The imposition of Islamic law in rebel territories in Syria has begun, a new article in the Washington Post shows. It apparently starts with strokes of a pipe for punishments rather than the more severe punishments of stoning or cutting off a hand. Liz Sly’s Washington Post article explores the changes that Jabhat Al Nusra is making in war-torn Syria: “During a demonstration against the Syrian regime, Wael Ibrahim, a veteran activist, had tossed aside a banner inscribed with the Muslim declaration of faith,” she writes. “And that, decreed the officers of the newly established Sharia Authority set up to administer rebel-held Aleppo, constitutes a crime under Islamic law, punishable in this instance by 10 strokes of a metal pipe.” Continue reading
Democratic movements in the Middle East have the potential to mobilize a pan-Arab public both on local issues and transnational issues such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, argues Professor Marc Lynch in his book The Arab Uprising. Focusing largely on the events unfolding in 2011, Professor Lynch hails Al-Jazeera as a singular force pushing for mobilization across nation-state boundaries, while criticizing it as pushing, in the later stages, too much of Qatar’s foreign policy over its alleged reputation for unbiased news reporting. “Al-Jazeera has become a major weapon in Qatar’s arsenal, allowing that tiny state to play an outsized role in shaping the Arab agenda,” he writes. For example, “Al-Jazeera framed the Tunisian protest as a pan-Arab event and the fall of Ben Ali as an unmitigated good.” Continue reading
In Afghanistan, farmers grow poppy for opium, which is later processed into heroin and, ultimately, sold as heroin on the black market. How, when the Quran defines drugs as “the filth of Satan’s handiwork,” does the Islamic populace in Afghanistan justify growing this illicit crop? For one thing, the sale, but not consumption, of opium is acceptable to the locals because it is supposedly consumed by the West–by infidels–and thus furthers the war on them, outlines Gretchen Peters in her book Seeds of Terror: How Drugs, Thugs, and Crime Are Reshaping the Afghan War. Peters has worked for the Associated Press and ABC News. Continue reading
The United States and its allies are engaged in a tense and confusing intervention within Syria, where arms and aid are being sent to rebels whose loyalties are under question. As the Washington Post reported on February 23, “A surge of rebel advances in Syria is being fueled at least in part by an influx of heavy weaponry in a renewed effort by outside powers to arm moderates in the Free Syrian Army, according to Arab and rebel officials.” The Free Syrian Army works alongside Al Nusrah, a terrorist organization associated with Al Qaeda. Continue reading
It’s been nearly a year since the death of Osama bin Laden, and the American public has become accustomed to hearing about an al Qaeda no longer under his leadership, be it in Yemen, Mali, or elsewhere. However, even while bin Laden was in hiding, al Qaeda was dominated by his micromanagement skills, whether it was the decision not to institute Anwar al-Awlaki head of Al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula (AQAP) or suggestions on how to avoid drone strikes.
In his book, Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for Bin Laden from 9/11 to Abbottabad, Peter L. Bergen argues that al Qaeda is in twilight and that its new leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, “is unlikely to turn things around” for this terrorist organization. Continue reading