by Mordechai Kedar
Read the article in the original עברית
Read the article in Italiano (translated by Yehudit Weisz, edited by Angelo Pezzana)
Read the article en Español (translated by Shula Hamilton)
In the supplemental prayer of The Jewish New Year and the Day of Atonement, we say these words almost mechanically, theoretically, because this is the text. But in Syria this is reality. The regime's war against the citizens' demonstrations, which began two years and seven months ago, has become a dirty, despicable and accursed war, where everyone is fighting everyone else. People from both sides have lost the likeness of man, thrown human values to the winds, lost any semblance of humanity, and have become predatory animals, ("and who by a wild beast").
Assad’s army has besieged the eastern neighborhoods of Damascus because they serve as a corridor of passage to the capitol for the jihadists who come from Jordan and Iraq. In these neighborhoods in recent weeks, tens of thousands of people have been besieged, cut off from all sources of life: food, water, electricity, and from Asad's point of view they might as well all die from starvation. These were the neighborhoods that suffered the great attack of chemical weapons on the 21st of August in which approximately 1500 people were killed, men, women and children. As a result of the hunger, a group of Muslim religious arbiters issued a ruling that allows the residents of these neighborhoods to eat cats, dogs and donkeys, in order to survive the siege and the starvation.
There are reports about places like Mu'adhamiyat al-Sham where there have been many cases of death by starvation because of the siege imposed on these places, in addition to cases when injured people have died because they did not receive treatment in time. In addition, there are places where diseases like cholera are rampant, which are caused by spoiled food, contamination of water and the environment, and from pests such as mice, rats, and snakes that multiply alarmingly in ghost towns and ruins of cities like Homs, Hama and Idlib.
Approximately seven million Syrians are destitute refugees in neighboring countries and within Syria. The approaching winter threatens to pose great harm to their health and their lives, as if the misery that people - if it is possible to call them people - have caused them was not bad enough. Because of the distress and poverty, the refugees do anything they can in order to live: the men work for pennies, and many women are forced to do unethical things in order to earn a piece of bread. Families sell their daughters in forced marriages, to get a handful of dinars and reduce the number of mouths that they must feed.
Asad's army systematically refuses humanitarian aid organizations to operate in the besieged cities, claiming concern that the lives of the volunteers will be endangered by fire from the opposition. But soldiers of the opposition to the regime are not guiltless either: they fight with each other over ideological differences, mainly regarding the future of Syria: will it be a civil state or an Islamic state. In the city of Aleppo "The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" is in control and the city is run by an Islamic court that imposes Islamic Shari'a by force of arm, whip and sword. Lately several tribes that live around Aleppo have announced that they have joined "The Islamic State" organization, in order to shelter in the shadow of the dominant force, and stay out of trouble.
The fact that children are present in the battle areas causes them severe emotional damage because of the terrible sights that they are exposed to. Children join the battle and take an active part in killing anyone who is thought to be an enemy. Asad's militias, the "Shabiha", are constantly on the lookout for the families of soldiers and officers who have deserted the army so that they can kill the men and abuse the women. In many cases they document and photograph this abuse to show it to those who are still serving, to discourage them from deserting.
This past month several dozens of jihad organizations operating in Syria came to the conclusion that the disagreements among them harm their fighting cause and strengthen Asad. This conclusion led dozens of organizations to put aside their differences and unify under an organizational umbrella by the name of "Jaysh al-Islam" - "The Army of Islam". The other large organization - "The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria" - is considering joining the "Army of Islam", and it may be that "Jabhat al-Nusra", which blessed the consolidation with "The Army of Islam”, will also join in the future.
However, no one - except for Asad - needs to worry about the consolidation of the Islamic forces, because this consolidation will exist only as long as the battle against Asad continues, and after he falls, the splits and the differences between the various groups will be exposed. We can expect Syria to disintegrate into a number of Islamic frameworks in addition to a Kurdish entity in the north east of the country, Alawite in the northwest and perhaps even a Druze entity in the south.
The critical situation in Syria, the collapse of infrastructure and the moral failure that characterizes the war impose indescribable suffering on tens of millions of citizens. The time will come when testimonies and stories of this this black period will come to light, and the people of Syria who survived will look at all of those who stood by without doing anything to help them in their distress. They - the neighbors who did nothing - will lower their eyes to the ground from shame because they saw, they heard, they knew and they didn't lift a finger.
According to Islamic tradition, jihad is one of the most important commandments. Every man and woman is commanded to take part in jihad to the extent of their abilities: whoever can fight must go to war, and whoever cannot fight must support the fighters. According to Islamic religious law, whoever gives a horse, food or money to the jihad fighter, it is as if he took part in the jihad himself, because these means enable the jihad fighter to carry out the obligation more effectively. Islamic tradition tells of women who took part in jihad by preparing food for the fighters and bandaging their wounds.
However the jihad fighters in Syria also need another service that only women can provide. This need is known as a natural and normal human need, that can be fulfilled illegally, meaning rape, or in a legal and acceptable way, by means of marriage. In Sunni Islam there is a type of temporary marriage called "zuwaj al-musafir" (also known as "zawaj al-misyar")- "traveler's marriage" - which allows a man who comes to a place for a short time to marry a woman for the period of time that he is in that place, and divorce her before he leaves. A child that is born to the woman from such a marriage will have no stigma. There is no definition for the length of time for these marriages, and therefore they can be a month, a week, a day and even as short as an hour.
A few months ago a legal opinion was publicized in the media that was attributed to a Saudi preacher, Muhammad al-'Arifi, in which he called for young women in the Islamic world to volunteer for "jihad al-nikah" - "sex jihad" - in Syria, in order to bring this service to the jihad fighters too. Al-'Arifi promised the young women who came to Syria for this purpose, the reward of a jihad fighter, exactly like the reward of someone who donates a horse, money, food or medical treatment. As a result of this, a few dozen - according to another version it was a few hundred - young women came to Syria from all over the Islamic world, as volunteers for "sex jihad".
The Syrian army found charts in a few places with the "work plans" of these women and published them. In the photograph below, the title is "Nikah Chart of the jihad fighter brothers with the jihad fighter sisters". In the column on the right are the men's names: Abu Umar, Abu Khaled, Abu Ali, and in the top row are the names of the women: Anisa, Asma and Bushra. In the squares of the table appear are the times when each fighter is married to one of the women: 8-10, 12-4, 6-10. The rebels claim that these charts are counterfeit, and that the regime made them up in order to slander the jihad fighters.
But this chart seems rather authentic because of the fact that the jihadists gave themselves names of previous heroes of Islam - Umar - the second caliph, Khalid bin al-Waleed - the commander who conquered Syria, and Ali - the fourth caliph. The names of the three women that appear in the chart are names of the three women closest to Bashar Asad: Anisa is his mother's name, Asma is his wife's name and Bushra is his sister's name. If this chart is authentic, it is reasonable to think that the jihad fighters gave the women volunteers these borrowed names to express what they would do to Asad's mother, his wife and his sister, if they only could.
It is important to note that the young women who come to Syria to take part in "sex jihad" do it because they are convinced that they must do it, and out of faith in Islam and the righteousness of jihad in its different forms. On the other hand, it is also important to note that sheikh Muhammad al-'Arifi denies that he issued the ruling, and he claims that the entire matter is a fabrication of the regime to besmirch the jihad fighters, but there are indeed reports from Tunisia about young women who have returned from Syria in an advanced state of pregnancy.
The Peace-Loving Khaled Mash'al
Beginning in June, 2011 - three months after the demonstrations broke out in Syria - Khaled Mash'al, the leader of Hamas, took a stand against the regime and supported the demonstrators against Asad. After all, Meshaal is a Sunni Muslim, who cannot support Asad, the idol worshiper, a slayer of Muslims, even if the idol worshiper supported him in the past. As a result, Mash'al was obligated to leave Syria and search for another location for himself and the management offices of Hamas, in Mursi's Egypt, for example. Iran also stopped helping Hamas with money, weapons and political support.
Meanwhile Mursi has been deposed, and the Egyptian army has Hamas in its cross-hairs: most of the tunnels between the Gaza Strip and Rafah have been ruined, causing Hamas to lose its main source of income: the tax that was imposed on the tunnels and the goods that were smuggled through them. In his desperation Mash'al appealed to the Iranians to renew their support for Hamas, and they told him that he must first of all straighten matters out with Bashar Asad.
About a week ago Mash'al announced, in the framework of the "World Conference for Jerusalem" that he "supports the right of peoples to rebel in order to obtain their rights, but that this uprising must be done in a peaceful way", and he is "against sectarian violence from any source". There is only one way to interpret this announcement: Mash'al calls on the Islamists and the jihadists in Syria to lay down their arms, even if Asad continues to slaughter them.
Mash'al's announcement brought the wrath of the jihadists upon him and they published a derogatory declaration in return: "Mash'al describes the holy jihad for Syria as a sectarian war in an attempt to get an international 'certificate of good character' at the expense of Syrian blood. When he announces that the jihad fighters are missing the target he is trying to satisfy Iran. Perhaps he will receive part of the money that Iran stopped giving him. We would not be surprised if after his announcement we will hear that he has moved to Teheran, and we are sure that Mash'al's position does not represent the loyal and honorable Palestinians of Hamas. We call on the fighters of Palestine: our wound is one wound, the enemy is one and the announcement of some mercenary soldier, whoever he may be, will not cause a rift between us. We are more faithful to the al-Aqsa mosque than Mash'al and those like him who have turned trading in the problems and the blood of their people into a business, and he who fought his jihad in offices should not give advice to those who fight jihad in the trenches."
We must only caution some Israeli bleeding hearts not to misinterpret Khaled Mash'al's words and start declaring that Hamas has become an organization that believes in non-violent demonstrations, like marching peacefully into Israel through tunnels such as the mile-long one leading from Gaza into Israel which was found last week...
Dr. Kedar is available for lectures
Dr. Mordechai Kedar (Mordechai.Kedar@biu.ac.il) is an Israeli scholar of Arabic and Islam, a lecturer at Bar-Ilan University and the director of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Islam (under formation), Bar Ilan University, Israel. He specializes in Islamic ideology and movements, the political discourse of Arab countries, the Arabic mass media, and the Syrian domestic arena.
Translated from Hebrew by Sally Zahav with permission from the author.
Additional articles by Dr. Kedar
Source: The article is published in the framework of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Islam (under formation), Bar Ilan University, Israel. Also published in Makor Rishon, a Hebrew weekly newspaper.
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the author.