Iraq, Syria

HRH Prince Turki Al Faisal: Islam against “Fahish”, The obscene “Islamic State”

HRH Prince Turki Al Faisal is a member of the Royal Family of Saudi Arabia. Until 2001 he was the Director of the Saudi Arabia General Intelligence Directorate, and later served as Ambassador in London and Washington DC. He more recently established the King Faisal Foundation to promote education in Saudi Arabia, and is the Chairman of the King Faisal Centre for Research and Islamic Studies. This is a text of a speech which he gave at the Houses of Parliament at the invitation of Rehman Chishti MP on 16 September 2015. It is reproduced exclusively here by HRH Prince Turki’s kind permission.

A year ago, I began a personal campaign to refer to the atrocity that calls itself the “Islamic State,” (“Da’esh” in Arabic) by a name that exposes its true nature: Fahish, or “obscene.” However, commenting on the obscenities or atrocities of Da’esh, or Fahish, has almost become cliché: the world appears to have become desensitized to their bloodthirsty quest to rid Iraq and Syria of all who oppose their radical ideology. This desensitization to bloodshed has also come with desensitization to the power of words. Every barbaric act committed by these ideologues has been reported on, commented on, discussed as, and referred to with their own name for themselves: the “Islamic State.” While the world watches in silent protest, little moved by the images of women, children, families, towns and entire civilizations being destroyed before our very eyes; we in the Arab and Muslim world also watch in silent protest as extremists hijack not only our identity but our faith as Muslims – the very essence of Islam. We are witnessing barbarians attempting to hijack something so core and so relevant to the entire humanity – the very concept and nature of the State.

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Great Game, India, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Yemen

Asian Affairs: Summer issue preview – Yemen, India and the Middle East, British in Iraq…

The summer issue of the Asian Affairs Journal is now available online – click here for the contents page. Some articles are free to view by all visitors (as indicated); others are only available for free to RSAA memers/JSTOR/Taylor & Francis/Academic subscribers.

Highlights include “Yemen and the Huthis: Genesis of the 2015 Crisis” – an excellent overview by Dr Noel Brehony, a former diplomat and academic authority on Yemen, as to how the civil war arose, the role of the Huthis, the implications for the wider area and Yemen’s prospects. This article is essential reading for anyone who wants to properly understand the current situation and get beyond the brief nature of the press and media coverage. It is free to view: click here to read. 

Shahshank Joshi of RUSI, a frequent contributor to the UK and US broadsheets, writes on “India and the Middle East”, analysing India’s response to the recent disorder in the Middle East with a specific focus on the security-related aspects of that engagement. He also gives specific attention to relations with Saudi Arabia and Iran, and looks at how India might orient itself in the region in the future. Continue reading

Iran, Iraq, Kurdistan, Syria, Turkey

The Hour of the Kurds

Manuel Martorell is a Spanish journalist and one of the founders of the national daily El Mundo, where he held the posts of Editor-in-Chief and Foreign Editor. He has been covering the Kurds since 1983 and has published three books on the subject and produced a number of television documentaries.

8 February 2015. This will remain a historic day for the Kurdish people. On that day, French president François Hollande hosted an official reception at the Élysée Palace for two women from Kobani, the Syrian city where Islamic State (IS) had met defeat. One was Asya Abdullah, co-president of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the main Kurdish party in Syria. The other was Nesrin Abdullah, who attended the meeting in combat uniform as commander of the Popular Defence Units (YPG), a powerful armed force composed of thousands of men and women under the direction of PYD.

The photo widely circulated by social and press media showing Hollande, Asya and Nesrin talking in the luxurious salon of the Élysée Palace had a three-fold symbolism. First it demonstrated that women in the Middle East were prepared to organise and combat radical Islam. Moreover, both women represented the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), an organisation considered by the European Union and the United States to be a terrorist group. This was especially significant because for months American warplanes were supporting Kobani fighters in full view of Turkey, the US’s closest Middle-East ally, whose government favoured an Islamist victory over the Kurds in that city. France and the United States were providing most of the military and economic support to Kurdish groups in Syria and Iraq, but so were the UK, Germany, the rest of the European Union and other major countries, including Canada and Australia. This represented, in practice as well as theory, a strengthening of the Kurdistan Regional Government in northern Iraq and the PKK in Turkey and Syria, because both movements were bearing the brunt of the struggle against jihadism on the ground. Continue reading