The recent repackaging of Syrian al-Qaeda affiliate from Jabhat al-Nusra to Jabhat Fatah al-Sham has hoodwinked very few people. The Americans, who blacklisted Nusra back in 2012 and are widely and practically sympathetic to the Syrian Islamist insurrection against the government of President Bashar al-Assad have refused to accept there is anything substantial in the name change besides different labelling.
Taking a step back, the name ‘al-Qaeda’ itself has indefinite and opaque origins but the leaders and individuals who came to personify ‘al-Qaeda’, especially after the atrocities in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, emanated in an Islamist insurgency which had considerable support from the West. Specifically, the Afghan war in the 1980s which pitted the old Soviet Union against Islamist jihadis was where many of al-Qaeda’s future operatives and leaders learned their bombastic trade.
An organisation called the ‘Maktab al-Khidamat’ i.e. the “Service Bureau” was set up to greet, meet and manage the Arab recruits for the insurgency against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. Both future leaders of al-Qaeda, the late ‘Sheikh’ Usama bin Laden and current ‘Emir’ Aymen al-Zahrawi were drawn to Afghanistan during this period. Bin Laden was head-hunted by Saudi intelligence after they couldn’t find a minor member of the Saudi royal clan to join the ‘jihad’, while Zahrawi first arrived in Afghanistan as part of an ‘aid convoy.’ More so, it is known thousands from the Arab world were recruited to fight the Soviets and Western media were more than willing to favourably refer to them as ‘Mujahideen’ i.e. Holy Warriors. Continue reading →
The covert alliance between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and the Zionist entity of Israel should be no surprise to any student of British imperialism. The problem is the study of British imperialism has very few students. Indeed, one can peruse any undergraduate or post-graduate university prospectus and rarely find a module in a Politics degree on the British Empire let alone a dedicated degree or Masters degree. Of course if the European led imperialist carnage in the four years between 1914 – 1918 tickles your cerebral cells then it’s not too difficult to find an appropriate institution to teach this subject, but if you would like to delve into how and why the British Empire waged war on mankind for almost four hundred years you’re practically on your own in this endeavour. One must admit, that from the British establishment’s perspective, this is a remarkable achievement.
In late 2014, according to the American journal, “Foreign Affairs”, the Saudi petroleum Minister Ali al-Naimi is reported to have said “His Majesty King Abdullah has always been a model for good relations between Saudi Arabia and other states and the Jewish state is no exception.” Recently, Abdullah’s successor King Salman expressed similar concerns to those of Israel’s to the growing agreement between the United States and Iran over the latter’s nuclear programme. This led some to report that Israel and KSA presented a “united front” in their opposition to the nuclear deal. This was not the first time the Zionists and Saudis have found themselves in the same corner in dealing with a common foe. In North Yemen in the 1960’s, the Saudis were financing a British imperialist led mercenary army campaign against revolutionary republicans who had assumed authority after overthrowing the authoritarian, Imam. Gamal Abdul-Nasser’s Egypt militarily backed the republicans, while the British induced the Saudis to support them in financing and arming remaining remnants of the Imam’s supporters to stretch Nasser’s forces. During this campaign, the British organised the Israelis to drop arms for the British proxies in North Yemen, 14 times. The British, in effect, militarily but covertly, brought the Zionists and Saudis together in 1960’s North Yemen against their common foe.
However, one must go back to the 1920’s to fully appreciate the origins of this informal and indirect alliance between KSA and the Zionist entity. Continue reading →
Founding political myths provide reassuring points of reference but they do not provide the full, or even, real reason on why major historical moments occurred. As is popularly known the American Revolution was triggered specifically by the Boston Tea Party in defiance of the British Parliament’s Tea Act of 1773. Yet in a recent article in the New York Review of Books, historian Professor Steve Pincus argues it was a series of economic policies, enforced by the British parliament from the 1760’s onwards that made no small contribution to the colonialist’s rebellion against King George’s tyranny.
Recently in the United Kingdom a commemoration was held to mark hundred years since the Gallipoli expedition during World War One. The British Empire had intended to defeat the Ottoman Empire’s forces by sailing through the straits Continue reading →
One of the most boring British election campaigns on record produced a supposedly dramatic result. Before the polls closed at 10pm on Thursday 7th May 2015, every polling organisation had the two main political parties, Conservative and Labour neck and neck. No one knew who was going to win. But as soon as London’s iconic, Big Ben struck ten an exit poll for the main television stations surprisingly showed an overwhelming victory for the Conservatives. By the time the last votes were counted on Friday 8th, the Conservative Party led by Ed Cameron, had ridden home with 331 seats while David Miliband’s Labour Party performed unexpectedly poorly with 232 seats.
The United Kingdom’s parliament seats 650 members so the Conservatives had theoretically crossed the halfway 325 seats needed to govern the nation alone without a need to enter a coalition with a smaller party as it had done in 2010 with the Liberal Democrats.
In the immediate aftermath of the Conservative victory many rightly asked why the polls for the preceding six weeks got it so wrong. Continue reading →
Three days before the Saudi led air force began its bombing of the Republic of Yemen on Thursday 26th March, the British Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond was in the Saudi capital, Riyadh meeting with his host’s foreign secretary, Prince Saud al-Faisal on Monday 23rd March 2015.
In their joint press conference after their meeting, the British foreign Secretary declared that “no one wanted to see military action in Yemen.” This was echoed by his Saudi counterpart who stressed the need for a “peaceful solution” to the situation in Yemen.
The situation in Yemen changed dramatically when a Northern militia group, Ansar Allah (“Houthis”), had taken control of the Yemeni capital, Sana’a in September 2014. After four months of intermittent agreements, resignations and re-appointments the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) approved President of Yemen, Abd ar-Rubbuh Mansour Hadi eventually fled the capital and sought refuge in Yemen’s second city, Aden. Hitherto, the Houthis seemed content with their presence in the Northern areas of the country, but suicide bombings in two mosques in Sana’a on Friday 20th March seemed to have triggered a change in the equation. Furthermore, with Hadi in Aden, the GCC countries had led the move to close their embassies in Sana’a and operate out of their consulates in Aden. This move was clearly aimed at isolating the Houthis. Caught in the middle of all this, is the Southern Yemeni movement for independence, the Hirak, which has been active since 2007.
Although Yemen has been united since 1990 Continue reading →