"Evil is powerless if the good are unafraid" - Ronald Reagan

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Freedom and Democracy

MEMRI has translated excerpts from Syrian sheikh 'Abd Al-Mun'im Mustafa Halima, who is also known as Abu Baseer Al-Tartousi, from his article, "On the Jihad in Iraq" posted on his website on 23 NOvember 2007.

In the article, he condemned the ease with which Sunni jihad groups accuse one another of heresy and collaboration with the enemy, and he wrote that these groups ultimately reach the point of killing one another, thus violating the strict prohibition in Islam against spilling Muslim blood. Al-Tartousi called on the jihad groups in Iraq to join ranks and to base their activity on the principle of shura (consultation) - thus implicitly criticizing Al-Qaeda's attempts to impose its control on other jihad movements. At the same time, he unequivocally condemned those collaborating with the Americans, stating that nothing could justify such an act. Finally, he warned against the phenomenon of blind admiration for certain contemporary jihad leaders, which has spread in certain circles. This admiration, he said, causes them to direct "ideological and psychological terrorism" at any cleric or preacher who gives them advice that they dislike or that they deem offensive to the object of their admiration. (emphasis added)

Al-Tartousi discusses three points (highlighted above) which has caused the jihad in Iraq to suffer.

1. Exaggerate the Sins of Rival Groups

"The worst and most dangerous [mistake] is to accuse other [Muslims] of heresy on the basis of conjecture, suspicions, probabilities, and unfounded notions [based on one's] interpretation [of the facts]."

2. Use of force to settle disagreement among Jihad Groups

"If one group disdains the principle of shura and imposes itself and its decisions on another, the result is inevitably mutual strife, war, division and the unlawful spilling of blood. This is happening today, and it is [precisely] what the enemy wants..."

3. Blindly following extremists

Lately, we have [indeed] observed in a number of people the phenomenon of zealously following certain contemporary jihadi [figures], to the extent that they reject any criticism or advice [regarding these figures], or any claim that [their mentors] are making a mistake. Anyone who offers such advice... is immediately considered suspect and accused of treason... even if he has an [impeccable] reputation for expertise, knowledge and jihad...

These mistakes are exactly the mistakes made by Al Qaeda in Iraq. They continue to be made as Al Qaeda in Iraq targets awakening members, most notable, Sheikh Risha in Al Anbar who started the Anbar Awakening. Al Qaeda is continuing to target CLC and Awakening leaders which will further alienate them from the population.

The two things I find interesting about this article are:

1. It contradictory nature. Al-Tartousi, and Bin Laden before him are eseentially telling a lion to quit being a lion. Do not exaggerate the sins of rival groups. Do not use force against rival individuals or groups. Do not blindly follow extremists. However, this is what Bin Laden preaches for Al Qaeda preaches and what Al Qaeda in Iraq executes on a daily basis. It is precisely why they have alienated the population of Iraq and are why they have lost the active and tacit support of the populous in Iraq, which is essential for a successful insurgency.

Side Note: What is interesting about any government, leader, or ruler, whether elected or not, is they need at least the tacit approval of the population. This tacit support can be gained by military force to prevent tacit approval from becoming active disapproval. Otherwise, they would be overthrown. This fact is as true now as it was in feudal societies in the ancient world.

2.The fixes suggested are being done by Awakening groups, but they are denounced in this article as heresy. The fix for exaggerating the sins of rival groups is to "sit down with the enemy and negotiate with him, or even [sign] a hudna or reconciliation agreement" This is precisely what Awakening groups in Iraq are doing with the Iraqi government. Instead of using force against rival groups, jihad forces must unify and execute a shura. The unity government that is being established in Iraq is an example of this principle as is the recently passed reconciliation law. I presume the problem with this shura or consultation which is happening is that it is based on a popularly elected democracy. Instead of blindly following extremists, one should seek spiritual leadership. Rival groups are seeking spiritual advice, most notably from Sistani who has been visited by both Sunnis and Shiites leaders alike for his guidance in Iraqi matters.

If I was a jihad fighter, I would be thoroughly confused by the contradictions being espoused by Al-Tartousi and in the earlier speech by Bin Laden. I presume this is precisely why fighters for Al Qaeda in Iraq are becoming disenchanted and disillusioned. It is also presumably why Iraqis are flocking to Awakening groups and CLCs and seeking reconciliation with the Iraqi government. Moving to these groups is perfectly in line with what is being stated by both of these individuals.

The problem both of these individuals have is the freely elected democracy in Iraq, the fact that this freely elected democracy has a Shiite majority, and possibly the most important, is this freely elected democracy was created by an infidel, the United States. The reason this freely elected democracy will prevail over Al Qaeda is precisely that it upholds the Muslim principles of shura (consultation) and hudna (reconciliation) and is enforcing the sharia (higher religious law) regardless of how Al-Tartousi attempts to twist the facts.

The problem is Iraq is not extreme enough which brings us to the third contradiction expoused by Al-Tartousi. Without stating it himself, Al-Tartousi's major issue is expressed several times above. He and Bin Laden do not like the freely elected democracy being established in Iraq.

Freedom and democracy is what they fear most. Freedom and democracy is what Bin Laden attacked and attempted to destroy on 9/11. Freedom and democracy is why they made Iraq their central front of terror. Freedom and democracy is why Al Qaeda went to Lebanon immediately after Hamas was elected. Freedom and democracy is why he and the Taliban assassinated Bhutto. Freedom and democracy is why he and the Taliban have brought the battle back to Pakistan.

An individual's desire for freedom and democracy is why evil groups, such as Al Qaeda, will ultimately fail. Freedom and democracy is why they haved failed in Iraq. Freedom and democracy is why they are failing in Afghanistan. Freedom and democracy is why they will ultimately fail in Pakistan.

Freedom and democracy will solve the Israel-Palestinian crisis as soon as the Palestinians realize three things.

1. Do not exaggerate the sins of rival groups.

2. Do not use force against rival individuals or groups.

3. Do not blindly follow extremists.

Thank you Al-Tartousi. You have put all these issues completely in perspective.

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