November 22, 2014

Sir John Baggot Glubb, better known as Glubb Pasha, was one of the modern Mideast’s most colorful and romantic figures. He and ‘Chinese’ Gordon of Khartoum were the last of the great British imperial officers.

Seconded by Britain to its protectorate, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Glubb built up its small Bedouin army, the Arab Legion, into the Arab world’s finest military force.

Glubb’s Arab Legion would likely have defeated Israel’s forces in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War had Britain and Jordan’s double-dealing king Abdullah not blocked the Legion’s advance, as Glubb Pasha bitterly recalled in his memoires.

When asked which of his many medals and honors he valued most, Glubb surprisingly replied , “Defender of the Shepherds of Iraq, ” This obscure award was conferred upon Glubb by the King of Iraq when Sir John commanded the Iraq Border Constabulary during the 1930’s.

Glubb Pasha and his men had waged a long campaign against the Ikhwan of Saudi Arabia. The Ikhwan (Brotherhood) was a collection of fanatical Saudi tribesmen imbued with the puritan desert creed of Wahabism. They saw all non-Wahabi Muslims as infidels (kufr), fair game to be robbed or killed. Even the king of Saudi Arabia failed to control the marauding Ikhwan.

Eight decades later, the Ikhwan is back, this time with heavy weapons. Instead of camels and horses, its men are riding Toyota Land Cruisers and American Humvees captured from Iraq’s puppet army. The Ikhwan in Syria and Iraq now calls itself, the Islamic State.

There is nothing Islamic about the Islamic State, or ISIS. It is not a state. What we are seeing is the recrudescence of the fanatical Wahabi movement from Saudi Arabia combined with a bizarre modern form of violent Arab anarchism and nihilism embraced by bitter, marginalized young men from the Mideast and Europe who have too much testosterone, too little sense, and deep anger from being discriminated against in Europe. They are Europe’s forgotten underclass among whom unemployment is over 60% and drug dealing endemic.

ISIS is also pure blowback from western imperial bungling in the Mideast. The fanatical group was formed and armed in Jordan by CIA, British, French and Turkish intelligence, and funded by Saudi Arabia.

ISIS, in Washington’s thinking, was supposed to be composed of “moderates,” a short-lived, easily controlled force used to overthrow Syria’s government, which had been marked for death by the western powers for refusing to turn against ally Iran.

As often in the past, the Saudis sought to use militants, in this latest case ISIS, as a tool to vent revolution away from their borders. The Saudis contribution to ISIS was arms, cash and Wahabi fanaticism. Ironically, while the world recoiled in horror at ISIS beheadings, its Saudi patrons cut off the heads of 27 prisoners at the same time – without hardly any notice from the western media.

But the ISIS Frankenstein quickly ran out of control and turned on its creators.

The next step in this disaster was to further widen the chasm between Sunni and Shia. Soon after invading Iraq in 2003, the US, in the best imperial divide and conquer policy, made an alliance with the Shia majority against the nation’s Sunni minority. The strategy of using Shia against Sunni was highly successful in keeping US control of Iraq. Washington even quietly aligned itself with Tehran over Iraq.

Shia death squads were unleashed against Sunni regions; Shia torturers used electrical drills and acid to make Sunni prisoners talk and break the anti-US resistance. The US funded and abetted this dirty war, using technique perfected in Central America’s civil wars. Israel provided much useful advice.

Turning Shia against Sunnis “stabilized” Iraq, but it intensified dangerous tensions across the Muslim world all the way east to Pakistan. The long proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iranian intensified.

As religious hatred was being fanned, out of the bowels of the Mideast came the ferocious ISIS claiming to be waging jihad against Shia “unbelievers” and “apostates,” among them the Assad Alawite regime in Syria. ISIS became Saudi Arabia’s weapon of choice. But then ISIS turned on the US-installed regime in Iraq and routed its toy soldiers.

Throw into this witch’s brew the hatred and fury of the Arab world that has been invaded, bombed and exploited by the western colonial powers for a century. The US has committed acts of war against at least ten Muslim nations in our era, killing untold numbers of people and imposing ruthless tyrants as overseers, all under the banner of fighting “terrorism.”

Can there be any doubt that the thirst for revenge is intense? These are the sons of the aborted “Arab Spring” that has withered and died under western and Saudi counter-revolution. They are the cousins of the 9/11 hijackers – who were mostly from Saudi Arabia.

ISIS uses the idiom of Islam, but it’s a bloodthirsty mob of enraged young men who understand little about Islam. Their stupid brutality is stirring up intense Islamophobia everywhere.

Interestingly, there is an ancient Muslim saying (hadith) that warns of the coming of dangerous men with black flags, phony geographical names and long hair.

They appear to have finally arrived. Now it’s up to the Muslim world, not outsiders, to eradicate this lethal plague of 20-something crusaders.

copyright Eric S. Margolis 2014

This post is in: Great Britain, Hong Kong, Iran, Iraq, ISIS, Israel, Mideast


  1. …and an interesting article in the BBC:
    “Air strikes ‘failed to weaken’ IS
    Two months of US-led air strikes have failed to weaken Islamic State (IS) militants, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem has said.
    A US-led coalition has carried out nearly 300 air strikes in Syria since September.”
    Looks like everyone is going nowhere quickly…

  2. solum temptare possumus says:

    News article: “Muslim cleric offers help to combat extremism”
    Toronto Star, Friday November 7th 2014, page A14
    Imam Syed Soharwardy of Calgary, founder of ‘Muslims Against Terrorism’ and the ‘Islamic Supreme Council of Canada’, has written an article for new members to Islam. It is a checklist with historical information.
    He suggests questioning your Imam on these points. For example, does your Imam believe in the sanctity of life and that the killing of any innocent person is a crime?
    Or does your Imam believe in forced conversions and death to those who disagree?
    Imam Soharwardy also says that it is important for mainstream Muslims to let the newly converted know that there are those who have an ideology of hate and violence who claim to represent Islam and they should not be following these people.
    This information will be distributed online and in mosques. It will be forwarded to 5,000 members who will further disseminate it to anyone who is exploring Islam and to the newly converted.
    Perhaps Mr Margolis’ point about the Muslim world has begun; in a Calgary mosque.
    ad iudicium

  3. “ISIS uses the idiom of Islam, but it’s a bloodthirsty mob of enraged young men who understand little about Islam”. Does that not sound familiar, when you put the shoe on the other foot? For decades the US and whatever steers it, has done the same thing. They have terrorized the ME countries, started illegal wars and tortured and abused the citizens there. Having lived through the second worldwar I will never forget the hatred they instilled in us in school against the Nazi enemy.
    For years after that war, that hatred still seethed. It took me decades to overcome, what I was forced to accept as the truth, as if God had personally commanded it.
    Eventually I discovered, that most German people were as victimized as we were under Nazi occupation. Their men and boys had no choice. That barbaric conscription was the rule of law. And that is when I discovered the sickening involvement of religions in that conflict. Bishops in Germany blessed the soldiers and their weapons, that were made for murder, even though forbidden by one of the Ten Commandments and which number depends on which Christian sect you want to consult. And bishops from the same sect in Britain did the same. So much for the advice of Christ: “Love thy brethren” and “Thou shalt not kill”. Never did I read anywhere, that there were exceptions to that rule, that commandment.
    This Christian zealot in the Whitehouse did not seem to have any troubles sending innocent fellow Americans to go and murder innocent brethren in far away countries under false pretenses in an illegal war, illegal by international standards.
    And in Europe we were only under occupation for less than five years, as opposed to some people in the ME, who never have known their country not being occupied. How they must feel, I can only and barely imagine, but I do understand their hate and anger towards anything western. It is not a war against terrorism, but a war of terrorism by terrorists.
    “Now it’s up to the Muslim world, not outsiders, to eradicate this lethal plague of 20-something crusaders” I read. I disagree here. It is up to the west to right the wrongs they did against those people. This is no time to wash your hands in innocence. Pontius Pilate thought it would absolve him from any wrongdoing and the death of Jesus.
    What hypocrisy.

  4. Just a few rambling thoughts:
    Like the Praetorians of an earlier time… Glub’s army was likely well fed and content; they were not likely an uncontrolled army of hatred, but a well trained unit of purpose.
    As I’ve noted often in past, a well fed contented Muslim is not likely wanting to go to Heaven in the immediate future. I’ve said this so often that I’m beginning to believe it. Life has so much to offer. The rulers of the Middle East have squandered their fortunes on their own excesses; they have done little for the starving masses. I think this, and the terrible pains inflicted on the masses by the rulers and occupiers have given rise to ISIS and to Muslim fundamentalism, in general. The ‘masses’ have little to live for and make great followers. They are ‘driven’!
    The American public, at home, could reach a similar ‘tipping point’, in particular, the poor downtrodden people in their ‘Bible Belt’, with the Teaparty feeding on this, but, they are different than ISIS… You have to love the 5th Amendment.
    ISIS is somewhat founded in religion and has used the above to their benefit. I cannot imagine what their end goal is, except maybe to be a ‘ruler’ with the accurued benefits. The leaders are not likely in any rush to go to Heaven. As true Muslims, they should want to redistribute some of this wealth, with some very uncomfortable consequences for the Western world. I’m not sure that they will not become as corrupt as the present rulers.
    ISIS has some strong leaders or manipulators at their head of their organisation, and are using this to ‘build their army’. It’s an easy focus for all their worldly problems (almost reminds me of Adolph). The Western protagonists have not been idle. They have bombed, murdered, installed brutal dictators, blockaded countries, and a host of other actions, to stir up a hatred of all things in power and of the West in particular. I’d like to think that this was an unintended consequence, and, not planned. Maybe this is because I’m a Westerner. I also think 9/11 was a direct response of this activity. Many Americans are still of the opinion that 9/11 happened because others were envious of the way Americans lived.

    I don’t see how this will end in a ‘pretty’ fashion except for starting to undo the problems that created it. Stopping this ‘disrupting activity’ is not in the American’s interests, nor those of the other financial occupiers. Maybe another unintended consequence. As we’ve noticed in recent times, there is a slowly growing export of this activity and revenge to the Western nations (this includes the EU, too).
    I think we’ve already passed the ‘tipping point’ and to combat this locally, we’ve already become a bit of a police state. Those in power are continuing to grab more power, at the expense of our democracy.

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