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Middle Eastern politics and social media: a toxic combination

In the wake of the horrific terrorist attacks in Paris a little over a week ago the world experienced a deluge of different emotions across a huge spectrum. And one way in which the 21st century has changed the way we live is that most of the themes were portrayed through the various mediums of social media.

The majority of the feelings took two sides, either in the form of sympathy for the victims of those affected or anger towards those responsible. Make no mistake those responsible for these despicable crimes will rightfully face swift and stern justice and people have a right to feel aggrieved. However some of the responses on social media were just ludicrous.

The middle east

Some of the ridiculous comments were roughly along the lines of “enough is enough! Let’s sort ISIS out once and for all! This country needs to grow a pair of b*lls! And of course close our borders now! Share if you agree!” If you signed the petition to close the border that is your right but if the act is carried through, do not then share your outrage on Facebook when you are turned away from the airport, unable to go on holiday. The majority of these posts all share a similar theme, no doubt typed or tweeted in a 99.99999% white village almost 3,000 miles from Syria, hardly on the front line in the fight against Islamic State.  And the posts also imply that this country has done nothing to combat the threat of extremist Islam, clearly these individuals have never watched the well known show “the news” as this country has been bombing Muslim states for almost 15 years!

Thankfully these idiots do not run our country. However there are some in power that do. The opposition leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has been the subject of a ridicule campaign from both the cabinet and the highly intelligent on social media for seemingly being pro radical Islam. If you bother to read what he has said however you will see that this is not the case and that he is far more in touch with the situation on the ground in the Middle East than what the PM claims.

Corbyn’s main concerns prior to taking action against Islamic State in Syria refer to what two of the West’s “allies” in the region are up to. The two states he has mentioned are Saudi Arabia, the highly conservative Sunni Muslim state that the previous US President claimed his country shared a “special relationship” with. The second is the military power house in the region Turkey, who if it could be bothered too could stop Islamic State in a matter of months. But so far this has not been the case. Corbyn is rightfully concerned by how these two influential countries have been conducting themselves and has merely pointed out that without addressing these issues at hand first, bombing Syria will not achieve very much. So what have they been doing? And how does it affect the situation in Syria?

Muslims around the world

Most westerners with an ounce of knowledge in current affairs could tell you that the Muslim population around the world is divided into two main groups. The first is Sunni the second is Shia. What is less clear is that the Sunni are by far the more dominant group with almost 90% of the world’s Muslims. With just over 10% that are Shia. Ok so far, now let’s apply this to the geography of the region.

Syria

The country that has been in the news for the wrong reasons for nearly five years and has a population that is predominantly Sunni but is controlled by their President Bashar al- Assad who is an Alawite (Shia). Whose forces are currently fighting numerous rebel groups but the most prevalent is the Sunni terrorist organisation Islamic State (IS). A Shia governing a Sunni country is not the reason for the start of their prolonged and grotesque civil war. But what is almost certain is that powerful Sunni Muslim states have been keeping a very close eye on proceedings since the war started. Sunni Muslim states such as Saudi Arabia and Turkey for example.

Saudi Arabia

The powerful Arab state that is governed according to Sharia Law is one of the biggest financers of IS. That is correct the same nation who shared a “special relationship” with George Bush and America funds the very same terrorist organisation that the West is currently at war with.

What are the reasons for Saudi funding the Islamic state? The official lines are that it feels an obligation to protect the Sunnis currently suffering from atrocities committed by Assad. This is a result of what it sees as a failed US policy after Obama reneged on his pledge to strike in Syria after the regime used chemical weapons in 2013. (http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/06/14/america-s-allies-are-funding-isis.html) However this decision to become involved in Syria to protect Sunni Muslims seems a little ironic when you consider the Kingdom does not seem to care about its own population: women are not allowed to drive; apostasy still carries the death penalty and execution is a legal punishment. Combined with the fact that IS have killed Sunni Muslims in their thousands. Is it possible there are other sinister factors responsible for Saudi to get involved in Syria?

A conversation between the head of Saudi intelligence and the head of MI6 pre 9/11 could shed some light. “Time is not far off in the Middle East, when it will literally be ‘God help the Shia.’ More than a billion Sunnis have simply had enough of them.”  (http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/iraq-crisis-how-saudi-arabia-helped-isis-take-over-the-north-of-the-country-9602312.html) To imply that the Sunni want to wipe out the Shia may be misinformed as one person cannot possibly speak for 1 billion people. But the same article describes how in some parts of the world being a Shia in a Sunni area is comparable to being a Jew in Nazi Germany. However, to brand a whole population as the same would seem very stupid, take note Facebooker’s. But is this a serious attempt by Saudi to remove a Shia regime and replace it with one that is Sunni?

The US knows this is happening and is unable to stop it. Why would they continue to be in alliance with a state that sponsors terrorism? Well Saudi Arabia just happens to be the world’s largest producer and exporter of oil, but I assume that’s a coincidence. One of the issue’s Corbyn spoke out about was the need to address how a supposed ally is funding the very same terrorists the west is fighting against. It would seem this is just plain common sense, but no he is a traitor who is pro IS apparently according to the British press. It might also seem prudent to observe that whilst America is allied to this awful regime, it is totally hypocritical of it to condemn the atrocities committed by IS.

 

Turkey

Turkey is a member of Nato, has one of the largest professional armies in the world and shares a border with Syria. Yet continues to do nothing about IS and even bombs some of the forces allied to America. The YPG and PKK are different Kurdish groups who have been valiantly fighting IS for months and they feel that if unobstructed could defeat this appalling affliction. The only problem is that Turkey another “ally” of the west doesn’t like the Kurds and has spent more time obstructing them than IS. Even going as far as launching air strikes against them. (http://uk.businessinsider.com/links-between-turkey-and-isis-are-now-undeniable-2015-7?r=US&IR=T)

Turkey allows IS fighters through its borders regularly but refuses to allow the Kurds more men and equipment to pass due to historical differences between the two peoples. This is understandable to a point as national security is important to any nation, but surely the Turks must see that IS who are uncontrolled and unleashed will be far more problematic. Especially when the guerrilla campaign conducted by the Kurds ceased years ago, with diplomacy the objective sought instead of violence. This is now seen as the way of gaining identity for the Kurdish people. Again all Corbyn has done is speak about against the injustice of a nation supposedly on our side being complicit with the enemy whilst simultaneously fighting the only current hope on the ground.

There is of course a plethora of extra factors responsible for what is occurring currently in this part of the world, the influence of Iran, Hezbollah and Israel for example. But what this article has tried to highlight is that just because somebody shares something on Facebook does not mean it’s true or necessarily accurate. Until the Saudi funding to IS ceases and the Turks restrict their reinforcements passing through its borders then bombing Syria without addressing these issues is unlikely to succeed. And Corbyn should be applauded for attempting to address these issues not derided for it. With friends like Saudi Arabia and Turkey who needs enemies?

 

 

 

 

 

Please note that the views expressed in this article are of opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of Union Times as a whole.

 

 

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