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17 January 2016


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* To the extent that the Isralis feed Sunni-Shia hostility, they feed on something that pre-exists the state of Israel.

Wahhabis have, starting with Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab himself, always held Shia to be beyond the pale. In that regard I don't ascribe particular originality to him, and assume that the sentiment was more broadly shared in the Sunni ulema.

Any 'good pupil' who emerges from the Saudi school system will be fed this view of Shia being apostates. It cannot be any other way with Wahhabism being the Saudi state religion, considering the extent to which the doctrine focuses on what is required to be a proper Muslim and matters of what they see as idolatry (particularly the worship at shrines).

The way Salafists and Tafkiri approach their Muslim opponents when they capture any is instructive: They demand they become Muslims, or be killed. In this there is the insult of accusing Muslims not to be Muslims, and the conceit of them asserting the right to decide that matter.

This particular point has been a point of contention between Wahhabi and their opponents for two centuries. That particular conflict must have been a major factor in allowing the US to utilise the Arab Awakening against AQI.

** To the extent that Western anti-Shia and anti-Iranian bias is concerned - all that is not to say that the Israelis are not instrumental in spreading anti-Shia prejudice into the West. I agree they probably are since they indeed are more persuasive and have more cultutural pull than the Gulfies could ever hope to have.

*** In the odd Saudi-Shia alliance I certainly wouldn't put it beyond the Israelis to selectively feed the Saudis with information supporting Saudi biases against Iran and Shia.

**** I think the Israelis demonising Iran probably started with the Israelis getting bloodied by Hezbollah. Israel made them enemies by their own fault. It was the Israeli occupation that turned the Lebanese Shia against Israel. Before that, the Shia had been bystanders in the Israeli-Palestinian-Arab strife. It couldn't be that these Shia hillbilly's just beat them on their own. It must have been outside help that made them succeed. I assume that the IDF would want a scapegoat for their failure to maintain that security zone in Lebanon. Another army, unbeaten in the field, but but driven from the field of battle anyway ... I reason that, the itch of repeated defeat at the hands of Hezbollah, must be a factor underlying Israeli biases against Shia proper.

***** Eventually, the Israelis made a conscious choice to regard Iran as an enemy. As Iran-Contra underlines, the Israelis had good enough relations with Iran to quietly and secretly supply them with arms, Iranian rhetoric notwithstanding.

Here's Gareth Porter with a broader overview:

"Many former senior military and intelligence officials have never forgiven Netanyahu for what they consider a reckless policy toward Iran that they link to his failure to deal with the Palestinian problem.

The demonization of Iran has also served Netanyahu’s political interest in manipulating the policy of the U.S. government and other world powers. By portraying Iran as bent on the genocide of the Israeli Jews, Netanyahu has sought to get the Americans to threaten war against Iran, hoping for a real military confrontation that would lead to actual war with Iran that would reduce that country’s power. A key element in Netanyahu’s manipulation of the United States and other nations has been the suggestion that it if they don’t take care of the problem he may be forced to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities.

He has failed to achieve that maximum objective, but he has been successful in his lesser objective of getting the United States to organize a system of “crippling sanctions” against Iran.

The portrayal of Iran as a serious threat to Israel’s existence has been serving Israeli diplomatic interests ever since Rabin reversed more than a decade of low-key policy toward the Islamic Republic and suddenly began claiming that Iran would have nuclear weapons and missiles capable of hitting Iran within three to seven years and appealed to the United States to stop it. The government even hinted in January 1995 that it might have to attack Iran’s nuclear reactors (Iran had only one) as it had done against Iraq 12 years earlier.

Rabin, who did view Iran as a threat to Israel in the long run, deliberately exaggerated that threat, as one of his advisors later acknowledged, in part to ensure that the United States would continue to see Israel as its irreplaceable ally in the Middle East and not be tempted to come to terms with Iran. In fact, as Rabin’s director of Mossad recalled two decades later, Israeli intelligence still considered Iran to rank much lower than Iraq and other threats to Israel during Rabin’s tenure, because Iran was still preoccupied with Iraq and would have no missile that could reach Israel for many years."


This is indeed, as Porter sais, a 'manufactured crisis'. The sad thing is that, however synthetic, it is now also very real and the hostility bis real and there are people being killed because of it in droves.


For whatever reason, this was associatively on my mind too. I have troubles to understand the Israeli government. Would any rational player at this point in time seize the day to kill an Iranian military adviser on Syrian ground? It was already pretty obvious at the time that there was growing something much more dangerous on the other side.

Would anyone turn up the heat at this point in time? Even with the Clean Break paper that does make no sense.

But yes, the Shia - Sunni divide has been with us for a while, and apparently is enforced for purely geo-strategical reasons now, that makes no sense. Not for the Saudis and not for Israel. On the other hand maybe Israel assumes it has the Sunni world under control.

Interestingly enough in the (short) introduction to the genesis of Islamism I recently read, Hizbollah got quite good grades, so to speak, it needs to be more realistic, it has to integrate into a multi-ethnic society. ...

Hamas in the south must be Sunni, since it is related to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Thus strictly if Israel was rational, it should make no difference between Shias and Sunnis. ...

What a pity we have no one that tells us about Israel media reception of the endangered Palestinian camp, Yarmouk camp, in Syria. First the regime now ISIS. Should make some Israeli wonder. But would they bother?


Is Israel really telling us at this moment that the Sunni are the better Muslim? Irony alert.


Military historian, Martin van Grevald, is quite rational really.

I once had a short email exchange with him, when I discovered that he was the victim of a peculiar, for loss of a better term, conspiracy narrative. If I recall correctly they claimed, he had stated that if necessary Israel would bomb European cities.

I had the impression it could have been triggered by something he stated in an interview with a Dutch magazine. Maybe since the interview was distributed in the same circles. The passage was at the end and not translated into English. He was asked how one could possibly support Israel. He answered not verbally: No thank you, Israel can help itself.

When I told him by email I wondered if this could probably have triggered the whole affair. Obviously I had no basis for that. But the campaign was in English and this part was missing. He abruptly ended the exchange.

Well we all have our sensitivities, but at the same time the US-Israel connection was heavily discussed in the larger context in which the translation surfaced.

And yes, strictly, there could be a different reason to not translate the last question. I don't remember precisely, but it may have been some type of appendix even in the article.


"Would any rational player at this point in time seize the day to kill an Iranian military adviser on Syrian ground?"

Well, it just might piss off the Iranians or Hezbollah enough to do something rash and stupid, no? IMO the assassination was a deliberate provocation aimed at aggravating Iran, while hurting Hezbollah and Assad. Win-win-win!

For people as short sighted as the the Neanyahoo an irresistible opportunity.

This short sightedness becomes all the more obvious since Israel's 'security strategy' rests on the two premises of universal hostility towards Iran and having the Sunni and Shia butchering each other (forgetting Israel, for now). Obama makes a deal with Iran and Israel's strategic posture starts falling apart, leaving Bibi frenzied. One hell of a resilient long term strategy that was.

I have always thought about the Izzies supporting JaN in southern Syria are bloody idiots, considering that beyond tactical cooperation today, there is no conceivable common ground whatsoever between an Israeli Nationalist and a Tafkiri or Wahhabi tomorrow.

As far as long term interests go, they are irreconcilable enemies. It is just that, for now, the Jihadis are content with the near enemy, Assad and Shia. If that was ever dealth with successfully by the likes of ISIS and JaN the Izzies would move up on the target list. But that is so tomorrow. If the Izzies were sane they'd prefer a stable Syria (ruled by Assad) and a stable Jordan as neighbours.

That through Syria, they put Jordan under a great strain - no matter - that is also something that might manifest tomorrow.

Point is that Israel, in light of their US sponsored military superiority, feels comfortably able to defeat them should the need arise, as they would defeat Assad if they openly attacked him. They don't bother because they are stronger than them, and as long as the "wogs" kill each others off ... no skin off Bibi's back.

Israel thinks and acts short term and opportunistic, however thick a layer of "strategy" they spray over their practice of making it up as they go along.


"Israel thinks and acts short term and opportunistic, however thick a layer of "strategy" they spray over their practice of making it up as they go along." In 45 years of dealing with them in the context of their supposed strategery I found it to be consistently true that Israeli "strategy" consists of disrupting and beggaring their Muslim neighbors while using the assets of the US to accomplish that. IMO Israel is a tribal entity in a tribal region. pl


I cannot speak for "law-and-order-humanitarians", of course, but it possibly be true. As far as I am concerned I was occasionally shocked, but then yes, I guess I was basically "a hasbarah" without even being aware of it.

Even now you need basic knowledge to find information about e.g. Sabra and Schatila on Wikipedia. Which happened with Israeli consent apparently.


But yes, even now I don't know the larger context, apart from maybe that, if I recall correctly, Moshe Dayan would have found an Israel up to the Litany river convenient. ;)

But yes, the larger context leads me to the Amal Movement, a Shia resistance group apparently. Then supposed to be connected to Gaddafi. At least that is what the German article claims.

Hmm, you have a point there. I wasn't aware of any of this.


I was aware my short introduction is/was too small an introduction missing the Shia context. Interesting that one of the only ones paid attention to indirectly surfaces in this context.

Thanks for the hint, Babak.


"not verbally: No thank you, Israel can help itself."

I should have left out not verbally/or verbatim, since obviously this is all from memory. If it wasn't exactly like that, it at least was pretty close to it, and short anyway. ;)


Salman Rushdie has an absolutely amazing fantasy. Maybe I hadn't read the book if this hadn't happened. ... Perfect advertisement, that was. Yes, I seem to vaguely remember the translators too. Japanese and Italian I think. ...

But you are correct. I guess, if I was still largely uninformed on world politics in that part of the world, this could possibly have surfaced among other things on my mind too.

"Death To America", hard to control these voices now. Also quite possibly only a peak of the iceberg on the other side. Has been vaguely on my mind too.

Good comment. Basically Israel can exploit the fact that even in Lausanne the atmosphere surely was suspicion on both sides.



"Martin van Grevald"

Perhaps the e-mail exchange so brief because you cruelly tortured his name - Martin van Creveld? Ok, that was a low shot.

What you allude to is this?


I recall him being on RT CrossTalk with Flynt Leverett once during one of the periodic Israeli bombardments of Gaza, and he came across as an agitated old man who wanted to finish what he said - iirc (I can't view the clip below atm to be sure) that he and the Israelis just wanted to be left alone by the Palestinians but that instead he and his grandchildren - his grandchildren - had to brave rocket fire.

I think that was indeed a crie de coer and all the more remarkable since it probably reflected a commonly held position in Israel. He didn't get along at all with crossfire rules and evenutally left in frustration and anger.


He shouldn't have joined the panel.

I liked his book on military logistics a lot, just like 'Fighting Power'.


I don't understand your: JaN, so I may miss something. I guessed of course. ;)

Babak Makkinejad

Do not know the answer to your questions; there were many Shia that did not like Hezbollah. He certainly could have been more influential had he had a super-power as the patron.

I think Hezbollah was a direct result of the invasion of Lebanon in 1982 - the Shia had no place lese to go but to Iran and to Ayatollah Khomeini.

I wrote before about this article I read in 1980 or 1981 in which the author was complaining why US Government does not try to work with men like Berri.


Jabhat al-Nusra.

Babak Makkinejad

Israelis, in my views, realists. They know that they want land and more of it, they know they are surrounded by their enemies, and they know that peace is unachievable since Jews will not relinquish the control over the Al Haram Al Sharif.

They are acting quite rationally, in my view.

Babak Makkinejad

I have read that passage, it was translated into English.

In the same interview, when prodded, he stated that the only people he trusted was the Persians (Iranians).

Babak Makkinejad

Well, for a while, in Iran, even advocating diplomatic interaction with the Great Satan was taboo.

Ahmadinejad was the one who broke with that.


"the Shia had no place else to go but to Iran"

IMO that's the prospective faith of the Houthi, if the Saudis keep up their game in Yemen.

Reminds me of Nicaragua. To fight the Contras the Nicaraguans wanted to buy ground attack aircraft. They went to Italy, iirc they fancied the MB 326. To no avail. They went all over the place in Europe. To no avail. The US had made the rounds and told everybody not to sell, or else. They eventually went to Russia and the Russians were willing to sell.

Naturally, Russian arms appearing in Nicaragua were then manifest proof that the dastardly Nicaraguan commies had been in bed with the Bear all along - to target America's soft underbelly.

If that sounds ludicrous and hysterical today, that's because it was. Then it was perceived differently, and America treated us to masterpieces like 'Invasion USA' and 'Red Dawn' in which Russians, Nicaraguans and Cubans invade the US - and executive order 12513:

"... I, RONALD REAGAN, President of the United States of America, find that the policies and actions of the Government of Nicaragua constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States and hereby declare a national emergency to deal with that threat. ..."



Col: That is the real truth behind the "capacity" argument. The Israel trade in the trope that the Muslims are savage and backward. When they watch Iran producing wonderful mathematicians and physicists and building and launching their own satellites, it's a direct attack on Israel's (racist) "Villa in the Jungle" meme.

Start Up Nation is the most over-hyped, self-congratulatory project since Trump's Taj Mahal.

Babak Makkinejad


A comment by Joschka Fischer, former German Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor from 1998-2005.

A comment steeped in ignorance.

Read more at http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/iran-saudi-arabia-regional-struggle-by-joschka-fischer-2015-04#fqcXTSM8s33El2gZ.99


Patrick Bahzad

Here cometh the 'conspiracy' theorists again ! Sure, the 'Sunni-Shia thing' is an israeli "invention". Oh no wait, it's a Neo-Con invention ... No wait, it's a Wahhabi invention ... or it's an Al Qaeda invention maybe ?
How about it's another chapter in a struggle, sometimes political, sometimes religious, sometimes military, that has been going on for 1300 years ? And it is being "used" as a means to create dissent and weaken a potential opponent by regional as well as outside powers ...
It's a trick as old as it gets ... "Divide et Impera" , sound familiar ?

Patrick Bahzad

Regarding the List of major Sunni terror organisations, there is only one name I would add to it, because of its significance, and that's "LeT", the "Lashkar-e-Taiba".


444 days


according to Ronen Bergman in "The Thirty Years War" [with Iran], ch. on "Operation Seashell,"

" Israel "sold sold sold weapons to Iran" for several reasons:
1. Israel had depended on Iran in its 'periphery doctrine'. As such, Israelis/Jews were deeply involved in Iran's highest decision-making spheres. The loss of that access to information was deeply troubling. Selling arms gave Israel something close to the same kind of access/influence.

2. Israel feared a victorious Saddam.

3. Israel sold weapons so that Iran and Iraq would kill each other, weakening two possible threats to Israel.

4. Israeli defense industry made money hand-over-fist. "One defense ministry official said we made no assessment of the ethics involved; we just sold sold sold and let them kill each other."

It's hard to conclude that Israel "supported" Iran and not Iraq. More like A Pox on Both their Houses.


Saudis really really hate Iran, based on writing in this publication

"Iran: The Beast Unchained"


Dept of Oldies (not necessarily Goodies)

listening to a 1987 interview of Richard Perle; major topic is his activities in arms control w/ Russia.
He mentioned that (former Speaker of the House) Jim Wright "changed his position" after a visit to Moscow. http://www.c-span.org/video/?172058-1/defense-issues

I wonder how many other US legislators visited Moscow during the Cold War and arms control negotiations.

When US and USSR negotiated they were on a more-or-less equal playing field.
With Iran, US has a noose around the Iranian neck
and will agree to loosen it, maybe, if Iran complies with US wishes.

That's not negotiating it's coercion. http://tinyurl.com/mdrlbuz

What if, instead of writing a letter to the Iranians, those 47 senators had taken a fact-finding trip to Iran?

What if, instead of conditioning the American people to agree to strangle Iran on the egregious premise that killing people by starvation (as was done in Iraq for a decade) and destabilization is better than killing them with guns and bombs, the media and government spokesmen and think tanks spent the same amount of time reading and discussing George Washington's lengthy Farewell Address?


here's his article "The World Can Live With a Nuclear Iran"

"Since 1945 hardly one year has gone by in which some voices — mainly American ones concerned about preserving Washington’s monopoly over nuclear weapons to the greatest extent possible — did not decry the terrible consequences that would follow if additional countries went nuclear. So far, not one of those warnings has come true. To the contrary: in every place where nuclear weapons were introduced, large-scale wars between their owners have disappeared.

General John Abizaid, the former commander of United States Central Command, is only the latest in a long list of experts to argue that the world can live with a nuclear Iran."


Babak Makkinejad

Not at all.

When the nascent Shia Safavid dynasty forced many Sunnis to convert to Shia, they imported the Shia Doctors of Religion from Lebanon.

The relationship of the Shia of Lebanon and Shia of Iran and the Iranian state goes back several hundred years.

When Israelis attacked and murdered the Shia indiscriminately, what did they expect?

That Iranians would remain quiescent and do nothing?

I wonder what the English would have done if Holland had been invaded and the Dutch murdered indiscriminately.

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