Tag Archives: al-Qaida

The Man Who Would be Caliph

Mugshot_of_Abu_Bakr_al-BaghdadiWhat sets Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi apart from all other would-be Caliphs, including Osama bin Laden and his successor as al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri, is that he is supremely qualified, writes International Affairs analyst Jonathan Manthorpe, of the current battle in Syria and Iraq. An excerpt of today’s column:

Half a dozen so-called Islamic states have been created out of countries in crisis in the last 20 years, and each new one is more brutal and bloodthirsty than the last.

The latest is the “caliphate” created by the messianic descendant of the Prophet Mohammed, soldier and Islamic scholar Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in the territory he and his followers control in the border region of Syria and Iraq.

Al-Baghdadi’s puritanical Muslim enclave may well be the most brutal of all the Islamic states that have flared and died since the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan in 1996 with the aid of Pakistan’s military intelligence agency after the departure of the invading Soviet Union.

The surge of al-Baghdadi’s fighters over the fellow Sunni Muslim homelands of central Iraq has been accompanied by the mass executions of rival Shiia Muslims, beheadings and the crucifixion of at least eight people … read more (subscription*)

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Al-Qaida Jihadists Suspicious of Iraq-Syria Caliphate

Jonathan Manthorpe’s columnist page is here.


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Journalists collateral damage in Middle East rivalries

Detained journalists on trial, regional rivalries and allegations of terrorism are roiling the Middle East. International affairs analyst Jonathan Manthorpe  explains in a new column. Excerpt:

Qatar_rel95A bitter feud among Arab states over relations with radical Islamic groups and how to confront regional rival Iran is threatening to bring new volatility to the already raging insecurity in the Middle East.

The feud pits the oil-rich emirate of Qatar against Saudi Arabia, the other Gulf States of the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt. At the heart of the rift is the financial and moral support by Qatar for militant Islamic groups in North Africa, Egypt and rebels fighting the government of President Bashar Assad in Syria, some of which are linked to Al Qaida and other jihadist groups.

Of special concern is Qatar’s vocal and financial support for the Muslim Brotherhood, which has a network of radical Islamic followers throughout the Middle East and North Africa and which has been declared a terrorist organization in Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

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Analysis: Iran and United States join forces against common foes

International affairs columnist Jonathan Manthorpe writes on the sea-change in the Middle East as Tehran and Washington find common cause and turmoil grows in Iraq and Syria. Excerpt:

As al-Qaida-linked groups hijack the anti-government insurgencies in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere, Washington is finding itself making common cause with its old enemy, Iran, and exciting the anger of its traditional ally, Saudi Arabia.

This tectonic shift in Middle Eastern alliances stems from two decisions made by the administration of President Barack Obama in the closing months of last year.

Washington is now finding itself in the previously unthinkable position of leaning more towards the Shiite factions of Islam, led by Iran, and turning away from the purist Sunni factions led by Saudi Arabia.

The first of Obama’s decisions that propelled this shift was his response after United Nations investigators claimed the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad, an ally of Iran whose followers belong to the Shiite Alawite sect, had used chemical weapons against rebel insurgents and civilians.

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