“Islam in crisis”: Macron only exposed the emerging truth

New Delhi: On October 2, when French President Emmanuel Macron remarked that “Islam is a religion that is in crisis all over the world today, all hell broke loose in the Muslim world. Many condemned him. Some took to violence, beheaded three, and wounded many others in France. It appeared as if Macron was villain-of-the-piece, a global pariah, especially for the non-Arab Muslims and their rent-seeking liberal-democratic-secular cohorts.

However, at a subterranean level, Islam, as we know it, is indeed in a crisis from modernity. The message, howsoever ugly or obnoxious it may appear is clear: Islam must either reform or perish.

Consider this: an atheist China has destroyed 1,600 mosques in its restive Xinjiang Province in three years, banned Haj for the minority Uighur Muslims, scrapped Arabic/Persian architecture of a mosque to make it look like any Chinese shopping complex, and even rewriting a China-friendly Qur’an in Mandarin.

And this: the United Arab Republic (UAE), Saudi Arabia’s alter ego, has just relaxed several strict Islamic personal laws to move on with modern times—at a time when Islamic militants, including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, are baying for the French blood for alleged blasphemy, etc.

This new development has come within a month of the UAE and Bahrain signing the “Abraham Accords” with Israel, their medieval enemy, to normalize relations with the Jewish state, to the chagrin of non-Arab Muslim countries like Turkey and Pakistan, among others. Saudi Arabia, is currently tasting waters; it may also follow suit in the face of the threat from Turkey’s attempts to revive the Ottoman Empire.

This only means that the Arab world is realizing futility of its archaic Islamic heritage and wants to move on with modern times and geopolitical realities—something the non-Arab Muslim nations are not yet prepared for.

Last week, the UAE announced a major overhaul of its Islamic personal laws, which now allow unmarried couples to live together, loosened restrictions on alcohol and criminalized the so-called “honour killings”. These have been implemented with immediate effect to keep pace with the changing Arab society.

In the last few decades, the UAE has emerged as a global financial hub, and destination for tourists, fortune-seekers, and businessmen. Earlier, its strict Islamic laws were embarrassing for many of these foreigners and their countries and were seen as obstacles in realizing the full potential of the seven Arab sheikhdoms comprising the UAE.

These historic and progressive reforms are expected to attract millions of foreign tourists to boost the UAE economy and make it less dependent on traditional sources of revenue business-friendly ambience, and oil.

Accordingly, there will now be no penalties for alcohol possession, sales and consumption. There will also be no ban on cohabitation of unmarried couples. The beneficiaries include Muslims as well. The Arab nation will also better protect women’s rights by getting rid of the tribal custom of ‘honour killings’.

The UAE’s strict Islamic laws were equally applicable to the Arab natives and the expatriates. The expatriates outnumber local citizens nearly nine to one. The amendments will now permit foreigners to avoid Islamic Shariah courts on issues like marriage, divorce and inheritance.

Clearly, the Arab world is in for far-reaching changes in the near future.

Another change in the Muslims’ world affairs has surfaced in China where President-for-Life Xi Jinping is the driving force against ‘Islamic heritage’.

But nobody in China’s “all-weather friend” Pakistan, or for that matter anywhere in the world, dare question Beijing for its ‘Islamophonia’, as they do in the case of India, France, and other democratic countries. China routinely hangs Islamic terrorists, has for long been keeping a million Uighur Muslims in ‘re-education’ camps, and even banned their pilgrimage to Mecca.

Few have noticed how China has been effecting far-reaching changes even in mosque architecture, imposing various restrictions, and also ‘Sinicizing’ The Qur’an by getting it rewritten in its own language, giving no room to anyone and making sure the militant Muslims remained in check.

The latest example came in a mosque whose traditional ‘Arab-style’ domes were demolished and the shrine was rebuilt like a Chinese mall.

A recent Australian study, using satellite imagery, had found that China has systematically destroyed nearly 1,600 mosques in Xinjiang province alone since 2017.

As part of its ongoing project to ‘Sinicize’ Islam in China, a large mosque has been completely reconstructed by the government, removing all signs of Islam.

The Nanguan Mosque in Yinchuan, capital of the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, was the largest in the province. It has so completely been rebuilt that—with no minarets or domes–that it no longer looks like a mosque at all. The mosque was built during the late Ming dynasty (1368-1644), and restored in 1981.

It was entirely renovated and changed by the Communist Party government of President Jinping.

The region, inhabited by the largest community of Hui Muslims in China, became a major target of the ‘Sinicize Islam’ drive of the Chinese Communist Party. In the last two years, a large number of mosques have lost their distinguishing features.

Now, all the five bright green colored domes and the golden minarets have been removed. The golden Islamic style filigree, decorative arches, and the text in Arabic script on the mosque have all been scrapped. Even the signboards are in Chinese, according to media reports.

The bright golden and green colored mosque with onion-shaped domes and Islamic style curved windows have been changed into a grey-colored rectangular structure.

The latest images of the mosque were posted by Christina Scott, the United Kingdom’s deputy head of mission in China, on Twitter. She wrote, “TripAdvisor suggested the Nanguan Mosque in #Yinchuan well worth a visit. Only this is what it looks like now, after ‘renovations’.  Domes, minarets, all gone. No visitors allowed either, of course. So depressing.”

The transformation was expedited after a recent visit to the city by  President Xi Jinping, who scolded officials for the slow pace of ‘Sinicizing’ Islamic structures. He remarked that “Ningxia has made some achievements in religious reform, but it was not thorough enough.” It meant that the work should be intensified.

He also visited the region on June 6-8. The demolition activity picked up soon after that. By June 26, the five green domes and the minarets were gone, and the remaining work was completed soon.

The militant Muslims could not do anything, not even expressed their dissatisfaction for fear of the government.

According to reports, the Covid-19 pandemic has come in handy to the Chinese government by giving it the opportunity to expedite the process of Sinicizing mosques in the nation. Imposing restrictions in the name of the pandemic, the government closed down many mosques, accelerated demolitions, and renovations.

The Ninth Crusade-1: France gets support as Muslims split

Then it was November 1095. Now it is November 2020.

Even a thousand-year-long distance has not much changed the minds of Christian and Muslim militants; they are still buried in their inseparable past.

In 1849, French writer Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr succinctly coined this phrase, probably for them: plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose, that is the more things change, the more they stay the same.

How can they change? These militants draw their sustenance from their Holy Books, which have not changed.

And so it goes on. And on. Ad nauseum.

Dieu li volt”—“God wills it!”—the mob cried when Pope Urban II preached the First Crusade in France in November 1095.

 “Allah-o-Akbar” (God is Great) and “Insha Allah! (God willing!) are the Islamists’ war cries now…

These are echoing again in Europe and the Muslim world. In 2020.

The script is the same, because the Holy Books are the same. The space is the same as is their geography. The objectives are the same, as is geopolitics. The mind-set are also the same, because the goals are the same.

Only technology and speed are different.

Then the Pope had ordered the pious Christians: “Wear a cross upon your brow or breast.” Thus came the word Crusade, from the Spanish root cruzada, or ‘marked with the Cross’. For two years, he preached Crusade, networking gullible masses. It created an unprecedented religious frenzy across the Continent. The Crusaders began to march on Asia.

Unlike the waiting professional Turkish-led Muslim armies, however, the European Crusaders were an untrained, heterogeneous, motley crowd of thousands of people, some of whom had even brought along their families.

Many died on their 2,830-miles-long road journey to Jerusalem due to a variety of reasons, such as hunger, cold and disease even before they reached the Holy City; some defeated the Muslims along the way and carved out their own fiefs to settle down. Still others managed to reach the Jerusalem in June 1099 in a trail of blood as they indiscriminately massacred both the Jews and Muslims to their heart’s content.

After ‘liberating’ Jerusalem from the Muslims and ruling in the unfamiliar country for a few decades, they returned to Europe, giving the Muslims opportunity to recapture the Holy City. Thus began the Second Crusade (1146-1148)….The Holy City still has many Muslims though they don’t control it.

The Third, the Fourth…the Eighth Crusades followed, which ended in 1492. By then, Spain and Portugal had expelled Islam from Europe as part of Christian Reconquista that had begun in 711.

In these centuries, France eventually emerged as the largest Catholic nation and bulwark of European security from the Muslims. But when Paris began to control North African colonies, many Muslims migrated to France…and are now its biggest problem.

On October 16, 2020, a 47-year-old history teacher was decapitated near Paris by a young Chechen man angry at Samuel Paty showing students caricatures of Prophet Muhammad, ironically in a class he took on freedom of expression. Then, on October 29, three churchgoers were brutally killed, one of them beheaded, in the southern city of Nice, by a Tunician who cried Allah-o-Akbar at the police. Rings of another Crusade.

Meanwhile, French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin had announced a crackdown against those “who spread hate online.” The government also dissolved and banned some of the so-called NGOs, non-profits, and sleepers’ cells covertly or overtly shielding, aiding and justifying terrorists and their acts by taking advantage of the French laws of secularism and democracy.

The French government strongly reaffirmed the right of free speech — including the right to satirize and blaspheme — as well as the central role of France’s version of secularism, known as laïcité, in all state institutions, especially public schools. Not only this, President Emmanuel Macron paid tributes to Paty for “embodying the French republic.”

Even before the killings, Macron had announced a new government plan, including an upcoming comprehensive bill, “to strengthen laïcité and consolidate republican principles” in order to combat “separatism”. Next month, December, he is going ahead with it.

These steps came because a majority of Muslims—their 9 percent of the total French population of 56 million make them the largest single Islamic minority in a European country—could not integrate into the larger French society, and retained their separate identity. Ghettoised in Muslim-dominated enclaves, they remained aloof from the rest of French society, and focused around Islamic schools, halal stores or mosques.

France’s fresh steps only fuelled their anger, which spilled over soon to other countries where the community resorted to angry demonstrations.

In particular, Turkey, Pakistan and Malaysia—all non-Arab nations—strongly opposed these measures, setting them apart from the Arab nations.

Their dissociation from the Saudi-dominated Muslim world had begun to take shape in 2019 when they tried to set up a separate block at a conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The Saudis torpedoed the attempt and nipped in the bud.

But Turkey did not take this snub lightly. Its President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is now trying to resurrect the dead Ottoman Empire the French and the British had buried in Turkey in 1922 after the First World War (1914-18). Erdogan has picked up threads from where ISIS’s “Caliph” Al Baghdadi had left.

In other words, Erdogan is aiming not only at reviving the Ottoman 2.0 Empire but also become Caliph-cum-Sultan of all the Sunnis…and gobble up all the Arab and Arabized nations under this umbrella, again.

The Arab kingdoms would not agree…and they are joining the anti-Islamic group!

And since Pakistan and Malaysia were not part of the Ottoman Empire, they are supporting Turkey.

This is the crux of the emerging Ninth Crusade…

France is now getting support not only from all Christians, Jews and the Hindus, but also from the Arabs; the non-Arab bloc is being isolated.

In the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the Arab nations number 22 (they are also members of the Arab League). While the Arab nations are resources-rich, the non-Arabs are population-rich.

In other words, the Muslim Brotherhood is fragmenting…

Watch this space!

Sunni leadership: Pakistan joins Turkey’s one-horse race

To say that ‘history repeats itself’ could be a cliché, even an understatement. But it should be said to see the latest developments in perspective.

To begin, let us say: the kettle is hotter than tea!

A century ago, Muslims of the Indian subcontinent had launched the Khilafat Movement for restoration of the Ottoman Empire in far away Turkey. It was basically an attempt of the Ali Brothers to create a Sunni bloc in the world. Even the then Nizam of Hyderabad, Asaf Jah VII Mir Usman Ali Khan, threw in his hat with the ambition of wresting the Caliphate from the Turks: he was a relative of the deposed last Caliph, Abdulmejid II, and fancied himself as the rightful heir to the high office.

Because of this ‘Indian’ support to the despised Ottomans, the Arab Muslims have since hated them. One by one, Arab nations finally broke away from the Ottoman yoke in the mid-20th century, but their hatred remained. After Partition of India, and emergence of Pakistan as ‘champion’ of India’s Muslims, the Arab dislike was gradually shifted to Islamabad.

At present, the growing bonhomie between the Arabs and ‘Hindu’ India, as also the Jews of Israel, is proof enough of this megatrend of a split between the Muslims of Arab and non-Arab origins.

But Pakistan has refused to learn any lesson from this subtle shift, even after the Arabs’ repeated snubs in the last one year itself, on the issues like Kashmir and the non-Arab axis it sought to create with Turkey and Malaysia within the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), headquartered in Saudi Arabia.

So, even as the Arabs kept silent and moved closer to Israel, Pakistan aped Turkey again and condemned France for taking action against Islamists. France has the largest Muslim minority in Europe.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi, who is fighting a grim battle for his own survival in the face of a united Opposition at home, criticised the French President for “encouraging Islamophobia” following the killing of a teacher who showed cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad to his pupils.

“Hallmark of a leader is he unites human beings… rather than dividing them. This is a time when President (Emmanuel) Macron could have put healing touch, and denied space to extremists rather than creating further polarisation and marginalisation that inevitably leads to radicalization,” he said in a series of tweets on Sunday.

Satan quoting from the Holy Book. See who is talking about a ‘healing touch’—someone whose country is the global breeding ground for officially-sponsored and funded, and army-supported terrorists of dozens of groups and whose over 7,000 members have been proscribed by the United Nations. A country continuously kept on grey list by the global watchdog on terror funding, Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

Curiously, Niazi himself had admitted in the US last year that Pakistan was home to some 40,000 terrorists!

But this did not prevent him from his peace diatribe: “It is unfortunate that he (Macron) has chosen to encourage Islamophobia by attacking Islam rather than the terrorists who carry out violence, be it Muslims, White Supremacists or Nazi ideologists.”

He claimed that the French President deliberately provoked Muslims, including his own citizens, through encouraging the display of blasphemous cartoons targeting Islam, and Prophet Muhammad.
Without any understanding of it, he attacked and hurt the sentiments of millions of Muslims in Europe and across the world.

Early this month, Macron had described Islam as a religion “in crisis,” and announced plans for tougher laws to weed out “Islamist separatism” in France.

His statement came after the gruesome killing of a teacher by a 18-year-old youth of Chechen origin. The youth beheaded Samuel Paty, 47, in broad daylight, near his school in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, a suburb about 24-km from Paris, for showing cartoons of Prophet Muhammad.

Ironically, Paty had shown these caricatures during a lesson on free speech, according to reports.

The attacker posted a photo of the teacher’s decapitation on Twitter before being shot and killed by the police. The French media said the teenager had been in touch with Paty before the killing.

The killing suddenly made France boil with rage as anti-Muslim demonstrations were organized across the country. Subsequently, France closed several mosques in an unprecedented crackdown in hotspot areas and even posthumously conferred the Legion d’Honneur, France’s highest honour, on Paty in a ceremony attended by President Emmanuel Macron.

The French government also launched a crackdown against more than 50 Muslim organisations as agitated vigilante groups attacked mosques.

This was part of Macron’s October 2 plan against “Islamist separatism”. Last week, France said it was conducting multiple raids and would expel more than 200 Muslims from the country.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin has also proposed to ban the Collective Against Islamophobia in France (CCIF), an organization that claims to track anti-Muslim hate crimes. He lambasted CCIF as an “enemy of the republic” and hinted at dissolving several other organisations.

Fifteen people have been arrested as part of an investigation into the killing, including the assailant’s family members, reports said.

In September also, two stabbings were reported outside the former offices of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, which republished cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad at the start of the trial for those suspected with involvement in the January, 2015, attacks which killed 17 people.

With growing concerns about Islamic radicalization in France and the rest of Europe, Macron is mulling a new law to push religion further out of education and the public sector in the country, and aims to strengthen “laicite”, France’s strict separation of church and state.

It would, among other things, let the state monitor international funding coming into French mosques, limit home-schooling to prevent Muslims schools from being run by what Macron cited as “religious extremists”, and create a special certificate programme for imams to be trained in France.

France was where the Muslim expansion in Europe was halted in the eighth century.

And France was where the First Crusade began…

Is France now launching the Last Crusade?

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said Macron needs ‘mental treatment’.

Watch this space!

After Ladakh humiliation, China ‘aspires’ for a repeat in Taiwan!

Last week, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen expressed her love for Indian dishes like chana masala, naan and, of course, chai.

Of late, the Republic of Taiwan and India have come closer than ever before. A few months ago, some Indian Members of Parliament also joined Ing-wen’s swearing-in ceremony through video conferencing.

Taipei is likely to be inducted as the next member of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad, which is being billed as preparatory for the formation of an ‘Asian NATO’ next year. The US, Australia, India and Japan are the founding members of Quad for security in the Asia-Pacific Region.

This recent development has further irked China, which claims the island of Taiwan its own.

In politics, they say, having a good advisor is half-work-accomplished. And a bad advisor is a sure recipe for disaster.

Nobody knows this better than the saner leaders of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), who are against the suicidal policies of their own President-for-Life, Xi Jinping. After the miscalculations in Ladakh, they are mighty worried about the clique of hand-picked advisors prodding Jinping to go ballistic against all and sundry, if only to buttress his own diluted image at home.

That is why China is refusing to learn lessons and trying to recreate the “Middle Kingdom” of the medieval era, the way Beijing’s latest ally Turkey is attempting to revive the medieval Ottoman Empire a century after it was buried. China’s last emperor, Hsian-T’ung, was also forced to abdicate in 1912.

China has been trying to flex muscles in the South China Sea for long. After an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation against India in Ladakh, which the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) had fancied as a cakewalk—it has resulted in a nearly five-month-long standoff, despite seven rounds of high-level talks—China is now reported to be preparing to cut off its own nose in Taiwan.

Media reports, quoting defence advisors and the South China Morning Post (SCMP), said on Sunday that Beijing is increasing the PLA’s presence and strength along its southeast coast as it prepares for a possible military invasion of Taiwan.

With this aim, China is replacing its decades-old DF-11s and DF-15s and deploying its “most advanced” hypersonic missile DF-17 in the region.

“The new missile has a longer range and is able to hit targets more accurately,” the reports said.

Since the 1940s, China has been claiming that the self-governing Taiwan is an integral part of its territory, with Jinping even toying with a military force to capture it.

Predictably, the US has thrown a protective shield around Taiwan.

According to the Canada-based Kanwa Defence Review, satellite images show that both the Marine Corps and Rocket Force bases in Fujian and Guangdong in China have expanded.

“Every rocket force brigade in Fujian and Guangdong is now fully equipped,” the report said.

“The size of some of the missile bases in the Eastern and Southern theatre commands have even doubled in recent years, showing the PLA is stepping up preparations for a war targeting Taiwan,” it added.

These reports came amid heightened tensions between China and the US, with their diametrically opposite views over Taiwan and the Covid-19 pandemic.

During a recent visit to a military base in Guangdong, Jinping had instructed troops to “put their minds and energy on preparing for a war”, China’s news agency Xinhua said.

Addressing troops of the PLA’s Marine Corps in Chaozhou City, Jinping asked them to “maintain a state of high alert” and appealed to them to be “absolutely loyal, absolutely pure, and absolutely reliable”.

This appeal also proved the recent reports that the PLA, after its misadventure in Ladakh, is panicked and unwilling to launch another misadventure, this time in Taiwan, and China is trying to boost its morale.

In recent years, China has also increased military drills around Taiwan, with nearly 40 Chinese warplanes crossing the median line between the mainland and Taiwan in September, which Tsai Ing-wen called a “threat of force.”

Abraham’s Kids: S.Arabia may ‘expel’ Turkey from Islam!

Centuries later, religious forces are undergoing an international realignment. Strange things are happening on the geopolitical stage in the Fertile Cresent. Arch-rivals Israel and Turkey are supporting a Muslim-majority Azerbaijan in its war against a Christian-dominated Armenia. Israel’s ‘immortal’ enemy Shia Iran is supporting Armenia.

Turkey is a member of the NATO whose another member France, and Russia, which is not, are both supporting Armenia. Saudi Arabia is inching closer to the arch-enemy Israel after its neighbors, the UAE and Bahrain, signed the “Abraham Accords” in September 2020 in Washington as guests of President Donald Trump, expecting peace to return to the world’s most volatile region…

But something even more unprecedented may happen on the Muslim world’s political chessboard: Saudi Arabia may ‘excommunicate’ Turkey from Islam, making it the first country to be declared an apostate in the last 14 centuries.

Welcome to the Children of Abraham in the 21st century!

A revanchist Turkey has alarmed the Arab nation-states across the Middle East and North Africa and forced them to come to terms with Israel as a foil to Ankara’s grand militarist designs of the Ottomans after a century of lying low.

For the first time in 14 centuries, therefore, the Arabs and the Jews expect to establish peace. After the 1979 Camp David Accord between Egypt and Israel and then a peace treaty between Jordan and Israel in 1994, the UAE and Bahrain suddenly signed the “Abraham Accords” with Jerusalem.

In the changed geopolitical scenario, Israel has successfully befriended its former foes, the Arabs, gaining their stamp of the legitimacy of the Jewish State, and thus leaving the Palestinians high-and-dry. These peace treaties mean that the Arab states have recognized Israel as the de facto as well as de Jure Jewish state in the Levant region. In other words, the Palestinians could no longer claim what is now Israel, the Promised Land, including the Gaza Strip and West Bank. For the Arabs, it’s a battle of survival of their dynasties against the resurgent Turks.

Israel is a democracy while the Arab states are ruled by the feudal Sheikhdoms. These fresh developments have been forced by Turkey’s ambition to resurrect the Ottoman Empire (1299-1923), a century after the Allies of the First World War dismantled it.

Trying to resurrect this dead Empire and absorb the Arab states again, Turkey’s hawkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has only pushed the Arabs into the Jewish arms. A maverick, Erdogan, who first turned Turkey from a secular into an Islamic state, now sees in himself the new Caliph-cum-Sultan of the majority of Sunni Muslims, represented by the Ottomans. The Sunnis constitute more than 80% of the world’s Muslim population of 1.8 billion.

To snatch the global Muslim leadership from the Saudis, he has been working on a well-planned strategy. It began to unfold with his support of various dissident and terror groups and interference in war-torn Syria.

In 2019, Turkey, together with Pakistan and Malaysia, tried to set up a non-Arab Muslim shop within the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), headed by the Saudis and headquartered in Jeddah. Besides, Turkey has been supporting and funding various Islamist terror groups in the Middle East and North Africa in a bid to gain their backing for his mega-project.

After securing Jerusalem’s support, the Arabs are now bracing for the next decisive step. Indications came last week with reports that Azerbaijan is using imported Israeli drones to attack Armenia in their ongoing war in the Christian-majority but Azeri territory of the Nagorno-Karabakh region. This put both Turkey and Iran—who were supporting Azerbaijan—into a quandary! It only means a further split in the Muslim world and realignment of Muslim countries within the OIC.

The Arab nations and Israel, as also several Christian nations in Eastern and Central Europe, came into existence in the 20th century only after the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire, headed by Turkey, which was also the seat of the last Caliphate-cum-Sultanate. That is why Turkey’s attempt to revive it a century later has forced the Arabs and the Israelis to forge a friendship and come on the same page.

More Christian nations, former satellites of the Ottoman, may also join the war. They are already infuriated against Turkey which reconverted Hagia Sophia, a church-turned-mosque-turned UNESCO-recognized World Heritage site, into a mosque in September in a bid to drum up support among the Sunni Muslims across the world.

Recently, Erdogan infuriated the Arabs in a bid to provoke their reaction. Addressing the Turkish General Assembly (Parliament), he said things unpalatable to the Arabs. This forced the Saudis to announce a business boycott of Ankara, whose economy is already in doldrums. One reason why Erdogan has brought his country to this precipice is the floundering economy. A revival of Ottoman ‘glory’, he dreams, can camouflage his failures on the domestic front.

That explains why he ridiculed the Arabs. He claimed that some countries in the Arabian Gulf were targeting Turkey and pursuing policies that destabilized the region.

“It should not be forgotten that the countries in question did not exist yesterday, and probably will not exist tomorrow; however, we will continue to keep our flag flying in this region forever, with the permission of Allah.” Clearly, he was referring to the Arab countries which were part of the Ottoman Empire until 1923 and, if his plans succeed, may again be forced back into the revivified Empire.

The Arab reaction, as expected, was swift. Ajlan al-Ajlan, Chairman of the Council of Saudi Chambers, openly called for a complete boycott of “everything Turkish” including imports, investment, and tourism, appealing that it is “the responsibility of every Saudi” to boycott Turkey.

Of late, the Saudis have pressurized local businesses not to trade with Turkey and its industries. The Kingdom has detained trucks carrying products from Turkey. The Saudis have also canceled the employment contracts of high-ranking Turkish nationals working in the Kingdom.

The problem is that the Saudis cannot officially boycott Turkey without inviting sanctions from the World Trade Organisation (WTO). That is why Riyadh has resorted to the unofficial boycott of Turkish goods and services to bleed Ankara as a first warning.

But this has only whetted the Turkish appetite. It has intensified attacks on the Arabs.

The Saudis, and other Arabs, have always seen the Turks as uncouth upstarts. Prince Faisal Bin Bandar Bin Abdulaziz had refused to drink Turkish coffee offered to him last year. And Prince Abdullah Bin Sultan Al Saud had called for a boycott of Turkey and its products until “Ankara reviews its policies with the Kingdom.”

In the September meeting of the Arab League, Egypt also voiced similar views. In their joint statement, Arab League foreign ministers denounced Turkey’s “interference in Arab affairs,” including its military actions in Syria, Libya, and Iraq, and asked Ankara to “stop provocations that could erode building trust and threaten the region’s security and stability.”

But Turkey would not listen to these academic pleas. An important reason for Erdogan’s bellicosity and brinkmanship is that this ‘aggressive’ posture and the carrot of a revivified Ottoman Empire keeps the attention of the Turks away from their domestic problems, the way a buffeted President Xi Jinping is keeping the Chinese’ attention focused out of China in various hotspots, including India.

Even before the Covid-19 pandemic hit the world, Turkey was facing a currency crisis since 2018 which led to a sharp recession. In the current fiscal year, the Turkish lira was among the world’s worst-performing currencies, plunging by 22 percent. The situation has rapidly deteriorated on the foreign exchange reserves also.

The Saudis’ attempt to arm-twist Erdogan by an unofficial boycott has led to the Turkish exports plunging by nearly 14 percent in the January-July 2020 period.

But it has not diluted Erdogan’s aggression.

The next step the Saudis could, therefore, likely take to tame Turkey is to excommunicate it from Islam. The best and most powerful weapon Riyadh has is excommunicate Turkey and deny its citizens the right to the Hajj.

In the event of this ex-communication, Turkey’s strategy to dislodge Saudi Arabia from the OIC’s leadership may collapse, prompting it to further intensify its attacks against the Arabs.

What happens when a Muslim is excommunicated?

Although no country as a whole has ever been excommunicated—entire communities, like the 5-million-strong Ahmediyyas (Kadiyanis) have, however, been expelled from Islam in Pakistan in 1984—the well-established principle of Takfir (declaring someone an apostate) has been invoked in such cases. The act which leads to Takfir is known as Mukaffir (finding someone to be an unbeliever).

The Takfir has major consequences of killing, confiscation of the infidel’s property, and denial of an Islamic burial. So, if the Salafis-Saudis excommunicate the Turks, the latter will become vulnerable globally as other Muslims will be duty-bound to wage Jihad against them.

Will the Saudis go to this extent?

According to the school of Islamic theorist Sayyid Qutb, the principle of peace cannot be applied to deal with apostates and jahils (uncouth). It means that Islamists must launch a Jihad against excommunicated infidels. Finding the Turks as the tough nuts to crack, the Saudis could prompt the Salafi religious leadership to order ex-communication and a Holy War against the Turks.

Takfir is now the only effective weapon in the Arabs’ armor: After all Turkey is all set to foment civil wars and popular trouble against the Arab dynastic rulers.

Time to junk UN; create a new world body now!

If you love humanity, hawk peace, and send your troops to other countries to establish sanity, then you are a ‘misfit’ in the sweepstakes of United Nations. Be a bully and you will be respected. And feared.

This is the lesson India has finally learnt, since 1945 when the UN came into existence.

The world body has always been, and will always be, ruled by those who successfully camouflage their power-play, barbarianism, selfish ends, and long-term strategies couched in academic vocabulary.

But we cannot blame the UN. Its DNA was written by the victors of the Second World War: the USA, France, the UK, Russia, and China.

Actually, China had not even fought in the main war theatre of Europe but only its extension in the Far East—against Japan. This war was known as the Second Sino-Japanese War, a military conflict that took place between July 1937 (the Second World War started only in September 1939) and September 1945. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) dates it back to the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931.

This war was not fought by the Communist Party but by the Chiang Kai Shekh-led nationalist government of the Republic of China, which later shifted base to Taiwan. The Communists later sold outcome of this war to the Allies as ‘part of the Second World War’ and themselves both as its victims and victors so as to grab a membership on the high table of the UN Security Council.

China also got support from India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru who did not want the UN to become an exclusive All-White Club and who was dreaming of making India a Third World Leader via the Non-Aligned Movement.

The world is now paying for the follies of the Allies and India: China has morphed into a global bully and blackmailer.

See how China successfully blackmails the world: the US, which pays 22% of all the bills of the world body, has no control on the World Health Organization (WHO), which has merely become a lapdog of Beijing, as far as the coronavirus issue is concerned.  Japan contributes the second-maximum amount to the UN but has no seat on the UNSC. Germany contributes more that France, UK and Russia put together, without any seat on the UNSC. Clearly, the UN no longer represents the world.

China pays no respect to the UNESCO-designated World Heritage Sites—its current sleeping-partner Turkey has reconverted Hagia Sophia into a mosque. Using North Korea, Pakistan and Iran to do its dirty work against the US, India and Saudi Arabia, Beijing regularly shields these rogue states at different world forums. That China respects no human rights either in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Tibet or Xinjiang is now a folklore.

Why should the world, therefore, bow to the so-called UN which is increasingly impotent, pale and helpless, controlled by China and no one else. All the remaining four members of the UNSC are no longer a match to Beijing.

It is, therefore, time to either restructure, reform and revamp it or dismantle the United Nations to create its broad-based successor the way the UN itself succeeded the League of Nations. Inadequacies of the UN should be removed in the next body.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has rightly voiced India’s serious concerns last week in his annual address to the UN General Assembly on its 75th anniversary. Earlier, US President Donald Trump had also raised questions about the WHO’s role in the outbreak of global pandemic.

Despite being the largest democracy and the most dependable nation for the UN to send its “peace-keeping’ force to the world’s volatile areas, India has been kept out of the UNSC since 1945: first of all, Britain saw to it that its former slave did not get a seat on the high table; then the US did so as it suspected that Russia could have an additional vote in New Delhi; now, China is ensuring that India does not get a membership of the UNSC and the power to veto.

At present, with India inching closer to Washington, Russia does not actually want New Delhi to get the seat, although it is one of the largest defence buyer from Moscow.

Apart from India, there are some more countries that deserve to get a UNSC seat. They are Germany, Japan, Brazil, and South Africa. Germany and Japan are no longer treated as losers of the Second World War but as vibrant economies and responsible countries; Brazil is the biggest economy of South America and South Africa is no longer infamous for apartheid. Australia is also a good candidate.

Clearly, the world has moved on from the hysterical sentiments of 1945. The UN should also, likewise, be reformed and revamped—or junked to be replaced by a more representative body of more than 200 member-states.

If Trump wins a second term in November 2020, he should follow up his concerns by either forcing an overhaul of the UN functioning, or kicking out the world body from the American soil. Predictably, China will offer land to shift the world body—but that will expose its game-plan to the rest of the world! Barring his four or five acolytes, no other country would be interested in an UN shifted from America to China—particularly not after 137 of them demanding a thorough probe into the Wuhan-origin of Covid-19.

India, and other countries as well, should understand that there is no place for emotional issues, ethics and other such stuff in the UN’s functioning. The world listens to only those who believe in realpolitik.

No one understands it better than Beijing which has virtually bought the UN using all the tricks in the diplomatic trade.

Even if India gets a permanent seat on the UNSC, it would hardly matter, except as a cathartic feeling that it is now a member of the high table. At the most, New Delhi can use its veto against Pakistan, which is already being supported by China. We have seen the fate of different UN resolutions against Pakistan, vetoed by Beijing.

So, even a membership of the UNSC may only provide India a psychological satisfaction of having ‘arrived’ as a regional power, even as a ‘superpower’ on the global centre-stage.

Even without a veto, Islamabad has successfully stalled India in the UN many a time, thanks to China. Israel has also defied as many as 46 anti-Israeli US resolutions.

If nothing, India should invoke its own Acharya Chanakya. Demonstrate power, for power alone begets power. That is why the Arab nations have seen through the weakness of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (CIC) and moved closer to Israel as realpolitik dictated.

Turkey-on-J&K: India to pay in coin, hints at E. Mediterranean forays

Virendra Pandit

New Delhi: A century ago, victors of the World War I had dissolved the last Muslim Empire, that of the Ottomans, centred around the present Republic of Turkey. Mehmed VI Vahideddin was the last and 36th Sultan of the dynasty from July 1918 to November 1922. He also doubled up as the last Caliph, world leader of the Sunni Brotherhood, even if titular.

Ever since, several attempts have been made to resurrect the Caliphate, the last one being by the terrorist outfit Islamic State (IS), led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (2014-16), in Syria and Iraq. Now Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is trying to resurrect the Empire.

But no one, especially not the Arabs, is interested. On the contrary, the Arabs are moving closer to Israel. In fact, the Arabs rejoiced at the demise of the ‘barbarian’ Turk-led Ottoman Empire and became independent nation-states in the 20th century.

Interestingly, it was an infidel country, India, where the confused Muslims tried to whip up pro-Caliphate sentiments by launching the Khilafat Movement in the early 1920s. It was supported by Mahatma Gandhi who knew it was a zero-sum game; it died of its own inherent contradictions and lack of traction at home and abroad.

A hundred years later, history has turned full circle.

In an attempt to get Pakistan’s support, Turkey has been raising the Kashmir issue. India has disliked this Turkish interference in the Jammu and Kashmir issue. And New Delhi is likely to pay Ankara in coin: by throwing its hat into the Eastern Mediterranean hotspot.

Indications of this outreach have begun to emerge.

Last week, the Director-General of the proposed national university for security hinted that India could play a role in the Eastern Mediterranean, a new geopolitical hotspot, amidst tension between Turkey and Greece.

Significantly, the region included the Syrian coast and is rich in hydrocarbon reserves. It holds reserves to the tune of 1.7 billion barrels of oil and 3.5 trillion cubic meters of natural gas with corporations from various nations such as Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO), U.S.-based ExxonMobil and Noble Energy, France’s Total, Italy’s Eni energy company, South Korea’s Kogas, Qatar Petroleum, British Gas (BG) of the U.K. and Israel’s Delek Drilling and Avner Oil, operating in the region.

Dr Vimal N. Patel, who is currently the Director-General of Gandhinagar-based Raksha Shakti University, soon-to-be upgraded as a Central university, the Rashtriya Raksha University (National University of Security), led a discussion on this matter.

He unveiled the possible pro-active policy at a webinar organized by the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA), a top think-tank funded by the Ministry of External Affairs. It is currently headed by the Vice President of India, M. Venkaih Naidu.

Speakers on the theme, “The Eastern Mediterranean: A new geopolitical hotspot amidst Turkey-Greece Tensions”, discussed various contours affecting the region. It has become an area of heightened geopolitical relevance in the recent months due its rich oil-and-gas wealth, being eyed by energy-hungry Turkey.

Dr Patel stressed that India has extensive strategic and economic interests in ensuring peace and stability in this region. New Delhi also enjoys unprecedented mutually-beneficial bilateral relations with a large number of Eastern Mediterranean countries like Cyprus, Greece, Egypt, Israel, Italy, Jordan, and Palestine, among others.

He categorically stated that the global maritime commons cannot be unilaterally regulated by any one nation. He affirmed that India emphasises the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)-led and UNCLOS-based approaches must be adopted to resolve the various challenges being faced in the region.

Dr Patel iterated that as India is set to begin its term as the Non-Permanent Member of the UN Security Council (UNSC) next year, it is imperative for all the stakeholders in the realm of geo-strategy to be well-versed with this region which is poised to hold significant relevance in the functioning of this high-profile UN body.

The other participants in the event included Priya Singh, Associate Director at Asia in Global Affairs (AGA), Teiborlang T. Kharsyntiew, Assistant Professor of European Studies in the School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, and Fazzur Rahman Siddiqui from the ICWA.

Dragon as Spider: How China is trapping Muslim nations?

First Pakistan. Then Iran. And now Saudi Arabia.

Of course we are not counting others: Turkey, Malaysia, Bangladesh. All playing Chinese Checkers.

Strangely, these monotheistic countries—indeed all 57 members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), led by the Saudis—were  theologically duty-bound to either convert or annihilate atheistic China; instead, they are all surrendering, one by one, to the crafty Dragon.

The EndGame: China, as we know it now, could first colonize, enslave and then gobble them up.

Always a patient expansionist, China is thinking far ahead, in terms of decades, if not centuries; these short-sighted Muslim nations are thinking only for the next year or two, or a decade at best.

In a way, therefore, China is coming to the myopic Muslim world as their ‘liberator’ from Islam, the same way the Muslim zealots had gone to pre-Islamic short-sighted countries as liberators from their ‘infidel’ past.

Call it cyclicality of history. Poetic justice. Or anti-dote to Islam.

The latest to join the Chinese bandwagon is Saudi Arabia, which is trying to get closer to Israel as well and has already pushed two of its acolytes, the UAE and Bahrain, to sign peace deals with Tel Aviv recently.

Apprehensive of losing the Muslims’ leadership to Turkey and Iran, the Saudis are doing everything they could, including sleeping with the old arch-enemies like Israel and China.

In August, western media reported that the Saudis are building a facility for extracting uranium “yellowcake” from ore with help from Beijing. The plant is located at Al Ula in the desert in the north-western desert in the Kingdom. The Saudis, caught sleeping with the Dragon as well, “categorically denied” but said they had contracts with China on uranium exploration. Yellowcake can be used both to produce nuclear power and, after enrichment, even nuclear bomb. The Saudis also claimed they wanted to diversify their energy sources to nuclear energy as well.

In 2018, Saudi Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman (MbS) had said that his country would develop nuclear weapons if Iran also did so. Clearly, they are no longer putting all their eggs in the western basket and wooing China also.

But this revelation is likely to jeopardise the Saudi plan to establish full diplomatic relations with regional ‘superpower’ Israel which has sought guarantees both from Washington and Riyadh. Also, Congressional Democrats in the US capital have sought clarifications from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on this urgent matter.

Interestingly, China is simultaneously sleeping with the Saudis’ bete noire Iran. China’s 25-year-deal with Tehran, a $400 billion dollar project, and a host of other lollipops have come to light recently. Clearly, Beijing is leaving no stone unturned to eject the US and the West from the Middle East.

The reasons for this China policy are, obviously, clear: Beijing has only manpower; for energy, it must depend on the Middle East; and for raw materials on Africa.

Oh. I did not mention Islamabad. Don’t worry. Pakistan is now an international orphan. Bankrupt. Failed state. A basket case.

China no longer needs Pakistan as it did once. And Islamabad, even if it wanted to, cannot free itself from that Dragnet of the Dragon, also known as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). In any case, Pakistan is, except in name, a Chinese colony now.

Already, Chinese men are increasingly marrying Pakistani women, the way they earlier did in Tibet and Xinjiang. In a couple of generations, the Chinese will completely wipe out influence of Islam from Islamabad the way they have in mainland China itself.

And what China can do unto Pakistan, it can as well do unto Iran and Saudi Arabia!