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An overview of competing ideologies in the Arab world

Here’s a list of the most important political ideologies which have been prominent in the Arab world in the 20th and 21st centuries.

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The crises in the Arab world are as much about competing political ideologies as they are about resources, territorial ambition, tribalism and religion. Many in the west claim to speak against various Arab ideologies without actually knowing what they are speaking against. It is important not to deprive Arabs of their voice in the wider battle of ideologies that many other peoples have dealt with throughout history.

Here is a list of important political ideologies in the Arab world.

Ba’athism:

Ba’athism is an intellectual and political movement founded by the Damascene scholar Michel Aflaq. Ba’athism essentially posits the view that socialism is the best method by which the Arab world can liberate itself in the post-colonial world. However, Ba’athists reject both Marxism-Leninism and the social democratic model of Europe.

Ba’athists apply socialist principles to the unique historical, cultural, economic and geopolitical conditions of the Arab world. Whilst secular in nature, Ba’athism is not atheistic and incorporates various teachings of Islam into its ideology. Ba’athism however does not see itself as an exclusively Islamic movement as indeed many Christians have been party members. Aflaq himself was a Christian.

Ba’athism first came to the fore of political power in 1963 during Iraq’s Ramadan Revolution and Syria’s 8th of March Revolution. However, internal Ba’athist fighting plagued the movement. One of the biggest issues was the question of Pan-Arabism versus a ‘socialism in one state’ model.

The Ba’athist government of Iraq was overthrown in November of 1963 to be replaced by forces sympathetic to Nasserism. The Ba’ath party however would re-claim power during the 17 July Revolution of 1968 under the leadership of Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr.

In Syria things were if anything, more chaotic. Inter-party civil war caused a split in the global Ba’athist movement in 1966. Older Ba’athists who had favoured pan-Aarabism were violently ousted in favour of the leadership of hardliner Salah Jadid. Jadid increased the militancy of the movement and fully abandoned notions of Nassersim.

When Jidid attempted to militarily engage Jordan over the Hashemite Kingdom’s expulsion of Palestinians, another inter-Ba’athist struggle emerged. The more conservative Hafez al-Assad proved to be victorious and led a so-called ‘Corrective movement’ against Jidid’s supporters. Syria’s current Ba’athist President is Hafez’s son, Bashar al-Assad.

Since Saddam Hussein’s fall from power in Iraq where he took over from al-Bakar in 1979, Syria remains the only Arab nation with a Ba’athist government.

Nasserism:

Named for Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, Nasserism strives first and foremost for pan-Arabism/Arab unity. Nasserism encourages a mixed economy of state-ownership of major industry and a regulated agricultural sector with local free enterprise. Nasser’s Egypt was secular and oversaw the arrest of Islamists including those in the Muslim Brotherhood, one of the world’s first Islamist parties.

Nasserism’s zenith was in the late 1950s. After nationalising the Suez Canal in 1956, Britain, France and Israel jointly invaded Egypt. Nasser’s skillful wooing of both Soviet and American diplomats led the two-superpowers to force the invading countries to call off the war. Nasser can in many ways lay claim to striking what would be the decisive blow against British Imperial power.

The following year came another victory when Syria and Egypt became a single state called The United Arab Republic. After Iraq overthrew its Hashemite monarchy in the 14 July Revolution of 1958, there were hopes that Iraq too would join the United Arab Republic. This, however, was not to be. The republican Iraqi leader Abd al-Karim Qasim opposed such a union. Qasim was himself later overthrow by Ba’athists in 1963.

Nasser had a final minor victory when his republican forces toppled the Saudi, Jordanian and western back Yemeni royalists in the North Yemen Civil War which began in 1962. However by 1967, Nasser’s fortunes faded. Egyptian/join-Arab defeat in the 1967 Six Days War led Israel to occupy the Sinai Peninsula. That same year after continual harassment from British irregulars, Egypt withdrew from The Yemen Arab Republic.

Nasser’s legacy remains powerful. For many Arabs, he represented the first and last best hope of a secular, modern, mixed economic Arab nationalist. Few figures as powerful as Nasser have emerged in the decades subsequent to his early death in 1970.

Communism:

Communism in the context of the Arab world is unique insofar as it has been a deeply influential movement but has only ever properly held power in one state, The People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen, aka South Yemen. One could also say that Algeria’s socialist FLN owed must to Marxist-Leninist ideology.

Communist parties were once deeply influential forces in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Egypt. Howeverб as Ba’athist and Nasserist forces consolidated, they viewed the Communist Party as a threat and at times it was severely supressed.

Interestingly, the Soviet Union, whilst sympathetic to Arab communist parties, refrained from fomenting leftist revolutions in the Arab world and instead was generally happy dealing with Nasserist and Ba’athist rulers. The communist Palestinian People’s Party ought to be a stronger force than it is, but by joining the corrupt PLO in 1987, progress has been greatly retarded.

Greenism/Third International Theory:

Muammar Gaddafi was the most potent and original intellectual force in Arab politics since the death of Nasser. His Green Book outlined how repressed peoples could liberate themselves from colonialism and build a society that rejected the dogmas of both capitalism and communism.

The Green book is deeply communitarian in its values and economic organisation. Whilst deeply original, parts of Gaddafi’s economic model were inspired by  Tito’s ‘third way’ socialism in Yugoslavia.

Initially, Gaddafi sought to unite the Arab world under the Third International Theory, but when Arabs of all political backgrounds proved to be increasingly intransigent, he focused on promulgating his theories in Africa where many post-colonel and under-developed countries were often receptive. Nelson Mandela was a staunch admirer of Gaddafi throughout his life.

Third International Theory is part revolutionary, part socialist, part secular and part spiritual. It is a hybrid ideology that is unique to history.

Royalism:

The Arab world has its fair shares of monarchies/royal states including Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and the UAE. Whilst royalism generally only becomes ideological when it is forced to complete against another ideology, one can attempt to look for exceptions in the Arab world.

Some monarchs like the Hashemites are seen as a stabilising force because of their blood-relation to the Prophet Muhammad. Yet this wasn’t enough to save King Faisal of Iraq who was violently overthrown in 1958. Other monarchies like Saudi Arabia are so deeply immoderate that they cannot be called anything but a force for evil. The House of Saud’s sponsorship of terrorism throughout the Arab world is a great stain on the world.

Islamism:

Islamic politics in the Middle East have become more prominent in the latter half of the 20th century and into the 21st century. Many see Iran’s Islamic Revolution of 1979 as inspiring forms of Islamism in the Arab world. The oldest such organisation is the Muslim Brotherhood which was founded in Egypt in 1928.

Islamism in general, rejects many aspects of the modern world and is violently hostile to secularism. Nasserist and Ba’athist regimes have frequently suppressed Islamism in its many guises.

Recently, the extremist Gulf States of Saudi Arabia and Qatar have funded Islamist groups including and especially terrorist groups in otherwise secular Arab states. The current war in Syria is best described as Ba’athist war against Islamism as represented by ISIS and al-Qaeda.

The Arab world’s disunity is partly due to disagreements over a suitable ideology or group of competing ideologies around which Arab political regimes and movements can be structured.

Europe generally has conservative, liberal and socialist parties. America has the Republicans and Democrats. The Arabs have their versions of ideologies which suit them, but internal squabbling has made progress difficult. If Islam fills this gap, the Arab world may not recover for generations.

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Vladimir Putin calls new Ukrainian church ‘dangerous politicking’

President Putin said creation of the “Orthodox Church in Ukraine” is against Church canon and that the West drove Constantinople to do it.

Seraphim Hanisch

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In an interview with the Serbian newspapers Politika and Vecernje Novosti ahead of his visit to Serbia, Russian President Vladimir Putin noted the creation of the “Orthodox Church of Ukraine”, a schismatic agglomeration headed by Ukrainian ultra-nationalists was “dangerous politicking.” He further noted that:

The establishment of the new religious entity in Ukraine is nothing but an attempt “to legalize the schismatic communities that exist in Ukraine under the jurisdiction of Istanbul, which is a major violation of Orthodox canons.”

“Yet, hardly anyone in the U.S. or in the Ukrainian leadership worries about this,” Putin said.

“Once again, this has nothing to do with spiritual life; we are dealing here with dangerous and irresponsible politicking,” he said.

President Putin had more things to say in the interview, and we present what he said in full here (emphasis ours), as reported on the Kremlin.ru website:

Question: The Serbian Orthodox Church has taken the side of the Russian Orthodox Church in the context of the ecclesiastical crisis in Ukraine. At the same time, a number of countries are exerting pressure on Patriarch Bartholomew and seek to ensure recognition of Ukrainian ”schismatics“ by Local Orthodox Churches. How do you think the situation will evolve?

Vladimir Putin: I would like to remind your readers, who are greatly concerned about the information regarding the split in the Orthodox community but are probably not fully aware of the situation in Ukraine, what it is all about.

On December 15, 2018, the Ukrainian leaders, actively supported by the USA and the Constantinople Patriarchate, held a so-called “unifying synod”. This synod declared the creation of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, with Patriarch Bartholomew signing the tomos (decree) granting it autocephaly on January 6, 2019. Thus, it was attempted to legalize the schismatic communities that exist in Ukraine under the jurisdiction of Istanbul, which is a major violation of Orthodox canons.

Yet, hardly anyone in the US or in the Ukrainian leadership worries about this, as the new church entity is an entirely political, secular project. Its main aim is to divide the peoples of Russia and Ukraine, sowing seeds of ethnic as well as religious discord. No wonder Kiev has already declared ”obtaining complete independence from Moscow.”

Once again, this has nothing to do with spiritual life; we are dealing here with dangerous and irresponsible politicking. Likewise, we do not speak about the independence of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. It is de-facto fully controlled by Istanbul. Whereas Ukraine’s largest canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which has never requested autocephaly from Patriarch Bartholomew, is absolutely independent in its actions. Its connection with the Russian Orthodox Church is purely canonical – but even this causes undisguised irritation of the current Kiev regime.

Because of this, clergymen and laymen of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church are being persecuted and deprived of churches and monasteries, and attempts are made to deny the Church its legitimate name, which raises tensions and only leads to further discord in Ukrainian society.

Evidently, Ukraine’s leaders have to understand that any attempts to force the faithful into a different church are fraught with grave consequences. Yet, they are eager to put interconfessional concord in the country at stake in order to conduct the election campaign of the current Ukrainian President based on a search for enemies, and to retain power by all means.

All of this does not go unnoticed by Orthodox Christians.

Naturally, Russia does not intend to interfere in ecclesiastical processes, especially those happening on the territory of a neighboring sovereign state. However, we are aware of the danger posed by such experiments and blatant interference of the state in religious affairs.

The situation continues to degrade in Ukraine, and though the Orthodox faithful of the Autonomous but Moscow-based Ukrainian Orthodox Church are the hardest hit, worry over Ukrainian lawlessless-made-law has the Jewish community in that country nervous as well. This is perhaps to be expected as the Azov Brigade, a neo-Nazi aligned group that is hypernationalist, is a good representation of the character of the “hate Russia at all costs” Ukrainian nationalists. A parallel piece in Interfax made note of this in a piece dated January 17th 2019:

[A] bill passed by the Verkhovna Rada introducing a procedure by which parishes can join the new Ukrainian church makes it easier to seize places of worship, and supporters of autocephaly have already started doing this across the country, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church said.

“They need this law to seize our churches. You can’t just come with a crowbar to someone else’s barn, but now the law allows you to do so. They aren’t creating something of their own, but are trying to steal what’s ours,” Ukrainian Orthodox Church spokesperson Vasyl Anisimov told Interfax on Thursday.

The religious entity set up in December with Constantinople’s involvement and called the Orthodox Church of Ukraine “in fact doesn’t yet exist in nature. It’s fake. It doesn’t have any parishes of its own or government registration,” he said.

However, “the supporters of autocephaly don’t have plans to create anything of their own at all, so they have chosen the path of takeover, and the authorities are helping them in that,” Anisimov said.

“Hence, the legislation passed by the Verkhovna Rada today is in fact absolute lawlessness,” he said.

“If you pass legislation affecting an industry, you should talk to industrialists, and if it’s legislation on the agricultural sector, talk to farmers. And here legislation on a church is passed, and moreover, this legislation is aimed against this church, it is protesting, and Jews are protesting, too, because this legislation may affect them as well – but nobody is listening, and they change the law for the sake of an absolutely absurd and unconstitutional gimmick. But, of course, it’s the people who will ultimately suffer,” Anisimov said.

 

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May survives ‘no confidence’ vote as UK moves towards March 29 deadline or Article 50 extension (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 168.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the ‘no confidence’ vote that UK Prime Minister May won with the a slim margin…meaning that though few MPs have confidence in her ‘Brexit withdrawal’ negotiating skills, they appear to have no problem allowing May to lead the country towards its Brexit deadline in March, which coincidently may be delayed and eventually scrapped altogether.

Meanwhile Tony Blair is cozying up to Brussels’ oligarchs, working his evil magic to derail the will of the British people, and keep the integrationist ambitions for the UK and Europe on track.

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Via RT


The UK government led by Theresa May, has survived to fight another day, after winning a no-confidence vote, tabled by Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party, following parliament rejecting the PM’s Brexit deal, earlier on Tuesday evening.

The no-confidence vote was defeated by 19 votes – the government winning by 325 to 306. It’s a rare positive note for May’s Tory cabinet after the humiliating Brexit defeat.

Speaking immediately after the vote, a victorious May said she was “pleased” that the House expressed its confidence in her government. May said she will “continue to work” to deliver on the result of the Brexit referendum and leave the EU.

May invited the leaders of parliamentary parties to meet with her individually, beginning on Wednesday evening.

“I stand ready to work with any member of this House to deliver on Brexit,” she said.

Responding to the vote, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said that the House had “emphatically” rejected May’s deal on Tuesday. The government, he said, must now remove “clearly once and for all the prospect of the catastrophe of a no-deal Brexit from the EU and all the chaos that would result from that.”

Labour will now have to consider what move to make next. Their official Brexit policy, decided by members at conference in September, states that if a general election cannot be forced, then all options should be left on the table, including calling for a second referendum.

Liberal Democrats MP Ed Davey also called on May to rule out a no deal Brexit.

The way forward for Brexit is not yet clear and May’s options are now limited, given that the Brexit deal she was offering was voted down so dramatically on Tuesday.

Gavin Barrett, a professor at the UCD Sutherland School of Law in Dublin, told RT that May will now have to decide if her second preference is a no-deal Brexit or a second referendum. Her preference will likely be a no-deal Brexit, Barrett said, adding that “since no other option commands a majority in the House” a no-deal exit is now “the default option.”

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Final Steps in Syria’s Successful Struggle for Peace and Sovereignty

The war of aggression against Syria is winding up, and this can be observed by the opening of a series of new embassies in Damascus.

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Authored by Federico Pieraccini via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


The situation in Syria evolves daily and sees two situations very closely linked to each other, with the US withdrawal from Syria and the consequent expansionist ambitions of Erdogan in Syria and the Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) takeover in Idlib that frees the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and Russian aviation to liberate the de-escalation zone.

Trump has promised to destroy Turkey economically if he attacks the Kurds, reinforcing his claim that Erdogan will not target the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) once the US withdraws from the area. One of the strongest accusations made against Trump’s withdrawal by his opponents is that no Middle Eastern force will ever trust the US again if they abandon the SDF to its fate, that is, to its annihilation at the hands of the Turkish army and its FSA proxies. This, however, is not possible; not so much because of Trump’s economic threats, but because of Damascus and Moscow being strongly opposed to any Turkish military action in the northeast of Syria.

This is a red line drawn by Putin and Assad, and the Turkish president likely understands the consequences of any wrong moves. It is no coincidence that he stated several times that he had no problems with the “Syrians or Syrian-Kurdish brothers”, and repeated that if the area under the SDF were to come under the control of Damascus, Turkey would have no need to intervene in Syria. Trump’s request that Ankara have a buffer zone of 20 kilometers separating the Kurdish and Turkish forces seems to complement the desire of Damascus and Moscow to avoid a clash between the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) and the SDF.

The only party that seems to be secretly encouraging a clash between the SDF and Turkish forces is Israel, criticizing Ankara and singing the praises of the SDF, in order to try and accentuate the tensions between the two sides, though naturally without success. Israel’s continued raids in Syria, though almost constantly failing due to Syrian air defense, and the divide-and-rule policy used against Turkey and the SDF, show that Tel Aviv is now weakened and mostly irrelevant in the Syrian conflict.

In Idlib, the situation seems to be becoming less complicated and difficult to decipher. Russia, Iran and Syria had asked Erdogan to take control of the province through its “moderate jihadists”, sit down at the negotiating table, and resolve the matter through a diplomatic solution. Exactly the opposite happened. The HTS (formerly al-Nusra/al-Qaeda in Syria) has in recent weeks conquered practically the whole province of Idlib, with numerous forces linked to Turkey (Ahrar al-Sham and Nour al-Din al-Zenki) dissolving and merging into HTS. This development puts even more pressure on Erdogan, who is likely to see his influence in Idlib fade away permanently. Moreover, this evolution represents a unique opportunity for Damascus and Moscow to start operations in Idlib with the genuine justification of combating terrorism. It is a repeat of what happened in other de-escalation areas. Moscow and Damascus have repeatedly requested the moderates be separated from the terrorists, so as to approach the situation with a diplomatic negotiation.

In the absence of an effective division of combatants, all are considered terrorists, with the military option replacing the diplomatic. This remains the only feasible option to free the area from terrorists who are not willing to give back territory to the legitimate government in Damascus and are keeping civilians hostages. The Idlib province seems to have experienced the same playbook applied in other de-escalation zones, this time with a clear contrast between Turkey and Saudi Arabia that shows how the struggle between the two countries is much deeper than it appears. The reasons behind the Khashoggi case and the diplomatic confrontation between Qatar and Saudi Arabia were laid bare in the actions of the HTS in Idlib, which has taken control of all the areas previously held by Ankara’s proxies.

It remains to be seen whether Moscow and Damascus would like to encourage Erdogan to recover Idlib through its proxies, trying to encourage jihadists to fight each other as much as possible in order to lighten the task of the SAA, or whether they would prefer to press the advantage themselves and attack while the terrorist front is experiencing internal confusion.

In terms of occupied territory and accounts to be settled, two areas of great importance for the future of Syria remain unresolved, namely al-Tanf, occupied by US forces on the Syrian-Jordanian border, and the area in the north of Syria occupied by Turkish forces and their FSA proxies. It is too early to approach a solution militarily, it being easier for Damascus and Moscow to complete the work to free Syria from the remaining terrorists. Once this has been done, the presence of US or Turkish forces in Syria, whether directly or indirectly, would become all the more difficult to justify. Driving away the US and, above all, Turkey from Syrian territory will be the natural next step in the Syrian conflict.

This is an unequivocal sign that the war of aggression against Syria is winding up, and this can be observed by the opening of a series of new embassies in Damascus. Several countries — including Italy in the near future — will reopen their embassies in Syria to demonstrate that the war, even if not completely over, is effectively won by Damascus and her allies.

For this reason, several countries that were previously opposed to Damascus, like the United Arab Emirates, are understood to have some kind of contact with the government of Damascus. If they intend to become involved in the reconstruction process and any future investment, they will quite naturally need to re-establish diplomatic relations with Damascus. The Arab League is also looking to welcome Syria back into the fold.

Such are signs that Syria is returning to normality, without forgetting which and how many countries have conspired and acted directly against the Syrians for over seven years. An invitation to the Arab League or some embassy being reopened will not be enough to compensate for the damage done over years, but Assad does not preclude any option, and is in the meantime demonstrating to the Israelis, Saudis and the US Deep State that their war has failed and that even their most loyal allies are resuming diplomatic relations with Damascus, a double whammy against the neocons, Wahhabis and Zionists.

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