Friday, February 16, 2007

Yemen: Shi'ite rebellion resurfaces - Yemeni Jews threatened

Date: Friday 16 February 2007
Subj: Yemen: Shi'ite rebellion resurfaces - Yemeni Jews threatened
To: World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty News & Analysis
From: WEA RLC Principal Researcher and Writer, Elizabeth Kendal


YEMEN: SHI'ITE REBELLION RESURFACES - YEMENI JEWS THREATENED

As noted in the recent WEA RLC News & Analysis posting Religious Liberty Trends 2006-2007, "Part 3 - RL Trend: Shiite Ascendancy" (link 1) any Shiite vs Sunni conflict will impact Jews and Christians. This is because in a Shiite vs Sunni conflict, Sunni extremism intensifies and is advanced resulting in increased persecution of Shiites, Jews and Christians, while Shiites (usually the minority sect) attempt to deflect Sunni hate and unite the sects in battle against their common "enemies": Jews, Israel, Christians and US-allied Arab governments.

The Sunni vs Shiite struggle for supremacy is escalating in Yemen and followers of Shiite rebel Al Houthi have renewed their insurgency against the government of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Before the Shiite rebels re-launched their insurgency they issued a public threat against the local
Jewish community.

JEWS THREATENED AND EXPELLED

On 10 January the 45 Jews of al Haid, Sa'ada (north Yemen), received letters from a Shiite rebel militia. The letters accused them of promoting vice and demanded that they leave the province. According to the Yemen Observer, the 45 Jews have been forced to flee their homes in fear of their lives. While they have since been given refuge in a hotel at the expense of a compassionate local sheik, they are reportedly living in appalling conditions. Shiite militants have since threatened to bomb the hotel.

The Yemen Observer reports: "Most of Yemen's Jews were brought over to Israel during Operation Magic Carpet in 1949-50, following the 1948 Muslim riots that destroyed the Jewish community in Aden and killed 82 people. There were about 63,000 Jews in Yemen in 1948. Now, only about 400 Jews remain in the country, most of who are living in Raida, in the Amran province." (Link 2)

A copy of the threatening letter was faxed to the Yemen Observer. It reads: "After an accurate surveillance of the Jews who are residing in Al Haid, it has become clear to us that they were doing things which serve mainly Zionism, which seeks to corrupt the people and distance them from their principles, their values, their morals, and their religion, and spread all kinds of vice in the society. Our religion ordered us to fight the corrupt people and expel them."

The newspaper reports that the hand written letter concluded with the words: "Allah is Greater, Death to America, Death to Israel, Curse to Jews, and Victory to Islam," and explains that the words form the slogan of the slain Shiite cleric, Hussein Badr Al Deen Al Houthi. The letter was then signed by Yahya Sad Al Khudhair, who described himself as the leader of Al Houthi supporters in Al Salem.

Dawoud Yousef Mousa, one of the displaced Jews, told the Yemen Observer: "We are a total of 45 Jews, from Al Salem, we left our houses in Al Haid area in Sa'ada to a hotel here in the city of Sa'ada, after we received warnings to leave our country, Yemen, within 10 days from the date of the threat letter,"

According to Mousa, on Wednesday 17 January, he was with a group of Jews when they were approached by four masked men who threatened to slaughter them if they did not leave on Al Salem by Friday 19 January. "They told us, 'No one will protect you, Jews, from us, not even [President] Ali Abdullah Saleh." And they were warned that if they did not leave their homes in two days "they will only have themselves to blame" for the consequences, which will include abductions and looting.

The Yemen Observer reports that the local authorities and tribal sheikhs in Sa'ada held meetings to discuss the complaints from the Yemeni Jews. However the meetings only resulted in oral reassurances for the Jews, who were told to ignore the threats and go back to their villages, something the Jews were not prepared to do.

The Jews have appealed to the governor of Sa'ada for protection. In their submission they wrote: "It is not a secret that we are "Themmies" [dhimmis] (free non-Muslims, enjoying the Muslims' protection [definition by Yemen Observer]), we are in the protection of the Prophet Mohammed, and in the protection of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. We [are in] your protection. We would rather die than leave our homes."

SHI'ITE INSURGENCY

Yemen did not exist as a unified state until May 1990. Before then there was North Yemen which was 60 percent Shiite, and South Yemen which was 99 percent Sunni. Historically Zaydi (Shia) Imams had ruled over North Yemen as absolute monarchs. Then in 1962 the Imamate of Muhammad al-Badr was overthrown in a military coup led by Ali Abdullah Saleh. Civil war erupted between republicans backed by Egypt, and royalists backed by Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Britain. After years of conflict and political see-sawing, North Yemen emerged as the Yemen Arab Republic (YAR). Ali Abdullah Saleh became the President of the YAR in 1978 after another military coup.

In December 1989 the parliament of South Yemen voted unanimously in favour of unifying the two states. Meanwhile, in North Yemen 25 of the more religiously fundamentalist Shiite members of the of North Yemen parliament boycotted the vote, recognising that upon unification, the Shiites of North Yemen would go from being a majority to a 30 percent minority. Unification went ahead and Ali Abdullah Saleh was elected president of the unified Republic of Yemen on the votes of both houses of parliament. The president of South Yemen became the Vice President.

In June 2004 a Shiite insurgency erupted against the government of Ali Abdullah Salih. The Shiite rebels were "protecting Islam" and protesting the government's alliance with the US in its War on Terror. The government claimed the rebels were fighting for the restoration of the Zaydi imamate, though the rebels denied this. President Ali Abdullah Saleh is a Zaydi Shiite, but like many other Zaydis he is a republican.

On 13 July 2004 the Christian Science Monitor reported on the Shiite insurgency: "The revolt is led by Hussein al-Houthi, an anti-US Shiite cleric who runs a religious school and heads a group called Al Shabab al-Moumin, the Youthful Believers.

"Houthi's rebels have been flying the flag of the Iranian-backed Hizbullah organization and the militant cleric has been paying his followers $100." (Link 3)

The government unleashed the full force of its military against the Shiite rebels and the insurgency only lasted ten weeks. Rebel leader Zaydi cleric Hussein al-Huthi was killed in the fighting.

The July 2004 CSM article actually raised the issue of al Qaeda infiltration into Yemen and questioned whether Iran was sponsoring a Shiite revival amongst the Yemeni Zaydis to counter a Wahhabi revival amongst the Sunnis. It concluded with a quote from Professor Hamzeh: "'It seems that Al Qaeda has been successful in radicalizing the Shafi Sunnis,' he says. 'I can definitely see a future clash between the Zaidi Shiites and the newly mobilized Shafi Sunnis.'"

After Al-Houthi's father, Badr al-Din al-Huthi, assumed leadership of the rebel group, fighting resumed in March 2005. Once again, the government unleashed the military against the rebels. Shiite leaders in both Iran and Iraq protested the "persecution" of Yemeni Shiites. By May 2005 the rebels had retreated into the mountains and the fighting had ceased.

On 27 January 2007 Shiite rebels in the northern province of Sa'ada (where the Jews are being persecuted) launched a mortar attack on a security building, killing six soldiers. In early February Yemen's parliament authorised its military to launch a full-scale assault against the rebels. Stratfor estimates that around 80 Shiite al-Houthi rebels and around 40 Yemeni government soldiers have died in fighting over the past two weeks. The Yemen Times puts the figure at 32 rebels and 15 soldiers.

Some Yemeni MPs and political commentators suspect that Iran and Libya are interfering in Yemen; Iran to bolster the Shiites to counter al Qaeda and the revival of Wahhabi ideology; and Libya to bolster the Wahhabis for the purpose of destabilising Saudi Arabia.

Clearly Yemen is a fertile field for a Sunni vs Shiite contest. If the radicalisation of both Shiites and Sunnis is not effectively countered then the future is bleak, not only for Yemeni Jews and Christians, but for a united Republic of Yemen.

Elizabeth Kendal

Links

1) RL Trend: Shiite Ascendancy

2) Threatened Yemeni Jews appeal for protection
By Nasser Arrabyee Jan 22, 2007, 19:38 Yemen Observer
http://www.yobserver.com/cgi-bin/2007/exec/view.cgi/23/11554

3) Are Iran and Al Qaeda vying for influence in Yemen?
At least 200 dead in Yemeni battle against radicals.
By Nicholas Blanford. The Christian Science Monitor 13 July 2004
http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/0713/p11s01-wome.html

BBC profile: YEMEN
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/country_profiles/784383.stm

Profile: Ali Abdullah Saleh http://lexicorient.com/e.o/saleh_a.htm

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Kosovo & Metohija, SERBIA: Precarious Situation


Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | No. 415 | Wed 07 Feb 2007


--------------------------------------------------
KOSOVO AND METOHIJA, (Serbia) : PRECARIOUS SITUATION
--------------------------------------------------

What we know today as Kosovo, southern Serbia, was historically two regions: Kosovo and Metohija. 'Metohija' comes from the Greek 'metox' referring to land set aside for the Church. Metohija, a large basin in the south-west comprising nearly half of 'Kosovo', is the spiritual heartland of Serbia and is filled with historic Eastern Orthodox churches and monasteries.

The (Muslim) Ottoman Empire advanced its imperialistic jihad into the Balkans in the 14th Century. For centuries the Christian peoples of the Balkans were subjugated under Islam and sorely persecuted. But then the Ottoman Empire started to crumble and the Christians fought for and won their liberation. During the Ottoman era large numbers of Turkish and ethnic Albanian Muslims migrated over the mountains and into Serbia's southern regions of Kosovo and Metohija, eventually comprising some 50 percent of the population. Their descendants are known as 'Kosovars'. After the Balkan wars of liberation (1912) Islamist Kosovars/Albanians complained that their (Muslim) land was 'occupied', and the Kosovar/Albanian separatist struggle began. So the contemporary struggle between the Muslim Kosovars/Albanians and the Orthodox Serbs for control of Kosovo and Metohija is almost a century old.

The ethnic Albanian Muslim Kosovar cause has accelerated since 1941: first during World War Two through the Nazi-Muslim pact to exterminate Serbs, Jews and Roma/Gypsies in the Nazis' 'Greater Albania'; and then during the Communist era through the pro-Albanian, pro-Arab, anti-Serb policies of Croat Communist leader Marshall Tito. Tito refused to allow the Serbs who had been ethnically cleansed from Kosovo during WW2 the right to return. He dissolved Metohija because of its spiritual significance and turned Kosovo and Metohija into a single, separate and eventually autonomous majority ethnic Albanian province.

War erupted in 1999. After NATO's unilateral intervention Kosovo was declared a UN protectorate. Since then some 150 historic Orthodox Serbian churches and monasteries have been destroyed and an estimated 1000 Serbs and Roma have been kidnapped and murdered or disappeared (but not Jews, because Islamist Kosovars expelled the entire Jewish remnant in 1999). Kosovo's mostly internally displaced Serbs live in fear and poverty and cannot move without UN armed escorts. Meanwhile the Islamisation and radicalisation of Kosovo has advanced without restraint.

The UN special envoy's 2 February 2007 recommendation that Kosovo be granted supervised independence will soon go before the UN Security Council. Albania, all Islamic imperialists, the US and UK support this proposal. Russia and China (two countries that could face similar Muslim separatist claims should Kosovo be granted independence) are opposed to it. Needless to say Serbia rejects any suggestion that the UN excise 15 percent of Serbia's territory and cede it to Muslim separatists.

The West appeases Islamic imperialism in the Balkans for political expediency - the opposite of their response in the Horn of Africa. The situation for Kosovo's Serbs is precarious and Balkans' peace is tenuous.

PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY FOR GOD TO:

* raise up voices for justice and right to speak against shameful political expediency.

* work powerfully through the UN forces to protect the tiny Orthodox Serb remnant in Kosovo so they will not be forced to defend themselves should hostile forces seek their removal or the destruction of more religious sites.

* protect all Kosovar converts to Christianity who are greatly at risk due to the escalating criminality and Islamic nationalist, imperialist and anti-Serb (anti-Christian) zeal in the province.

* give great wisdom and divine guidance to the political and religious leaders in Belgrade (Serbia).

'He [the Sovereign Lord] tends his flock like a shepherd: he gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.' Isaiah 40:11 NIV

Monday, February 5, 2007

Religious Liberty Trend - India: Hindutva's advance

Date: Monday 5 February 2007
Subj: 2. RL Trend - India: Hindutva's advance
To: World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty News & Analysis
From: WEA RLC Principal Researcher and Writer, Elizabeth Kendal

RELIGIOUS LIBERTY (RL) TRENDS: 2006-2007

-----------------------------------------------------------
TREND: INDIA - HINDUTVA'S ADVANCE
-----------------------------------------------------------

While India's Hindutva (Hindu nationalist) forces suffered a shock-loss in the 2004 federal elections, the Hindutva sharks are alive and well and extremely active just below the surface, generating more and more heat and momentum as they gather the masses into their Hindutva stream. Meanwhile the skaters - the secular liberal progressives presently in power - seem unaware or unconcerned that the ice is melting and eroding beneath their feet.

India has a population of some 1.2 billion. There are more than 25 million Christians and an active, sacrificial and growing Indian cross-cultural missionary movement.

The Hindutva forces worked solidly through 2006. Their plan doubtless is to consolidate their gains and advance further through 2007. They are clearly in the midst of a four-year re-election campaign.

Caste as social order, not Hinduism as a religious philosophy, is the greatest bulwark and challenge to religious liberty and Christianity in India. Without a supernatural work of divine grace in the heart, Hindus can only be appalled and threatened by the biblical concept that all men and women are created equal. This is particularly true of the higher castes, those privileged elite who profit most from the caste system and are the real influencers and power-brokers of India.

(Equality is always welcomed by those who are so to speak "below the bar": those who will benefit from being elevated and liberated such as the poor and persecuted. Those "above the bar", for whom equality means levelling and some degree of sacrifice, are generally less enthusiastic. Hindus are not the only people guilty of this selfishness. Christians can be good at
tolerating the injustices they benefit from too! With Christians this is an issue of sin. In a Hindu society however, caste is systemic, deeply ingrained in the Hindu psyche and embedded in Hinduism's fatalistic religious philosophy.)

The leaders and ideologues behind the Hindutva forces are not driven primarily by a commitment to religious (Hindu) dogma. They are primarily driven by their desire to secure for themselves the privileges of power and caste.

After losing central power in 2004 the Hindutva forces spent much of 2005 bickering, blaming and jockeying as well as analysing the situation and debating policy. Then in early 2006 the Hindutva strategy for re-election emerged for all to see through the Shabri Kumbh Mela in Dangs, Gujarat. This became the subject of the first WEA RLC posting for 2006: "India: The dictators of Hindutva aim for 'a death blow' in Dangs." (26 January 2006)

The Hindutva forces are aiming for re-election in 2009, preferably with a majority so they can change the constitution and establish their fascist Hindu state.

The Hindutva strategy is as outlined in that posting:
  1. Hinduise the animists, effecting religious conversions for political gain;

  2. create new exploitable mythology and tradition for political gain;

  3. create for political gain a climate of fear and anger intense enough to motivate all "Hindus" to unite against a perceived threat to their security.

The Hindutva forces portray Christians as a threat to India's unity, social harmony and national security. In Hindutva-produced DVDs, videos, tracts, books and speeches Christians are described as terrorists, separatists and subversive or unwitting agents of Western imperialistic forces that seek to divide and weaken India in preparation for conquest! Because of this, persecution against Christians has dramatically escalated in frequency, severity and geographical scope. Christians are no longer being attacked only by Hindutva forces and militants, they are now also being attacked by their Hinduised neighbours while police stand idly by, watching and waiting for the chaos to settle so they can arrest and charge the victims! What's more, this persecution is no longer mostly limited to BJP-led (Hindutva) states. Violent and legislative persecution of Christians is escalating in all states across the nation.

Because the Hindutva forces are active primarily in the religious sphere - Hinduising the animist tribals and creating new exploitable Hindu mythology - their activity is slipping under the radar of most political analysts. But while the Hindutva forces are focusing on the religious sphere it is all for political gain. This strategy of effecting political conversion by means of religious conversion is hugely successful. It is however built on lies, deceit and manipulation. Furthermore Hindutva will not produce the harmony and security it promises - only repression, persecution and communal conflict. Instead of growing prosperity and international engagement, a Hindutva India would face destructive turmoil and crippling sanctions.

National and international campaigns are urgently needed to combat the Hindutva deception and propaganda and promote religious liberty in India. If the Hindutva forces are permitted to continue in their highly strategic, exploitative, deceptive, unrestrained and unchallenged advance, then they will regain federal power in the 2009 election, change the constitution and establish a fascist Hindu state where religious repression and persecution will be equal to the world's worst.


"O Thou, my friend, forget no more
The friend who all they misery bore;
Let every idol be forgot,
But, O my soul, forget him not."

(verse 1 of a hymn by Indian Hindu convert, Krishna Pal.)

Religious Liberty Trend - Islamic imperialism: Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo

Date: Monday 5 February 2007
Subj: 4. RL Trend - Islamic imperialism: Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo
To: World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty News & Analysis
From: WEA RLC Principal Researcher and Writer, Elizabeth Kendal

RELIGIOUS LIBERTY (RL) TRENDS: 2006-2007

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TREND - ISLAMIC IMPERIALISM: SOMALIA, BOSNIA, KOSOVO
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The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language defines imperialism as: "The policy of extending a nation's authority by territorial acquisition or by the establishment of economic and political hegemony over other nations."

Islam is an imperialistic political system that employs a religious component for political and imperialistic gain. It is natural therefore that Islamic reformation and revival should result in renewed zeal for Islamic imperialism. While Muslims as human beings are extremely varied, holding beliefs ranging from irreligious to indifference to secular to moderate to extremist and from liberal to fundamentalist, the agenda of orthodox, Quranic Islam is absolutely radical and imperialistic.

Islamic imperialism is advanced in myriad ways: through jihad and pro-Sharia Islamist political movements; economically and culturally through the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC), the Arab League, the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), and vast oil profits. These profits are used strategically to disseminate Islamic ideology and advance Islamic politics and culture, as well as to transform free nations (such as numerous Christian-majority African nations) and institutions (such as numerous Western universities) into submissive debtors.

For this annual trends posting I will focus on two regions where Islamic imperialist zeal and rhetoric rose to dangerous levels through 2006: the Horn of Africa, and the Balkans.

THE HORN OF AFRICA (HOA)

The year 2006 saw the rise and fall of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU). For background see WEA RLC News & Analysis postings "Somalia: Igniting jihad in the Horn of Africa" (28 July 2006) and "Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia: Death and Danger in the Horn of Africa" (20 Oct 2006).

The rise of the ICU under the leadership of the belligerent al-Qaeda-linked Sheik Aweys, a vocal proponent of the creation of an Islamic Caliphate over a Greater Somalia, meant that conflict with neighbouring Ethiopia was inevitable.

In December 2006 the Ethiopian Army and soldiers loyal to Somalia's UN-sponsored Transitional Federal Government (TFG) routed and all but crushed the ICU. It is imperative that Somalia's government receive maximum international support to secure the state and improve the lives of the Somali people, thereby securing their hearts and minds.

It is estimated that during the December offensive around 3,000 ICU militants abandoned their uniforms and diffused back into the civilian population in Mogadishu where they remain hidden.

Al-Qaeda deputy leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, has called for an Iraq-style Islamist insurgency. Al-Qaeda will doubtless attempt to incite Islamic irredentism and imperialism in Somalia, and separatism in Ogaden, the eastern region of Ethiopia that is home to some four million ethnic Somalis. This would certainly lead to an escalation in persecution of Christians in Muslim-dominated regions of the HOA.

Inflamed Islamic imperialist zeal would doubtless also invigorate the Islamist movement in Khartoum, and this could seriously rattle the tenuous peace in Southern Sudan. The tensions in the HOA will doubtless also lead to an escalation in Eritrea (historic enemy of Ethiopia and ally of the Islamists) of persecution against the Church, including the previously tolerated Orthodox Church.

The degree to which the wider HOA becomes a theatre for an Islamic imperialist insurgency (jihad) will depend largely on the commitment and ability of those charged with keeping the peace in Somalia to persist with conviction in the long operation of mopping-up terrorists and jihadists as they emerge.

Several terrorist incidents occurred during January 2007. If Islamic terrorists and jihadist manage to establish a base of operations for imperialistic jihad in the HOA, then Western and Christian interests and assets will be at risk from Addis Ababa to Juba, Djibouti, Asmara, Mogadishu and Nairobi.

THE BALKANS: SITUATION EXPLOSIVE

While the Balkans remained relatively peaceful through 2006, the issues that emerged onto centre stage last year are reminiscent of those issues that were a prelude to war in the 1990s. The two great issues are essentially related to Islamic imperialism:

* the status of Bosnia's Serbs;

* the status of the Serbian province of Kosovo.

BOSNIA

The situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) was dealt with thoroughly in a lengthy posting entitled "Bosnia and Herzegovina: Religious tensions rising" (19 September 2006). That posting included a detailed overview of the historical context that has given rise to the present position. This is hugely important because at present the history of the Serb nation, a Christian nation of Eastern Orthodox tradition, is buried deep beneath a veritable mountain of lies and revisionist propaganda, myth and demonisation courtesy of belligerent Islamist imperialist forces and their Western allies.

That posting was followed up with one entitled "Bosnia and Herzegovina: Fragile stability threatened by Islamisation" (12 October 2006).

The 1992-1995 Bosnian war was essentially over the status of Bosnian Serbs. In 1992 the Bosnian Serb rejection of the Islamist Izetbegovic's illegal, unconstitutional move to declare Bosnia independent from Yugoslavia triggered war. As Bosnian Muslims (Bosniacs) fought for an independent, united, Muslim Bosnia, Bosnian Serbs fought to retain their liberty and autonomy as they had no desire to be reduced to a Christian minority in an Islamic state, let alone be further separated from their fellow Serbs.

The Dayton Accords of 1995 ended the Bosnian war by establishing an independent Bosnia divided into two autonomous entities: the Muslim-Croat Federation, which today is under immense strain, and the Republika Srpksa (RS, Serb Republic).

Hard-line Islamists have never accepted the Dayton Accords and view it as a betrayal by their war-time allies, the US. For RS to be part of an independent Bosnia, yet autonomous and not under Muslim rule, is totally against the Islamist order. Izetbegovic only signed the Dayton Accords because he feared that without I-FOR (the international peace keeping force) on the ground, Serbia and Croatia would attempt to divide Bosnia between them and that Bosnia alone would not have the capacity to resist. Izetbegovic knew the Bosniacs needed both the US to keep the peace and Iran to re-arm and advance the Islamist agenda.

The loudest voice against the "partitioning" of Bosnia and Herzegovina was war-time Foreign Minister and Prime Minister, Haris Silajdzic. Over the years Silajdzic has been persistently critical of Izetbegovic for making what he believed were too many concessions.

On 1 October 2006, Haris Silajdzic was elected as the Muslim representative in Bosnia's tripartite presidency. Central to his election campaign was his proposal that RS be dissolved. Silajdzic uses words that impress the West, such as united, democratic and non-sectarian. But what he is advancing is the Islamic agenda to put all Bosnian territory and citizens under Muslim rule.

Further to this, Bosnia is under immense pressure from the West to move from the "Dayton phase" to the "European phase". Before it can join the EU, Bosnia is being advised that it must undergo constitutional reforms aimed at strengthening the central government at the expense of the entities. Some of these reforms are unacceptable to the Bosnian Serbs as they lessen their autonomy. The Orthodox Serbs are especially determined to retain autonomy in the area of policing as they do not want to be under a centrally administered, Muslim-dominated police force. Islamist imperialists and their naive supporters then label Serb resistance to dhimmitude as racist and ultra-nationalist!

The situation in Bosnia is explosive. Serbs (Orthodox) and Croats (Catholic) are both becoming agitated by the Islamist imperialistic rhetoric that is rising in an increasingly Islamised Bosnia. The situation today closely resembles 1992.

KOSOVO

Ever since the Serbs liberated themselves from Ottoman (Islamic) rule (1912-1913), "Kosovars" (descendents of Albanian Muslims who migrated into Kosovo during the Ottoman era) have been complaining of "occupation" and agitating along secessionist lines. And the secessionism is both pan-Islamic and nationalistic in character.

The contemporary Kosovar vs Serb contest for Kosovo has really been going for almost a century now. Both sides have attempted to advance their status by diminishing the "other" when circumstances permitted. The Serb cause however, was particularly hurt by the Nazi-Muslim alliance in World War Two.

Yugoslavia came under Nazi occupation in April 1941, and while the Croats, Bosniacs and Kosovars were all allies of the Axis powers, the Serbs were aligned with the Allies. The Nazis, who viewed the Serbs as a threat to the Nazi advance in the Balkans, classed the Serbs as a "lesser race" to be exterminated along with Jews and Roma/Gypsies. Islamic imperialists joined Muslim Waffen-SS units, such as the mostly Bosniac Handschar Division in Bosnia and the mostly Kosovar Skenderbeg Division in Kosovo, and massacred Serbs with impunity.

The Axis powers created a "New" or "Greater Albania" by annexing territory from Montenegro and Serbia, including Kosovo and the western part of southern Serbia that is today part of Macedonia. Wide-scale ethnic cleansing occurred, aimed at creating an ethnically pure Albanian Kosovo, or "Kosova". The fascist Prime Minister of Greater Albania, Mustafa Kruja, and the Muslim leader of the Albanian National Committee, Bedri Pejani, both called for the total extermination of all Orthodox Serb Christians in Kosovo. Pejani also advocated for the union of Greater Albania with Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Nazi-allied Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Muhammad Amin al Husseini, approved the plan as being in the interests of Islam. However the Nazis, recognising that an Islamic super-state was not in their long-term interests, rejected the idea and kept the Muslim Bosniacs and Kosovars geographically separated.

Through the WW2 Nazi-Muslim holocaust in Yugoslavia, some one million Serbs, sixty thousand Jews and eighty thousand Roma were exterminated.

The Islamic imperialist agenda being advanced through the Nazi-Muslim alliance during WW2 was scuttled when the Allies won the war. However, while resistance to Nazi occupation came from both the Partisans (Communists, led by Marshall Tito, a Croat) and the Loyalists (loyal to Yugoslavia's ruling Serb monarchy), Winston Churchill elected to abandon his Serb allies and support the Communists for political expediency (peace with the Soviets). This guaranteed a Communist victory and further suffering for the Serbs.

Marshall Tito divided Yugoslavia along ethnic lines in order to destroy the hegemony of the Serbs who were the largest ethnic group in Yugoslavia. While the various ethnic minorities lived in their ethnic regions, Serbs, though concentrated in Serbia, were scattered over the whole nation. Dividing Yugoslavia along ethnic lines left millions of Serbs as religious and ethnic minorities under the rule of those who had attempted genocide against them in World War Two. Tito also re-cast the borderless regions of Kosovo and Metohija as a single, bordered province within Serbia. Tito was keen to form a federation with Communist Albania so he denied the Serbs who had been ethnically cleansed from Kosovo during WW2 the right to return. In an effort to appease Kosovar separatists, Tito granted Kosovo autonomy in 1974.

When Kosovo's autonomy was revoked in 1989 on account of rising persecution of Serbs and sectarian unrest, Kosovar separatism increased, even to the extent that the Kosovars set up a parallel government. Milosevic dissolved Kosovo's Kosovar legislature after it unilaterally declared Kosovo independent. While Albania recognised the "Republic of Kosova" the international community did not because at that time it still respected International Law and the UN Charter and would not re-draw international borders just to appease separatists, Islamic imperialists or terrorists.

Kosovo has been a UN protectorate since 1999. During this time, around 150 historic Serbian monasteries and churches have been destroyed while some 400 mosques have been built. Meanwhile it is estimated that more than 1,000 Serbs and Roma (no Jews, because the KLA drove out all the Jews in 1999) have been kidnapped, killed and disappeared, while around 230,000 Serbs have been ethnically cleansed.

On Friday 2 February 2007, UN special envoy Martti Ahtisaari presented his proposal on the status of Kosovo. Ahtisaari has proposed that Kosovo have supervised independence.

The Kosovars have accepted the proposal while the Serbs naturally reject what is essentially a plan to excise 15 percent of Serbia's territory, which includes its historic spiritual heartland of Metohija and cede it to Kosovar Muslim separatists.

Ahtisaari's proposal now goes to the UN Security Council where Russia and China will oppose it while the US and the UK will support it.

The UN cannot declare Kosovo independent without unleashing a torrent of secessionist claims across the globe and Kosovo, which claims to be special and unique but isn't, would be the precedent for them all. Russia and China would both be threatened, which is probably one of several reasons, along with appeasement of Islamists and attraction to myth, why the US and the UK are supporting it.

The Serbs are advocating for Kosovo to have autonomy within Serbia (see http://www.kosovocompromise.com/ ). However Kosovars and other Islamist imperialists will doubtless accept nothing less than full independence.

The situation in the Balkans is explosive and Kosovo may well prove to be the fuse.

Religious Liberty Trend: Shiite ascendancy

Date: Monday 5 February 2007
Subj: 3. RL Trend - Shiite ascendancy
To: World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty News & Analysis
From: WEA RLC Principal Researcher and Writer, Elizabeth Kendal

RELIGIOUS LIBERTY TRENDS: 2006-2007

---------------------------------------------
TREND: SHIITE ASCENDANCY
---------------------------------------------

It may have taken 1,327 years, but the Sunni "caliphs" are once again fighting Shiites in Karbala, as Shiites (Arabs and Persians) are once again agitating for influence from Kufa. Thus Islamic history must once again be examined through the narrative of two competing Muslim sects.

After the death of Mohammed in AD 632, Muslims were divided over the issue of a successor. Some Muslims believed they should follow the tribal tradition whereby a council of elders would chose a leader. These became the Sunnis: those who follow the traditions (sunna). Arab tribal tradition essentially meant that a strongman would be installed as dictator to guarantee order. These Muslims believed that Mohammed was a prophet and Allah's message could be understood by anyone and taken as literal. Therefore they saw a difference between the preacher (teacher) and the strongman (dictator).

Other Muslims believed that Allah's divine appointment of Mohammed was significant. They believed spiritual knowledge was esoteric and leadership was by divine appointment, so only the blood relatives of Mohammed could be leaders of the Muslims. While they believed that Mohammed's successor should be Ali, Mohammed's cousin and son-in-law, they respected that majority decision and accepted the Sunni caliphs. That is until Ali, who had been appointed as the fourth Caliph, was assassinated and his murderer, Muawiya (the governor of Syria) assumed the Caliphate, becoming the first Umayyad Caliph. The Sunnis, who were only interested in Muawiya's power, not how he got it, accepted Muawiya's rule. But the partisans of Ali could not.

This was the point at which the partisans of Ali - the Shiites - began to separate themselves from the Sunnis. The Shiites believed the violence and chaos proved the Sunnis had erred in trusting tribal tradition over divine appointment. As Shiite veneration of Ali grew, so did their anger and resistance. Husayn, Ali's son and Mohammed's grandson, defiantly refused to acknowledge the Umayyad Caliphate.

The second Umayyad Caliph, Yazd I, who was based in Damascus was troubled by rebellions in Kufa, Ali's capital. Not only were the Shiites rebelling but so too were the Persians of Kufa rebelling against the Arab nature of Umayyad rule. So in AD 680 Caliph Yazd I sent an army to Karbala to lay siege to Husayn's caravan to put an end to Husayn and his Shiite followers, as well as the Persians of Kufa.

The Shiites were ambushed and routed. Husayn fought but was killed, martyred for his belief. The surviving Shiites and Persians fled east into Persia. The martyr Husayn was survived by his young son Ali who became the first of 12 Shia imams to have descended directly from Mohammed. (The 12th Imam disappeared in AD 939 before he could produce an heir. According to Shiism he was taken into occultation and will return in the last days as the Shia Messiah.)

The Shiite claim that only a blood descendent of Mohammed should lead the Muslims is a direct challenge to the legitimacy of the Sunni caliphs. Sunni demonisation and persecution of Shiites has virtually always been politically motivated and to counter this challenge.

After the 12th Imam disappeared without leaving an heir the Shiites settled down to await his return, fostering a culture of quietism and future hope. They revered and venerated the martyr Husayn and bore Sunni persecution whilst focusing on cultural, theological and intellectual pursuits as they awaited the return of their Shia Messiah who would right all wrongs.

Sunnis meanwhile interpreted their dominance and power as proof of Allah's blessing, when really it was due to merciless, imperialistic aggression. However Islamic (Sunni) military and imperialist power eventually faded beneath the expanse of the empire, the corruption of the caliphate and the rising industrial, scientific, technological and military ascendancy of post-Reformation Europe.

In the 19th Century, Sunni fundamentalism emerged decreeing that (Sunni) Islam's decline was the result of Allah's displeasure at Muslim waywardness. Al-Wahhab's Islamic reformation and revival of puritanical Quranic fundamentalism - which is pro-Sharia and pro-jihad, as well as anti-Semitic and anti-Christian - was intended to restore Allah's favour and Sunni power. During the 20th Century each Islamic (Sunni) loss (e.g. Balkan Wars, WW1, WW2, the Middle East Wars) triggered a renewed call for Islamic reform, a return to puritanical Quranic fundamentalism.

Then came the 1979 Islamic (Shiite) Revolution in Iran, which was the result of Shiism plus Revolutionary Marxism. Shiites are divided over this. Many Shiites believe they should still be quietly awaiting the return of their messiah, the 12th Imam Al-Mahdi, while other Shiites believe they should advance with revolutionary zeal to hasten his return.

Whilst Shiites comprise a minority of only 10 to 15 percent of all Muslims, in the Middle East the Sunni-Shia ratio is around 50-50.

Shiite ascendancy is a direct and serious threat to Sunni legitimacy and dominance that is interpreted as proof of Allah's blessing. As such, the Shiite threat had to be combated; the Shiites had to be contained. The Iran-Iraq war (1980-88) bogged the Shiites down for a decade and every nation that was keen to contain Iran's Shiite Islamic revolutionary zeal supported Saddam Hussein. Secular, Arab Iraq provided the western bulwark to Shiite ascendancy and expansion.

At the same time, Saudi Arabia set about building an ideological bulwark to hold back Shiism on Iran's eastern border. During the 1960s and 1970s the Saudis had been forging an alliance with Pakistan and exporting Wahhabist ideology to counter secular Arab nationalism. But after Iran's Islamic (Shiite) Revolution the Saudis ratcheted up the anti-Shiite rhetoric. The Wahhabism being pumped around the world post-1979, especially into Pakistan and Afghanistan (via the Taliban), was not only pro-Sharia, pro-jihad, anti-Semitic and anti-Christian but virulently anti-Shiite as well.

For more than two decades Shiite Iran was hemmed in and ground down.

Operation Iraqi Freedom removed the western bulwark and liberated and empowered Iraq's Arab Shiites, thereby completely overturning the balance of Muslim power in the Middle East.

As the Shiites become more powerful, influential and confident the threatened Sunnis respond with increasingly virulent anti-Shiite Sunni extremism, which is equally anti-Semitic, anti-Christian and imperialistic. This could lead to a full-blown Shiite vs Sunni war, which would spread through the region and devastate the head and heart of both sects.

The Shiites, in an effort to prevent a Sunni vs Shiite war (a desire with roots a millennium of defensiveness), then increase their anti-Israel, anti-Christian, Islamic imperialistic rhetoric in the hope of deflecting Sunni hate and uniting the sects to fight common Islamic causes and hatreds - Jews, Israel, Christians, the West, secularists and apostates - rather than each other.

This is why Lebanon's (Shiite) Hezballah has taken up the (Sunni) Palestinian cause. This is why (Shiite) Iran is overtly supporting (Sunni) Hamas and expending vast energies to run provocative anti-Semitic events. Iran's policy makers, leaders and preachers are desperate to prevent devastating sectarian war. Their anti-Semitic, anti-Christian, anti-Western rhetoric is a strategy to unite Muslims.

However two-and-a-half decades of prolific, virulently anti-Shia, Wahhabist propaganda has guaranteed that this Shiite strategy will fail, as particularly the most indoctrinated Sunnis will be unable to accept any degree of Shiite ascendancy or Muslim unity with those they have been taught to regard as infidels, polytheists and kafir.

So while the Sunni vs Shiite struggle is primarily a struggle between two Muslim sects competing for legitimacy and supremacy, it is inevitable that the Jews and Christians of the Middle East will be seriously impacted. We are already seeing this dynamic in action in Iraq where the targeted, violent persecution of the Christian and the Mandaean communities is escalating.

During 2007 the Sunni vs Shiite struggle will escalate in Lebanon, doubtless with horrendous consequences for the Church. Shiite-majority Lebanon is located at the end of a broad Shiite crescent that takes Iranian power right to Israel's northern border. Therefore Lebanon is hugely strategic. As a Shiite majority state in which the Shiites have the backing of Iran, Lebanon - which like Iraq has a large Christian minority - may well be an Iraq-in-waiting.

Saudi Arabia is also at risk of Sunni vs Shiite unrest. While Saudi Arabia is only 15 percent Shiite, virtually all those vilified, persecuted, marginalised Shiites live in Eastern Province where they form a clear majority. Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province is at the end of a tight Shiite crescent that runs from Iran through oil-rich southern Iraq down into Saudi Arabia along the coast of the Persian Gulf. Saudi Arabia's Shiites are linked to Iraq's Shiites and revere Ayatollah Sistani. Saudi Sunnis are flocking to Iraq for jihad, excited by the prospect of killing infidel, kafir Shiites and Americans. What's more, they are returning to Saudi Arabia doubly zealous and anxious to kill Saudi Shiites. Eastern Province is ripe for unrest especially if Iran decides to support a Shiite insurgency. It must be noted that Shiite-dominated Eastern Province also happens to have around 90 percent of Saudi Arabia's oil assets, making it hugely strategic territory. Furthermore, Shiites believe their messiah, the Mahdi, and his deputy (Jesus) will make their reappearance at the Ka'bah in Mecca. They will fight the "Sofyani" (the tribe that was the keeper of the Ka'bah during the time of Mohammed) before they march with the believers to Kufa, the historic capital of Ali, southern Iraq. Here the Mahdi will establish his global government.

According to Iran's President Ahmadinejad, the return of the Mahdi is imminent. However Ahmadinejad's urgency is probably generated more by political than theological considerations - Iran has only a small window of opportunity through which it can hope to ascend to that place of regional hegemony and Islamic leadership. Iran's oil reserves are being depleted and Iran's population growth is negative. Iran needs to extend its tentacles into more profitable (oil-rich) regions and unite the Muslim world behind its leadership now, because Iran's power has a definite use-by-date. Also Ahmadinejad is hugely unpopular. Iranians are risking life and liberty to protest his belligerence and repression. To hold on to power and advance his urgent, apocalyptic strategy, he will have to be even more ruthless and repressive in 2007 than he was in 2006.

The Shiite ascendancy and the resulting Sunni backlash spells major troubles for Jews, Mandaeans and Christians across the Middle East, just as it has in Iraq. What's more, this dynamic will play out to varying degrees everywhere there are Shiites and Sunnis, especially in mixed regions where they are vying for legitimacy and dominance - in Europe, Pakistan, Canada, Australia, Azerbaijan and more, as well as in countries such as Bosnia that are patrons of an ascendant Iran.

As implied in the introduction, this Sunni vs Shiite conflict could well be the beginning of the end of Islam. Iran may rise and even lead the Shiites to victory over the Sunnis and leadership of the Islamic world after a hugely destructive Islamic implosion. But the Muslim remnant will then have to face the failure of Shia messianic prophecy. For while many false "Jesus" and "Mahdis" will probably appear in the near future none will be able to fulfil Shia prophesy