Controlling Unity

Last month the Governor of the Mecca region, Prince Khalid Al-Faisal bin Abdulaziz, congratulated all involved for the smoothing running of this year’s hajj. Thankfully, there was no repetition of last year’s tragedy, when 364 people were killed in a huge crush at the stoning ceremony, in part because of an extension to the Jamarat bridge that alleviated the flow of people. However, the invitation of Ahmedinejad to perform hajj – a hand extended by King Abdullah – reminds one that such a central event in Islam is never free of controversy.
Read More

What is Wahhabism?

Certain figures take hold of the public imagination; they become scapegoats for all society’s ills. In the England of the 1990′s, single mothers fulfilled this function. Street violence? That will be the lack of a father figure for today’s youth. The NHS unable to cope? Blame it on all those pregnancies. Today, the single mother of international relations is Wahhabi Islam.
Read More

The Revenge of the Truth

The ‘facts on the ground' do not always have a direct bearing on the policies that emerge in response to what is really happening. This is no more true than in today's Iraq - and in the policy responses that are the fallout for the Middle East of what is taking place in Iraq. Policy - in the form of the arguments emerging from Washington as well as from among some of those states to which it remains allied in the region - is not driven by the reality of a ‘Sunni-Shia' split in Iraq; instead, writes Joshua Craze, the policy of seeking the existence of a Sunni-Shia split is now creating the circumstances in which such a split might become a reality. The US Vice President Dick Cheney's assertion that a ‘cold war' between Sunni and Shia is in the offing, was not based on the view that there is a cold war - but on the need to create the impression that such a war exists. And to what end is all this taking place? Contending with Iran is clearly at its heart - with the focus being on holding Iran responsible for the situation in Iraq - despite the violence in Baghdad being committed by Sunni insurgents, and there being no definitive evidence that this ‘cold war' - or a ‘hot' equivalent - is really taking place.
Read More