of the Bible consists of what Christians refer to as the "Old Testament".

It was written by Jews for Jews and, because Judaism (unlike Christianity and Islam) does not seek to convert the world, there was no reason for it to threaten all who did not convert with the sword.

What it does contain, amongst many other things of considerably greater value, are some aggressive and bloodthirsty references to specific foreign oppressors or tribal enemies.

The Canaanites and Jebusites are promised and given, we're told, a particularly tough and apparently undeserved hard time. The Amalekites fare even worse but the narrative suggests that they've asked for it.

However, it's all tribe specific, like the lore of many another bunch of sheep-rearing, hill tribesmen

And there's nothing from Genesis to Nehemiah (or to Maccabees, should you chose to include the Apocrypha), about extirpating non-Christians, for the simple reason that there's no mention of Christianity (which hadn't been invented yet).

Does all this matter? Yes it does! The world is awash with silly theories with no basis in fact about other people's religious beliefs. And that's particularly true of the Middle East, where they're amongst the key drivers of the region's endemic blood letting.

So we really should think hard and check out our facts before enunciating on such subjects.

peterpeasant said...

Neither Putin nor Assad need an armed confrontation with US.

The rebels are very unlikely to have either the chemical weapons or the delivery systems.

Obama is either stupid or lying.

Probably the former, he believes his advisers.

Maybe both, oil and gas reserves still matter very much to all directly involved players, especially the Saudis.

Hat tip to Home Paddock blog (of all places) for that last comment.

Davo Stevens said...

I was not going to add any more to this discussion but I need to add this:

http://freethoughtnation.com/forums/

It discusses in depth the many things wrong with the mono-theistic religions.