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Saturday’s topic for discussion was the “hint” that the United States may supply weapons to the 2-year-old conflict in Syria, where the majority sitting around the table poking its nose out onto the street are more than skeptical concerning the reasons that the US is now choosing to do so. Morocco, as you know, is over 1,500 miles from the eastern shores of the Mediterranean, and in this was one of the last countries along the northern shores of Africa to come under the rule of the Islamic force out the Middle East. The population is primarily Sunni, unlike Iran, Syria and other parts of the Middle East being Shia. A little historical background is due, this for those of you within the borders of the USA, who very seldom venture forth outside of the primarily Christian nation and its environment. 75% -to- 90% of all followers of Islam are Sunni, where the Sunni believe that the 1 st four “caliphs” were the rightful successors to Muhammad. In this they follow the rule that Allah did not specify any particular leaders to follow after Muhammad (570 - June 8 th, 632 AD), as the 1st four leaders where duly elected, they being very righteous in this having the right to be a “caliph”, who followed the beliefs of the Qu’ran and the Hadith enforcing the examples of Muhammad laying out the “rights” of the people. The 2nd largest branch of Islam are the Shias (10% -to- 20%), who follow the rule that during Muhammad’s 1st pilgrimage to Mecca he appointed his “son-in-law” as his successor in the Hadith of the pond of Khumm – in this Ali ibn Abi Talib was the 1 st Iman – thereby rejecting the “legitimacy” of the previous Muslim caliphs. Attached or linked to this primary branch are the Druze, as well as the Alawites (Bashar Hafez al-Assad [9-11-1965] President of Syria). Syria in size is around 200 square miles larger than the state of Washington, having approximately 23 million residents (2012 estimate), where the Sunni population accounts for 74%, with 13% Shia (Alawite, Twelvers, Ismailis), 10% Christian (mostly Antiochian Orthodox) 3% Druze.
This is basically the country of Syria – a land that after WWI was created by the west in their victory, mostly by the British who drew the borders without any regard for tribal or religious consideration – just oil, tearing down the Ottoman Empires massive oil company. After WWI it was a French Mandate until its independence in April 1946. Saturday the round table discussion involved two bankers (A&B), one history teacher (C), three construction foreman’s (D, E, F), one taxi driver (G), the café owner (H) and Tarik (my brother-in-law [translator) and myself. One of the bankers speaks very good English along with the history teacher, whereas Tarik translated little as the others responded in Arabic directly to the banker or the teacher. The primary topic was the word from D.C. that the US was maybe going to provide arms to the opposition – The teacher’s worry is that the US wouldn’t make the same mistake that Reagan made in his rush to push aside the Russian’s in Afghanistan by making friends with the Taliban and supplying them arms and monetary resources – his worry being that the US to weaken the relationship with the Iranians and dismantle the Hezbollah the US would create another “state” that would be a stronghold of terrorist activity. The banker remarked that the US along with the British intelligence assessments of the gas attacks lack positive proof that it was Assad’s government that released the gas, this based on the lack of feet-on-the-ground by any agency outside of Syria, only the word of the opposition. He went on to speak for the entire group that the United States failure to correctly assess the situation in Iraq and its WMD’s, thereby costing the Americans over a trillion dollars and 4,500 American lives along with one million Iraqi citizens has left a bad taste in the mouths of many Muslims. Following this the other’s had a roundtable discussion in Arabic the consensus (as related by the history teacher) that they felt the US decision to supply arms a potentially dangerous one. In this they feel that it would lead to a uncontrolled “sectarian” (religiously driven) violence – and no doubtable effecting the up-coming Geneva II meeting – which the US and Russia were chairing. The taxi driver felt that the decision to arm was driven by Qatar and Saudi Arabia in a push to achieve a Sunni-Wahabi agenda in Syria – this to reduce the long reach of Iran – a longstanding enemy of Saudi since the Shah has been removed. He felt that this would be the spark that would ignite a war that would effect all of the Middle East – with no regard to borders or religious sects.
One of the foreman brought up the fact that Germany’s foreign minister has warned the EU, that Germany’s fear or the danger of weapons getting into the wrong hands is their reason for not supplying them to the rebels. He also mentioned that like the US, France and Britain have not made it clear on what “type” of assistance will be provided – recent information out of Germany via their Foreign Office demonstrates that they “might” be considering sending military advisers to Syria. The teacher remarked, “across the board it appears that sooner than we think,” certain types of weapons will make their way into the Syrian rebels – although no specific brands are named, because of the recent surge by the government backed by Iran remote arm the Hezbollah is moving the issue forward. Up until lately, under a hush-hush okay from the United States some government, with mostly private funding has been funding the rebels out of Qatar and Saudi. Where both (Qatar and Saudi) have been applying pressure on the US Administration forcing it to move in their suggested direction. The banker chuckled when he said that the obvious strangle hold Saudi had on the cheap oil and its presence in all world economies made the pressure they apply a real item, along with the high-level points they made in establishing the sanctions against their sworn enemies the Iranians. It is more than apparent, with these two points, that the big money representatives in the American Senate and the House will bend to the wishes of Qatar and Saudi. Both congressional bodies leaning toward arming the rebels, yet the Obama administration is dragging its feet being forced to do so under the pressure from his Congress. The taxi driver said that Obama had good reason in his fears, where he is afraid that if supplied the American anti-aircraft missiles and anti-tank weapons would fall into the hands of the Islamic Extremists – a concern shared by 99% of the Islamic world – along with Israel and Lebanon to include Syria’s northern neighbor Turkey. Contrary to a common belief in America and parts of the West that all Muslims are to be feared and that their religion is one of constant war or assimilation I have found in my limited participation in man-in-the-street discussions that in all cases society in general fears the “extremists” that lurk on the outside of the circle of civilization in general. There will always be differences in how the global population thinks or believes is their higher-power, unfortunately although today we have access to a world-wide database not too many tap into this wealth for information and study their neighbors, most be comfortable to follow the lead of certain entities that live off the gold accumulated by peddling fear and discord. I guess you could say “suck it up it is just humanity.”
I asked the table what they felt about the placement of US forces and their equipment in Jordan (F-16s and anti-aircraft missiles) to a person the first thing addressed was the medical personnel from Morocco treating the refugees streaming over the border into Jordan from the conflict – after this they welcomed the US presence in Jordan and strongly hoped that Obama’s administration would create a no-fly zone over Syria. I also asked about the participation of the Hezbollah (from Lebanon) in the conflict, after a good chuckle the banker said that if the leaders in Lebanon could ever agree on what day it was they might be able to dismantle the one supreme terrorist group in the world. He went on to state that since the Marine Barracks bombing in 1983, with President Reagan and his advisors closing their eyes to the killing of over 250 US Marines – he allowed terrorism as we know it today to become a real participant in world affairs. The teacher went on to say that the claim that the US is training certain rebels again lacks validity – although he mused that if it is true he hoped that the were the citizens of Syria and not terrorist’s associated with other nations and Islamic sects – in this he again believed that the US forces would be able to tell the difference – he hoped! I marvel at the knowledge these everyday men in Morocco have on the war in Syria, yet I look at their knowledge base and its origins – unlike the news or accounts normally displayed or printed in the US – their news is directed towards world events and how it will or has effected their county which is around 2,000 square miles bigger than Florida having a population approaching 33 million. As for education Morocco to a person they are proud of the fact that University of al-Karouine in Fes is recognized world wide as the oldest University in the world, they are also proud of the fact that Morocco was the first country to recognize the United States as a county. world affairs. The Koffee Klatch, which I have missed over the past 30 plus days will usually touch on politics, religion, the economy (which is moving forward here), and the increasing price of food and fuel. I noticed some time ago that 99% of the vehicles here are “stick shifts”, whereas it is just the high-end German cars that market automatics – strange. Until next time, please enjoy your Sunday and Father’s Day. Jim Their literacy rate is very high compared to other countries outside of the mainstream West at over 54% - with this it is not a difficult task to find someone that can relate to