‘Rats leave the sinking ship’ you must have heard before. In fact rats move in a sinking ship judging from the near collapse of Syria. It was long in coming and the crew are a motley mixture of sects that are attracting some rats from far off. The Arab Spring was a reef that the ship of Bashar al-Assad could not avoid. The “Friends of Syria” meeting in late February met in Tunis in order to ship arms to Syrian rebels. Friends are in name only. In fact all those Sunni factions wherever they are want to settle scores with Shi’ia faction supporting al-Assad. Saudi Arabia and members of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC),- like Qatar and Kuwait, are friends on geopolitical grounds. If the royal family of Bahrain,-Sunnis, has a stranglehold on the majority Shi’ia population the troops sent by the Saudi government are there to prop up the King.
A country which was once broadly secular is now damaged by proxy war. External powers caused sectarianism pitching the country’s Sunni majority against the president’s Shia Alawite sect. Such divisions have encouraged both sides to commit atrocities that have not only caused loss of life but also torn apart communities, hardened positions and dimmed hopes for a political settlement. The latest outrage using Sarin gas raised the hackles of the US who showed their token outrage by sending missiles. So Assad is hit but Russia is there to fix his headaches. The so-called Islamic State (IS), which controls large swathes of northern and eastern Syria, is battling government forces, rebel brigades and Kurdish militias, as well as facing air strikes by Russia and a US-led multinational coalition. Thousands of Shia militiamen from Iran, Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen say they are fighting alongside the Syrian army to protect holy sites.
Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia, which is seeking to counter the influence of its rival Iran, has been a major provider of military and financial assistance to the rebels, including those with Islamist ideologies.
So we have proxy war and war on grounds of ideology and Jihad. All the three are waged by rascals whose ideas whether it deals with religion or politics are same in that these can be counted in dollars and cents.
Russia and Iran has set their own red line now and have warned the US not to cross them. This red line is the latest in the many red lines they crossed the one redline drawn by God. Do these beggarly crew think Syria lost or won will give them peace?
I had written a post “What ails Syria” sometime in July 2012. (Ack: BBC Apr.7.)
Read Full Post »
Posted in Aesop, Aesop and the Ass, fables, history, modern fable, tagged As Is Where Is, Benny Thomas, Caliphate, Iraq, IS., Levant, modern fables, Syria on September 8, 2014|
Leave a Comment »
Mr. Clod and Leaf on the War Path
One fine morning Mr. Clod was surprised by a leaf who introduced himself as a Jihadi. He had a South London accent that marked him as a Brit and he said, “Clod, Is it not time to clean up the land?”
Clod who has been called Ali Baba said, “ Why don’t you clean up your house first?” Leaf was sure that they should not settle for anything less than a Caliphate .”
At that point Clod brightened up and said, “Caliphate! All you need to say ‘Open Sesame’ Syria and Levant shall be under our feet.” Clod pointed out to some rag that was blackened under the scorching sun and said it should make a flag. Mr. Leaf giggled and said, “Hardly have I made a suggestion before you are brimming with ideas.” They agreed to march to Syria in order to found their Caliphate.
On the way they discussed what needed to be done. Clod was all for rooting out music from the land. Mr. Leaf wanted to crucify the minorities and Clod was sure all women they won at the point of sword was to be sold as slaves and enemies slaughtered.
Mr. Leaf asked somewhat apprehensively, “Is it permitted by the Prophet?”
Clod said brusquely,”I have not heard any Imam forbidding them, So we shall do as we please.”
They called themselves As Is Where Is. “IS for short.” they shouted.
Thus they went on. Suddenly a storm arose and Mr. Leaf all shook up and said, “Wish we did some thing against Nature before we took to war on human nature.” No sooner than he said the clouds massed up. The hard wind carried the leaf away and the rain washed away the silly clod.
Read Full Post »
Palestine is an artery between Asia to Africa. Geography shaped its vital role in millennia and history of ancient civilizations brought its strategic importance into focus of world empires that later stepped into the center stage. Until the rise of Greece and Rome its destiny was shaped by rise and decline in fortunes around Egypt, Assyria and Babylon.Via Maris was as vital as Via Appia and one cannot fail to notice the reason why from the map given hereunder.
What does the map tell you? The coastline facing westward to Europe gave ancient Phoenicians a trade route to Greece and beyond. In the south it is linked to the Red Sea and to the Indian Ocean. To the east of Palestine lies Mesopotamia, land of the Euphrates and the Tigris. To the south Egypt, land of the Nile; to the north, the highlands of Hittite Anatolia; to the west, Cyprus and Aegean Isles.
Along the major axis of communication from north to south, intersected by Mesopotamia and Anatolia on the east and Egypt on the other you can locate great cities Gaza, Meggido, Hazor. For control of these trade routes many military campaigns were waged. You can see how strategically important was Palestine by the names here. The Pharaohs were major players as well as kings of Assyria, Babylon, Persia and by Alexander the Great. In his wake came the emperors of Byzantium, the Arabs, the crusaders, the Mamelukes, the Turks. In the closing stages of WWI crucial thrust towards Damascus occurred here. Finishing off the ambitions of a moribund Ottoman Empire was a necessity for the Allies and it was a signal for yet new players to come to the scene.
Palestine in short though on the fringe of the western world could not escape the constant struggle for control between major players from Africa and Asia especially.
(To be continued)
Read Full Post »