As the intra-GCC conflict digs its heels in deeper, it is important to acknowledge that no single party is one hundred percent correct, that not every issue is black and white, and that there exists large swathes of gray- as is typical in such wide geopolitical conflicts.
Having said that, there is certainly a party that is more principled. And in the following five key points (in order of importance), I make the case that Qatar has the moral high ground on both principles and facts surrounding this crisis:
Muslim Brotherhood is a paranoia that should not destroy GCC brotherhood:
One of the most fundamental Saudi complaints against Qatar is with regards to the Muslim Brotherhood (MB). One must note that the MB was Egypt’s democratically elected ruling party only a few years ago, and soft links to this movement exist globally, from Tunisia, Morocco to Turkey, Pakistan and many others.
While MB organizationally has renounced violence and has assimilated into democratic channels in most parts of the world, some offshoots have taken on more violent dimensions. But to paint the entire movement as one monolith or the “mother of terrorism” or the “motivation behind ISIS” is not only simplistic but also flat wrong. Let’s take this logic to its natural conclusion: if ISIS takes its motivation from MB, and MB takes its motivation from Islam, is Islam the “mother of terrorism”?
Perhaps the real fear is not terrorism or violence. The indisputable fact is that MB is organized and transnational, and its role in the Arab Spring created new levels of paranoia for the Saudi bloc. Thus, one can understand that some non-democratic countries such as Saudi and UAE may see MB offshoots as existential threats. However, many countries allow MB offshoots to prosper or at least exist; yet they remain peaceful elements with little influence at the top (like in Pakistan, Qatar, Kuwait, etc.).
It is important to note that human psychology is such that the more you silence and oppress opposing voices the more you exacerbate dissension. Thus, it is in the Saudi bloc’s interest to win hearts and minds with good policies and governance, rather than censorship and silencing, by observing other nations where people have dismissed Islamist movements by choice (not force).
Qatar is tied to Iran not by choice but by resources:
The Saudi bloc wants Qatar to be “less close” to Iran, including military cooperation. First of all, there is little evidence of military cooperation in recent times. As for other ties, Qatar is different from other GCC nations in that it shares with Iran exploration rights in the world’s largest gas field that holds at least 43 trillion cubic meters of gas reserves. This physical reality binds the two nations in an economic cooperation that is critical to both.
Furthermore, while the Saudi bloc sees Iran as the biggest threat to world peace and the largest sponsor of terrorism, it continues to maintain diplomatic and economic ties with Iran. So on one hand, Qatar is being punished for not toeing the Saudi bloc line to Iran, but the on the other, the Saudi bloc continues to do business as usual with Iran. This makes little sense and reeks of double standards.
Instead of strong-arming Qatar into cutting ties with Iran, the way to contain Iran is through diplomatic and political channels. Yes, Iran must stop its disastrous direct interference in assisting Syrian’s Assad in his brutal campaign. But having Qatar cut its ties cannot stop it. In fact, the Saudi bloc could use Qatar as a vessel to negotiate political solutions to the region’s abysmal situation, rather than block such channels.
If Qatar silences Al-Jazeera, can we ask UK to silence BBC, Russia for RT and Saudi for Al-Arabiya?
This is one of the more incredulous demands by the Saudi/UAE/Egypt (“Saudi bloc”), and has its roots in the Egyptian’s bloody counter-revolution that brought Sisi into power (financed by UAE), following the Rabaa massacre. During this time, Al-Jazeera was viciously attacked for its unfavorable coverage of the coup and, one may fairly argue, for its bias towards Muslim Brotherhood (especially on its Arabic channel). It was systematically turned from a champion of Egyptians (during the Arab Spring) into the enemy of the state, when it refused to stand arm-in-arm with the rest of Egyptian media in the propaganda to dehumanize Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood party and supporters, a necessary pre-condition to depose Morsi and reinstate military rule.
To be clear, Al-Jazeera cannot be considered “free” press because it has to abide by Qatar’s laws, which for example, prohibit it from speaking unfavorably about the Qatari royal family. However, nearly every single government channel is biased in one-way or the other to its “ruling party”. Consider RT, from Russia—when is the last time it issued a scathing report on Putin? Or consider the Saudi bloc’s own channels, some of which have published the most embarrassing stories, ignoring even the most basic journalistic standards. Similar demands could be made to shut down Saudi and UAE media. Can Qatar demand Al-Arabiya to be shut down?
While far from perfect, Al-Jazeera especially its English channel, has received global accolades for some fantastic reporting. And even acknowledging Al-Jazeera Arabic’s failings, what right does one country have to impose its will on the media of another country? Such demands are unprecedented and silencing media outlets causes much harm. If Al-Jazeera’s media coverage is unfair, let its watchers and readers make that determination by giving them access to it, along with alternatives. If one is on the right side, then what does one have to fear? Competition should be on ideas, not on censorship!
If Qatar sponsors terrorism, where is the proof for its (official) involvement?
This might be by far the most inane demand, for lack of better words. The Saudi bloc is accusing Qatar of being a supporter of terrorism, a charge that has been used over and over for political purposes around the globe. Donald Trump used the fear of terrorism for his own election by making Muslims the global bogeyman. In Egypt, Sisi used the media to paint MB and even its supporters as terrorists, turning a democratically elected government into purveyors of terrorism, with no evidence except planted stories and loud media voices. Similarly Qatar faced a barrage of negative op-eds in USA papers over the last few months, to soil its reputation.
Looking at documented incidents of terrorism in the West, has there ever been a Qatari or even an expat from Qatar involved in terrorism? No. Yet, one cannot say the same about the Saudi, UAE, or Egypt. Could citizens of Qatar be involved in ISIS? While not documented so far, it is possible, but there have been documented cases of citizens of USA, UK and other Western states in ISIS. The question is has Qatar officially supported ISIS in any form? And the answer is a resounding no.
As far as funding terrorism, most of this relates to the Syrian civil war. As we all know, all parties in this conflict are united against Assad. Yet, different parties have chosen to support different entities at different times based on illusions of effectiveness. Could some of this money end up in the wrong hands? Absolutely. In fact, any funds from any nation, including the Saudi bloc, the United States, or any of the multitudes of players could end up in the wrong hands.
Thus, needless to say the terrorism charges against Qatar are obscure at best. And things will become even more clear once the USA firm headed by the US Attorney General during Sept. 11 attacks, John Ashcroft, finishes reviewing measures in place to prevent and detect efforts to launder funds and/or to use its financial systems to finance terrorist organizations
If Turkey must leave Qatar, can China ask USA troops to leave Korea?
As for Turkey, Saudi bloc sees MB shades in Erdogan’s government, although ironically Erdogan is nowhere close to implementing Islamic sharia in its borders relative to say Saudi Arabia. But again, it is not about ground-reality in Turkey; Saudi wants to impose its will of shutting down MB activities and the more powerful Turkey stands in its way. Thus, Saudi wants Qatar to evict Turkish troops, while one observes, leaving US troops there. On what international legal ground can one country demand another country to evict one country’s troops and leave another’s there? Can China ask USA troops to vacate Korea? What about foreign troops in Saudi and Bahrain?
Other Red Herrings:
The Saudi bloc also dislikes Qatar for allowing offices of Taliban and Hamas. The presence of official representatives in Qatar permits counter-parties to meet at a neutral location, which is to facilitate peaceful and political resolutions. You cannot shut down voices; you can just force them to move somewhere else, which may make it even harder to come to reasonable terms with them. Even the USA has engaged in discussions with Taliban in Qatar. And Qatar has hosted Palestinian unity efforts. So, is this a case of facilitating peace or fomenting terrorism?
In conclusion, while no party is absolutely right in its positions, the demands of the Saudi bloc are egregious and dishonest, and reek of bullying. Were Qatar to cede to such demands, it will be one step away from ceding its complete sovereignty to another country. No sovereign nation can accept such dictation of its own internal and foreign policies. It is time for the Saudi bloc to sit down with Qatar and neutral third parties and try to find areas where Qatar can pacify concerns that do have a direct impact in the Saudi bloc. Qatar does not have to agree with its neighbors on all issues, in order to live peacefully with them. For example USA and Mexico don’t see eye to eye on many issues, including seething hatred between its current leaders, but has USA blockaded Mexico and demanded it follow US principles? No.
It is time for the Saudi bloc to grow up to international standards of diplomacy.
Malaysians Ask China To Free Uyghurs, Close The Camps
By Gulnaz Uighur
Muslims are standing up for Uyghurs, protests held in Malaysia.
5th of July could be just like another day for people but for Uyghurs, it brings back dark memories of a bloody past. This day, in 2009, thousands of Uyghur students were massacred by Chinese police in Urumqi. These young students were demanding an investigation into the rising number of homicides in a toy factory. These people only wanted justice. They were also upset by the ongoing discrimination in the employment sector. Graduates were denied jobs because of their Uyghur ethnicity. After the protests, China started abducting the Uyghur youth and no one knows where the missing went. Its been 10 years since that horrifying incident and the condition of Muslims have devolved in a genocidal nightmare.
Communist Government in China Has over 2 Million Uyghurs in Concentration Camps
Beijing has now locked over 2 million Uyghurs in concentration camps. People in these places are forced to denounce Islam, forget the teachings of Quran, prohibited from praying, asked to learn Xi Jinping’s speech and tortured for not obeying these orders. Sadly, Islam is being treated as a disease in China and most of the Islamic nations are turning a blind eye to it.
So Malaysia came as a breath of fresh air when Muslim NGOs organized an anti-China protest against Uyghur persecution.
On 5th July 2019, a coalition of 34 Malaysian NGOs gathered outside the Chinese Embassy in Kuala Lumpur to protest the persecution of Uyghurs. The organizations prepared a memo of protest to be submitted to Chinese officials. In the memo, they demanded Beijing to ‘Respect the human rights of the Uyghur people, in particular, their right to life and freedom of religion and belief.’ , ‘immediately stop the persecution and extreme repression of the Uyghur people.’ and close the camps. They also called upon the International community to increase the voices of protest and disfavour upon the Chinese government and to work together to improve the situation for the Uyghur people through concrete actions.
The protesters shouted slogans like ‘Me Too Uyghur’ and ‘Save Uyghur’. In a media interview, president of the Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia (Abim), Mohamad Raimi Abdul Rahim asked immediate freedom for all those who have been detained in concentration camps.
Malaysians Stand With Uyghurs
Abim secretary Muhammad Faisal Abdul Aziz accused the Chinese government of concealing the plight of the Uyghurs by offering NGOs and government agencies free trips and painting a rosy picture of the camps. Mohd Azmi Abdul Hamid, chairman of the Malaysian Consultative Council Of Islamic Organizations (Mapim), said the atrocities committed against the Uyghurs could not be denied or disguised. The Group of NGOs also included Ikram Association and the Malaysian Youth Council among others.
Though no Chinese official came out to accept the memo, the message was clear that now people won’t keep quiet about the Uyghur persecution. There is a dire need for Muslim countries to break their silence on this issue. There is enough evidence to prove that something unholy and inhumane is happening with Uyghurs. If these countries consider China their friend then ask it to stop being a Shaitan. The leaders must realize that their first duty is towards the Ummah and not towards China.
Now is the time to stand for Uyghurs before nothing is left to be saved.
This protest in Malaysia has proved that people in Muslim countries do support Uyghurs even if their governments are silent and are upset with Beijing’s policies. This event proved that governments may fail to fight but people won’t.
The Environmental Cost Of War With Iran
Report after report shows how planet Earth may reach a point of no return. An analysis written by Ian Dunlop claims the planet cannot be saved by the mid-century if we continue on this path. And yet here we are marching towards a war with Iran.
When we think of climate change, we rarely think of war. On June 12th, 2019, Brown University released a report declaring the Department of Defence to be “the world’s largest institution to use petroleum and correspondingly, the single largest producer of greenhouse gases (GHG) in the world.” Burning jet fuel for transportation of troops and weapons make up 70 percent of the Pentagon’s emissions. Ironically, earlier this year the Pentagon released a 22-page report to Congress stating the ⅔ of their mission-essential installation in the US are vulnerable to flooding, and ½ are susceptible to wildfires. To no surprise, Trump rejected those findings at the time. The Pentagon is now concerned with the impact climate change has on their “foreign missions.”
With tensions high with Iran, and several thousand troops are expected to be deployed, if war with Iran is to happen, it may lead us to a more damaged planet that may not recover. This makes the Pentagon guilty of killing people and the earth. The Department of Defense has consistently used between 77-80% of the entire US energy consumption. We see spikes during times of massive war (since America is in a constant state of war), like in 1991, 2001, and so on.
Here is a list of the seven significant sources of greenhouse emissions done by the Department of Defense:
- Overall military emissions for installations and non-war operations.
- War-related emissions by the US military in overseas contingency operations.
- Emissions caused by US military industry — for instance, for production of weapons and ammunition.
- Emissions caused by the direct targeting of petroleum, namely the deliberate burning of oil wells and refineries by all parties.
- Sources of emissions by other belligerents.
- Energy consumed by reconstruction of damaged and destroyed infrastructure.
- Emissions from other sources, such as fire suppression and extinguishing chemicals, including Halon, a greenhouse gas, and from explosions and fires due to the destruction of non-petroleum targets in warzones.
This impact on the climate is just the portion from America, in the Iraq war, 37 countries fought alongside America, and 60 are allied against ISIS. There is a way to calculate those emissions as well.
The Rules of War
Before engaging in battle, the Prophet Muhammad instructed his soldiers:
- Do not kill any child, any woman, or any elder or sick person. (Sunan Abu Dawud)
- Do not practice treachery or mutilation. (Al-Muwatta)
- Do not uproot or burn palms or cut down fruitful trees. (Al-Muwatta)
- Do not slaughter a sheep or a cow or a camel, except for food. (Al-Muwatta)
- If one fights his brother, [he must] avoid striking the face, for God created him in the image of Adam. (Sahih Bukhari, Sahih Muslim)
- Do not kill the monks in monasteries, and do not kill those sitting in places of worship. (Musnad Ahmad Ibn Hanbal)
- Do not destroy the villages and towns, do not spoil the cultivated fields and gardens, and do not slaughter the cattle. (Sahih Bukhari; Sunan Abu Dawud)
- Do not wish for an encounter with the enemy; pray to God to grant you security; but when you [are forced to] encounter them, exercise patience. (Sahih Muslim)
- No one may punish with fire except the Lord of Fire. (Sunan Abu Dawud).
- Accustom yourselves to do good if people do good, and not to do wrong even if they commit evil. (Al-Tirmidhi)
A verse in the Holy Qur’an
4:75 (Y. Ali) And why should ye not fight in the cause of Allah and of those who, being weak, are ill-treated (and oppressed)?- Men, women, and children, whose cry is: “Our Lord! Rescue us from this town, whose people are oppressors; and raise for us from thee one who will protect; and raise for us from thee one who will help!”
How does this potential war against Iran play into all this?
Our first call to action is to organize an anti-war rally. This type of work is weak in America, and virtually non-existent within the Muslim community.
فَقَالَ أَبُو سَعِيدٍ أَمَّا هَذَا فَقَدْ قَضَى مَا عَلَيْهِ سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَقُولُ “ مَنْ رَأَى مُنْكَرًا فَلْيُنْكِرْهُ بِيَدِهِ وَمَنْ لَمْ يَسْتَطِعْ فَبِلِسَانِهِ وَمَنْ لَمْ يَسْتَطِعْ فَبِقَلْبِهِ وَذَلِكَ أَضْعَفُ الإِيمَانِ ” . قَالَ أَبُو عِيسَى هَذَا حَدِيثٌ حَسَنٌ صَحِيحٌ .
Abu Sa’eed said: ‘As for this, he has fulfilled what is upon him. I heard the Messenger of Allah saying: ‘Whoever among you sees an evil, then let him stop it with his hand. Whoever is not able, then with his tongue, and whoever is not able, then with his heart. That is the weakest of faith.”‘
War with Iran will be a Greater Mistake than War with Iraq
Historically, anti-war sentiment in America has grown over the years. When the Iraq war first started only 23% thought it was a mistake, today it is close to 60% that believe the war is a mistake. Yes, this is in hindsight, but that it is also growth. The reason the anti-war movement is feeble in America is that there is no platform for the campaign to grow. Both parties are guilty of starting wars or taking over the wars from the past administration. Whether we do it alone as an individual or as a group, we should do everything we can as privileged members of this planet to save and protect those that can’t defend themselves.
There is a famous quote of the famed boxer Muhammad Ali when explaining why he wasn’t fighting in the war. He said, “…I am not going ten thousand miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over. This is the day when such evils must come to an end. I have been warned that to take such a stand would put my prestige in jeopardy and could cause me to lose millions of dollars which should accrue to me as the champion.”
With that said, there is a significant interest in the region for more than just fuel and resources. It is truly a problem, our operations in the Gulf is to address our dependency on Persian oil, and the fuel that is used to address our dependence is to protect those resources and access to them. One estimate is that America spends $81 billion annually defending the global oil supply. They do this because the DOD feels its dependency will make it vulnerable on a larger scale.
In 1975 America decided to take away the fear of losing the resources and developed the “Strategic Petroleum Reserve,” and in 1978, they created the Rapid Deployment Force (RDF). Their only purpose was to defend US interest in the Middle East. This, in turn, leads to extractivism of resources and supplies. (Which will be explained in a future article).
This war can be the end of all wars as it can accelerate us to the point of no return in regards to climate change.
A war with Iran is a war with Earth and all who live on it.
5 Quick Things Americans Can Do For Uyghurs Today
“I may die, but let it be known that my nation will continue their struggle so long the world continues to exist.” Kazakh leader Uthman Batur. He said these words as Chinese authorities executed him for resisting the communist occupation. Currently, China has, one million Uyghurs (Uighurs), Kazakhs, and other Muslim minorities held in concentration camps in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) (East Turkistan) in northwestern China.
Their struggle surpasses the 10 or so years since we have become aware of it. Just like the Rohingya genocide, we waited till the last minute. We are always late and say, “Never Again.” It happens again and again.
In my lifetime, there have been horrendous genocides that could have been prevented to stopped. As a child, I remember Rwanda in the headlines, then a year later Bosnian genocide. Then we hear these demonic stories after the fact. I remember stories from survivors from Bosnia, and thinking to myself, “How are you here and functioning?”
Let us not be fooled to why this is happening now. It is related to economic advantages. The Chinese government’s present signature foreign policy initiative is the “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI) that seeks to connect the PRC economically to the rest of the Eurasian continent through massive infrastructure projects that will stimulate international trade. The western and south-western components of the BRI require the XUAR to serve as a transportation and commercial hub to trade routes and pipelines that will join China with Central and South Asia, the Middle East, and the entirety of Europe. As a result, the XUAR has become an important strategic region for the Chinese, and the state views its indigenous populations as an obstacle to developing its vision for this future critical center of international commercial networks.1
The expansion of their trade route also ties in Iran hence the sanctions placed, but that’s a different report for a different time. China, of course, has defended their actions by claiming its an anti-terrorism plan. Getting reliable information is hard. China has made it a point to make things difficult for reporters. Yanan Wang, a China-based journalist from the Associated Press, has reported extensively on and from Xinjiang.
In a ceremony at Asia Society on Tuesday commemorating AP’s 2019 Osborn Elliott Award for Excellence in Journalism on Asia, Wang described the subtle ways government minders worked to thwart her reporting: “(Both of the times we went there we arrived at the airport, we had a welcoming committee from the local authorities. They’re always very polite and professional. They say that “you’ve arrived in Xinjiang and we’re here to assist you in your reporting. Tell us what you’re working on so we can help you.” They offer us drives in their car and plenty of hospitality.
Basically, from the moment we arrive, we’re followed by at least one car. There are a bunch of interesting scenarios that we came across. You can see that the local handlers are trying hard to be professional. They are members of the propaganda department, so they’re PR professionals. They don’t want to make it appear like it’s so stifling. At one point, we were taking photos, and someone suddenly appeared on the scene to say he was a “concerned citizen.” He said he’d seen us taking photos and that it was an infringement of his privacy rights. He had this long monologue about privacy rights and about how it wasn’t right for us to take photos of him without his knowledge. We asked him, “Well, where are you in these photos?” and he’d go through all of them. He said we had to delete all of them. He’d say, “This is my brother,” or “This is my place of work, you have to delete it.”
They had all of these interesting tactics to work around the idea that they were trying to obstruct our reporting and make it appear that someone who claims to be a concerned citizen.)”2
On top of that, locals that talk to journalist are punished, sometimes go missing.
I decided to do something this time around; I got in touch with an Uyghur community near my residence to see how an individual could help. It started at a Turkic restaurant, and from there, I have been involved in whatever capacity I am able. Through this effort, I got in touch with a Turkic professor in Turkey who has students stranded as they are cut off from contacting family back in Xinjiang. He helps them out financially; my family and friends help with what they can.
As Muslims in the West, there is no doubt we should act. Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, said “Whosoever of you sees an evil, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then [let him change it] with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart, and that is the weakest of faith” (Muslim).
How Can You Help Uyghurs
Here are a few things you can do to help:
1. Ask Congress to pass To pass S.178 & H.R.649 Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2019. Urge your senator and representative to support this cause. It has been introduced. This bill can help the Uyghur community to be treated like Tibetans (another region oppressed by China).
2. Stay informed. The mainstream media is not the place to get accurate information on the situation. Be skeptical of where the data is coming from, stick to reliable sources that are verified. As mentioned above, journalists find it difficult to report.
4. Boycott or reduce buying Made in China products
5. Follow these links for updated information: facebook.com/Uyghur-Human-Rights-Project-227634297289994/ and facebook.com/ChinaMuslims
This crisis is an ethnic cleansing for profit. These are dark days as we value profit over people.
1.Statement by Concerned Scholars on mass detentions | MCLC …. https://u.osu.edu/mclc/2018/11/27/statement-by-concerned-scholars-on-mass-detention s/
2.Why It’s So Difficult for Journalists To Report From …. https://asiasociety.org/blog/asia/why-its-so-difficult-journalists-report-xinjiang