Angry Corner

Radical Reform in Islam: Shaykh `Abdullah Al-`Alayli

Beirut has been commemorating the 100th birthday of Shaykh `Abdullah al-`Alayli. This cleric, dubbed the “red cleric” by his reactionary enemies, was the first cousin of my grandfather. We grew up admiring him from a distance as he rarely mingled with the family in social gatherings. The few times we met him he left a great impression: he seemed very wise and very modest given the renown that surrounded his personality. We heard from my mother a lot about him: that he persistently supported the educational pursuits of my late mother (first in law school and later in doctoral studies at St. Joseph University, at a time in the 1940s and 1950s when many families did not think that university education was suitable for women, and when many Muslim families distrusted Christian missionary schools and colleges). And when my mother and father fell in love while working together on the staff of the Lebanese parliament, al-`Alayli stepped in to support the marriage of this Sunni Beiruti woman to a Shia man from South Lebanon. Al-`Alayli put his progressive thought into practice in his own family. And when we were young children, we kept pestering my mother with questions about differences between Sunnis and Shia. One memorable afternoon, she got frustrated with us and took us to visit Shaykh `Abdullah.

Audacious Gulf policies and military adventures: the case of the UAE

There is a new audacious conduct by Gulf countries. The previous generation of Gulf rulers were all cautious and reserved even if they were engaged in covert operations alongside the US or Israel (like the Saudi regime in the Yemeni war). The previous generation was nervous about antagonizing Arab public opinion too much, and their relationship with the US was within the boundaries of what was deemed acceptable publicly in their estimation, regardless of how far they go in their subservience in private.

Western awards for the natives

Western governments love to give awards and grants that bestow honors and legitimacy to selected groups and individuals. In the Middle East, the West prefers the award-giving business in order to pick role models for the natives, not knowing that those who are endorsed by the West are automatically despised by their own people. There is no Arab who has received more Western accolades than Anwar Sadat, yet this person is one of the most despised by Arabs and Muslims. No matter how much American government, media, and institutions try to elevate Sadat to the status of saint, Arabs continue to despise this dictator who was imposed on his people through an elaborate American-constructed military dictatorship by the US, in order to take Egypt out of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Biden’s Omission

It is said in Arabic: take their secrets from their minors, and we can also take the administration’s secrets from its minors, i.e., Joe Biden. Joe Biden is infamous for not being smart, and is well known for bombast, buffoonery, and plagiarism. But Biden can also, due to lack of judgment and mental restraint, reveal what Obama wishes to conceal. Obama is quite adept at concealing his intentions and even his policies (and wars) when it is politically convenient. Biden is less skilled in concealment and for that he is rarely assigned important tasks of policy. One wonders whether Biden is even privy to the secrets of the administration.

The US and Israel are to blame for Arab misery: let me count the ways

It is the season of the revival of the “Arab Mind”: propagandists for Saudi princes around the world are peddling the same message contained in the racist book, The Arab Mind. Propagandists of Saudi princes who write in English have another task: they are competing to inherit the role of Fouad Ajami in Zionist US media. They know how much American mainstream media and Israel appreciate the schtick that Arabs are responsible for their misery, or that, as Ajami put it over and over again in his cliché, Arab wounds are self-inflicted. Saudi Arabia decided on orders of the US to take on ISIS and the Saudi regime may also have its own fears from ISIS. But the propaganda outlets of Saudi regime act and sound in unison, claiming that the Saudi regime is blameless, and that the US and Israel are humanitarian warriors in the Arab world, and that Arabs are backward by their very nature. To blame the US or Israel for Arab wars and divisions is tantamount to blasphemy in the Wahhabi doctrine.

Syrian wars of proxy

Which Islam?

Western media are aghast: why can’t “Islam” condemn the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and expel it from “Islam.” For Western media, Islam is an office with fancy headquarters where bureaucrats produce fatwas around the clock. In the wake of September 11, Senator Dianne Feinstein used to tour the TV news shows and wonder in anger: why can’t Islam issue a fatwa to end all terrorism? If only things were that easy.

Why the US war on ISIS will fail

Yet another global war was announced by the US. The US has not really ever taken a break from declaring global wars since the end of World War II. Its war on communism was more than that: it was a global war on feminism, secularism, socialism, and even liberalism around the world. It was a war for the imposition of a right-wing reactionary order in developing countries, and for the forceful and undemocratic prevention of free elections in Western Europe. We now know that the US used its financial wherewithal and dirty tricks to prevent the electoral victory of socialists and communists.

ISIS and al-Qaeda: Similarities and differences

There is a fervent Saudi attempt to isolate the phenomenon of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and to regard it as a phenomenon unrelated to elements in contemporary Arab political culture (or to American foreign policy legacy, for that matter).

The Saudi lobby

Usually one speaks comically of the Arab lobby in Washington, D.C.. Since the oil boom in the 1970s, various Arab-American businesspeople and crooks traveled to the Middle East offering their services to Gulf regimes and promising—in return for large sums of money—to launch an Arab lobby in Washington, D.C.. Those personalities explained that what the “Arab cause”—there was a talk about that back then—only needed money, and once it becomes available in Washington, D.C. the Israeli case would be immediately defeated. Many of those Arab crooks advanced anti-Semitic scenarios about the nature of American politics, and the Saudi political elite loved those scenarios, as does [Palestinian Authority President] Mahmoud Abbas. They believed that a small elite runs US foreign policy in the region.

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