The Laz People of Turkey

The last Spot the Language piece was solved by a Turkish commenter who is one-half the ethnicity of the language: the Laz people. Here is his comment about the Laz and the region where they reside. Very nice comment and I would like to thank the commenter very much.

Ertuğrul Bilal: I am a Turco-Laz half-breed. There are at least half to close to one million people like me. I identify as a son of the homeland and as any particular ethnicity. This is also the primal identity adopted by almost all Lazes, who see themselves ethnically Laz only secondarily. Let’s put it his way: Black Sea people’s loyalty is more territorial than ethnic, just like cats.

FYI: Laz is not related to Turkish or any other Turkic language. It is part of the Kartvelian linguistic family, consisting of Georgian, Svan, and the Mingrelian-Laz twin peoples. The single substantial difference between the last two being that Mingrelians remained Orthodox, while Laz converted to Islam in late 15th and 16th century; otherwise the discrepancy is solely dialectal.

Laz people live on Northeastern Black Sea coast, actually at the eastern end towards the Turkish-Georgian frontier. This region has always been multi-cultural just as Anatolia used to be, only somewhat more so; even if superficially it is less obvious nowadays.

The local populace was originally mainly Tzans, a rather obscure culture, apparently resulting from an amalgamation of indigenous populace with immigrating/invading Cimmerians, westward-advancing Kartvelians and perhaps some other not well-known tribes ancestral to both Mingrelians and Laz in Antiquity when Greek colonizers founded practically all cities and most of the towns.

Today, you may find Turks (Alevi Turcomans forcibly relocated there by the Ottoman empire in 16th century who converted to Sunnism, except for a few thousand who remained Alevi) and other people of Turkic origin like my late father who told me his paternal lineage emigrated from Northern Dagestan and was either Nogay or Kumyk.

In addition, there are now Lazes, Georgians, Armenians (Hemshinids Islamicized long ago and some others forcibly assimilated to Turks in 1915), and Islamized Greeks, to mention only the most numerous.

Let’s put it this way – we are accustomed to quite a wide diversity of ethnicities in our country and especially in my parents’ native region, even if the official doctrine still tends to disregard the fact, and while it is not outright denial as in the past, a more subtle denial yet exists.

The Latest Chemical Attack in Syria Never Happened, and Neither Did Any Previous Ones

This latest fake attack was staged by the radical Islamists in the Army of Islam. All previous chemical attacks were also faked. I have been studying this intensively for five years now and I have studied every reported chemical attack by Assad’s forces. Not even one of them actually happened, not one!
These guys have done the best work on the matter:
What is happening is that there are no chemical attacks, ever. Assad has never done any chemical attacks. He got rid of all of his chemical weapons and this was verified by the UN.
What has happened is that the rebels themselves have used chemical weapons, including sarin but mostly chlorine. But the victims in these attacks, if any, have not been paraded before the media as in the more famous cases. I am not sure the outcomes of the rebels’ use of chemical weapons, which has been rather sparse.
Assad doesn’t use chlorine either. Assad’s not a nice guy, and he does a lot of bad things, but he doesn’t use chemical weapons, and he does not engage in massacres either. All of those massacres you here about were done by the rebels and blamed on Assad. In the last five years, I have also studied all of the massacres that have been blamed on Assad. These are often gruesome massacres of civilians in villages, with body mutilations, etc. All massacres were done by the rebels of Assad supporters or minorities like Alawites, Christians, or Assad supporting Sunnis. Afterwards the rebels blamed the massacres on Assad, and the media fell for it every time.
Assad does encircle cities and not let much anything, food or anything, come in. He bombs cities, including apparently civilian areas. He uses those barrel bombs, which are pretty nasty. He may bomb schools and hospitals. He may well target relief workers such as the White Helmets.
Mostly he arrests people who are either supporters of the rebels or rebels themselves (mostly), and they are put in military prisons where they are mistreated, given hardly any food, denied medical care, beaten, tortured and sometimes beaten and tortured to death and sometimes taken out for mass executions, which take place by hanging. Assad may have killed 50,000 at his prisons in this way. In addition, I believe that a lot of these bodies have been burned in incinerators to get rid of the evidence. Even at this moment, Assad’s people are digging up some of his mass graves to remove the bodies, presumably for burning.
Assad’s not a nice guy! But it’s a matter of style. He simply does not prefer to do civilian massacres or use chemical weapons for whatever reasons he has.
What has happened is that these rebels have kidnapped many people who are government supporters or mostly minorities such as Christians, Alawites or Druze. They use them as human shields, put them in cages in the cities they rule, and imprison and torture them for long periods of time. They also move them around Syria. The Army of Islam, which just vacated Douma, had many of these prisoners. A lot were saved, but 5,000 were missing. So it looks like the Army of Islam executed 5,000 of their civilian prisoners in Douma.
Now here is where the chemical weapons bullshit comes in. What happens is that the rebels execute or murder their prisoners or hostages, mostly minorities such as Alawi, Shia, Druze, and Christians. They kill them in various different ways.
Some of these Douma victims have bullet holes in their heads and other parts of their bodies. Others are bleeding and have various other wounds.
In the famous Ghouta “sarin attack” many of the victims had slit throats. Chemical weapons don’t bloody you, put bullet holes in you, or slit your throat!
What happens though is often sneaky.
In the famous Ghouta attack, the rebels took 300-400 of their hostages and executed them in basements with gas cylinders. We have photos of some of these gas rooms with gas cylinders leaking gases. They close the doors and the people die. The gas appears to be usually carbon monoxide. The chemical poisoning is consistent with carbon monoxide poisoning but never with sarin or chlorine poisoning.
We know these latest victims were not killed with sarin or chlorine because they lack the symptoms of those chemicals.
Also chlorine hardly kills anyone. You get maybe one dead for every 100 wounded. So five dead and 500 wounded. No way does chlorine cause 80 dead and zero wounded as in this latest fake attack. Notice something else? 80 dead here. You see any wounded? Of course not. There are often no wounded in these fake attacks. This makes no sense because a lot of people would have survived even a sarin or especially a chlorine attack.
So they gas these hostages of theirs to death somehow or they kill them in other ways. Khan Sheikoun victims were gassed, apparently with carbon monoxide. Also the victims there were at the rebel field hospital which is in a cave. That is miles away from where the fake chemical attack took place. Also there are no records of any attack on Khan Sheikoun at the time of the fake chemical attack at 6 AM. The only attack took place later at 12 noon. Russia and US military concur about this.
In addition, a number of these fake chemical attacks take place at night. Except Assad’s air force does not fly at night. They are not good enough at flying planes to do that well, so they don’t do it.
In addition, chemical weapons are never dropped from planes, ever. I don’t believe you even can. There have never been chemical bombs dropped from planes. Instead they are always fired from shells by artillery. For some reason, that’s how they are always used. The chemical bomb crater at Khan Sheikhoun was a huge crater. This is not possible because a chemical shell is quite light, only a pound or two. Some of the world’s top experts on chemical weapons looked at that crater and said there’s no way that is from a chemical weapon. Instead it looks like a regular bomb crater.
The rebels have sarin factories, and this has been proven. The rebels were caught with a lot of sarin in Turkey trying to bring it into Syria.
In Ghouta and Khan Sheikhoun, sarin was released into the atmosphere. In Ghouta a small amount of sarin was released at the time of the fake attack. I am not sure how they did this. Some or more of the victims did have sarin in their blood, but the levels were very low, too low to be harmful. Furthermore, the sarin samples did not match Assad’s sarin. Instead they matched “bathtub sarin” of the type the rebels were making in Turkey. This is why the CIA told Obama that Assad did not do the Ghouta attack. And that is why Obama did nothing about his line in the sand. He knew the Ghouta attack was fake.
Some sarin was also released in Khan Sheikhoun. It was never stated whether it matched Assad’s sarin or not. The US Secretary of Defense recently said that there was no evidence that Assad attacked people with chemical weapons in Khan Sheikhoun. Furthermore the head of the CIA told Trump that Assad did not do the attack, but Trump went ahead and shot his cruise missiles anyway.
In this latest attack, the victims’ feet, hands and faces are blackened as if by smoke, and there is some sort of white foam coming out of their mouths. The faces are red, but in sarin and chlorine poisoning, the faces are dark blue.
That makes no sense in terms of a sarin or chlorine attack, but another fake attack (some Ghouta victims at the “ghost house”) also had symptoms like that. Usually, victims in fake attacks are civilians wearing old clothes, heavy coats and typically they have shoes. This is the case for the latest attack. The clothes are old because they have probably been kept as prisoners in the clothes they wore when picked up. The heavy coats might help them get through the cold winters.
Why would anyone go outside with a heavy coat but no shoes? Makes no sense. The victims are missing shoes because in Arab culture, they often remove your shoes before an execution. So that’s another sign that the victims were executed.
A number of the victims in the latest attack have “raccoon eyes” which looks like they had a head fracture a few days prior that was starting to heal. These skull fractures occurred before the execution. The victims in the latest attack were posed. Victims often appear posed in these attacks. One of the victims in the latest attack was on a stretcher! Clearly he was brought into that house on that stretcher and placed there. The victims in the latest attack also have dust or mud on their bodies. This is not explained if they were sheltering in that house, but it makes more sense if they were perhaps dragged through dusty streets.
In the many fake chlorine attacks, the rebels show child victims in hospitals. These children are not dead but appear to be. Based on their pupils, these children are under the influence of heavy narcotics. Apparently the rebels are shooting up some of their child hostages with narcotics to make them seem like chemical attack victims. In addition, none of these people bear signs of chlorine gas poisoning.
If you have noticed, these scandalous chemical attacks typically occur after the US caves in on something and says they will negotiate, leave the conflict, or whatever. In other words, they occur after a major diplomatic victory for Assad. They also happen when the rebels are on the verge of being defeated in some area. If Assad is winning and has almost cleared an area, why blow it with a chemical attack on kids? If the US is really leaving Syria, why do the one thing that is guaranteed to make us come roaring back in, a chemical attack on kids? No sane man would behave the way that Assad is said to have behaved in these fake attacks. Assad may be a fool, but he’s not an idiot.
Keep in mind that the UN helped destroy all of Assad’s chemical weapons after the Ghouta fake attack, and they certified that they were all destroyed. So Assad doesn’t even have any sarin to use!
A number of alternative media sources are saying these attacks are fakes, but no one is saying accurately what exactly is occurring: there are no chemical attacks by either side. Instead, rebel hostages and prisoners are simply murdered or executed and then used as props in these fake attack videos. And those rebels are evil enough to execute women and kids. They are all radical Islamists. They are very nasty people.

The "Iranian Expansionism" Lie: How the US and UK Have Joined the Gulf Arab War against the Shia: The Case of Lebanon and Syria

It is about time the Gulf nations made alliance with Iran. Iran wants to have peaceful relations with the Sunni Arab world; it’s the Sunni Arabs who hate the Shia, the niggers of Islam and the niggers of the Arab World. It’s like the Jim Crow South with the Sunni Arabs as good old boy crackers enforcing Jim Crow against the poor Shia niggers.
The modern version of this lie sees Shia taking power across the region as “Iran expanding its influence in the Arab World” and “Iranian expansionism.” It’s total crap.
All of these are local conflicts and local political situations. In few Arab countries,  there are many Shia and the Shia have obtained quite a bit of power. This is due to the situation inside the nation, not some BS Iranian expansionism.
Hezbollah is popular in Lebanon because the masses love them. They have 85% support across all sects. They are even very popular with Lebanese Christians. The Lebanese Army is a joke, so Hezbollah is seen as effectively the Army of Lebanon or the National Resistance. They support over there because the people love them, not because of some “Iranian expansionism” lie.
In Syria, yes, the Shia have been in power for decades, but the regime is aggressively secular and does not favor any confessional group. The Syrian business community is mostly Sunni. They’ve always run the businesses over there. Many Shia Alawi who are members of Assad’s sect are very poor because the only Alawis who have benefited from the regime are those with tribal and family ties to the regime. 70% of the Syrian military is Sunni. 70% of Syrian officers are Sunni. 70% of Syrian government officials are Sunni. In recent elections, Sunnis won 85% of seats.
Yet the vile Israelis and the US keep talking up this big lie about Syria as a “Shia supremacist state” where all the wealth, power and government is in the hands of the Shia and the Sunnis have nothing. The whole army is said to be Shia, as no Sunni would want to fight for the Shia government. The only reason they fight is because they have a gun to their backs. All of this is a huge lie as the government is secular and is not confessional or discriminatory in any way, shape or form. If the Shia are running a Shia supremacist state, why do the Sunnis have most of the money in the country as they run the business community? Why are the Christians wealthier than the average Syrian. I thought the  government was Shia supremacist and the non-Shia get nothing?
Furthermore, the Shia sect that runs Syria is called Alawi and they are one of the most secular of the Muslim sects. They do not go to mass. They do not fast at Ramadan. They never go on hajj. They are very secular and most of the women do not wear the hijab.
The religion is a strange mishmash of ancient pagan sects like Mandeanism, Christianity and a very secular version of Shia Islam. Alawi worship Jesus, celebrate Christmas and every Alawi household has a picture of Jesus hanging on the wall. Paganism is present in the Alawi believe that the stars represent the souls of dead humans. After we die, we ascend to the heavens and turn into stars. This is taken from the ancient Mandeanism sect, star worshipers who follow John the Baptist as their spiritual leader. There were a number  of them in Iraq, but many were killed as infidels in the recent  civil war. However, Saddam protected the Mandeans.
There is a huge debate in Islam around whether or not the Alawi are even Muslims! Many Sunnis state emphatically that they are not Muslims and instead they are a heretical schismatic sect of apostates who must be killed.
The case for this discrimination was first made by Syrian Ibn Taymiya centuries ago who could be said to be the father of the modern Salafi Islam of Al Qaeda, ISIS and the rest. Indeed, Salafis revere Taymiya and pore over his writings. The Alawi state that they are indeed Muslims, albeit an extremely secular variety of nearly New Age Muslims.
Considering that this is one of the most secular sects in Islam, why would they be confessionalists? Why would they discriminate against other sects if they are barely even Muslims and not particularly religious in the first place? Religious discrimination in the Muslim world is tied to fundamentalism. The secular regimes have usually been much more nonprejudicial. So the Alwai have run Syria for 50 years, and Syria is hardly a case of Iranian expansionism. Please!

The "Iranian Expansionism" Lie: How the US and UK Have Joined the Gulf Arab War against the Shia: The Cases of Iraq and Yemen

Iraq

Iraq is the latest flash point. This is not a case of Iranian expansionism either. Saddam somewhat repressed the Shia, although millions of Shia were Baath Party members, and most of the army were Shia.
When the US military rolled through the Shia cities of the South during the Gulf War, they expected a warm welcome. It was the other way around. A convoy would be driving down a street in Nasariyah with nary a problem in sight. They got halfway down the street when the whole street opened up on them with automatic weapons and RPG’s. Most of them were hiding on rooftops. These were Shia Baath Party people, Shia Iraqi military veterans and also a lot of Shia who were simply Iraqi nationalists who would rather live with Saddam than be conquered by foreign invaders.
Of course, our criminal, Nazi-like war of aggression against the Iraqi people resulted in the overthrow of Sunni rule. With democracy, obviously a Shia government was elected, as 60% of the population is Iraq is Shia. The US and Israel are now screaming that Iraq is a case of Iranian expansionism. The Hell it is. It’s a case of democracy! The Shia are the majority, so democratic elections of course elected a Shia government. Democracy in action. I guess the US and Israel are opposed to democracy now?
Of course the new Shia government has friendly ties with Iran. The Shia Alawi government of Syria also has close ties with Iran. The Shia Hezbollah in Lebanon has close ties with Iran. None of this is “Iranian expansionism” or “Iran conquering the Arab world.” Instead these are Shia populations in the Arab World who have formed a natural and normal confessional alliance with Shia Iran. Shia are going to ally with Shia. What do you expect them to do?

Yemen

In Yemen, the Shia are 45% of the country. This group is called Zaidis, and they are barely even Shia. They only differ from Yemeni Sunnism on one or two things. While most Zaidis call themselves Shia, some call themselves Sunnis, and others say that they are both Sunni and Shia. So the sect isn’t even pure Shia according to their own members.
A tribal group in the north called Houthis who are mostly Zaidi launched a very popular civil war from the north all the way to the south of the country, eventually overthrowing the government. The US- and Saudi-installed president, a man named Hadi, was airlifted out to Saudi Arabia where he continued to insist that he ran the country. Hadi was very unpopular, and frankly most Yemenis hated him.
The Houthi revolt had the support of the majority of Yemenis. The Yemeni Army was loyal to a former president named Saleh, who was also a Houthi Shia. Most of the Yemeni Army, 70-80%, went over to the side of the Houthis. So the vast majority of the army goes over the side of the armed revolution that overthrows the state, and the revolution is still not legitimate? Well, when is a revolution legitimate then?
The US went along with this folly and insisted that Hadi was still the real president of the country. Well, no he wasn’t. Ever heard of a revolution? When an armed revolution happens and overthrows the government, the new armed group is the new government. I would say they are even under international law. Revolutions have been a legitimate way to overthrow states forever now. Or do we now say that all revolutions are illegitimate? Would that apply to our own revolution then? That would have to be illegitimate too, right, because the US says that armed revolutions cannot install legitimate governments?
The remaining 25% of the Yemeni Army started fighting the Houthis, but they were close to defeat. Suddenly, the Saudis, UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Jordan, Egypt, and Sudan all jumped into the war and attacked Yemen. They invaded Yemen, a sovereign country. That’s a Nazi like war of aggression, illegal under international law. Yet the US and UK gave full support to this invasion.
Since that time, the Saudis have been bombing all over the country. The Saudi and UAE militaries also invaded, but they did not get far. They set up a few garrisons, but they came under constant attack and suffered heavy casualties. The Saudi military is terrible and is not capable of fighting any war. The UAE military is about as bad. The US has been supplying intelligence and command and control facilities to the invaders from the beginning. At least 10,000 Yemenis are dead at the hands of the US and the UK in this sickening war. Whenever the Saudis start running low on bombs, we rush-deliver more bombs to them.
Al Qaeda has a large presence in Yemen, and they quickly waged war against the Houthis and Saleh’s army. The Gulf states have been funneling supplies to Yemeni Al Qaeda ever since the invasion, using them to help overthrow the Shia Houthis. When the war started, Saudi Arabia and the UAE flew 300-400 ISIS and Al Qaeda jihadis from Syria down to Yemen to fight against the Houthi. The UAE and the Saudis continue to run jihadis into Yemen, typically by ship. The Saudis have never launched one attack against the Al Qaeda and ISIS in Yemen, and the US has had a quite but not completely hands-off policy too, as the US and UK are using ISIS and Al Qaeda in Yemen to overthrow the Houthi.
The Houthi takeover had nothing to do with “Iranian expansionism.” That’s a paranoid lie of a fever dream. The Shia are 45% of Yemen. The Houthis have always been very popular in Yemen. In fact, the Shia Houthis ruled Yemen for centuries with no problems whatsoever. Even many Sunni Yemenis say they support the Houthi because they say that the Houthis know how to run the country. The Houthis have some friendly relations with Iran, but it boils down to little more than moral support. US and Israeli charges of the Iranians running weapons to the Houthis appear to be complete lies.

“History of US-NATO’s ‘Covert War’ on Syria: Daraa March 2011 Another Islamist Insurrection,” by Tim Anderson

This is an excellent article that lays out what I had always expected, that what everyone believes, that the Syrian Civil War started when “Assad” opened fire on peaceful protests, is a great big fat lie.

Here is what really happened:

In February, a true peaceful reform movement began in Syria. This movement had begun as early as 2005 and involved secular protesters opposing corruption and the Baath Party’s monopoly on power (Wikstrom 2011; Otrakji 2012). This was a legitimate movement.

These protests continued for some time, possibly a month, with little drama. The protesters made some early demands, and Assad quickly tried to appease them by making a number of the changes that they had asked for. But by the time he had made the changes, the protests had been hijacked by Islamists who were not appeased by the changes and insisted that the regime must go (al-Khalidi 2011).

Only one month went by before some teenagers were arrested in Deraa by local authorities for writing the North African-influenced graffiti, “The people want to overthrow the regime.” They were reportedly abused by the local Deraa police. Assad intervened, the governor was fired and the teenagers were released.

There were reports early on that either these or some other teenagers had been tortured to death by “Assad.” Obviously these boys were not tortured to death.  There is a confirmed report of one teenage boy who was indeed tortured to death which was widely blamed on “Assad,” but he was later found to have been killed by the armed opposition.

On March 17-18, violence broke out at protests in Deraa. The Western media says that peaceful protests in Deraa were attacked by government snipers on rooftops who started shooting the peaceful protesters. This is the line that everyone knows about. However, it is completely untrue.

What really happened is laid out below. There were protests in Deraa on these days along with large pro-government protests – the presence of large pro-government protests is another lie that is spread by omission by the Western press – the media says that all early protests were anti-government, however, even from the very start, the large anti-government protests were almost inevitably met by equally large pro-government protests.

Actually, the police at these rallies in Deraa were armed with only riot gear. Army forces were present, but they were not at the rally itself, instead they were on the outskirts of town. At some point during the rally, all Hell broke loose. Unknown snipers began firing from the Al-Omari Mosque. It is important to note that these mysterious snipers opened fire on both protesters and police.

Yes, a number of protesters were indeed killed and injured at these rallies, but quite a few police were also killed an wounded by these very same snipers. It is absolutely not possible that “Assad” would have mysterious snipers open fire on both protesters and police, killing both.

Why would “Assad” open fire on his own police, killing and wounding them? It is senseless. There is an interview with a Syrian police officer who was at that rally on Youtube in which he states that the police had only riot gear and that snipers shot both police and demonstrators. He  states the numb er of killed and wounded among the police.

It was later determined after police raided the al-Omari Mosque that the snipers were Muslim Brotherhood people firing from the roof of the mosque with weapons that had been smuggled in from Saudi Arabia.

In fact, shipments of these arms had been seized at the Iraq-Syrian border by border guards earlier. They had been bought in Baghdad and were on their way to Muslim Brotherhood people in Syria (Reuters 2011). The weapons were paid for by Saudi Arabia. It was these weapons shipments that were later used in the shootings at the demonstrations.

You notice that snipers opened fire on both police and protesters. This exact same thing happened in Ukraine when Maidan people paid snipers to come from Lithuania and open fire on both the Berkut police and the demonstrators.

As soon as the shooting started, other violence ensued. The same day that the mysterious snipers opened fire from the al-Omari Mosque, Baath Party Headquarters and the local police station were burned down (YaLibnan 2011, Queenan 2011). Medical teams came to the site to help injured protesters and police but were fired on by by the MB snipers. Members of an ambulance team and a doctor were killed.

Even several days after these attacks, Assad was trying to calm things down. Assad issued an order that live ammunition should not be used even if security forces themselves were coming under attack.

Funerals for demonstrators followed the killings in Deraa. At every one of these funerals, mysterious snipers opened fire on both police and demonstrators (Maktabi 2011). Once again, why would “Assad” kill and wound his own police officers?

Early reports mostly from the Qatar-owned Al Jazeera stated that it was snipers working for the government who fired on the crowds (Al Jazeera 2011b). However, these reports made no sense, as Syrian police would never shoot at their own people, and anyway, they were only armed with riot gear. The Western press soon picked up on the line that it was “Assad” who was shooting at the protesters and police.

Saudi government officials later confirmed that the Saudi government has sent arms to the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood and that Saudi arms had been used by shooters at the al-Omari Mosque (Truth Syria 2012).

Only a week later, the “peaceful protesters” were already heavily armed and were carrying out attacks on the army. An army patrol was ambushed outside Deraa at the beginning of April only two weeks after the Deraa events, and 19 Syrian troops were killed (Narwani 2014). However, Assad ordered this attack covered up because he did not want to inflame tensions even further. For sometime after that, the government refused to comment on deaths of security forces.

The problem with the government cover up of security forces’ deaths was that while this cover up was going on, the Western media was reporting all of the deaths in this early conflict as “protesters” killed by the army (Khalidi 2011). In other words, if armed rebels killed 19 Syrian army troops at an ambush, the entire Western press would report this as “19 peaceful protesters were killed by the Syrian army.”

All through April, 88 Syrian troops were killed all over Syria by armed rebels. The government covered up all of these killings, and every one of these deaths was reported by the Western press as “Syrian troops killing peaceful protesters.”  The Western media blacked out all of these reports and simply refused to acknowledge them.

Reports soon came out, spread by the CIA-linked Human Rights Watch, that Syrian soldiers were being shot by other Syrian troops for refusing to fire on protesters (HRW 2011b). Even the extremely biased Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a one-man operation run by a Syrian exile out of London, said that reports of Syrian forces killing their own for refusing to fire on protesters were false. Nevertheless, the Western media was awash with reports of Syrian troops firing on their own who refused to obey orders to open fire on protesters.

The armed rebels soon set provocateurs loose to destroy and damage Sunni mosques throughout Syria. One jihadist from Tunisia admitted that he had been hired by the rebels to write graffiti on Sunni mosques saying, “There is no God by Bashar” (Eretz Zen 2014). This is a sacrilegious slogan made in an attempt to encourage Sunni soldiers in the Syrian army to defect. This interview can be found on Youtube.

By this time, there was a war on. Quite a few on both sides, both rebels and the Syrian army, were suffering casualties. Every day rebel sources gave a figure for the number killed that day with no explanation. Most of these deaths were of armed rebels and Syrian army forces, but they were all reported by the opposition as “peaceful protesters killed by the Syrian army.” The Western media followed suit and did the same, reporting all casualties of armed fighters on both sides as peaceful civilian protesters.

Since all of the many casualties among the armed groups were reported in the West as peaceful protesters, US officials began making loud demands that Assad step down because supposedly he was the one slaughtering all these peaceful protesters (Shaikh 2011, FOX News 2011).

For the next several months, every time a protest took place, armed Islamists appeared in the crowd and soon opened fire on security forces (Jaber 2011). Security forces would often fire back at the armed elements in the crowd and there would often be killed and wounded on both sides.

A vicious sectarian element was present in the protests from early on. By May, there were already chants of “Christians to Beirut, Alawites to the grave!” (Blanford 2011). Soon this sectarian chant was heard at every protest.

For the next year, Human Rights Watch (the voice of the CIA) and other liars reported that the vast majority of the casualties were peaceful protesters (Clinton 2011). In fact by early 2012, a good report showed that of 5,000 casualties, 50% were security forces (OHCHR 2012: 2, Narwani 2014).

The lie was spread, spearheaded by Human Rights Watch, the protests had been overwhelmingly peaceful until September 2011 (HRW 2011a, HRW 2012), when supposedly so many peaceful protesters had been killed that the protest movement was forced to take up arms to defend itself (Allaf 2012).

A Big Lie had been laid down. Even today, the vast majority of people who know about the Syrian Civil War say that the war started when the Syrian government opened fire on repeatedly on peaceful protesters, killing so many of these unarmed innocents that eventually by September 2011, the peaceful protesters were forced to take up arms as they had no other choice.

History of US-NATO’s “Covert War” on Syria: Daraa March 2011

Another Islamist Insurrection

By Prof. Tim Anderson
Global Research, November 29, 2015

 

 The following text is Chapter IV of  Professor Anderson’s forthcoming book entitled The Dirty War on Syria, Global Research Publishers, Montreal, 2016 (forthcoming).
arms-seized-by-Syrian-security
Arms seized by Syrian security forces at al Omari mosque in Daraa, March 2011. The weapons had been provided by the Saudis. Photo: SANA

“The protest movement in Syria was overwhelmingly peaceful until September 2011”- Human Rights Watch, March 2012, Washington

“I have seen from the beginning armed protesters in those demonstrations … they were the first to fire on the police. Very often the violence of the security forces comes in response to the brutal violence of the armed insurgents” – the late Father Frans Van der Lugt, January 2012, Homs Syria

“The claim that armed opposition to the government has begun only recently is a complete lie. The killings of soldiers, police and civilians, often in the most brutal circumstances, have been going on virtually since the beginning”. – Professor Jeremy Salt, October 2011, Ankara Turkey

A double story began on the Syrian conflict, at the outset of the armed violence in 2011 in the southern border town of Daraa. The first story comes from independent witnesses in Syria, such as the late Father Frans Van der Lugt in Homs. They say that armed men infiltrated the early political reform demonstrations to shoot at both police and civilians.

This violence came from sectarian Islamists. The second comes from the Islamist groups (‘rebels’) and their western backers. They claim there was ‘indiscriminate’ violence from Syrian security forces to repress political rallies and that the ‘rebels’ grew out of a secular political reform movement.

Careful study of the independent evidence, however, shows that the Washington-backed ‘rebel’ story, while widespread, was part of a strategy to delegitimize the Syrian government, with the aim of fomenting ‘regime change’. To understand this it is necessary to observe that prior to the armed insurrection of March 2011 there were shipments of arms from Saudi Arabia to Islamists at the al Omari mosque. It is also useful to review the earlier Muslim Brotherhood insurrection at Hama in 1982 because of the parallel myths that have grown up around both insurrections.

US intelligence (DIA 1982) and the late British author Patrick Seale (1988) give independent accounts of what happened at Hama. After years of violent sectarian attacks by Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood, by mid-1980 President Hafez al Assad had ‘broken the back’ of their sectarian rebellion which aimed to impose a Salafi-Islamic state. One final coup plot was exposed, and the Brotherhood ‘felt pressured into initiating’ an uprising in their stronghold of Hama. Seale describes the start of that violence in this way:

At 2am on the night of 2-3 February 1982 an army unit combing the old city fell into an ambush. Roof top snipers killed perhaps a score of soldiers … [Brotherhood leader] Abu Bakr [Umar Jawwad] gave the order for a general uprising … hundreds of Islamist fighters rose … by the morning some seventy leading Ba’athists had been slaughtered and the triumphant guerrillas declared the city ‘liberated’ (Seale 1988: 332).

However the Army responded with a huge force of about 12,000, and the battle raged for three weeks. It was a foreign-backed civil war with some defections from the army. Seale continues:

As the tide turned slowly in the government’s favour, the guerrillas fell back into the old quarters … after heavy shelling, commandos and party irregulars supported by tanks moved in … many civilians were slaughtered in the prolonged mopping up, whole districts razed (Seale 1988: 333).

Two months later a US intelligence report said: ‘The total casualties for the Hama incident probably number about 2,000. This includes an estimated 300 to 400 members of the Muslim Brotherhood’s elite ‘Secret Apparatus’ (DIA 1982: 7).

Seale recognizes that the Army also suffered heavy losses. At the same time, ‘large numbers died in the hunt for the gunmen … government sympathizers estimating a mere 3,000 and critics as many as 20,000 … a figure of 5,000 to 10,000 could be close to the truth’ He adds:

‘The guerrillas were formidable opponents. They had a fortune in foreign money … [and] no fewer than 15,000 machine guns’ (Seale 1988: 335). Subsequent Muslim Brotherhood accounts have inflated the casualties, reaching up to ‘40,000 civilians’, thus attempting to hide their insurrection and sectarian massacres by claiming that Hafez al Assad had carried out a ‘civilian massacre’ (e.g. Nassar 2014).

The then Syrian President blamed a large scale foreign conspiracy for the Hama insurrection. Seale observes that Hafez was ‘not paranoical’, as many US weapons were captured and foreign backing had come from several US collaborators: King Hussayn of Jordan, Lebanese Christian militias (the Israeli-aligned ‘Guardians of the Cedar’) and Saddam Hussein in Iraq (Seale 1988: 336-337).

The Hama insurrection helps us understand the Daraa violence because, once again in 2011, we saw armed Islamists using rooftop sniping against police and government officials, drawing in the armed forces, only to cry ‘civilian massacre’ when they and their collaborators came under attack from the Army. Although the US, through its allies, played an important part in the Hama insurrection, when it was all over US intelligence dryly observed that: ‘the Syrians are pragmatists who do not want a Muslim Brotherhood government’ (DIA 1982: vii).

In the case of Daraa and in the attacks that moved to Homs and surrounding areas in April 2011, the clearly stated aim was once again to topple the secular or ‘infidel-Alawi’ regime. The front-line US collaborators were Saudi Arabia and Qatar and then Turkey. The head of the Syrian Brotherhood, Muhammad Riyad Al-Shaqfa, issued a statement on 28 March which left no doubt that the group’s aim was sectarian.

The enemy was ‘the secular regime,’ and Brotherhood members ‘have to make sure that the revolution will be pure Islamic, and with that no other sect would have a share of the credit after its success’ (Al-Shaqfa 2011). While playing down the initial role of the Brotherhood, Sheikho confirms that it ‘went on to punch above its actual weight on the ground during the uprising … [due] to Turkish-Qatari support’, and to its general organizational capacity (Sheikho 2013).

By the time there was a ‘Free Syrian Army Supreme Military Council’ in 2012 (more a weapons conduit than any sort of army command), it was said to be two-thirds dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood (Draitser 2012). Other foreign Salafi-Islamist groups quickly joined this ‘Syrian Revolution’. A US intelligence report in August 2012, contrary to Washington’s public statements about ‘moderate rebels’, said:

The Salafist, the Muslim Brotherhood and AQI [Al Qaeda in Iraq, later ISIS] are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria … AQI supported the Syrian Opposition from the beginning, both ideologically and through the media (DIA 2012).

In February 2011 there was popular agitation in Syria to some extent influenced by the events in Egypt and Tunisia. There were anti-government and pro-government demonstrations and a genuine political reform movement which for several years had agitated against corruption and the Ba’ath Party monopoly. A 2005 report referred to ‘an array of reform movements slowly organizing beneath the surface’ (Ghadry 2005), and indeed the ‘many faces’ of a Syrian opposition, much of it non-Islamist, had been agitating since about that same time (Sayyid Rasas 2013).

These political opposition groups deserve attention in another discussion (see Chapter Five). However only one section of that opposition, the Muslim Brotherhood and other Salafists, was linked to the violence that erupted in Daraa. Large anti-government demonstrations began, to be met with huge pro-government demonstrations.

In early March some teenagers in Daraa were arrested for graffiti that had been copied from North Africa ‘the people want to overthrow the regime’. It was reported that they were abused by local police, President Bashar al Assad intervened, the local governor was sacked, and the teenagers were released (Abouzeid 2011).

Yet the Islamist insurrection was underway, taking cover under the street demonstrations.

On 11 March, several days before the violence broke out in Daraa, there were reports that Syrian forces had seized ‘a large shipment of weapons and explosives and night-vision goggles … in a truck coming from Iraq’. The truck was stopped at the southern Tanaf crossing, close to Jordan. The Syrian Government news agency SANA said the weapons were intended ‘for use in actions that affect Syria’s internal security and spread unrest and chaos.’

Pictures showed ‘dozens of grenades and pistols as well as rifles and ammunition belts’. The driver said the weapons had been loaded in Baghdad and he had been paid $5,000 to deliver them to Syria (Reuters 2011). Despite this interception, arms did reach Daraa, a border town of about 150,000 people.

This is where the ‘western-rebel’ and the independent stories diverge, and diverge dramatically. The western media consensus was that protesters burned and trashed government offices, and then ‘provincial security forces opened fire on marchers, killing several’ (Abouzeid 2011). After that, ‘protesters’ staged demonstrations in front of the al-Omari mosque but were in turn attacked.

The Syrian government, on the other hand, said there were unprovoked attacks on security forces, killing police and civilians, along with the burning of government offices. There was foreign corroboration of this account. While its headline blamed security forces for killing ‘protesters’, the British Daily Mail (2011) showed pictures of AK47 rifles and hand grenades that security forces had recovered after storming the al-Omari mosque.

The paper noted reports that ‘an armed gang’ had opened fire on an ambulance, killing ‘a doctor, a paramedic and a policeman’. Media channels in neighboring countries did report on the killing of Syrian police on 17-18 March.

On 21 March a Lebanese news report observed that ‘Seven policemen were killed during clashes between the security forces and protesters in Syria’ (YaLibnan 2011), while an Israel National News report said ‘Seven police officers and at least four demonstrators in Syria have been killed … and the Baath Party Headquarters and courthouse were torched’ (Queenan 2011). These police had been targeted by rooftop snipers.

Even in these circumstances the Government was urging restraint and attempting to respond to the political reform movement. President Assad’s adviser, Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban, told a news conference that the President had ordered ‘that live ammunition should not be fired, even if the police, security forces or officers of the state were being killed’.

Assad proposed to address the political demands such as the registration of political parties, removing emergency rules and allowing greater media freedoms (al-Khalidi 2011). None of that seemed to either interest or deter the Islamists.

Several reports, including video reports, observed rooftop snipers firing at crowds and police during funerals of those already killed. It was said to be ‘unclear who was firing at whom’ (Al Jazeera 2011a), as ‘an unknown armed group on rooftops shot at protesters and security forces’ (Maktabi 2011).

Yet Al Jazeera (2011b) owned by the Qatari monarchy, soon strongly suggested that that the snipers were pro-government. ‘President Bashar al Assad has sent thousands of Syrian soldiers and their heavy weaponry into Derra for an operation the regime wants nobody in the word to see’, the Qatari channel said. However the Al Jazeera suggestion that secret pro-government snipers were killing ‘soldiers and protesters alike’ was illogical and out of sequence. The armed forces came to Daraa precisely because police had been shot and killed.

Saudi Arabia, a key US regional ally, had armed and funded extremist Salafist Sunni sects to move against the secular government. Saudi official Anwar Al-Eshki later confirmed to BBC television that his country had sent arms to Daraa and to the al-Omari mosque (Truth Syria 2012). From exile in Saudi Arabia, Salafi Sheikh Adnan Arour called for a holy war against the liberal Alawi Muslims, who were said to dominate the Syrian government: ‘by Allah we shall mince [the Alawites] in meat grinders and feed their flesh to the dogs’ (MEMRITV 2011).

The Salafist aim was a theocratic state or caliphate. The genocidal slogan ‘Christians to Beirut, Alawites to the grave’ became widespread, a fact reported by the North American media as early as May 2011 (e.g. Blanford 2011). Islamists from the FSA Farouq Brigade would soon act on these threats (Crimi 2012). Canadian analyst Michel Chossudovsky (2011) observed: ‘The deployment of armed forces including tanks in Daraa [was] directed against an organized armed insurrection, which has been active in the border city since March 17-18.”

After those first few days in Daraa the killing of Syrian security forces continued but went largely unreported outside Syria. Nevertheless, independent analyst Sharmine Narwani wrote about the scale of this killing in early 2012 and again in mid-2014. An ambush and massacre of soldiers took place near Daraa in late March or early April. An army convoy was stopped by an oil slick on a valley road between Daraa al-Mahata and Daraa al-Balad, and the trucks were machine gunned.

Estimates of soldier deaths from government and opposition sources ranged from 18 to 60. A Daraa resident said these killings were not reported because: ‘At that time, the government did not want to show they are weak and the opposition did not want to show they are armed’. Anti-Syrian Government blogger Nizar Nayouf records this massacre as taking place in the last week of March. Another anti-Government writer, Rami Abdul Rahman (based in England and calling himself the ‘Syrian Observatory of Human Rights’) says:

‘It was on the first of April and about 18 or 19 security forces … were killed’ (Narwani 2014). Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mikdad, himself a resident of Daraa, confirmed that: ‘this incident was hidden by the government … as an attempt not to antagonize or not to raise emotions and to calm things down – not to encourage any attempt to inflame emotions which may lead to escalation of the situation’ (Narwani 2014).

Yet the significance of denying armed anti-Government killings was that in the western media all deaths were reported as (a) victims of the Army and (b) civilians. For well over six months, whenever a body count was mentioned in the international media, it was usually considered acceptable to suggest these were all ‘protesters’ killed by the Syrian Army.

For example, a Reuters report on 24 March said Daraa’s main hospital had received ‘the bodies of at least 37 protesters killed on Wednesday’ (Khalidi 2011). Notice that all the dead had become ‘protesters’ despite earlier reports on the killing of a number of police and health workers.

Another nineteen soldiers were gunned down on 25 April, also near Daraa. Narwani obtained their names and details from Syria’s Defence Ministry and corroborated these details from another document from a non-government source. Throughout April 2011, she calculates that eighty-eight Syrian soldiers were killed ‘by unknown shooters in different areas across Syria’ (Narwani 2014).

She went on to refute claims that the soldiers killed were ‘defectors’ shot by the Syrian army for refusing to fire on civilians. Human Rights Watch, referring to interviews with 50 unnamed ‘activists’, claimed that soldiers killed at this time were all ‘defectors’, murdered by the Army (HRW 2011b).

Yet the funerals of loyal officers shown on the internet at that time were distinct. Even Rami Abdul Rahman (the SOHR), keen to blame the Army for killing civilians, said ‘this game of saying the Army is killing defectors for leaving – I never accepted this’ (Narwani 2014). Nevertheless the highly charged reports were confusing.

The violence spread north with the assistance of Islamist fighters from Lebanon, reaching Baniyas and areas around Homs. On 10 April nine soldiers were shot in a bus ambush in Baniyas. In Homs, on April 17, General Abdo Khodr al-Tallawi was killed with his two sons and a nephew, and Syrian commander Iyad Kamel Harfoush was gunned down near his home.

Two days later, off-duty Colonel Mohammad Abdo Khadour was killed in his car (Narwani 2014). North American commentator Joshua Landis (2011a) reported the death of his wife’s cousin, one of the soldiers in Baniyas. These were not the only deaths but I mention them because most western media channels maintain the fiction to this day that there was no Islamist insurrection and the ‘peaceful protesters’ did not pick up arms until September 2011.

Al Jazeera, the principal Middle East media channel backing the Muslim Brotherhood, blacked out these attacks and also the reinforcement provided by armed foreigners.

Former Al Jazeera journalist Ali Hashem was one of many who resigned from the Qatar-owned station (RT 2012), complaining of deep bias over their presentation of the violence in Syria. Hashem had footage of armed men arriving from Lebanon, but this was censored by his Qatari managers. ‘In a resignation letter I was telling the executive … it was like nothing was happening in Syria.’ He thought the ‘Libyan revolution’ was the turning point for Al Jazeera, marking the end of its standing as a credible media group (Hashem 2012).

Provocateurs were at work. Tunisian jihadist ‘Abu Qusay’ later admitted he had been a prominent ‘Syrian rebel’ charged with ‘destroying and desecrating Sunni mosques’, including by scrawling the graffiti ‘There is no God but Bashar’, a blasphemy to devout Muslims. This was then blamed on the Syrian Army with the aim of creating Sunni defections from the Army. ‘Abu Qusay’ had been interviewed by foreign journalists who did not notice by his accent that he was not Syrian (Eretz Zen 2014).

US Journalist Nir Rosen, whose reports were generally critical of the Syrian Government, also attacked the western consensus over the early violence:

The issue of defectors is a distraction. Armed resistance began long before defections started … Every day the opposition gives a death toll, usually without any explanation … Many of those reported killed are in fact dead opposition fighters but … described in reports as innocent civilians killed by security forces … and every day members of the Syrian Army, security agencies … are also killed by anti-regime fighters (Rosen 2012).

A language and numbers game was being played to delegitimize the Syrian Government (‘The Regime’) and the Syrian Army (‘Assad loyalists’), suggesting they were responsible for all the violence. Just as NATO forces were bombing Libya with the aim of overthrowing the Libyan Government, US officials began to demand that President Assad step down.

The Brookings Institution (Shaikh 2011) claimed the President had ‘lost the legitimacy to remain in power in Syria’. US Senators John McCain, Lindsay Graham and Joe Lieberman said it was time ‘to align ourselves unequivocally with the Syrian people in their peaceful demand for a democratic government’ (FOX News 2011). Another ‘regime change’ campaign was out in the open.

In June, US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton dismissed the idea that ‘foreign instigators’ had been at work, saying that ‘the vast majority of casualties have been unarmed civilians’ (Clinton 2011). In fact, as Clinton knew very well, her Saudi Arabian allies had armed extremists from the very beginning. Her casualty assertion was also wrong.

The United Nations (which would later abandon its body count) estimated from several sources that by early 2012, there were more than 5,000 casualties and that deaths in the first year of conflict included 478 police and 2,091 from the military and security forces (OHCHR 2012: 2; Narwani 2014). That is, more than half the casualties in the first year were those of the Syrian security forces.

That independent calculation was not reflected in western media reports. Western groups such as Human Rights Watch along with US columnists (e.g. Allaf 2012) continued to claim even after the early 2012 defeat of the sectarian Farouq-FSA in Homs and well into 2012 that Syrian security forces had been massacring ‘unarmed protesters’, that the Syrian people ‘had no choice’ but to take up arms, and that this ‘protest movement’ had been ‘overwhelmingly peaceful until September 2011’ (HRW 2011a, HRW 2012). The evidence cited above shows that this story was quite false.

In fact, the political reform movement had been driven off the streets by Salafi-Islamist gunmen, over the course of March and April. For years opposition groups had agitated against corruption and the Ba’ath Party monopoly.

However most did not want destruction of what was a socially inclusive if authoritarian state, and most were against both the sectarian violence and the involvement of foreign powers. They backed Syria’s protection of minorities, the relatively high status of women and the country’s free education and health care, while opposing the corrupt networks and the feared political police (Wikstrom 2011; Otrakji 2012).

In June reporter Hala Jaber (2011) observed that about five thousand people turned up for a demonstration at Ma’arrat al-Numan, a small town in northwest Syria, between Aleppo and Hama. She says several ‘protesters’ had been shot the week before, while trying to block the road between Damascus and Aleppo. After some negotiations which reduced the security forces in the town, ‘men with heavy beards in cars and pick-ups with no registration plates’ with ‘rifles and rocket-propelled grenades’ began shooting at the reduced numbers of security forces.

A military helicopter was sent to support the security forces. After this clash ‘four policemen and 12 of their attackers were dead or dying. Another 20 policemen were wounded’. Officers who escaped the fight were hidden by some of the tribal elders who had participated in the original demonstration. When the next ‘demonstration for democracy’ took place, the following Friday, ‘only 350 people turned up’, mostly young men and some bearded militants (Jaber 2011). Five thousand protesters had been reduced to 350 after the open Salafist attacks.

After months of media manipulations disguising the Islamist insurrection, Syrians such as Samer al Akhras, a young man from a Sunni family who used to watch Al Jazeera because he preferred it to state TV became convinced to back the Syrian government. He saw first-hand the fabrication of reports on Al Jazeera and wrote, in late June 2011:

I am a Syrian citizen and I am a human. After 4 months of your fake freedom … You say peaceful demonstration and you shoot our citizen. From today … I am [now] a Sergeant in the Reserve Army. If I catch anyone … in any terrorist organization working on the field in Syria I am gonna shoot you as you are shooting us. This is our land not yours, the slaves of American fake freedom (al Akhras 2011).

References:

Abouzeid, Rania (2011) ‘Syria’s Revolt, how graffiti stirred an uprising’, Time, 22 March.

Al Akhras, Samer (2011) ‘Syrian Citizen’, Facebook, 25 June, online: https://www.facebook.com/notes/sam-al-akhras/syrian-citizen/241770845834062?pnref=story

Al Jazeera (2011a) ‘Nine killed at Syria funeral processions’, 23 April, online: http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2011/04/20114231169587270.html.

Al Jazeera (2011b) ‘Deraa: A city under a dark siege’, 28 April, online: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2011/04/2011427215943692865.html.

Al-Shaqfa, Muhammad Riyad (2011) ‘Muslim Brotherhood Statement about the so-called ‘Syrian Revolution’’, General supervisor for the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, statement of 28 March, online at: http://truthsyria.wordpress.com/2012/02/12/muslim-brotherhood-statement-about-the-so-called-syrian-revolution/.

Allaf, Rime (2012) ‘This Time, Assad Has Overreached’, NYT, 5 Dec, online: http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2012/02/06/is-assads-time-running-out/this-time-assad-has-overreached.

Blanford, Nicholas (2011) ‘Assad regime may be gaining upper hand in Syria’, Christian Science Monitor, 13 may, online: http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2011/0513/Assad-regime-may-be-gaining-upper-hand-in-Syria.

Chossudovsky, Michel (2011) ‘Syria: who is behind the protest movement? Fabricating a pretext for US-NATO ‘Humanitarian Intervention’’, Global Research, 3 May, online: http://www.globalresearch.ca/syria-who-is-behind-the-protest-movement-fabricating-a-pretext-for-a-us-nato-humanitarian-intervention/24591.

Clinton, Hilary (2011) ‘There is No Going Back in Syria’, US Department of State, 17 June, online: http://www.state.gov/secretary/20092013clinton/rm/2011/06/166495.htm.

Maktabi, Rima (2011) ‘Reports of funeral, police shootings raise tensions in Syria’, CNN, 5 April, online: http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/meast/04/05/syria.unrest/.

Crimi, Frank (2012) ‘Ethnic Cleansing of Syrian Christians’, Frontpagemag, 29 March, online: http://www.frontpagemag.com/2012/frank-crimi/ethnic-cleansing-of-syrian-christians/.

Daily Mail (2011) ‘Nine protesters killed after security forces open fire by Syrian mosque’, 24 March.

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Draitser, Eric (2012) ‘Unmasking the Muslim Brotherhood: Syria, Egypt and beyond’, Global Research, 12 December, online: http://www.globalresearch.ca/unmasking-the-muslim-brotherhood-syria-egypt-and-beyond/5315406

Eretz Zen (2014) ‘Tunisian Jihadist Admits: We Destroyed & Desecrated Mosques in Syria to Cause Defections in Army’, Youtube interview, 16 March, online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQ8awN8GLAk

FOX News (2011) ‘Obama Under Pressure to Call for Syrian Leader’s Ouster’, 29 April, online: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/04/29/obama-pressure-syrian-leaders-ouster/.

Ghadry, Farid N. (2005) ‘Syrian Reform: What Lies Beneath’, Middle East Quarterly, Vol 12 No 1, Winter, online: http://www.meforum.org/683/syrian-reform-what-lies-beneath.

Haidar, Ali (2013) interview with this writer, Damascus 28 December. [Ali Haidar was President of the Syrian Social National Party (SSNP), a secular rival to the Ba’ath Party. In 2012 President Bashar al Assad incorporated him into the Syrian government as Minister for Reconciliation.].

Hashem, Ali (2012) ‘Al Jazeera Journalist Explains Resignation over Syria and Bahrain Coverage’, The Real News, 20 March, online: http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=8106

HRW (2011a) ‘We’ve never seen such horror: crimes against humanity by Syrian Security Forces’, Human Rights Watch, June, online: http://www.hrw.org/reports/2011/06/01/we-ve-never-seen-such-horror-0.

HRW (2011b) Syria: Defectors Describe Orders to Shoot Unarmed Protesters’, Human Rights Watch, Washington, 9 July, online: http://www.hrw.org/news/2011/07/09/syria-defectors-describe-orders-shoot-unarmed-protesters

HRW (2012) ‘Open Letter to the Leaders of the Syrian Opposition, Human Rights Watch, Washington, 20 March, online: http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/03/20/open-letter-leaders-syrian-opposition.

Jaber, Hala (2011) ‘Syria caught in crossfire of extremists’, Sunday Times, 26 June, online: http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/news/world_news/Middle_East/article657138.ece.

Khalidi, Suleiman (2011) ‘Thousands chant ‘freedom’ despite Assad reform offer’, Reuters, 24 March, online: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/03/24/us-syria-idUSTRE72N2MC20110324.

Landis, Joshua (2011a) ‘The Revolution Strikes Home: Yasir Qash`ur, my wife’s cousin, killed in Banyas’, Syria Comment, 11 April, online: http://www.joshualandis.com/blog/the-revolution-strikes-home-yasir-qashur-my-wifes-cousin-killed-in-banyas/.

Landis, Joshua (2011b) ‘Syria’s Opposition Faces an Uncertain Future’, Syria Comment, 26 June, online: http://www.joshualandis.com/blog/syrias-opposition-faces-an-uncertain-future/.

MEMRITV (2011) ‘Syrian Sunni Cleric Threatens: “We Shall Mince [The Alawites] in Meat Grinders”‘, YouTube, 13 July, online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bwz8i3osHww.

Nassar, Jessy (2014) ‘Hama: A rebirth from the ashes?’ Middle East Monitor, 11 July, online: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/12703-hama-a-rebirth-from-the-ashes.

Narwani, Sharmine (2012) ‘Questioning the Syrian “Casualty List”, 28 Feb, online: http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/questioning-syrian-%E2%80%9Ccasualty-list%E2%80%9D.

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Queenan, Gavriel (2011) ‘Syria: Seven Police Killed, Buildings torched in protests’, Israel National News, Arutz Sheva, March 21.

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Salt, Jeremy (2011) Truth and Falsehood in Syria, The Palestine Chronicle, 5 October, online: http://palestinechronicle.com/view_article_details.php?id=17159.

Sayyid Rasas, Mohammed (2013) ‘From 2005 to 2013: The Syrian Opposition’s Many Faces’, Al Akhbar, 19 March, online: http://english.al-akhbar.com/node/15287.

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Facts about the “Free Syrian Army”

The name Free Syrian Army or FSA is often tossed about as a group of moderates or seculars the US should support in trying to overthrow Assad. There are claims that the FSA has up to 50,000 fighters. This cannot possibly be the case, but they may have as many as 20,000. Only 10% of the Syrian rebels consist of the FSA. The other 90% are Islamist jihadis of all types. 90% of the weapons that the US gives to the FSA actually end up with the real jihadis, usually Al-Nusra, the Al Qaeda faction in Syria. So most US weaponry given to Syrian rebels ends up with Al Qaeda.

The FSA is viciously sectarian, and even the most secular and moderate group of them all refers to Alawites by the pejorative term “Nusairis.”

When the FSA took over the city of Homs, one of the first things that they did was to evict all of the city’s 50,000 Christians. Whenever any rebel group, FSA or jihadi, takes over a town, they destroy or burn down any churches in town. The FSA, along with Al-Nusra, took part in a savage massacre of Christians in which ~50 Christians, including women and children, where slaughtered in vicious ways. The Syrian Christians very much dislike the FSA and say they are radical Muslims who persecute Christians.

There have been many massacres in this war. What happens is that some armed force enters a town, rounds up all the civilians and kills them or goes door to door and kills them. They are often killed in terrible ways and also mutilated. After the massacre occurs, the rebels, often the FSA, announce that Assad’s forces committed the massacre. However, it is mostly Alawites, Christians and Syrians who support the regime who are being slaughtered in these massacres. There is no reason for the Assad regime to kill anyone in those three categories, as those are its supporters.

Reports afterwards are often conflicting, but investigators have learned that all or nearly all of these village massacres were done by the rebels and few if any were done by the Syrian Arab Army or SAA. The FSA, either alone or with Al-Nusra, was the guilty party in most of these horrific massacres.

There is a striking similarity to these massacres which bear an uncanny resemblance to the ways that the GIA takfiri jihadis in Algeria were slaughtering villagers in the Algerian Civil War of the 1990’s.

Assad is still being charged by the Western press with committing a lot of these massacres when he probably committed none of them. The reason that Assad probably did not do even one of these massacres is not because Assad is a nice guy. He’s clearly not. But when the regime violates human rights, they don’t go into villages and slaughter all of the civilians.

Instead they drop barrel bombs on cities, carry out drive by assassinations, or arrest people and then beat or torture them to death, often in military prisons. That’s the way they do it.

There is no way that the FSA is anywhere near as secular as Assad. If any rebel coalition took power, Syria could become a much less secular place.

Many FSA members, after being trained and armed by the US, left the FSA and joined Al-Nusra, ISIS or one of the other jihadi groups. Furthermore, many of the jihadi groups are constantly rebranding themselves as “FSA” in order to get legitimacy. The FSA doesn’t even really exist. There is no overall command structure. Instead the FSA is simply a number of fighting groups who happen to call themselves FSA. If you call yourself FSA, then you are FSA. It is more of a brand like Al Qaeda than a coherent organization. What is “FSA” today probably will not be “FSA” tomorrow.

The FSA has been fighting alongside jihadis like Nusra from day one. In fact, most FSA groups are now part of factions that are led by Al-Nusra. So most of the FSA fights alongside Al Qaeda or is part of an Al Qaeda led coalition.

In addition, quite a few FSA factions appear to be jihadi wolves themselves who have donned sheep’s clothing in order to appear moderate and mostly to get US weapons.

The Syria’s Civil War subreddit is one of the best sites out there to keep you up to date on everything that is happening in this war. There are many FSA supporters on there. Their behavior is most interesting. Anytime any jihadi group, including Nusra or ISIS, makes any progress against the SAA, all of the FSA supporters cheer like wild.

Yes that is right, all of the FSA supporters on that subreddit cheer for ISIS and Al Qaeda.

The FSA itself is full of jihadis and at any rate often fights alongside Al Qaeda or other jihadis. Most FSA factions are presently under the command of Al Qaeda.

For those reasons, I simply cannot support the FSA. The FSA just looks like Al Qaeda or radical Islam to me.

As you can see, the moderate rebels in this fight are quite rare if they even exist at all.

Another Frontline Hit Job on Assad

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BVf8PcguuhQ

This time our intrepid reporter baits a pro-Assad militiaman. This man is in Latakia which is home to most of the Alawites in the country. He himself is either an Alawite or a Christian because he fears that the rebels will make sex slaves or slaves of his wife and kids. They are only enslaving non-Sunni Muslims, so that means that he either fears that his Alawite family will be enslaved or he fears that his Christian family will be enslaved.

It is true that there is heavy fighting now in the Al Ghab Plain where the government is making some progress. The government is at the west and south of the plain fighting east from the west edge and north and east from the southern edge. The plain is north of the city of Hama.

The government has indeed made some modest gains in fighting to the north and east of the south of the plain, capturing a number of towns. The problem is that the rebels are seriously dug in, having held these towns for a long time. Most residents of the Plain are Sunni Muslims. Fighting is definitely slow going here as it is in other areas, even with Russian air support.

It is crucial for the state to hold the Latakia region as this is where the Alawites live and if the “moderate” rebels break through they will massacre of lot of the Alawi.

The “moderates” have already committed many massacres all across Syria, mostly of government supporting Sunnis and Alawites. In fact, every time you hear about an armed group coming into a village and burning all of the homes and killing all the people, especially when they torture them to death, chop them to pieces or kill them in horrible ways, it was always the rebels and never the regime.

Nevertheless, the Western “free press” and the Western “free world” has blamed Assad for many if not all of these massacres, when in fact they were all done by the rebels, often the Free Syrian Army or FSA.

I have not heard of a single major civilian massacre yet committed by Assad. Not that Assad is a nice guy, it’s just that the SAA or even the militias simply do not go into villages and line up civilians and slaughter them. They do kill people, including civilians, but they just don’t do it like that is all. If the regime wants you dead, they will either kill you with a targeted assassination or they will arrest you, put you in a military prison and torture you to death.

The FSA is only 10% of the rebels. The rest are all Islamists. I doubt if there are any rebels as secular as Assad. Most FSA groups are actually Islamists themselves. A few in the south are not, but almost all FSA groups are under the command of Al Nusra or Al Qaeda. 90% of the weapons we give to the “moderate” rebels end up with the Islamists, typically with Al-Nusra. Even any FSA groups not under Nusra command fight alongside Nusra.

Even the few moderate groups are in bed with the West. They are committed to getting rid of Assad and putting in a pro-US regime in Syria just like all of the others in the Middle East. They probably also want to make peace with Israel like the other pro-US regimes have.

So even if you support moderate rebels and want to get rid of Assad, Syria will leave the Axis of Resistance which consists of Hezbollah, Iran and Syria at the moment, as all rebels are Sunni Arabs, and they all want to end Syria’s alliance with Iran and Hezbollah, as those those two are Shia, and all of the rebels hate the Shia and especially hate Iran. On the other hand, the few moderate rebel groups do not stand a chance or beating Assad, as they are so weak and few in number.

The choice really is Assad or radical Islam. That’s all there is to it. Almost all of Syrian secular society supports Assad. Polls of Syrian Christians show that 99% of them support Assad, and many have joined the various Christian militias that have formed. In supporting radical Islamists who kill Christians and destroy churches, the US is opposing nearly all of the Christians in Syria. I mentioned destroying churches? Yes. Whenever just about any of the rebels (even apparently the FSA) conquer a town, usually the first thing they do is destroy the churches, often by burning them.

The level of support for Assad in the capital is almost fanatical and has been compared to Soviet support for Stalin during World War 2. Whether this is due to regime propaganda or if it is due to people carefully analyzing the situation and supporting Assad on that basis is not known and really it doesn’t even matter.

The US position of waging war on both Assad and waging a fake war on ISIS is the height of sheer, utter lunacy.

It’s Either Assad or Chaos, Hell and Genocide

Found on the Internet:

It’s often said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. If Assad falls and with him the government and the entire Syrian control structure – there will be no “happily ever after” where the “good and the moderate” form a democratic nation of unity. That never happens. Never. What does happen is slaughter (sometimes genocide), further war between “victorious” factions, and infighting followed by a failed state. The “good and the moderate” don’t get to be the kings of the ashes – that crown always ends up with the radical and the brutal.

There is no way to get rid of Assad and have a peaceful, friendly, moderate, democratic, human-rights oriented, pro-Western government take its place. It’s literally either Assad or complete chaos, much worse than the chaos we are seeing now.

It will be like Libya but only much worse. The forces in Libya only killed each other for several months in a war. That’s not a lot of time to build up hatreds. The Syrians have been going at it for four years in the most brutal way. Furthermore, there were almost no non-Sunni Muslim minorities in Libya. In Syria, fully 27% of the population is non-Sunni Muslim and 12% are not even really Muslims (if we say that the Druze are not Muslims).

And actually I think there will be genocides, especially of the Alawite Shia Muslims, who will simply be slaughtered en masse. There are 2 million of them to kill so it may take some time. There are also 1.7 million Christians in Syria, and I am not optimistic about their fate under a post-Assad regime. The fate of the 350,000 Druze is rather up in the air. There are also a small number of Ismaili Shia who would not fare well at all under a new regime. In fact, they will probably be killed.

And many Syrians support the regime – 70% in a recent poll. That’s 12 million enemy Syrians the new government will have to deal with. Al-Nusra often kills all government supporters when it takes over a town or village. The Free Syrian Army has done the same thing – massacring even whole villages of Sunni Muslims.

Even if Assad falls, I think a lot of pro-Assad forces will continue to fight for what the Assad regime stood for. Bottom line is even is Assad falls, the fighting will not end by a long shot. If we are lucky it will only be like Libya, but I am quite sure it is going to be much worse.

Syria Sitrep August 10, 2014

Assad is not winning the Syrian War, but he is not losing either. The war is more or less stalemated, but ISIS has been gaining ground in the east.
At this point, nearly 100% of Syrian minorities are with Assad. At one point, there were Alawites fighting Assad and Christian divisions of the Free Syrian Army, but that’s all history. Druze also are 100% with Assad.
Syria is full of all sorts of armies and militias everywhere you look. There are a number of militias or armies fighting on the side of Assad which are out of Assad’s control. Many of these are guerrillas behind enemy lines. There are also independent Alawite, Christian and to some extent Druze pro-Assad militias.
There really are no secular or moderate rebels anymore. The Free Syrian Army started out that way, but they have grown more and more Islamist. None of the rebel forces are friendly to Christians, Alawites or Druze at this point. It really is a choice between Assad and a hardline Sunni Islamist regime.
This is an unbelievably vicious and cruel war with many deaths on all sides. There are no angels here. Both sides are fighting extremely dirty. The “secular” Free Syrian Army massacres entire towns of Alawites and chops off the heads of 7 year old Alawi girls. The FSA love to chop off heads, and there are many photos of FSA troops holding up severed heads. Syrian Christians now regard the FSA as the enemy.
Assad is fighting with extreme cruelty. Many civilians are killed by bombs and shelling, and entire enemy held cities are destroyed.
Both sides execute POW’s. Rebels usually execute POW’s right away, but Assad prefers to torture rebel suspects to death. For instance, in the PFLP-GC controlled Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus, there has long been heavy fighting between anti-Assad rebels and pro-Assad militias (PFLP-GC militia itself). Government forces bomb and shell the camp. Nearly 175 Palestinian men from the camp have been captured by the regime on charges of being rebels. All have been tortured to death.
Incredibly, ISIS sells oil to the Syrian government from the large oil fields they control.
Rumors that ISIS is a project of the Syrian or even more weirdly the Iranian government appear to lack evidence. ISIS kills many Syrian soldiers so it is hard to see how Assad would want to see his own troops slaughtered.
However, the US and Turkey were supporting ISIS out of the US Embassy in Istanbul until recently. ISIS is a CIA anti-Assad project in coordination with Jordan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar gone haywire and out of control. Frankenstein is up and walking on his own, and he’s coming for the mad scientists who made him.
Heavy fighting between ISIS and a rebellious Syrian tribe in the Deir Al Zour region in the east. Heavy casualties.
Fighting continues between ISIS and other groups, especially ISIS and Al-Nusra. However, Al-Nusra also battles the Islamic Front, especially around Aleppo. And they also fight alongside them in the same city.
There are definitely all-Kurdish militias inside of ISIS.
The Syrian War is a scene of nearly complete chaos, countless militias, everyone fighting everyone, towns changing hands all the time, alliances made and broken, allies fighting alongside each other and then shooting it out, new militias constantly being formed, collapsing or merging into other groups, and extremely heavy casualties on all sides.
It is a complete mess, and it is very hard to figure out what exactly is going on anywhere at any time.

On Dhimmitude and the Zakat

From here:

squeezethejuice (Muslim): There is nothing wrong or immoral with Jizya, b/c those paying also get benefits that even we Muslims are not entitled to. And should always be comparable in amount to the amount of zakat that Muslims are expected to donate; same order of magnitude. Among the benefits, for example, they are exempt from joining the Muslim army and potentially fighting defensive wars against their own Christian or Jewish brethren, even those who have committed acts of violence against innocent Muslims.
What ISIS and the others don’t understand about Jizya is that we Muslims are bound to offer security & protection to those paying it, i.e. no threats or anything.
And there are more ways to pay Jizya than just money. While the Jews are rich and will never be in this situation, poor Christians can offer their young daughters in marriage to Muslims, and of course we should consider their Jizya paid for the next 5 years if they have done so.
Angemon (non-Muslim): Zakat is 2.5% of the yearly income, jizya has always been crushingly heavy with the intent of humiliating non-Muslims. Those two taxes are not “comparable” or in the “same order of magnitude”, and historically the jizya was collected through force, mafia style – it’s no coincidence that the term “mafia” comes from the Arabic and originated in a region who was once under Islamic rule.
And it’s not that non-Muslims were exempt from joining the Muslim army – the Janissaries were originally non-Muslims abducted from their families – because they had a special status. It’s that Muslims were too afraid of letting non-Muslim owning weapons (for fearing a rebellion) or letting them fight (especially when Muslims were fighting against he native trying to get their land back).
Think about it: if non-Muslims were paying the same amount of tax as Muslims and not being drafted to the army them human nature would cause Muslims to convert out of Islam and not the other way around. When Muslim conquered a new land they were in minority so they couldn’t risk letting the conquered getting their hands on weapons and starting a rebellion.
And can you imagine a Muslim leader, indoctrinated to believe that Jews and Christians are always scheming against Muslims, let’s say, Christians from a land he just conquered to fight against Christians who were trying to drive the Muslims out of their lands? Why would Christians being forced into battle against their own people side with the Muslims? No, non-Muslims were forbidden from owning weapons and fighting because Muslims feared for their safety. Would they need to fear for their safety if they treated non-Muslims fairly?
Even if we were to overlook the jizya, there are plenty of degrading conditions in the pact of Umar that make it quite clear that non-Muslims in a Muslim state don’t have the same rights as Muslims. Heck, let’s let Abu Waleed explain by his own words how “wonderful” life is for non-Muslims in a Muslim state:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJM_fPlWFgI
Besides the barrage of lies about jizya and the status of non-Muslims in a Muslim state, poor stj makes a remark about Jews that was probably straight out of a deleted scene from Borat. What do you think it would happen to a Jew who couldn’t afford to pay the jizya in the hands of someone who seems to think all Jews are rich?
We know what happened to Kinana when he told Muhammad he had no treasure hidden. He was tortured with fire on his chest and, since he neared death without saying anything, Muhammad had him beheaded. And since Muhammad is the example Muslims are supposed to emulate…
stj also seems to believe that it’s ok for poor Christians to sell their daughters into marriage with Muslim men as payment for the jizya. So much for “security and protection”, non-Muslim women in a Muslim state are to be used as chattel for the enjoyment of Muslim men.
Notice that he said that “There is nothing wrong or immoral with Jizya” because those who pay it, even if they do so by selling their daughters into marriage, are entitled to the “benefits” explained by Abu Waleed in the above video, so he doesn’t see anything wrong or immoral with using non-Muslim women as currency. So remember, if you think it’s immoral to sell a girl into marriage to someone who will regard and treat her as subhuman trash you’re an “Islamophobe”.

Note the Youtube video above. That is exactly what dhimmitude is supposed to be under the Islamic state, and for centuries, non-Muslims probably had to live in dhimmitude. However, state-imposed dhimmitude has been dead since about 1900. Even in Iran, Sudan, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, it does not exist. I believe some form of dhimmitude was enforced when the Taliban ruled Afghanistan.
It looks like ISIS is trying to impose some sort of dhimmitude on the Christians under its rule. The Shia are faring war worse. ISIS simply kills any Shia they can get their hands on. They do the same thing to any Alawite they can get their hands on in Syria. ISIS also kills Yezidis at random and on sight. Both Yezidis, the Shia and the Alawi are considered to be heretics. When ISIS took over the Druze region of southern Syria recently, a number of Druze villages were ordered to convert to Sunni Islam or die. The villages duly converted. In truth, Druze really isn’t even Islam, although it looks a bit like it. Some Christians have also been given the “convert or die” or the “convert, leave or die” option by ISIS in Syria.
Since dhimmitude for all intents and purposes has not existed for 115 years, it seems a bit silly to rant and rave about how Muslims force all non-Muslims into dhimmitude when they are the majority because it is simply not true.
However, these Al Qaeda radicals do indeed want to bring back dhimmitude is some form or another. Jihadis have raided Christian homes in the Dora region of southern Baghdad and ordered Christians to pay the zakat or be killed. After ISIS took over a town in Syria recently, they ordered all Christians to pay a zakat. The zakat was quite a hefty amount, and most of the Christians did not have it.
As you can see in the video, the purpose of dhimmitude is to make life as a non-Muslim under Muslim rule so awful and humiliating that many non-Muslims simply convert to Islam to get out from under the oppression. All of the arguments for the zakat are false. It’s not a protection tax; instead, it is more like a Mafia protection racket. The non-Muslims are told to pay protection fees to the Muslim Mafia. If they don’t pay up, bad things are going to happen just like if you refuse the pay the Mafia’s protection tax. There is no humanitarian aspect to this tax.
The Muslims have always lied about what happened in the countries they conquered. In most lands it was the same story. Gradually, over time, more and more non-Muslims converted to Islam, although Spain, the Balkans and India were exceptions. The Muslims say that more and more infidels simply embraced Islam over time, apparently because it is so groovy. That’s clearly not what happened. They were terrorized into converting via dhimmitude.
Egypt has a large number of Coptic Christians. However, under Mubarak, they were not allowed to repair their churches when they started to fall down. This is one of the tenets of dhimmitude – Christians are not allowed to repair existing churches nor are they allowed to build new ones.
Also the periodic terror that is inflicted on non-Muslims in many to most Muslim countries can be seen a form of dhimmitude.

Who Killed Rafik Hariri?

Repost from the old site.

One wonders where to begin with a post like this. Rafik Hariri, of course, was the Prime Minister and self-made billionaire who ruled Lebanon for a time recently. He was assassinated in an expertly planned car bomb attack, but no one really knows who did it. All suspicion fell on Syria, and Syria did have good reason to kill Hariri.

You really need a lot of background in Lebanese and Middle Eastern politics to even begin to understand the twists and turns of this sinuous murder mystery.

Hariri was elected head of Lebanon and proceeded to go on a borrowing spree, mostly with Saudi money, and rebuilt Lebanon after the Civil War destroyed it. He did this by playing all factions off each other. He also instituted a Lebanese version of free market economics, an economic system that, thank God, is largely absent from the Middle East because it contradicts Arab and especially Islamic values.

Hariri is a Sunni, but a fairly secular one. The Sunnis make up maybe 17% of Lebanon. The Shia, represented by Hezbollah, make up about 40%. The Maronites make up about 30%. The Druze and Orthodox Christians make up about 10%. There has been no census taken in about 50 years, because everyone is afraid of how things are going to turn out.

The Christians used to be the majority – in fact, Lebanon was originally split off from Syria by the French to give the Christians their own country. Partly for this reason, it’s very existence is resented by a number of Lebanese Muslims, especially Sunnis, who figure that Syria and Lebanon are all one country.

Syria itself has long regarded the severance of Lebanon from Mother Syria as illegitimate, and her behavior in recent years has been motivated in part by these feelings. The Shia were long-downtrodden, especially by the Sunnis. The Sunnis were the Muslims who were pretty much in charge of the place in terms of who was in charge of the Muslims in the country. The Sunni held the reigns, and discrimination against the Shia was rife.

Shia were regularly attacked by Sunni gangs in Beirut up into the 1970’s. The Shia complain that the Sunnis would only allow them to be garbagemen – that was the best job they could get. After the late 1950’s, when a Christian lost the election and Lebanese Christians feared that their power would be constricted, there has been a power-sharing agreement in place.

The Prime Minister must be a Sunni, another high post must be a Christian, etc, etc. As the Christians have gone from majority to minority, this system has become less and less fair. In particular, Muslims, especially the Shia, are dramatically underrepresented. The Christians did not want to give up their power in the late 1950’s, so the US Marines landed to enforce illegitimate Christian rule over Lebanon.

The Civil War began in part once again over demands that Lebanese democracy be derived more on one man one vote and that the excessive power of the Christians be curtailed. Further, the Christians have always run the Lebanese economy, at least in recent years.

I say all of this because in the US there is a strong tendency to side with the Lebanese Christians against the evil Muslims. Further, the Lebanese Maronite Christians (the largest sect) have made an important alliance with the Zionist Jews in Israel, an alliance that helped to drive the Civil War.

So US Zionist propaganda, which floods our media night and day, strongly favors the Maronites once again. As an example of this alliance, one of the highest ranking neoconservatives of all is a Maronite Lebanese lawyer named F. Michael Maloof who is very close to uber-neocons Douglas Feith and Richard Perle. He is up to his eyeballs in the planning of the war on Iraq.

With the Lebanese Civil War and the rise of Hezbollah, the Shia have finally been given a place at the table of Lebanese politics. The Druze are a real wild card. They shift all over the place on the whim of their erratic leader, Walid Jumblatt, from anti-Israel and anti-US to anti-Syrian and pro-US.

The Shia, and Hezbollah along with the more secular Amal Party, are allied with Syria and Iran. Syria keeps Hezbollah armed in Southern Lebanon as a tool to threaten Israel with in order to try to get the Golan Heights back. That’s all Syria gets out of the game. If Hezbollah is disarmed in Lebanon, Syria loses it’s most powerful weapon and may never get its land back.

Hezbollah has since taken up the cause of Lebanese nationalism, agitating for the return of the Shebaa Farms and some nearby hills that they say Israel is occupying. It is probably Lebanese land, but Israel seems to have captured that land from Syria when it grabbed the Golan.

For its purposes, Syria wants to say that the Shebaa is Lebanese for purposes of keeping Hezbollah armed, and to say it’s Syrian as soon as Hezbollah tries to make peace with Israel or vice versa. So Syria must play a double game here, but everyone is in this crazy part of the world.

As a condition of ending the Civil War, Syria was tasked with ruling the place. Syria had actually entered the war to save the Maronite Christians from defeat, but the Christians soon forgot about this and turned on the Syrians. The Taba Agreement, constructed with the help of the US and other powers, put Syria in charge until the Lebanese could figure out how to stop killing each other.

Syria quickly started meddling in Lebanese politics bigtime, and an independence movement arose to get Syria out of Lebanon. This was ignored by the US until George Bush came to office. Now the same US that put Syria in power started demanding that Syria leave. Not only that, but there were increasing demands on Lebanon to “disarm all militias”, code words for disarm Hezbollah.

Now, Syria needs Hezb in Lebanon until it gets the Golan back, so them’s fighting words to the Syrians. At the same time, the US invaded Iraq and threatened Iran, Libya, and Syria, while Israel killed Arafat by poisoning him.

This whole process was set into motion by the neocons who were operating in the interests of the Israeli government. It was an Israeli plan to deal a powerful blow to some of their worst enemies in order to secure the realm, as Xymphora lays out brilliantly here.

Part of this Zionist plot was to knock out Hezbollah in Lebanon as part of a triple blow against Syria, Iran and Hezbollah. Hezbollah kept getting more powerful on Israel’s northern border, and the Israelis were getting more upset.

So the US and France pushed through a UN resolution, UN Security Council Resolution 1559, calling for Syria to get out of Lebanon and for the disarming of Hezbollah. Note that France is still an imperialist power in the region, defending the interests of the Christians who they put in charge of their former colony.

Also, the US Congress pushed a bill called the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2003, a bill that may as well have been written by the Israeli Knesset. It’s so pro-Israeli, it’s almost impossible to comprehend that the US Congress wrote it. Apparently, it imposes sanctions on Syria for a variety of mostly-bullshit reasons.

The US is in Iraq, apparently forever, threatening Syria and Iran, for the most part in order to benefit the Israelis, since Syria and Iran have no particular beefs with the US. Iran and Syria clearly want the US out of Iraq and US guns away from their doorstep. They have no interest in keeping the US in Iraq at all.

Anyway, the US status of forces agreement that they are trying to negotiate with the Iraqis is explicitly meant to use Iraq as a base for attacking neighboring countries, mostly Iran but possibly Syria too. So rage at Syria and Iran for not being overjoyed about the US military in Iraq is misplaced. No sane Syrian or Iranian leader would want us there.

Amidst this backdrop, Hariri supported UN Resolution 1559, probably because finally even the Lebanese Sunnis were getting fed up with Syria’s high-handedness. They had supported Syria for a long time, but Syria kept trying to push people to their limits.

It was the Maronite Christians who really hated the Syrians being there. Why is uncertain. The Maronites despise the Shia and Hezbollah and want the Palestinian refugees gone too.

By the way, the reason that the Palestinians have never been allowed to work or become citizens in Lebanon is because of the Maronites. The Maronites fear that allowing the Pallies to become citizens will increase the Muslim population at the expense of the Christians.

So the Hariri crowd was riding the wave of anti-Syrianism. At the same time, he was closely allied with the Saudis. The Saudis’ whole role in the region is to support the Sunnis and screw the Shia, in a word. So the Saudis were backing Hariri solely because he is Sunni, and also to stop Iran and Hezbollah and increasingly Syria, who is allied with Iran and Hezbollah and hence in the enemy camp as far as the Saudis see it.

There really is not much sane reason for the Saudis to fear Iran. All the hate in the region goes from Sunni to Shia, pretty much. Perhaps the Iranians could energize the long-downtrodden Saudi Shia to rebel against the Saudis, but the Saudis ought to give them more rights anyway. Sunni fears of Iran attacking the region are simply insane, kind of like Nazi fears of the USSR overrunning Europe, so the Nazis had to attack first.

Iran has never attacked another state in at least 100 years and possibly longer. The Shia are on the outs in the Arab World, and the Sunnis have all the power. There are no nefarious Shia plots to evangelize Shia Islam and convert all the Sunnis – this is just mad Sunni paranoia. But the Saudis do work hard in Iran to convert the Shia Ahwaz Arabs to Wahhabi Sunnism, and they have had some success at this.

The Shia have been killing a lot of Sunnis in Iraq, but the Sunnis started it. Saddam Hussein, a Sunni, started the war against Iran for no good reason, and received volunteers and money from most of the Sunni states in the region.

Against this backdrop, as Syria was leaving Lebanon (though a spy network remains behind) Hariri was killed in the very professional car bomb attack. An Al Qaeda type radical Salafist Islamist associated with Jund al-Sham (Army of the Levant) was promptly fingered in the attack, though there were a lot of questions about whether or not Syria was actually involved.

The US and France got a UN commission to actually send a law enforcement team to investigate the killing. A couple of teams were sent out there and a couple of reports came back. One team was headed by Detlev Mehlis, a German.

Jürgen Cain Külbel, a journalist in Germany, is an acquaintance. He’s a former member of the STASI and is associated with the former East German government and the political party that came afterwards. Külbel is a Leftist, and for a long time he was pushing theories saying that US imperialism was in back of a lot of the shenanigans in the ME, including I guess the invasion of Iraq.

He showed a profound disinterest in investigating any Israeli or Jewish Lobby involvement in many of the conflicts over there. This is standard Leftist line that absolves Israel of everything and pushes it all off on imperialism.

So it is interesting that Külbel has now come around to the notion that Israel killed Hariri and then tried to pawn it off on Syria. He has also shown links that Mehlis had with the US AIPAC. Mehlis, as it turns out, used to work for WINEP, which is nothing AIPAC as a research arm. So his finding that Syria was involved has been attacked by Külbel.

Külbel was subsequently imprisoned for ten days for violating a court order by printing some East German STASI papers on his website. I’m not sure of their contents, but it may have shown how Mehlis was associated with WINEP. So the Voltaire Network has taken up the cause of Külbel, about which I feel they are making a mountain out of a molehill.

Of interest to our Maronite discussion above, a group called UNIFL, which has interests that are almost precisely in line with the Israeli government, figures in all of this. These are the most hardcore radical rightwing Maronites, who are for all intents and purposes a quasi-fascist movement.

They were deeply involved in the War Against Iraq and other great big messes. They’ve been selling this BS story about how the Christians are so persecuted in Lebanon, and the persecution is being done by evil fundamentalist Islamic Syria (run by ultra-secular Alawis).

It’s mostly just a pack of lies, but there were arrests, tortures and killings under Syrian rule, it is true. That’s all over now, and the Maronites did tons of killing in their own day.

After all, they committed the most and worst massacres of all during the Civil War.

Maloof is in with these guys, so is a guy named David Wurmser (Israeli agent neoconservative with dual citizenship) and his evil witch of the West wife Meyrav (read Hebrew for “Mary”, no? Israeli agent neoconservative with dual citizenship).

So is Richard Pele (Israeli agent neoconservative. Dual citizenship?), and worst of all, Daniel Pipes (Israeli agent neoconservative. Dual citizenship?) of Middle East Watch and Campus Watch and all of that Zionist fascist censorship, harassment and firing crap leaping up all over our land). Nice long sentence.

Pipes, whose father was an evil Cold War maniac and professional liar about the Soviet Union, inherited the evil maniac part, but all he cares about is Israel. Paul Wolfowitz (Israeli agent neoconservative with dual citizenship) is also in deep with these guys.

Harold Rhode (Israeli agent neoconservative. Dual citizenship?) is another one, but no one has ever heard of him, so I will make him famous today for all time. Rhode is a Jewish guy who is religious and was obsessed with attacking Iraq. He was in on the plot to attack Iraq with all the rest of them from the very start.

Afterward, he became obsessed with the Jewish religious relics that the evil anti-Semitic Arab-Nazi government had somehow, through a sudden stroke of anti-Semitism, managed to preserve, despite their genocidal intentions towards all the world’s Jews.

Saddam wanted to kill every Jew on Earth, of course, but damn right he was going to save those Jewish holy books. That proves Saddam was a madman all right, just like the yahoos screamed before the invasion.

Rhode ran over to Iraq as soon as the war was done and got himself a big team put together right away while the museums and archaeological relics of the nation were being devastated. After all, the history of Jews receives precedence of the history of those lowly, dirty Arabs and over the very history of mankind itself, right? Jews take precedence over Arabs. Jews take precedence over humanity. You get the picture.

Well, anyway, a lot of money was spent grabbing every single Jewish relic in Iraq and “storing” it away in the US (in Jewish hands, I guess). Well, that’s sort of illegal. Now that Iraq is more stable, the Iraqi government wants their Jewish stuff back. It belongs to Iraq, not to the world’s Jews. Whoops, I forgot. No nation is allowed to own Jewish relics. Jews take precedence over all real nations on Earth.

Also, it’s funny that the US (Are we the second Jewish state?) bent all over backwards to grab all that old Jewish stuff, while we sat back and watched, first, while the whole non-Jewish history of Iraq was looted and destroyed to Hell, in particular the History of the Ottoman Empire.

Well, screw the Ottomans, they were just evil Muslims who ruled the Arab World and treated the Jews like crap, right? Or they were just scummy Muslims, screw em. Anyway, obviously the Jewish history of Iraq got nabbed by the nimble hands of the Jewish “Americans”, but the non-Jewish history of Iraq was scatted to the Seven Winds and the Seventy Thousand Thieves.

After all, in any country with lots of Jews, only the Jewish history matters ,and the non-Jewish history is just, pshaw! Right? Trash the museums and the libraries and re-burn the Library of Alexandria if the US and Israel are in the book-burning and library-sacking business, which apparently they are.

Funny how the US can’t spare a soldier to save the history of Muslim Ottoman Iraq from being ruined. Those records have been flooded and subjected to all sorts of abuse, and the US can’t spare one sentry to guard that stuff. Wow, gee, why do they hate us anyway?

They must be jealous of all of our stuff, and our freedoms, and you know, our stuff.

Ever notice that the far-Right jingoist dickheads who scream the loudest about “our freedoms” and “they hate us for our freedom” are the first ones to start shutting freedoms down? Scooter Libby (Israeli agent neoconservative. Dual citizenship?) is in with UNIFL too. So are Steven Hadley and Donald Rumsfeld. Hadley’s some weird poli-sci ultra-rightwing Vulcan dude.

Külbel also accuses UNIFL along with Israel of killing Hariri.

And it’s surely possible that a Maronite or UNIFL-type spy was used by the Mossad in Syria to kill Iranian super-agent Imad Mughniyeh. My theory, yes, I read up on that one too.

Why can’t Syria uncover the Mossad network deep in its very bowels?

Why can’t Iran either? Iran did catch one Mossad agent, and they just sentenced him to death after one of the shortest trials in recent history. If he’s really Mossad, hang him high, go ahead.

And I know that Iran is full of US spies and even US undercover troops (500 total? How many?). Same with British spies. Iran can’t catch these guys? The US guys are running around blowing up stuff up, and the British are giving bombs to Iranian rebels, including Al Qaeda types called Jundallah in Balochistan.

I guess Mossad, the US and probably the UK too, are all trying to get at Iran’s nuclear sites, and yes, I am certain the Iranians are making a nuclear bomb right now. I think they already have one, but it’s just a uranium bomb, and that isn’t good for anything but making one square mile of Earth uninhabitable for 70 years.

Actually, just to be a completely evil and horrible scumbag and make people hate me even more than they already do, I will right now officially support Iran’s efforts to get a nuclear bomb.

Is that an evil position or what?! Not to shoot one, just to get one.

Also to make a whole bunch of evil biological and chemical weapons and WMD-this and WMD-that. Also, just to be even more of an ass and arouse more hatred, I will say that I was deeply sad when North Korea blew up their reactor, because I wanted them to make more nukes to threaten people, namely the US, my country with. Not to shoot at us. Just to even it up.

Why be an ass? Long argument, but it has to do with imperialism’s gross abuse of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Agreement.

I’m not saying this is what happened or anything, Maronites and Mossad killing Hariri. No one on Earth will ever know what happened. Figure it out yourself, I give, and I spent many long hours reading and poring over this mystery until I finally just gave up and don’t want to read about it anymore.

Such are the homicidal intrigues of the Middle East, like vines in a jungle, no beginning, no end, no middle, nothing much to grab, and every new lead carries you off on more red herrings and impossibilities and possibilities, and everything seems possible, but still nothing ever totally adds up. God I love a mystery. To a point.

Sorry this went on, but I never wrote a Hariri post. Now it’s done, and hopefully I won’t need to write any more. Believe it or not, I could have written way more, but I’m not into putting readers to sleep. I’m long-winded enough, as it is.

Try the Angry Arab blog (I’ve talked to this guy; As’ad, a Leftist Arab nationalist professor at a university very close by) if you can’t get enough of this maddening Lebanon stuff.

Or Joshua Landis’ (an acquaintance) great Syria Comment if you want to dip into the Syrian mystery casserole, where nothing makes sense either, and you think you can see the fish in the bowl, but the more you look, the more you can hardly make them out, and plus they always change.

Why the US and Israel Support the Syrian Rebels

Researching this Syrian civil war, it’s clear as air that the US and Israel are rooting for the rebels. Indeed, much of the West is. But why? I was mystified at first, but now it all makes sense.

Here’s how it works:

Get rid of Assad.

Assad goes, and you strike a death blow against Iran.

Assad goes, and in particular, you strike a severe death blow against Hezbollah.

Syria is Hezbollah’s patron, via Iran. The Iran-Syria-Hezbollah Axis is one of Israel’s main enemies. Furthermore, Syria, but mostly Iran, supports Hamas.

So, Assad goes, and you strike a major blow against the Syria-Iran-Hezbollah-Hamas resistance faction.

The minority Alawite Shia regime supports Iran and Hezbollah mostly for nationalist reasons – they want the Golan back. All three are Shia, so it works as an alliance.

The Syrian Arab Sunnis increasingly hate Hezbollah, because they see them as tied in with Assad’s regime. Hezbollah is also supporting the regime in Damascus, because it’s their lifeline. Iran is reportedly helping to put down the rebellion, so they don’t like Iran either. I’m starting to see a lot of Syrian Sunni Arab sectarian comments on the web against the Shia, about how they are the enemies of the Sunnis, etc.

Bottom line, if an opposition regime gets in, it will probably be a relatively Islamist Sunni Arab regime. They will take a dim view of supporting Hezbollah and an equally dim view of an alliance with the eternal enemy Iran.

The problem with this US-Israeli view is that it is short-sighted. The Syrian Sunni Arab Islamists are ferocious Israel-haters, and they want the Golan back as bad as anyone.

Their attitude is that Assad has been too weak to get the Golan back. Get rid of the Alawite regime, put in a Syrian Sunni Arab Islamist regime with deep ties to the Ikhwan, and launch a war on Israel. That’s the explicit goal of the Syrian Islamists.

Now, whether or not they can pull this off is another question. But regardless of what happens to the Hezbollah-Syria-Iran Axis, the new Sunni Arab Islamist regime in Syria will not, repeat not, be friendly to Israel.

It’s one of those be careful what you wish for, you just might get it, things.

Video: Violent Crackdown in Hama, Syria

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sztIb-As7Jo&feature=channel_video_title]

A very shocking video of the protests in Hama, Syria on Friday after prayers which turned very violent. Security forces cracked down heavily, as you can see in the video with plainclothes officer and uniformed officers opening fire on protesters.You can hear gunfire ringing out all through the video, which seems hard to play for some reason. 34 people were killed.

The protesters don’t exactly seem peaceful. They are throwing rocks and lighting fires in the streets. At 1:20 in the video, you can see protesters laying siege to what is probably some sort of govornment office.

These videos are hard to find on Youtube because they are all written in Arabic. My Arabic is not that good, but I was able to figure out that this was shot in Hama, Syria on Friday, June 3, 2011.

Hama has long been the most conservative Sunni Muslim city in Syria. This is where the Muslim Brotherhood staged their uprising in 1982. Hafez Assad smashed it with massive force, killing 30,000 people. That shut down the Muslim Brotherhood for some time. The MB in Syria is very militant, partly as a result of their decades long war with the state. After 1982, many of them left and went to Germany, where quite a few became active in Al Qaeda. Some of these folks were involved in the 9-11 plot.

The cities of Homs, Hama, Rastan and Jisr As Shughur are the center of the insurgency right now. They are all in the heavily Sunni Muslim northwest of Syria.

The situation is very confusing and it’s hard to know where to take a stand. The Western media hates Assad’s guts and is rooting for the rebels. Hence, Western coverage is biased.

My overview found that Syria is utterly polarized. Almost all Alawites, Shia, Druze, and Christians are with the regime. In fact, they are increasingly fanatical in their support for it. The rebels are now armed and are being led by the Muslim Brotherhood. The Christians and Alawi and others look east and see Iraq. Look what happened to the Christians and the Shia there. A Civil War in Syria could conceivably see the Syrian Christians subjected to genocide as the Iraqi Christians were, and the Shia Alawites may also be subjected to mass murder campaigns.

In recent days, in contrast to the lying Western media, the Kurds seem to be turning towards the regime. The Sunni Arab regime next door in Iraq was not very nice to the Kurds, nor was the Sunni Turk regime to the north. Assad recently granted citizenship to all of the Kurds who had been denied citizenship for decades. Also, the Kurds are fairly secular, and they don’t think too much of the MB.

Syria is still a confessional state, and sectarian tensions run very deep. Each group has a sense of superiority and thinks they are better than the others.

It’s hard to say what more Assad can do. Increasingly, the protesters are demanding the end of the regime, and they want Assad to step down. So there’s really nothing Assad can do to mollify them at this point. That’s essentially a non negotiable demand. Another argument is the Israeli-US type argument that the Arab leaders who gave in to demands of the protesters all had to resign. Hence, consessions just emboldens the rebels and makes the regime even weaker. So why give them anything?

There is a question of the economy. How much longer can it hold out as Syria slips towards civil war? It’s hard to say, but Algeria carried on with a vicious civil war for a long time. Iraq’s economy went to Hell with the sanctions, but Saddam held on. Syria’s economy is still pretty much closed to world, hence there’s not that much the world can do to it.

At the moment, the protesters are almost all Sunni Muslims. There are a few Shia Muslims and Kurds, and some Leftists and atheists/secular. There are about zero Christians and Allawi down with the protesters at the moment.

Do the Yezidis Worship the Devil?

Repost from the old site. This is a very, very long piece, so be warned. But the subject, the Yezidi religious group, is extraordinarily complex, as I found out as I delved deeper and deeper into them.
They are still very mysterious and there is a lot of scholarly controversy around them, mostly because they will not let outsiders read their holy books. However, a copy of their holiest book was stolen about 100 years ago and has been analyzed by scholars.
I feel that the analysis below of the Yezidis (there are various competing analyses of them) best summarizes what they are all about, to the extent that such an eclectic group can even be defined at all. The piece is hard to understand at first, but if you are into this sort of thing, after you study it for a while, you can start to put it together. There are also lots of cool pics of devil and pagan religious art below, for those who are interested in such arcana.
See also the companion piece, The Yezidis, a Mysterious Kurdish Religious Sect. This piece was written two years after that one when I realized that the prior piece had barely touched the surface of this very strange religious sect.

The Yezidis, a Kurdish religious group in Iraq practicing an ancient religion, have been accused of being devil worshipers by local Muslims and also by many non-Muslims. I wrote about the Yezidis in depth in a previous post; see them for more background on these interesting people.
The Yezidis appeared in Western media in 2007 due to the stoning death of a Yezidi teenage girl who ran off with a Muslim man. The stoning was done by eight men from her village while another 1000 men watched and cheered them on. Afterward, there has been a lot of conflict between Muslim and Yezidi Kurds.
As Western media turned to the Yezidis, there has been some discussion here about their odd religion. For instance, though the local Muslims condemn them as devil worshipers, the Yezidis strongly deny this. So what’s the truth? The truth, as usual, is much more complicated.
The Yezidis believe that a Creator, or God, created a set of deities that we can call gods, angels or demons, depending on how you want to look at them. So, if we say that the Yezidis worship the devil, we could as well say that they worship angels. It all depends on how you view these deities.
In the history of religion, the gods of one religion are often seen as the devils of another. This is seen even today in the anti-Islamic discourse common amongst US neoconservatives, where the Muslim God is said to be a demonic god, and their prophet is said to be a devilish man.
Christian anti-Semites refer to the Old Testament God of the Jews as being an evil god. Orthodox Jews say that Jesus Christ is being boiled alive in semen in Hell for eternity.
At any rate, to the Yezidis, the main deity created by God is Malak Taus, who is represented by a peacock. Although Yezidis dissimulate about this, anyone who studies the religion closely will learn that Malak Taus is actually the Devil.
On the other hand, the Yezidis do not worship evil as modern-day Satanists do, so the Satanist fascination with the Yezidis is irrational. The Yezidis are a primitive people; agriculturalists with a strict moral code that they tend to follow in life. Why do they worship the Devil then?
First of all, we need to understand that before the Abrahamic religions, many polytheistic peoples worshiped gods of both good and evil, worshiping the gods of good so that good things may happen, and worshiping the gods of evil so that bad things may not happen. The Yezidis see God as a source of pure good, who is so good that there is no point in even worshiping him.
In this, they resemble Gnosticism, in which God was pure good and the material world and man were seen as polluted with such evil that the world was essentially an evil place. Men had only a tiny spark of good in them amidst a sea of evil, and the Gnostics tried to cultivate this spark.
This also resembles the magical Judaism of the Middle Ages (Kabbalism). The Kabbalists said that God was “that which cannot be known” (compare to the Yezidi belief that one cannot even pray to God), in fact, the concept of God was so ethereal to the Kabbalists that mere men could not even comprehend the very concept. A Kabbalist book says that God is “endless pure white light”. This comes close to my own view of what God is.
Compare to the Yezidi view that God “pure goodness”. The Yezidi view of God is quite complex. It is clear that he is at the top of the totem pole, yet their view of him is not the same as the gods of Christianity, Islam, Judaism or of the Greeks, although it is similar to Plato’s conception of the absolute.
Instead, it is similar to the Deists. God merely created the world. As far as the day to day running of things, that is actually up to the intermediary angels. However, there is one exception. Once a year, on New Years Day, God calls his angels together and hands the power over to the angel who is to descend to Earth.
In some ways similar to the Christian Trinity of God, Jesus and the Holy Ghost, the Yezidis believe that God is manifested in three forms.

An inscription of the Christian Trinity, the father, or God, as an old man with a beard; Jesus, a young man, and the Holy Ghost, here depicted as a winged creature similar to Malak Tus, the winged peacock angel. Compare to Yezidi reference for Šeiḫ ‘Adî, Yazid and Malak Tus (Father, Son and Holy Ghost)

The three forms are the peacock angel, Malak Tus; an old man, Šeiḫ ‘Adî (compare to the usual Christian portrayal in paintings of God as an old man with a long white beard); and a young man, Yazid (compare to the usual Christian paintings of Jesus as a healthy European-looking man with a beard and a beatific look – a similar look is seen in Shia portraits of Ali).
Since there is no way to talk to God, one must communicate with him through intermediaries (compare to intermediary saints like Mary in Catholicism and Ali in Shiism). The Devil is sort of a wall between the pure goodness of God and this admittedly imperfect world.
This is similar again to Gnosticism, where the pure good God created intermediaries called Aeons so that a world that includes evil (as our world does) could even exist in the first place. On the other hand, Malak Tus is seen my the Yezidis as neither an evil spirit nor a fallen angel, but as a divinity in his own right.
One wonders why the Malak Tus is represented by a bird. The answer is that worshiping birds is one of the oldest known forms of idol worship. It is even condemned in Deuteronomy 4: 16, 17: “Lest ye corrupt yourselves and make a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of any winged fowl that flieth in the air.”
More likely, the peacock god is leftover from the ancient pagan bird-devil gods of the region. The ancient Babylonians, Assyrians both worshiped sacred devil-birds, and carvings of them can be seen on their temples. The Zoroastrians also worshiped a sort of devil-bird called a feroher.

A winged demon from ancient Assyria. Yezidism appears to have incorporated elements of ancient Babylonian and Assyrian religions, making it ultimately a very ancient religion. Note that devils often have wings like birds. Remember the flying monkey demons in the Wizard of Oz?

The pagan Phoenicians, Philistines and Samaritans worshiped a dove, and the early monotheistic Hebrews condemned the Samaritans for this idol-worship. The pagans of Mecca also worshiped a sacred dove. Pagan Arabian tribes also worshiped an eagle called Nasar.
What is truly odd is that peacocks are not native to the Yezidi region, but instead to the island of Sri Lanka. The Yezidis must have heard about this bird from travelers and incorporated it into their religion somehow.
In the Koran, both the Devil and the peacock were thrown out of Heaven down to Earth, with the Devil and the peacock both suffering similar punishments. So here we can see Islam associating the peacock with the Devil also.
In popular mythology, peacocks tend to represent pride. Note that the Koran says that the Devil was punished for excessive pride (compare with a similar Christian condemnation of excessive pride). Peacocks are problematic domestic fowl, and tend to tear up gardens, and so are associated with mischief.
The Yezidis revere Malak Tus to such a great extent that he is almost seen as one with God (compare the Catholic equation of Mary with Jesus, the Christian association of Jesus with God, and the Shia Muslim association of Ali with Mohammad).
Malak Tus was there from the start and will be there at the end, he has total control over the world, he is omniscient and omnipresent and he never changes. They do not allow anyone to say his name, as this seems to imply that he is degraded. Malak Tus is the King of the Angels, and he is ruling the Earth for a period of 10,000 years.
They also superstitiously avoid saying an word that resembles the word for Satan. When speaking Arabic, they refuse to use the Arabic shatt for river, as it sounds like the word for Satan. They substitute Kurdish ave instead. Compare this to the Kabbalist view of God as “that which can not even be comprehended (i.e., spoken) by man.
In addition to Malak Taus, there are six other angels: Izrafael, Jibrael, Michael, Nordael, Dardael, Shamnael, and Azazael. They were all at a meeting in Heaven when God told them that they would worship no one other than him. This worked for 40,000 years, until God mixed Earth, Air, Fire and Water to create Man, as Adam.
God told the seven angels to bow before Adam, and six agreed. Malak Taus refused, citing God’s order to obey only Him. Hence, Malak Taus was cast out of Heaven and became the Archangel of all the Angels. Compare this to the Christian and Muslim view of the Devil, the head of the angels, being thrown out of Heaven for the disobedience of excessive pride.
In the meantime, Malak Taus is said to have repented his sins and returned to God as an angel. So, yes, the Yezidis do worship the Devil, but in their religion, he is a good guy, not a bad guy. They are not a Satanic cult at all. In Sufism, the act of refusing to worship Adam (man) over God would be said to be a positive act, one of refusing to worship the created over the creator, as in Sufism, one is not to worship anything but God.
The Yezidis say that God created Adam and Eve, but when they were asked to produce their essences, Adam’s produced a boy, but Eve’s was full of insects and other unpleasant things. God decided that he would propagate humanity (the Yezidis) out of Adam alone, leaving Eve out of the picture. Specifically, he married Adam’s offspring to a houri.
We can see the traditional views of the Abrahamic religions of women as being sources of evil, tempters, sources of strife, conflict and other bad things. The Yezidis see themselves as different from all other humans. Whereas non-Yezidis are the products of Adam and Eve, Yezidis are the products of Adam alone.
Eve subsequently left the Garden of Eden, which allowed the world to be created. So, what the Abrahamic religions see as man’s greatest fall in the Garden, the Yezidis see as mankind’s greatest triumphs. The Yezidis feel that the rest of humanity of is descended from Ham, who mocked his father, God.
Compare this to the Abrahamic religions’ view of women as a source of corruption. Christians say that Eve tempted Adam in the Garden of Eden, causing them to be tossed out. In Islam, women are regarded as such a source of temptation and fitna (dissension) that they are covered and often kept out of sight at all times. In Judaism, women’s hair is so tempting to men that they must shave it all off and wear wigs.
The Yezidis say they are descended directly from Adam, hence they are the Chosen People (compare to the Jewish view of themselves as “Chosen People”).
Yezidism being quite possible the present-day remains of the original religion of the Kurds, we must acknowledge that for the last 2000 years, the Yezidis have been fighting off other major religions. First Christianity came to the region.
As would be expected, the Nestorian Christians of Northern Iraq, or “Nasara” Christian apostates, as an older tradition saw them, hold that the Yezidis were originally Christians who left the faith to form a new sect. The Nestorians and other ancient Christian sects deny the human or dual nature of Jesus – instead seeing him as purely divine.
This is in contrast to another group also called “Nasara” in Koran – these being the early Jewish Christian sects such as the Ebionites, Nazarenes and Gnostics, who followed Jesus but denied his divine nature, believe only in the Book of Matthew, and retained many Jewish traditions, including revering the Jewish Torah, refusing to eat pork, keeping the Sabbath and circumcision.
Mohammad apparently based his interpretation of Christianity on these sects. The divinity of Jesus was denied in the Koran under Ebionite influence. The Koran criticizes Christians for believing in three Gods – God, Jesus and Mary – perhaps under the influence of what is called the “Marianistic heresy”. At the same time, the Koran confused human and divine qualities in Jesus due to Nestorian influence.
Finally, the Koran denied the crucifixion due to Gnostic influence, especially the apocryphal Gospel of Peter. The local Muslims, similarly, hold that the Yezidis are apostates, having originally been Muslims who left Islam to form a new religion.
There is considerable evidence that many Yezidis were formerly Christians, as the Christian story holds. Šeiḫ ’Adî, one of the tripartite of angels worshiped by the Yezidis, was a Sufi Muslim mystic from Northern Iraq in the 1100’s. He attracted many followers, including many Christians and some Muslims who left their faith to become Yezidis. Yezidism existed before Šeiḫ ’Adî, but in a different form.
Šeiḫ ’Adî also attracted many Persian Zoroastrians, who were withering under the boot of Muslim dhimmitude and occasional massacre in Iran. Šeiḫ ‘Adî (full name Šeiḫ ‘Adî Ibn Masafir Al-Hakkari) was a Muslim originally from Bait Far, in the Baalbeck region of the Bekaa Valley of what is now Eastern Lebanon.
He came to Mosul for spiritual reasons. He was said to be a very learned man, and many people started to follow him. After he built up quite a following, he retired to the mountains above Mosul where he built a monastery and lived as a hermit, spending much of his time in caves and caverns in the mountains with wild animals as his only guests.
His followers were said to worship him as a God and believed that in the afterlife, they would be together with him. He died in 1162 in the Hakkari region near Mosul. At the site of his death, the Yezidis erected a shrine and it became one of the holiest sites in the religion. However, Šeiḫ ’Adî is not the founder of Yezidism, as many believe. His life and thought just added to the many strains in this most syncretistic of religions.
The third deity in the pseudo-“Trinity” of the Yezidis is a young man named Yezid. They say they are all descended from this man, whom they often refer to as God, as they sometimes refer to Šeiḫ ’Adî. In Šeiḫ ’Adî’s temple, there are inscriptions to both Šeiḫ ’Adî and Yezid, each on opposing walls of the temple. In a corner of this temple, a fire, or actually a lamp, is kept burning all night, reminiscent of Zoroastrianism.
There is a lot of controversy about what the word Yezid in Yezidi stands for. The religion itself, in its modern form, probably grew out of followers of Yazid Ibn Muawiyah Ibn Abu Sufyan, the 2nd Caliph in the Umayyad Dynasty of Caliphs. Yazid fought a battle against Mohammad’s grandson, Hussayn, in a battle for the succession of the Caliphate.
Hussayn’s followers were also the followers of Ali, the former caliph who was assassinated. The followers of Hussayn and Ali are today known as the Shia. The Sunni follow in the tradition of the Umayyads. In a battle in Karbala in 680, Hussayn and all his men were killed at Kufa and the women and children with them taken prisoner.
To the Shia, Yazid is the ultimate villain. Most Sunnis do not view him very favorably either, and regard the whole episode as emblematic of how badly the umma had fallen apart after Mohammad died.
Nevertheless, there had been groups of Sunnis who venerated Yazid Ibn Muawiyah Ibn Abu Sufyan and the Umayyads in general in northern Iraq for some time even before Šeiḫ ’Adî appeared on the scene. Šeiḫ ’Adî himself was descended from the Umayyads.
Reverence for Yazid Ibn Muawiyah mixed with the veneration of Šeiḫ ’Adî in the early Yezidis. It was this, mixed in with the earlier pagan beliefs of the Semites and Iranians discussed elsewhere, along with a dollop of Christianity, that formed the base of modern Yezidism. But its ultimate roots are far more ancient. Yezidism had a base, but it was not yet formed in its modern version.
Here we turn to the etymology of the word Yezidi. It is possible that the figure of “Yezid”, the young man-God in the Yezidi trinity, represents Yazid Ibn Muawiyah. By the mid-1200’s, the local Muslims were getting upset about the Yezidis excessive devotion to these two men. In the mid-1400’s the local Muslims fought a large battle against the Yezidis.
To this day, the top Yezidi mirs are all related to the Umayyads. Muslim scholars say that Yezid bin Unaisa was the founder of the modern-day Yezidis. Bin Unaisa was one of the early followers of the Kharijites, an early fanatical fundamentalist sect that resembled our modern-day Al Qaeda and other takfiri Salafi-jihadi terrorists. Bin Unaisa was said to be a follower of the earliest Kharijites.
These were the first Kharijites. Early split-offs from Ali’s army, they took part in the Battle of Nahrawan against Ali’s forces outside Madaen in what is now the Triangle of Death in Iraq. In 661, the Kharijites assassinated Ali, one of the penultimate moments in the Sunni-Shia split.
At some point, bin Unaisa split from the Kharijites, except for one of their early followers who were following a sect Al-Abaḍia, founded by ‘Abd-Allah Ibn Ibad. He said that any Muslim who committed a great sin was an infidel. Considering his fundamentalist past, he developed some very unorthodox views for a Muslim.
He said that God would send a new prophet to Persia (one more Iranian connection with the Yezidis), that God would send down a message to be written by this prophet in a book, and that this prophet would leave Islam and follow the religion of the Sabeans or Mandeans. Nevertheless, he continued to hold some Kharijite beliefs, including that God alone should be worshiped and that all sins were forms of idolatry.
In line with this analysis, the first Yezidis were a Kharijite subsect. The fact that bin Unaisa said that the new prophet would follow Sabeanism implies that he himself either followed this religion at one time or had a high opinion of it.
Muslim historians mention three main Sabean sects. They seemed to have derived in part from the ancient pagan religion of Mesopotamia. They were polytheists who worshiped the stars. After the Islamic conquest, they referred to themselves as Sabeans in order to receive protection as one of the People of the Book (the Quran mentions Jews, Christians and Sabeans and People of the Book).
One of the Sabean sects was called Al-Ḫarbâniyah. They believed that God dwelt within things that were good and rational. He had one essence but many appearances, in other words. God was pure good, and could not make anything evil. Evil was either accidental or necessary for life, or caused by an evil force. They also believed in the transmigration of souls (reincarnation).
It is interesting that the beliefs of this sect of Sabeans resemble the views of modern Yezidis. So Yezîd bn Unaisa believed in God and the Resurrection Day, he probably respected angels and the stars, yet he was neither polytheistic nor a true follower of Mohammad.
At the same time, he lined himself up with those People of the Book who said that Mohammad was a prophet, yet did not follow him (in this respect, he was similar to Western non-Muslims who acknowledge Mohammad as the prophet of the Arabs).
Although most orthodox histories of the Yezidis leave it out, it seems clear at this point that Yezîd bn Unaisa was the founder of the Yezidi religion in its modern form and that the Yezidis got their name from Yezîd bn Unaisa. This much may have been lost to time, for the Yezidis themselves say that Yezidi comes from the Kurdish word Yezdan or Êzid meaning God.
After naming their movement after Yezîd bn Unaisa, the Yezidis learned of Šeiḫ ‘Adî’s reputation, and become his followers, along with many Muslims, Christians and Iranians.
Like their founder, the Yezidis believe in God and the Resurrection, expect a prophet from Iran, revere angels and stars, regard every sin as idolatry, respect Mohammad as a prophet yet do not follow him and at the same time pay no attention to Ali (recall that the early Kharijites assassinated Ali). Being opposed to both Mohammad and Ali, bn Unaisa is logically despised by both the Sunni and the Shia.
The fact that the Yezidis renounced the prophet of the Arabs (Mohammad) while expecting a new one from Iran logically appealed to a lot of Persians at the time. Hence, many former Zoroastrians, or fire-worshipers, from Iran joined the new religion, surely injecting their strains into this most syncretistic of religions.
There is good evidence that many Yezidis are former Christians. The Yezidis around Mosul go by the surname of Daseni, of Dawasen in the plural. It so happens that there was a Nestorian diocese in Mosul called Daseni, or Dasaniyat. It disappeared around the time of Šeiḫ ’Adî. The implication is that so many of its members became Yezidis that the Diocese folded.
Furthermore, many names of Yezidi villages are actually names in the Syriac (Christian) language, more evidence that many Yezidis are former Christians.
Adding even more weight to this theory, the Yezidis retain two Christian customs – the baptism and the Eucharist.
The Yezidis must baptize their children at the earliest possible age and the priest puts his hand on the child’s head as her performs the rite. Both customs mirror the Christian baptism precisely.
When a Yezidi couple marries, they go to a local Nestorian Church to partake of the Eucharist. The cup of wine they drink is called the cup of Isa (Jesus). The Yezidi have great respect for Christian saints and houses of worship, and kiss the doors and walls of churches when they enter them.
When a Yezidi woman goes to the home of her bridegroom on wedding day, she is supposed to visit every every religious temple along the way, even the churches. On the other hand, Yezidis never enter a mosque. Sadly, the Yezidi reverence for Christianity is not returned by the Eastern Christians, who despise the Yezidis as devil-worshipers.
They revere both Jesus and Mohammad as religious teachers, not as prophets. They have also survived via a hefty dose of taqqiya, or dissimulation, in this case pretending outwardly to be some species of Shia Muslims.
This is common for minority faiths around the region, including the Alawi and Druze, who have both proclaimed at the top of their lungs that they are Muslims and have hidden to the aspects of their religion which would cause the Muslims to disown them at best or kill them at worst. The primary Islamic influence on the Yezidis is actually Sufism, not Shiism per se.
There are traces of other religions – Hinduism may possibly be seen in the five Yezidi castes, from top to bottom – Pir, Shaikh, Kawal, Murabby, and Mureed (followers). Mureeds are about on a par with Dalits or Untouchables in Hinduism. Marriage across castes is strictly forbidden, as it has been disapproved in India.
On the other hand, pre-Islamic Iran also had a caste system, and the base of the Yezidi religion seems to be derived from Persian Zoroastrianism. The Yezidi, like the Druze and the Zoroastrians, do not accept converts, and like the Druze, think that they will be reincarnated as their own kind (Druze think they will be reincarnated as Druze; Yezidis think they will be reincarnated as Yezidis).
The Yezidis can be considered fire-worshipers in a sense; they obviously got this from the Zoroastrians. The Yezidis say, “Without fire, there would be no life.” This is true even in our modern era, if we substitute “electrical power” for fire, our lives would surely diminish. Even today, when Kurdish Muslims swear on an oath, they say, “I swear by this fire…”
Many say there is a resemblance between Malak Taus and the Assyrian God Tammuz, though whether the name Malak Taus is actually derived from Tammuz is much more problematic. Tammuz was married to the Assyrian moon goddess, Ishtar. But this connection is not born out by serious inquiry.

Ishtar the Goddess of the Moon, here represented as a bird goddess. Worship of birds is one of the oldest forms of pagan idolatry known to man. What is it about birds that made them worthy of worship by the ancients? The miracle of flight?

Where do the Yezidis come from? The Yezidis themselves say that they came from the area around Basra and the lower Euphrates, then migrated to Syria and then to Sinjar, Mosul and Kurdistan.
In addition to worshiping a bird-god, there are other traces of the pre-Islamic pagan religions of the Arabs in Yezidism.
They hold the number 7 sacred, a concept that traces back to the ancient Mesopotamians. The Yezidis have seven sanjaks, and each one has seven burners of the flame, their God created seven angels and the sculpture carved on the temple of Šeiḫ ’Adî has seven branches.
The Sabeans, another ancient religion of Mesopotamia who are now called star-worshipers by their detractors, also worshiped seven angels who guided the courses of seven planets – it is from this formulation that our seven days of the week are derived. In the ancient religion of Assyria, Ishtar descended through seven gates to the land of no return. The ancient Hebrews likewise utilized the number seven in their religion.

An ancient seven-armed candelabra, a symbol nowadays used in the Jewish religion, with demonic sea monsters drawn on the base.

The Yezidis worship the sun and moon at their rising and setting, following the ancient Ḥarranians, a people who lived long ago somewhere in northern Iraq. Sun-worship and moon-worship are some of the oldest religious practices of Man. The ancient pagans of Canaan worshiped the Sun.
At the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, the religion practiced there had little in common with Talmudic Judaism of today. For instance, the horses of the Sun were worshiped at that temple (see II Kings 25: 5, 11). The ancient Judeans, who the modern-day Jews claim spiritual connection with, actually worshiped the “host of heaven” – the Sun, the Moon and the Planets. So much for “the original monotheists, eh?
In Babylonia, there were two temples to the Sun-God Shamas.
Another pre-Islamic Arab pagan belief is the belief in sacred wells and sanctuaries that contain them. The springs contain water that has curative powers. The holy water found at the Zamzam Well in Mecca is an example; even to this day, Muslims bottle the water and carry it off for this purpose. Often sacred clothes are used to make these pilgrimages, because ordinary clothes are thought to contaminate the holy site.
In pre-Islamic days, when the pagans circled the rock at the Kaaba, they were completely naked. In Islam, men and women are supposed to remove their clothing and wear a special garb as they circulate around the rock. In Mandeanism, both men and women go to the Mishkana, or tabernacle, take off their clothes, and bathe in the circular pool. Emerging, they put on the rasta, a ceremonial white garment.
At the temple of Šeiḫ ‘Adî, there is a sacred pool. The Yezidis throw coins, jewelry and other things into this pool as offerings. They think that Šeiḫ ‘Adî takes these things from time to time. And they must remove their clothes, bathe and wear a special garment when they visit the holy valley where this temple resides.
The ancient Arabs also worshiped trees. There were sacred trees at Nejran, Hadaibiya and Mecca. The pagans hung women’s ornaments, fine clothes, ostrich eggs, weapons and other items.
Similarly, the Yezidis also worship trees. They have their favorite trees, and sick people go to these trees and hang pieces of cloth on them, hoping to get well, and believe that whoever takes one of these down will get sick with whatever disease the person who hung the cloth had.

An inscription of a sacred tree from Ancient Babylonian civilization. Trees were worshiped not just in ancient Arabia; they were also worshiped in Mesopotamia.The Christian Trinity combined with the pagan Tree of Life, in an interesting ancient Chaldean inscription that combines pagan and Christian influences. The Tree of Life was also utilized in Kabbalism, Jewish mysticism from the Middle Ages. Nowadays the symbol is used by practitioners of both White and Black Magic. Radical Islam is committing genocide once again on the Christians of Iraq, including the Chaldeans.Yet another Tree of Life, this time from ancient Assyria, an ancient civilization in Mesopotamia. The concept of a tree of life is a pagan concept of ancient pedigree.

The ancient Meccans used to worship stones. At one point the population became so large that they had to move out of the valley where the Kaaba resided, so when they formed their new settlements, they took rocks from the holy place and piled them outside their settlements and made a sort of shrine out of these things, parading around the rock pile as they moved around the Kaaba.
In Palestine, there were sacred wells at Beersheba and Kadesh, a sacred tree at Shekem and a sacred rock at Bethel. As in animism, it was believed that divine powers or spirits inhabited these rocks, trees and springs. This tradition survives to this day in the folk religion of the Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese.
The Yezidis also have certain stones that they worship. They kiss these stones in reverence.
When the Yezidis reach the goal of their pilgrimage or hajj, they become very excited and start shouting. After fasting all day, they have a big celebration in the evenings, with singing and dancing and gorging on fine dishes.
This hajj, where they worship a spring under Šeiḫ ‘Adî’s tomb called Zamzam and then climb a mountain and shoot off guns, is obviously taken from the Muslim hajj. Mecca has a Zamzam Spring, and pilgrims climb Mount ‘Arafat on hajj.
The shouting, feasting, singing, dancing and general excitement is typical of a pagan festival. The non-Yezidi neighbors of the Yezidis claim that Yezidis engage in immoral behavior on this hajj. No one knows if this is true or not, but if they do, it may be similar to the festivals of the Kadeshes discussed in the Old Testament, where people engaged in licentious behavior in their temples.
Although the Yezidis have a strict moral code, observers say that they allow adultery if both parties are willing. That’s pretty open-minded for that part of the world.
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The Yezidis – A Mysterious Kurdish Religious Sect

About two years after the publication of this post, I wrote an update to this article, Do the Yezidis Worship the Devil? which goes into much more detail about the religion.
Since hardly anyone has any idea about who or what the Yezidis of Northern Iraq are, an introduction is in order. The Yezidis are a minority religious group that lives in Northern Iraq, Eastern Turkey, Eastern Syria, Armenia, Northwestern Iran, Georgia, Russia and Germany.
Some estimates put the number of Yezidis at 100,000. However, Yezidi spokesmen say there are 600,000 Yezidis, mostly in Iraq. Other estimates put the number of Yezidis as high as 2 million. There are 10,000 Yezidi refugees in Germany. German Yezidis have created a home page to help introduce others to their religion, but unfortunately it is all in German.
The Yezidis are more of a religious than an ethnic grouping. All Yezidis are Kurds and they all speak Kurdish. In Iraq, most of them live north of Mosul and in the Sinjar Mountains near the Syrian border. There are also Yezidis in Tel Afar, Mosul and the city of Sinjar. Iraq’s Yezidis are seizing Iraq’s democratic moment to press for their rights for the first time.
Yezidis have long been persecuted by Muslims as heathens and devil-worshipers. Although it’s true that the Yezidis worship a peacock angel they call Lucifer, they are basically good, upstanding, moral people. They are not in any way analogous to the actual devil-worshipers who exist in the West, like Anton Levay’s Church of Satan (COS), etc.
Yezidis do not believe in Heaven or Hell and they do not regard Satan, who they regard as the Chief of the Angels, as evil. Instead, he is sacred. The Yezidis feel the Devil created the world and is de facto in charge right now. From the perspective of my life at the moment, those scenarios seem distinctly possible.
Yezidis are allowed to eat pork, unlike Muslims. But bizarrely, they cannot eat lettuce (because the Kurdish word for lettuce rhymes with their word for devil) or wear yellow. This dietary code is not often followed these days. The restriction on eating lettuce may have been due to outbreaks of E. Coli.
Like the Zoroastrians, Yezidis do not accept converts – a tendency which may result in the end of Yezidism with time. Yezidism shares many things with Zoroastrianism, and some commenters regard it as either a Zoroastrian sect or a religion with roots in Zoroastrianism.
My opinion is that a synthesis between Zoroastrianism, Islam, Judaism and pre-religious paganism is more accurate. It is likely the Yezidism predates all of these – Zoroastrianism, Islam and Judaism – in fact, it may be one of the oldest extant human religions.
Somewhat similar to the caste system of Hinduism, another ancient religion, Yezidis have seven levels of initiation, or classes. The classes are princes, sheiks, senators, seers, ascetics and the community of the faithful. The large faith community class makes up 70% of the community.
This split, with a small elite sect who retain most of the (oral) knowledge of the religion and a large majority of mere followers who are kept in the dark about most of the religion, is also similar to other “secret” religions in the area, including the Sabeans, the Druze and Alawi.
The Alawi of Syrian and Lebanon are a highly divergent Shia sect, a split-off from the extremist Nusairi split early in the history of Shiism. Although the Druze call themselves Muslims, it is probable that they are not Muslims at all, since their religion is so divergent. Instead, like Bahaism, the Druze religion is more properly considered to be related to Islam, rather than part of Islam proper.
The Druze date back to the 1100’s and also seem to be the result of a Shia split, similar to the split that birthed Alawism. Both sects persisted via extreme tribalism, refusing intermarriage, accepting no converts, keeping their religion secret, pretending to be Muslims to avoid persecution while still practicing the religion in secret, and especially, seeking shelter in the difficult, mountainous terrain of the Levant.
The Sabeans or Mandeans of Iraq are probably the last remains of the ancient Gnostic religion; they may also be former Diasporic Sephardic Jews who split off from Judaism in Iraq around the year 600. The Mandeans also worship the North Star, revere John the Baptist and consider Jesus Christ as the font of all evil on Earth!
In Yezidism, marriage across classes is strictly forbidden, again reminiscent of Hinduism. However, people do marry across caste nonetheless. Although the new Iraqi regime is basically a puppet regime of US colonialism, at least the Yezidis do have three members of the new Iraqi Parliament, all elected on the Kurdish list.
Saddam’s regime persecuted the Yezidis first for being Kurds and second for their religion as they were viewed as heathens. Yes, Saddam’s regime was not completely secular. Under Saddam’s extremely racist, fascist-like, Sunni Arab Nationalist regime, Yezidis, Kurds, Assyrians, Shia and Turkomen were all persecuted by the Ba’ath Party.
For instance, Assyrian Christians were denied an identity by the Baath and referred to as “Kurdish Christians”. The Baath forbade the use of the Assyrian or Turkoman languages in the schools. Yezidi religious studies have been banned in Iraq since 1963, the year of the Baathist coup.
In its censuses, Baathist Arab nationalist racists called the Yezidis “an Arabic people”, clearly a falsehood. Saddam’s racist Arab regime engaged in ethnic cleansing of the Yezidis on several occasions. Usually, the Yezidis were driven off their land onto other lands, and their land was given to nearby Arabs.
In 1978, 126 Yezidi villages in Sinjar were “collectivized” into 10 villages while 10 villages near Dahuk were destroyed and the villagers were forced into another village. The new villages created for the Yezidis lacked even basic health care, and it was hard to earn a living. Arab invaders who colonized Yezidi lands forbade the Yezidi from herding animals, and the new villages the Yezidis were pushed into lacked decent pasture.
In 1997, two Yezidi teachers from Elqush were arrested by Saddam’s intelligence services and tortured until they agreed to stop teaching the Yezidi religion.
In the same year, in Ayn Sufna, Baathists stole 1,500 Yezidi properties and gave them to Arab and Kurdish tribes in the region. Saddam’s army surrounded a Yezidi village in 2000, but left after the Yezidis staged a defiant demonstration.
In the no-fly zones formed by the allies in the Kurdish Regional Government area of Iraq instituted after the Gulf War, the Yezidis have fared much better than they did under Saddam.
They liberated many villages that were seized by Arab colonists and today in school, classes in the Yezidi religion are even taught in areas where there are good numbers of Yezidi pupils. However, since the US invasion, the Yezidi situation in some ways has worsened.
The entire north of Iraq has come under the control of Kurdish racist fascist parties, the KDP and PUK. These parties are lately promoting a sort of Kurdish Sunni racism which attacks Sunni and Shia Arabs, Shia, Christian and Yezidi Kurds and Assyrian Christians – in short, everyone who is not a Sunni Kurd.
The racist Sunni Kurds succeeded in preventing large numbers of all of these groups from voting in the election in February 2005.
In the case of the Yezidis, Kurdish racists never even allowed polling stations to open in a number of Yezidi zones. Racist Sunni Kurds have been attacking and ethnically cleansing Assyrian Christian villages in the north for decades now, a process which accelerated when the Allies granted the Kurds their Kurdish Zone in 1991.
This is a continuation of long-standing Kurdish Sunni Muslim racism against Assyrian Christians extending back to the 1920’s. In that decade, Kurdish Muslims gleefully slaughtered huge numbers of Assyrians in a naked display of Islamist bigotry that reached genocidal proportions.
Formally, the Yezidi religion was founded in the 1100’s by Sheikh Uday bin Masafel al-Amawi. Uday was born in Damascus but died in Shaikan in northern Iraq. His tomb in Shaikan is now Yezidism’s holiest site. As noted above, many scholars trace Yezidism to one of the world’s oldest extant religions, Zoroastrianism, founded in ancient Persia.
Traditionally, Yezidism is variously regarded as either an offshoot of Zoroastrianism or Shia Islam. Those who say the Yezidis are Shia hold that they are an extreme Shia “Sevener” Ismaili sect similar to the Druze and the Alawi (see discussion of the Alawi and Druze above).
A better analysis is to regard Yezidism as a syncretic mix between Zoroastrianism and Shia Islam.
Others note Judaic traits in the Yezidis; some suggest that the Yezidis are former Jews who broke away from Judaism and formed a new religion. Indeed, some theorists that the Kurds in general are former Jews. See Rabbi Joe Katz’s Eretzyisroel site for more on that interesting theory, which may have some validity.
The best analysis would leaven the Zoroastrian-Shia syncretism of Yezidism with dollops of Judaism and tablespoons of ancient paganism, while noting the Yezidism is probably older than any of its parts, except for the pagan.
Oddly enough, the Yezidis have a monk and nun class, men and women who dress in white and have taken a vow of celibacy. Yezidis are also said to be sun worshipers, in another similarity with Zoroastrianism.
A famous Yezidi, Sharfadin, has a tomb in Sinjar. Sharfadin also serves as a personified sun god. Note that sun-worship is one of the most ancient of human religious tenets, dating back to the Egyptians and probably beyond.
The leader of the Yezidis is a prince called mir, or mireh shekha. The Yezidi religion is passed down orally through families and officially, there are no Yezidi religious texts. However, closer analysis seems to reveal that there are a couple of Yezidi holy books, but they are hidden by followers, and their existence is denied to outsiders.
Outsiders have somehow managed to get a hold of a couple of copies of these holy texts, or at least parts of them, and they have been published, both in print and on the Internet. Some say that these supposed Yezidi holy texts are actually fakes, and that no extant holy texts exist, as all knowledge is oral.
I glanced through the material in these texts along with an analysis of them. Shall we say that Yezidism is an immensely complex religion and that this article does not begin to tickle out an understanding of it?
Kakaism is another Kurdish sect that is very similar to Yezidism. It arose 1000 years ago in northern Iraq due to conflicts between the Umayyad rulers of Islam and the Zoroastrian priesthood. Kakais, like Yezidis, are forbidden from cursing Satan on religious grounds. Hence, many Muslims see them, like the Yezidis, as devil-worshipers. There are 300,000 Kakais in Kurdistan.
This research takes a lot of time, and I do not get paid anything for it. If you think this website is valuable to you, please consider a a contribution to support more of this valuable research.