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Posts Tagged ‘Sunni’

Defense Secretary James Mattis resigned today (20 December 2018) – effective 28 February 2019, to allow time for a replacement confirmation.   Secretary Mattis (Retired Marine Corps General) resigned due to differences with the policies of President Trump.  Below is Secretary Mattis’ resignation letter (and transcript below that).
Page 1 of Sec. Mattis Resignation Letter
Page 2 of Sec. Mattis Resignation Letter
Dear Mr. President:
I have been privileged to serve as our country’s 26th Secretary of Defense which has allowed me to serve alongside our men and women of the Department in defense of our citizens and our ideals.
I am proud of the progress that has been made over the past two years on some of the key goals articulated in our National Defense Strategy: putting the Department on a more sound budgetary footing, improving readiness and lethality in our forces, and reforming the Department’s business practices for greater performance.  Our troops continue to provide the capabilities needed to prevail in conflict and sustain strong U.S. global influence.
One core belief I have always held is that our strength as a nation is inextricably linked to the strength of our unique and comprehensive system of alliances and partnerships.  While the US remains the indispensable nation in the free world, we cannot protect our interests or serve that role effectively without maintaining strong alliances and showing respect to those allies.  Like you, I have said from the beginning that the armed forces of the United States should not be the policeman of the world.  Instead, we must use all tools of American power to provide for the common defense, including providing effective leadership to our alliances.  NATO’s 29 democracies demonstrated that strength in their commitment to fighting alongside us following the 9-11 attack on America.  The Defeat-ISIS coalition of 74 nations is further proof.
Similarly, I believe we must be resolute and unambiguous in our approach to those countries whose strategic interests are increasingly in tension with ours.  It is clear that China and Russia, for example, want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model – gaining veto authority over other nations’ economic, diplomatic, and security decisions – to promote their own interests at the expense of their neighbors, America and our allies.  That is why we must use all the tools of American power to provide for the common defense.
My views on treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors are strongly held and informed by over four decades of immersion in these issues.  We must do everything possible to advance an international order that is most conducive to our security, prosperity and values, and we are strengthened in this effort by the solidarity of our alliances.
Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position.  The end date for my tenure is February 28, 2019, a date that should allow sufficient time for a successor to be nominated and confirmed as well as to make sure the Department’s interests are properly articulated and protected at upcoming events to include Congressional posture hearings and the NATO Defense Ministerial meeting in February.  Further, that a full transition to a new Secretary of Defense occurs well in advance of the transition of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in September in order to ensure stability within the Department.
I pledge my full effort to a smooth transition that ensures the needs and interests of the 2.15 million Service Members and 732,079 DoD civilians receive undistracted attention of the Department at all times so that they can fulfill their critical, round-the-clock mission to protect the American people.
I very much appreciate this opportunity to serve the nation and our men and women in uniform.
[Whenever a high-ranking military officer disagrees so fundamentally with the policy, course of action or directions being given by the President (Commander-In_Chief), it is their duty to resign from their position and bring their objections to the American public.  This is an “honorable” resignation.
In our nation’s history, there have been senior officers objecting to their political commander who have acted contrary to lawful policy and direction (both Democratic and Republican) and who have stayed in post and attempted to ameliorate policy / directions they objected to.  Only historians can judge whether these officers acted with honor (or not).
President Assad rules Syria and wishes us to leave so he can continue to crush his opposition and remain in power indefinitely.  Putin wants us to leave Syria to increase Russian influence in the area and to gain access to “warm-water” ports in Syria.  Iran wants us to leave Syria in order to establish an arc of influence through Iraq to Syria (and the Mediterranean).  Turkey wants us to leave in order to crush the Syrian Kurds (and along with them, the Turkish Kurds).  The Turkish Kurds assisted us in Iraq and are now doing the same in Syria.  They want us to stay.  The Syrian Kurds want our help and want us to stay.  Israel and Saudi Arabia foolishly support President Trump because they feel he will support them.  Between Israel and Russia, Trump will support Russia.  Saudi Arabia is the enemy of Iran because Iran is not Arab and because Iran believes in the Shiite version of Islam while the Saudi’s believe in the Sunni version.  Trump supports Saudi Arabia over Iran (in theory), but he doesn’t seem to realize the long term effect of increasing Iranian influence in Syria will be to the detriment of both Israel and Saudi Arabia.
As for ISIS / ISIL, they are one of the factions seeking to over-throw Assad.  They are Muslim and Assad is Ba’ath.  Assad seeks to destroy ISIL because that’s what he does to all of his enemies.
If the U.S. abandons Syria and the Kurds, we will pay for this policy failure for decades and generations ALL around the world – not just in the Middle East.
I happen to agree with President Trump, that we should get our troops out of Afghanistan and reduce our military footprint in the Middle East – not just Syria.  In Afghanistan, as soon as possible.  In Syria, only after we have secured land for the Syrian Kurds and, after that, for as long as the Kurds need our protection from Russia, Turkey and Iran – and, of course, from Assad.  Unfortunately, this may mean decades…
Israel and Saudi Arabia will pay for supporting President Trump.  Sooner or later he will turn on them, too.   After all, Trump is a snake, they know he is a snake, and to quote candidate Trump’s campaign speech:  “You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in.”
Just sayin’…  —  KMAB]
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The Message (1976 / 1977) — movie review
Today’s review is for “The Message” (originally titled: “Mohammad, Messenger of God“), which was released in Arabic in 1976 and in English in 1977.  The English version of the movie stars Anthony Quinn as Hamza (the Prophet’s uncle), Michael Ansara as Abu Sufyan ibn Harb (the leader of Mecca), Irene Papas as Hind (Abu Sufyan’s wife), Johnny Sekka as Bilal, and Michael Forest as Khalid.  Although the movie is “about” Mohammad, the movie follows the Muslim tradition of not portraying the Prophet or his voice.  Therefore, the movie has a few awkward scenes where the camera appears as the Prophet’s view and his lines are said (or rather repeated) by one of the actors on screen.  The movie depicts the historical drama (biopic) of the Prophet from his conversion until his death, and the birth / growth of Islam as a religion.
I first saw this movie almost twenty years ago when I was working as a contractor in Saudi Arabia for their national steel company: Hadeed.  A co-worker of mine, who became a friend, was trying to convert me from being Catholic into a Muslim (Sunni).  This may sound a bit strange, but I found almost all Muslims felt it their duty to Allah to try to convert all non-believers.  This was never a pressure-sale kind of thing, it was simply an attempt to share the joy of his / their faith.  In any case, my first viewing had the benefit of having an English speaking Saudi there with me to elaborate on parts of the movie.  Obviously, I didn’t have this luxury for this second viewing.
To start off with, the movie is just under three hours long.  I think this is partly an effort to stay true to the story and partly for the production value of making the film into an “epic” like “Lawrence of Arabia” or any of the Cecil B. DeMille Hollywood Jewish / Christian epics.  Due to life getting in the way, I had to break up the viewing this week into chunks of 30 minutes, 60 minutes and 90 minutes.  I don’t believe the viewing (or this review) suffered from this as I now do this quite often.  The nice thing is the movie is free on YouTube, so you only have to write down where you stopped and you can go right back to that spot or a couple of minutes earlier with no problems at all.  I must admit to finding viewing of older movies (particularly made for TV movies) on YouTube to be a lucky fortune for me.
So, is the film any good?  Is it accurate?  Did I learn anything about Islam which I didn’t already know?  Yes, yes and yes (well, kind of).  This is not a “great” movie in the sense of great cinema.  It is a great movie in the sense of relating God’s will for mankind.  I don’t mean God / Allah seeking to turn everyone into a Muslim as much as God’s will to have men live in peace, respect women, help the poor and those less fortunate, and most of the doctrines of the other two religions of the book (“the Bible”).  Given the length, the movie has slow parts, but it also has some fairly well done battle scenes (for its time and special effects).
Is the movie accurate?  Not being an expert on Islam, I can’t definitively speak to this.  I can only say my friend felt it accurate enough to recommend to me (and view with me) and to relate that Wikipedia says the historian advisors worked on the entire filming while the religious experts did not.  The religious experts quit before the movie was completed.  It should be pointed out the film took over half a decade to get completed and was shot with two different casts (one for Arabic and one for English).  Part of this delay was due to the difficulty of keeping funding and part was due to location issues – some of the countries involved in shooting pulled their permissions over religious grounds.
Did I learn anything?  Yes, but not really anything “major-new”.  I was reminded of things and certain parts were emphasized in this second viewing (and background reading), and I think that was a good thing.  My Saudi friend either wasn’t aware of the political issues, the funding / duration issues or the multiple version issues, or if he did know about them, didn’t feel they were important enough to mention them to me.
I would say, that if you are coming into Islam blindly by stumbling onto this film, you will certainly learn a lot about the faith.  However, it should be recognized the similarities between Islam and Christianity are cherry-picked to hi-light the beliefs most closely aligned, and the differences are virtually ignored (unstated).  I don’t have any problem with this because I am aware of some of the differences.  They might be more problematic for someone less informed.
Final recommendation: strong to highly recommended movie.  It is an older movie and it shows in the production values.  A historically based epic, I think the movie faithfully relates the story-line of the beginnings of the Islamic faith.  As such it is recommended viewing for anyone interested in comparative religious studies, Middle-Eastern history or, more specifically, the Islamic faith and its origin in Saudi Arabia.
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