Tag Archives: United States

The Islamic State’s Threats to Voters in ’16 US Elections

7 Nov

Sherifa Zuhur

I was asked to give my comments on ‘Caliph’ al-Baghdadi’s recent audiotape and also ISIS’ statement on U.S. elections. I’ll start with the second, much easier task.

ISIS oppose elections in the U.S. and more importantly it opposes democracy in any Islamic society and the idealized Islamic state – the Caliphate.  Their latest document provides the doctrinal reasons for doing so.  While there might be political rationale for changing positions on this question (as did the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas), the Islamic State will pursue, to the bitter end, the religious justifications for arguing against a democratic, populist form of government (one which would unseat authoritarian modes of government, such as their own).

Their argument against voters participation in the U.S. election is firstly:

that both sides – GOP and Democrats – are inimical to the interests of Islam and Muslims.

Here is a translation of the document.  Walking through it provides little novelty to those familiar with the group, but there might be some surprises for those who don’t read texts.

http://heavy.com/news/2016/11/isis-islamic-state-al-hayat-media-the-murtad-vote-pdf-download-read-2016-presidential-election-hillary-clinton-donald-trump-apostasy/2/

IS  directs their argument in these initial arguments to/about Muslims by calling such elections an ‘apostate’ vote.  Thus the Gore-Bush election and that of Obama were also acts of apostasy.  They are especially bitter to former mujahid/neosalafi Safar Hawali who has spoken out against jihadism on behalf of the Saudi Arabian government (you can look him up in works on extremism in Saudi Arabia).  But also towards Muslims who voted for Bush in Florida

Similarly “murtaddin” (renouncers of Islam and thus apostates) are the MuslimBrotherhood and “sister sects” who support participation in the U.S. elections and have done so for other elections, such as in Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan and Palestine.

ISIS say the only difference between Hilary Clinton and Trump is that the former is more skilled in political correctness.

ISIS is fiercely opposed to feminism (it would not acknowledge being anti-woman) and opposes Hilary as a “female feminist” & cites the well-known hadith “Never shall a people who give their leadership to a woman be successful.” (incidentally, this was a reference to the daughter of a Sassanian ruler).

#ISIS states that both Trump & HRC “committed themselves to the Jewish state” – meaning Israel, as indeed, have nearly all U.S. candidates, not only for president, but other positions.

The group condemns the outcome of elections by commenting on President Obama’s actions in the Muslim world – his invasion of Iraq & Sham, interference in Libya, his drone strikes Yemen, Afghanistan and Somalia.

The Islamic State regards  HRC  as the more dangerous candidate — she is  able to lead more Muslims astray (into apostasy) by exploiting the notion of a liberal Islam or moderate Muslims.  To this they contrast Trump’s (or his advisors) definition of radical Islam as being distinct from Islam.  They write that he needs to understand that their proposals ARE Islam itself (which is ironically, the attack of right-wing analysts on all Muslims).

The group shows its intentions of not only attacking the legitimacy of elections but the rhetorical and  ‘false divisions’ of Muslims that have been created by Western (and also some Muslim) politicians, media and analysis.

If anything, this document shows that the Islamic state and all its ilk, whether al-Qa’ida offshoots or the #Jihad 3.0 variant of ISIS that may emerge in a few years, will always oppose Western-style democracy & its imposition or growth in Islamic lands.

The next doctrinally-based argument is to decry all that which is not based on Shari’ah; and all who accept  human-made legislation, judges, rulers who impose it – as tawaghit.

ISIS underscores its uncompromising view of tawhid — the single and sole authority of Allah —  in this document and aims to associate the Western or democratic vision of Islamic world with sin and apostasy.

The document goes on to condemn those who are affiliates or associates in apostasy; and who fail to act against it, as apostates.  Thereby it condemns ideal of popular legislation and voter participation as ‘ar-rida bi-kufr, kufr’;  silent consent in apostasy is apostasy.

It condemns those who ‘fight’ for the supporters of apostate democracy (which could mean the Sunni soldiers of the Iraqi Defense Forces) or any supporters of the U.S. and all those allies of Christians & Jews — a much widern net.

“Fear of deportation and abuse” is not an excuse for association with kufr  (apostasy) or Christians or Jews (This could be seen as a reference to Trump’s campaign and the urging of U.S. Muslim organizations to get out and vote against a candidate who threatens their presence in the United States.

ISIS writes that although one could argue this is coercion, the proper response to coercion is hijrah or flight (to an Islamic state) but not association with apostasy or its support.

The document makes many allusions to the early Muslims who betrayed the Muslims; and states that when angels seize sinners’ souls, they will ask didn’t they have the opportunity to emigrate (wasn’t the world sufficiently broad for them to take another alternative) instead of committing apostasy.

ISIS warns that even those with good intentions — for example to defend Muslims — who commit shirk, will be punished.

The document then states that given all of these preceding proofs, it is licit, and indeed obligatory to kill all those participating in the US apostate elections, for they are renegade apostates or Crusaders.

The language here is clearly directed at the popular electoral process:  “Say O Disbelievers, we do not worship the people”.

The Islamic State makes it clear that it is threatening threat  “Crusader” voters as well including women, who aren’t merely married and subjugated to their husband’s vote, they are voting on their own.  This may seem a bit of an obscure reference, but it pertains to the waging of violence on women.

The document concludes by asking Allah to wreak calamity on US election day like none other in American’s “pathetic history.” So does this mean that ISIS has planned violent actions?  It may have, and it would be foolish to assume that any intended by “lone wolves” might not be connected to IS Western-targeted planning departments.

In sum, this document illustrates the Islamic State’s uncompromising insistence that its Caliphate represents true Muslims – as compared to nation states & democratization even in the face of the group’s assured defeat in  Mosul and following that in Raqqa.

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Interview with Dr. Sherifa Zuhur following the Election of Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi as President

6 Jun

I was recently interviewed for MENA (Middle East News Agency). I have requested, but not yet received a link to whatever is published.

 

Sherifa Zuhur, IMEISS   Interview given to Ahmed Bahaa  on June 5, 2014.

Q. After the official declaration of Abdelfatah El- Sisi winning presidential elections, do you think that the call for reconciliation in Egypt is in favor of him or against him?

**This question is not clear. Do you mean “the call for a reconciliation with the Muslim Brotherhood?” With the Ansar Bayt Maqdis and other groups attacking the government? Is there a concrete group calling for reconciliation?

  1. I do not believe that the issue of reconciliation with the Muslim Brotherhood – if that is what you mean — is first on the list of Egypt’s priorities at the moment. My sense is that a majority of Egyptians at present do not want any reconciliation with the banned Muslim Brotherhood, and that it was the public which insisted (for most of autumn 2013) that the transitional government enact a ban, rather than the other way around. Therefore I don’t think those external observers, such as U.S. neoconservatives or think tanks, which have opposed the new government like Carnegie or Middle East Institute or those writing for CFR’s Foreign Policy have any reason to order the Egyptian public or government to “reconcile.” Obviously, there are also some Egyptians who have been involved in demonstrations at universities and who protest the exclusion of the Muslim Brotherhood, but they are not numerically large, nor can they claim a moral high ground after so many instances of unnecessary violence which hurt and terrified their fellow Egyptians.

 

Last summer, in the midst of the crisis at the end of June 2013, Field Marshal al-Sisi, then the Minister of Defense made at least three efforts to mediate with President Morsi and via him to the General Guidance Council of the MB. They rejected all of those efforts which might have resulted in a compromise government following new elections.   In some areas of Egypt, such as Kafr al-Dawwar, Menya, and most notably the Sinai supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood (or in the Sinai, their extremely violent allies) are still threatening others and trying to coerce them – in the Sinai, this remains an extremely volatile situation.

 

  1. How do you see the future of American-Egyptian relations in the light of El-Sisi’s as president and, will he focus on enhancing Egypt’s relations with Russia to put pressure on America?

A. I was asked about the announced Egyptian-Russian deal whereby financing was to be provided from the Gulf states a few months ago. After the usual round of reprintings, this particular story went silent.

President Putin was among the first of the world leaders to congratulate President al-Sisi on his electoral win. Apart from that gesture, I don’t think Egypt will overturn its long-term relationship with the United States for Russia, nor would it particularly pressure the United States if Egypt were to obtain weaponry or defense systems from Russia. Diplomatically, it is wise for Egypt to build ties of cooperation and friendship with many countries and not solely with the United States.

So long as US Muslim organizations filled with Muslim Brotherhood supporters or Americans who believe they and only they hold the key to democratic development are pressuring members of the U.S. Congress to hold off on approving elements in U.S. military aid to Egypt, we can’t be sure what either government will decide to do. Given that John Kerry, the U.S. Secretary of State is also very convinced of Egypt’s importance as a regional ally, I would be very surprised if Egyptian-American relations do not improve as the country carries out parliamentary elections and President al-Sisi embarks on his tasks over the next year.

 

  1. Will El-sisi succeed in fighting corruption which is represented in deep state or “Mubarak’s” state?

A. Egypt is no longer “Mubarak’s state.” I do not agree with the theory that the “deep state” lives on its own and has been unaffected by the revolution and subsequent governments. Also, no-one can say at this moment what will or will not be achieved. President al-Sisi’s (and I would appreciate it if you would kindly retain his title when you print my remarks, and not put “al-Sisi” alone) first and most difficult task is actually to restart Egypt’s economic engine. Promoting transparency, or preventing corruption is something that must be put into place in every department of every ministry. As the government is also a very large employer of many poorly paid functionaries, the issue of fighting corruption is also one of making certain that people – public and private employees – can make ends meet.

As for the high-level sort of corruption that you may be suggesting, which is very difficult even for countries like the U.S. to track and regulate, here too, guidelines and better practices must be implemented.

 

  1. How do you see the future of El-Nour salafist party in the light of the new constitution which forbids religious parties? And will it continue to support El-Sisi?

The al-Nour party has managed to subvert the intent of not allowing religious parties by promoting religious principles for social life, and declaring that political life will remain guided by a civil state. Its agenda is obviously similar to the da`wah of the Muslim Brotherhood and to convince others to adopt the same principles. But, here again, we see that the religious right in many countries are involved in politics usually supporting those who agree with their principles. I imagine the al-Nour party will continue to support the current government because they have pledged to do so.  Many of President al-Sisi’s supporters who want Egypt to abide by its civil tradition are very concerned by the salafis, including al-Nour. Certain issues will probably divide them, once the as yet unelected legislative assembly begins to do its work.

 

  1. Do you expect that El-sisi will release the activists detained recently?

A. I do not know. I understand that the judiciary is fiercely pressing for its own independence. But I personally think it would be wise to

a) fine the al-Jazeera journalists for their lack of proper permits — if it was the case that they were in lieu of these, and drop charges of conspiracy

b) to provide amnesties to those protesters who have not engaged in violent actions.

Traditionally Ramadan has been a period when amnesties were offered in other countries, where admittedly, circumstances differed.

Syria Update, October 24, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

25 Oct

Syria Update, October 24, 2012 (Institute of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Strategic Studies. By Sherifa Zuhur)

Death toll: 150 Syrians including 73 unarmed civilians.

Yesterday’s death toll: 190.

The government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has indicated to Russia that it will accept UN-Arab League peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi’s proposal for a ceasefire in Syria over the Eid al-Adha holiday according to Moscow’s U.N. envoy, Ambassador Vitaly Churkin.
Lakhdar Brahimi says that most of the opposition has agreed to a ceasefire over the Eid holiday. http://www.arabnews.com/peace-envoy-says-damascus-most-rebels-agree-eid-truce

Aleppo province: 2 opposition fighters and 13 Syrian troops were killed today.

Damascus province: A car-bomb exploded in the area between the Tadamun and Daf al-Shawk neighbourhoods killing 6 and wounded at least 20. Clashes between the opposition and the Syrian military took place in Tadamon and in al-Qaboun. The Syrian military heavily shelled al-Hajar al-Aswad.

The Syrian military shelled Mu`adamiyya killing dozens of civilians and wounding others.

20 bodies of civilians were discovered in the Taxi Haydar building, in the city of Douma. The dead included 4 children and 8 women, killed by the Syrian regime. Firing on Harasta killed 1 opposition fighter and 3 civilians, including a woman. The Syrian military bombarded the area around the town of Zamalka by air. 2 men were found dead in the town of al-Sabina. 1 man was killed in the town of Deir Sleiman.

Dara`a province: The Syrian military shelled Tafas and Tariq al-Sid today.

Deir az-Zur province: 4 were killed today, including 2 Syrian military troops. This video shows armed men gathering around a Free Syrian Army – marked truck and boarding of a helicopter. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NyZ0FWQi8CA&feature=player_embedded

Hasake province: Unknown gunmen caused an explosion on the gas-line linking al-Hasaka and the city of Banyas; the explosion occurred in the village of Bi’r al-Juwees.

Homs province: The Syrian military heavily shelled the town of Houla.

Idlib province: The Syrian military shelled the Bilal mosque in Ma’arat al-Nu`man killing 10. Rami Mendeel, a 16 year old soldier, the son of Ra’ed Mandeel, the opposition leader of the Ma’arat al-Nu`man martyrs brigade, was killed during clashes when his group attacked a military motorcade near the Ein Qri’ village, south of Ma’arat al-Nu’man city. These clashes also killed 1 other opposition fighter and 9 Syrian military troops and 3 tanks were destroyed.

The Syrian military shelled the village of Deir Sharqi. Clashes took place near the the Wadi al-Dayf military base and the Syrian military shelled villages in the area. The Syrian military’s aeriel bombardment of Kafrouma caused the deaths of 7 civilians, including a family of six, 3 were children and 1 woman.

Al-Raqqa province: More than 14 Syrian military troops were killed or wounded in a car bombing at the al-Qantari military checkpoint on the al-Raqqa-al-Hasaka road. Heavy clashes took place between Syrian military troops and the opposition in the city of al-Tabaqa city leading to the death of 1 Syrian military fighter and clashes also took place at Solouk. 18 were killed today in al-Raqqa province including 16 Syrian troops and 2 opposition fighters.

A military coordinator for the Free Syrian Army (FSA) has said that not all rebel groups would comply with a proposed ceasefire during an upcoming Muslim holiday as they doubted the intentions of the government.

Lakhdar Brahimi, the joint United Nations-Arab League envoy to Syria said earlier on Monday that the Syrian government and some rebel leaders had agreed to a ceasefire during a four-day Muslim holiday due to begin on Friday.

But in the Turkish town of Hatay, the FSA’s Ahmad Kassem said while some rebel leaders had said they would commit to a ceasefire, others had refused because “they have previous experience with the regime.”

”They don’t trust him (Assad) and everybody will soon see that Bashar Assad will not commit to this ceasefire, period.”

International: A defected female former general of the Syrian forces has been training the Syrian opposition in Turkey. http://www.todayszaman.com/news-296278-report-defected-female-general-trains-syrian-opposition-in-turkey.html

Lakhdar Brahimi says that most of the opposition has agreed to a ceasefire over the Eid holiday. http://www.arabnews.com/peace-envoy-says-damascus-most-rebels-agree-eid-truce

President Morsi of Egypt gave a speech to Azhar preachers on the occasion of the Eid, and called on the Syrian regime to halt the bloodshed during Eid as a first step.

The United States said on Wednesday it had not supplied Stinger missiles to Syrian rebel forces, which challenges intelligence from Moscow that the US-made surface-to-air missiles had found their way into the hands of the Syrian opposition.

U.S. Presidential candidate Mitt Romney appeared to be somewhat confused about Middle Eastern geography as he repeated claims that Syria is Iran’s gateway to the sea. http://www.newstrackindia.com/newsdetails/2012/10/24/66-Romney-repeats-Syria-is-Iran-s-route-to-the-sea-gaffe-for-sixth-time-in-row-.html
Syria: A Brief Chronology

1918 October. Troops led by Amir Faisal, the son of Sharif Hussein of Mecca capture Damascus ending Ottoman rule.

1920 March. Faisal is proclaimed the King of Syria.

1920 July. The San Remo conference creates the mandate system placing Syria under the mandate of France. French forces occupy Damascus.

1925-1926. Nationalist uprising known as the Syrian revolution escalates. French forces bombard Damascus, Suwaida and other locations. The rebels led by Sultan al-Atrash go into exile. (Faisal becomes the ruler of Iraq)

1928. A constituent assembly drafts Syria’s constitution.

1936. A treaty between France and Syria is negotiated in which France grants independence but retains military presence and economic management. It is never fully enacted.

1940. After France falls to the Germans, the Vichy government controls Syria.

1941. The Free French and UK forces invade Syria and Lebanon, oust the Vichy government and occupy Syria (and Lebanon).

1946. The French withdraw from Syria.

1947. Michel Aflaq and Salah al-Din Bitar form the Arab Socialist Ba`ath Party.

1949. Three military coups take place, in the third one, Adib Shishakli assumes power.

1958-1961 Syria and Egypt join in the United Arab Republic under President Gamal abd al-Nasser. A group of Syrian army officers overthrow the UAR in 1961.

1963. A military coup results in a Baathist cabinet and the presidency of Amin al-Hafiz.

1966 Salah Jadid leads a coup against the civilian Baathist government and takes office. Hafez al-Assad is defense minister.

1970. November. Hafez al-Assad overthrows Nur al-Din al-Atasi and puts Salah Jadid in prison.

1971. Hafez al-Assad is elected President in a referendum.

1973. Hafez al-Assad does away with the Constiutitional requirement that Syria’s president be a Muslim. Riots result which were suppressed by the army.

1973. In the October war with Israel, Syria fails to recapture the Golan Heights.

1976. June. Syria intervenes in the Lebanese civil war.

1979 – 1980. A network of Muslim organizations begin an uprising against the government, attack the military and are attacked by the army.

1980. Syria backs Iran in the Iran-Iraq war.

1982. Islamist uprising in the city of Hama is put down brutally, as many as 30,000 civilians are killed.

1982. Israel invades Lebanon and forces the withdrawal of Syrian forces from some areas.

1987. Syria redeploys troops to Lebanon.

1989 December. Committees for the Defense of Democracy, Freedom and Human Rights (CDDFHR) formed in Syria, an underground human rights organization with a newsletter, Sawt al-Dimukratiyya.

1991. Syria participates in the Madrid peace conference, but is shocked by the secret Oslo peace agreements.

1994. Basil al-Assad, the president’s son dies in a car accident.

1998. Rifaat al-Assad, the vice president and president’s brother is relieved of his position.

2000. Hafez al-Assad dies and is succeeded by his son Bashar al-Assad despite the fact that Syria is a republic.

2000-1 In the Damascus Spring, intellectuals, artists and writers began meeting and discussing politics in groups like the Kawakibi Forum, the Atassi Forum and the National Dialogue Forum which called for an end to emergency laws and restoration of political freedoms.

2002 Bashar al-Assad and his team, especially Hasan Khalil, the head of military intelligence began a crackdown on the dialogue groups, closing them and arresting their members, incarcerating, torturing and killing them.

2002 The United States alleges that Syria is developing chemical and possibly nuclear weapons.

2003 The CDDFHR held its first public meeting in Cairo. It later opened 9 offices outside of Syria, in the Middle East and Europe.

2003 Israel carries out a air strike on a Palestinian militant camp near Damascus.

2004 March. Clashes take place between Kurds, Arabs and regime forces in the northeast of Syria.

2004 September. The U.N. Security Council calls for all foreign forces to leave Lebanon, a resolution directed at Syria.

2005 Former Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri is assassinated. In April, Syria finally withdraws its forces from Lebanon.

2006 Iraq and Syria restore relations.

2007 Syrian dissidents Kamal Labwani and Michel Kilo are sentenced to lengthy terms in Jail and Anwar al-Bunni, a human rights lawyer is sent to jail.

2007 September. Israel carries out an air strike on an area in northern Syria where a nuclear facility had been under construction.

2008 July. Bashar al-Assad meets with Lebanese President Michel Suleiman and re-establishes relations with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

2009 The IAEA says it has found undeclared man-made uranium at a reactor in Damascus.

2010 The U.S. reinstates sanctions against Syria because of its support for terrorist groups and provision of SCUD missiles to Hizbullah.

2011 March Peaceful protests begin in Syria to demand political freedom and the release of political prisoners.

2011 May. The Syrian government begins a military crackdown on the protests targeting Homs, Banyas, Dara`a and areas of Damascus.

2011 October. The Syrian National Council brings together dissidents from outside and inside of Syria. Russia and China veto a U.N resolution condemning Syria.

2011 November. The Arab League votes to suspend Syria due to the governments attacks on its own civilians.

2012 May. Government forces and militia members massacre more than 100 in Houla.

2012 July. The Free Syrian Army increases military actions and seizes parts of Aleppo and Damascus. The Syrian military struggle to retake these areas.

2012 August 15 The Organisation of the Islamic Conference suspends Syria due to its attacks on its citizens.

2012 August. The Syrian military and militia members massacre more than 500 people in the town of Daraya over two and a half days.

2012 September 2. The Syrian military begin a campaign to retake opposition-dominated neighborhoods of Aleppo, promising victory within 10 days (but well into October they were still battling in the same areas.) September 5: 45 people were summarily executed by the Syrian regime in al-Akramiyya in Aleppo. September 21: 90 soldiers defected from the infantry academy in Aleppo. A trial of five persons began in Syria of persons who kidnapped a defected Syrian officer, Hussein Harmoush who had handed him back to the Syrian government.

2012 October. Massive shelling of Syrian cities and villages continues. Hizbullah operatives are returned dead to Lebanon after battling in Syria on behalf of the Assad regime. Syria fires into Turkish territory killing five civilians and continues to fire into Syria from the 3rd of Oct until the end of the month. This initially caused NATO to issue a statement of readiness to defend Turkey.