Moderator: Nicole Marie
On that note, here's a website that might resonate with folks regardless of their political persuasion. It has an agenda:Originally posted by Selma in San Diego:
Can't we all just... Get Along?
Hag, I miss your old signature.Originally posted by Haggis:
Stand by for a long and hopefully fair description of where we are in the middle east and how it just about as good as it it EVER going to get.
I spent many of my formative years living among Arabs (mainly North Africa) I first read the Quran when I was 10 ( my mother made me!)
I then spent a number of years in the military, spending a great deal of time in the Middle East in one moslem country or another and probably have a greater appreciation of Islam and the Middle East than most Americans.
Personally, I have always believed that “Peace”, as Americans view it, is out of the question in the Middle East. To see why I feel that way, we have to look at the history.
The situation in the Middle East is a direct result of events caused by a number of countries in the past century or so, and, as frequently is the case, most of those countries were predominately European. The history of the Middle East in the twentieth century can only be described as both absurd and deadly.
Until the end of World War I, Ottoman Turks ruled the area from the Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf, as well as the entire Saudi peninsula. Allied with Germany, the Ottomans struggled to hold on to an empire that had been in retreat for centuries. The British badly wanted to defeat the Ottomans.
Having built the Suez Canal, which gave them rapid access to India and China, they had to protect it. They needed to secure the sea-lanes of the eastern Mediterranean and drive the Turks away from the Canal and its approaches. The British conducted a series of campaigns to break the Turks, including the disastrous Gallipoli landings and the more successful invasion of the province of Syria by General Allenby, who was supported by a Bedouin army recruited from the Arabian Peninsula. Controlled by British intelligence and special operations teams, including that of the famous Lawrence of Arabia, they first loosened Turkish control over Arabia and then supported Allenby’s attack on Jerusalem and Damascus.
King Hussein’s tribe, the Hashemite, (Jordan came later, read on) was the engine behind the operation.
The British were allied with the French, which meant they had to share the spoils of war. The British kept Iraq and the Arabian Peninsula for themselves. They did divide the Ottoman province of Syria, which contained today’s Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. The division, codified in the then secret Sykes-Picot agreement, was extraordinarily arbitrary. A line was drawn through the province. Everything to the north would be French. Everything to the south would be British.
The French had been making trouble in this area since the 1880s, when they had intruded into another Lebanese civil war, siding with Christian factions. The French owed the Christians a great deal. They also wanted to cement their control of the region by creating a pro-French Christian state. The Christians were at the time in the majority (they no longer are), but the area reserved for them contained Shiite, Sunni, and Alawite Muslims, Druse, and a wide variety of Christians. The religious groups were further divided among themselves along clan lines, with some of the bitterest hatreds dividing clans of the same religion (It’s still very much this way in Somalia). Thus, Lebanon was a contrivance without any reality. It didn’t even have a real name, so they named it after a prominent geographic feature, Mount Lebanon. It was as good a name as any.
Fortunately, the French ran out of ideas for improvements and left the rest of Syria intact, not even changing its name. They did, however, get rid of the Hashemite King the British had selected (not Hussein). The British gave him the consolation prize of the Iraqi throne.
The British were busy double-crossing everyone. They had made many promises to many people. They had promised various competing Bedouin tribes that they would be given responsibility for Mecca, just as they promised in the Balfour Declaration that they would give the Jews a homeland while also promising the Arabs that they would be allowed to control their own destiny. They were particularly close to King Hussein’s tribe, the Hashemites, who had governed Mecca since the 13th century. Having spearheaded the British campaign against the Ottomans, you might have thought that the
Hashemites were in good shape.
Unfortunately, a rapidly rising Bedouin tribe, the Saud who were Wahabi Moslems, had become more powerful than the Hashemite, and the British double-crossed the Hashemites, turning the Arabian Peninsula and the guardianship of Mecca over to them.
The British had to figure out what to do with the Hashemites. The royal family could be given thrones, but the tribe itself had to get out of Arabia, since they would be torn apart by the Sauds or, at the very least, destabilize the region. The British decided to settle them in the middle of nowhere. There was not a whole lot east of the Jordan River, so the British decided to put them there. The region had no name, since it was primarily a wasteland of little interest to anyone.
So they named it for where it was—the other side of the Jordan or to be fancy, Trans-Jordan. After independence in 1948, the word “trans” was dropped out and the modern state of Jordan or, to be more precise, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan was born as a homeland for a displaced band of Bedouin with nowhere else to go.
The rest of the “mandate” was left with the same name it had when it was a county within the Ottoman province of Syria, Filistina, after the Biblical people that produced Goliath. The British kept that name and it became bastardized into English as Palestine. And so the modern map of the region was born.
Palestine consisted of small villages surviving on agriculture and small merchants. Divided among Moslem, Christian, Druse and Jewish communities, much of the land was owned by absentee landlords. The people of Palestine had as much in common with the Hashemite Bedouins across the river in Jordan as a New Yorker has with a Montana cowboy -- enough not to like each other a lot and not to understand each other at all. They were now all neighbors.
So, the French invented Lebanon, the British invented Jordan, a county became Palestine, and the Syrians claimed everything. Then the Jews showed up.
If things weren’t wild enough before, Jewish intellectuals from Poland decided to come and farm in the middle of this insanity. The fact that they couldn’t speak Arabic merely added to their charm, since they also knew nothing about farming. Jews living in London purchased the land from Arabs living in Paris and Cairo, thereby throwing people who had farmed the land for generations off their land. Out of this, the State of Israel was born.
The Jews settled primarily along the coastal plain as well as in the
Galilee. There were relatively few settlements in what is today the West Bank. The Lebanese were not unhappy with creation of Israel, since they were Christian and liked anything that gave the Moslems a headache.
The Hashemites in Jordan were not too unhappy either. They had never really gotten along with their Palestinian brothers. After the War of Independence in 1948, the West Bank remained under Arab rule. Since, at that time, no one had yet thought of an independent Palestine (the main thinking then was that Palestine still belonged to Syria), governance of the West Bank fell to the only Arab country physically connected to it, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
This was big trouble for the Jordanians, since the Hashemites didn’t like the Palestinians and the Palestinians didn’t like the Hashemites. King Hussein’s grandfather (also King Hussein, there were a lot of them) held secret talks with the Israelis on a peace settlement designed to keep the Palestinians under control. Unfortunately for him, the peace talks didn’t stay secret and he was assassinated.
From 1948 until 1967, the (recently deceased) King Hussein, who succeeded his grandfather, was in constant danger from the Palestinians. In many ways he welcomed the Israeli conquest of the West Bank, since it made the Palestinians their problem rather than his. Unfortunately for him, there were masses of Palestinian refugees living in Jordan after 1967, who decided that it was time to get rid of the Hashemites and create their own state. They tried to do just that in September 1970.
Unfortunately for them, the Bedouin Army that had been trained by the British not only defeated the Palestinians but also conducted a horrific, brutal massacre, securing the Hashemite throne from its only real threat, the Palestinians. The single largest cause of Palestinians deaths in the 20th Century, the “Black September” massacre, was at the hands of another group of Moslems. Remember the “Black September” terrorist organization of the early ‘70s? This was the genesis of that group, and indirectly, Hamas.
The “Black September” massacre had two effects. It directly spawned a wave of Palestinian terrorism and it turned King Hussein into a wise statesman. Having taken care of his Palestinian problem, he could now take the long view. In fact, the last thing Hussein wanted to see was a Palestinian state.
Such a state, bordered by Israel and Jordan, would inevitably seek to topple the Hashemite throne in order to break out of an impossible encirclement. Hussein’s brilliance was to appear to be an urbane man and wise ruler utterly dedicated to peace while doing everything possible to prevent the emergence of an independent Palestinian state and shifting the blame to Israel. He always hoped the Oslo Peace accord would eventually collapse; his vision has been realized.
The last thing Hussein wanted was Yasir Arafat feeling hemmed in on the other side of the Jordan. His mortal enemies, the Saudis, still rule Arabia (off topic, I wonder how much Hussein’s support for Iraq in 1990 had to do with dreams of a return to Mecca after the defeat of the Saudis?)
Syria still claims the entire old Ottoman province including Jordan. No one knows what Saddam in Iraq will do next. King Hussein’s exiled Hashemites had more than enough to worry about. The last thing he wanted to see was an independent Palestinian state threatening his country from the east.
The point to all of this is that there are no permanent solutions to the region’s problems. All of the current structures are merely temporary and artificial, some without any real substance at all. How does one make peace in Lebanon when Lebanon is neither a nation nor a state? How can Syria, which sees itself as the rightful heir to Jordan, Israel and Lebanon, give up its inheritance without giving up its identity? How can Israel, which cannot decide if it is the Third Temple or a place to produce low-cost microprocessors, make a lasting peace with a Jordan whose real interest is to dream of a return to Mecca and 700 years of greatness?
There is nothing permanent in this region save perpetual instability. What we have now is as good as it will ever get.
Remember, most of these groups are not countries as they are tribes with tribal goals. The Hashemites’ (Jordan’s) “secret mission” has been to survive and to never forget their lost inheritance. That is everyone’s ”secret mission” in the region. That means tension, conspiracy and war.
The best that can be hoped for is temporary periods of relatively little mayhem. . Many conquerors have come into this region from the outside, dreaming of permanent empire. They all have gone away, many broken by the experience.
American dreams of permanent, stable arrangements would be funny, if they weren’t so dangerous.
Finally, have you noticed that there are no freely elected governments in any country that uses Islam as its guiding principal?
Pakistan was the last that got close, but its now a more or less benevolent dictatorship.
"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana"
"In an Islamist controlled society, debate is forbidden, difference of opinion and dissension is considered a perversion, and modern education a threat. Individual reasoning is forbidden. And expression of doubt about any aspect of the "religiously mandated" social, cultural and political sociology is barred as blasphemy.
Anyone attempting to challenge the status quo is instantly declared an apostate. An Islamist mind is a possessed mind - a condition that compels him or her to live to destroy others. An Islamist does not believe in living side by side with anyone who does not conform to his or her ideology. His life is a constant Jihad (holy war) to overwhelm and eradicate infidels."
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