Are the Houthis a symptom of regional mistrust?

by Abdullah Hammidaddin, alarabiya.net, Saturday, 20 September 2014

Ten years ago this month Ali Saleh had ordered the field execution of Husayn al-Houthi. This was after a three-month war between government forces and Husayn’s supporters in a remote village in northern Yemen. At the time, Husayn’s supporters were few and I believe the matter could have ended there. But Saleh decided to push on and confront the rest of Husayn’s family who then reacted by picking up arms again. They ended up surviving five wars waged by the government. Today Abdulmalik al-Houthi – Husayn’s younger brother – has forces in Sanaa and this time he is threating the Yemeni government, forcing it to make concessions.

In the past year alone, the Houthis have altered the political landscape of Yemen. They pushed the Ahmar family out of their homes and overthrew their three hundred year sheikhdom and authority in the tribal federation of Hashid. They took the al-Jawf area as a strategic last stronghold for their adversaries. They’ve forged alliances with most tribes in the northern region and also in the south. And now in Sanaa they are fighting against both the militias of the Islah party (Muslim Brotherhood branch in Yemen) and military factions loyal to General Ali Muhsin Al-Ahmar in what could escalate into a major war in the fragile capital city. (more…)

Throughout history in almost every culture there has been the sordid practice of beheading. John the Baptist lost his head to King Herod. Louis XVI lost his under a French guillotine. But few would argue that beheading is just today, no matter what the rationale. The recent choreographed beheadings of ISIS have brought the issue once again to a head. Unfortunately, such video propaganda only feeds Islamophobia, even though there is no legitimate justification for such a practice in Islamic law or the sunna of the Prophet. Not one of the companions of the prophet is recorded as having decapitated an enemy; certainly the Prophet himself never committed such an act. Indeed, the blood-soaked ISIS spectacles are pornographic.

I recently came across a lengthy fatwa on the Islamic Sham Organization in response to the question if beheading is sanctioned in Islam. I attached it below as it is well worth reading.

السؤال:
ما حكم ذبح أسرى الأعداء بالسكين؟ وهل هو فعلاً سنة نبوية يمكن اتباعها؟

الجواب:
الحمد لله، والصلاة والسلام على رسول الله، وبعد:
فقد أرسل الله سبحانه وتعالى رسولَه بالهدى والعدل والرحمة، فكان مما شرعه الإحسان في استيفاء العقوبات والحدود والقصاص، بأن تكون بأيسر طريقة وأسرعها، ومنعَ من كل ما فيه تعذيب وتمثيل، كتقطيع الأعضاء والذبح بالسكين، فإنها من الطرق الشنيعة والمنكرة في القتل، وبيان ذلك فيما يلي:
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Turkey - “The sick man of Europe”, by John Leech, Punch, September 17, 1853

For a fascinating collection of cartoons, many from Punch, since 1853, check out the website “A Cartoon History of the Middle East,” compiled by Peter Casillas.

There is an extraordinary collection of 47 Magic Lantern slides from the 1930 Beloit College Logan Museum Expedition to Algeria by George L. Waite, the photographer and cinematographer. This is available in an online collection at the website of the Smithsonian Institution. Click here to access the collection.

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There are many postcards on the Internet from old Aden under British control. Aden has long been a crossroads between Africa and Asia. It is not surprising that a number of early postcards feature Somalis in Yemen.

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I recently across a copy of The Christian Herald from December 1, 1915 and the lead article by John Maynard Owen Williams is on a recent trip he took to Syria and Iraq. The images are from a century ago and I attach a few excerpts from the article. For the first part, click here, for part two, click here, for part three, click here.

(more…)


At a juice bar in Cairo, two men posed by a photograph of Gen. Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi. The general has become a popular figure among many Egyptians; Narciso Contreras for The New York Times

The future of Egyptian democracy: Islamism beyond the Muslim Brotherhood

by Yasmin Moll, The Immanent Flame, August 29

A few weeks after the ouster of Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi in 2013, the New York Times ran this headline: “Egyptian Liberals Embrace the Military, Brooking No Dissent.” The accompanying photograph showed a man with a full beard and shaved moustache in the Salafi style, a prominent prayer mark (a “raisin” in the Egyptian vernacular) on his forehead. Behind the man is a wallpaper of Muslim pilgrims circumambulating the Kaaba in Mecca. A framed portrait of then-general and coup master Abdel Fattah el-Sisi leans against beige tiles stickered with several Qur’anic verses. The headline limits the military’s support base to (secular) liberals, while the image shows us it actually extends beyond this narrow stratum.

With some exceptions, such as analyses published in this series, most scholarly accounts dovetail with media framings of Egypt’s fraught political scene since the 2011 revolution as primarily a struggle between secularism and Islamism. But the “secularism versus Islamism” narrativ­e is a political one—it performs important legitimizing labor for a plethora of social actors in Egypt, from the Brotherhood­ to deposed dictator Hosni Mubarak’s allies and both liberal and leftist activists alike. It is, however, of very limited analytical utility in making critical sense of what is actually at stake in the current impasse for the many Egyptians who do not subscribe to a secularized conception of government, yet whose religiosity cannot be conflated with the Islamism of the Muslim Brotherhood. (more…)

I recently across a copy of The Christian Herald from December 1, 1915 and the lead article by John Maynard Owen Williams is on a recent trip he took to Syria and Iraq. The images are from a century ago and I attach a few excerpts from the article. For the first part, click here and for part two, click here.

to be continued

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