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Composite Camel, Bukhara, Islamic Art, 16c (MMA, NY)

A Scam, I think

I believe it was a scam, but I do not leave my apartment unless it is necessary. It offers safety. I’ve had to go out, but my would-be assassin did not have his “boys” at my “doorsteps.” I believe it was a failed attempt to extort money. But the police took the matter seriously.

The Remains of the Past, 1

I have been thinking about the Middle East and North Africa. A nation should never enter a sovereign country. Nor should one people look upon another people as inferior.

Let us be forgiving, but when President George W. Bush entered Iraq, at the instigation of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, he blundered. Iraq is a nation. It may have been a case of ingrained Manifest Destiny (1845), except that expansion was not the motive.

The name was changed for war on Iraq to war on Terror or Terrorism, but the war in Iraq remains an illegal war. The attacks of 9/11, which cost their life to a large number of United States citizens, nearly 3,000 in New York, did not justify invading Iraq and killing an even greater number of people: Iraqis and Americans. I will never forget that American soldiers were prescribed antidepressants so they could carry on.



One can understand that panic may have gripped US President George W Bush. President Bush probably felt that he had “to do something.” Those among us who watched the planes fly into the towers of the World Trade Centre and people jumping to a kinder death were shocked. And then one of the towers imploded. Yet, the attack did not warrant entering Iraq. Capturing Osama bin Laden had to be an intelligence operation and it required the special skills of commandos and the sensitive nose of a Malinois dog. His name was Cairo.

Terrorism & the Syrian Civil War

Matters are complicated. On the one side, peace-loving President Obama now leads a coalition fighting terrorism perpetrated by ISIL, the Islamic State. I hate to see President Obama lead the coalition fighting ISIL. He is an unlikely warrior. However, the US was unable to save Jim Foley’s life and, although Jihadi John‘s next victims were not US citizens, there was motivation to fight ISIL. (See ISIL beheading incidents, Wikipedia.) On 5 August 2016, ISIL captured 3,000 Iraqis.


The Syrian Civil War is the other side. Russian President Vladimir Putin is supporting President Bashar al-Assad. But it is my understanding that the US supports neither Assad nor the “rebels.” Assad, however, crushed the Arab Spring, revolts intended to liberalize Arab countries and introduce more democratic measures. Before the Arab Spring, Assad seemed unlikely to commit crimes against humanitybut, at the moment, his regime is looked upon as an authoritarian regime. What happened? I view Assad as an enigma.

The Remains of the Past, 2

  • the Ottoman Empire
  • protectorates
  • a refugee crisis (W. W. II)
  • the creation of Israel
  • the Six-Day War

Let us look at the past once again, a past preceding the wars of the 2000s. It may be useful to note that after the fall of the Ottoman Empire, or Turkish Empire, targeted during World War Iprotectorates were formed by the League of Nations (the ancestor to the United Nations). Syria and Lebanon were both protectorates of the French. (See French Mandate for Syria and Lebanon, Wikipedia.) As for Palestine, it was a protectorate of Britain until the creation of a state of Israel, on 14 May 1948. Palestine was partitioned on 29 November 1947, so a home would be given the Israelis.[1]


The partition of Palestine and, a few months later, the creation of Israel were offensive to the Arab world. Moreover, the United States played an important role in granting Zionists their promised land. I believe one can suggest that the partition of Palestine may have tarnished the image of the United States in the Arab world. Ironically, it all began as a refugee crisis. Jews had fled to Israel to escape Hitler’s concentration camps and gas chambers.

At any rate, Jews had been victimized and Britain’s mandate for Palestine was about to expire. Therefore, although the British opposed the partition of Palestine, it had allowed it by virtue of the Balfour Declaration of 1917. Britain itself had promised Zionists a home in Palestine. Consequently, Israel was created. US President Harry Truman supported the Balfour Declaration and recognized the State of Israel almost as soon as it was created.



The creation of Israel remains a contentious issue. I noted that the United States’ initial support for the creation of Israel may have fuelled division between the Arab world and the United States. Moreover, in 1967, Israel waged its Six-Day War. The Israeli annexed the Golan Heights, two-thirds of which was Palestinian territory and one-third, Syrian territory. The Golan Heights have yet to be returned to Palestine and Syria. Israel’s failure to leave the territories it has occupied since 1967 is considered disrespectful and it constitutes an obstacle to peace. (See Golan Heights, Wikipedia.)



The above does not explain why a person claiming to be a member of al-Qaeda would want to kill me and, if the letter is not a scam, I do not know who would hire anyone to deprive me of the rest of my life. My would-be assassin wrote that he had been paid to kill.

However, this post may serve to illustrate that US President George W Bush could not enter Iraq after the attack of 9/11. Mr Blair’s advice was injudicious. I will emphasize however that although the war in Syria is a Civil War, the United States is not involved, other than indirectly. The Syrian Civil War has led to a refugee crisis which affects the United States. The refugees are mainly Muslims and certain politicians seeking office would like to prevent refugees from entering their country. These politicians believe all Muslims are potential terrorists. Generally speaking, this is not the case, but certain refugees are resorting to violence. An asylum seeker has been convicted of killing a Swedish refugee centre worker. Despair can lead to violence and violence breeds violence.


Former Swedish PM: Coup in Turkey would have led to refugee disaster in Europe

A Solution

There is of course a solution to the migrant problem, which is to end the Syrian Civil War. This would be for Bashar al-Assad and other Middle East leaders to do. Assad is President of Syria, but Assad is … an enigma. He has managed to survive for several years, but I now wonder whether or not Assad is a free man. He seems an unlikely tyrant. He signs orders, but he may be compelled to do so. Yet, peace is the only solution and he is the President of Syria.

Bashar al-Assad is an Alawite (Shia) Muslim, but he is married to the daughter of Sunni Muslims. Asma al-Assad was born, raised, and educated in London. Sunni Islam  opposes Shia Islam and both sides are divided into factions. Assad is a Shia Muslim, but I doubt that he is the enemy of Sunni Muslims. Moreover, he is westernised. Bashar al-Assad is a medical doctor who met his wife when he was in London, furthering his studies in ophthalmology. He was recalled to Syria when his brother died in an accident.

As I wrote in an earlier post, it is for Islam to determine its future and I cannot see how the refugee crisis can end if Assad does not help make Syria safe. He seems to be attacking his people. In certain European countries, the impact of the refugee crisis is devastating. It is taking a toll on the EU, the European Union, and desperate people are resorting to violence. This seems to be the case in Sweden where instances of violence have been reported.

The refugee crisis saddens me enormously.


Sources and Resources


[1] Kermit Roosevelt,“Partition of Palestine, a Lesson in Pressure Politics,” The Institute of Arab American Affairs, Pamphlet No 7, 1948. Internet Archive.

It has been a long absence.
Love to everyone.


Portrait of a Sufi,” Bukhara, Islamic Art,  16c (MMA, NY)

© Micheline Walker
8 August 2016