Archive for December, 2007

Samir Amin on islamism and anti-imperialism

15, December, 2007

A very interesting and lucid marxist analysis of political islam in its various incarnations along the lines of world system theory by one of its prime proponents.

‘I say, then, that the two reactionary ideological campaigns promoted, respectively, by the racist right in the West and by political Islam mutually support each other (…).’

Especially important is Amin’s insistence on the much-neglected role the western colonial powers have played in promoting the most obscurantist and backward religious forces to counter the modernizing and secularizing tendencies in their (ex-)colonies throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.

‘The history of the Muslim Brotherhood is well known. It was literally created in the 1920s by the British and the monarchy to block the path of the democratic and secular Wafd. Their mass return from their Saudi refuge after Nasser’s death, organized by the CIA and Sadat, is also well known. We are all acquainted with the history of the Taliban, formed by the CIA in Pakistan to fight the “communists” who had opened the schools to everyone, boys and girls. It is even well known that the Israelis supported Hamas at the beginning in order to weaken the secular and democratic currents of the Palestinian resistance. Political Islam would have had much more difficulty in moving out from the borders of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan without the continual, powerful, and resolute support of the United States. Saudi Arabian society had not even begun its move out of tradition when petroleum was discovered under its soil. The alliance between imperialism and the traditional ruling class, sealed immediately, was concluded between the two partners and gave a new lease on life to Wahabi political Islam. On their side, the British succeeded in breaking Indian unity by persuading the Muslim leaders to create their own state, trapped in political Islam at its very birth. It should be noted that the theory by which this curiosity was legitimated—attributed to Mawdudi—had been completely drawn up beforehand by the English Orientalists in His Majesty’s service.’

Conspiracy theories – take your pick…

14, December, 2007

Angry Arab/Friday Lunch Club:

‘Who killed Francois Al-Hajj, chief-of-operations for the Lebanese Army? Nobody knows of course. He certainly was not close to the Hariri camp; and there is the widely circulated reference to an article in As-Siyasah (from January 26th, 2007) in which he was identified as an enemy of March 14. Personally, I think the explanation may be found not in Lebanese politics, but in Lebanese-Palestinian politics. I had predicted when the Lebanese Army (supported by March 8th and March 14th–government and opposition alike) was destroying the Nahr Al-Barid camp that the horrors would produce a new vengeful organization, just as Black September was born out of the Jordanian massacres of Palestinians. Al-Hajj had a key role in the Lebanese Army operations in Nahr Al-Barid.’

From Beirut to the Beltway:

‘Nabih Berri wasted no time after the assassination of Suleiman’s aide to demand Aoun’s conditions be satisfied, namely an interim presidency, a consensus PM and agreement on the next army commander. (who was tipped to be the slain Hajj).The timing of Berri’s “advice” to March 14 to negotiate with Aoun could not be more telling. Assad’s allies want March 14′s total political annihilation. Berri, a master time-buyer for the Syrian regime, could not care less about the constitution. In fact, if you browse the archive of this blog, you will notice that every assassination was preceded by some form of initiative or dialogue with Berri. The Assad regime’s welfare is top priority for its loyalists, and Suleiman cannot be allowed to arrive via the Siniora government or March 14. Period. The army commander’s speech yesterday in the south, in which he said Lebanese sovereignty started when the army deployed in the south, is not the way a pro-Syrian Lebanese president is supposed to talk. Today’s assassination was a lesson, or a reminder, if you will, that Suleiman should not aspire to become more than a disposable Syrian puppet. The Syrian VP said it right when he referred to the situation in Lebanon as a “battle against Syria” that “cannot be won”. That is how the regime views Lebanon, a battleground. Lebanon is not allowed to vote for a president, or have functional cabinet and parliament without Syria’s approval. The country is being forced to function as a property of the Assad regime, through terror, and as Sharaa described them, though the regime’s strong allies. The Lebanese army is on the only functioning institution, and is perceived as a uniting element by most of the population. Targeting the army now is a sign that the Assad regime, believing March 14 is weakened to the point of extinction, is feeling confident enough to obstruct the presidential election and bring the Lebanese army back into its fold.’

Oh, and for the record: here’s the view from Robert Fisk‘s ivory tower. The man really should start spending some more time checking his facts and looking at the larger picture rather than attending Walid Jumblatt’s dinner parties. Maybe (just maybe, mind you) it might even pay off if he gave up his ridiculous resistance to the internet and emailing. I must admit that I’ve lost a lot of respect for Fisk since I’ve moved to Lebanon and saw for myself the wide gap between his ‘philosophical’ reporting and his gratuitous and wildly biased moral stances on the one hand, and the actual situation on the ground…

Oh no, not again pt. 2

12, December, 2007

“A car bomb attack killed one of Lebanon’s top generals and at least two other people Wednesday, the military and state media said, putting even more pressure on the country’s delicate political situation.The target of the attack, Brig. Gen. Francois Hajj, a top Maronite Catholic in the command, was considered a leading candidate to succeed the head of the military, Gen. Michel Suleiman, if Suleiman is elected president.Hajj, 55, also led a major military campaign against Islamic militants over the summer.The blast is the first such attack against the Lebanese army, which has remained neutral in Lebanon’s yearlong political crisis and is widely seen as the only force that can hold the country together amid the bitter infighting between parliament’s rival factions. (…)The slaying of Hajj and its timing amid the deadlock over the presidency raised immediate speculation over who was behind the bombing, which blasted Hajj’s SUV as he drove through a busy street of Baabda district.” (more…)

Oh no, not again…

11, December, 2007

Just when you thought it was over… the “election” of Suleyman is postponed again! At this rate I will still be returning to a presidentless Lebanon in a few days… Only to move on from there to a governmentless Belgium… Anarchy rules!

(btw, the blog ‘From Beirut to the Beltway’ linked to above is not one that I would generally endorse, being as blatantly biased and inclined to conspiracy theories as it is – but like the M14 forces it used to support unconditionally, it seems to have adopted a rather less overconfident and hostile tone since the realization dawned that the US may not be such a loyal friend to ‘the forces of democracy’ after all…)

Slaves in Lebanon

4, December, 2007

The problems with the mistreatment of imported housemaids and Syrian labourers in Lebanon finally seem to be getting some attention inside the country too.

On a personal note, I am meanwhile still in KSA (The Kingdom of Sand and Automobiles) doing research on the “liberal opposition movement” (if that’s what it is…), which I will write a lot about later…


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