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U.S. and Saudi Arabia: A Loveless Marriage

By , April 21, 2014 4:47 am
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and President Obama

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and President Obama

Cross-posted from OtherWords.

Among the would-be therapists of the foreign policy world, the alliance between the United States and Saudi Arabia is a textbook case of a “loveless marriage.”

Though the values of the two states are at odds, or so the thinking goes, the great democracy and the absolute monarchy are bound together by mutual interest in the stability of the Persian Gulf, home to almost half of the world’s proven oil and natural gas reserves.

Defenders of this coupling argue that Saudi transgressions—human rights violations, sectarian rhetoric, funding of radical Islamist groups — should be forgiven for the sake of long-term happiness. This strategy amounts to a “never go to bed angry” diplomacy theory.

Along these lines, President Barack Obama’s meeting with King Abdullah in late March was said to be about reassuring the aging potentate that Washington remains committed to the seven-decade “special relationship.”

U.S. leaders will stay faithful, despite disagreements with Riyadh over how to support rebel forces in Syria, the Egyptian junta’s repression of the Muslim Brothers, and the ongoing negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program.

The Saudi regime, meanwhile, is flirting with other powers, such as China, Japan, and India.

Perhaps that’s not such a bad thing.

The U.S. commitment to Saudi dominance in the Persian Gulf has real costs. The kingdom has used its wealth, privilege, and considerable cache of U.S. military hardware to prop up friendly autocratic regimes in the Gulf and beyond.

Saudi Arabian soldiers helped crush popular demonstrations in neighboring Bahrain in 2011. Multi-billion dollar loans to Egypt let the military patch up a weak economy while consolidating its power by imprisoning (or worse) thousands of Muslim Brothers and secular opposition activists.

In Syria, the kingdom continues to fuel the conflict by supplying money and weapons to various anti-Assad militias, and has urged the U.S. to lift its ban on sending anti-aircraft weapons to Syrian rebels.

Despite talk of ending the bloodshed, the Saudi regime views the civil war as a proxy battle in its struggle with Iran over regional influence. Ongoing war may suit Riyadh’s interests even more than a rebel victory. Hints that the Obama administration may be caving to royal pressure on more armaments thus bode ill for Syrians and for the prospects of easing diplomatic relations with Iran.

Unwavering U.S. support has also given the Saudi regime a blank check to suppress — often brutally — any domestic critics. Women, the sizable Shiite minority, and the millions of foreign workers all lack any semblance of equal rights and protections under the law.

It’s hard for Washington to argue that it supports pro-democracy movements in the Arab world when its closest Arab ally is resolutely anti-democratic.

In January, Saudi Arabia expanded its legal definition of terrorism to include any act that disturbs public order or insults the state. As Human Rights Watch pointed out, the law doesn’t even specify that acts must be violent to qualify as terrorist. The wording of the new code is so vague that taking part in a protest or publishing a critical op-ed could now constitute terrorism.

Enforcing violent censorship at home and seeding permanent crises abroad are two dubious pillars of stability. If anything, this witches’ brew of repression and chaos will likely lead to more explosive conflicts.

As with all dysfunctional relationships, the U.S. approach toward Saudi Arabia appears to be driven more by habit than strategy. And it’s irresponsible to look the other way while the regime steamrolls any challenges to the oppressive status quo.

Loveless marriages have no future besides betrayal, bitterness, and despair. It’s time for the United States to part ways with Saudi Arabia.

Amanda Ufheil-Somers is the assistant editor of Middle East Report, published by the Middle East Research and Information Project.

Foreign Policy In Focus

Egyptian Copts Test Pilgrim Ban to Jerusalem

By , April 21, 2014 4:44 am

A Coptic Christian priest holds candles next to a picture of Egyptian Coptic Christian Pope Shenouda III in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem’s Old City, March 18, 2012 (photo by REUTERS/Ammar Awad).CAIRO — Inside a stuffy office just off Tahrir Square, hotel manager Nemr Lotfy, a Coptic Christian, remembers his pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

“It was always one of my greatest hopes to go inside the tomb of Jesus Christ,” he smiles, talking at length about the Garden of Gethsemane, the Old City and the Holy Sepulchre. “It was always a dream for me, to live it — not just to see it.” To do that, Lotfy had to disobey a decades-old church order banning Copts from visiting Jerusalem. “I want to go again and again, but we must respect the order of our pope.”

Lotfy is a practical man, but talks piously. On the wall behind his desk, a photograph proudly shows Lotfy meeting Pope Shenouda III, the former head of Egypt’s Coptic church and the man responsible for the 1978 ban, before his death in March 2012.

Shenouda was a soldier during the 1948 war against Israel, and his ban was a response to Israel’s occupation and the Camp David Accords and 1979 treaty, which are still unpopular with many Egyptians. The ban was also in response to the failure of Israeli courts to return the Deir El-Sultan monastery to the Coptic Church. The monastery has been disputed by Egyptian and Ethiopian churches in the Holy City for decades — yet another story of appropriation, dispossession, claims and counter-claims in a city that has become internationally recognized for such controversies.

“From the Arab national viewpoint, we should not abandon our Palestinian brothers and our Arab brothers by normalizing our relations with the Jews,” Shenouda reportedly said in 2002, arguing the ban’s motivations were twofold. “From the church point of view, Copts who go to Jerusalem betray their church in the case of [Deir El-Sultan] that Israel refuses to give to the Copts.” According to the church, Copts shouldn’t go to Jerusalem until the city has been “liberated.”

Shenouda’s successor, Pope Tawadros II, has maintained the ban. But Lotfy says he was not aware of this until after he’d planned his trip, got permission from a Catholic vicar in Alexandria and taken the Air Sinai flight to Ben Gurion Airport.

This year has been no different. Al-Masry Al-Youm cited Father Royce Morcos, official spokesman for the Alexandrian Coptic Orthodox Church, as saying that those violating the ban would be punished. All the while, the newspaper reported, at least 300 Copts had left for Tel Aviv ahead of Palm Sunday.

In the past, those violating the ban could face “ecclesiastical punishment,” including one-year excommunication or — as some Coptic Christians told Al-Monitor — smaller punishments, like not being allowed to take communion for short periods of time.

Egyptian Christians can’t always just pack up and go to mark the “Week of Pains” — the week between Palm and Easter Sunday. For younger Egyptians, some of whom feel more of a link with Palestine, Jerusalem is that place across the desert they may not get to see.

Bishoy Tamry from the Maspero Youth Union, a Coptic activist coalition, tried to go last year, but found getting permission “difficult.”

Nonetheless, Tamry believes being in Jerusalem is a more useful act of solidarity. “Going to Jerusalem and visiting Palestine is pro-Palestinian,” he says. “It’s about being close to the Palestinians, which is better than being far away and just shouting from Egypt.” Tamry claims it’s about bearing witness to the Israeli occupation and talking face-to-face with those living under it, as well as making a pilgrimage to the holy sites.

There is also not always consensus within the church itself. Bishop Marqos of Shubra El-Khemeina diocese best summed up his position in 2009 during an interview: “Pilgrimage. Absolutely not. But for business, it’s OK.” Coptic businessmen are purportedly free to go to Israel for work, while multi-billionaire Copt Naguib Sawiris, ranked as the 13th-richest Arab according to Forbes Middle East, is known to have several business links in Israel.

Palestinian Christian organizations have meanwhile told Copts to not go on pilgrimage as an act of boycott.

The so-called Kairos Palestine Document of 2009 marked a call by Palestinian Christian organizations endorsing “nonviolent resistance” against the Israeli occupation. Kairos — meaning “moment of truth” in Greek — calls on “all the churches and Christians in the world” to take a “position of truth with regard to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land.” The document was signed by an Egyptian Coptic representative in Jerusalem.

“Palestinian civil organizations, as well as international organizations, NGOs and certain religious institutions call on individuals, companies and states to engage in divestment and in an economic and commercial boycott of everything produced by the occupation,” it says, directly allying itself with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement.

Refaat Kassis, Kairos Palestine’s general coordinator, says that bans like Egypt’s operate as a peaceful form of resistance to occupation and Arab Christians should adhere to them.

“We feel that visiting Jerusalem while it is under occupation is an act of normalization with the occupation,” he told Al-Monitor from Bethlehem. “So we prefer that these visits not be conducted while Jerusalem is still under occupation.”

But can Egypt’s Coptic Church economically boycott Israel, urging businessmen to cut ties, and still allow ordinary Copts to go on pilgrimages? Isn’t it easier for Egyptians to build solidarity with Palestinian Christians if they actually go to Jerusalem? “I’ve heard this argument many times before, but actually even when Egyptians or others come to the Holy Land, most of the time they fail to use this as an act of resistance,” Kassis claims. “Guides are monopolized by Israeli operators who don’t allow [visitors] to see what’s really going on. In practice, these visits do not function as an act of resistance or an act of solidarity with the Palestinians.”

Lotfy admits this was the case during his pilgrimage last year. “For the Israelis, this is income,” he says. “It’s business.”

“If there’s an Israeli and a Palestinian, and the Israeli offers the same for a better price, why not buy from him? I bought lots of stuff from Israelis in Jerusalem. I don’t care where he’s from.”

The pilgrimage is a journey ridden with complications. It is a much-sought-after opportunity for religious observances in the Holy City, but in Jerusalem, politics is never far away.

“Whether we like it or not, there is a connection between politics and religion,” says Kassis. “So visiting the holy shrines … it can wait.” Perhaps it’s not what people believe in, but whether they believe that Jerusalem will one day be the “liberated” Palestinian capital, that defines their decision to pilgrimage or boycott.

Assyrian International News Agency

Iraqi Female MPs Could Bring About Change

By , April 20, 2014 11:02 pm

A man rides a motorcycle past electoral campaign posters, some of which feature women, at Tahrir Square in central Baghdad, April 18, 2014 (photo by REUTERS/Ahmed Saad).The electoral lists in Iraq have witnessed numerous changes that favor women. Blocs and coalitions have changed their positions and attracted women of various orientations. They have turned to new faces and to real women’s experiences.

These women’s orientation and nature differs depending on the political bloc and their ideological and religious tendencies. The most important issue, however, has been the emergence of women within those blocs who have different orientations and ideas than those of the party heading the electoral list.

Election campaign advertisements on streets and in public places feature posters of women who have not been under the spotlight in news bulletins and on local media talk shows. The Iraqi voters did not see these women amid the cacophony in the parliament, when female MPs raised their voices in objection to hot topics being discussed and the parliamentary session was closed to avoid embarrassment in front of viewers.

Even if the quota for women in the Iraqi parliament has not changed and has not been raised past the prescribed number, female candidates in the 2014 parliamentary elections may change the prevailing perceptions of some of the religious lists, which have attracted moderate women. These women may also change the perception that women are exploited as rigid elements on the electoral list.

Laws and figures

Article 13 of the Electoral Law stipulates that at least 25% of the parliament must be women, including the minorities’ quota. Paragraph 2 of the same article specifies that 25% of electoral lists submitted by the coalitions and parties to the [electoral] commission must be women and that the name of a female candidate must be mentioned after the mention of every three male candidates.

In previous years, parties abided by the obligation to include in their electoral lists the number of women required by the commission. They included the names of the candidates, but chose the name order that suited them. Some put the names of all the men first, followed by the names of women; others put names according to numbers regardless of the sex of the candidate; and some included a woman’s name after every three men.

In the current elections, parties and coalitions were bound by the order imposed by the commission and included the names of candidates on the lists according to the law. The Independent Higher Commission for Elections confirmed that there were 9,364 candidates for the parliamentary elections. These candidates are affiliated with 244 entities or 39 partisan coalitions, all competing for 328 seats in parliament. The commission’s statistics show that there are 6,772 male and 2,592 female candidates. According to the Iraqi Constitution, the coming elections will bring 82 women to the parliament, while currently there are 81 women out of a total of 325 MPs.

However, according to preliminary election indicators and the changes in the method of selecting female candidates on the lists, it seems that this proportion will change in the next parliament. The electoral law, despite focusing on the need to allocate at least one quarter of the seats in parliament to women, did not provide for an increase of this proportion. All paragraphs that referred to the quota included the term “at least” and did not set a maximum limit.

Citizens’ Coalition female candidate Layla al-Khafaji told Al-Hayat that women have had broader participation in this election because the democratic experience has been consolidated over the past years. Society has started accepting women in politics since several women have proved their efficacy. “Women today are no longer a mere name added to complete the electoral list. There is a broad openness toward women who are activists in civil society. Even conservative parties have started to give women greater opportunities.” Khafaji asserted that women would benefit from the Sainte-Laguë method. The higher the number of lists are, the higher the number of women on these lists. She explained that this meant that women would benefit from the splitting of the lists and would then have a larger representation in parliament. “Some female candidates will obtain seats by convincing the voters, and not as a result of the quota,” she said.

Women candidates and Photoshop

Since the first moment of the launch of the election campaign, photos of women candidates for the Iraqi parliament have appeared in Baghdad streets along with photos of male candidates raising various slogans and emblems. The photos show women candidates as young and beautiful women, even among conservative parties that prefer to rely on women wearing the niqab or hijab.

Social media activists, in particular those on Facebook, have mainly focused on some candidates’ photos that have stirred controversy, either because of beauty or for other reasons entirely unrelated to the slogans posted on the election posters.

On Twitter, tweets have mentioned some female candidates having undergone plastic surgery, while other tweets confirmed that the candidates’ photos were edited using Photoshop before being printed. Other Twitter users edited the photos themselves and reposted them.

Democratic and civil rights movements, such as the Civil Democratic Alliance, have highly focused on soliciting female civil activists in the fields of ??women’s and family rights and have tried to focus on women having a significant popular base among civil circles.

Shorouq al-Abegi, a candidate for the mentioned alliance, told Al-Hayat that the image of women would change in the next parliament. A number of female civil society activists would serve under its dome in favor of women’s issues and social rights. “In the next parliament, we will witness a qualitative change in the presence of women. The election of recognized female activists known for supporting women’s issues will strengthen the laws on women.”

Translated by Pascale el Khoury.

Assyrian International News Agency

Christians in Turkey Mark Easter

By , April 20, 2014 5:20 pm

Christians in Turkey Mark Easter

Dogan News Agency

Posted 2014-04-20 21:54 GMT

Patriarch Bartholomew performs a mass for Easter at Saint George Church in Istanbul (DHA photo).Christians celebrated Easter with church masses in several cities across Turkey on April 20.

The Greek Orthodox community gathered for a mass at the Fener Orthodox Greek Patriarchate in Istanbul’s Balat neighborhood, performed by Patriarch Bartholomew in the Saint George Church. The mass was attended by locals as well as visitors from Greece and other parts of Europe.

Easter masses were also performed in cities with small Christian populations, such as in the southern provinces of Hatay and Mersin.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan congratulated the Christian community of Turkey on the occasion of Easter.

“Turkish and Christian citizens lived together for centuries and we shared our joy and sadness. I wish peace to all Christian citizens on the occasion of Easter, which we aware is very important for Christian believers,” Erdogan said in a message.

Parliament Speaker Cemil Cicek also expressed his wish that “all Christian citizens in Turkey celebrate Easter in bliss.”

“Different religions in Turkey have coexisted peacefully in an atmosphere of mutual respect and trust for centuries and played a crucial role in the establishment of such universal values as humanism, solidarity and tolerance in our society,” Cicek added.

Assyrian International News Agency

Sistani Calls on Voters to ‘Choose Wisely’

By , April 20, 2014 5:10 pm

Sistani Calls on Voters to ‘Choose Wisely’

By Ali Mamouri for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Months ago, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani began to guide the Iraqi public through statements regularly issued by him or his office, focusing on the need to fix the current situation.

Sistani’s guidance is going even further as the elections approach, by providing details and extended visions about the essential criteria that candidates must have to properly represent the Iraqi people, thus preparing them to be knowledgeable and insightful regarding the coming elections.

On Feb. 24, Sistani issued a statement calling on voters to “choose wisely” so as not to have regrets later, and asked them to differentiate between the good and the bad.

In his latest position, the official representative for Sistani, Sheikh Abdul Mahdi al-Karbalai, in a sermon on April 4 called for comprehensive change, which would be brought about by voters making the right decision in the coming elections.

Iraq Business News

Turkeys Desire for the Bomb?

By , April 20, 2014 11:38 am

Ankara demanded allowance for uranium enrichment and plutonium extraction in a nuclear export deal inked with Tokyo, a Japanese daily quoted as a Japanese Foreign Ministry official as saying.

A clause, which was added in the nuclear agreement signed by the two nations, upon Turkey’s demand prompted concerns over a possible proliferation of nuclear weapons.

The clause at issue allows Turkey to enrich uranium and extract plutonium, potentially creating nuclear material for weapons, Japanese daily Asahi Shimbun reported on Jan. 8.

A senior Japanese Foreign Ministry official claimed the clause was added at the request of Turkey, the daily also reported.

A joint venture involving Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has won an order to construct Turkey’s second nuclear plant in the Black Sea province of Sinop.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an, who was in Japan since Jan. 5, and his Japanese counterpart, Shinzo Abe, had signed a $ 22 billion deal on the nuclear plant project.

Safety issues

The pact paves the way for exporting Japan’s enrichment and spent nuclear fuel reprocessing technologies and is expected to be discussed at the Japanese Parliament soon before voting on its approval.

The deal was on the agenda during a meeting between the Turkish and Japanese prime ministers on Jan. 7 in Tokyo, as they have agreed to accelerate the process.

Japanese exports and anti-nuclear opposition members voice concerns over Japan’s first nuclear export after the Fukushima disaster, claiming allowing Turkey’s enrichment and extraction activities would contradict Japan’s stance against nuclear weapons.

Moreover, Turkey’s earthquake-prone geographical condition stirs safety debates in the country that became over-sensitive about the issue after experiencing the Fukushima disaster of 2011 that killed around 20,000 people.

Yuki Tanabe of the Japan Center for a Sustainable Environment and Society, a nonprofit organization, pointed out a seismic risk in Turkey, where more than 17,000 people died in a major earthquake in 1999, the daily reported. “Even if Japanese nuclear reactors are highly resistant to earthquakes, an accident could occur when facilities around them are damaged,” Tanabe told Asahi Shimbun.

Assyrian International News Agency

Candidates’ Posters the Butt of Jokes

By , April 20, 2014 11:28 am

Candidates’ Posters the Butt of Jokes

This article was originally published by Niqash. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Iraq Votes 2104: ‘Standing On The Titanic’ – Candidates’ Posters Become Butt of Jokes

Election campaign posters are telling cynical Iraqi voters nothing – there is barely any information on political aims or manifestos. So ordinary Iraqis are getting their own back with ridicule, sarcasm and some judicious photo shopping.

Election campaigning started in Iraq last week with literally thousands of would-be politicians trying to win around 22 million voters’ hearts and minds by election day, April 30. And the cities and towns of Iraq are now filled with campaign posters and placards, the streets are full of candidates shaking hands, kissing babies and distributing alms to the poor.

But all of this is also having an unintended effect in many quarters of Iraqi society. Outdated slogans, empty rhetoric and unnecessarily dramatic or heroic poses on placards have become fuel for ordinary Iraqis’ cynicism about the political process and fodder for jokes and mash ups. None of the information available really offers anything useful or allows voters to read a manifesto that would help them decide who to vote for and why.

A poster for Ahmad Jassim, who apparently represents the interests of the poor and unemployed, was ridiculed because the candidate was posed “like Rose, in the movie Titanic”. Some Facebook wits altered the picture to make it look as though the candidate was facing Leonardo DiCaprio.

“Candidates think that the way they stand or the way they move their hands and gesture when they talk will distinguish them,” says one 60-year-old Baghdad local who wished only to be known as Saif, a regular at cafes in Baghdad’s Hurriya neighbourhood. “Many of them distribute cards and prepaid mobile phone credit. But they don’t realize all this makes them look like a joke.”

Slogans on various posters have also been the butt of jokes.

Iraq Business News

Russia writes off 90 percent of North Korea debt, eyes gas pipeline

By , April 20, 2014 9:03 am

Russia writes off 90 percent of North Korea debt, eyes gas pipeline
By: on: 19.04.2014 [20:45 ] (175 reads)

Russia writes off 90 percent of North Korea debt, eyes gas pipeline
April 19, 2014

Russia’s parliament has agreed to write off almost $ 10 billion of North Korea’s Soviet-era debt, in a deal expected to facilitate the building of a gas pipeline to South Korea across the reclusive state.

Russia has written off debts to a number of impoverished Soviet-era allies, including Cuba. North Korea’s struggling communist economy is just 2 percent of the size of neighbouring South Korea’s.

The State Duma lower house on Friday ratified a 2012 agreement to write off the bulk of North Korea’s debt. It said the total debt stood at $ 10.96 billion as of Sept. 17, 2012.

The rest of the debt, $ 1.09 billion, would be redeemed during the next 20 years, to be paid in equal instalments every six months. The outstanding debt owed by North Korea will be managed by Russia’s state development bank, Vnesheconombank.

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Next up, Africa – Tantalum, Tin, Gold and Tungsten

By , April 20, 2014 6:20 am

Next up, Africa – Tantalum, Tin, Gold and Tungsten
By: Tet on: 19.04.2014 [18:49 ] (138 reads)

While the World focuses their eyes on the crisis in the Ukraine and the Ukraine’s long planned for partition into Western and Eastern controlled areas of influence; where next does the Wall Street and London banksters send their minions to cause more harm?

Wall Street & London D0llar demand for tantalum, tin, gold and tungsten is coming under enormous pricing pressure since their 2011 market tops. African Free Mines have entered the marketplace and are selling direct to the end user by-passing the Wall Street & London middlemen who have been using their position to manipulate prices for these metals higher and helping to increase D0llar demand for these precious metals. Just as Iraq discovered that their pricing of crude in Euro’s would not be tolerated, just as Libya discovered that her threats to price crude in an alternative currency would not be tolerated, so too will Africa and primarily the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s selling of precious metals outside the control of Wall Street and London will not be tolerated. Free Mines have caused a 30% collapse in precious metal prices and the run-up will once again need to continue as the world tries to move away from the World’s Reserve Currency.

Africa’s Bogeyman Kony

Just as Iraq and Afghanistan had their Bogeyman Osama bin Laden, fortunately for Wall Street and London, Africa has their version in the form of Joseph Kony the equally evil Rebel LRA commander who is rumored to be located in multiple African nations and certainly close by to any African Free Mine. Since 2008 the US has been hunting for this evil foe with little or no luck. Just as with Osama bin Laden the US has put a $ 5 million price on his head. While everyone was watching the Ukraine, the US sent four CV-22 Ospreys and 150 Special Forces into Africa on March 24th to hunt this wanted man down.

Tantalum, Tin, Gold and Tungsten

These four precious metals Tantalum, Tin, Gold and Tungsten make up a large portion of the cost of today’s cell phones, computers and electronic gadgets produced in China and with that said Wall Street and London needs to have a very firm grasp on how much these precious metals sell for and more importantly what form of currency is required for their purchase. Free Mines in Africa and more importantly in the Democratic Republic of the Congo can no longer be allowed to influence today’s prices. Bringing the prices of Tantalum, Tin, Gold and Tungsten back under the control of Wall Street and London will be accomplished with the its; “For the Good of the Children Motto”. As Wall Street and London lose more control over Crude and Natural Gas prices, they will be able to make up or even exceed this lost d0llar demand by manipulating the prices of Tantalum, Tin, Gold and Tungsten ever higher. Peace. (en) RSS feed for articles and news

Turkey, US ‘Planning Joint Operation Against ISIL’

By , April 20, 2014 5:56 am

Turkey, US ‘Planning Joint Operation Against ISIL’

Posted 2014-04-20 08:36 GMT

Tehran — It has been reported that the United States and Turkey are together planning to conduct a joint operation against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) rebel group in Syria, World Bulletin website said.

Speaking to the Daily Sabah, an unnamed source in the Turkish Foreign Ministry said that Turkey and the US will be co-operating against the armed group.

The ISIL, originally starting off as Al-Qaeda’s branch in Iraq, broke off from Al-Qaeda when ISIL commander Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi disobeyed the orders of Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Zawahri to pull out of Syria.

Zawahri had designated affiliate al-Nusra Front to fight in Syria under the command of al-Baghdadi’s former right-hand man Abu Muhammad al-Golani, Al-Manar reported.

Instead of pulling out of Syria, the ISIL turned their guns on the Nusra Front as well as other Syrian opposition forces including the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA) and local Turkmen and Kurdish groups.

Fedaa Majnoun, a senior FSA official, has said that once Bashar al-Assad’s regime has been ousted, the FSA will be fighting to rid Syria of the ISIL, which instead of fighting regime forces has been busy fighting the Syrian opposition.

The Daily Sabah quoted one source saying “ISIL members do not consider Turks as Muslims according to their understanding of Islam. They think that a NATO ally, secular and a democratic country cannot be Muslim. As a result, they do not avoid killing Turks.”

Assyrian International News Agency