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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Why Saudia Arabia attacked Yemen?

Aden, with a population of close to one million, is a strategically located seaport of Yemen. Located at the shores of Red Sea, its strategic importance is further enhanced by the fact that its a gateway to, approximately 170 Km away, Bab el Mandeb. Bab e el Mandeb is a strategically important strait located between Yemen on one side and Djibiouti, Eriteria and Somalia to the other. Most importantly, maritime trafficking travelling from Egypt, especially from Suez Canal to further towards Indian Ocean has to pass through this important strategic strait. 

Saudi regime and the coalition justified attack on the Yemeni Houthis either with claims of protecting legitimate government of Yemen or with intent to save Saudia Arabia from perceived imminent invasion by, as they claim from Iranian proxies, the Houthis. However, if we analyze the events more closely, and especially, those which took place immediately before the Saudi attack, other possible insights to possible motivation behind the attack also unfolds.

Houthis who hail from Northern Yemen, which borders Saudi Arabia, captured Saana, the Yemeni capital, in September last year. Ever since, they have been making larger territorial gains, capturing almost 10 of Yemen 21 provinces. The battles between joint forces of Houthis and  forces loyal to ex president Ali Abdullah Saleh and forces loyal to President Mansour eventually forced the latter to fled to Aden.  On 22nd of March, an event of significant importance took place. Houthis made a fateful advance to the city of Taiz which is the last major center on way to Aden. By 25th of March, they occupied a key airbase located 67 Km outside Aden and eventually captured the International Airport based in the city. 

The immediate precipitant of war does not seem to be any imminent attack of Houthis on Saudia Arabia. Rather, Houthis have been advancing towards Southern Yemen, opposite to the Yemen-Saudi borders. It seems as if what motivated Saudi led coalition to attack Yemen is to thwart the possibility for Houthis to take over the strategic seaport. This would have given the Houthis an opportunity to further advance to Bab el Mandeb and gain influence on an important maritime route. In the calculus of Saudia Arabia and the West, especially the US, its the Iranians, who they accuse of supporting Houthis, would have eventually got an influence on Bab el Mandeb strait, had the Houthis advance not been stopped. As the following table (take from US Energy Information Center) approximately 3.8 million US barrel oil passes through Bab el Mandab every day and if figures for Suez Canal are taken into account as well, the estimated supply increases to approximately 8.5 million barrel a day. Losing influence on such massive oil supply would mean disastrous for the Gulf States, who depend on petro dollars and their Western allies, whose economies need constant flow of oil. Gulf States such as Qatar, Kuwait who are located in proximity to Strait of Hormuz, and which is connected to Bab el Mandeb through Gulf of Aden, and such States as Egyt and Sudan, located at the shores of Red Sea, where Bal el Mandab is actually located, serves to lose from the Houthi capturing of the Strait. It this is factor which motivates this grand alliance who struck the moment they felt the Houthis are crossing the red line.

Table 1. Volume of crude oil and petroleum products transported through world chokepoints, 2009-13
Location                                               2009       2010       2011       2012       2013
Strait of Hormuz                                      15.7        15.9        17.0        16.9        17.0
Strait of Malacca                                     13.5        14.5        14.6        15.1        15.2
Suez Canal and SUMED Pipeline               3.0          3.1          3.8          4.5         4.6
Bab el-Mandab                                       2.9          2.7          3.4          3.7         3.8
Danish Straits                                        3.0          3.2          3.3          3.1         3.3
Turkish Straits                                       2.8          2.8          3.0          2.9         2.9
Panama Canal                                       0.8          0.7          0.8          0.8         0.8
World maritime oil trade                        53.9        55.5        55.6        56.7         56.5
World total oil supply                             84.9        87.5        87.8        89.7         90.1
Notes: All estimates are in million barrels per day. Data for Panama Canal is by fiscal years.
Sources: U.S. Energy Information Administration analysis based on Lloyd's List Intelligence, Panama Canal Authority, Eastern Bloc Research, Suez Canal Authority, and UNCTAD, using EIA conversion factors.

 US has refrained from direct military participation because of its ongoing involvement with Iran over negotiation on nuclear program in Laussane, Switzerland. While ensuring its strategic interests are saved, whose responsibility can be relegated to partners, such as Gulf States in the region, it is willing to retain the possibility of nuclear deal as negotiation enters final stage in the coming days. It is also to noted that while Saudia Arabia and other Gulf States are totally allied to US interests, yet they are wary of possibility of US Iranian deal. The attack on Yemen also gives them the opportunity to incite a backlash from Iran, for example in terms of backing off from the deal. Will that happen depends about the odds Iranian faces and how directly US involves itself in the conflict.

However, what is far from truth is the fact that Saudia Arabia is under attack. A grand strategic war is underway for power, hegemony and resources which must be sold to population in vocabulary they are more receptive towards, and that is what this whole propaganda of attack on holy Saudia Arabia is about. 

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Friday, January 30, 2015

Why some Muslims think that Muslim can not kill Muslim?

Muslims cannot kill Muslim is a statement that anyone living in this part of the world would be very familiar with. Every time bomb goes off at some public place and Muslims get killed, this argument is overwhelmingly repeated that this or that carnage cannot be committed by Muslims because Muslims are brothers, they can’t kill each other. Why is it so? Can’t Muslim kill Muslim? All those cases of homicides which are reported daily on the media, is not that Muslim killing Muslim? Which it surely is, then what kind of imagination on the face of brutal facts can lead to the formulation of this statement; that no Muslim can kill other Muslim?
In my view, it may be totally acceptable for majority of Muslims to believe that Muslim can kill Muslim for other kind of worldly gains, for example while during theft or robbery, but what Muslims are not willing to admit is the killing perpetrated due to political motivations. The following case that I make is not for the tiny secular and Westernized Muslims but of the masses and are based on my own reflections. Muslim political imagination has still not be able to come to terms with the forces that shapes the politics of today. The discourse has not modernized at per with the modernization of institutional framework which governs their societies. The conceptual framework within which, despite all the territorial and cultural divisions among themselves, they tend to locate their political ideals is still very much of the religious nature; EVENTUALLY Ummah, all Muslims are brothers, religious supremacy is the destined fact etc etc.
But how does one reconcile such brutal facts as Muslims going to war with Muslims as had happened in past 30-40 years, which are purely politically motivated killings, with this kind of imagination. Its very simple! When Iraq attacks Kuwait, or attacks Iran, it’s the deviant Saddam who does it, Saddam can count on the appeals of Iraqiyya with Sunni undertones against Shiite regime; the bad Muslims, the Iran in turn can appeal to Saddam as a despotic Sunni bad Muslim, when Pakistan does it dirty game or Afghan government blew up Pakistan’s market places back in 1980’s, it’s the deviant regime, and interestingly in all these cases, the deviant Saddam, or the regime in Pakistan, or Afghan, all of these actors can be traced to have some foreign support, so in actual they are foreign stooges doing it; it’s the foreign hand, not Muslims in total isolation conspiring and killing other Muslim out; it’s the foreign power making some Muslims go insane and do all carnage on their behalf. In a nutshell brutal facts of Muslim killing Muslims would either not change the discourse (that Muslims are brothers all over) or they can simply be twisted, reduced and reinterpreted to support the discourse. Saddam was deviant American stooge who did all killing in 80’s and 90’s, but then he became a good guy, don’t you see how bravely he died, only true Muslim could give up life that way, it was American the devil who was using him, who was behind all his killing. To understand and believe that Muslim kill Muslim in its entirety will lead to the dismantling of a cherished belief of religious supremacy; a supremacy of purely political nature; (the idea which Christians in the West espoused too but were eventually force to forsake due to the secularization of their societies) for the idea of Muslims being enemy of each other is totally antithetical to the idea of such supremacy. It is also my belief that this kind of mentality would be more widespread in the more developed centers of Muslim State, thus more closer to the State apparatus and its propaganda, then among the peripheral communities who due to various kind of deprivations have found it more expedient to agitate against the center on secular lines. 

Muslim brotherhood and related concepts are as old as Muslim history itself. Muslim history has not been devoid of its share of bloodshed and from first century onward down to now Muslims have repeatedly killed each other. But what distinguishes Muslim internal fighting from the West post enlightenment time period warfare is the fact that Muslim rulers exploit that discourse of good Muslim bad Muslim in their warfare even in modern times. Muslims rulers who need support of their population, which they find easily to instrumentalize religion for, repeatedly use the religious discourse in varying degree to justify the killings. Wars are not depicted as secular worldly enterprise, rather the fight between the good and evil, the evil being the deviant Muslim ruler or his party, not the population that particular regime rules, for they are good Muslims and our brothers.  
This particular failure to see the nakedness of the conflict, to unravel true forces behind them, to understand them as phenomenon totally driven by the secular forces,  I think is the one of the main reasons that majority of Muslims are not willing to accept other Muslims perpetrating killing against them. If facts become too brutal to ignore, it’s the deviant Muslims, but who eventually are sponsored by some foreign power, but they are readily excommunicated, it is readily exclaimed, they are not true Muslims, Muslims cannot do that; ISIS, Taliban, Al Qaeda are all the kharijte they are not Muslims.
And eventually it just boils down to the incongruity between the mentality and the superstructure. Muslims political discourse has not modernize as per with the modernization in institutional framework which governs them, modern States etc. While the modern forces instigate conflict; for example Pakistani State interest are behind the conflict of the region; the discourse which is used to interpret it is not modern. The superstructure is modern which breeds conflict whereas the discourse, the mentality has not modernized. This is the dilemma of the people here. And that’s why you hear it Muslim can not kill Muslim .


Monday, January 26, 2015

Vulgar Journalism;

In an article published on 26th of January 2015 in print edition of daily Urdu, Jang, a "senior" journalist by the name Mazhar Abbas claims that Hafiz Saeed and his party JuD does not represent a terrorist threat to US. He bases his logic on the following two premises
1- That JuD believes that Jihad can only be declared by the State and it has nothing to do with the dirty business of groups like Al Qaeda etc.
2- Secondly it engages in welfare activities and religious preaching so banning it would actually strengthen the terrorists narrative that Muslims are being purposely victimized by the West and its client States.

Its important to analyze this article because its such writing that shapes people opinion about terrorist threat, and due to their biases, selective writing of the facts, or for whatever reason, are one of the main reasons that in this country, even after over 50,000 killed in a just decade, people are still confused about who is the threat, where it comes from, who actually is the enemy? Some facts i have summarized below which, i am not sure, whether the "senior" journalist deliberately missed or whatever, but its too hard to be believe that he never had access to them.

- Author claims that JuD has nothing to do with the likes of Al Qeada
         This is absolutely false. After the fall of Taliban, Al Qaeda main leaders moved inside Pakistan and many of them were provided shelter by Hafiz Saeed followers. Abu Zubaidah was arrested in 2002 from one of Hafiz Saeed's party safe house. Saleem Shahzad even claims that Abu Jabran who was the body guard of Abu Zubaidah, ended up being personal advisor later to Zaki Ur Rahman Lakhvi. The logical conclusion is that after providing safe houses to Al Qaeda leadership, they even ditched them once Pakistan's starting cracking down, at least on some of Al Qaeda elements. However, one thing that can clearly be inferred is that Hafiz Saeed party has maintained connections with such groups and if not then why did he offer funeral prayer for Usama Bin Laden?

-Author claims that JuD has no ideological affinity with the likes of Al Qaeda
      This i can claim with confidence that its an absolute lie. JuD has been organizing conferences titled "Ghaza Hind" conference in which it is claimed that end times are approaching, and according to heavenly ordained chain of events, Pakistan will fight battle with India. This is exactly in conformity with Al Qaeda view, the only difference is that Al Qaeda does not use the word Pakistan as one of the principal protagonist. The kind of ideology that JuD propagates is what essentially required to charge and motivate people towards militant violence.

Author claims that JuD does not engages in terrorism.
    Then what is the whole infrastructure set up in Muridke for? It would be suffice to provide a link to a report leaked by Wikileaks  which shows how Hafiz Saeed and his party been recruiting young kids for indoctrination in South Punjab using funds provided by the donors in Saudia Arabia and UAE. In yet another instance,  son of JuD party man, who also happen to be the speaker in Mosque down town Okara, died fighting in Kashmir.

The author claims that JuD can not be prosecuted in the court, but does that exonerate the party from the kind of stuff it is known to commit? Thats the weakness of the prosecution.

Its the parties like JuD which are responsible for propagating the kind of militant mentality which can easily end up in kind of religious chauvanism that we see around.

The kind of journalism that takes place in Pakistan, although through their at times vociferous criticism of political personalities, they may try to pretend to be relatively politically dispassionate. However, its these 'scribes" who are the guardians of the framework which sustain the current power relations in the society. It is in the interest of Pakistan ruling class to keep the population charged with religious chauvanism, which means irrational hatred towards the neighbor, lots of space and legitimacy for the groups like JuD who serves as States junior partner among other things. Its the job of these journalist to keep creating the consent for the dominant ideology in the society,  The article that i have talked about above is one such attempt to keep the legitimacy for  a man and a party known to promote the militant ideology and known to have run training camps alive for he serves the interests of the dominant class and help perpetuating the dominant ideology.


Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Ruling Class and The Ruling Ideas- Marx and Engels

Following is the text of Marx and Engels "The Ruling Class and The Ruling Ideas." What is phenomenal about this writing is that it provides a cogent understanding of how the ideas take birth in the society. While the masses may be fooled by those ideas and accept them as in their own self interest and be even willing to die defending them; they however spring from the kind of mode of production operating in the society and are shaped by the dominant class which benefits most from such mode of production; that is the ruling class. 

The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas: i.e., the
class which is the ruling material force of society is at the same time its
ruling intellectual force. The class which has the means of material production
at its disposal, consequently also controls the means of mental
production, so that the ideas of those who lack the means of mental production
are on the whole subject to it. The ruling ideas are nothing more
than the ideal expression of the dominant material relations, the dominant
material relations grasped as ideas; hence of the relations which make
the one class the ruling one, therefore, the ideas of its dominance. The
individuals composing the ruling class possess among other things consciousness,
and therefore think. Insofar, therefore, as they rule as a class
and determine the extent and compass of an historical epoch, it is self evident
that they do this in its whole range, hence among other things
rule also as thinkers, as producers of ideas, and regulate the production
and distribution of the ideas of their age: thus their ideas are the ruling
ideas of the epoch. For instance, in an age and in a country where royal
power, aristocracy and bourgeoisie are contending for domination and
where, therefore, domination is shared, the doctrine of the separation of
powers proves to be the dominant idea and is expressed as an “eternal
The division of labour, . . . one of the chief forces of history up till
now, manifests itself also in the ruling class as the division of mental and
material labour, so that inside this class one part appears as the thinkers
of the class (its active, conceptive ideologists, who make the formation of
the illusions of the class about itself their chief source of livelihood), while
the others’ attitude to these ideas and illusions is more passive and
receptive, because they are in reality the active members of this class and
have less time to make up illusions and ideas about themselves. Within
this class this cleavage can even develop into a certain opposition and
hostility between the two parts, but whenever a practical collision occurs
in which the class itself is endangered they automatically vanish, in which
case there also vanishes the appearance of the ruling ideas being not the
ideas of the ruling class and having a power distinct from the power of
this class. The existence of revolutionary ideas in a particular period presupposes
the existence of a revolutionary class. . . .
If now in considering the course of history we detach the ideas of the
ruling class from the ruling class itself and attribute to them an independent
existence, if we confine ourselves to saying that these or those ideas were
dominant at a given time, without bothering ourselves about the conditions
of production and the producers of these ideas, if we thus ignore
the individuals and world conditions which are the source of the ideas,
then we can say, for instance, that during the time the aristocracy was
dominant, the concepts honour, loyalty, etc., were dominant, during the
dominance of the bourgeoisie the concepts freedom, equality, etc. The
ruling class itself on the whole imagines this to be so. This conception of
history, which is common to all historians, particularly since the eighteenth
century, will necessarily come up against the phenomenon that ever
more abstract ideas hold sway, i.e., ideas which increasingly take on the
form of universality. For each new class which puts itself in the place of
one ruling before it is compelled, merely in order to carry through its aim,
to present its interest as the common interest of all the members of society,
that is, expressed in ideal form: it has to give its ideas the form of
universality, and present them as the only rational, universally valid ones.
The class making a revolution comes forward from the very start, if only
because it is opposed to a class, not as a class but as the representative of
the whole of society, as the whole mass of society confronting the one
ruling class. It can do this because initially its interest really is as yet mostly
connected with the common interest of all other non-ruling classes,
because under the pressure of hitherto existing conditions its interest has
not yet been able to develop as the particular interest of a particular class.
Its victory, therefore, benefits also many individuals of other classes
which are not winning a dominant position, but only insofar as it now
enables these individuals to raise themselves into the ruling class. . . .
Once the ruling ideas have been separated from the ruling individuals
and, above all, from the relations which result from a given stage of the
mode of production, and in this way the conclusion has been reached that
history is always under the sway of ideas, it is very easy to abstract from
these various ideas “the Idea”, the thought, etc., as the dominant force in
history, and thus to consider all these separate ideas and concepts as “forms
of self-determination” of the Concept developing in history. It follows
then naturally, too, that all the relations of men can be derived from the
“has considered the progress of the concept only” and has represented in
history the “true theodicy”. Now one can go back again to the producers of
“the concept’’, to the theorists, ideologists and philosophers, and one comes
then to the conclusion that the philosophers, the thinkers as such, have
at all times been dominant in history: a conclusion, as we see, already
expressed by Hegel. . . .
This historical method which reigned in Germany, and especially the
reason why, must be explained from its connection with the illusion of
ideologists in general, e.g., the illusions of the jurists, politicians (including
the practical statesmen), from the dogmatic dreamings and distortions
of these fellows; this is explained perfectly easily from their practical position
in life, their job, and the division of labour.
Whilst in ordinary life every shopkeeper is very well able to distinguish
between what somebody professes to be and what he really is, our historiography
has not yet won this trivial insight. It takes every epoch at
its word and believes that everything it says and imagines about itself is

Saturday, January 17, 2015

(History # 1) Are Ghaznavis or Ghouris my true heros?

According to what i learnt from Pakistan textbooks, Sultan Mahmud Ghaznavi and Shahab ud Din Ghuri, Muslim conquerors, are both supposed to be my heroes because they came to India and smashed the Hindus. But here is a bit problem. How could both be my heroes when Ghaznavi Family and Ghouri family were bloodsuckers of each other. Ghaznavi family operated from Ghazni and Ghouri from the place called Ghour, situated somewhere between Ghazni and Herat in Afghanistan. These two families fought some of the bloodiest battles and in one case, one Ghouri named Ala ud Din Hussain burnt whole of Ghazni down and earned the title of Jahan Suz (World Burner). What Pakistan's textbook conveniently ignores are those episodes of bloody warfare between these two families that took place in Afghanistan. History is twisted, created, distorted and presented in a way where every conqueror who came over to India, just because of the fact that he is Muslim, he must be my hero! And this must stand true even when two successive conqueror, their families were enemies of each other. History presented in this way is not meant to produce that critical frame of mind which which facilities distinguishing between the good and the bad from past! It is meant, in case of Pakistan's textbook, a militant and chauvinistic mentality which takes prides in smashing non Muslim and imposing their hegemony. Problem does not start and ends at radical seminaries. Problem starts from the schools.