Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Tide Against Misguided Extremism Is Turning: Pakistan Could Not Be Run by a Taliban Regime

Surely the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is far more mature than to let elements of the Taliban persuasion, a highly extreme rendition of the Wahhabi/Salafi deviations of the enlightened Message of the Islam take over the helms in this important Islamic country. In fact, the appearance of the Taliban to try to take over the highly populous and relatively speaking, forward looking Moslem nation was perhaps one of the most suicidal adventures the Taliban and their backers and inciters (surely, it is not possible for anyone to believe that waging a war against the international community and now their own Moslem brothers and neighbors is an autonomously conceived, planned and financed operation) could have chosen to engage in. This cannot help but remind the observer of similarities with earlier times in history on the Third Decade of the Twentieth Century. In the early 1920s, the Wahhabis and their partners, the House of Saud, were allowed and backed by the British to return to their original habitat of Nejd, in the northeastern part of Saudi Arabia. Heretofore they were in exile in Kuwait, which was a “protectorate” of the British Crown, after the Ottoman Turks drove them out of their former stronghold of Dir'iya, a fortified town south of the City of Riyadh, over half a century or so before (by an expeditionary force led by Ibrahim Ali Pasha, brother of Mohammed Ali Pasha – the founder of the originally Albanian royal dynasty that ruled modern Egypt until 1952 with the ouster of King Farouk). One could not help but wonder if that was taken as a very kind gesture of the British by the Sharif Hussein, then ruler of the Hejaz, who had been promised by T. E. Lawrence, a British Intelligence Officer, to be the new Leader of the Arab Awakening for his assistance in driving the Ottomans out of Arabia! He and his family were eventually driven out of the Hejaz by the Saudis and their Wahhabi fanatical partners. The only surviving territory of what was expected to be a reunited Arab Nation is the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, thanks to the astute and courageous survivor against all odds that King Hussein, one of the very few surviving great grandsons of the Sharif Hussein, of Jordan proved to be,. Jordan is now ruled by King Abdulla Bin Hussein Bin Talal Bin Abdulla Bin Hussein (the Sharif of Mecca), whose father managed to reign for nearly half a century and produced one of the best examples of sound development in the region, out of the small desert kingdom that he inherited and held on to against incredible challenges.
Let us now return to Nejd again at that early significant moment in the history of the region. Once the Saudis and their Wahhabi militias held sway in Nejd, they curiously turned their attention towards Kuwait, and saw Kuwait as being ripe for the imposition of their extreme puritanical and actually unorthodox rendition of Islam. Some chroniclers suggest that this was done without the approval of the sovereign partners of the Wahhabis, namely King Abdul-Aziz Abdul-Rahman Al Saud (who ruled until the mid 1950s). The Wahhabi militias began by attacking borderline Kuwaiti Government outposts and there are poems emanating from poets of both sides describing the bravery of each side’s combatants, each to his own liking of course, but the British eventually intervened and used their aerial superiority to return the tide in favor of the Kuwaitis. The latter were not at all pleased by this ungrateful attitude of their former exiled guests and were not at all interested in adopting any of the extremism of the Wahhabi Religious Establishment.
The situation in Pakistan today has a lot of similarity with this historical precedence that took place in another part of the Islamic Crescent Region of Asia that extends from Arabia to the South Seas nearly nine decades back. The Taliban (Afghani version) originally developed as a political, religious and social movement in the Afghani refugee camps in Pakistan, with the tacit backing of the powerful intelligence wing of the Pakistan military, which on and off has ruled Pakistan since independence in 1947. Needless to say this backing was strongly influenced by Saudi Arabian encouragement and financial remuneration. This allowed the Taliban to develop into a relatively speaking formidable well armed and organized socio-political group. Ironically, the Taliban did not have a known presence during the fight against the Soviet occupation and those of them that might have been involved were elements of groups with Salafi inclinations under the leadership of some of the warlords like Gulb Eddine Hikmetyar (The Islamic Party). The Pakistanis hoped that the Pashtun ethnic association of the Afghan Talibans would give them some geographical depth (the Pashtuns are probably the biggest ethnic groups in both Afghanistan and Pakistan). With the Talibans, the name of Osama Bin Laden also rose to prominence (again probably because of Saudi encouragement at the time). Thus the Taliban and Bin Laden stole the “liberating Mujahedeen status, which was earned more deservedly by the courageous struggle that was the work of men like Ahmed Shah Massoud (killed by Al-Qaeda operatives just before 9/11 – a phenomenal coincidence? – and General Abdul Rashid Dustom). The Pakistanis under Former Prime Minister Noaz Sharif and later under General Pervez Musharraf were continuously supportive of the Taliban and viewed this as strategically important, because the former was a close friend of Saudi Arabia and the latter, at the start of his rule (which began in 1998) anyway, did so in the hope of not alienating the Saudis for removing their ally Noaz Sharif and also in the belief that a Moslem Jihadist orientation is necessary for the ongoing conflict with India (here is a link to an early article of the ties between the Taliban and the Pakistani Government: The story continues in the next Common Sense article.
Yemen Times 14 May 2009

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Secession is Unforgivable and Out of the Question

For many of the gripes that many outspoken Yemenis, who mistakenly claim to be echoing the grievances of our fellow Yemenis in the Southern and Eastern Governorates of the REPUBLIC OF YEMEN, this observer is inclined to suggest very strongly that the latter’s claim is neither true or legitimate. This suggestion is reinforced by the audacity of these claimants to demand for the reestablishment of an “independent South Yemen”. In fact this observer is of a strong belief that such calls are not laced with good intentions and are actually a product of an unholy and unforgivable assertion that South Yemen is an autonomous regional geographical entity that has been in existence even before Adam set forth on this planet. Moreover these claimants will go further and state that this independence is also justified by the not so easily discernible attribute of a “Southern” identity. One could probably state this would be more so in the United States (at least before the American Civil War, which lasted from 1861 – 1865).
Throughout the history of Yemen, there has never been a North – South divide of any caliber existing, whether geographically, demographically or even politically. The “South Arabian Federation” was a British last ditch effort to save their hold on the Crown Colony, which was never recognized by the populations, while the British themselves were quick to recognize the right of the Imam of Yemen to keep a viceroy in Aden, to confirm his sovereign authority over all of Yemen. This was also in lieu of the North of Yemen maintaining a status quo of the British presence in Aden, which should not compromise on the holistic sovereignty of the country. This tacit unity of Yemen was the overriding reason that made the Yemen Arab Republic (the inheritor of Imamic rule in Yemen in 1962, the strong instigator of the fight against the British which eventually led to the independence of the South in 1967. With the Yemen Arab Republic fatigued from a war against the royalists, who were trying to reinstate the Imamate and with supporting the rebellion in the South against the British, the Government in Sana’a could not enforce the unity of Yemen at the time and some of the leaders of the Southern rebellion had opted to align themselves with Moscow and the Government in Aden became more radically leftist than Che Guevara during the tense years of the Cold War. If that might be the cause for the claim for this unique identity, then it is surely not what the people of Yemen look to with favor, whether in the Northern and Western Governorates or the Southern and Eastern Governorates. Even then, our Southern brothers were energetically supporting a leftist insurrection in the North, with the eventual hope of uniting all of Yemen under the hammer and sickle. I am sure our brothers in the South calling for the independence of their ”homeland” do still recall this ugly insurrection, where hundreds of thousands of land mines still pose a threat to many innocent civilians in the Central and Highlands of Yemen.
Thus, it is impossible to see how these no so loyal Yemenis can claim to have their own identity, when they know full well that Yemenis throughout Yemen identify with each other without difficulty, whether they come from Al-Mahara or Sa’ada, Hadhramaut or Taéz, Kamaran or Socotra. This is clearly discernible in the areas where large numbers of Yemeni emigrants reside, who collectively regard themselves as a Yemeni community. On the other hand, our seekers of their own separate statehood in the South should start looking at their country more deeply. How many Yemenis have migrated within the country over the centuries? Thus you have the Saqqafs, Adimis and others emanating from Hadhramaut having settled in the Ta’ez area (Al-Hadharem). The Abu Luhoums and even the Zindanis migrated from the far North to the middle part of the country. You had sultans in many of the areas of the southern governorates, who actually emanate from the North such as the Abdillis, the Fadhlis and the Kathiris, and they were readily accepted as de facto rulers of the regions under their authority (in the Yafi’a, Hadhramaut/Shabwa and Abyan. The Abdillis originate from Arhab and the Kathiris originate from Anis and the Fadhlis originate from Dhamar. We should also not forgot that during the partition period, the governments of Aden and Sana’a both had elements that were mixed of originally southern and northern habitat.
As for the claim on the oppression of the regime, that is not a monopoly of our southern brothers at all, but really a uniform state of being, of which all of Yemen is crying out to be relieved from. There is no reason why the struggle against injustice can not be more effective if all the victims of this injustice, north and south, work together to achieve the liberation of all Yemenis from the oppression that all of Yemen is facing currently. This is not just a southern issue; it is an issue that involves all of Yemen.