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Sectarian geopolitics in two easy tweets just yesterday

Wednesday, September 7th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — you could start from this polarity and build out to cover the tensions of the world ]
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This:

is an instance of this:

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And if these two don’t suffice, there’s always Charles Mortimer:

And so it’s all explained at last,
There’s nothing more to know.
Chameleons are pink and fast
Because they’re green and slow.

Heat and Hajj 2076

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — one black swan that’s almost predictable — where two timelines meet ]
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God in His wisdom has decreed that all right thinking humans should circumambulate the Kaaba in Mecca if at all possible during their human lifetimes, so proclaims Islamic orthodoxy.

A Guardian piece titled Extreme heatwaves could push Gulf climate beyond human endurance, study shows gives an approximate date by which Mecca may be impossibly hot for humans, even clothed in the brilliant white ihram of the pilgrimage:

The extreme heatwaves will affect Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Doha and coastal cities in Iran as well as posing a deadly threat to millions of Hajj pilgrims in Saudi Arabia, when the religious festival falls in the summer. The study shows the extreme heatwaves, more intense than anything ever experienced on Earth, would kick in after 2070 and that the hottest days of today would by then be a near-daily occurrence.

After 2070.

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Tim Furnish, describing the Boston conference at which we both participated last year, expresses his regret that the Center for Millennial Studies is no longer with us in these words:

It’s a pity that Landes’ CMS has run its course, for as the Islamic year 1500 AH (after hijrah)/2076 AD approaches, Muslim eschatological fervor — almost certainly to include jihadist leaders thinking themselves the Mahdi — will only increase

Graeme Wood in his article What ISIS’s Leader Really Wants perhaps simplifies reality a little when he writes:

David Cook, a historian at Rice University who studies Muslim apocalypticism, points out that the battles preceding the Day of Judgment will take place in modern Syria, with a final showdown in the year 1500 of the Islamic Hijra calendar, or A.D. 2076.

2076, or 1500 AH, is indeed a plausible date, but not the only possibility.

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If there’s a second part to this post, it will express the extreme fierceness and driving passion of what Richard Landes calls “Active Cataclysmic Millennialism” — a category that includes both secular variants (Nazi, Marxist) and religious (Taiping Rebellion) — and how it ties in with the converging ecological and Mahdist timelines discussed above.

Okay, at the point of convergence:

Mecca uninhabitable, Hajj obligatory, and the arrival of the Mahdi imminent — it’s a potent brew to consider as we head towards the 2070s.

McCants explains the Saudis, Quantico rebukes them

Friday, August 26th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — Saudi-sourced jihadism, the FBI, Baader-Meinhof — hey, it’s all about terrosism ]
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Will McCants explains [upper panel, below] how the Saudis are and are not promoting terrorism —

Tablet DQ 600 arsonist

— while a screen-cap from episode 9 in the first season of Quantico explains just why such an approach is logically bound to be defective.

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Oh well, not to worry. It’s just another example of the illusion colloquially known as the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon. I wouldn’t want to go all irrational on you, so I’ll let RationalWiki explain:

The frequency illusion (also known as the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon) is the phenomenon in which people who just learn or notice something start seeing it everywhere.

Except that — well, there it is again — Baader-Meinhof — it’s all terrorism!

Religions clash over Temple Mount / Noble Sanctuary

Thursday, August 4th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — not that that should be news.. also Egypt, Israel, Saudi ]
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Tablet DQ 600 Jerusalem bomb & covenant

The bomber described in the upper panel, above, has a somewhat strained notion of revenge, it seems to me, though no doubt it makes sense to him. And you can tell that the button ad in the lower panel is from a Christian Messianic rather than a Jewish site, because it includes the spelling “God” rather than “HaShem” or “G*d”. And do those who have put the ad together truly suggest that God, G*d, HaShem has literally signed the covenant you’d be signing if you pressed the button?

Muslims, with some history behind them, claim the Noble Sanctuary / Al-Aqsa as their third holiest site. Jews, with some history behind them, claim the Temple Mount – the same plateau — as their holiest site. Gershom Gorenberg in his book, The End of Days: Fundamentalism and the Struggle for the Temple Mount terms it “the most contested piece of real-estate on earth”.

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Here’s an intriguing suggestion from Henry Siegman, The Truth About Jewish and Muslim Claims to Jerusalem, writing in the NYT back in 2000 CE —

When the sages of the Talmud had irreconcilable differences over a point of theology or law, they decided to defer a decision to the Messiah, when he comes. It is a legal fiction referred to in the Talmud as teiku. Teiku isthe only solution to the issue of sovereignty over Jerusalem’s holiest site.

Of course, that wouldn’t stop the current violence, nor solve the blockages in negotiations, nor hasten the coming of the messiah — but we can dream, can’t we?

And PM Netanyahu of Israel recently greeted the visiting Egyptian foreign minister, Sameh Shoukry… while a Saudi general, Anwar Eshki, visited Israel with a posse of businessmen to talk up the Saudi peace Initiative.

Net gains in Turkey and Iran?

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — when two data points contradict a trend, what’s up? ]
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Gotta love the graphic of “Twitter being written into the ancient Persian Cyrus Cylinder in an animation film for Farsi Twitter, highlighting the platforms importance for communications in Iran” (upper panel, below):

Tablet DQ internet saved

— and there’s something faintly Escherian about the screengrab of Turkish President Erdogen in, what, a hall of screens? (lower panel, above).

I’ve said before that single data-points mean little, but two of them — outliers from a general trend — may consitute an eddy in the stream, a knot in the wood, a disturbance in the force worth noting, worth looking into.

Thus far, our interest in social media in the Middle East has largely focused on terrorist uses [eg Berger 1, 2] and counter-terrorism & CVE measures [eg Aistrope], with a sidelong glance at authorities blocking the net {eg Kerr]..

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Here’s the video:

Sources:

  • Zeynep Tufekci / NYT, How the Internet Saved Turkey’s Internet-Hating President
  • Global Voices, Iranian Hardliners Want to Stop Blocking Twitter — to Defeat Saudi Propaganda
  • Food for thought:

    Note that knots in wood are generally indicative of a third-dimensional force, oblique to the wood’s surface plane. In considering any situation analogous to a knt in wood or eddy in a river, it’s worth asking: is there an oblique force at work disturbing the current, and if so, what is it, why here, and what does it portend?


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