"Let nothing human be alien to me"- Terence

Friday, September 10, 2010

Religion v. RELIGION!!!

In the comments below, reader Jim sends a link to a Saba Net article about President Salih using a Quran Memorization competition- which is more exciting than any NFL game or comic book- to attempt to create a cleavage between moderate and radical Islam.

He wondered saying: "These extremist terrorist elements who kill the forbidden self, where they are from the tolerant teachings of Islam?", he added "Their terrorist and criminal acts forbidden by law and Islam only hurt the interests of the nation".

"Islam is a religion of love, brotherhood and compassion, and Islam had never taught terrorism and banditry, but it forbade these bad acts", President Saleh noted.

He urged the scholars and preachers as well as all citizens to take responsibility as well as the state agencies to counter the deviant thoughts of that perverse group and to thwart its terrorist plans.

Jim notes: "This forms part of what is a clear campaign by the government to promote moderate Islam, targeted at the youth. Western media may not pick this up but in conjunction with a military strategy it forms an essential part of the overall campaign plan as proven in other Middle Eastern countries."   I think he is right, and if this works it is an important step.  Nasser Arrabyee also noted a similar tactic, with Salih urging clerics to speak out against extremism.  This is different than the al-Hitar meetings, where the famed cleric tried to convince militants the error of their ways.  This seems to be something broader, intending to start before people get to the blowing-up stage of development. 

Of course, in publicly declaring he wants clerics to do this, Salih threatens to undermine them.  If someone is leaning toward the AQAP narrative, then the clerics following Salih are merely his lackeys, which makes them under-puppets of the United States.  Or maybe second-degree lapdogs.  I can't decide which I dislike least. This is somewhat similar to the criticism directed at al-Azhar in Cairo, which is easily painted as a tool of the regime's sleepy authoritarianism.   Indeed, even if one isn't leaning AQAP-ward, for many, if not a huge majority, the government lacks legitimacy.   It is troubling to think that moderate clerics could get tied up with the crumbling government of Salih.

But I am not saying that this shouldn't be done; it is vitally important.  It just shows, for probably the thousandth time, how difficult things are in Yemen.  Some form of central control is vital to containing AQAP, but it is that very central control that helps Qaeda thrive.   A good example of this difficulty can be read in this AP article from a few days ago (for some reason I'll link to the one in the New York Post, because why not?).   The article can pass without comment, as it does an excellent job of showing the difficult tangles in our "action without footprints" policy. 

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