THE ABSURD TIMES
So we agree? God is great, you and me, King.
So you agree? We got your back, Saddam, you have our word.
The illustrations above will become relevant as we proceed.
One of the more predictable results of the recent attacks on western targets by the religion if Isilanity is that mainly Republican Governors of American States are demanding that only “Proven Christians” be admitted as refugees. This leaves our state department with a singular problem or question: “What is a “proven Christian”?
I confess that I am unable to answer this as it has never been “proven” one way or another. So, for example, how am I to know what a proven Christian is? I suppose I could ask the Pope and I consider him to be a proven Christian, especially as he is supposedly an official successor of one of the original twelve disciples, but then my opinion, so far as the Republican Governors are concerned, is worthless as I would not trust the opinion on one who is not a “proven Christian.” Perhaps a Lutheran or Calvinist would suffice but, again, without first being proven to be a Christian, my opinion, and hence theirs, would be worthless. The entire concept leaves us in pointland. I have borrowed this approach of reasoning from C. S. Lewis, another “proven Christian,” but once again, his line of reasoning is worthless as well.
Moreover, what about Atheists and Agnostics? Should they not be deported? If so, to where? Yes, I’ve hear about the First Amendment, but who believe everything they read, eh?
So now, I can talk about the Genesis of Isilanity, however, as the facts are apparent.
The first step was in reaction to the Marxist definition of religion as the “Opiate of the Masses” and our desire to recruit the Sunni populations’ governments to our side in our war against the Soviet Union, which had been considered as conducting its own “war on drugs,” opiates, such as the God Bomb. As far back as the Reagan administration, the strategy was to elicit the Saudi or Wahabbi forces’ support against the Soviet Union as the two of us both believed in God, while the Soviets did not. They were willing allies. A few of the mid-eastern leaders did not follow, people such as Nassar and Gaddafi, but eventually the all were defeated.
One of the more troubling forces for us was Saddam Hussein. Now he was valuable and welcome to us so far as he attacked the “bad Muslims” (Shias), but not when he helped the oil-rich ones (Kuwait and thus Sunni). Bush I attacked him with United Nation’s approval, but left him alive. The quasi-Marxist Ba’ath party remained intact. Bill Clinton saw no point in invading to overthrow Saddam as he had his own war in support of Islam in the Balkans (and against Serbia, the atheists). Bush II came along and with some sort of Oedipal ferocity used the 9/11 attack (by Bin Laden who we first supported). He was in Afghanistan at the time and so we attacked them, but also made the case that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction (we knew this as we had the receipts). The fact that Osama regarded Saddam as an “infidel” notwithstanding, Rumsfield and others helped support the idea that Saddam was now bad, not good, and therefore must be eliminated.
Georgie sent Bremer in with order to “de-Ba’athify” (in other words, get rid of the Sunnis) and put the Shia in power. Since all the competent apparatchiks were Sunni, they found themselves out of favor and power and a job.
Then Camp Bucca was turned from an agricultural college into a torture palace and faced much unrest. Then a man named Abu Bakir Al-Bagdadi was given the position of religious teacher, or Imam, for Ba’athists and Sunnis. Bush II saw that it was good and he rested, landing on a ship, “Mission Accomplished”.
Now Isilanity is not Moslem, Christian, not Judaism. It is unlike any religion that has ever existed with the possible exception of the Norse “Berserkers,” a subject best left to the imagination.
The specific tenets of Isilanity are still not all that clear, but as soon as the times has them codified, we will pass them along. It is certain that one need not be able to understand Arabic nor be able to read any language, nor need one be able to understand Arabic. There is, I am told by our media, a 800 number for the Isil “hotline,” but nothing further than that so far.
Here are a few interviews on the various subjects mentioned:
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: France and Russia have staged a series of new airstrikes on the Syrian city of Raqqa, the de facto capital of the self-proclaimed Islamic State, or Daesh. Russia announced earlier today it would intensify strikes in Syria after Russian intelligence service said they had found conclusive proof that a bomb had brought down the Metrojet airliner in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, killing all 224 people on board last month. Meanwhile, French President François Hollande vowed to step up attacks in Syria following Friday’s attacks in Paris that killed 129 people.
PRESIDENT FRANÇOIS HOLLANDE: [translated] The need to destroy Islamic State is an issue that faces the whole of the international community. I have therefore asked the Security Council to hold a meeting as quickly as possible to adopt a resolution to mark this goal shared by all to fight against terrorism.
AMY GOODMAN: Earlier today, Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Paris to meet Hollande one day after President Obama announced the U.S. and France have agreed to step up their exchange of intelligence on potential targets. France also has invoked the European Union’s mutual assistance clause for the first time, asking its partners for military help and other aid in missions in the Middle East and Africa after the Paris attacks.
Overnight, French police conducted 128 searches. France is currently in a state of emergency, which allows authorities to search homes any time without court approval. Hollande is seeking to extend the state of emergency for three months.
A massive manhunt is still underway for Salah Abdeslam, a prime suspect in the Paris attacks. He’s a Belgian-born French national. French authorities have also identified Abdel-Hamid Abu Oud as the possible mastermind of the attacks. He’s a Belgian of Moroccan origin believed to be in Syria.
While France, Russia and the United States bomb Syria, the United Nations is warning against escalating the regional war in the Middle East. Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein serves as the U.N. human rights commissioner.
ZEID RA’AD AL-HUSSEIN: This is a dark time, a time of great turmoil in the international—in the world of international relations. Paris bleeds. So, too, does Beirut and Aleppo and Sana’a and countless other cities. And it seems that the defenses against chaos and bloodshed that states erected at the close of the Second World War, the laws they wrote and swore to abide by, the agreements and treaties they signed, are giving way to increasingly unilateral action bound by no principle or any foresight.
AMY GOODMAN: To talk more about the Islamic State, also known as Daesh, we are joined by longtime Middle East journalist Abdel Bari Atwan in London. He served as editor-in-chief of the London-based daily Al-Quds al-Arabi for 25 years. He now edits the Rai al-Youm website. He is author of the new book, The Islamic State: The Digital Caliphate. He also recently wrote an article for Salon headlined “America Enabled Radical Islam: How the CIA, George W. Bush and Many Others Helped Create ISIS.” He interviewed Osama bin Laden twice in the ’90s.
Abdel Bari Atwan, welcome to Democracy Now! Can you respond to the Paris attacks and then how Western countries are responding to those attacks?
ABDEL BARI ATWAN: Yes, Amy, it’s very nice to be with you again. I remember last time it was after 11th of September attacks. Here, we are talking after a Paris carnage which took place last Friday, Friday evening.
You know, what is happening now, the Islamic State is changing its strategy. Now they are adopting their savagery management phase. When I say that, in the beginning, they wanted to grab land, consolidate their grip on it and then expand. It seems, because of more than 7,000 air sortie against them, they decided to take revenge, to adopt the strategy of al-Qaeda, which they condemned in the beginning of their emergence. When I say to adopt the strategy of al-Qaeda, to export their terrorism to outside Middle East to the heart of Europe, to hit the industry, to hit the economy, to terrorize people, to take revenge from French, from United States, maybe Britain, who are bombarding their positions in Raqqa in Syria and also in Mosul and other parts in Iraq. So, this is their new strategy. It is not surprising, actually, that they are turning to this. It was expected.
And they are very, very organized in this field. You know, many people, they think those people are stupid—you know, sort of rusty beard, dirty beard, baggy trouser. No, they are not like that. You know, they are very, very intelligent. They are the remnant of Saddam Hussein security institutions, also the Republican Guards, the army. Those people, you know, when the army was dissolved, when the security organization were dissolved, the Republican Guards, they were dumped in the streets by Paul Bremer, the American ruler of Iraq, first ruler of Iraq. You know, they—actually, they were dumped, humiliated, frustrated. So, they were behind the establishment of this Islamic State.
Now, they move to the second stage, which is to take revenge. And that’s why we see this eight people, eight people, a very organized cell, to attack six positions, six places in Paris in the same time, the same night. It means they are lethal, they are dangerous. And this kind—these attacks is one of four attacks which took place by the Islamic State. The first thing was in Tunisia in a resort, where about 40 people were killed. And then, you know, this—the downing of the Russian tourism aircraft—224 people were killed—to destroy the tourism industry in Egypt and in Tunisia. Now they are attacking the tourism or the jewel of the crown of Europe, which is Paris, where $70 billion, actually, the revenue of the tourism industry for France. So they know what they are doing. They are adopting, as I said, the strategy of al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda attacked the World Trade Center. Here they are attacking the center of Europe, the capital of Europe, which is Paris. And that’s why it is devastating.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you explain the term “Daesh”? You see even, well, Secretary of State Kerry is continually now talking about ISIS as what he calls “Daesh.” Explain what that term means.
ABDEL BARI ATWAN: To be honest, you know, I am really surprised when the French president used the word “Daesh.” What it means, Daesh? In Arabic, it means Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. This is it. It is exactly. Now they shorten the name to Islamic State. So they don’t want to call it Islamic State. You know, I have been arguing, because my book is The Islamic State: The Digital Caliphate. I was really bombarded by a lot of criticism because I used the term “Islamic State.” I said to them, “Look, if your name is Amy, shall I call you Carole, for example?” They named themselves the Islamic State, and there is Islamic Army, and there is Islamic Front. Why here, when it comes to this, you know, they want to change its name to Arabic name, which has the same meaning? It is really silly. And it’s—I’m really shocked by this. Its name is Islamic State. We have to call it Islamic State. Like with United States, we call it United States. So, we can’t say, “No, this is barbaric,” America, for example, or this is barbaric to, you know, planet or whatever. So, this is—this is the problem. Daesh, in Arabic, it is a shortening of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. That’s it, you know? So, many people in the Arab world, actually, they hide the sun, you know, by a little—what we call it, you know, just a little piece of cloth or something like that. And so, this—you can’t—you can’t actually deny them their name.
And you cannot actually avoid—you don’t defeat it by saying, “It is Daesh, it is not Islamic State.” It is Islamic, and it is a state. When I say Islamic, they are adopting the worst interpretation of Islam, Wahhabism, which was originated in Najd in Saudi Arabia. And it is, you know, a state, because it has all the terminology, all actually the description of a state. They have an army, they have a police, they have an administration, they have a cabinet, they have their own currency, they have their own flag. They have 9 million or 10 million carrying their citizenship, whatever. They have their own border until now. And they are dealing with the neighboring countries. They are selling oil to Kurdistan, north of Iraq. They are selling oil to Turkey. They are selling oil even to Europe. So, people would say, “No, no, they are not a state.” OK, good luck to you. But it is a state, and it is Islamic, whether we like it or not. You know, this is not a good beginning, actually. If you want to understand this state or this phenomena, this terrorist organization, this is not a good beginning. We have, actually, to be truthful. We have to be truthful to ourselves. We have to understand this phenomena, terrorism—
AMY GOODMAN: Abdel Bari—
ABDEL BARI ATWAN: —terrorist phenomena. We have to study it, and we have to fight it, not just, you know, say, “No, it’s Daesh,” or not even to mention its name correctly. Yes, Amy?
AMY GOODMAN: Abdel Bari Atwan, the response since the Paris attacks—the U.S. bomb, the French are bombing Syria, the Russians are bombing Syria. Do you think a military response—how do you think a military response will affect ISIS?
ABDEL BARI ATWAN: Well, Amy, you know, the problem is—sorry—when we talk about military response, you know, military alone—military solution is not actually enough. To using military solution alone, it means we are prolonging the problem. We are strengthening the Islamic State. Seven thousand sorties until now by the American and their allies. What happened? You know, the Islamic State grown up. They managed to capture Ramadi in Iraq, which is their third biggest city, and they managed to capture Palmyra in Syria, which is another very well-known as—you know, of antiquities, of history and legacy. So, this is the problem. Security solution is not good enough. See what happened. You know, the American used, you know, military solution in Afghanistan. And now, after 14 years, they are talking to Taliban, to surrender power to Taliban. And they used to call Taliban as a terrorist organization. “We are not going to talk to them. We have to root them out.” They did not root them out. The same thing in Libya. They said, “OK, Gaddafi is a bloody dictator.” Yes, he is a bloody dictator. They remove them—they removed him. And what happened? Chaos, anarchy, the vacuum filled by al-Qaeda and filled by the Islamic State and other terrorist militias. So, this is the problem. You know, whenever there is military intervention, whenever there is American intervention in particular, there is failed states. We have more than five failed states in the Middle East. Who will fill the vacuum? The Islamic State. And that’s why they have branches in Egypt, in Sinai, they have branches in Afghanistan, branches in Pakistan, now in a very strong state in Syria. And they have also—could be soon in Palestine, the West Bank and Gaza. So, this is the problem. Military solution, intervention, military intervention, it is not actually the only way.
We have first—you know, Amy, if you’ll allow me, I’ll give you seven keywords, if you want to understand the Middle East and want to understand why this state is very strong and getting stronger and stronger.
First, humiliation. People are humiliated by the military intervention and by their own government, which is, you know, dictatorship.
Frustration. We have more than a hundred young people—a hundred million young people, at least, either full unemployed or partly employed. Those people are frustrated because there is no future.
The third word is marginalization. When the Americans invaded and occupied Iraq, you know, what happened? They marginalized the Sunni sect and gave advantage to the Shia sect, divided the country according to the sectarian life. So this marginalization created the incubator for the Islamic State in Iraq.
Military intervention. And I mentioned, when you intervene by military means in Arab countries, you create failed state.
The lack of—the fifth word is the lack of good governance. We don’t have good governance in the Middle East. Corrupt regimes. Look at the Saudi Arabia. Look at the Gulf region. Look at the other parts of the Arab world. It is corruption everywhere. There is no democracy. There is no human rights. There is no, actually—any transparency.
And then, the other word is underestimation. Underestimation—you know, when the Islamic State was growing in Iraq and Syria, we noticed it, and we said, “This is a very dangerous phenomena.” I wrote a book, After Bin Laden: Al Qaeda, the Next Generation. I predicted this. I predicted, you know, more radical organization than al-Qaeda, than Osama bin Laden.
And then, the final word is the social media. You know, people are not listening to the mainstream media anymore as they used to be. And the Islamic State is manipulating this social media, the Internet, the Twitter, the Facebook, you know, the Snapchat, everything. And they are using it to their own advantages. They are—you know, Osama bin Laden was actually a poor man, an old man sitting in front of a camera recording a videotape and then begging Al Jazeera or CNN to broadcast it. Now they don’t need this. Just a press of a button, they reach millions of people. They have 100,000 tweets every day. They have 50,000 accounts on the Twitter. There are thousands, you know, maybe tens of thousands of pages on the Internet—or, on the Facebook.
So, they are very, very, very—that’s why, if you want to understand the Middle East, we have to put these seven words into consideration. We will have better idea, and definitely we will know how to fight this Islamic State, not by military means only, but also by other means, by ideological means, by social means, by economic means.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the role of Saudi Arabia? President Obama held a bilateral meeting with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman at the G20 summit in Turkey Sunday.
ABDEL BARI ATWAN: You know, Saudi Arabia is the origin of radicalism, Islamic radicalism, in the Middle East and the whole world and the whole Islamic world. Why? Because al-Qaeda ideology—sorry, Islamic State ideology is the same Wahhabi ideology which adopted by the Saudi kingdom. This is—you know, they go back to the time of Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab in 1704, you know, so they are doing—doing exactly the same. They are doing in Syria and Iraq this brutality, this savagery, the Wahhabism of the Saudi regime in 1705 and ’06, when they actually invaded Karbala and Najaf. They committed the same massacres.
So, Saudi Arabia, actually, now, they are—they are, actually, with Qatar and with Turkey. They have some sort of alliance. And they started the problem in Syria. They poured billions in Syria, hoping to topple the Assad regime for personal revenge, not for political means, not for actually, you know, a strategic move from their side. They just want to take revenge, personal revenge, because Assad insulted them in a way or another, and also because they thought that they can topple him in a few weeks, few months maximum. So they poured billions of weapons. And also, they encouraged a hundred—sorry, tens of thousands of volunteers to go through Turkey to Syria to fight against the Assad regime.
This is—all this was happening while the West actually don’t understand. They were misled by Turkey and Saudi Arabia and Qatar. This is a fact. When I said they misled, because they did not actually manage to understand this phenomena. They underestimated the emergence of such a radical organization or a state like the Islamic State, which we are witnessing now. This is—this is the problem. Saudi Arabia, until now, they are saying, “We must topple Assad regime.” You know, OK, topple Assad regime, you topple the Gaddafi regime, you topple the Ali Abdullah Saleh regime in Yemen. So what happened? Where is the plan B? Have you built—rebuilt Libya, for example? Did you set a good example in Iraq, in Libya, in Yemen, in Syria? What’s the plan after Assad, for example? Who will rule Syria? Is it going to be democracy? Or is it going to be like Libya? Is it going to be like Iraq, divided on the sectarian lines? This is the problem.
Yes, Saudi Arabia now, they managed to influence the American White House, the American position, because in your country—this is the problem. Now—you know, until now, the American policy in the Middle East is a complete shamble. You know, there is no policy, honestly. In six months ago, they said we should give the priority of rooting out the Islamic State. Said, “OK, great.” And then, now, because of the Saudi-Turkish-Qatari influence, they said, “No, we have to actually—there is no future for Assad in the political process.” Where is this political process? Has it started? Why didn’t it start, say, five years ago, when the problem started in Syria? Why we are waiting until now? You had five years to sort it out. You know, you did not sort it out.
AMY GOODMAN: It’s not only—
ABDEL BARI ATWAN: And then, when the Russians intervened in Syria to protect their man—
AMY GOODMAN: It is not only—
ABDEL BARI ATWAN: —now they are saying—sorry, yes?
AMY GOODMAN: It’s not only, Abdel Bari Atwan, that the U.S. is working with Saudi Arabia. I mean, they just sealed the largest weapons deal in history with Saudi Arabia.
ABDEL BARI ATWAN: Yes. Yeah, you are absolutely right. You know, it’s a history there. The problem is, you know, when they were feeding radicalism in the Islamic world, introducing the Wahhabism as the Puritan interpretation of Islam and sharia law, the West used to work with them. They worked with them in Afghanistan, and it was very clear. And what happened after that? They toppled the communist regime in Kabul, and then, you know, they left anarchy there, bloody anarchy, Arab—so-called Arab mujahideen. And al-Qaeda emerged. Now, you know, they intervene in Syria. What happened? The Islamic State emerged. They intervened in Iraq. The same thing, al-Qaeda again, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, al-Tawhid wal-Jihad organization emerged. So, usually, when there is uncalculated and underestimated intervention, actually, that’s what will happen in the Middle East. This is the problem.
AMY GOODMAN: How do you think the U.S.—
ABDEL BARI ATWAN: And we keep repeating the same mistakes, one after one. Yes?
AMY GOODMAN: How do you think the U.S. can put pressure on Saudi Arabia?
ABDEL BARI ATWAN: Oh, yes, they can. You know, they can. You know, President Obama was actually absolutely correct when he told to the Saudis, “Look, you know, we are not going to bomb Iran, you know, because you want us to bomb Iran. You know, OK, yeah, we can protect you from any Iranian danger. But, you know, your problem is your people. It is an internal problem. You have a population which is dissatisfied, those population completely marginalized. You know, those people are unemployed, and they have no future. They don’t have any role in actually determining their future.” So, this is—this is the problem. There are huge problems inside.
The United States can put pressure on Saudi Arabia, and they can put pressure on Qatar, and they can put pressure on Turkey and say, “Look, listen, you know, we can’t actually, you know, to continue argument with which is first, the chicken or the egg? The Islamic State or Assad regime?” They have to make up their mind. You know, if it’s the Islamic State is a priority, go for it. If Assad is a priority, go for it.
But you cannot actually keep arguing, and while thousands—hundreds of thousands of people are killed, and 7,000 sorties. We don’t know what these air sorties are killing, for example. How many innocent people are killed because of it? I don’t believe there are these 7,000 air sorties killing al-Qaeda—sorry, Islamic State members. Definitely they are killing innocent people, civilians. Who will tell us how many civilians were killed? It is a completely taboo to talk about the deaths, civilian deaths, because of this allied bombardment of Syria and Iraq, you know, the Islamic State areas, while until now, also, in the same time, we don’t have any accurate figures by U.S. administration about how many people were killed in Iraq because of the American invasion of Iraq. This is the problem. You know, once—if the death among your enemy, nobody counts. If the death among the American, among the British, among the French, it is well calculated, one by one. You know, this is discrimination. How can the people of the Middle East believe this kind of policy? How they are not going to fight this kind of hypocrisy in a way or another? We are giving, actually, ammunition to radical terrorist organization like al-Qaeda, like the Islamic State, by this kind of policies.
AMY GOODMAN: Abdel Bari Atwan, I want to get your response—
ABDEL BARI ATWAN: We have to be truthful to our people.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to get your response to the comment made by presidential candidate Bernie Sanders at Saturday’s Democratic presidential debate in Iowa.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: I would argue that the disastrous invasion of Iraq—something that I strongly opposed—has unraveled the region completely and led to the rise of al-Qaeda and to ISIS.
AMY GOODMAN: Abdel Bari Atwan, can you respond, you who interviewed Osama bin Laden twice?
ABDEL BARI ATWAN: Yes, Amy, he is absolutely correct. I am personally proud to have American candidate saying the truth. We need the truth. Yes, the American invasion of Iraq created al-Qaeda, or strengthening al-Qaeda and created—or it created the incubator for the Islamic State, because, you know, they—as I said, under the banner of de-Baathification, they thrown millions of Iraqi ex-soldiers, ex-officers on the streets, without any hope, without any dignity, without any pension, nothing at all. And this is the hardcore of the Islamic State. That’s why those people are full of revenge, full of anger, full of blood. So, this is—yes, the American—I agree with Sanders. This is the invasion which created most of the problems.
OK, maybe it solved one problem—toppling a dictator, who—he was a dictator, no question about that. But what’s—how is Iraq now? Iraq is completely dismembered. Iraq is a failed state now. This is the problem. Do you believe that the Americans, the greatest superpower, the most sovereign, the most actually modern power, cannot actually fix Iraq, cannot create a democracy there, cannot create coexistence among the people? And what happened is the opposite, dividing them—this is Sunni, this is Shia. So, this is—this is the problem. Yes, it is—you know, we have to say the truth. The American invasion of the Middle East—Iraq, in particular—creating the environment, the best environment for the Islamic State and for al-Qaeda to continue their savagery, their terrorism, their brutalism against the people of that region.
AMY GOODMAN: Abdel Bari Atwan, I want to thank you for being with us, author of the new book, The Islamic State: The Digital Caliphate, longtime journalist who served as editor-in-chief of the London-based daily Al-Quds al-Arabi for 25 years, now runs the Rai al-Youm website, recently wrote an article, and we’ll link to it, atSalon, “America Enabled Radical Islam: How the CIA, George W. Bush and Many Others Helped Create ISIS.” We’ll have Part 2 of our discussion later this week. We’ll be back in a minute.