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09:10, 18 January 2018 Thursday
Update: 16:55, 24 October 2014 Friday

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Mideast violence scarring new Islamic year
Mideast violence scarring new Islamic year

Although warfare is forbidden during the Islamic New Year, the major conflicts raging across Turkey's neighborhood.

The Islamic New Year, Muharram, starts Friday and according to Islam this is a sacred month of non-violence -- a belief which seems to have been ignored given the persistent conflict scarring Turkey’s region.

Al-Hijra starts this evening after sunset and celebrates the beginning of the year 1436, marking the migration of the Prophet Muhammad to Medina from Mecca.

According to Islamic belief, Muharram is regarded as a month during which warfare is forbidden.

This has not been heeded by a big problem facing the Islamic world today ISIL.

Despite claiming to be motivated by Islam -- a view disputed by many Muslim leaders and scholars -- ISIL aims to establish a state in the Sunni-majority regions of Iraq and Syria. It has also claimed religious authority over Muslims worldwide, something rejected by Muslims themselves and the Western states who are fighting ISIL.

U.S.-led forces have recently carried out airstrikes near the Syrian town of Kobani to degrade ISIL forces there, destroying fighting positions, vehicles, ISIL buildings and logistical centers.

The aim is to bring an end to ISIL as soon as possible. However, the U.S. Defense Department has estimated that it may take three years to complete the military campaign against ISIL.

"In my view this is probably a best-case scenario," Yezid Sayigh, senior associate at the Beirut-based Carnegie Middle East Center, told Anadolu Agency.

"Unless Iraqi politics and government are thoroughly reformed, Iraq will experience de facto partition, though not a formal one."

Sayigh claimed that the methods used to fight ISIL at the moment were increasing sectarian divisions in Iraq and weakening the authority, legitimacy and cohesion of the central state and of the army and police.

"This means that the fight against ISIL will continue for a long time," Sayigh said, although this is not shared by Mehmet Yegin, a political scientist and the head of the Center for American Studies at USAK -- the International Strategic Research Organisation in the Turkish capital, Ankara.

Yegin believes that ISIL will not be around for a long time. "Because," he says, "there is both an international coalition to fight against it and a real fight on the ground.

“It can be said that ISIL will not be active and effective in the region for too long, although I do not expect great success from the coalition in a very short time."

He said the Syrian Democratic Union Party, which the Turkish government says is affiliated with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, will stand out more in the region following U.S. Department of State Deputy spokesperson Marie Harf's statement that the Syrian Democratic Union Party is not a terrorist organization under U.S. law.

Turkey, the U.S. and the EU lists Kurdistan Workers' Party as a terrorist group.

"All these are political projects created to give a final shape to the the 'Great Middle East Project'," says Mehmet Seyfettin Erol, an academic at Ankara's Gazi University and head of the Center for International Strategy and Security Studies think-tank.

He said "the ISIL project" will continue in the medium term, claiming that a U.S. prediction of three years to sweep away the terror group was a "clear indicator" of that.

PALESTINE

In the shade of the ISIL crisis is the enduring Israel-Palestine issue, as yet unsolved with Israel remaining deeply ambiguous towards Palestinian statehood.

"There is no prospect of a Palestinian state emerging in the foreseeable future," Sayigh from the Carnegie Middle East Center tells AA.

"This is partly because neither Fatah nor Hamas is fully committed to their reconciliation agreement. But more importantly the right-wing nationalist coalition government under [Israeli] Prime Minister Netanyahu is opposed to meaningful Palestinian statehood.

“With the U.S. unwilling to exert any real pressure on Israel and the European Union unwilling to act autonomously from the U.S., there is no reason to expect a change in the general picture."

Academic Erol said the greatest resistance to a solution on the Palestine issue is from Israel who he said is fighting for a one-state solution instead of a two-state one.

"The biggest gain for the Palestinians is the agreement between Fatah and Hamas. Their acting together in a determined way in the future is significant in uniting Palestinians, resisting the Israeli offensive and establishing a Palestinian state."

He also accused Netanyahu of trying to brand Hamas as "terrorist organization" to prevent a unity government between Hamas and Fatah, and stop the creation of an independent Palestinian state.

Last month, Netanyahu told the U.N. that a nuclear-armed Iran would pose a much greater threat than the armed group ISIL, which he also compared to Hamas.

"Netanyahu will use every excuse he can to justify Israeli behavior that impedes Palestinian statehood, including the unceasing colonization of land in the occupied Palestinian territories," Sayigh said.

Turkey, meanwhile, has been facing some serious threats as fighting against ISIL intensified near its border.

Violent pro-PKK protests broke out across Turkey under the pretext that Ankara was doing nothing to halt the advance of ISIL pouring into the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani just a few kilometers across the Turkish border.

The protests left at least 38 people and two police officers dead along with scores of vehicles, state buildings, party offices and shops damaged.

Sayigh said Turkey needs to resolve its problems -- especially the Kurdish question -- in order to be genuinely strong in the face of new threats such as ISIL and "to demonstrate the effectiveness of its model to others in the region."

Turkey and the other regional countries are aware of the "games" being played against them, academic Erol claimed. He added: "At the end of the day, it will be the fraternity among Muslims which will win because what imperial powers ignore is the brotherhood of Muslims in this region."

AA

 



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