The Reality Of The Middle East

This is the reality.

What’s happening in Israel and Gaza at the moment is a catastrophe, no doubt about it. But it’s a tiny part of the real picture. Hundreds of thousands of innocent people are dying in an internecine religious war, being financed by fanatical plutocrats.

It makes you wonder. Twenty years ago, the United States and their allies sent their whole military might to Kuwait, to repel the secular despot who had invaded that nation. The Bush family’s oil interests in Kuwait had absolutely nothing to do with this decision, we were assured. Then a few years later our governments invaded Iraq itself, on the basis that this despot was a really bad guy who had killed thousands of his own citizens and was hiding weapons of mass destruction out in the desert. We strung up the despot, patted ourselves on the back, and went back to our nice, civilized lives.

How far back in history need we go in order to explain what is occurring there today? Forever, and no further than last week, is the only answer. British and French annexation, mandatory slicing and dicing of the Middle East in the aftermath of the Great War and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire? The Balfour Declaration and the rise of the Zionist Federation of Britain? The Mughals? The Caliphs? The coming of the Prophet (peace be upon him, if not upon anyone else)?

Or maybe just the video clip above, of the scene in the Iraqi parliament yesterday? I’m no historian. But I do know that you can only change today and tomorrow, not yesterday. Yesterday you can only learn from. And it appears that nobody has.

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18 Responses to The Reality Of The Middle East

  1. Ozboy says:

    From this morning’s News Limited website:

    Khaled Sharrouf, a jihad warrior from Sydney, currently fighting in Syria, apparently took along his seven-year-old boy to participate in his holy war. Here the boy triumphantly holds up the severed head of an infidel:


    My tax dollars at work.

  2. Ozboy says:

    And now it appears there is a coup in progress in Baghdad. The Prime Minister is accusing the President of violating the constitution, troops loyal to the PM have sealed off the Baghdad Green Zone, blah, blah, blahhh….

    We’ve heard all this a million times before. There are two sane options here. ONLY TWO. It’s an either-or situation, and any politicians who try to convince you otherwise, that there is some kind of third way, middle ground, compromise position, are either lying through their teeth, or so militantly ignorant of history they should be allowed nowhere near the levers of power.

    Here are the only two options:

    a) We decide, once and for all time, that the people of this region are incapable of governing their own affairs at anything like the level of a nation-state. Should we decide this, and further determine that we care about the fate of ordinary people, then it’s back to the colonialism of a hundred years ago. Forget occupying armies and the rest of it – we take control, under a League of Nations-style mandate. We give the population a western-style education, elevate their best and brightest to positions of power, and crush tribal despots, just like we did a century ago. If we determine that we don’t care, then we offer migration to those people who stand a reasonable chance of assimilation into our own societies (such as the persecuted Christian minorities). We round up the neo-jihadists in our own societies and jail them, admitting that allowing them into our country in the first place was a terrible mistake, one we vow to never repeat. Option a) can be summarized like this.

    b) We assert that only the locals have the right to determine their own destiny, even if we privately believe they are incapable of doing so in practice. We acknowledge that Western interference has failed. We get out – right out – and harden our hearts to the cries of innocent people being slaughtered as they are today, knowing through bitter experience that any efforts we make to help them, irrespective of how well-intentioned, will always rebound to the detriment of both of us. We don’t need Arab oil any more; so we put up a virtual fence around the whole place, until such time as they demonstrate the ability to behave above the level of savages. Perhaps we still offer some migration, as in option a). We still round up our own jihadists, but in this scenario we forcibly send them all back to where they evidently want to be, with no hope of ever returning. There are several models, but option b) could well look like this.

    All the way in, or all the way out.

    How many elected politicians do you know who have the stomach for either option a) or option b)?

    Me too. Both options involve some home truths about what we believe, about ourselves and about the people of the Middle East; about their culture and their religion. Home truths they do not wish to face, to speak out loud, or for us to consider at all, under the threat of jail. That’s why they’ll all continue to lie to us, and pretend that you can be a little bit pregnant.

  3. Ozboy says:

    Speaking on The Bolt Report on Sunday, Labor’s Shadow Immigration Minister Richard Marles argued that we were wrong to identify terrorism with one particular ethnic or religious group, that terrorism around the world is committed by many groups with disparate purposes.

    Larry Pickering’s response yesterday was memorable, and I urge you to have a look. He did some research and found that in just the last month, there have been well over two hundred terrorist acts committed around the world. He’s listed every single one. Go and see if you can spot a common theme. I have also helpfully collated this information into this spreadsheet.

  4. Ozboy says:

    And farewell to a man who made me laugh more than any other (with the possible exception of Spike Milligan):

  5. Ozboy says:

    I’ve been following the Iraqi crisis in the media since it began, and I have found little to sway me from my viewpoint above. Boris Johnson’s column in the London Telegraph yesterday, arguing for intervention in northern Iraq, and based seemingly on his personal connexions with several leaders of the Kurdish people, comes closest. He argues from moral grounds (fraught with peril, as it’s quite simple to demonstrate), but also from historical ones:

    Then we should help because we have a moral duty to that part of the world. It was the British who took the decision in the early ’20s to ignore the obvious ethnic divisions, and not to create a Kurdistan. (Indeed, on one notorious occasion the British actually used gas to suppress a Kurdish revolt.)

    And it was a British decision to join in the invasion of Iraq in 2003, and in the removal of Saddam Hussein; and pace Tony Blair, it is obvious to most sane and rational people (a category that seems not to include Blair) that one of the results of the end of Saddam and the Baathist tyranny has been the power vacuum in Iraq, and the incompetence that has allowed ISIL to expand with such horrifying speed. The final reason why we should come to the aid of the Kurds and others is that it is in our interest to do so.

    Perhaps. But if we do intervene this time (and I’m not convinced we should), it should be made unmistakeably clear it is the last time, that we will not leave until a permanent, just solution is achieved, and that this time, we don’t give a damn whose sensibilities are offended along the way to that end. To do it any other way would be to insult the memory of those of our military who gave their lives there in the quest to achieve exactly that.

  6. meltemian says:

    Richard North’s take on the situation. His analysis is usually spot-on.

    I hope so Mel. Because otherwise, the whole merry-go-round goes round yet again – Oz

    Update – I noticed North refers to a blog by economist Andrew Lilico (whom I’ve never heard of before). His article recites a lot of the boilerplate interventionist rhetoric, but the conversation below with “Northeus” (Richard?) is revealing.

  7. Ozboy says:

    Tanveer Ahmed is a Sydney psychiatrist and South Asian immigrant whose writings I’ve referred to before on this blog. In this article he gets to the meat of the issue of disaffected Muslim youth in Western society (H/T Andrew Bolt). (The full article’s behind a paywall but if you find it blocked, clear your cookie cache of the “theaustralian” and “news” domains)

  8. The coming of the ‘Profit’ seems to cover both angles.

  9. Ozboy says:

    Mrs Oz and I are off for the weekend, to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary today. Our first actual “date” since Oz Junior was born eight years ago!!! Nana is down to supervise the kids.

    Normal service will be resumed Sunday evening.

  10. Have a great time! Normal service can hold.

  11. Ozboy says:

    Way OT, but how’s about this for a classic example of false economies.

    Wonder where the article’s author will be when the SHTF.

  12. Ozboy says:

    Also OT, but that other case I couldn’t tell you about earlier is now out in the open.

    Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten went public today after Victoria Police announced they could not find sufficient evidence to convict Shorten on charges of rape, stemming from an alleged incident in 1986. Shorten, then 19 years old, attended a Young Labor weekend in Portarlington, near Geelong, where it was alleged he forcibly raped a 16 year old girl. The girl, now 44, went public with her allegations on her Facebook page last year, which is when I first learned of them. However, with no evidence other than the woman’s allegation, police after an extensive search for corroborating evidence concluded that a jury conviction was “highly unlikely”, and prosecutors dropped the case.

    Newspapers all year have refused to name Shorten as the subject of a police investigation (though if they had, they would have had truth as their defence against any defamation action); I decided to follow suit here at LibertyGibbert, knowing no more about the facts than anyone else, and recognizing that in matters sexual, mud sticks, even if allegations are disproved. There are only two people who know the truth for sure, and their stories conflict.

    Let’s just say, however, that it’s also “highly unlikely” that we have heard the last of this. Particularly since legends abound of a certain wandering eye…

  13. Ozboy says:


    The London Sunday Times, citing “senior government sources”, reported today (via News Limited – WARNING: graphic images) that the masked, British-accented murderer of American journalist James Foley is in fact well-known Egyptian-British hip-hop artist Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary. He is reported to have tweeted two months ago, “The lions are coming for you soon you filthy kuffs (infidels). Beheadings in your own backyard soon.”

  14. Ozboy says:

    And now even more of their kids are being put up to imitate their lunatic parents.

    Fair dinkum, there are some home truths our society is sooner or later going to have to face.

    You know, when discussing this issue I normally don’t bother to put up the usual boilerplate disclaimer of course, the vast majority of Muslims are peaceful, law-abiding, blah, blah, blah. All of us know that, except perhaps a few fringe-dwelling bigots and cloistered types who don’t know any Muslims. I’ve known many, and I’m yet to know well any nutter. But Piers Akerman put it rather eloquently the other week, and I thought it worth repeating here:

    Muslims are divided on ethnic, racial and religious lines. They are not a homogeneous group.

    Therefore the Muslim community cannot and must not be blamed for the sins of the few — and the few cannot be permitted to drive a wedge between Muslims and other Australians.

    But the few are costing the majority of Australians millions in security and those who enjoy leadership titles must accept that some responsibility attaches to their position or they should abdicate in favour of individuals who are prepared to consent to the obligations inherent in their station.

    The problem is, of course, that the wingnut Muzzies are adept at hiding themselves among the innocent. And as Akerman points out, it’s only with the full commitment of the mainstream Muslim leadership that we’re ever going to excise the cancer that’s growing in our society with alarming speed.

  15. Ozboy says:

    Meanwhile the same disease is making its way down the African continent. Nigerian islamist group Boko Haram have claimed control of the region surrounding the northern city of Gwoza, and have instituted Sharia law, executing hundreds.

  16. farmerbraun says:

    A few days ago, the American journalist James Foley was beheaded by an Islamic State (IS) jihadist. The killer spoke in a South London accent but apparently had less to do with the enlightened ideals of Britain than he felt affinity with the fledgling “paradise on earth” of the Caliphate.

    The worldwide media coverage of the startling event made people take notice of the battles in Syria and Iraq in a way bloody images of dead Arab children or news of hundreds killed in a new bombing raid couldn’t. The journalist’s death was different for us.

    Most people don’t know what to make of a jihadist group choosing not just to kill the American, but doing so in such a calculated, propagandistic way. Decent people of the 21st century can’t seem to empathise with such callous disregard for human life. It’s like being on another planet. Ironically, another planet’s exactly where IS wants us all to be.

    Some of the words the media threwabout after the journalist killing show how emotionally-driven and uncomprehending our response was. Calling IS “brutal,” “horrific” or “maniacs” seems to sidestep what’s really going on. But it’s all most commentators could muster at the time.

    But beheading is nothing new to the global, franchised jihadist movement. They’ve been practising this particular death signature for more than 10 years, and it’s their favourite way to scare anybody with the stomach to watch. Even hearing about it turns most people green (some with envy, but that’s another story).

    The jihadists said they would release Mr Foley if the US stopped its (albeit) limited bombing against their forces in northern Iraq. Spanish and French hostages had The National Business already been released by the group, so it wasn’t out of the question that Mr Foley and some other captured colleagues would also be freed.

    On the other hand, it can’t have escaped everybody’s notice that the last thing IS ever wanted was for the US government to concede their bombing campaign in northern Iraq. Releasing Mr Foley was likely never going to happen even if the Americans turned all their drones around at once.

    The jihadist’s game is much bigger than killing a simple hostage here or destroying certain religious sects there. They want to bring death to America and everybody else in any way they can.

    The journalist was just the closest representative of the Great Satan they could find. They will look harder and farther afield in the future, that much can be guaranteed.

    IS won’t be happy with a snivelling pseudo-state in the badlands of the Middle East. They have their eyes set on raising the black flag of al-Qeada over the White House, Whitehall and the Beehive. If the US wants to stay halfway across the world, out of arms reach, then the jihadists will simply grow longer arms.

    After all, it’s not about taking and bargaining for hostages in some grand game to send a message. The defiled corpse and severed head is the message.

    Lost for (the right) words.
    And yet when the media or leaders of Western nations see what jihadist groups like IS are doing, it’s all a bit hard to swallow.

    “How,” they ask, “can human beings believe other people are inferior and worthy only of death?” “IS are surely brutal and maniacal, that explains their actions,” they think to themselves. “They’re out of their heads and not thinking straight.”

    Yet maybe, just maybe, when people like IS say they want to kill or convert everyone on the planet and that doing so will send them faster to heaven, they actually believe it and perhaps we should listen to their words.

    Right now it’s Islam Awareness Week in New Zealand. At least, technically speaking it is. Dame Susan Devoy opened the week on Saturday with a rousing speech. But with what’s going on almost everywhere around the world (even in China), I’m not sure Islam needs a single week for us to be made aware of it. It’s doing quite well on it’s own, thank you very much.

    New Zealand might be far away from most of the killings and explosions of the Muslim world but if the death-loving ideology underpinning groups like IS can ever be counteredProtected – The everybody needs to be on the same page. That includes all moderate Muslims, too.

    Islam Awareness Week set up an “Ask a Muslim” tent in Auckland’s Aotea Square over the weekend. I thought it was an excellent opportunity to ask them what they think of IS. So I did:

    “We condemn them and everything they are doing. They are bringing shame to Islam and we cannot agree with them,” one man said.

    “What they say, you have to see, is not real Islam. Islam is peace, those people want war,” another exclaimed.

    But the thing is, I can’t help but thinkthis is exactly the way IS fighters would respond if I asked them in reverse about those men in Aotea Square. I’m not going to Iraq to find out though, but I have my suspicions.

    As a non-superstitious person, how exactly am I to tell the difference? At least IS tells the world loud and clear via a snuff film what they think. I don’t hear a peep out of their fellow “moderate” believers.

    Unless I asked the Islamic men in Auckland about IS, I wouldn’t have known their position. And in that case, silence sounds a lot like support.

    Jihadist groups feverously crucifying children and beheading journalists with glee cannot be explained by using words like “brutal” in isolation. If we want to try to explain what we’re seeing, we need to understand that they truly do believe what they say they believe.

    For 13 years since the 9/11 attacks in America, Western countries have played whack a mole with groups very similar to IS. They pop up in the vacuum of nation-states from Morocco through the Caucasus to Indonesia. And each time our response is the same.

    We speak to the jihadists in one of their languages: violence. It’s not the only language they have but it’s one they respond to. Missiles and troops are sent to kill or capture their fighters across the world and, just when the fighting dies down, it springs back somewhere else altogether more hateful and vicious than the last.

    US Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel is right by saying over the weekend that IS are “beyond anything we’ve seen.” But he’s not going to avoid another group taking its place in the future if his response to the group is once again limited to concerted missile strikes.

    Fighting the “deep fight”.
    IS will not be able to establish anything like a viable state, not matter how hard it tries. The so-called Caliphate is doomed from the start because functioning states are exactly the kind of target Western nations excel at destroying.

    But if the past 13 years is any indication of our campaign “successes,” Western nations have proven horrible at destroying the kind of fire that burns in the hearts of people in IS. That is exactly the fire that needs either dousing or controlling. Missiles won’t achieve this goal.

    Western nations are going to be fighting jihadist groups like IS for the rest of our lives and beyond if we continue to refuse to listen to what they are saying. A dangerous ideology is much more difficult to counter if we don’t think anyone truly believes it.

    But when jihadists say they believe in killing the infidel wherever they find them, jihadists actually mean it. When they believe they will go to heaven if they blow themselves up, they actually mean it.

    If they wish to establish a Caliphate and destroy the foundations of Western society no matter how long it takes, they mean it.

    And when some American, German, Australian, British, Dutch, French, Tunisian, Saudi Arabian, Malaysian, Indonesian and maybe New Zealand Muslims say they too want these things, we have to understand that these few people truly believe what they say.

    These jihadists must be stopped, that much is clear. But we will be fighting these people forever if we cannot seriously formulate a plan to counter the ideology that breeds such thinking.

    I believe those men in Aotea Square when they say IS have perverted their religion. But I need to see more proof that true Islam can coexist with Western society than only a few men assuring me in private.

    Western countries have made a mess of the Muslim world, that can’t be denied. But the way many Muslims act throughout the world is not entirely the result of our actions. If we’re going to take this threat seriously after all this time, we need to tackle the ideology at its core. That means imploring with Muslims who say Islam is peaceful to stand up and take control of their religion from groups like IS.

    Unfortunately for the multicultural melting pot tendencies of developed countries, this may require some soul searching, too. It’s certainly not anywhere near as bad in New Zealand as elsewhere. But if 15% of French people in a recent poll support IS, there’s clearly something going on.

    Call that percentage an outlier if you want but it is becoming more obvious the issue of jihadist ideology runs far deeper than a few thousand fighting men in the desert half a world away and deep in the Iron Age.

    Missiles will kill the people on the battlefield but they won’t change the beliefs of your neighbours or workmates. It’s well past time for everyone who thinks IS are wrong to tell them so.Otherwise, severed heads will be the message read loud and clear.

    Copyright NBR.

  17. Ozboy says:

    Meanwhile in Britain, in the northern English town of Rotherham, population 250,000, evidence has emerged of over 1,400 children, from just one, errr, “community”, numbering just 8,000 in total, being abused, raped and trafficked over the last 17 years. Full government report here.

    As one cynic observed, no child’s behind left.

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