History of Iraq (and Middle East)

…as recorded by outsiders. To put it briefly (if unfairly) it is Sunnis against Sunnis (as in Egypt) and Sunnis against Shias (as in Iraq and Syria). Everyone is playing to win by annihilating the other. And in doing so, the hapless minorities (mostly Christians) will be crushed as well.

What is interesting to know that the heart of Shi-ism is actually Iraq, not Iran. If Dilip Hero is correct all Shia Imams have been Arabs so far. Can anyone confirm this?

Finally how will all this look from South Asia? Right now it is a nightmare with all the nurses and construction workers who are trapped between the devil and the deep sea. The only worse thing that can happen is if an off-shore branch of the ISIS (ISIL) opens in India and continues with the mayhem (it will probably come to Pakistan first). That is one scary thought.

Though well meaning, the repeated incantation of the inclusive mantra
fails to take into account the historic chasm between Sunnis and
Shias, or the conflict between the Egyptian state and the Muslim
since its establishment 88 years ago. 

policymakers should ponder the Protestant-Catholic divide in
Northern Ireland dating back to 1689 when Protestant King William of
Orange fought Catholic King James II
in Ireland. Political
reconciliation between the two communities came after three
centuries in 1997.


Whereas the Shia credo consists of five basic principles, the Sunnis
have three. Shias and Sunnis share the religious duties of daily
prayers, fasting during Ramadan, paying Islamic tithe and alms tax,
and undertaking the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca; Shias add loving the
Shia imams. Shia emotionalism finds outlets in mourning imams
at their shrines: Ali, assassinated; Hassan, poisoned; and Hussein,
killed in battle. Sunni Islam offers no such outlets for adherents.


Sunnis regard religious activities as the exclusive domain of the Muslim
state. When the ulema, or religious scholars, act as judges,
preachers or educators they do so under the state aegis. By
contrast, in Shia Iran, the leading religious figures, titled grand
ayatollahs, being recipients of the Islamic tithe from their
followers, maintain theological colleges and social welfare
activities independent of the state.


Contrary to popular belief, which holds Iran as the fountainhead of Shia
Islam, it was Mesopotamia, later called Iraq, that was the bastion
of this sect. All of 12 Shia imams were ethnic Arabs.


The ownership of Iraq alternated between the competing Sunni Ottoman
Empire and the Shia Persian Empire until 1638 when the Ottomans
annexed it. 
This put the Sunnis, a minority in Iraq, in control.
They treated Shias as second-class citizens. This continued after
the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in 1918. Faisal bin Hussein,
foisted on Iraq as king in 1921 by Britain, as the Mandate Power,
was a Sunni. After the anti-royalist military coup in 1958, power
passed to Colonel Abdul Karim Qasim, whose father was Sunni and
mother Shia. He was assassinated five years later.

The seizure of power by the Baath Socialist Party led by General
Ahmad Hassan Bakr, a Sunni, in 1968, put the minority sect firmly
in control. This continued under Saddam Hussein, his nephew, from
1979 onward. When the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran emboldened
Iraqi ayatollahs to speak up on behalf of their persecuted
followers, Saddam brutally quashed Shia protest.


Against this background, US President George W. Bush invaded Iraq in
March 2003 and overthrew Saddam’s regime. The 24-member Interim
Iraqi Governing Council, nominated in July by the US-led coalition,
reflected the sectarian/ethnic composition. The election to the
Council of Representatives in 2005 under the new constitution, held
under universal suffrage, exercised to the full, resulted in
majority Shias gaining office.


Sunni discontent swelled. By 2007, sectarian violence threatened to
escalate into civil war. But the Sunni tribal leaders’ severance of
links with the Al Qaeda in Iraq and an infusion of additional US
soldiers lowered Sunni-Shia tensions.


When Maliki became prime minister after the 2010 poll, he allocated
himself the additional ministries of defence and interior. He
appointed Shias to security posts, and squeezed out Sunni generals
and leading politicians. In the April general election, his party
won 92 seats on a popular vote of 24 percent, well ahead of the
next group with 7 percent of the vote.


Whereas the Sunni-Shia division emanates from religious history, the
tensions between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Egyptian government
are institutional. The Brotherhood was established in 1928 as youth
club to bring about moral and social reform, but was politicized
in 1939 by the accelerated arrival of the Jewish immigrants in
Palestine under the British Mandate. 

The Brotherhood reinvented
itself as “a Sunni way, a Sufi truth, a political organization, a
scientific and cultural union, and an economic enterprise.”

The Brotherhood expanded exponentially during World War II with
500,000 members. Its volunteers fought in the First Arab Israeli
War in 1948.  Blaming Egypt’s political establishment for the
debacle in that conflict, the Brotherhood resorted to subversive
activities and was outlawed by the government in 1948. The ban was
lifted in 1950, and the Brotherhood was allowed to function as a
religious body. Its opposition to secular policies of the military
government led by Colonel Gamal Abdul Nasser led to another ban in

Over the next six decades the Brotherhood’s fortunes have fluctuated,
with periods of brutal repression by the state relieved briefly by
uneasy tolerance.

Reversing Nasser’s policies, President Anwar Sadat (1970-1981) promised
that the Sharia would be the chief source of legislation. He
released Brotherhood prisoners, but fearful of its popular appeal,
he denied it license to contest the 1976 election. Two years later,
when he agreed to make peace with Israel without addressing the
crucial Palestinian problem, Brotherhood leaders turned against
him. In October 1981 four Islamist soldiers, belonging to a
militant jihadist group formed by Brotherhood defectors,
assassinated him.

After an intense drive to crush Islamic militants, President Hosni
Mubarak engaged ulema to re-educate the imprisoned Brethren and
other Islamists, two fifths of whom were university graduates or
students. After the 9/11 attacks, pressured by Bush to democratize
his regime, Mubarak allowed the Brotherhood to contest one-third of
the parliamentary seats in 2005. It won 60 percent of the races.
Mubarak flagrantly rigged the poll in 2010.

The 2005 blip in Mubarak’s fiercely anti-Brotherhood policy did not
mitigate decades-long coaching of security forces and intelligence
agencies to treat the Brotherhood as their number one enemy. It was
therefore unrealistic to expect officers of these agencies to
reorient overnight and serve a Brotherhood leader.

Against this backdrop of deep-seated division, the chance of the Obama
administration’s call for inclusiveness finding receptive ears is as
remote in Iraq today as it was with Morsi in Egypt. The historic
conflict will play out much longer and outlast the patience of
western democracies.


Link: http://www.outlookindia.com/printarticle.aspx?291122



General Zia in Jordan

A note from Dr Hamid Hussein.
Incidentally, I happen to have heard from a first hand reporter that General Hamid (then chief of army staff) was also involved in the line of people who “forgave” General Zia and thus played a part in giving a specifically Deobandi color to Pakistan’s subsequent Islamization and its associated disasters.  As a side note, I think some sort of military takeover and the use of Islam to promote Pakistani nationalism were both going to happen anyway in Pakistan …Islamism is built into Pakistani Nationalism (remember the two-nation theory?) and was promoted in many ways by Bhutto himself; and no political party was likely to overcome the army after Bhutto himself undermined constitutional rule and proper procedures in a thousand different ways … but it is possible to imagine that if a future coup had been mounted by General Jilani or much later, by General Aslam Beg (to pick two random examples, neither necessarily being the most likely actor in any alternative history) they would have used Islam, but would not have been as interested in, say, destroying Pakistani cinema or putting women in purdah or beating up on Ahmedis, as Zia was because of his personal convictions.

Anyway, the story I heard was that General Nawazish (Zia’s superior in Jordan and the person leading the Pakistani military mission) criticized Zia for overstepping his authority and taking direct part in Jordanian military operations, and recommended action against him. This recommendation alone would have sunk his career, irrespective of what action was taken, unless the slate was somehow wiped clean. Zia got Pir Abdullah Shah and General Gul Hassan to help him on the the “mai-baap” frequency (senior officers being begged to help out a junior because he belonged to the same arm or the same unit, no particular personal qualities or links being necessarily critical in such an appeal) and Gul Hassan talked to General Hamid, who then told Yahya to “let the boy off the hook” and removed this blot from his record…. Thus adding a specially painful layer to Pakistan’s future pains.
btw, I wish Dr Hamid had given more details about the actual operations carried out by the Jordanian division commanded by General Zia. What role did he play in an operational sense? How involved was he in actual killing of Palestinian or Syrian forces? was he (God forbid) an effective commander?
Does anyone have any information to add in that respect?

(post script: the Pakistani charge d’affaires in Amman at that time has written a newspaper article in which he also states that General Zia’s role was much exaggerated in later years (he underplays it though, his role was not THAT peripheral, since he did help to hold a critical Jordanian division together, and there was real fighting against the Syrians in Irbid, but I have no doubt that later legends about Zia killing thousands of Palestinians are mostly just legends. by the way, the “istikhara” mentioned here need not be a literal istikhara (recourse to Quran to guess what course to follow) but may be other things, like a signal from the Americans)

Dr Hamid Hussein’s note follows:

June 18, 2014

Someone asked about the veracity of following statement;

“In 1970, when the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan requested Pakistan’s help in putting down a Palestinian uprising, the Golden Arrow commanded by Brigadier Ziaul Haq restored order.”

I don’t know what is the context of the above statement but it is probably related to the role of Pakistani troops in Jordan’s clash with Palestinian radicals in 1970.  Pakistan army’s 7 Infantry Division based in Peshawar is called Golden Arrow.  Last several years, a much reinforced 7 Division (much larger than normal division size) is operating against militants in tribal areas.  In one short sentence the above statement is incorrect.  Unfortunately, in the absence of serious research culture, folklore is passed on as a historical fact in Pakistan. A while ago, I wrote a piece about Pakistan’s security cooperation with Arab states (Pakistan and Arab World: Security Cooperation, Defence Journal, July 2011) and one segment dealt with this particular episode.  The relevant segment is attached below that will hopefully clarify few things and give a glimpse of intrigues of byzantine proportions still practiced in the region;
“In 1969, Pakistan sent a military training mission to Jordan.  The mission’s primary task was to assess state of Jordanian forces in the aftermath of 1967 defeat at the hands of Israelis and recommend overhaul.  Officers from different arms (Infantry, Armor and Artillery) of army and air force were part of this mission.  Main objective of the mission was survey of Jordanian armed forces, find deficiencies, recommend solutions and guide in training.  Pakistanis got entangled in Jordan’s clash with Palestinians.  The simmering tensions between Jordanians and Palestinians resulted in September 1970 showdown when King Hussain ordered  Jordanian forces  to quell an attempt by Palestinian groups based in Jordan to overthrow the Hashemite kingdom.  There were exaggerated reports circulated by Palestinian sympathizers that Pakistani troops helped Jordanian forces in combat.  Later, after General Zia-ul Haq’s coup, those opposing him continued these unsubstantiated reports as Zia was in Amman during that time period.

Pakistani training mission consisted of only about two dozen army and air force officers and no combat troops (only exception was an Anti-Air Craft detachment sent in June 1970 at King Hussain’s request as he was worried that Syrian and Iraqi air forces may intervene in support of Palestinians).  Pakistan military mission was headed by Major General Nawazish Ali while Air Commodore Anwar Shamim (later Air Chief Marshal and Pakistan air force chief) was in charge of air force officers.   During main Jordanian offensive in September, Pakistani ambassador in Amman Nawab Rahat Ali Chattari as well as head of military mission Major General Nawazish were not in the country.  Brigadier Zia ul Haq was in charge of the military mission.  King Hussain asked Brigadier Zia to take over the command of a Jordanian division.  Pakistan’s charge de affairs got approval of this move from Ministry of Defence.

In Amman, 4th Mechanized Division commanded by Brigadier Kasab al-Jazy operated and 60th Armored Brigade of the division commanded by Colonel Alawi Jarrad was at the forefront.  After 1967 war, 3rd Iraqi Armored Division had stayed back in Jordan and was deployed in Zarqa.  King Hussain was suspicious about the motives of Iraqis and he deployed 99th Brigade commanded by Colonel Khalil Hajhuj of 3rd Jordanian Armored Division near Iraqis to keep them in check.  However, young Saddam Hussain emerging from his own recent successful power struggle inside Iraq shrewdly pulled Iraqi troops away from conflict area and finally removed them from Jordan to avoid getting entangled.

2nd Jordanian Infantry Division was based in Irbid near the Syrian border.  Palestinian guerrillas had taken control of the town.  Syria entered the fray in support of Palestinians by sending 5th Division commanded by Brigadier Ahmed al-Amir.  This was a reinforced division consisting of 67th Mechanized, 88th Armored and 91st Armored Brigades of Syrian army and Hittin Brigade consisting of Palestinians.  Commanding officer of 2nd Jordanian Infantry Division Brigadier Bahjat al-Muhaisen (he was married to a woman from a prominent Palestinian family) went AWOL and Brigadier Zia took command of the division at the request of King Hussain.  2nd Jordanian Infantry Division was shaky after desertion of Jordanian commander and Zia helped to keep the formation intact.  This division helped to take back control of Irbid.  Syrian armored thrust near Irbid was tackled by 40th Armored Brigade commanded by Colonel Atallah Ghasib of 3rd Jordanian Armored Division. Major damage to Syrian armor was done by Royal Jordanian Air Force.  Inside Syria, a power struggle between Saleh Jadid and Defence Minister and Air Force commander Hafiz al-Asad was at its peak and Asad decided to keep Syrian Air Force out of conflict.  In the absence of air cover, Syrian forces were mauled by Jordanian air force and within two days, battered Syrian troops retreated back.  Two months later, Asad took control of the affairs of the country sending Jadid to prison.  In 1970, Nawazish gave a bad Annual Confidential Report (ACR) to Zia although details of it are not available.  It is not clear whether report was written before or after September 1970.  Apparently, report was bad enough to possibly end Zia’s career at the rank of Brigadier.  Zia asked his former Commanding Officer (CO) of Guides Cavalry Colonel (R) Pir Abdullah Shah for help.  Abdullah asked then Chief of General Staff (CGS) Major General Gul Hassan Khan (Zia had also served under Gul Hassan) and report was quashed by army chief General Yahya Khan on Gul’s recommendation.”

Hamid Hussain


Mayhem in Mosul – Old Story, New Chapter

From Dr Hamid
Hussain, comments welcome. (I have some thoughts, but dont have time, I will try later this week to write something)
has a grammar of its own, but its logic is not peculiar to itself.”  

advance of Sunni extremist group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) also
known as Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) in northern and western Iraq
took many by surprise.  In few days, ISIS
fighters took control of major cities of Tikrit and Mosul while country’s
security forces simply folded without a fight. 
Iraq disappeared from international headlines after the departure of
American troops from the country in 2011. Local conflicts with regional
destabilizing impact seen in Mali and Ukraine replaced Iraq and
Afghanistan.  Internal conflict in Iraq
remained a local affair for the last few years. 
Conflict in Syria sucked many of country’s neighbors and Iraq was no
exception.  Limited numbers of Iraqis are
fighting on both sides of the conflict. 
Iraqi Shia affiliated with some local militias are fighting alongside
Syrian security forces while Iraqi Sunnis are providing fighters and logistical
support to Sunni rebel groups in Syria. 

advance of ISIS creates new challenges as well as opportunities for all
players.  Key elements of the conflict
include internal power dynamics of Iraq and neighboring countries while distant
interested parties have a smaller but significant role to play.  Internal squabbles among newly empowered Shia
political elites in Baghdad and general Sunni alienation from new Shia power
brokers set the stage for psychological separation in the background of a
recent very brutal sectarian bloodbath all over the country.  Sunnis were divided along several lines and
tribal leaders with influence made separate deals with Iraqi government and
Americans to safeguard their tribal and personal interests.  Association of Muslim Clerics (AMC) took the
mantle of representing urban Sunnis, however in the process it either kept
quite or provided excuses for extremist violence against Shia civilians.  It also came under the influence of Saudi
Arabia and in the process all Sunnis were labeled as extremists as the
ideological fountain of ‘takfir’ (apostasy)
flows from the religious establishment of Saudi Arabia.  The fractious Shia coalition in Baghdad felt
in no mood to bring Sunnis inside the tent. 
There was a time when they could have made a deal with AMC and tribal
elite to marginalize extremist segment of population but the opportunity was
lost.  Strengthening of Sunni extremist
groups operating in Syria had direct impact on dynamics of Sunni power play
inside Iraq.


fires of sectarian hatred are raging all over the region and Iraq is in the
middle of this cauldron.  ISIS was able
to gain foothold in alienated Sunni communities of Iraq and some former
soldiers and tribesmen joined the new rising Sunni star on the stage.  In the backdrop of schism among Iraqis along
sectarian lines, local members of security forces simply melted away.  Most of them had joined the security forces
for a steady source of income and not for any national pride or patriotic


biggest losers at this stage are Iraqi Sunnis and Iraqi state.  The choice for Sunnis is now limited to live
under the extremist version of Sharia
of ISIS in areas under its control or to leave. 
If they stay put, they will suffer both from the excesses of extremists
controlling their lives and then the destruction inflicted by government forces
when they decide to take back the territory. 
The future of Iraqi Sunnis is quite bleak and most of them will be
caught in the crossfire.  Migration both internal
and external will also be very difficult as they will not be welcome in Baghdad
or Iraqi Kurdish areas due to widening gulf. 
Civil war in neighboring Syria assures closure of that avenue and
fragile Jordan can only accommodate a limited number.  Saudi Arabia and Turkey while eager to meddle
in Iraqi affairs on behalf of Sunnis are in no mood to allow large scale Sunni

rapid advance of ISIS has shocked many but it has probably achieved its maximum
security and more importantly psychological gains.  They will likely now consolidate only on
these two fronts as they are not much interested in governance.  They want to purify their subject’s faith and
eliminate infidels and apostates rather than providing clean water or good
education (there are few exceptions and in some cases militants restored public
services quickly and tried to present a gentler face of the organization).  They will instill more fear to paralyze
civilians and security personnel by disseminating images of public executions
which in my estimate will be likely in dozens. 
They will also take control of other small Sunni dominated cities as
main highways connecting north and south are cut off and there is no likelihood
of any meaningful support to beleaguered cities.  Their control of Nineveh, Salahuddin and
Diyala governorates has effectively cut off northern Kurdish areas from Shia
dominated south.  However, they have reached
their military limits and have significant handicaps.  First, it will be hard for them to defend
large swaths of territory including major cities.  If they decide to defend their territory
against a conventional assault by Iraqi security forces, it will dissipate
their strength.  Once they come close to
Shia dominated areas, they will face the real challenge.  Security forces and Shia militias will be
fighting for their own version of faith. 
ISIS may try to augment its weakness by launching large scale suicide



of last few weeks showed extreme fragility of Iraqi state.  General public has lost the faith in security
forces to protect them and it will be very difficult if not impossible to
repair this psychological damage.  Prime
Minister Nuri al Maliki’s statement telling citizens to arm themselves was an
act of extreme irresponsibility and more damage to public morale was done by
such government actions than the actual advance of ISIS.  The space left by the retreat of state will
be filled by non-state actors even in Shia majority areas and we are already
seeing the signs.  Shia militias and
their leadership that has been gradually absorbed into state structures and to
some extent pushed from the center stage will get a second chance to stage a
comeback.  Central government will lose
more control of poor Shia neighborhoods of Baghdad and southern port city of
Basra.  There is risk of re-emergence of
Mafioso style militias that will extract resources from local citizens in
return for promise of security from rabid extremist Sunnis of ISIS.  Clerical establishment of shrine cities of
Najaf and Karbala will be sucked into this conflict as they see threat from
Sunni extremists as an existential threat to Shia Islam.  They have to provide religious sanction for
defense of the faith and Ayatollahs will issue religious decrees to their respective
flocks regarding fight in defense of their faith.  All these measures will increase Shia
solidarity but at the expense of the central state as well as further widening
of the sectarian gulf.  These Shia
militias will tag along Iraqi security forces when they retake Sunni dominated
areas and exact a terrible revenge.  This
is not a hypothetical scenario but it actually happened in Iraq in recent past. 

Kurds are clear winners in both short and long term as long as they can keep
chaos away from their border.  Since
2003, Iraqi Kurdistan has been a de facto independent country.  They have established Kurdistan Regional
Government (KRG) consisting of four northern governorates (provinces) of Dohuk,
Irbil Sulemaniyah and Halabja.  Physical,
psychological and economic separation of Iraqi Kurds is almost complete.  The painful history of Iraqi Kurds in the
state named Iraq is full of pogroms and genocide and central state of Iraq is
synonymous with oppression and brutality for almost all Iraqi Kurds.  In the presence of U.S. troops, Kurds were forced
to limit themselves to only de facto independence but if Iraq disintegrates
along sectarian lines then Kurds will make a clean break.  Many will eagerly embrace them and even those
who do not favor outright independence of Iraqi Kurdistan will prefer to make
arrangements with an island of relative stability on the edges of a volatile
and violent arc. 

Kurdistan has made enormous progress in all fields and their leaders used
local, regional and international resources well despite a fair level of
corruption.  Main focus of Kurdish
leadership was economic activity and relative stability along borders with
Turkey and Iran.  They were able to
maintain a reasonable amount of stability along border despite very difficult
history and presence of significant numbers of Kurds in Iran and Turkey and
sectarian bloodbath inside Iraq.  When
ISIS moved into Mosul, Kurdish security forces quickly moved and took control
of the disputed city of Kirkuk.  Kirkuk
is the political, economic and psychological center and future capital of
independent Kurdistan.  Kirkuk has been a
major stumbling block in Kurdish-Iraqi relations and what Iraqi Kurds could not
wrest from Iraqi state in ten years, ISIS has presented them their crown jewel
without firing a single shot.  Kurdish
move was preventative to protect Kurdish population of the city but it also
achieved one of the strategic objectives of Kurds as they can now work to
incorporate Kirkuk permanently into KRG. 
In my view, this action is now irreversible and Kurds will not give up
Kirkuk even if rest of the Iraq becomes Switzerland.  The next step could be safe guarding and
finally incorporating two Kurdish majority districts (Khanaqin and Kifri) of
Diyala province into KRG.  This will
complete geographical consolidation of KRG. 


strategic terms, there is a rare convergence of interests among a wide range of
even hostile players.  Sunni extremist
outfits have declared an open war on Shia globally which means that Iraqi Shia,
Iran and Syrian government see them as existential threat.  Iran is moving extra intelligence and
security assets into Iraq to bolster Iraqi security apparatus.  Syrian government is already fighting ISIS on
its own territory and will be coordinating with Iraqi government.  Even Turkey’s Islamist government is not
Muslim enough for ISIS.  One of the first
actions of ISIS was to take dozens of Turkish security personnel and diplomats
hostage when they took control of Mosul. 
Ankara is seriously worried about this emerging threat along its
border.  Ankara has dialed back
significantly in Syrian theatre in view of increasing strength of extremist
groups in the opposition in the last two years. 
Now, many in Turkish security and intelligence establishment are having
serious second thoughts about the wisdom of current government’s policy of
diving head first in Syrian civil war. 
Advance of ISIS may result in revision of Turkish policy towards Syria.

in Israeli strategic community are slowly realizing the tectonic shifts in surrounding
Muslim world.  The question about threat
to Israel from state and non-state actors needs to be re-visited.  Israel has successfully defended itself
against larger hostile neighboring states throughout its history.  The question is how it plans to face the
challenge from non-state actors.  Israeli
Defence Forces (IDF) is working on this new emerging threat along its borders
as extremist groups are gaining strength in Syria and Sinai.  I’m sure some in Israeli security and intelligence
community will be burning the midnight oil asking the question of what is the
risk of presence of extremist groups on Israeli border from a fragmenting Syria
or if other neighboring states like Egypt and Jordan are further weakened?  Some can argue that in short term; it is in
Israeli interest that ISIS can suck in Iranian security and intelligence assets
inside Iraq thus dissipating Iranian energies. 
However, threat from ISIS like groups is diffuse and cannot be
quantified in conventional terms.  Israel
has invested heavily in Iraqi Kurdistan in economic and security sectors which
benefited both parties.  This relationship
will be crucial in tackling ISIS especially if ISIS decides to open another
front against Kurds. 


Arabia is providing ideological and financial support to many Sunni groups
operating inside Iraq and Syria.  Riyadh
is playing with fire and in its hatred of Shia; it decided to sleep with
another dangerous enemy.  Such fires
cannot be restricted to any geographical region and blowback is a rule rather
than an exception.  Many Sunni extremist
groups show contempt for the Saudi monarchy and have successfully hit targets
inside Saudi Arabia (in some of the chatter picked up by Pakistani
intelligence, militants ridiculed religious edicts of Chief cleric of Saudi
Arabia and custodian of the holiest mosque of Kaba labeling them as  ‘courtier mullahs’.  The diaries of two Saudi militants captured by
Pakistani security forces in Mohmand tribal agency were filled with abuse
hurled at Saudi Royal family and promise of returning home to cleanse Saudi
Arabia after they are done with Afghanistan and Pakistan).   Saudis only need to look at Pakistan to see
the wages of such myopic decisions.  More
closely at home they can read their own history.  King Abdullah’s father Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud used
religious zealots Ikhwan for his own
interests to expand his fiefdom. 
However, at one stage same Ikhwan considered
even Abdul Aziz as apostate when he tried to prevent them from raiding neighboring
countries.  Abdul Aziz had to use the machine
guns of the ‘infidels’ to put the fear of God and decimated his one time ally.  The second incident is quite sanguine seizure
of the holy mosque of Kaba in Mecca by extremists in 1979.  Royal family had to publicly behead dozens in
different cities to put back the fear of God. 
It is time for Riyadh to review its Syrian policy and weigh its pros and
cons.  Events of the last few years
clearly show that the costs clearly outweigh any benefits to Saudi long term
security interests. 

threat from ISIS is unconventional and response also needs to be
un-conventional.  This phase of the war
needs to be fought in the shadows.  Loud
noise from all directions is expected and pressure on Washington will be to do
something.  Retired American generals who
lost Iraq war, former intelligence operatives who were wrong so many times and
permanent fixtures of Iraq experts at various think tanks who had become
orphans after American departure have also staged a comeback parallel to ISIS
advance.  Surely, we will hear a wide
array of options for Washington.  Washington
has a habit of throwing more money and weapons at the problem with the hope
that the problem will go away.  This has
not worked before and will also not do the trick this time. 


spent billions of dollars on Iraqi army in the last decade providing them with
tanks, Humvees and heavy weapons.  In
less than a week, this army lost almost one third of their country without
giving a fight.  To add insult to the injury,
extremists got hold of all the weapons including Humvees and tanks.  They paraded in Mosul city riding in dozens
of brand new vehicles of security forces and police.  In addition, they helped themselves with a
bonus of about $400 million from Mosul banks and some reports suggest that
militants also took a joy ride in helicopters captured at Mosul.  Limits of American power are obvious to anyone
with average intelligence.  I think
Christopher Fettweis summarized it very eloquently that “bringing peace to every corner of the globe,
even those whose stability we have wrecked through our own incompetence, is not
necessarily in the strategic interest of the United States”.   I’m not in favor of supplying more money or
weapons to Iraqi security forces.  Only
contribution that I can see is to provide intelligence cooperation and very
limited use of surveillance and armed drones targeting large gatherings of
militants and leadership that can serve as a precursor before Iraqi security
forces move in.  There is not much
appetite in United States for more involvement in peripheries and less
involvement and less visibility are in U.S. long term interests. 

long term, Iraqis have to solve their internal differences but in short term, all
interested parties need to coordinate despite significant differences.  The best option is to have a small number of
intelligence and security officials of United States, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Turkey,
Israel and Iraqi Kurds establish ground rules for tackling the threat.  All these countries already have significant
intelligence presence in Iraqi Kurdistan and they only need guidance from their
respective governments to cooperate locally. 
Intelligence gathering and small scale covert operations targeting
militant leadership can be supplemented by limited use of armed drones.  Many Sunni tribesmen have joined the ISIS
offensive.  Washington has old
intelligence assets among this group when Awakening movement of Sunni tribesmen
was organized against Al-Qaeda during U.S. occupation.  These assets can be activated and
supplemented by other assets to identify and liquidate extremist


intelligence and covert operations should be launched from northern Kurdish
areas.  Israel can be a significant
contributor on this front.  If Washington
and Tehran comes to an agreement, then Iran can launch a similar effort from
eastern front bordering Diyala governorate and from government controlled areas.  If initial intelligence and covert operations
are successful in downgrading ISIS command and control then Iraqi security
forces have to do the heavy lifting of taking back control of major


have tightened control of their border with Iraq over the last decade to
prevent graduates of Iraqi insurgency to practice their skills inside the
kingdom.  It is not likely that large
number of extremists will head for Saudi border.  Some may head towards Jordan after shedding
their weapons and uniforms.  Jordan has
its own fairly decent intelligence network targeted against extremist outfits
as well as fairly robust intelligence cooperation with Americans and
Israelis.  These assets can be used to
identify and liquidate extremist leadership. 
The only door left open for ISIS will be the western border with Syria
and here the most effective weapon could be drones.  In addition, small scale operations launched
by Syrian Kurds in control of northern Syria can hit retreating ISIS from the
flank.  An independent supporting role of
Russia to Syrian government by providing weapons especially aerial assets can
help in downgrading ISIS inside Syria.  All
these measures even if successful are short term and long term solution depends
on a grand bargain among Iraqis and conclusion of civil war in Syria.  The chances of long term settlement are
however bleak in view of widening sectarian gulf. 

Iraq has embarked on another cycle of violence and
we don’t how it will end but we are sure that it will be painful for every
Iraqi. An Iraqi student of a religious seminary Nizar Yusuf probably with more
wisdom than American generals and experts said in August 2003, “It’s already
started.  We know from reading history
that when it becomes bad, it only gets worse”. 
The lesson for everyone from another blood soaked page of Iraqi history
is that every effort should be geared towards preserving existing states no
matter how imperfect.  When these states
fragment from internal or external pressures, they leave only death, devastation
and tears in its path.  On the other hand,
once citizens of a country come to a conclusion that they cannot live together
as they have nothing in common then they have to make the painful decision of
separation to end the war in a generation rather than bestowing these wars to
their children and grandchildren. 

It’s a long

And in it, I’m a

And the night
draws near,

And the day has
ventured home

    An Arabic song
(late Anthony Shadid very aptly titled his book on Iraq Night Draws Near)


Hamid Hussain

June 14, 2014


Super excellent news (if true)

Good for the Afghan police – that is if they really found the culprits and not just some random scapegoats (in South Asia you are always worried about this happening).

With madness all around we can expect only small mercies and tiny blessings. Herat has been the scene of Indian embassy attack recently. It was considered an unlikely place due to the proximity with Iran. But then mad people follow no logic.


Afghan police hunted down and killed two Taliban insurgents who cut off
the fingers of 11 elderly men who voted in the presidential election
run-off, officials said today.

All voters in Afghanistan had their fingers marked with ink after voting
to prevent them from casting more than one ballot, but the ink also
identified those who participated in the election in defiance of Taliban

“Insurgent commander Mullah Shir Agha and one of his officers were
killed in a police operation yesterday in Herat,” a statement from the
interior ministry said.

“The pair were accused of having cut off the ink-dyed finger of 11 voters.”

The ministry said another insurgent involved in the attacks was injured in the operation and held by police.


Local police confirmed the operation, but said two Taliban fighters had escaped.

“The security forces are on them. They are members of Taliban and will
pay the price for their crimes,” Herat police spokesman Abdul Rauf
Ahmadi said.

Jan Kubis, head of the UN mission in Afghanistan, described the mutilations as an “abhorrent” act.

“These ordinary Afghans were exercising their fundamental right to
determine the future path of their country through voting and not
through violence and intimidation,” he said.

One spokesman for the Taliban denied involvement in the attack.

The Taliban had vowed to target voters on Saturday, when two candidates
stood in the second-round vote to succeed President Hamid Karzai.


Link: http://www.outlookindia.com/news/printitem.aspx?845010




SOS!!! (send the boys in, bring our girls home)

Indian foreign ministry said the situation in Iraq was receiving “high
priority” but ruled out any immediate emergency evacuation of its

Why is that? With 18,000 Indians in Iraq and countless lives in danger, why is emergency evacuation not a consideration? Also, considering that the Kerala nurses are mostly Syrian Christians, this will attract not a molecule of mercy from the Islamists.

Also, Fuck Code Pink. Yes we really mean that (Omar help!!!)

India is served by one of the most powerful voluntary military forces in the world (yes we know that there are women troopers as well but probably not authorized for combat). She has the latest fighter planes, a million strong army (1.129 mil active troops, 0.96 mil reserve troops- ref. Wiki) and an aircraft carrier.

The last time the Indian Army launched a (defensive) war was 15 years ago in June-July 1999 in Kargil. A brief description follows (ref. Wiki):
Once the scale of the Pakistani incursion was realised, the Indian Army quickly mobilised about 200,000 troops and Operation Vijay was launched. However, since the heights were under Pakistani control, India was in a clear strategic disadvantage. 

From their observation posts, the Pakistani forces had a clear line-of-sight to lay down indirect artillery fire on NH 1A, inflicting heavy casualties on the Indians. This was a serious problem for the Indian Army as the highway was its main logistical and supply route. 

Thus, the Indian Army’s first priority was to recapture peaks that were
in the immediate vicinity of NH1a. This resulted in Indian troops first
targeting the Tiger Hill and Tololing complex in Dras.
This was soon followed by more attacks on the Batalik-Turtok sub-sector
which provided access to Siachen Glacier. Point 4590, which had the
nearest view of the NH1a, was successfully recaptured by Indian forces
on 14 June.

Though most of the posts in the vicinity of the highway were cleared
by mid-June, some parts of the highway near Drass witnessed sporadic
shelling until the end of the war. Once NH1a area was cleared, the
Indian Army turned to driving the invading force back across the Line of
Control. The Battle of Tololing,
among other assaults, slowly tilted the combat in India’s favour.
Nevertheless, some of the posts put up a stiff resistance, including
Tiger Hill (Point 5140) that fell only later in the war. 

As the
operation was fully underway, about 250 artillery guns were brought in
to clear the infiltrators in the posts that were in the line-of-sight.
In many vital points, neither artillery nor air power could dislodge
the outposts manned by the Pakistan soldiers, who were out of visible
range. The Indian Army mounted some direct frontal ground assaults which
were slow and took a heavy toll given the steep ascent that had to be
made on peaks as high as 18,000 feet (5,500 m).
Two months into the
conflict, Indian troops had slowly retaken most of the ridges they had
according to official count, an estimated 75%–80% of the intruded area
and nearly all high ground was back under Indian control.

Following the Washington accord on 4 July, where Sharif agreed to
withdraw Pakistani troops, most of the fighting came to a gradual halt,
but some Pakistani forces remained in positions on the Indian side of
the LOC.
In addition, the United Jihad Council (an umbrella for all extremist groups) rejected Pakistan’s plan for a climb-down, instead deciding to fight on.
The Indian Army launched its final attacks in the last week of July; as
soon as the Drass subsector had been cleared of Pakistani forces, the
fighting ceased on 26 July. The day has since been marked as Kargil Vijay Diwas
(Kargil Victory Day) in India. 

By the end of the war, India had resumed
control of all territory south and east of the Line of Control, as was
established in July 1972 per the Shimla Accord. By the time all
hostilities had ended, the number of Indian soldiers killed during the
conflict stood at 527, while more than 700 regular members of the Pakistani Army were killed. The number of Islamist fighters, also known as Mujahideen, killed by Indian Armed Forces during the conflict stood at about 3,000.


A credible job by all means, mobilizing 20% of all your forces, and fighting up-hill at elevations of 18000 ft. against one of the most professional armies in the world.

Right now, we have 46 nurses from Kerala who are stranded in Tikrit, Iraq (40 other Indians have been reportedly kidnapped by the mad islamists). The re-imbursement from foreign shores keeps the Indian economy moving. Now is the time to show our gratitude and send in the troops and escort the terrified girls home (before they get kidnapped and sold off as slaves). A nation will be grateful (and cynically speaking, an un-Indian territory may well be converted to the Indian cause).

The 46
Indian nurses in a hospital in the strife-torn Iraqi town of Tikrit
have sent an SOS to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ensure their safe
return to India. One of the nurses told TOI over telephone that they
were living in perpetual fear as ISIS rebels have been roaming the
streets outside.

“This is a horrible,” said Jency James who
hails from Idukki district of Kerala. “We have been stuck for days
inside the hospital. The internet connection has snapped due to heavy
shelling. We don’t know when the telephone and mobile connections will
go off.” The nurses appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ensure
that they safely return home.

Diplomats, meanwhile, said the
nurses are safe, though they may be stranded. The panic stricken nurses
are reaching out to friends and families seeking help, but they cannot
be moved out of the hospital as armed militia men were occupying the
roads leading to the airport, said diplomats.  According to the embassy,
more than 18,000 Indians work in Iraq oil rigs and hospitals as doctors and nurses

Former Indian ambassador to Iraq and India’s first ambassador to ASEAN
Suresh Reddy reached the Iraqi capital of Baghdad on Wednesday to
initiate talks with the Iraqi leadership and the rebels who have held 40
Indians captive. The Indian mission is also trying to bring home more
Indians who are stranded in the strife-torn country.

efforts are on also to evacuate 12 Indian workers employed by a UAE
company in Iraq. Indian ambassador to the UAE TP Seetharam told TOI over
telephone from Abu Dhabi on Wednesday that the workers were deployed in
Iraq at constructions sites. Meanwhile, the 46 Indian nurses stranded
in a Tikrit teaching hospital were safe, Indian officials said.

“We are coordinating with the ministry of external affairs in New Delhi
and our embassy in Baghdad to ensure the safety of Indians living in
Iraq. We were approached by a leading company in the UAE who are working
on some projects seeking diplomatic help to repatriate 12 Indian
workers stranded in the strife-torn area,” Seetharam said. The contact
details of the 12 stranded workers have been handed over to the Indian
embassy in Baghdad.



Link: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Our-lives-in-danger-Indian-nurses-in-Iraq-hospital-send-SOS-to-PM/articleshow/36762136.cms




“Iraq is Arabic for Vietnam”

“Lady Ace 09” from HMM-165
and piloted by Berry, took off around 05:00 – had Martin refused to
leave, the Marines had a reserve order to arrest him and carry him away
to ensure his safety. 

The original battle-cry of this war is not in our name crowd from 10 years ago. Ira Chernus explores the similarities between Iraq and Vietnam. Shall we see a repeat of helicopter convoys leaving the US Embassy while abandoning thousands of south viet collaborators to torture and death?

At 10:48 a.m., Martin relayed to Kissinger his desire to activate “the
FREQUENT WIND” evacuation plan; Kissinger gave the order three minutes
later. The American radio station began regular play of Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas,” the signal for American personnel to move immediately to the evacuation points.

Under this plan, CH-53 and CH-46 helicopters were used to evacuate Americans and friendly Vietnamese to ships, including the Seventh Fleet, in the South China Sea. The main evacuation point was the DAO Compound
at Tan Son Nhat; buses moved through the city picking up passengers and
driving them out to the airport, with the first buses arriving at Tan
Son Nhat shortly after noon. 

The first CH-53 landed at the DAO compound
in the afternoon, and by the evening, 395 Americans and more than 4,000
Vietnamese had been evacuated. By 23:00 the U.S. Marines who were
providing security were withdrawing and arranging the demolition of the
DAO office, American equipment, files, and cash. Air America UH-1s also participated in the evacuation.

At 03:45 on the morning of April 30, the refugee evacuation was
halted. Ambassador Martin had been ordering that South Vietnamese be
flown out with Americans up to that point. Kissinger and Ford quickly
ordered Martin to evacuate only Americans from that point forward.

Reluctantly, Martin announced that only Americans were to be flown
out, due to worries that the North Vietnamese would soon take the city
and the Ford administration’s desire to announce the completion of the
American evacuation. Ambassador Martin was ordered by President Ford to board the evacuation helicopter.

The call sign of that helicopter was “Lady Ace 09”, and the pilot
carried direct orders from President Ford for Ambassador Martin to be on
board. The pilot, Gerry Berry, had the orders written in grease-pencil
on his kneepads. Ambassador Martin’s wife, Dorothy, had already been
evacuated by previous flights, and left behind her personal suitcase so a
South Vietnamese woman might be able to squeeze on board with her.

“Lady Ace 09” from HMM-165
and piloted by Berry, took off around 05:00 – had Martin refused to
leave, the Marines had a reserve order to arrest him and carry him away
to ensure his safety. 

Decades later, when the U.S. government reestablished diplomatic relations with Vietnam, the former embassy
was returned to the United States. The historic staircase that led to
the rooftop helicopter pad was salvaged and is on permanent display at
the Gerald R. Ford Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

When George W. Bush and the neocons launched their war in Iraq,
critics coined the slogan, “‘Iraq’ is Arabic for ‘Vietnam.'” The point
was obvious: Another long quagmire of a war in an inhospitable foreign
land would lead once again to nothing but death, suffering, and defeat
for America.

That was back in 2003 and 2004, when the parallel was to the Vietnam war of 1965 – 1973.

Here’s what JFK told interviewers in September, 1963, about South
Vietnam under President Ngo Dinh Diem: “I don’t think … unless a
greater effort is made by the  Government to win popular support that
the war can be won out there.”

Here’s what Barack Obama told reporters
on June 13, 2014: “Iraq’s leaders have to demonstrate a willingness to
make hard decisions and compromises on behalf of the Iraqi people in
order to bring the country together. … and account for the legitimate
interests of all of Iraq’s communities, and to continue to build the
capacity of an effective security force.”

JFK: “In the final analysis it is their war. They are the ones who
have to win it or lose it. We can help them, we can give them equipment,
we can send our men out there as advisers, but they have to win it.”

Obama: “We can’t do it for them. …  The United States is not
simply going to involve itself in a military action in the absence of a
political plan by the Iraqis that gives us some assurance that they’re
prepared to work together.” 

JFK balanced his calls for Diem to reform with what sounded like a
promise that the South Vietnamese government would get U.S. aid no
matter what it did or failed to do: “I don’t agree with those who say
we should withdraw…. This is a very important struggle even though it
is far away. … We also have to participate—we may not like it—in the
defense of Asia.”

Obama sounded a similar note: “Given the nature of these terrorists,
it could pose a threat eventually to American interests as well. Iraq
needs additional support to break the momentum of extremist groups and
bolster the capabilities of Iraqi security forces. …  They will have
the support of the United States. …  We have enormous interests

Just as Kennedy publicly denied that he contemplated any significant
troop buildup, Obama insisted, “We will not be sending U.S. troops back
into combat in Iraq.” Yet JFK continued pouring “advisors” into
Vietnam throughout his presidency, just as Obama promised that there
would be “selective actions by our military …  We have redoubled our
efforts to help build more capable counter-terrorism forces so that
groups like ISIL can’t establish a safe haven. And we’ll continue that
effort. “

In his 1963 interviews JFK explained
that Vietnam itself was not the crucial issue. It was more about the
world’s perception of America’s power. Losing Vietnam would give “the
impression that the wave of the future in southeast Asia was China and
the Communists.”

Obama has not come out and said anything quite like this. Yet he must
be keenly aware that his critics at home—and even some of his usual
supporters—are urging him to make sure the world knows that the U.S.
still runs the show.

Just a week before Mosul fell to the ISIS/ISIL forces, liberal commentator Fareed Zakaria wrote that “the
world today… rests on an order built by the United States that,
since 1989, has not been challenged by any other major player.” The big
question, he said, is: “How to ensure that these conditions continue,
even as new powers—such as China—rise and old ones—such as Russia—flex
their muscles?”
Now a new power is rising in the Middle East, and the
question of preserving the world order is likely central to the
conversation in the Oval Office.

Indeed another usual supporter of Obama’s foreign policy, the New York Times, says that neocon Robert Kagan’s recent article “Superpowers Don’t Get to Retire”
“struck a nerve in the White House”—so much so that “the president
even invited Mr. Kagan to lunch
to compare world views.” “Events in
Iraq Open Door for Interventionist Revival,” the Times’ headline declared.  

So Obama is stuck in much the same dilemma that faced Kennedy:
feeling compelled, both by global geopolitical and domestic political
concerns, to bolster an ally, but knowing that all the military aid in
the world won’t help such a fatally flawed ally win the military
victory that the U.S. government wants.

How to resolve the dilemma? JFK insisted on keeping all his options
open. Obama said: “I have asked my national security team to prepare a
range of other options
that could help support Iraqi security forces,
and I’ll be reviewing those options in the days ahead.”

JFK sent a seemingly endless round of envoys to Vietnam to study the
situation and report back to him. Obama may well end up doing the same.

“We want to make sure that we have good eyes on the situation
there,” the current president said. “We want to make sure that we’ve
gathered all the intelligence that’s necessary
so that if, in fact, I
do direct and order any actions there, that they’re targeted, they’re
precise and they’re going to have an effect.” 

Have an effect? Looking back at the outcome in Vietnam, all one can say to Mr. Obama is, “Lotsa  luck, buddy.”

Link: http://www.outlookindia.com/printarticle.aspx?291087



From Buddha’s 3 Gems to Allah’s Universal Sovereignty: South Asian Preambles

Most Countries around the world have a single consolidated written
document as their Constitution (UK, New Zealand, Israel and Canada being
notable exceptions here) and among these, a great many also have a
preamble- a brief introductory text, preceding the main body of the
written constitution. Preamble is essentially a polemic/set of guiding
principles/visionary statement on the part of Constitution makers,
before laying the foundation of a State in the main body. While it is of
little consequence in day to day workings of a State, a Preamble does
give us a fascinating insight into the ideals and cultural-historical
myths propagated by a State- the context, the bigger picture, THE
purpose behind that particular State’s existence.
Japan’s post-war preamble, for instance, vouches for International Peace and affirms that people of Japan shall never again be visited by horrors of war due to Government actions. French Preamble recalls Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen from 1789 and establishes France as a secular and democratic country. Likewise, North Korean Preamble promises a self-reliant socialist state that has realised the ideas and leadership of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il.
And what do South Asian Preambles say? All 7 South Asian Countries
have a written constitution and all, but Maldives, have a preamble. Here’s the list :
Preamble of Afghanistan Constitution
In the name of Allah, the Most Beneficient, the Most Merciful
Praise be to Allah, the Cherisher and Sustainer of Worlds; and Praise and Peace be upon Mohammad,
His Last Messenger and his disciples and followers
We the people of Afghanistan:
• Believing firmly in Almighty God, relying on His divine will and adhering to the Holy religion of Islam;
• Realizing the previous injustices, miseries and innumerable disasters which have befallen our country;
• Appreciating the sacrifices, historical struggles, jihad and just
resistance of all the peoples of Afghanistan, admiring the supreme
position of the martyr’s of the country’s freedom;
• Comprehending that a united, indivisible Afghanistan belongs to all its tribes and peoples;
• Observing the United Nations Charter as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
And in order to:
• Strengthen national unity, safeguard independence, national sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country;
• Establish an order based on the peoples’ will and democracy;
• Form a civil society void of oppression, atrocity, discrimination as
well as violence, based on rule of law, social justice, protecting
integrity and human rights, and attaining peoples’ freedoms and
fundamental rights;
• Strengthen political, social, economic as well as defense institutions;
• Attain a prosperous life and sound living environment for all inhabitants of this land;
• And, eventually, regain Afghanistan’s appropriate place in the international family;
Have, herein, approved this constitution in accordance with the
historical, cultural and social realities as well as requirements of
time through our elected representatives in the Loya Jirga, dated
January 3, 2004, held in the city of Kabul.
Preamble of Bangladesh Constitution
We, the people of Bangladesh, having proclaimed our Independence on the
26th day of March, 1971 and through [a historic war for national
independence], established the independent, sovereign People’s Republic
of Bangladesh;
[Pledging that the high ideals of absolute trust and faith in the
Almighty Allah, nationalism, democracy and socialism meaning economic
and social justice, which inspired our heroic people to dedicate
themselves to, and our brave martyrs to sacrifice their lives in the war
for national independence, shall be fundamental principles of the
Further pledging that it shall be a fundamental aim of the State to
realise through the democratic process to socialist society, free from
exploitation-a society in which the rule of law, fundamental human
rights and freedom, equality and justice, political, economic and
social, will be secured for all citizens;
Affirming that it is our sacred duty to safeguard, protect and defend
this Constitution and to maintain its supremacy as the embodiment of the
will of the people of Bangladesh so that we may prosper in freedom and
may make our full contribution towards international peace and
co-operation in keeping with the progressive aspirations of mankind;
In our Constituent Assembly, this eighteenth day of Kartick, 1379 B.S
corresponding to the fourth day of November, 1972 A.D., do hereby adopt,
enact and give to ourselves this Constitution.
Preamble of Bhutan Constitution
• We, the People of the Kingdom of Bhutan,
• Blessed by the Triple Gem, the protection of our guardian deities, the
wisdom of our leaders, the everlasting fortunes of the Pelden Drukpa
and the guidance of His Majesty the Druk Gyalpo, Jigme Khesar Namgyel
• Solemnly pledging ourselves to strengthen the sovereignty of Bhutan,
to secure the blessings of liberty, to ensure justice and tranquillity
and to enhance the unity, happiness and well being of the people for all
• Do hereby ordain and adopt this Constitution for the Kingdom of Bhutan
on the Fifteenth Day of the Fifth Month of the Male Earth Rat Year
corresponding to the Eighteenth Day of July, Two Thousand and Eight.
Preamble of Indian Constitution
WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA,having solemnly resolved to constitute India
to all its citizens:
JUSTICE, social, economic and political;
LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;
EQUALITY of status and of opportunity;
and to promote among them all
FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the [unity and integrity of the Nation];
IN OUR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY this twenty-sixth day of November, 1949, do
Preamble of Nepal’s Interim Constitution (2007)
Recognizing the mandate of the Nepali people expressed, from time to
time, since before 1951 until now, through historical struggles and
people’s movements for democracy, peace and progress; Having determined
upon the progressive restructuring of the state in order to resolve the
existing problems of the country relating to class, caste, region and
gender; Expressing our full commitment to democratic norms and values
including a system of competitive multiparty democratic rule, civil
liberties, fundamental rights, human rights, adult franchise, periodic
elections, full freedom of the press, independence of the judiciary and
concepts of the rule of law; Guaranteeing the basic rights of the Nepali
people to frame a Constitution for themselves and to participate in the
free and impartial election of the Constituent Assembly in a fear-free
environment; And keeping democracy, peace, prosperity, progressive
economic-social changes and sovereignty, integrity, independence and
dignity of the country as a central concern; NOW THEREFORE, in order to
institutionalize the achievements of the revolution and movements till
this date, hereby promulgate this INTERIM CONSTITUTION OF NEPAL, 2063
(2007), prepared through a political consensus and to be in force until a
new Constitution is framed by the Constituent Assembly.
Preamble Of Pakistan Constitution
Whereas sovereignty over the entire Universe belongs to Almighty Allah
alone, and the authority to be exercised by the people of Pakistan
within the limits prescribed by Him is a sacred trust;
And whereas it is the will of the people of Pakistan to establish an order—
Wherein the State shall exercise its powers and authority through the chosen representatives of the people;
Wherein the principles of democracy, freedom, equality, tolerance and
social justice, as enunciated by Islam, shall be fully observed;
Wherein the Muslims shall be enabled to order their lives in the
individual and collective spheres in accordance with the teachings and
requirements of Islam as set out in the Holy Quran and Sunnah;
Wherein adequate provision shall be made for the minorities freely to
profess and practise their religions and develop their cultures;
Wherein the territories now included in or in accession with Pakistan
and such other territories as may hereafter be included in or accede to
Pakistan shall form a Federation wherein the units will be autonomous
with such boundaries and limitations on their powers and authority as
may be prescribed;
Wherein shall be guaranteed fundamental rights, including equality of
status, of opportunity and before law, social, economic and political
justice, and freedom of thought, expression, belief, faith, worship and
association, subject to law and public morality;
Wherein adequate provision shall be made to safeguard the legitimate interests of minorities and backward and depressed classes;
Wherein the independence of the judiciary shall be fully secured;
Wherein the integrity of the territories of the Federation, its
independence and all its rights, including its sovereign rights on land,
sea and air, shall be safeguarded;
So that the people of Pakistan may prosper and attain their rightful and
honoured place amongst the nations of the World and make their full
contribution towards international peace and progress and happiness of
Now, therefore, we, the people of Pakistan,
Conscious of our responsibility before Almighty Allah and men;
Cognisant of the sacrifices made by the people in the cause of Pakistan;
Faithful to the declaration made by the Founder of Pakistan,
Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, that Pakistan would be a democratic
State based on Islamic Principles of social justice;
Dedicated to the preservation of democracy achieved by the unremitting struggle of the people against oppression and tyranny;
Inspired by the resolve to protect our national and political unity and
solidarity by creating an egalitarian society through a new order;
Do hereby, through our representatives in the National Assembly, adopt, enact and give to ourselves, this Constitution.
Preamble Of Sri Lankan Constitution
The PEOPLE OF SRI LANKA having, by their Mandate freely expressed and
granted on the sixth day of the waxing moon in the month of Adhi Nikini
in the year two thousand five hundred and twenty-one of the Buddhist Era
(being Thursday the twenty-first day of the month of July in the year
one thousand nine hundred and seventy-seven), entrusted to and empowered
their Representatives elected on that day to draft, adopt and operate a
new Republican Constitution in order to achieve the goals of a
DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST REPUBLIC, and having solemnly resolved by the grant
of such Mandate and the confidence reposed in their said
Representatives who were elected by an overwhelming majority, to
ratifying the immutable republican principles of REPRESENTATIVE
DEMOCRACY, and assuring to all peoples FREEDOM, EQUALITY, JUSTICE,
intangible heritage that guarantees the dignity and well-being of
succeeding generations of the People of SRI LANKA and of all the people
of the World, who come to share with those generations the effort of
working for the creation and preservation of a JUST AND FREE SOCIETY:
pursuance of such Mandate, humbly acknowledging our obligations to our
People and gratefully remembering their heroic and unremitting struggle
to regain and preserve their rights and privileges so that the Dignity
and Freedom of the Individual may be assured, Just, Social, Economic and
Cultural Order attained, the Unity of the Country restored, and Concord
established with other Nations,do hereby adopt and enact this
Maldivian Constitution does not have a Preamble.
Few (superficial?) Observations:
  1. Indian, Nepali and Sri Lankan Preambles are the only ones that do not invoke any God/deity.
  2. “Secular” is explicitly mentioned only in Indian Preamble. However Nepali
    Interim Constitution also sets up a Secular State in main body of the text.
  3. Preamble
    of  Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bhutan give
    explicit precedence to religion of majority populace. In case of Sri
    Lanka and Bangladesh- the Preamble is silent on Secularism, but the main body of the
    Constitution makes it clear that they are not Secular
    States- Islam is the state religion in Bangladesh and Buddhism given
    “foremost place” in Sri Lankan Constitution. Interesting to note that
    Secularism was one of the four
    founding principles in the original Bangladeshi constitution but was
    struck down by
    General Ziaur Rehman in 1977 and Islam made the State religion. In 2010,
    Bangladeshi SC restored Secularism as one of the founding principle but
    Islam remains the State religion, so her claim to a Secular State
    remain dubious.
  4. Pakistan & Afghanistan have the longest while Bhutan &
    India have the shortest Preambles of the 6 South Asian Countries whose
    constitution begins with a Preamble.
  5. Afghanistan’s Preamble is the only one that claims to abide by UN Charter and Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
  6. The word “Socialism/Socialist” is part of only Bangladeshi, Indian and Sri Lankan Preambles (inserted in 1970s for all three).
  7. Bhutanese Preamble is the only one that seeks guidance from a Royal
    family. Pakistani Preamble is the only other that explicitly cites an
    Individual’s name (Mr. Jinnah’s)
  8. Some other interesting titbits: naming of the
    drafting year (Male Earth Rat Year in Bhutan, Kartick in Bangladesh);
    mention of Jihad in Afghanistan; sovereignty of entire Universe (not
    just Pakistan) left with Allah alone in Pakistani Preamble; explicit mention of  independence of judiciary in Sri Lankan & Pakistani Preambles and so on, so forth.

If Amartya Sen was a Pandit, how would he vote?

“by winning 32.4 percent of the votes cast, the BJP has
effectively become the single largest political party in J&K in terms of
popular votes” 

Response: Naveen makes the excellent point that the BJP performance (and perception of performance) is exaggerated by the fact that the Valley Muslims do not vote either out of fear (of terrorists) or out of dislike (of India/Indians). At the end of the day it is the seat count (more so than the votes). The distribution is: 46 (Kashmir) and 41 (Jammu + Ladakh). BJP has announced a Mission 44 plan (with Article 370 as the winning formula). If the saffrons can capture even 40 seats it will re-create the politics of J&K

In the long run a partition (similar to Telengana/Andhra) may be the preferred path to unfreeze the frozen conflict, which may be healthy for everyone concerned.

Nilanjana Roy is mostly correct about her perceptions of our present day (Hindutva) over-lords. But then, if we discount the child-hood stories (which caused deep scars apparently) for the moment, she is also misremembering a golden age when the left was in charge of India (includes the Congress, Communists, and Left-Socialists) and the nature of freedoms enjoyed by the mango man. 

Rhetoric-wise Indira Gandhi was very much on the left (nationalization, garibi hatao etc.) but action-wise she was very much the dictator-in-chief. Not only did she ban foreign NGOs, she shut down the entire press and put the whole opposition behind bars. Her logic was that she was protecting the nation by defeating the RSS backed trouble-makers. If cartoon kids have managed to haunt Roy (her words) how come such an earth-shaking event had no impact on her? Is this because she agrees with one form of repression and not others?

The main problem with the left (as it is with the right) is that ideologues really cant respect democracy. Since the elections, leftists have gone hoarse in pointing out that BJP won 52% of the seats with 31% of the vote. The problem with this vote-share fetish is that suddenly all elections everywhere (except those in Syria, Egypt, Algeria, and North Korea) are illegitimate, because the majority did not vote for the ruling party (coalition). 

Instead of whining from the sidelines, the left should carefully (and urgently) examine the reason why BJP is suddenly the single largest vote winner in Jammu and Kashmir and may even be in a position to wield power. The left has traditionally benefited from minority polarization and mobilization. In Jammu it is now the Hindu minority community which is mobilized against the Muslim majority. Thus you have a strange situation whereby the BJP may come to power in Jammu and Kashmir by copying from the left rule-book. 

Can we please have some soul searching about what has gone wrong while the Left was in charge these many decades and how we can fix this? How did the Pandit-cleansing problem, which is basically a humanitarian one, end up as a stick on the Right with which to beat up the Left? Of the kilo-liters of ink spent on the Kashmir problem, did the New York Times spend even a few drops on the Pandit problem? If not, why not?

As the Guardian editorial points out, the British have finally left India (and presumably, the Mughals as well). The Indian people (read Hindus) are speaking in a new voice that will not defer to people who are better placed in life. The dictatorship of the left is over (even as the dictatorship of the right is rising). To win votes it will not be enough to invoke the magical Amartya Sen, one has to undertake the painful task of coalition building. How do you prevent Naveen Patnaik and Jayalalitha from joining hands with the BJP? If there is no strategy, no game-plan, then be prepared for a long night of right-wing rule.

Finally (Nilanjana) Roy makes a big point about how the wrong-headed, ancient-minded Indians (all RSS volunteers apparently) are unjustifiably suspicious about the well-intentioned West. Has she bothered speaking to (Arundhati) Roy? Even a small sampling from Roy’s pen will make people completely paranoid about the devil that is the West. Bottom-line: is the West trying to control us or not?? Speak with one voice please.

all the pictorial charts used in Indian schools as teaching aids, it
was the Ideal Boy that haunted my generation.
The Ideal Boy woke up and
brushed his teeth with care, saluted his parents, prayed, had his meals
on time, helped others, performed sundry duties and, more puzzling, took
“lost children to police post.”

Ideal Boy embodied certain Indian values, and though these seemed
innocuous enough, there was something about his smudgy features,
identifiably mainstream Hindu and North Indian, and his expression of
saintly smugness that scarred my child brain. Now that I am an adult,
and that the right-wing has come back to power in India,
I understand why I was so queasy back then. 
The feeling was a
foreboding that otherwise unobjectionable traditional Indian values —
respect for one’s family, obedience to elders, modesty for women — might
be invoked to reject or repress certain groups.
new Bharatiya Janata Party government seems determined to look to Asia
for political and cultural inspiration. Prime Minister Narendra Modi
projects an image of himself as an authority — even an authoritarian —
figure, in keeping with the regional ideal of a strong leader.
All the
while he has been careful to reach out to his counterparts. His first
scheduled trips abroad will be to Bhutan and then Japan: and the Chinese
foreign minister has just ended a visit to India.
approach isn’t just a personal predilection; it also reflects a wider
shift within India: the search, especially among right-wing politicians
and intellectuals, for a common set of Asian cultural norms that would
help them create and strengthen a new sense of Indian identity.
the 1990s, Lee Kuan Yew, the former prime minister of Singapore,
triggered a fierce debate by drawing a line between Western freedoms and
human rights, on the one hand, and on the other, an Asian vision of
living in harmony, which might place individual rights in abeyance for
the good of the community. In India, this “Asian values” debate found
its way into discussions on development, among other things, notably in
arguments trying to discredit environmentalists for being too heavily
influenced by the West.
problems with that position are the same now as they were then. As the
economist Amartya Sen put it in 1997, “What can we take to be the values
of so vast a region, with such diversity?” As a result, invoking an
Indian, or Asian, identity in such a plural country, or region, often
becomes an excuse for the majority to speak over many minorities.
why assume, Mr. Sen also argued, that “Western notions” were “somehow
alien to Asia”? Yet just a couple of weeks ago, a report by the Indian
government’s Intelligence Bureau on the influence of NGOs was leaked to
the media. One of its conclusions was that many local NGOs — some funded
by “donors based in the U.S., the U.K., Germany, the Netherlands and
Scandinavian countries” — had been “using people-centric issues” to
stall development projects. Another was that some of their work served
“as tools for the strategic foreign policy interests” of Western

stiff-collared bureaucrat-speak isn’t just a peculiarity of the
Intelligence Bureau: It reveals a suspicion of the West — and of a human
rights culture seen to have been forged in the West — that is
widespread in India, among politicians and businessmen and, indeed, many
ordinary Indians.
major case of rape recently, for example, has prompted a belligerent
reaction against the victim, often couched in terms that pit India
against the West. 
On June 7, a leading ideologue of the extreme
right-wing organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, S. Gurumurthy,
raised a minor storm of protest when he tweeted: “If Indian women
westernize rapes will rise by 50/60 times to reach the levels of West,
But there will be no media report No UN intervention.” Among his next
few tweets was this definition of Westernization: “Unbridled
individualism which destroys relations and families.”
days, the purportedly shady influence of the West is invoked not only
to explain why women are victims of sexual violence, but also why Indian
culture is in danger, artists should be censored or anyone who
questions the costs of development is “anti-national.” In other words,
the return of the Asian values debate in India has already become an
excuse to assault civil and political rights.
first time around, Mr. Sen had argued that “The so-called Asian values
that are invoked to justify authoritarianism are not especially Asian in
any significant sense.” This was a wise attempt to get beyond hopeless
dichotomies. But it appealed to rationality, and lately rationality is a
value that has seemed not Indian enough.


As noted by
Firstpost before, “by winning 32.4 percent of the votes cast, the BJP has
effectively become the single largest political party in J&K in terms of
popular votes, ahead of the Congress (22.9 percent), PDP (20.5 percent) and
National Conference (11.1 percent). In actual numbers, the BJP got 1.15 million
votes, the Congress 8.15 lakh votes, the PDP 7.3 lakh votes and the NC just
under four lakh votes.” 
This unexpected performance has enabled the party to up
the stakes in the assembly polls and even think of a majority on its own.
According to this Mint report, the party is planning Mission 44 – the halfway
mark in an 87-member assembly – and will plan alliances in some regions for the
same. The report even talks of the party announcing its own chief ministerial
The J&K assembly has 37 seats for Jammu, 46 for Kashmir Valley,
and four for Ladakh. Having won Jammu, Udhampur and Ladakh, which collectively
account for 41 assembly seats, the BJP is wondering if it can sweep the polls
in Jammu and Ladakh and come within striking distance of the halfway mark. 
Mint report says the party plans to use the Article 370 issue – which
politically divides the Muslim-dominated Kashmir Valley from the
Hindu-dominated Jammu region – to maximise its gains in the latter region. To
push its chances in Jammu, the home ministry is announcing a package of Rs 20
lakh for displaced Kashmiri Pandits to reclaim and rebuild their old homes in
the Valley. While their actual return may be delayed due to continuing fears
about safety and the still unsettled militant situation in the Valley, the BJP
is clearly is mission mode with the Pandits and other prospective voters.


Link (1): http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/16/opinion/debate-over-asian-values-returns-to-india.html

Link (2): http://www.firstpost.com/politics/will-the-next-jk-cm-be-from-bjp-the-partys-big-plan-for-kashmir-1572573.html



Pope applies universal salve to Middle East

Spengler writes
“Urs von Balthasar insisted that the Church must “contrast Christian universality of redemption to Jewish salvation-particularism”. For most of its long history, the Church taught that it was Israel and that Gentiles were saved by adoption into Israel; not until the 1980s did John Paul II declare that the living, breathing descendants of Abraham still were “Israel” in a theological sense. John Paul II’s declaration (restated by his successor, Benedict XVI, as well as Francis I) that the Old Covenant never was revoked was a revolution in the Church’s relationship with the Jews. Nonetheless, the new universalism

also raises the prospect a new form of anti-Judaism. It abhors the notion that God has a particular love for any section of mankind. 

Pope Francis’ impatience with Jewish particularism roils below an amicable surface. When Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu mentioned during his public meeting with Francis that Jesus spoke Hebrew, the pope corrected, “Aramaic!” Netanyahu patiently observed that Jesus spoke both languages. Israelis, for example the distinguished Jerusalem Post columnist Caroline Glick, read this (I believe correctly) as an effort to attenuate Jesus’ Jewish identity, that is, his association with the particularity of Israel. It is not that Francis does not want to love the Jews: he wants to love everyone in exactly the same way.”

Basically if we don’t believe that God loves the Jews above all else, we are anti-Judaism (and by extension anti-Semitic)?

Are currency movements and capital outflows the relevant lever for China problems?

I think all emerging markets are going to be hit by the tightening trend that’s especially developed in the Anglo-Saxon economies (Oz, UK & US).
After all cable at 1.70 is at multi-year highs and currency strength is going to favor GBP & USD especially as there is pressure on higher yields (and restructuring of shorter term interest rates) in US treasuries.
The asynchronous nature of the economy where the flow of capital is beginning to redirect away from emerging markets (and even Japan, the EU & Switzerland) back to the days of the infamous carry trade is invariably going to hurt growing (but inefficient) markets like India, China & Africa.
Risk-return metrics are the basis for good investment and why accept moderately higher yields at substantially higher risk levels.

– See more at: http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2014/06/are-currency-movements-and-capital-outflows-the-relevant-lever-for-china-problems.html#comment-158239633