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Russia: moderate Islam’s new ally against an unstable West

Russia has a new role both as the ally of moderate Islam against Western aggression, and as a factor for reconciliation between Islam and the West

Shihan Sazid

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How will a future historian will define this present era of human civilisation?

Even though it is unusual to begin an article with a question, the present state of international affairs obliges it.

The occupation of Palestine and Kashmir, the endless war in the Middle East, the refugee crisis, the crisis of the fraudulent world monetary system, the unequal distribution of wealth, widespread poverty and malnutrition, the monster carbon footprint of the world’s developed economies, right wing extremism and the extremism of the far left, and last but not the least terrorism – will these be the topics that give titles to the chapters of the history of our present era ?

The West’s Democracy God

The post colonial world gave rise to republican states.  In the name of securing sovereignty and national security artificial borders were imposed, originally drawn up by the ex-colonial powers.

Developing and under developed nations are continuously pressured to meet the criteria of standard Western development. In the political arena the West assesses and defines the world according to its ideas of human rights, feminism, globalisation and most importantly democracy.   

On the one hand the West dictates to the world the parables of Western values – which it insists the world must adopt – whilst on the other hand they use war and economic sanctions to punish any deviation from any of these ‘values’.

Among all the values which the West is imposing, democracy has come to serve the purpose of God.

This God is a jealous God, who takes no partner. This new God only appears in suit and tie and dictates his revelations in English. The theology of this God has “enriched”  rituals of capitalism and of the free market economy. 

Which of course leads inexorably to the next step: in the name of this sacralised capitalism and free market economy big Western corporations exploit the national recourses of under developed and developing nations.

Nations who oppose this Western democracy commit blasphemy and must therefore sponsor terror.

The punishment for blasphemy against this new God is severe: bombing, sanctions, ‘nation building’ and ‘democracy promotion’.

So the result in the end of this Western superiority complex is the West’s constant threatening of the East and the invention of the idea of the ‘Clash of Civilisations’, leading to East and West being eternally divided from each other. 

In other words the end result of any US and Western dominated unipolar world is the division of humanity amidst ‘Clash of Civilisations’ rhetoric.

In reality any true democracy should make space for both true conservatives and true leftists.  That way genuine extremism can be avoided and replaced by valid and purposeful argument.

That of course is not the sort of democracy the West ‘promotes’ any more. 

The result is that in the West today, instead of the historic division between true conservatives and true leftists, there is dominance of neo-conservatism and radical neo-liberals.

The clash between what are in reality simply two extreme forms of the same political ideology has closed the space for moderate voices.  The result is the destruction of basic ideals of morality within the Western political establishment.

The role of the West in the Syrian war is a good example of what comes from this moral quagmire. In the name of arming the so called “moderates” the West has actually been arming and funding the throat and head cutting fanatics of ISIS/Daesh.    

Today however the global dominance of the United States is being challenged by the re-emergence of Russia.

The New Russia

This is not the first time that Russia has set out an alternative vision for the world.

After the conquest of Constantinople by the Turks in 1453 Russia became the centre of Orthodox Christianity, which helped Russia to develop its own identity as a separate civilisation different from the West.

Whilst the Vatican sponsored relentless wars in a crusade against the Muslim world to seize tiny pieces of land on the east Mediterranean coast, Russia preached the value of a completely different pacific non-crusading Christianity.  From east to west, the vast territory of the Russian empire welcomed people from all walks of life and all types of belief.

Russia’s identify was lost following the Bolshevik revolution in 1917. In the name of establishing the rule of the proletariat Russians were forced to reject the core of their own civilisation: Orthodox Christianity.  That gave rise to the Soviet Union, which however fought two world wars, saving Europe from its own hubris of colonial and self destructive racial pride, and facilitated the struggle of the colonially oppressed peoples for freedom and nationhood.

The current re-emergence of Russia as a superpower has finally come to the notice of the world community as a result of the Syrian War.  Russia’s bold stand in defence of the legitimate government of Syria challenged the entire system of chaos which the West’s unipolar world order has created.

But what is this Russian superpower which is now re-emerging?   This is obviously a vital question of huge importance in determining the shape of the modern world.

The answer to this question in my opinion highlights the sources of Russian strength, showing why the new re-emerging Russian superpower has been able to face down the US hyperpower, and why it will also succeed in sustaining itself.

The key to Russian strength is its return to moderate values.  As the Russians regain their faith a true conservatism now balances the former one sided extreme leftism of the Soviet Union.

As a result whilst the West has adopted a flawed neo-conservative/neo-liberalism model of fake democracy as its religion, Russia has become the beacon of true religion and true democracy for moderate faithful religious people everywhere.

The result is that the Western sponsored war in Syria has created a new window of opportunity for unity between two different world systems: Islam and Russia. 

The state of the Muslim World

Let us now turn to look at the Muslim world.

Divisions between Muslims are uncountable today.  The endless war in the Middle East gives grounds for feelings of hopelessness.  Muslims are betrayed by their own leaders in these most difficult times.  The plutocratic states of the Gulf and the House of Saud are in the pocket of the Western ruling elite. The extreme ideology of Wahhabism and Salafism wants to destroy every other sect of Islam.

These conditions create opportunities for the West to create more chaos, which ultimately results in even more wars.

The Syrian War

On the other hand, following the fall of the Soviet Union and Russia’s re-embrace of its Orthodox Christian roots, the political establishment in Russia has successfully reconciled moderate conservatism with the country’s leftist tradition.  We can see the positive impact of this reconciliation and adaption of the Russian nation’s two values in the rational and balanced method of contemporary Russian governance and policy making.

In the Syrian war we have observed for the first time in the history of Islam a Sunni majority population stand in support of a Shi’a led government to defeat a Western intervention.

Here it is important to stress the wisdom of the Syrian Arab Army, which grasped what the results would be if the Assad government were to fall as a result of the attack orchestrated upon it by the Western powers.   Perhaps the Syrian Arab Army learnt the lesson from the mistake the Iraqi Army when it abandoned Saddam Hussein during the US led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

There are some independent Western think tanks, which remain “relatively” free from the influence of the mainstream ‘warhawks’, but which still demand the removal of President Assad for various debatable reasons in order to achieve a political settlement in Syria.   However there are two fundamental problems with this approach.

Firstly, in light of the war going on in Syria, any effort to change the government of Syria at a time of existential crisis for the country would create a power vacuum, just as previously happened in Iraq and as is now the case in Libya.  Given the conditions on the ground in Syria, that would be bound to turn Syria into a safe haven for terrorist groups like ISIS/Daesh and Jabhat al-Nusra.

Secondly, no matter what happens in Syria, it should be a fundamental principle that only the Syrian people have the right choose their government.  In the chaotic and violent environment which now exists, there is no chance of the Syrian people being able to express their view through nationwide election.

Russia’s intervention in Syria

Russia’s involvement in the Syrian war is strategically unique, and has been very effective in terms of achieving quickly a positive outcome.

President Putin extended Russia’s hand by providing Syria with military help in response to an official request from the Syrian government. Politically and diplomatically the fact that Russia was responding to a formal request for help from the legitimate government of Syria helped Russia counter Western propaganda that might have sought to portray Russian intervention in Syria as an invasion of Syria.

Russia also took the completely correct decision of not putting ‘boots on the ground’ in Syria.

If Russia had sent infantry brigades to Syria, then it would have created opportunities for the West to intensify the war into a broad regional conflict so as to trap the Russians into a never ending war; just as the US is trapped in precisely such a war in Afghanistan today.

So Russia maintained a controlled approach to help the Syrian Arab Army that kept the door open for Russia to withdraw.

Of course both the Russian military and the Syrian Arab Army must be given credit for the successful use they made of this controlled approach.  Accurate intelligence sharing between the Syrian Arab Army and the Russian Air force played the key role in achieving success, ensuring that the aerial bombing by the Russian Air force was effective, thereby creating the opportunities for the Syrian Arab Army to go onto the offensive and regain territory from ISIS/Daesh and Jabhat al-Nusra.

The role of Iran

This controlled approach also created space for regional players like Iran to involve themselves in the conflict on the side of the Syrian government and share in the successful outcome of the war.

The Syrian Arab Army’s victory also makes the position of Iran stronger diplomatically and politically.  The result is that the West, especially US, can no longer ignore or overlook the role of Iran if they genuinely seek an end to the conflict.

The US along with its Western allies has already been forced to compromise with Iran in the recent Nuclear Deal. Now the West is being forced to compromise with Iran in Iraq and Syria because of Iran’s growing local influence as the regional superpower. 

Syria’s – not Russia’s – ‘Mission to Accomplish’       

Lastly Russia’s timing in scaling down its massive but successful bombing campaign was also strategically unique. 

The most important thing the Russians have never done in Syria is declare “Mission Accomplished”.  Accomplishment of the mission has to come from the Syrian government and the Syrian Arab Army, not from Russia, because it is the Syrian people who are the ones who are principally fighting this war, for their own and for Syria’s survival against Western backed terrorists.

The real accomplishment of the mission will anyway not be achieved after the end of the fighting because though it obviously has to include a military victory such a victory can only be firmly consolidated by a political and diplomatic settlement.

The battlefield victories of the Syrian Arab Army have created the opportunity to bring the other side to the table at the talks underway in the Kazakh capital of Astana. Right now in Astana the opposition has no option but to talk with the Syrian government directly, something it has always resisted doing until now. 

The role of Turkey

The positive role Turkey is playing in favour of a peaceful settlement is also a major development. Turkey is a major military power in this region and is Syria’s largest and most powerful neighbour.  The Turkish government can therefore be expected to play a decisive role in influencing the outcome of the negotiations which will bring an eventual end to the war.

The most important point to emphasise here is that the negotiations in Astana is the result of a joint Turkish-Russian diplomatic initiative.  Russia had to make a major political and diplomatic effort to achieve this.

When Turkey shot down the Russian SU24 bomber near the Turkish border in November 2015 Russia could have retaliated against Turkey in kind.  However that would have merely escalated the situation, bringing relations between Russia and Turkey to the point of crisis.

Instead President Putin showed great forbearance and patience, refusing to provide the West with a chance to trap Russia into a direct confrontation with Turkey which might have involved NATO and which might have threatened to turn the Syrian war into a global war for which Russia is unprepared and in which it would have been at a severe disadvantage.

President Putin also showed clarity and strength in decision making during the military coup in Turkey, giving support to the Erdogan government whilst the attempted coup was still underway.

For his part, after securing his government’s survival by defeating the coup, Turkish President Erdogan wasted no time visiting Moscow, where he gave the signal for a revision of Turkish foreign policy towards Russia.

This has had important consequences.  Despite being a member of NATO Turkey is refusing to participate in the recent military buildup by NATO around Russia’s eastern border.  Moreover the new Turkish-Russian relationship is becoming even stronger through the establishment of  joint economic projects like the Turk Stream pipeline, growing Russian investments in Turkey, and Russia’s phased withdrawal of the economic sanctions it had previously imposed on Turkey. 

Conclusion: the emerging alliance of Russia and Islam

Now let us review all these developments from a civilisational perspective.

In these dark times of internal division in the world of Islam,  the Syrian people – Shi’a, and Sunni, together with all the other sects of Islam living in Syria – united together to defend their country against foreign aggression.  They found their ally in moderate Russia.

The Muslim world is in fact edging closer to an alliance with Russia precisely because of its betrayal by its own self-appointed rich Gulf “leaders”, who have been trying to dominate the Muslim community through their version of pseudo Islam, which is destroying the image of Islam as a religion of peace, and which is destroying the voice of the moderate Islamic establishment.

The good news is that this alliance between Muslims and Russians is getting bigger and stronger.  The new role Turkey has adopted can only have a positive impact on the development of this new alliance.

Moreover the only nuclear powered Muslim nation, Pakistan, is also getting closer to this alliance.

In November 2016 Russia and Pakistan conducted their first ever joint military exercise despite huge objections from India. Further building up Pakistan’s confidence is the fact that Russia and China at the recent BRICS summit jointly rejected India’s effort to have Pakistan declared a terrorist state.

A possible rebirth for the West?

What impact will this new emerging alliance have on the West?

After fighting two world wars the West is still in crisis, having failed to develop a political philosophy that can embrace new emerging nations from the east as equal partners.  As a result the chances of new global conflicts are increasing in a way which could be suicidal for the whole of humanity.

Russia’s role in its new emerging alliance with the Muslim world will be not to fight this global conflict.  It will be to prevent it and by doing so to help the West in its quest to find a political soul that reflects humanity first, and which decisively rejects war, because in war there are no winners, war being first and foremost about the destruction of the human spirit.

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4 resignations and counting: May’s government ‘falling apart before our eyes’ over Brexit deal

The beginning of the end for Theresa May’s government.

The Duran

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Via RT


Four high profile resignations have followed on the heels of Theresa May’s announcement that her cabinet has settled on a Brexit deal, with Labour claiming that the Conservative government is at risk of completely dissolving.

Shailesh Vara, the Minister of State at the Northern Ireland Office was the first top official to resign after the prime minister announced that her cabinet had reached a draft EU withdrawal agreement.

An hour after his announcement, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab – the man charged with negotiating and finalizing the deal – said he was stepping down, stating that the Brexit deal in its current form suffers from deep flaws. Esther McVey, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, submitted her letter of resignation shortly afterwards. More resignations have followed.

Labour’s shadow Cabinet Office minister, Jon Trickett, predicted that this is the beginning of the end for May’s government.

The government is falling apart before our eyes as for a second time the Brexit secretary has refused to back the prime minister’s Brexit plan. This so-called deal has unraveled before our eyes

Shailesh Vara: UK to be stuck in ‘a half-way house with no time limit’

Kicking off Thursday’s string of resignations, Vara didn’t mince words when describing his reservations about the cabinet-stamped Brexit deal.

Theresa May’s EU withdrawal agreement leaves the UK in a “halfway house with no time limit on when we will finally become a sovereign nation,” his letter of resignation states. Vara went on to warn that the draft agreement leaves a number of critical issues undecided, predicting that it “will take years to conclude” a trade deal with the bloc.

“We will be locked in a customs arrangement indefinitely, bound by rules determined by the EU over which we have no say,” he added.

Dominic Raab: Deal can’t be ‘reconciled’ with promises made to public

Announcing his resignation on Thursday morning, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab tweeted: “I cannot in good conscience support the terms proposed for our deal with the EU.”

Raab claimed that the deal in its current form gives the EU veto power over the UK’s ability to annul the deal.

No democratic nation has ever signed up to be bound by such an extensive regime.

Former Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith said that Raab’s resignation as Brexit secretary is “devastating” for May.

“It sounds like he has been ignored,” he told the BBC.

Raab’s departure will undoubtedly encourage other Brexit supporters to question the deal, political commentators have observed.

Esther McVey: Deal ‘does not honor’ Brexit referendum

Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey didn’t hold back when issuing her own letter of resignation. According to McVey, the deal “does not honour” the result of the Brexit referendum, in which a majority of Brits voted to leave the European Union.

Suella Braverman: ‘Unable to sincerely support’ deal

Suella Braverman, a junior minister in Britain’s Brexit ministry, issued her resignation on Thursday, saying that she couldn’t stomach the deal.

“I now find myself unable to sincerely support the deal agreed yesterday by cabinet,” she said in a letter posted on Twitter.

Suella Braverman, MP Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department for Exiting the EU © Global Look Press / Joel Goodman
Braverman said that the deal is not what the British people voted for, and threatened to tear the country apart.

“It prevents an unequivocal exit from a customs union with the EU,” she said.

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Five Saudis Face Death Penalty Over Khashoggi Killing; Crown Prince Cleared

According to the Saudi prosecutor, five people charged are believed to have been involved in “ordering and executing the crime.”

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Via Zerohedge


Saudi Arabia public prosecutor Sheikh Shaalan al-Shaalan said on Thursday that the kingdom will seek the death penalty for five suspects among the 11 charged in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, confirming suspicions that members of the murder squad purportedly sent to “interrogate” Khashoggi will now themselves face beheadings as the Saudi Royal Family closes ranks around the Crown Prince, per the FT.

As for Mohammed bin Salman who runs the day to day affairs of the world’s top oil exporter and is the de facto head of OPEC, the prosecutor said had “no knowledge” of the mission, effectively absolving him of any domestic suspicion, if not international.

The charges were handed down after the kingdom dismissed five senior intelligence officers and arrested 18 Saudi nationals in connection with Khashoggi’s disappearance. The Saudi insider-turned-dissident journalist disappeared on Oct. 2 after entering the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul to pick up documents that would have allowed him to marry his fiance. Khashoggi was a legal resident of Virginia.

According to the Saudi prosecutor, five people charged are believed to have been involved in “ordering and executing the crime,” according to CNN.

The prosecutor said that the former Saudi deputy intelligence chief, Ahmed al-Assiri, ordered a mission to force Khashoggi to go back to Saudi Arabia and formed a team of 15 people.

They were divided into three groups, the Saudi Public Prosecutor said: a negotiation team, an intelligence team and a logistical team.

It was the head of the negotiating team who ordered the killing of Khashoggi, the prosecutor said.

The Saudis stuck by latest (ever changing) narrative that the Washington Post columnist was killed after a mission to abduct him went awry. The deputy chief of intelligence ordered that Khashoggi be brought back to the kingdom, Shaalan said. The team killed him after the talks failed and his body was handed to a “collaborator” in Turkey, he said.

Asked whether Saud al-Qahtanti, an aide to Prince Mohammed, had any role in the case, Shaalan said that a royal adviser had a coordinating role and had provided information. The former adviser was now under investigation, the prosecutor said, declining to reveal the names of any of those facing charges.

Al-Shaalan did reveal that a total of 21 suspects are now being held in connection with the case. Notably, the decision to charge the 5 comes after National Security Advisor John Bolton repudiated reports that a recording of Khashoggi’s murder made by Turkish authorities suggested that Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman was behind the murder plot.

But as long as OPEC+ is planning to do “whatever it takes” to boost oil prices, the US’s willingness to give the Saudis a pass could always be tested if crude prices again turn sharply higher.

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U.S. May Impose Sanctions Against Turkey Over S-400 “Threat” To F-35

The United States continues to consider the S-400 air defense system a threat to its F-35 fifth generation stealth fighter platform.

The Duran

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Authored by Al Masdar News:


Turkish officials have repeatedly insisted that Ankara’s purchase of the advanced Russian air defense system poses no threat whatsoever to the NATO alliance. Last month, the Turkish defense ministry announced that delivery of S-400s to Turkey would begin in October 2019.

The United States continues to consider the S-400 air defense system a threat to its F-35 fifth generation stealth fighter platform, and may impose sanctions against Ankara, Turkey’s Anadolu news agency has reported, citing a high-ranking source in Washington.

“I can’t say for certain whether sanctions will be imposed on Ankara over the S-400 contract, but the possibility is there. The US administration is not optimistic about this issue,” the source said.

While admitting that Turkey was a sovereign state and therefore had the right to make decisions on whom it buys its weapons from, the source stressed that from the perspective of these weapons’ integration with NATO systems, the S-400 was “problematic.”

The source also characterized the deployment of S-400s in areas where US F-35 fifth-generation stealth fighters are set to fly as “a threat,” without elaborating.

Emphasizing that negotiations between Washington and Ankara on the issue were “continuing,” the source said that there were also “positive tendencies” in negotiations between the two countries on the procurement of the Patriot system, Washington’s closest analogue to the S-400 in terms of capabilities.

Designed to stop enemy aircraft, cruise and ballistic missiles at ranges of up to 400 km and altitudes of up to 30 km, the S-400 is currently the most advanced mobile air defense system in Russia’s arsenal. Russia and India signed a ruble-denominated contract on the delivery of five regiments of S-400s worth $5 billion late last month.

Last week, the Saudi Ambassador to Russia said that talks on the sale of the system to his country were ongoing. In addition to Russia, S-400s are presently operated by Belarus and China, with Beijing expecting another delivery of S-400s by 2020.

Washington has already slapped China with sanctions over its purchase of S-400s and Su-35 combat aircraft in September. India, however, has voiced confidence that it would not be hit with similar restrictions, which the US Treasury has pursued under the 2017 Counter America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

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