by Zafar Bangash (News & Analysis, Crescent International Vol. 46, No. 9, Safar, 1439)
As the takfiri ranks are degraded and their territorial possessions shrink rapidly in Iraq and Syria, it is time to reflect on developments of the last six years. There are important lessons to be learnt from this horrific experience that has shed the blood of hundreds of thousands of innocent people in Syria and created deep divisions among Muslims worldwide.
Blinded by their hatred of Bashar al-Asad, many otherwise sincere Muslims abandoned the Qur’anic principle of ‘adl and let their emotions influence their actions,
O you who are securely committed [to Allah]! Be ever steadfast in upholding equity, bearing witness to the truth for the sake of Allah, even though it be against your own selves or your parents and kinfolk. Whether the person concerned be rich or poor, Allah’s claim takes precedence over [the claim of] either of them (4:135).
This was true both inside and outside Syria, much of it driven by the false assumption that al-Asad’s government would fall in a matter of months if not sooner. Many naïve Muslims were sucked into the vortex of the mayhem in Syria. It was packaged as part of the people’s desire for change following similar uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya. It is interesting to note that not one monarchical regime — Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan, etc. — was affected by the so-called “Arab Spring.” Why were these regimes bypassed and why haven’t any uprisings occurred — or were allowed to succeed — there?
Ignoring this crucial fact, many sincere Muslims became unwitting tools of imperialism, Zionism and Wahhabism. This occurred at two levels. First, a large number of idealistic but naïve Muslim youth from countries as far afield as Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Muslim East, Europe ,and North America were attracted to what they perceived as helping to establish the khilafah (the Islamic State).
Perhaps Hizb al-Tahrir’s (HT) literature and simplistic rhetoric about establishing the khilafah also contributed to these youth flooding into Syria to help establish and “secure” the khilafah. While HT may not have intended it, their simplistic assertions lent legitimacy to Da‘ish/ISIS propaganda.
Second, motivated by the Islamic obligation to help suffering Muslims, charitable organizations rushed in to help. While the motivation was admirable, many Muslim organizations became tools of Western-Zionist-Wahhabi propaganda of blaming everything on al-Asad’s government. If the takfiri terrorists indulged in heinous crimes like throat slitting and organ eating, these were blamed on either government agents or the CIA and Mossad.
The net result was that such charitable work merely added to the suffering of the very people whom they claimed to be helping. Instead, vile sectarian propaganda was spread to create hatred against Muslims with whom they disagreed. Damage to the fabric of Muslim societies is so immense that it would take decades if not longer to overcome.
Completely ignored in this propaganda blitzkrieg was the fact that the vast majority of Syrian people were horrified by ISIS’ brutality. In addition to the public throat slittings — these were widely shown on the internet — ordinary Syrians also experienced personal hardships at the hands of the murderous thugs. Their possessions were stolen at gunpoint and they were forced out of their homes. Even non-political Syrians recoiled in horror and screamed out, “these cannot be mujahidin”! They knew that if the takfiris succeeded, there would be endless violence and bloodshed. The Syrian people wished to have nothing to do with them.
The takfiris murdered the great Islamic scholar, 84-year-old Shaykh Muhammad Sa‘id Ramadan al-Buti in his masjid after prayers on March 21, 2013. A Sunni scholar who had served as the Grand Mufti of Syria, Shaykh al-Buti was the author of more than 60 scholarly works. He rejected violence and did not endorse the opposition’s taking up arms against the government. Apologists for the takfiris asserted that the regime’s agents killed Shaykh al-Buti. They offered no proof or reason why the regime would do that. Similarly, the current Mufti of Syria, Shaykh Ahmad Badr al-Din Hasun’s 18-year-old son Sariya was ambushed together with a professor and murdered by the takfiris on October 2, 2011. At his son’s funeral, Shaykh Hasun prayed to Allah (swt) to guide the takfiris. The takfiris also carried out a string of other assassinations of university professors and high profile civil society figures that refused to join the foreign-instigated war to overthrow the government.
Some anti-Asad elements blame all the horrific acts on US-Zionist agents. This represents only half the picture. There are certainly CIA/ Mossad agents operating in Syria but the takfiris have willingly aligned themselves with the enemies of Allah (swt). This also applies to Muslims outside who supported opposition groups in Syria. Can they offer any justification for such conduct in Islam?
Since the turn of the century, a number of Muslim countries have been invaded and destroyed by the imperialists and their allies. Countries like Afghan-istan, Iraq, and Libya have been turned into smoldering wrecks. Some Muslim countries have also acted as willing tools in the imperialist-Zionist wars of aggression that have caused at least 5 million deaths since 2001. Muslim rulers of these regimes have the blood of millions of innocent Muslims on their hands.
Despite the destruction and mass killings, the imperialists have not been entirely successful hence they were forced to adopt a new strategy for Syria and Yemen. Foreign mercenaries flooded into Syria to destroy it while the Saudis and a motley collection of oppressive regimes attacked dirt-poor Yemen. In both locales, the Saudi footprint is writ large.
The coalition of evil regimes and their mercenaries, however, have failed in both places. We need to examine how al-Asad prevailed against such odds and what has enabled Ansarallah fighters in Yemen to prevent the aggressors from succeeding. Let us first look at Syria.
The conspiracy to destabilize and, therefore, overthrow the government in Syria was hatched as early as 2005 according to WikiLeaks documents (Craig Whitlock revealed this in an article in the Washington Post on April 17, 2011; Several factors guided this grand international conspiracy: Syria’s strategic position, its close links with the Islamic Republic of Iran that helped facilitate the supply of weapons to Hizbullah in Lebanon to confront the Zionist occupiers, as well as Damascus’ close relations with Russia. The latter has a military base at Tartus, the only Mediterranean naval base for the Russian fleet.
Taking Syria down would have been a huge blow to the resistance front against Zionist Israel. How did the Syrian government manage to withstand this grand conspiracy where others failed? A number of reasons can be cited:
1. there were few, if any, desertions from the Syrian military;
2. the Syrian establishment did not break up as in Libya;
3. Islamic Iran made a strategic decision to help its Syrian ally and Hizbullah sent in its fighters in support of the Syrian army; and finally,
4. Russia came to al-Asad’s help in September 2015.
All these factors contributed to preventing the collapse of the Syrian state despite its suffering massive military casualties and the destruction of virtually its entire infrastructure. Syrian losses are estimated at more than $200 billion, hence it will take decades to rebuild the country.
Let us also name the gang of conspirators. These include the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Jordan and a host of other bit players. If Saudi Arabia has provided the largest number of mercenaries to the war on Syria, including convicted rapists and murderers released from prisons in return for fighting in Syria, the US and Israel have armed the terrorists and routinely bombed Syrian army positions. These are entirely illegal acts and if these outlaws could be brought to justice, American and Zionist officials would be tried for war crimes.
One does not expect much from the war criminals but what about the Syrian opposition, even the political and religious opposition? Should we not expect from them some adherence to Islamic principles? Take the case of ‘Adnan al-‘Ar‘ur, a Saudi-trained Syrian “religious” leader. In July 2014, when Hamas fired rockets from Gaza in retaliation for Zionist attacks, al-‘Ar‘ur thundered in a YouTube video that Hamas’ actions were a betrayal of the “Syrian revolution”! For this Syrian preacher, Hamas should have allowed the people of Gaza to be blown to pieces or crushed under Israeli tanks so that the Syrian “revolution” could progress, with help from the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia, of course!
A year before al-‘Ar‘ur’s outburst, Syrian opposition figures were already arguing about cabinet posts in anticipation of the fall of al-Asad’s government. That this has not happened is a huge disappointment for them. They will not get to wear their suits and ties at the swearing-in ceremony for Western-allotted cabinet posts in Damascus.
If the war on Syria has exposed Bani Saud as agents of imperialism and Zionism and the avowed enemies of Allah (swt), it has also exposed Turkish President Recep Tayip Erdogan. He presents himself as all things to all people; it clearly makes him unreliable. While his Syria policy has been a total failure, he is now sucking up to Russia and Iran. The leaders of these countries, especially Islamic Iran should exercise great caution in dealing with people like Erdogan.
If the government of President Bashar al-Asad has managed to survive, Russia, Iran, and Hizbullah have also come out on top. All of them have secured their political and strategic objectives, most notably the Islamic Republic of Iran that sacrificed life and blood to confront and defeat the confederacy of kufr and its regional puppets.
For Russian President Vladimir Putin, the former Russian spy chief and a cold calculating man, Syria was too important a prize to let go. Further, he could see that the Wahhabi-indoctrinated terrorists would flood into Russia if they succeeded in Syria. He and a host of Russian nationalists were already smarting over the collapse of the Soviet Union. Putin was not going to allow the destruction of Russia at the hands of US-Saudi trained mercenaries.
For Islamic Iran, Syria represents its greatest victory in nearly 40 years. It defeated the combined might of the United States, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, and Jordan. While this victory has sent Bani Saud into the open embrace of Bani Israel, it has also revealed the true nature of the Najdi Bedouins. In their own words, Bani Israel are their cousins and Islamic Iran is their enemy. Does one need any more proof of their treacherous nature?
Islamic Iran has emerged as a major regional power, thanks to its principled policies and effort, causing great panic in Tel Aviv. This is what sent Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu scurrying to Sochi on August 23 to seek Putin’s help in curtailing Iran’s influence in Syria. The Zionist returned empty-handed and deeply worried because Hizbullah fighters and Iran’s Revolutionary Guards are now on the Golan Heights facing the Zionist occupiers.
This is a new development that will have far-reaching implications for the Zionist regime. In the unlikely event of another war, the Zionists will have to fight on multiple fronts. If they lost to the lightly armed Hizbullah fighters in July 2006, what chance do they have against the combined might of Hizbullah and Iran’s Revolutionary Guards?
Syria’s infrastructure may have been destroyed but its military has gained vital battlefield experience. Out of the blood-soaked soil of Syria will emerge a more mature generation that understands the importance of unity to confront external aggression. The Muslim East landscape has been radically altered. It is shaped not by US-Zionist conspiracies but by the will of the people. This is a hopeful sign.
What is needed of sincere Muslims now is to reflect on their own behavior over the last six-and-a-half years. Did they contribute to helping the people or the destruction of the region? A sincere answer would enable them to re-appraise their own conduct and not become tools, even if unwittingly, in the hands of war criminals and mass murderers, in the future.