Monday 26 March 2007

The Hypocrisy of the Wahabbis (UPIASIA)

M.D. Nalapat

Manipal, India — Although the U.S. State Department considers the Wahabbi sect to be engaged in "purifying" the Muslim faith, in fact what Mohammad ibn Abdul Wahab created three centuries ago was an entirely new faith, used thereafter to uproot the Sufi-suffused Islam that had gifted scholarship and success to the Muslims. Neither of his two biographies is credible, both being the work of admirers of the al-Sauds, the family later installed as the titular masters of the Arabian Peninsula.

Abdul Wahab developed his teachings to protect the absolutist rule of the al-Sauds, wrapping them in a cloak of piety that concealed personal conduct the opposite of the example set by the Prophet Mohammed. The founder of Wahabbism was an individual who sought to uproot traditional Islam from the land where it was revealed.

Early in his career as a preacher, Abdul Wahab formed a partnership with Muhammad ibn Saud, whereby the desert chieftain's dynasty was declared by the preacher to be the legitimate rulers of the lands where Islam first took root. A grateful ruler promptly anointed Abdul Wahab as the only correct teacher of the tenets of Islam. That the Muslim faith, democratic in its chemistry, explicitly rejects kingship, or that the Prophet Mohammed is the only transmitter of the Word of Allah, were seen as inconsequential.

Almost from the start of their sojourn into fortune, the al-Sauds fastened themselves to the flanks of the British, thereby gaining assistance in their battles with other chieftains, until their presumed loyalty finally earned them installation in 1932 as masters of the land they called "Saudi Arabia." But for British and later U.S. help, the al-Sauds would have remained just another of several tribal families, very possibly made extinct by those angered at their incessant aggression.

Monday 19 March 2007

Why Muslims hate the United States (UPIASIA)

M.D. Nalapat

Manipal, India — Anger against the United States within the Muslim "Ummah," or diaspora, has risen above the level aimed at the USSR after its 1979 invasion of Afghanistan. The United States seems on course to overtake Israel as the primary object of hate. This despite a well-funded campaign to convince Muslims that Uncle Sam loves them and is eager for reciprocation.

Unfortunately, apart (presumably) from Muslims resident in the country itself, followers of Islam around the globe see the United States as determined to emasculate and finally eliminate them. Such views have been in vogue since the 1950s, so it would be inaccurate to credit this perception entirely to George W. Bush, great though his contribution has been.

Since 1945 the United States, after being isolationist for most of its previous history, has metamorphosed into the most interventionist nation since the inhabitants of Britain decided in droves during the 18th century to leave their insipid food and miserable climate behind and seize control of much of the globe. Sadly for the United States, this attempt at emulating Britain has simply reinforced Karl Marx's dictum that history the second time around converts itself from tragedy to farce. A historical evaluation of the strands that fuse into Muslim hatred for the United States would be too ambitious for this column, which will therefore confine itself to some of the reasons behind the current loathing.

George W. Bush and other U.S. policymakers often speak of their desire to "bring democracy to the Middle East" by "empowering the people" and backing "voices of moderation" within the Islamic world. They apparently see no irony in the use of such language when the two King Abdullahs, Pervez Musharraf, Hosni Mubarak and the Turkish General Staff -- to name a few -- are given U.S. cover.

Monday 12 March 2007

Losing Minds and Hearts in Iraq (UPIASIA)

M.D. Nalapat

Manipal, India — India has been at the business end of jihadi-funded insurgency since 1981, the year in which Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) began to organize a "Khalistan" movement that would in a couple of years launch a terror campaign in India's Punjab State. Although local members of the Sikh community declined to come on board, enough funds were raised from ethnic Sikhs in the United States and Canada to provide the funding for a vicious struggle that lasted till the mid-1990s.

The Khalistan movement blended seamlessly with the other jihadist operation in Kashmir, an insurgency set off by those who returned to the Indian-held part of the state after receiving training in Pakistan from 1982 to 1988. It is still smoldering, and has thus far cost 73,000 lives, mostly in the killings of Muslims by Wahabbis.

In 1989 the USSR was defeated in Afghanistan and the ISI transferred its attention to Kashmir. Unfortunately for them, New Delhi proved a tougher proposition than Moscow, the reason being the manner in which the security forces conducted anti-jihadist operations. Given their low level of financial resources, these had perforce to depend on the "software" of psychological warfare against the jihadis, placing emphasis on changing of mindsets and preventing of unity between those disaffected with Indian rule.

In contrast, the United States has thrown into battle in Iraq a (usually wasted) flood of material resources, with far less success than the Indian armed forces have shown in Kashmir, where the jihadis have been beaten to the ground and are now desperately clutching at diplomacy to rescue themselves from the pit they have been pushed into.

Friday 9 March 2007

Why India Will Sit out Iran (UPIASIA)

M.D. Nalapat

Manipal, India — Iran's ongoing effort to master uranium enrichment technology, despite its denials, is likely to lead to a series of surgical U.S. air and missile strikes designed to cripple reprocessing capacity. The risks and rewards of such an action have been extensively detailed; hence the focus here is on a small part of the overall mosaic -- the response of India to such a strike.

Although Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is solicitous of perceived U.S. interests, and has been working to create an alliance between the world's two biggest democracies, geopolitical logic will dictate that New Delhi will sit out a future Iran conflict, rather than follow its instincts and back the United States.

In evidence that India-Iran strategic ties remain in good standing, the chief of the Iranian Navy, Rear Admiral S. Kouchaki, is on a March 4-9 visit to India, during which he will visit key installations and discuss joint exercises.

The reasons for India to avoid conflict with Iran are primarily four:

First is the Shiite factor. There have been a little over 17,000 Muslim-Hindu clashes since India became independent in 1947, of which less than two hundred involved Shiites and Hindus. Almost all such clashes have been Sunni versus Hindu, and 87 percent of these have been Wahabbi-Hindu, as the more moderate sections of Sunni Muslim society seldom adopt a confrontational posture with their Hindu neighbors.