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  1. A good article by The Economist, it is a good read highlighting recent events in Syria: The jihadists may have gone too far From Baghdad to Beirut, a growing backlash against the most extreme of the jihadists may change the course of civil wars in Syria and IraqJan 11th 2014 | CAIRO | From the print edition IN A region of opaque politics and oddly named actors, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) lives up to its title. The group that started as an al-Qaeda affiliate in Iraq has prospered there since the Americans left in 2011, subduing much of the rural, Sunni-dominated north and pursuing an aggressive terror campaign against Shias further south. ISIS expanded into Syria in April last year; al-Sham denotes a Greater Syria encompassing—among swathes of what was the fertile crescent—Lebanon, Palestine and even Jordan. Better armed and financed, it has encroached steadily into areas freed from government control by other rebel groups, enforcing harsh, state-like authority along the Euphrates valley and across much of the north. But the group’s rapid rise may now be over. Today ISIS’s fighters, who include as many as 7,000 would-be jihadists from across the globe, face battles on three fronts. In Syria a wave of disgruntlement with the group turned into a tsunami after December 31st when its men returned the torture-marked corpse of a doctor-cum-commander with Ahrar al-Sham, a Salafist rebel group which had hitherto been an ally. A final provocation came when ISIS abducted five employees of Médecins Sans Frontières, a French-founded charity that is one of the few aid organisations still willing to work inside Syria. Since then, rebels of all stripes, including al-Qaeda’s slightly milder Syrian affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra, other Islamist brigades and moderate Western-backed groups known as the Free Syrian Army, have joined forces, rapidly sweeping ISIS from strongholds across a swathe of northern Syria. In Raqqa, the biggest town wholly controlled by the opposition, most recently by ISIS, its fighters are now said to be holding out in a single building. The group is also said to have lost all but one of the border crossings to Turkey it once held, as well as its headquarters in the rebel-held half of Aleppo, Syria’s biggest city. ISIS is also under fire in neighbouring Iraq. Exploiting the simmering resentment among minority Sunnis in the country’s north and west against the Shia-dominated Iraqi government in Baghdad, ISIS on January 3rd seized parts of Falluja and Ramadi, the main cities of Anbar province, which abuts Syria (see our map). But this bold move may have played into the hands of Iraq’s prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki. Despite a year of unrest in Sunni areas and an intensified campaign of al-Qaeda bombs, Mr Maliki has shied so far from sending his Shia-dominated army into full-on combat. Now he has an excuse, as well as support from America which has promised to speed up its arms supplies, and also from remnants of the Sahwa, or awakening, a movement of Sunni tribesmen who turned against al-Qaeda to fight alongside the Americans in 2008. In anticipation of an army assault on Falluja, some 13,000 families have fled the city, says the Iraqi Red Crescent. ISIS may have spread itself too thin by moving fighters from Syria to Iraq. Yet, if some reports prove credible, the group has opened a third Levantine front—in Lebanon. In unverified recordings, ISIS claimed responsibility for a car bomb on January 2nd which targeted loyalists to Hizbullah, the Shia movement that backs Syria’s regime. This was the latest in a growing list of tit-for-tat exchanges between Lebanese groups aligned with opposing sides in Syria’s civil war. As horrid as each otherWeakened central control in Syria and Iraq has opened space for ISIS’s brand of extremism, and the sectarian politics of both Mr Maliki and Bashar Assad’s Syrian regime have prompted some hapless Sunnis to embrace the group. And yet few actually agree with its radical ideas. Unlike other Syrian rebels, ISIS had its sights set not on capturing the capital, Damascus, but on creating its own Islamic state in the area between eastern Syria and north and western Iraq. ISIS’s methods, as well as its reliance on foreign fighters, are also unpopular. Even al-Qaeda’s chief, Ayman Zawahiri, has criticized ISIS’s indiscriminate attacks against Shias as well as moderate Sunnis. Its imprisonment of scores of aid workers and journalists, as well as Syrian activists and minority Kurds, Christians and Alawites, has tarnished the rebel movement as a whole, frightening off the foreign press and would-be providers of aid, especially from Western countries. The hostages may be held as an insurance policy against imagined future Western drone strikes or other military actions. But many Syrians unsurprisingly regard the tactic as evidence that ISIS, despite its fighting prowess, has thereby bolstered the regime, if it is not actively colluding with it. Jabhat al-Nusra, its al-Qaeda-linked rival, has offered to call off clashes if ISIS works under a joint sharia court. But ISIS seems unlikely to back down. On January 6th it killed 50 people before surrendering its Aleppo base; it has set off car bombs there and elsewhere, too. Its spokesman declared on January 8th that ISIS fighters were “hungry lions who drink blood and eat bones, finding nothing tastier than the blood of Sahwa”, a gibe that is particularly insulting to other jihadist groups. A successful containment of ISIS would drastically change the dynamic in both Syria and Iraq. The group has assiduously worked to worsen the sectarian bitterness sweeping the region between Islam’s two main sects. In Syria Mr Assad has used ISIS to scare Western powers into viewing him as the least bad option for Syria, with policy altering accordingly. In Iraq the group has helped to make 2013 the bloodiest year since 2008. The clashes have also shown that there is life in some of the moderate rebels who were only recently considered a spent force. Two emergent coalitions, the Syrian Revolutionaries’ Front and al-Mujahideen, are now fighting alongside the more devout Islamist Front and Jabhat al-Nusra. Some groups engaged against ISIS appear to be backed by Saudi Arabia, an indication that ISIS may face foes increasingly well armed and financed. But it would take a concerted effort to defeat ISIS’s militias in Iraq or Syria. Syria’s rebels are united by little more than shared dislike for ISIS. The West has become warier of getting involved in the region. As France’s war in Mali shows, military action tends to suppress rather than eradicate groups benefiting from a power vacuum across the region. But for the first time in many months, most Syrians feel united in satisfaction. “It’s early days,” says a cheered rebel commander in the Turkish city of Antakya, near Syria’s border. “But this is good news.” From the print edition: Middle East and Africa Source: http://www.economist.com/news/middle-east-and-africa/21593462-baghdad-beirut-growing-backlash-against-most-extreme Another relevant article: Al-Jazeera, rebel's own source: 'Nearly 500' killed in Syria rebel infighting - in a week, From the article: Now wait up, it is not like the 'nice' rebels are up against the crazy ISIS. ISIS as we know are complete maniacs led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, they are responsible for killing 8600 people just last year in Iraq, of which 900 were security personnel and Shi'a civilians overwhelmingly, along with some ex-Sahwa members of their own tribes who fight against them. (Respect) The new anti-ISIS opposition are again complete nuts as usual, this is a video of them discovering their 50 militants/rebels all freshly executed by the ISIS: ISIS massacre in Qadi A'askar, Graphic [NSFW] - [2:18] It would be good if people can translate this, but from comments this is what the anti-ISIS opposition is saying: They refuse to admit that those savages are same believers and fight the same side as them. Al-qaida is 100% Sunni and he admit Al-Qaida is behind the slaughter but still accuses Iran and Shi'a. Fail in logic. This shows how freakin' sectarian and gullible they are, like goats following another goat, following the ultimate goat who gets the GCC-led petro-dollar. Blaming Shi'as for the savagery displayed by the ISIS takfiris. (Really?) Lets get the esteemed war general, or basically a war criminal Khalid bin al-Walid into this for some perspective, here is what he famously said on the Battle of Yarmouk: "Actually, what brought us out of our lands is that we are a people who drink blood, and it has reached us that there is no blood tastier than Roman blood." Ibn Kathir, Al-Bidayah wan-Nihayah, Dar Abi Hayyan, Cairo, 1st ed. 1416/1996, Vol. 7 P. 14. And now we have complete maniacs like ISIS (whose crimes are SO much that even the rebels are fighting them, if I were to list their savagery, I did spend 5 pages just showing how vile they are) who are echoing [from above] Khalid bin Walid's blood-thirsty statement: “hungry lions who drink blood and eat bones, finding nothing tastier than the blood of Sahwa”, [sahwa here are the Syrian rebels in this context] dramatically, against their own Nasibis/Takfiris who they were fighting alongside just yesterday. Shows the integrity of people who look up to their great war hero, Khalid bin al-Walid, for they are present day reminiscence of him in honor it seems, and the anti-ISIS (or the less crazies if you may) is blaming them to be hidden Shi'a 'kuffar' pretending to be al-Qaida and being a thorn within us. Sadly, the Anti-Shi'a propaganda [good read] and hatred for Shi'a Muslims is too strong among them, for they casually use it as a scapegoat as well, Syria is no less that a grand spectacle of blood bath, and the 'nuts vs criminals', is this week's (and possibility will go on much further) episode for all to watch.
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