Maddoggbuttkickin’Brown’s Guest Writer, T.H. Johnson
What does the word Shiite mean? We hear the word quite often and assume we know its meaning but other than a virtually illiterate comprehension of the word as representing what we assume to be just a smaller sect of Islam that’s about all we know. However, those it does represent a sector of the religious followers of the faith of Islam it has a history that dates back almost 1,500 years. The struggle associated with the word which literally has more of a secular meaning, in the Party of, as in the political party of someone. That someone in this instance was Ali, and thus the Shiite Ali meant the Party of Ali, who was the fourth of the “Rightly Guided” Caliphs, or what is refferred to in Islam as the Rashidun, or righteous leaders of the believers in the faith of Islam. Ali was the nephew of the Prophet Muhammad and his constant traveling companion during the development of the religion until Muhammad’s death in 632 AD. Naturally after Muhammad’s death many believed that Ali should be the inheritor of the position of Amir Al-Muminin, which means Commander of the Believers. Notice that the English language stole the first portion of this designation of leadership as a bestowed title grade within its military. Amir Al becomes Admiral, in the British and other English speaking nation’s Naval forces and means Commander of the Sea. Thus, the split within the religious faithful of Islam was over who should be the leader and Commander of the believers. The third Caliph was criticized by many and considered to some degree corrupt and self serving when he, Uthman, began to see the secular side of Islam’s responsibility with its rapid expansion and take over of vast territories for which they were taxed. Thus, Uthman established the Imperial Islamic Caliphate with its headquarters in Damascus, Syria. This angered many of the Muslim followers who believed that they should be entitled to much of the spoils of their victories that Uthman was allegedly handing out to a selected few. When Uthman, a member of the Ummayyad clan, was killed in 656 AD by Karijite assassins, those pushing for Ali argued that the leadership should be brought back closer to the founder, Muhammad, and therefore the title of Caliph should be bestowed upon Ali, whose headquarters was southern Iraq at Kufa. Ali was of the same familial clan as Muhammad, the Hashim of Mecca, and a member clan of the tribal group, the Quraysh. He also married one of Muhammad’s daughters, Fatima, and had Muhammad’s grandchildren by her.
It would be the assassination of the third Caliph based in Damascus, Uthman, from the Ummayyad clan of Mecca another familial clan of the tribal group, Quraysh, in 656 A.D. that would set about the stage for the split between the two warring factions that would make up these two sectors of Islam that we know as Sunni and Shiite groups today. The Ummayyad followers and others disagreed, with the supports of Ali and after the assassination of their leader, Uthman, selected a man named Mauwiyah, another Ummayyad clan member, to be the next Caliph. The Ummayyad position was that Muhammad left know directive in terms of how an accession to the title of Caliph should take place and that the most qualified should be considered. The foundation of the Shiite belief in Islam is that accession to Caliph should be in line with direct descendants of Muhammad, who would be members of the Hashim clan. The Sunni followers of Islam do not believe that such a measure is required to be Caliph. That is where the division came and extended bloody warring campaigns occurred for five years until 661 when Ali was assassinated by Karijite assassins himself. Those same assassins were on their way to Damascus to kill Mauwiyah but when they arrived there they failed in their attempt. Thus, the elders of the religion met to make a decision as to the blood-letting and leadership question. They saw Ali’s death and Mauwiyah’s survival as being a divine message that GOD, Allah, had chosen who should be the leader and the killing of their brethren on the battlefields of the Levant and elsewhere should come to an end.
However, the determination of its followers of the Shiite Ali would continue and would harden at the point that the revered son of Ali, Imam Hussein, was killed in a battle against the Ummayyad warriors led by Yazid at the battle of Karbala, Iraq in 680 A.D.. Hussein’s forces were vastly outnumbered and his body torn to pieces in that onslaught. Thus, the martyrdom of Hussein ibn Ali has become the focal point of Shiite dedication to which they annually commemorate Hussein’s death during the ceremonies of Ashura by flagellation and bloodying their own bodies.
Thus, this is a prelude to what comes next that everyone in the photo below has a stake in the nation of Syria for various reasons and what appears to be a hardened game plan to maintain the status quo except the United States. Our proclamations starting with George W. Bush, through Barack Obama, and certainly with Donald Trump always appear to be so juvenile and devoid of any level of knowledge or sophistication. Our leaders proclamations and strategies sound bewildered and their actions are like kids playing simple checkers while our adversaries are strategizing by playing chess. Though it has little meaning I suspect, but US President Barack Obama inherited a mess he was damned if he did and damned if he didn’t do in Syria. The criticisms and the premature self-congratulations proclaimed by Donald Trump are simply asinine for the juvenile military miscalculations of the Bush Administration. The Russians have a major stake in the game and a very large naval base on the Mediterranean Sea in Tartus, Syria that gives them something they have desperately needed for several hundred years and did not have, access to a warm water port for their Navy. Their naval base in Syria avoids the Russians not be subjected to any type of taxation as they were for several hundred years by the Turks, who are now allies of the United States, when sailing out of the Black Sea through the Turkish Bosporus Straits and into the warm Mediterranean Sea.
From a psychological geopolitical standpoint, the Russian force in Syria is a counterbalance for Russia’s interests in the region and keeps the Israelis and U.S. in check in regard to any intrigue or subversive activity that Israel backed by he U.S. might contemplate and vice versa as far as what Syria and Russia might consider engaging.
Then you have what is believed by some to be a Persian interest in Syria manifested under the veil of Shiite Islam, truthfully or otherwise. Thus, the Shiite rulers of Iran support Bashear Al-Assad, the present ruler of Syria, who inherited the position as a result of his late father, General Hefaz Al Assad, usurping power in 1970. They both are/were Shiite Muslims and members of a very small minority and extreme sect of this division of Shia Islam called Alowites. However, their delicate but firm control of Syria over the years is enough to attract the support of Iran to hold on against those who are dissatisfied with the Assad leadership. Iran has had aspirations of expansion when it was known as Persia 1,500 years ago and of reclaiming the lands of Iraq and the Levant all the way to the Mediterranean Sea. The Persians, now nationally identified as the sovereign state of Iran, are not a Sunni Islamic state but a Shiite Islamic nation.
So now Iran, Shiite Islam or Persian aspirations finally has a chance as a result of past U.S. ham handed activity, of doing something in the region it has not done for over 1,500 years and that is to reclaim lands they once held dominion over. Not since the Arab followers of Ali, head of the Arab Shiite movement was killed in 661 AD, in the mid-7th century in Iraq in a struggle for leadership of all Muslims and his son, Hussein was killed in 680 A.D. in Karbala, Iraq have the Shia had an optimism for religious expansion. For the next hundred years until approximately 750 AD those calling themselves the orthodox Muslims or Sunni ruled in Damascus Syria under the Umayyad caliphate, while the party of Ali, the Arab Shia was out of power and healing their wound of the tragic loss of their leader, Ali ibn Abi-Talib and his son Hussein ibn Ali in southern Iraq.
Ali’s Shiite followers thought they had a chance to regain power particularly in Iraq when the Abbasids from northeastern Iran offered to join them in overthrowing the Umayyad power in Damascus. However, when the dust settled from that fight and the Umayyad power was driven all the way to the west and ultimately into the Iberian peninsula where they would rule as the Umayyad Caliphate in the West for 500 years in the territory we know as Spain and Portugal, the Abbassids retained the power for themselves. To the dismay of the Shiite Ali or Alids, the Abbassid victors did not pass authority on to the followers of Ali headquartered in southern Iraq. Betrayed by the Abbassids who were Iranian Sunni Muslims, the Arab Shiite supporters of Ali remained in the southern area of Iraq while the Abbassid power structure moved their headquarters from Damascus, Syria to Baghdad, Iraq. They would rule there in their headquarters between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers for another 500 years with Baghdad becoming one of the largest cites and trade centers in the world with over a million people before the end of the 10th century. The Abbasids would be ultimately conquered by the Asian armies of the Mongolian Khans who would sack the Abbassid headquarters of Baghdad for their refusal to cooperate in 1258.
Then came the Ottoman Turkish Empire, again Sunni, to fill the vacuum around 1258 AD and they would rule the expanded region of Islam from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic, and from India to Russia for another 700 years until defeated along with the Germans by the allied powers in WWI. Then the British and French would carve up the old Ottoman territory with their colonial aspirations in the Middle East and place Sunni politicians as puppet leaders of lands the middle East under British and French control. Syria and the newly created Lebanon would be controlled by the French by 1920, Jordan, Palestine, and Iraq would be controlled by Great Britain by 1920.
The Shiite Arabs would be still out of power in Iraq, while the U.S. and other western powers would prop up the puppet leaders in the area including the last Sunni head of state, General and President of Iraq, Saddam Hussein. President George W. Bush would find disfavor with Saddam Hussein as a result of an alleged personal attack on his father, Geroge H.W. Bush. The first Bush, H.W., came to the aid of Kuwait and attacked Saddam’s army pushing them back into Iraq. That was a strategic move advised by the first Bush U.S. military generals who knew that as bad as Saddam Hussein might be considered he was the counter-balance to aspirations by the Iranians to expand their control in the region and thus keeping Saddam in place maintained a balance of power in the region.
With the destruction of Saddam Hussein and his regime in 2003 and the supplementation of the Sunni government with finally a Shiite government leadership Iraq has now become the gateway to the Mediterranean for the Shiite powers of Iran. This is because Iraq’s government, courtesy of the US invasion in 2003 to unseat its Sunni leader Saddam Hussein, as a result of a bad decision based upon a phony allegation of pursuing Weapons of Mass Destruction has now created that unwanted opportunity. After 1,500 years once again Persian recapture of the lands of the Levant and Iraq appear to be within reach. The winter palace for the ancient Persian sovereigns used to be right outside of the south eastern metropolitan area of Baghdad, at Ctesiphon. The Persians who had their own religion of Zoroastrianism before finally converting to Islam with Shiite Islam being the major national religion of that country is largely the backer of the Shiite Iraqi government put in place by the US government. The Iranians have under-girded the support of that Iraqi power structure after the departure of the US military by 2009 under the Obama administration.
So, you see, everyone on Bashear Al-Assad’s side in Syria has a master plan and vested interest for maintaining the status quo. The empty proclamation of George Bush in 2003 and repeated last week in 2018 by Donald Trump, of “Mission Accomplished” rings hollow once again considering that the US destabilized the region with no end game other than what appeared to be the control of the 200 year oil reserves in Iraq. However, that didn’t work out too well as prior US generals predicted and cost U.S. taxpayers over a trillion dollars as a result of our own clandestine intrigue. Trump supporters appear to hoot and holler, clapping with glee, in regard to meaningless bombings in Syria; however, US generals who studied their military history attempted to advise President George Bush that attacking Iraq was not a good game plan and potentially would lead to the destabilization of the Middle East. Colin Powell advised George Bush that ” if you break it (Iraq) you own it” and it appears that that is what we have done and have now created our own complicated conundrum of a chess game to figure out. Unfortunately, those at the helm of leadership in the Trump administration who are sitting at the chess table appear to have no historical knowledge of the factors they face and thus are at this world class table with a feeble mind, playing what appears to be a childish game of checkers.
Our reckless debacle in Iraq has accrued to the benefit of Shiite Iran, the contemporary descendants of the ancient Persians. They controlled all of the area of Iraq for a long period of time prior to 636 AD until they were worn down after warring for centuries with Greece and the Eastern Roman Empire. Now in the 21st Century they may be aggressively but clandestinely on the verge of regaining it back all the way to the Mediterranean, including Shiite controlled Iraq, and Shiite controlled Syria now under the cloak of Shiite Islam. It may also have its eyes on a Shiite controlled Lebanon by propping up Shiite powers in that country as they’ve attempted to do in Yemen the adjacent southern neighbor of Saudi Arabia. They know what it means to be worn down and are using it to their benefit as the process now wears down the will of the U.S. who haphazard manifest destiny in the region has displaced millions of people and resulted in major bloodshed and terror. The same people we now claim to want to come to their aid as it relates to the chemical attack on them by alleged members of the Assad regime, are the same people that the Trump administration rails against with insidious racial attacks and determination to deny entry into the U.S. Again, this is a reflection of the floundering, inept, leadership at the helm of this old ship of state of the United States of America. We simply don’t seem to have a reasonable direction as a game plan but simply recklessly bumping into the dock here and there seems to be our method of operation.
T.H. Johnson is a research investigator with the Ocean Medical Investigative Group (OMIG) and the author of several books and a documentary regarding the O.J. Simpson trial conspiracy.