Al-Baghdadi, Self-Proclaimed Caliph of the Islamic State (Part 2)

By Farhang Jahanpour

Part 1 of this series

A shorter version of this article has been published by IPS

When Ibrahim al-Badri al-Samarrai adopted the name of Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi al-Husseini al-Quraishi and revealed himself to the world as the Amir al-Mu’minin (the Commander of the Faithful) Caliph Ibrahim of the self-proclaimed Islamic State, the whole world had to sit up and take notice of him.

The choice of the long title that he has chosen for himself is most interesting and symbolic. The title Abu-Bakr clearly refers to the first caliph after Prophet Muhammad’s death, the first of the four “Orthodox Caliphs”.

The term Husseini presumably refers to Imam Hussein, the Prophet’s grandson and Imam Ali’s son, who was martyred in Karbala on 13 October 680. His martyrdom is seen as a turning point in the history of Islam and is mourned in elaborate mourning ceremonies by the Shi’ites throughout the world on the 10th of Muharram each year, which is accompanied with many processions and self-flagellation.

Both Sunnis and Shi’is regard Imam Hussein as a great martyr, and as someone who gave up his life in order to defend Islam and to stand up against tyranny.

Finally, al-Quraishi refers to Quraish, the tribe to which the Prophet of Islam belonged.

Therefore, his chosen title is full of Islamic symbolism.

According to an alleged biography posted on jihadi Internet forums, al-Baghdadi is a direct descendant of the Prophet, but curiously enough his ancestors come from the Shi’a line of the Imams who descended from the Prophet’s daughter Fatimah.

According to this alleged biography, al-Baghdadi derives his lineage directly from nine Shi’a Imams, “Ali Al-Hadi, Muhammad al-Jawad, Ali al-Rida, Musa al-Kazim, Ja’far al-Sadiq, Muhammad al-Baqir, Ali Zayn al-Abidin, Husayn Bin-Ali, Ali Bin Abi-Talib, right up to the Prophet’s daughter Fatimah and ending in Prophet Muhammad himself.”

Despite his great hostility towards the Shi’is, is this genealogy a way of portraying himself as the true son of the descendants of the Prophet, thus appealing to both Shi’is and Sunnis?

According to the same biography, al-Baghdadi was born near Samarra, in Iraq, in 1971. It is alleged that he received BA, MA and PhD degrees in Islamic studies from the Islamic University of Baghdad. It is also suggested that he was a cleric at the Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal Mosque in Samarra at around the time of the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. (1)

According to a senior Afghan security official, al-Baghdadi went to Afghanistan in the late 1990s, where he received his early jihadi training. He lived with the Jordanian militant fighter Abu Musab al-Zarqarwi in Kabul from 1996-2000. (2)

It is likely that al-Baghdadi fled Afghanistan with leading Taliban fighters after the US invasion of Afghanistan following 9/11.

After the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, Zarqawi and Read the rest of this entry »

Out of Afghanistan

By Jonathan Power

October 21st, 2014

The Soviet Army invaded Afghanistan in December, 1979 and withdrew, exhausted and demoralised, 10 years later. In Moscow a joke had long circulated: “Why are we still in Afghanistan?” Answer: “ We are still looking for the people who invited us.”

The same is true for the Americans and NATO who are now moving through the exit door. They came to obliterate Al Qaeda after 9/11, 2001.

There was certainly no invitation issued by the Afghan government, then controlled by the militant Taliban. The US was angry that Afghanistan sheltered Al Qaeda and didn’t have the time of day to discuss an invitation.

After an air and ground campaign it savaged Al Qaeda. Its rump, including its leader, Osama bin Laden, fled to the barely accessible mountains of Pakistan. Ordinary Afghans had never really liked al-Qaeda and they certainly never equated their home-grown Islamist movement, the Taliban, with the Arab-led extremists.

Yet the US and its allies were not prepared to declare victory and leave. They changed the goalposts Read the rest of this entry »

TFF PressInfo # 285: What submarine in Sweden?

By Jan Oberg

Jan Oberg

You have heard that Sweden is hunting a ”submarine” and that it is ”presumed to be Russian”. Here is an example, Financial Times of October 21 – which incidentally also announces that the Swedish Prime Minister vows to increase defence spending.

Not the slightest evidence

There are only three problems with this:

1) There is not the slightest evidence of there being anything military, neither that it is a submarine nor that, whatever the object might be, it is Russian.

2) Even with CNN, BBC and AlJazeera this is nothing but speculative low-grade yellow press journalism. This is possible in the field of defence, security and peace because much less is required of journalists when they write about these matters than when they write about, say, domestic politics, economics, sports, books or food and wine. In these fields you are expected to have some knowledge and media consumers are able to check. Read the rest of this entry »

Epistemology: On the use of dichotomies

By Johan Galtung

Johan Galtung

Sometimes the use of dichotomies, simple cuts, male-female, democracy-dictatorship, negative-positive peace is criticized: the world is more complicated. That the organic world with life, individual and collective, is complex, there is no doubt. That a simplistic us-them division of the world in two blocs or poles, polarization, is a step on the way to violence and war, is clear.

On the other hand, the dichotomy is a frequent form of thought; today’s digital world is even based on 0,1. We cannot live without right-left, forward-backward, up-down, North-South, East-West, etc.

For this author, with many dichotomies in thought-speech-writing, they are indispensable building-blocs for a complexity that can mirror some of the complexity of the real world, Read the rest of this entry »

The momentum to recognize a Palestinian State is unstoppable

By Farhang Jahanpour

Once again, the British Parliament has led the way with an epoch-making decision. On Monday 13 October 2014, British lawmakers voted overwhelmingly in favour of recognizing Palestine as a state. With 274 to 12 votes they passed a motion stating: “This House believes that the Government should recognise the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel as a contribution to securing a negotiated two-state solution.”

The Conservative Party’s whips advised the party’s MPs to stay away from the vote. As a result, nearly 90 per cent of the ruling Conservative Party members were absent from the vote. (1)

The Israeli government lobbied actively against the motion. The Zionist Federation of Great Britain, the oldest Zionist federation in the world, launched a campaign calling on British Jews to write letters to their MPs, urging them to oppose the motion. The more mainstream Jewish organizations also joined the campaign.

On the other hand, a number of Jewish MPs spoke eloquently in favour of the motion. The veteran Labour Party MP Gerald Kaufman, supporting the motion, accused Israel of “harming the image of Judaism” and contributing to anti-Semitism. In fact, the motion would not have made it to the floor of the House without the support of the Jewish leader of the Labour Party Ed Miliband.

Most of those who spoke in favour of the motion were emphatic about Israel’s right to exist, but they felt that it was time to give the Palestinians the same rights that the Israelis enjoy.

Nearly a hundred years ago Read the rest of this entry »

Oslo is dead! Long live Oslo! The UK House of Commons Supports Diplomatic Recognition of Palestine

By Richard Falk

Richard Falk

Prefatory Note
The post below is a modified version, especially the ending, of a piece published online two days ago in AlJazeera English. While appreciating the importance of the European moves to endorse Palestinian statehood, it seeks a more definitive repudiation of the Oslo Approach.
It calls for an end to the U.S. role as exclusive intermediary and the presumed outcome of a peace process being two states without indicating the character of the Palestinian state. So far, the two-state mantra has been cut back to allow Israel to retain at least the unlawful settlement blocs and to insist on arrangements that uphold their security against unforeseen threats, while granting not a word of acknowledgement to Palestinian security concerns.
My own strong belief is that unless the two peoples are treated with full equality in seeking a solution, the result will not be sustainable or just even in the unlikely event that some sort of agreement is reached.

Oslo is dead! Long live Oslo! The UK House of Commons Supports Diplomatic Recognition of Palestine

On October 13 the House of Commons by an overwhelming vote of 274-12 urged the British government to extend diplomatic recognition to Palestine.

At first glance, it would seem a Read the rest of this entry »

End Game in Ukraine?

By Jens Jorgen Nielsen

Written September 25, 2014

It should never have come to this horrible situation in Ukraine. The local population of Donetsk, Lugansk, Slavyansk and other eastern Ukrainian cities is living through a true nightmare. Residential areas are being bombed, shelled and burned. Non-combatants i.e. elder, women and children are lying dead in the streets. We’re talking about thousands of deaths. No water supply, no heating, no security – this is the grim reality for the population.

700.000 Eastern Ukrainians have already escaped from the war scene, most of them are living in refugee camps in Russia. It is worth noting that they have not fled to Kiev or elsewhere to the west.

Surprisingly the Western media hardly pay any attention to the horrors in Eastern Ukraine.

But that is not all. Ukraine is in total disruption socially, politically and not least economically and financially. Furthermore, the mental scars in Ukraine will continue for at least one generation ahead.

But again that is not all. The European Union suffers as well – in several ways. Read the rest of this entry »

From Third World to First World – Brazil’s election

By Jonathan Power

Brazil has long lived out its personal fantasy as the archetypal relaxed, tolerant and gregarious country with Copacabana beach, the samba, the carnival and a great deal of sexual freedom. It is now living out in real time its almost forgotten societal dream, an economic-cum-social revolution.

The retired president, Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva, bequeathed the nation a vibrant capitalist economy with a human face – an economy that has raised income per head quite substantially (it is now four times that of China), has almost abolished daily hunger and given the large majority of the poor an income supplement in return for families sending their children to school.

Still, after 8 years of Lula and 4 years of his hand-picked successor, Dilma Rousseff, the country struggles to stay ahead of its burgeoning population, the inequities of the feudal land system that cast millions into shanty towns and a murder rate in the slum favelas that is more akin to a war zone than a normal society.

Brazil remains one of the most Read the rest of this entry »

ISIS – Negotiations, not bombing

By Johan Galtung

Johan Galtung

More senseless bombing of Muslims, more defeats for USA-West, more ISIS-type movements, more West-Islam polarization. Any way out?

“ISIS, Islamic State in Iraq-Syria, appeals to a Longing for the Caliphate” writes TFF Associate Farhang Jahanpour in an IPS column. For the Ottoman Caliphate with the Sultan as Caliph – the Shadow of God on Earth – after the 1516-17 victories all over till the collapse of both Empire and Caliphate in 1922, at the hands of the allies England-France-Russia.

Imagine the collapse of the Vatican, not Catholic Christianity, at the hands of somebody, Protestant or Orthodox Christians, meaning Anglo-Americans or Russians, or Muslims. A center in this world for the transition to the next, headed by a Pope, the apostolic successor to The Holy Spirit, an emanation of God in Heaven. Imagine it gone.

And imagine that they who had brought about the collapse had a tendency to bomb, invade, conquer, dominate Catholic countries, one after the other, like after 2 Bush wars in Afghanistan-Iraq, 5 Obama wars in Pakistan-Yemen-Somalia-Libya-Syria, and “special operations”.

Would we not predict [1] a longing for the Vatican, and [2] an extreme hatred of the perpetrators? Fortunately, it did not happen.

But it happened in the Middle East: leaving a trauma fueled by killing hundreds of thousands.

The Sykes-Picot England-France agreement of 16 May 1916 led to Read the rest of this entry »

Questioning Sweden’s ‘bold’ initiative

By Richard Falk

Richard Falk

It was a welcome move, but only in some respects. The new center-left Swedish Prime Minister, Stefan Lofven, in his inaugural speech to Parliament indicated on October 3rd the intention of the Swedish government to recognize Palestinian statehood.

He explained that such a move mentioned in the platform of his party is in accord with promoting a two-state solution, and more significantly, that is to be “negotiated in accordance with international law.” The call for adherence to international law in future diplomacy is actually more of a step forward than is the announced intention of future recognition, which has so far received all the media attention and incurred the wrath of Tel Aviv.

To bring international law into future negotiations would amount to a radical modification of the ‘peace process’ that came into being with the Oslo Declaration of Principles in 1993.

The Israel/United States view was to allow any agreements between the parties to arise from a bargaining process, which is a shorthand for acknowledging the primacy of power, taking account of ‘facts on the ground’ (that is, the unlawful settlements) and diplomatic leverage (allowing the United States to fake the role of ‘honest broker’ while at the same time making sure that Israel’s interests are protected).

I suspect that this hopeful language suggesting the relevance of international law was inserted without any awareness of its importance or relevance. Such an interpretation is in line with Swedish official explanations of their initiative as a way of helping ‘moderate’ Palestinian leaders gain control of diplomacy, thereby facilitating the eventual goal of mutual coexistence based on two states.

It was presumed by Stockholm without any supportive reasoning, and against the weight of evidence and experience, that a Palestine state could emerge from a reinvigorated diplomacy. No mention was made of the settlements, separation wall, road network that have cut so deeply into the Palestinian remnant, which as of the 1967 borders was already 22% of historic Palestine, and less than half of what the UN partition plan had offered the Palestinians in 1947, which at the time seemed unfair and inconsistent with Palestinian rights under international law. Read the rest of this entry »

 

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