Summary of Salafist Websites, Oct–Nov 08

Salafist websites persist in their acute verbal offensive against Hezbollah, Iran and the Shi’i generally – but now with greater ferocity:

Salafist websites have been quick to take advantage of rising sectarian tensions permeating into the sphere of moderate discourse – in the wake of recent remarks by Qaradawi – to expand the attack on Hezbollah and Iran, and to throw their full support behind Qaradawi (for details see Sectarian tension: from extremists to moderates)

This sharpening attack has been accompanied by a new innovation: for the first time, Salafist websites are using Right-wing Arab Christian writings to attack the Shi’i. The use of such Christian authors represents a striking departure for movements who in principle do not recognise diversity of ideas or narrative.

, as an example of this new trend, featured Emile Khoury, a Christian, in an article originally published in An Nahar, a newspaper close to the March 14 forces, in which Khoury outlined ‘Three solutions for Hezbollah Weapons to Avoid plunging the Region into a Devastating War’:

  • Hezbollah weapons to be placed under the authority of the state.
  • Prevent the transfer of weapons from Syrian territories to Hezbollah as a precondition to Syria entering into negotiations with Israel for the return the Golan Heights, and to link a successful outcome to the Syria talks to a parallel peace between Israel and Lebanon that would restore the Sheba’a Farms and Kfar Shuba hills.
  • Insisting on Iran’s contribution to resolving the problem of Hezballah weapons.

The prospect of impending war is also the theme of Hassan Rashidi in Mofakirat Al-Islam, who argues that Hezbollah is preparing for a new war with Israel. He cites Hezballah’s reconciliation with Hariri as evidence of this preparation.

Rashidi views the efforts at reconciliation as no more than a preparation of the Lebanese political sphere for a coming major conflict with Israel. He argues that Hezballah is concerned that the western overture to Assad might lead to the latter severing his links to the movement and that Hezballah is trying now to re-configure its internal Lebanese alliances so that Hezballah can take care of the fighting (with Israel), whilst Hariri picks up the tab.

Salafist websites’ main accusation is that Iran is directly collaborating with the U.S. over the occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan. Iran also is accused of undermining Arab states by espousing ‘proxies’ such as Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad who have abandoned the interests of the countries in which they live for those of Iran that provides their funding and weapons.

In Afghanistan, Gamal Sultan wrote that Mohammad Khazaee1 had “urged the U.S. to work for ‘cohesion’ in Afghanistan, and warned that it should not succumb to those terrorists” (a reference to the Taliban). Sultan said that the new Iranian stance was not surprising – as America would be unable to sustain its presence in Iraq or Afghanistan – without Iran’s acquiescence. The writer suggests that Iran is extremely concerned at the presence of a Sunni Islamic government on its eastern border, and therefore is content with the present puppet government; or even the American Occupation Army, rather than a Sunni Muslim government. The author concludes that this reflects the reality that Iranian calculations are not related to helping the resistance – as it claims – but furthering the Iranian project in the region.

In Iraq too, Salafist sites find evidence of Iranian conspiracy. Sabah Al-Moussawi2 argues that Iran persists with seeking to export its revolution abroad, and to expand its influence and control – much as the Zionists envisage their state stretching from the Nile to the Euphrates.

Qaradawi Controversy rumbles on…
Salafist websites continue to express their satisfaction at Qaradawi’s statement concerning the Shi’i. Their support is expressed in an unprecedented fashion: Whereas earlier they would criticise him in an offensive way – for example, a Salafist scholar Mokbil Alwadei’s critique of Qaradawi was entitled, “Silence this Wailing Dog”; but in the wake of his last statement, all this has changed, and now Qaradawi in Salafist websites has become the ‘first Imam’ of the Muslim world, and they defend him in the face of all criticism.

Such a defender is Jamal Sultan3 who asks: “has the dignity of Sheikh Qaradawi sunk lower than that of Hassan Nasrallah? That’s unbelievable! Can somebody interpret for me the significance of the silence from the Muslim Brotherhood General Guide, Muhammad Mahdi Akef? Has the Brotherhood disassociated itself these days from Qaradawi? Does it permit all and sundry to launch attacks on him?”

In conclusion, the Salafist websites seem determined on exacerbating Shi’ite-Sunni tension; but the question arises: for how long will this instigation continue, and what are its objectives? Is the intent to unite the Sunni community and mobilise them into a Sunni revival that parallels that of political Shi’ism; or is this largely the product of a ‘political disinformation’ operation mounted by the US in direct coordination with some Arab countries – for example President Bush’s non-lethal Presidential Finding for covert actions by the CIA against Hezballah and Iran4 which was described as being at the centre of a fresh drive by America, supported by the Sunni states of Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt as well as Israel, to stop Iranian hegemony emerging from the collapse of Iraq? A number of such Salafist sites are reputed to be mounted by Arab intelligence services. Whether or not this campaign truly is some form of psy-ops, the consequences are highly dangerous for the stability of the Region.

1 Iran’s permanent representative to the United Nations
2 Iranian writer opponent of the Iranian regime
3 Misriyoun (Egyptian) newspaper on 23 Sept 2008
4 CIA gets the go-ahead to take on Hizbollah, The Daily Telegraph, 10 Jan 2007.

One Comment

  1. Nayef Mustafa wrote:

    It is not strange to witness all this tension and struggle to fight back the Shi’ism, actually what is strange is that this is not spreading around the Sunni world. Why? one might ask, simply because, in Islamic belief there are “rules” and “laws” that controls and decides who is Muslim and who is not, and those rules clearly rules out the most extreme Shi’ia in Iran and Lebanon. In other words, for Sunni’s to accept those Shi’ia is to refuse their own religion. And this is something which does not need any digging, it is out there clear。

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