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Erdogan slams Saudi “reformer” Muhammad bin Salman – “There is no moderate Islam”

The Turkish President’s criticism of Saudi Arabia ultimately has more to do with geo-political alliances than with theological debates.

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Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman (MBS) has become a feared figure among the Saudi elites who have been violently purged from their comfortable positions of power, while becoming a figure of hatred across the Shi’a Axis of Resistance in places like Iran, Syria, Yemen and increasingly among all parties in Lebanon.

But there is one world leader who is clearly not afraid of nor impressed with MBS, that man is Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Erdogan has given a speech in which he both mocked and criticised Muhammad bin Salman’s recent comments that he seeks to “return” Saudi Arabia to “moderate Islam”.

Erdogan stated,

“The term ‘moderate Islam’ is being lathered up again. The patent of moderate Islam belongs to the West. There is no moderate or immoderate Islam; Islam is one. The aim of using such terms is to weaken Islam.

Perhaps the person voicing this concept (Muhammad bin Salman) thinks it belongs to him. No, it does not belong to you”.

Erogan then stated that the term is essentially European in origin. In Erdogan’s newly anti-European posture, this is a deep insult to Muhammad bin Salman, to imply that he’s attempting to Europeanise Islam.

Erdogan continued,

“They are now trying to pump up this idea again. What they really want to do is weaken Islam … We don’t want people to learn about religion from foreign facts.

You say ‘moderate Islam’ but you do not allow women to drive. Is there any restriction in Islam banning women from driving? There is no such thing”.

Erdogan came to power in Turkey on the promise of replacing a static economy with one that is dynamic and modern, combined with the promise to make Islam an integral part of Turkish society in a blow to secular Kemalists who wished Turkey’s guiding force to remain nationalistic secularism.

Superficially, Muhammad bin Salman wants something similar for Saudi Arabia, only in respect of Islam, MBS claims to want to replace hard-line Wahhabism with what he calls “moderate Islam”. Ataturk’s secular Turkish Republic was founded in 1923 while the consolidation of Saudi Arabia took place in 1932 and in this sense, the rise of Kemalism in Turkey mirrors the rise of Wahhabism on the Arabian Peninsula. Just as Erdogan challenged the Kemalist status quo in Turkey, so too is MBS challenging elements of the Wahhabi status quo in his country.

But the real schism between Erdogan and Muhammad bin Salman, doesn’t have anything to do with Islamic scholarship or any other ideological issues, it has everything to do with the Qatari crisis and broader regional alliances.

With Saudi Arabia still boycotting Qatar and Turkey still very much supporting Doha, including with the presence of Turkish Army troops in Qatar, Erdogan is striking a blow against Saudi Arabia’s geo-political ambitions more than anything else.

Erdogan has long been associated with the Qatar backed Muslim Brotherhood, a radical Islamist group which is illegal in secular Egypt (a Saudi ally) and Syria (a Saudi enemy) but also in Wahhabi Saudi Arabia. In secular Arab states, the Brotherhood is seen as a tool of terrorism and social instability while in Saudi Arabia, it is seen as a challenge to the integrity of Wahhabism. Furthermore, Turkey’s burgeoning relationship with Iran has given Erdogan all the more reason to lash out at Saudi Arabia’s de-facto leader.

Iran is far more comfortable with Erdogan positioning himself as a leader figure among Sunni Muslims than it is with anyone from the much loathed Saudi Arabia. While Iran’s Shi’a clerics would never openly praise Erdogan’s religious credentials, there is no doubt that Iran’s leadership is pleased with Erdogan helping to slam Muhammad bin Salman’s Islamic credentials while Tehran and Hezbollah slam Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy record and Islamic credentials from an Arab Shi’a perspective that is similar to that of Iran.

I recently postulated that if and when Saudi Arabia is able to see that its war in Yemen is a failure, Qatar could position itself as a former Saudi ally that seeks to both make peace in Yemen and make amends with its neighbour but this time on Doha’s terms rather than on the outlandish terms Saudi previously attempted to impose.

While Saudi Arabia is busy purging itself, it ought to realise that attempting to purge the Qatari leadership was yet another geo-political failure and that normalising relations with Doha would be a win-win situation in the context of recent events. In this respect, Turkey too could play some role in a settlement for Yemen. Turkey as a non-Arab state is well placed to be seen as not playing favourites in a dispute between Saudi Arabia and moderate Houthi rebels in Sana’a.

The only winner of the Saudi (and Lebanon) great purge is Qatar

Furthermore, the statement from Erdogan also solidifies Turkey’s position in what I call the new northern Middle East alliance. Turkey’s good relations with Iraq and Iran and its common enemy with Syria; the Kurdish ethnic supremacists, means that Turkey’s allies are mostly in the ‘north’ of the Middle East. By contrast, Saudi Arabia has increased its clout in the ‘south’ of the Middle East, with the exception of Qatar which in many ways is a geo-political ‘pivot state’ in the new south of the  Middle East.

This trend is made all the more clear when one sees Saudi and Israel on the rapid road to public normalisation of relations. The regimes are already allies in all but name. At the same time, Turkey which was once a solid partner of Israel, is becoming increasingly opposed to Israel’s pro-Kurdish designs on the region, something which has only encouraged Erdogan to come out in favour of Palestinian justice with more zeal.

The new Middle East: A North/South divide where Israel is losing its narrative and its old game plan

This is what lies behind Erdogan’s rejection of “moderate Islam”. It is a fundamental dispute with Saudi Arabia’s geo-political position, even though ironically, Saudi Arabia is pivoting closer to Turkey’s non-Muslim partners Russia and China while  maintaining a better relationship with Washington than Erdogan’s Turkey.

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EU leaders dictate Brexit terms to Theresa May (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 115.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss how EU leaders have agreed on a plan to delay the the Article 50 process which effectively postpones Brexit beyond the 29 March deadline.

The UK will now be offered a delay until the 22nd of May, only if MPs approve Theresa May’s withdrawal deal next week. If MPs do not approve May’s negotiated deal, then the EU will support a short delay until the 12th of April, allowing the UK extra time to get the deal passed or to “indicate a way forward”.

UK PM Theresa May said there was now a “clear choice” facing MPs, who could vote for a third time on her deal next week.

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Theresa May outlines four Brexit options, via Politico

In a letter to MPs, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May set out the four options she believes the country has in light of Thursday’s decision by EU leaders to extend the Brexit deadline beyond next Friday.

The U.K. is faced with a four-way choice, May wrote late Friday.

The government could revoke Article 50 — which May called a betrayal of the Brexit vote; leave without a deal on April 12; pass her deal in a vote next week; or, “if it appears that there is not sufficient support” for a vote on her deal in parliament next week or if it is rejected for a third time, she could ask for an extension beyond April 12.

But this would require for the U.K. taking part in European elections in May, which the prime minister said “would be wrong.”

May wrote that she’s hoping for the deal to pass, allowing the U.K. to leave the EU “in an orderly way,” adding “I still believe there is a majority in the House for that course of action.”

“I hope we can all agree that we are now at the moment of decision,” she wrote.

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US media suffers panic attack after Mueller fails to deliver on much-anticipated Trump indictment

Internet mogul Kim Dotcom said it all: “Mueller – The name that ended all mainstream media credibility.”

RT

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Via RT


Important pundits and news networks have served up an impressive display of denials, evasions and on-air strokes after learning that Robert Mueller has ended his probe without issuing a single collusion-related indictment.

The Special Counsel delivered his final report to Attorney General William Barr for review on Friday, with the Justice Department confirming that there will be no further indictments related to the probe. The news dealt a devastating blow to the sensational prophesies of journalists, analysts and entire news networks, who for nearly two years reported ad nauseam that President Donald Trump and his inner circle were just days away from being carted off to prison for conspiring with the Kremlin to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

Showing true integrity, journalists and television anchors took to Twitter and the airwaves on Friday night to acknowledge that the media severely misreported Donald Trump’s alleged ties to Russia, as well as what Mueller’s probe was likely to find. They are, after all, true professionals.

“How could they let Trump off the hook?” an inconsolable Chris Matthews asked NBC reporter Ken Dilanian during a segment on CNN’s ‘Hardball’.

Dilanian tried to comfort the CNN host with some of his signature NBC punditry.

“My only conclusion is that the president transmitted to Mueller that he would take the Fifth. He would never talk to him and therefore, Mueller decided it wasn’t worth the subpoena fight,” he expertly mused.

Actually, there were several Serious Journalists who used their unsurpassed analytical abilities to conjure up a reason why Mueller didn’t throw the book at Trump, even though the president is clearly a Putin puppet.

“It’s certainly possible that Trump may emerge from this better than many anticipated. However! Consensus has been that Mueller would follow DOJ rules and not indict a sitting president. I.e. it’s also possible his report could be very bad for Trump, despite ‘no more indictments,'” concluded Mark Follman, national affairs editor at Mother Jones, who presumably, and very sadly, was not being facetious.

Revered news organs were quick to artfully modify their expectations regarding Mueller’s findings.

“What is collusion and why is Robert Mueller unlikely to mention it in his report on Trump and Russia?” a Newsweek headline asked following Friday’s tragic announcement.

Three months earlier, Newsweek had meticulously documented all the terrible “collusion” committed by Donald Trump and his inner circle.

But perhaps the most sobering reactions to the no-indictment news came from those who seemed completely unfazed by the fact that Mueller’s investigation, aimed at uncovering a criminal conspiracy between Trump and the Kremlin, ended without digging up a single case of “collusion.”

The denials, evasions and bizarre hot takes are made even more poignant by the fact that just days ago, there was still serious talk about Trump’s entire family being hauled off to prison.

“You can’t blame MSNBC viewers for being confused. They largely kept dissenters from their Trump/Russia spy tale off the air for 2 years. As recently as 2 weeks ago, they had @JohnBrennan strongly suggesting Mueller would indict Trump family members on collusion as his last act,” journalist Glenn Greenwald tweeted.

While the Mueller report has yet to be released to the public, the lack of indictments makes it clear that whatever was found, nothing came close to the vast criminal conspiracy alleged by virtually the entire American media establishment.

“You have been lied to for 2 years by the MSM. No Russian collusion by Trump or anyone else. Who lied? Head of the CIA, NSA,FBI,DOJ, every pundit every anchor. All lies,” wrote conservative activist Chuck Woolery.

Internet mogul Kim Dotcom was more blunt, but said it all: “Mueller – The name that ended all mainstream media credibility.”

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Canadian Lawmaker Accuses Trudeau Of Being A “Fake Feminist” (Video)

Rempel segued to Trudeau’s push to quash an investigation into allegations that he once groped a young journalist early in his political career

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Via Zerohedge

Canada’s feminist-in-chief Justin Trudeau wants to support and empower women…but his support stops at the point where said women start creating problems for his political agenda.

That was the criticism levied against the prime minister on Friday by a conservative lawmaker, who took the PM to task for “muzzling strong, principled women” during a debate in the House of Commons.

“He asked for strong women, and this is what they look like!” said conservative MP Michelle Rempel, referring to the former justice minister and attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould, who has accused Trudeau and his cronies of pushing her out of the cabinet after she refused to grant a deferred prosecution agreement to a Quebec-based engineering firm.

She then accused Trudeau of being a “fake feminist”.

“That’s not what a feminist looks like…Every day that he refuses to allow the attorney general to testify and tell her story is another day he’s a fake feminist!”

Trudeau was so taken aback by Rempel’s tirade, that he apparently forgot which language he should respond in.

But Rempel wasn’t finished. She then segued to Trudeau’s push to quash an investigation into allegations that he once groped a young journalist early in his political career. This from a man who once objected to the continued use of the word “mankind” (suggesting we use “peoplekind” instead).

The conservative opposition then tried to summon Wilson-Raybould to appear before the Commons for another hearing (during her last appearance, she shared her account of how the PM and employees in the PM’s office and privy council barraged her with demands that she quash the government’s pursuit of SNC-Lavalin over charges that the firm bribed Libyan government officials). Wilson-Raybould left the Trudeau cabinet after she was abruptly moved to a different ministerial post – a move that was widely seen as a demotion.

Trudeau has acknowledged that he put in a good word on the firm’s behalf with Wilson-Raybould, but insists that he always maintained the final decision on the case was hers and hers alone.

Fortunately for Canadians who agree with Rempel, it’s very possible that Trudeau – who has so far resisted calls to resign – won’t be in power much longer, as the scandal has cost Trudeau’s liberals the lead in the polls for the October election.

 

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