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Adversary / Threat One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. Talk about (or with?) them.

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Old 01-03-2009   #1
Jedburgh
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Default Sunni and Shi'a Terrorism: Differences That Matter

CTC, 29 Dec 08: Sunni and Shi'a Terrorism: Differences That Matter
Quote:
Key Findings

• Over the twenty‐five year period from 1981‐2006, Sunni terrorism in noncombat zones evolved in four overlapping waves. Conducted by hundreds of ideologically similar groups, Sunni terrorism has featured continuous, mid‐to‐high intensity operations viewing war against infidels and apostates as a perpetual condition.

• Terrorism by Shi’a groups in non‐combat zones over the same period has been conducted in five discrete campaigns and by two main actors: Iranian state agents from special national paramilitary and intelligence services, and Hezbollah operatives. The rationale for terrorism by Shi’a groups over that time frame was tethered tightly to Iranian state and Hezbollah organizational objectives, especially that of state/group survival.

• The six significant differences between Sunni extremist terrorism and Shi’a terrorism over twenty‐five years of practice in non‐combat zones have major policy implications for the United States and its western allies in the event of overt hostilities with Iran over Tehran’s advancing nuclear program.

• The intense correlation between survival aims of Iran and Hezbollah on the one hand, and the instigation of terrorism against western overseas interests on the other, suggests that there is a high likelihood that a mid-to‐high intensity terrorist campaign by Shi’a groups—along the lines of three campaigns carried out by Hezbollah and Iranian agents during the 1980s—would be initiated in response to any U.S. or Israeli strike against Iranian nuclear sites or wider regime targets.

• Any new campaign of terrorism by Shi’a actors of this type could have a profound, unsettling impact on overseas American diplomats, businessmen, educators and commercial agents who would likely become the focused targets of bombings, kidnappings and assassinations.

• Such a terror campaign would likely circumvent much of what the United States is presently doing to combat terrorism overseas, and greatly challenge America’s hostage negotiation and crisis management capability.

• U.S. political leaders should carefully consider the differences in Shi’a terrorism and Sunni terrorism in non‐combat zone as part of a comprehensive assessment of all the costs involved in a crossing of military thresholds that would likely trigger an Iranian‐backed campaign of Shi’a terrorism in the first place.
Complete 75-page paper at the link.
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Old 01-03-2009   #2
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Several thoughts on this interesting monograph:

Quote:
Importantly, this study does not argue or imply that violence perpetrated by Sunni or Shi’a extremist groups is carried out for reasons that are inherent to one or the other tradition of Islam. There is no evidence sought or identified in this work contending that historical patterns of terrorist attacks by organizations identifying themselves as Shi’a, for example, are pre‐determined by Shi’a theology or philosophy. What this study does suggest, however, is that those Shi’a organizations that have conducted terrorism in non‐combat zones display several preferred operational patterns that contrast markedly from their Sunni counterparts.
Indeed, most of the Shi'ite cases relate to Iran, Hizbullah, or both. Given this, and the conclusion above, I wonder whether its really useful to speak of a mode of "Shi'ite terrorism" at all, given that the events data is largely driven by two (rather rational) actors.

Related to this is the issue of how terrorist "incidents" are coded:
  • Only terrorism in "non-combat zones" is counted. From an Iranian point of view, however, the GCC states certainly would have been considered a combat zone in the 1980s, given active and extensive Gulf financing of the Iraqi war effort.
  • Similarly, by any definition Lebanon was an active combat zone in the 1980s, given the Israeli occupation—although it is not listed as one. It is not clear to me whether Amal violence against civilians during the War of the Camps (1985-87) is counted.
  • I'm equally unclear why some combat zones are excluded in analysis of waves of Sunni terrorism—if I read Table 2 correctly, Chechnya doesn't count, but Algeria does. On the other hand, Map 3 shows only 168 terror attacks in North Africa in the 1980s and 1990s. Given that this was the monthly (or even weekly) toll at the height of the Algerian civil war, I can only assume that Algeria is excluded (although it is not shown as such).

I'm always wary about data drawn from large-N data quantitative sets without a very full description of what is coded, how, and what the collection biases might be.
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Old 02-18-2009   #3
George L. Singleton
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Default Shiia's, as well as Sunnis, driven by lineage of Abraham argument

Rex:

I am enlightened by you two younger focused experts regarding Sunni and Shiia terrorism comparisons.

Let me suggest a theological/historical simplified fact which does in fact drive both groups from a religious perspective, in my humble view.

Israel.

The core issue is and always will be religions or theological. Who was God's chosen among the two sons of Abraham, Ishmael, first born of Hagar, or Isaac, born 13 years later of Abraham's wife Sarah.

Among my moderate Muslim friends here in the US are of the Agha Khan sect of Shiia Islam. They are more willing to sit down over coffee or tea (or a Coke, my preference) and tell me that the issue, over and over, to the total Muslim world is Jerusalem; Israel's occupation (their view, not mine) of Palestine/Arab home lands, etc.

Look forward to more from you two, Rex, and you guys are the modern front who can stimulate and document very well.

Last edited by George L. Singleton; 02-18-2009 at 09:38 PM.
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Old 02-18-2009   #4
Rex Brynen
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Quote:
Originally Posted by George L. Singleton View Post
Israel
It depends on which group we are talking about.

For Palestinians, the issue is as much nationalist and religious, as evidenced by similarity in views held by Muslim and Christian Palestinians. Of course, the rise of Hamas may reflect a shift here.

In Lebanon, I don't really think Sunnis and Shiites see the issue much differently, and I doubt they do in Iraq either.

For Arabs more broadly, the issue can be both religious and ethnic.

Outside the Arab world, the salience of the Palestinian issue drops substantially. Opinion polls show, for example, that while Pakistanis think its a relatively important issue, Iranians and Indonesians think it is much less so. I'm speaking here, of course, of public opinion at large—not necessarily the views of radical Islamists.

Sorry this is a short reply—I'm rushed of my feet preparing for some travel.
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Old 02-19-2009   #5
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Default Two questions here

Rex and JEDBURGH

I see due to Rex's interim answer two questions here of which one was being discussed by me, Sunni and Shiia origins to both have the same starting point, Abraham, Ishmael and Isaac. Hence the lineage (the Bible gives us) of both sons of Abraham by two different women, Hagar and Sarah, being blessed of God, but Judiasm and Christianity being of one line and today's Islam believing they are (paramountly) of the other line.

Thus, apart from future private dialogue I hope to have with Rex, I'd like to lay out some questions here for others to join in discussing, understanding that I am an old coot and want to the extent possible to keep the two lines or threads viewed, at least by me, as the Muslims v. Jews/Christians belief system that drives terrorism and violence (my view) today, separate and apart from the fact of prior to 1947 the coexistance of Muslims, Christians, and a few Jews living together in what used to be old Palestine/Samaria.

Here are some items for others to think about, research, and then comment on, which I would enjoy seeing others views on:

1. As Muhammed was first a Christian in a primitive church in what is today Saudi Arabia, then "withdrew" from membership having his own vision,

2. And since history reports that Muhammed was illiterate, could not read nor write, and since Muhammed went into a cave and came out (we are told by Islam) with their Holy Quaran, who wrote the book and how?

3. I understand that since 1995 Bethlehem which formerly was majority Palestinian Christian is today about 95% Palestinian Muslim majority. Some alledge the Palestinian Christians fled fighting with Israel, others say the Palestinian Muslims drove them out. What say you?

4. I will admit that my local Post Office Clerk, who is a Greek American, is married to a Palestinian Christian, and his Mother in Law, who is native Palestinian Christian, "hates" Israel and all Jews. So, some one and on validation that at least "some" Palestinian Christians resent Israels existance.

5. I note on Internet sources that in 2005 Palestinian Muslims rioted and burned a Palestinian Christian village to the ground, killing many Palestinian Christians over a Palestinian Christian dating a Palestinian Muslim, which the article alledges is verboten. Comments and views?

6. Finally, as I tend to think from here with friendship here who are from and return "over there" yearly, we have good friends who are Syrian Catholics here. Wife is an MD, husband owns a string of self-founded restaurants. They tell me that inside Syrian the Christians in general try to stay/live in the mountains to be more removed and safe from the majority of Syrian Muslims. Others views and comments here.

Summarized, the theme of this thread was and I hope in the main will remain what is going on by/about Sunnis and Shiias in today's trouble world. I understand Rex's interest in delineating that all Sunnis and all Shiias are not terrorists, but today's world based on opinion polls over there suggests that most all Muslims, be they Sunni or Shiia, have a negative opinion of Christians, Jews, and of course the West in general.
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Old 02-19-2009   #6
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Personally, I think everyone can set their Qurans down and instead pick up some histories of western engagement in the Middle East and North Africa; and particularly those that focus on the Cold War era.

The issues driving violence in Iran, Lebannon, and linked to Palestine are largely Nationalist driven. Iran is largely Shia and feels (reasonably) that they are being deined opportunity to achieve their full potential as a Nation.

The Sunni populaces are largely in states that have goverments that were either established, sustained, or at least widely supported, by Western influences during the Cold War. The issues driving violence out of these populaces are not Nationalist in nature, but are instead largely populace driven; as populaces seek the opportunity provided by the end of the Cold War (catalyst), fueled by globalization (the great wild card and accelerant of change) to emerge from under Western influence and seek self-determination.

This has very little to do with religion, and a whole lot to do with the governmental situation in the states these populaces reside.

A quick look at the break down of where the foreign fighters in Iraq come from bears this out. First, they are a tiny minority of the fighers; and second they largely are Sunni's who come from states allied with the West. If you believe that Phase one to a successful insurgency at home is to break the support of the US/West to your home governance, you go to where the US is to try to motivate them to withdraw. Thus the shift of Foreign fighters back to Afghanistan as the US shifts there as well. Iraq is not the issue for them, wearing out the U.S. is.

Similarly, if you are, say Saudi Arabia, and not particularly wanting a Shia dominated democracy (strike one and two in their eyes) on your Northern border, it is reasonable that they might not try too hard to stop the flow of their own insurgent populace from leaving town to take their show on the road to Iraq. That same Saudi government is also very interested in keeping Iran in check. That seems to explain a lot about why they do so little to help resolve the Palestinian issue...if that issue continues to fester, Iran stays plugged in, and the US stays focused on Iran as the bad guy. Looked at in this light the instability between Isreal and Pasetine and Lebannon is very good for the Saudi Royals as it helps them keep the Iranians in check.

When it comes to intrigue, Americans are WAY out of their league compared to the masters of intrigue that run Middle Eastern governments. Not everything is what it seems.
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Last edited by Bob's World; 02-19-2009 at 07:12 PM.
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Old 02-20-2009   #7
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Bob, indeed your Quaker roots do heavily influence your views. Quakers are good people and if we could bottle your peace and goodwill nature and inject it into the terrorists we could perhaps get somewhere.

But Islam as interpreted/misinterpreted by Sunni vs. Shia groups all over South Asia is the breath and existance of all the people there, just as you admit to being influenced by your Quaker roots.

Islam as interpreted by the line of Ayatollas in Iran drove out the Shah, who of course was pro-West, for example. The Cold War made strange bedfellows.

The Shah's father was pro-Nazi and the Allies removed him from office circa 1942/43, and his son, the last Shah of Iran who abdicated in 1980, took his place.

Saudi Arabia's influence in the Muslim/Middle Eastern world is a function of (1) having the Islamic major holy places, the site of the Haj for all Muslims of all strikes, within it's borders and (2) the world price of oil...which as it erodes is eroding the power and influence of the Saudi Royal family.

If you want to understand the terrorists modus operandi (my view, of course), you have the camp which wants a restoration of the caliphate, which is 100% Islamic religion driven. Sime clearly want to revive the old Ottoman Empire...to be headed by a religious cleric as Caliph.

Not to drone on, "nationalism" is a Western term as used by you here. When you are dealing with hundreds of millions of illiterate people whose only means of knowing what is happening in their own nations, let alone worldwide, is a battery operated radio or TV, you are not dealing with people who are about nationhood nor seeking democracy. They are merely "getting by" and sustained by whichever version of Islam is being used to manipulate them.

However, your adroit answer is appreciated but I would have liked the points I questioned answered instead of evaded, but that is your right, of course.

Last edited by George L. Singleton; 02-20-2009 at 10:04 AM.
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Old 02-20-2009   #8
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Good points all, and certainly the majority western perspective. I don't have time to give you fair comment now, but will, as this is critical to shaping proper engagement. Clearly what we are doing now does not work, and it is based, by the way, on the majority position that you convey very well.
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"The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)
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Old 02-20-2009   #9
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Default At the risk of interposing myself ...

between two O-6s, are we not moving off the mark of the thesis presented in the OP ?

That is, are there significant differences, which can be used to our (US) advantage, in the approaches taken by Sunni and Shia groups in developing strategy, operations and tactics used in the armed conflicts in which they have been and are now engaged ?

The Executive Summary of the CTC report seems to think so (I reformatted to separate the bullet points):

Quote:
There are significant and little appreciated differences in the trajectory of Sunni extremist terrorism and that of Shi’a extremism. The differences exist across six key areas that impact American policy considerations, especially in light of steadily escalating tensions with Iran.

First and foremost, Sunni radicals and Shi’a extremists differ in the overall approach and main objectives for their use of terror. The former tend to operate in a continuous, mid‐to‐high intensity manner, seeing war against infidels and apostates as a perennial condition featuring overlapping waves. Outside of an ongoing and seemingly open‐ended campaign against Israel, terrorist attacks by Shi’a groups have by and large featured discrete terror campaigns tethered to state and organizational objectives.

Second, Sunni terrorists and Shi’a extremists manifest different patterns for recruiting terrorist operatives and developing terrorist missions. Shi’a terrorists, unlike their Sunni counterparts, enjoy direct state support and for that reason are far more likely to originate from Iranian embassies, consulates and state‐run businesses.

Third, despite holding a minority viewpoint within the wider Sunni Islamic community, Sunni extremists, especially Salafi‐Jihadis, rely more extensively on the support of their coreligionist expatriate communities in facilitating terrorist activities.

Fourth, while employing similar tactics and methods, Shi’a terrorist groups have shown a much greater propensity to kidnap innocents to barter, while Sunni extremists more frequently abduct to kill.

Fifth, Shi’a terror groups exhibit a much higher incidence of targeted assassinations for specific political gain, rather than the high‐casualty killings featured in Sunni terrorism, and particularly of the Salafi‐Jihadist variant.

Finally, each sect’s extremists manage publicity and propaganda differently. The Sunni approach to information management tends to feature doctrine and resources geared to take immediate credit and widely amplify a terrorist event. Shi’a terrorists, while not averse to normal media publicity and amplification, by and large take a much lower‐key approach.

Importantly, this study does not argue or imply that violence perpetrated by Sunni or Shi’a extremist groups is carried out for reasons that are inherent to one or the other tradition of Islam. There is no evidence sought or identified in this work contending that historical patterns of terrorist attacks by organizations identifying themselves as Shi’a, for example, are pre‐determined by Shi’a theology or philosophy. What this study does suggest, however, is that those Shi’a organizations that have conducted terrorism in non‐combat zones display several preferred operational patterns that contrast markedly from their Sunni counterparts.
The general thesis of this report is similar to the arguments advanced by Bob Baer in The Devil We Know - several dozen reviews at the Amazon page.

PS - George: Your six points are something you and I could spend much time into the wee hours of the morning; but, for the life of me, I have a hard time seeing how they are directly material to the thesis of the CTC report.
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Old 02-20-2009   #10
George L. Singleton
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JMM

Your presentation is good until you reach your conclusions and question my thesis.

My thesis (remains) that all of Islam, regardless of which camp, is driven and based on a total way of life wherein Islam guides and directs the philosophy and actions of the actors (Muslims).

I respect your and everyone else's scholarship, but have myself relied on dialogue directly for the past two years on a variety of website and interpersonal e-mails with those who are younger (but some are older) Sunni and Shia Muslims. The interpersonal e-mails are not allowed on this website but I have started in recent weeks to share "some" of the Hujra Online comments, but far from all of them.

Thus, I would agree that we are coming from two different "data bases" and mine is from modern day (but not modern to me as individuals in many cases) Muslims who tolerate and enable both (my opinion) their cultural kinsmen, fellow Pukhtuns [fellow Sunnis), who people the Taliban terrorist groups. Al Qaida (Sunnis) are largely Arabs and not "trusted" by the non-Taliban Pukhtuns, on the other hand.

Do appreciate your very courteous and carefully laid out logic, and it went well with me...until your conclusion.

You and I, or "we Westerners" are very able to separate our religion from our politics in our style of thinking. The Muslims, of all stripes, are not so enabled nor brought up that way, at all, unfortunately, in my view, but who said my views should or do run the way the rest of mankind thinks and reasons?
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Old 02-20-2009   #11
Rex Brynen
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Quote:
Originally Posted by George L. Singleton View Post
You and I, or "we Westerners" are very able to separate our religion from our politics in our style of thinking. The Muslims, of all stripes, are not so enabled nor brought up that way, at all, unfortunately, in my view, but who said my views should or do run the way the rest of mankind thinks and reasons?
I certainly wouldn't draw such a generalization about all "Muslims" like this...
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Old 02-20-2009   #12
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Default Sunni vs. Shia, some sideline thoughts

Rex, your opinion is noted.

My meaning is that "all Muslims" are taught, as an integral part of their lives from childhood, that Islam is the final and correct religion, that others (guys like me, to keep it focused on just me) are ignorant, wrong, and in league with a "false" religion.

On the topic of how to use or drive wedges between Sunnis and Shias, I wouldn't go there in the context of either Pakistan nor Afghanistan.

REASON: The Shia minority in Northern Paksitan and in Afghanistan are routinely attacked, murdered, blow up, whatever, these days just because "they are Shia." They don't have a share in the power structure effectively speaking in Pakistan (Northern parts is my focus) nor in Afghanistan, despite artificial quotes NATO/US are using in training up officers, police, civilian civil service native to Afghanistan.

My "George know it all" opinion is you would do well to be focusing and studying tribal vendettas among and between the Sunni Pukhtuns, pure and simple.

Taking my wife out for an early dinner to then attend our local SOUTHERN VOICES authors conference which starts tonight and runs through this weekend here.

I would encourage some of you to go on and join to have full access, including posting rights on Global Hujra Online, which is a part of KhyberWatch.com, similiar to the structure of SWJ and it's various parts. The you can have direct dialogue and conversations very candidly.

One observation: KhyberWatch.com and Global Hujra Online are Pukthun nationalist sites, focused on promoting ethnic pride, identity, and pehaps future efforts at a nation of Pukhtuns, in violation of the current Durland Line structure that separates Afghanistan and Pakistan.

I'm sure you can get on (I am tired of being the only non-Muslim member of Global Hujra Online) with all the brain and word power and real world younger men and women's experience evident here on SWJ.

Yes, "all" of anybody of anything is a glittering generality, but with Islam is comes closer to the truth than with any other grouping I have ever known. My views again here.
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Old 02-21-2009   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by George L. Singleton View Post
Rex, your opinion is noted.

My meaning is that "all Muslims" are taught, as an integral part of their lives from childhood, that Islam is the final and correct religion, that others (guys like me, to keep it focused on just me) are ignorant, wrong, and in league with a "false" religion.
I don't think I have ever met a person of faith, be it Christian, Jewish, or Muslim who did not fit the description above. Which goes to my original point. Too many are too quick to make this all about religion. Certainly Islam is central to the lives of most of the people of the Middle East; but it is not Islam that drives young men to violence.

The majority of Shia populaces are not in states that have governments formed during the Cold War by western governments that shaped the politics of the region to deny this critical Cold War battlefield to the Soviets. The majority of Sunni populaces are in states that are.

I will, however, contend that there is one major Islamic factor at play that does not get much attention. Just as the information age that began with the invention of the printing press led to reformation of Christianity in Europe as it broke the chokehold that the Catholic Church had on information and knowledge (but it was political reform that really drove the wars of reformation that followed and led to the treaty of Westphalia); the current information age fueled by computers, satellite TV and cell phones is, I believe, having a similar impact on Islam. We in the west tend to focus on how the current upheavals in the Middle East affect our interests, we make it all about us. We probably also need to understand that a major religion that has been fairly static since inception is probably experiencing its own internal pressures as well.

Like I said, its complicated. We all need to keep an open mind and not just swallow what the "experts" tell us. I don't think I'm totally right, but I believe I am considering factors that many are not. I just put them out there for others to think about as well. Spending 7 months living, eating, working, playing, going to war with, the Egyptian Army was a very inlightening experience for me. I have tremendous respect for the Muslim culture and people; but also learned that we both misunderstand each other far more than we know.
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"The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)
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Old 02-21-2009   #14
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Default BW, this statement seems questionable factually....

Quote:
from BW
The majority of Shia populaces are not in states that have governments formed during the Cold War by western governments that shaped the politics of the region to deny this critical Cold War battlefield to the Soviets. The majority of Sunni populaces are in states that are.
We have from COL Lynch's report this snip (p.47 - see also Table 3, p.49):

Quote:
Only five countries (Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Bahrain and Azerbaijan) have more self-identified Shi’a than Sunnis. Another ten states have Shi’a populations or diasporas numbering more than half a million and that hold
a politically important minority position. [81]

[81] In addition to the five Shi’a majority countries, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Syria, Turkey, India, Pakistan and Albania have Shi’a minority populations with significant numbers and political import. One should note that despite control by an Alawite, secular Shi’a leadership, Syria is a country with more Sunni than Shi’a.
Iran, Iraq and Lebanon were very much Cold War political battlegrounds, from the time of Kim Roosevelt on. Azerbaijan is independent because of the Cold War. I also fail to see the direct materiality of the Cold War to Lynch's thesis.

PS - COL Lynch, wherever you are. Please come on and explain your take to these other O-6s.
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Old 02-21-2009   #15
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As I recall Iran and Lebannon self-determined prior to the end of the Cold War, and for all their current troubles, they do not have governments imposed by the West. Iraq had also managed to throw off Western imposed governance, but got invaded a few years back...if the government there can avoid the stigma of being considered a Western puppet, they have a chance.
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"The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)
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Old 02-21-2009   #16
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Default Those "cold war battlegrounds" cited actually precede

the cold war by many years. Go back to 1919 (in some cases thousands of years earlier...). The Ottomans were on the losing side and all their former Arab lands gained some form or other of independence. the British and French chopped up the area by drawing lines on a map -- diligently ignoring anyone who knew that Middle East -- and created a series of fault lines.

The USSR moved in smartly with Agitprop during the 1920s and proceeded for the next 70 or so years to foment hate and discontent (I suspect their successors are still at it...) all along those fault lines and they were successful beyond their wildest dreams. They played all the Arab psyche buttons; colonialism, neo-colonialism, sectarian differences; western disdain, all those and more. Today, there are a lot of little old guys watching BBC World News in St. Petersburg and chuckling while they sip their vodka.

They were far more successful in shaping the attitudes of the populace than the west was in shaping governments. We may have 'won' the cold war on an overall basis -- but they definitely won in the ME. It is perhaps noteworthy that, hard as they tried, they failed in the nation with the second largest Muslim population.

The Sunni / Shia divide is generally dormant unless agitators provoke one side or the other. Iran is Shia but its problems and attitudes stem more from dreams of Darius and Cyrus than they do from a desire for religious domination. Shia populations in the other nations all get along with each other barring deliberate provocation. The Iraqi problem is one of payback, most of the other nations are trying to adapt and defuse confrontations.

However, there are still agitators working zealously. Religion is not their motive power -- that would be political power with religious issues as cover.

I think Bob's world is correct on this score:
Quote:
"...Certainly Islam is central to the lives of most of the people of the Middle East; but it is not Islam that drives young men to violence.
True, it is not -- but some are using Islam to justify and endorse violence and too many in Islam are tolerant of this perversion not least because the USSR was successful for many years in planting anti-western attitudes that will be around for many more years. Islam is not the driver but is accepting and even, in too many cases, approving of that violence.

In fairness, the west has not done a very good job of refuting those attitudes.
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Old 02-21-2009   #17
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Default Picking up the SovCom themes

Quote:
from Ken
They played all the Arab psyche buttons; colonialism, neo-colonialism, sectarian differences; western disdain, all those and more. ....

They were far more successful in shaping the attitudes of the populace than the west was in shaping governments....
Strikes me that these Cold War themes were picked up by both Shia and Sunni as their geo-political arguments - to which, extreme religious positions were added, starting with Maududi.
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Old 02-21-2009   #18
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Default I think a case could be made that

both sides learned from each other and, other than a very few, the west did not catch on to much of anything. The USSR; the Cheka / NKVD / MGB / MVD / KGB; were probably the best intel crew around. They were flexible and shrewd, adapted well to their environments -- something the Brits do fairly well and we do not do well.

I also strongly suspect that the extreme religious arguments are mostly -- not all -- in reality more cover for political maneuvering than deep faith. A detailed study of the life, politcal ploys and shenanigans of the Imam Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini can be illuminating in this regard. He was for the Shah before he was against him. He knew Kermit, Jr for instance...
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Old 02-21-2009   #19
George L. Singleton
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Default

Quote:
I have tremendous respect for the Muslim culture and people; but also learned that we both misunderstand each other far more than we know.
Seven month is moder times in Egypt is a good exposure.

I did 18 months based in Pakistan but with TDYs to Kabul; Tehran; Dahran; and Adana. But this was a long while ago. My opinion as reflected in my series of published letters in the Karachi DAWN since 9/11, starting in Oct., 2001 is that things have gotten much, much worse than while I lived over there.

BUT, once we had the 1965 India-Pakisan War, former same age as me young Pakistani Foreign Office and Defense Ministry officials, who used to come eat, drink etc. at my staff house and at our staff beach house on the Arabian Sea, turned overnight anti-American, it was all our faulth. We then lost the US intel base lease in Peshawar (Badabar).

Then CENTO and SEATO died as far as Pakistan's membership and participation. Etc.

We still have many good Muslim friends today, here in the US who have family I know who go back and forth to Paksitan.

Later as only a weekender type reservist, purple suit, with USREDCOM, which then became SOCOM, I did "one" desert exercise (Egypt).

Immediately after time in Pakistan, late 1960s to early 1970s I was an International Banking Officer in Asia Section, old Manufacturers Hanover Trust Co, International Dept. We were then the 4th largest bank in the world...and I delt in a business sense with Pakistanis and Indians, as well as Afghanistan business interests still under the rule of the King in Kabul. But, most of our business was in volume with Japan, the Philippines, Australia, and with China at the time of our very first Pepsi Cola Nixon attempt to open China's business doors...while of course he was on his way to resigning the Presidency, as an aside.

By now I think you understand that I am describing a religion as a part of every Muslim's life so different that we as Westerners cannot fathom that everything they do, say or think is shaped and driven, literally, by their Islamic religion. What is also true is that not all Muslims are terrorists nor radicals, but as a "grouping" they are much less friendly that in years gone by.

Mass media enables spreading hate and terrorism, I agree, good point you make.

Let me close with a hard fact: We were at a first birthday party for a Paksitani born here in our home town, USA. Her father is a naturalized US citizen and the Mother is in process of being a naturalized US citizen. A "member" of this host couple's family told me he was very upset [this was not long ago] because some Pakistani teenagers here he employs at various mall stands...the youths were pointed out to me...had received and were circulating recruiting brochures for al Qaida. He was furious, but I asked him what he did about it, he said he took up all such pamplets he could find among his teenage boy employees and burned them in a sand-ash tray in the mall.

Will not drone on, just go home for author's conference and headed to the bed.

I am "famous" among business associates here for thinking and operating outside the box. I did this a great deal as Chief of Wargamming for USSOCOM (J4 & J5) and was sent on orders for two years, two weekends every month, to CINCLANT to head up an all services war plans team which updated the J4 component of the now old NATO War Plan. Ditto tours (short) on TDY active duty with HQFORSCOM, etc. Remember, I remained a full time US Civil Servant and this was my reserve sideline, I was not a Title 10 reservist. Retired from 6 years active and 25 years in the National Guard (TN Air Guard) and the Reserve, mainly "purple suit" JCS level reserve jobs. I don't know it all and expect someone will use this quote but humility on top of so much self appreciation is needed to level me off and out now.

Cheers.
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Old 02-21-2009   #20
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Default Suggestion for some off line chat

From the Saturday, Feb. 21, 2009 NEW YORK TIMES, of interest on this thread:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/21/wa..._r=1&th&emc=th

If any of you guys want to chat off line, I have one private suggestion/observation regarding a tribe in NWFP of Pakistan/and in Afghanistan, same tribe by name, which "might" address my reply to Sunni vs. Shia exploitable differences...my reply being you might rather consider trying to exploit among and between Sunnis tribal fueds.
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