Paying for Veils: 1979 as a Watershed for Islamic RevivalistsMorris van de Camp
Black Wave: Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the Forty-Year Rivalry that Unraveled Culture, Religion, and Collective Memory in the Middle East
New York: Henry Holt & Company, 2020
Kim Ghattas is a Lebanese senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. She is a journalist with a stellar reputation and once accompanied Crooked H on one of her junkets to the Middle East and Pakistan when Hillary was US Secretary of State.
After watching interviews with Ghattas in various places on the Internet, I’d describe her as a pro-American secularist Arab. There was a time when Arabs, especially in Syria and Lebanon, liked Americans. That was lost because of American support for Israel. Like other pro-American Arabs such as Dr. Dania Koleilat Khatib, however, there is a sense that she loves America for its power, and of what American internationalists can do for their causes. There is no concern or sign of awareness on Ghattas’ or Khatib’s parts on the threat to American whites of the Great Replacement, deindustrialization, opiates, or any other genuine problem.
If the Great Replacement continues on to its genocidal finale, there will be no American support for any sort of Arab cause.
In Black Wave, Ghattas tells the story of how three events in 1979 radically altered Middle Eastern society and led to the bloody cleavage between Sunni and Shi’a Muslims, as expressed most ferociously in the rivalry between Saudi Arabia on the Sunni side and Iran on the Shia side. It forms the ideological underpinnings of the ongoing war in Yemen, and the continuous series of problems in Lebanon.
The term Black Wave refers to the shift that occurred after 1979 in Middle Eastern women’s fashions. Prior to the Islamic uprisings of 1979, women in Iran, Lebanon, Egypt, and elsewhere wore Western fashions, but afterwards they shifted to the black robes such as the abaya, the chador, and the niqāb.
The world of Islam comprises two parts. The largest is Sunni Islam, but a smaller, yet more organized and intellectual, segment is Shi’a Islam. The split occurred over a dispute over the succession of the Islamic world’s leadership following the Prophet Muhammad’s death. Ali ibn Abi Talib was said to be Muhammad’s appointed successor, but a large faction of Muslims disagreed. As a result, Ali was betrayed and assassinated. His followers became known as the Shi’a, while the rest became Sunnis.
The Iranian Revolution
The pressures that led to the Iranian Revolution started decades before the event. Its last chance to be avoided came between 1953 and 1963, although that is only clear in retrospect. In 1953, the United States and Great Britain instigated a coup that cut off Iran’s chances for economic reform. Then, in 1963, the Shah of Iran instigated a modernization campaign which inflamed the passions of the conservative Islamic clergy. Many clergy were exiled, including the savviest and dedicated among them, Ruhollah Khomeini.
While in exile, Khomeini recorded sermons and had them distributed via cassette in Iran, where his ideas took root. By the late 1970s the population of Iran was agitated, urbanized, and educated. Khomeini’s followers allied with the Leftists and Marxists, and the Shah went into voluntary exile.
After Khomeini returned to Iran, he quickly moved to take power for himself. His followers beat the Marxists in the streets, while his militants shot the Shah’s remaining high-ranking loyalists. Then he took on ayatollahs Taleghani and Shariatmadari. Both opposed several of Khomeini’s theological ideas. Taleghani “died in his sleep” shortly after the Revolution, causing opposition to Khomeini to gather around Shariatmadari, but the latter didn’t wish to start a civil war. Shariatmadari dissolved his political party. Khomeini then stripped him of his rank, and he went into house arrest. Khomeini also took advantage of the Iran Hostage Crisis to push any opposition out of his cabinet. After all of this, he gained supreme power.
Outsiders who support a revolution see what they want to see in it. Many Americans thought the Iranian Revolution would not affect them and that Iran would become an even more effective Cold War partner. French Leftists such as the mattoid Paul-Michel Foucault supported the Iranian Revolution until he died of AIDS in 1984. Arabs across the world were likewise inspired by Khomeini’s achievement.
Revolutions rarely take their nation in a direction which other peoples like. In 1917, the Allies were hopeful that the Soviet Leftist revolutionaries would decide to fight Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire even harder – but they were wrong. Those that supported the Iranian Revolution likewise cast their own hopes upon it, and they too were wrong. Part of this was the result of the Sunni Shia divide. The Trinidad-born novelist V. S. Naipaul wrote of this that
Islam in Iran, Shia Islam, was an intricate business. To keep alive ancient animosities, to hold on to the idea of personal revenge even after a thousand years, to have a special list of heroes and martyrs and villains, it was necessary to be instructed.
And instruction is a large part of what the Iranians did. In Lebanon, they sent troops who trained the local militias and offered religious instruction. They were more like US Special Forces’ A-Teams that teach indigenous people how to fight.
The most important group in Lebanon was Hezbollah. This group would not have formed in the way that it did were it not for the fact that all of Lebanon’s intellectual elite was involved with resurgent Islam as early as the 1950s. The country was also under tremendous pressure from both Palestinian refugees and Israel. After the Israelis invaded in 1982, and its troops alienated the population in the usual Israeli way, Hezbollah was able to use Iranian money and training to begin pushing them back. They pioneered the use of suicide bombers. Although they never took credit for it, it is highly likely that it was Hezbollah suicide bombers who blew up the barracks of the French and American peacekeepers in Beirut in 1983, killing over 300 people — mostly soldiers. These troops had been deployed to the region on behalf of Israel’s interests.
The Mecca Standoff
On November 20, 1979 — the first day of the Islamic Year 1400 — “The Scowler,” Juhayman al-Otaibi, declared his brother-in-law, Mohammed Abdullah al-Qahtani, to be the Mahdi, a messiah whose return is foretold in Islamic eschatology. Al-Qahtani and his hundreds of armed followers took over the Grand Mosque in Mecca, the literal center of the Islamic world. Juhayman was from the conservative interior of Saudi Arabia.
Juhayman and followers had planned the seizure for months. They smuggled weapons into the area in coffins and bribed the guards. They also understood the lay of the land. Just after morning prayers, they pounced. The militants took hostages, many of whom were non-Arab pilgrims. Juhayman announced his demands, which basically amounted to a rejection of Western influence, the banning of non-Muslims from Saudi Arabia, more equitable distribution of oil resources, and a return to a strict interpretation of Islam through a Sunni lens.
Before the Saudi government could use its army to take the Grand Mosque back by force, they had to consult with their clerics. The Grand Mosque is supposed to be a place of peace, after all, and bloodshed there is forbidden. The clerics came across a verse which read, “And fight not with them in the Sacred Mosque, until they fight you in it: so if they fight you in it, slay them. Such is the recompense of the disbelievers.” (p. 65)
The clerics then issued a fatwa supporting Saudi military action. The Saudi military moved in, but Juhayman’s militants held. Eventually the Saudis had to call in French commandos and Pakistani troops, who then used poison gas — said to be CS gas — to dislodge the occupiers. According to official numbers, 270 people died: The Saudis lost 127 soldiers with a further 450 wounded, while 26 pilgrims fell, and 117 Mahdist militants were killed. The “Mahdi” himself was killed by a grenade on the third day of the siege, and Juhayman was captured. He and his surviving followers were beheaded.
There was a news blackout about the siege in the Saudi media to keep word of the events from spreading, and they cut communications between Mecca and the outside world. Religious broadcasts which were normally filmed in Mecca were shot in Medina instead. However, freed or escaped hostages trickled back to their home countries and spread the word. Also, the diplomatic hotline to the US was not cut, so news of the siege made it to the White House. The Americans suspected Iran to be the culprit, while the Iranians claimed it was the work of the Americans.
The affray at the Grand Mosque was a blow to the Royal House of Saud. As custodians of Mecca and Medina, they are expected to keep the peace. But there was another worry as well: Juhayman’s ideology and actions were the logical endpoint of the reforms which the House of Saud had supported since they had gained control of the country in the 1920s.
If Juhayman had been inspired by the general spirit of the Iranian Revolution, the Shi’a in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia were inspired by its particulars. As Saudi troops deployed to Mecca, the Saudi Shi’a revolted. Portions of the Saudi Arabian National Guard were sent from Mecca to the Eastern Province, where they suppressed the rebellion.
After these two uprisings, the Saudi government enacted two social reforms. The first was to turn the country into a semi-theocratic state. Foreigners and alcohol were tolerated within their compounds, but outside of them, Saudi society adhered to a stricter vision of Sunni Islam called Wahhabism. A purer form of that movement is Salafi Jihadism, which was the ideology of Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda. The Saudis also poured investments into the Eastern Province, electrifying the district, building roads, and engaging in community outreach.
The Soviet Bear & Pakistan
Another event occurred in 1979 which further sharpened the Sunni/Shi’a divide: The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. The Americans took advantage of the situation by arming the Afghan insurgents, called the Mujahedeen. The word means “strivers for jihad,” but it they were sold to the American public as “freedom fighters.”
Ghattas doesn’t focus as much on Afghanistan as the impact the war there had on Pakistan. Salafi Jihadism is influenced by the Egyptian revolutionary Sayyid Qutb, who had lived in America for a short time in the 1940s and came to hate it. Upon returning to his homeland he started work on In the Shade of the Koran in 1952. That book influenced many jihadists who went on to engage in anti-white/Western terror attacks. Ghattas argues that a Pakistani named Abu Ala al-Mawdudi, a contemporary of Qutb, was an influence on him and many others besides. Abu al-Mawdudi had worked in various jobs, including as a newspaper editor, and dabbled in Indian nationalism and Marxism before settling on Islam.
Pakistan was ripe for al-Mawdudi’s ideas. The nation had been created as an Islamic homeland out of British India and upon independence it expelled many of the Hindus who were living there. Then, as V. S. Naipaul put it, “Step by step, out of its Islamic striving, Pakistan had undone the rule of law it had inherited from the British and replaced it with nothing.” The key government player in this was Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, known as General Zia.
General Zia took over the country in a military coup in 1977 after the Pakistani parliament had fallen apart over a contested election. Zia promised new elections, but never held them. He would have lost power earlier, but since he opposed the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Britain supported him. He was able to survive with foreign support in the form of military aid and foreign cash infusions.
General Zia tapped into the Islamic revival movement to help solidify his power base. Soon female television announcers were forced to wear veils. Initially the women resisted, but Zia’s Islamic supporters pressured their husbands and fathers to make the women change style. One of Pakistan’s most popular TV presenters, Mehtab Channa, refused to wear a veil, but the Pakistani government pressured her producers until Mehtab resigned. She was replaced by a woman who did wear a veil.
General Zia was killed in a plane crash along with the US Ambassador, Arnold Raphel, and the American military attaché. Pakistan then had a genuinely elected leader, Benazir Bhutto, who took office in 1993 but dismissed in 1996, a victim of the Islamist forces in Pakistan’s society.
Pakistan’s Islamists were mostly Sunni, but the country also has a Sh’ia population. In the 1980s the country became a transit point for foreign fighters and supplies joining the jihad in neighboring Afghanistan. As Sunni aid in the form of Saudi money, missionaries, and fighters poured in to Pakistan, these sectarian tensions arose. This meant bombings and repression.
As the Cold War proxy war in Afghanistan raged, so too did a war between Iraq and Iran. Iraq at the time was headed by the secular Arab nationalist Saddam Hussein. His invasion began an ordinary land grab, but as the war ground on it assumed the character of a Sunni/Shi’a religious war across the greater Arab world. At a Muslim scholastic event in Springfield, Illinois (of all places) in 1981, Jamal Khashoggi agreed to display an anti-Shi’a pamphlet called And Now the Magi’s Turn Has Come. It argued that the Shi’a were really Zoroastrians who had infiltrated Islam in Iran. They therefore posed a danger to Sunni Islam.
Ghattas writes, “The widespread distribution of the Magi book was a watershed moment giving permission to a flood of anti-Shia publications throughout the 1980s” (p.159). The author was a Syrian Sunni who disliked Syria’s ruling Assad family and their positive relations with Iran.
In the 1980s, Mecca expanded as more and more pilgrims came there. Then, in 1987, some Iranian pilgrims caused a scene at the Kaaba. What happened next remains unclear, but in the end, 400 were dead. It was another blow to the Saudis as the guardians of Mecca, and tensions between Sunni and Shi’a continued to mount.
The strength of the passions being unleashed went unrecognized throughout the West until Salman Rushdie wrote The Satanic Verses in 1988. I attempted to wade through this horribly turgid novel when I was in the Army, but gave up. It did, however, start to shape my view that Muslims should be kept out of America. Regardless, passages from the books that were deemed “anti-Islamic” were published and leaked, and it caused a sensation in the Islamic world. Khomeini issued a death warrant against Rusdie. He survived because he was protected by the British government, but some of his publishers and translators were killed.
The Conflict Rages
Ghattas tells the story of the assassination of Egypt’s President Anwar Sadat. After winning a strategic victory against Israel which allowed him to take back the Sinai, Islamic fanatics murdered him. Egypt, then or now, wasn’t and isn’t an Islamist state, however; citizens are free to be as a pious or not as they want. There was no religious repression as in Iran. Consequently, the military quickly moved to restore order and Sadat’s Vice President, Hosni Mubarak, became President. He would rule until he was toppled in the Arab Spring in 2011.
Then there was 9/11. The attacks were the logical end-point of “The Scowler”’s theocratic ideas as well as the teachings of Saudi Arabia’s purified version of Islam. It was also the result of an idiotic American immigration policy which allowed Saudis to enter the US, as well as America’s idiotic support for Israel.
Ghattas describes the rise of ISIS as being the result of George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq, as well as the disruptions in Middle Eastern society caused by the Islamic revival. A large part of the problem with the Islamic revival is its unscientific fundamentalist literalism, which goes back to the eighth century. In the intellectual centers of the Islamic world of that time, Baghdad and Basra, there was a philosophical split between a movement called Mu’tazilah, which desired the accumulation of knowledge and endorsed the rationalism of the ancient Greeks, and Ahmad ibn Hanbal. Hanbal formed an orthodox and literalist school of thought that held truth can only be found in the Koran. The Islamic mind closed thereafter.
Islam & Us
In 1922, Lothrop Stoddard wrote in his preface to The New World of Islam that
[t]he entire world of Islam is to-day in profound ferment. From Morocco to China and from Turkestan to the Congo, the 250,000,000 followers of the Prophet Mohammed are stirring to new ideas, new impulses, new aspirations. A gigantic transformation is taking place whose results must affect all mankind.
Hilaire Belloc wrote in 1938:
The future always comes as a surprise, but political wisdom consists in attempting at least some partial judgment of what that surprise may be. And for my part I cannot but believe that a main unexpected thing of the future is the return of Islam. Since religion is at the root of all political movements and changes, and since we have here a very great religion physically paralyzed but morally intensely alive, we are in the presence of an unstable equilibrium which cannot remain permanently unstable.
We cannot say we weren’t warned. A travel ban on the Islamic world was enacted in the US by means of the excellent 1924 Johnson-Reed Act, but it was later replaced by the disastrous 1965 Immigration Act. A second travel ban should have been imposed at around 9 AM on September 11, 2001, but America’s hostile elite and the liberal/minority coalition prevented this from happening. Donald Trump’s later travel ban was good, but not broad enough.
When reading Ghattas’ book, I was struck by the Islamic revivalists’ persistence, whether they were Shi’a or Sunni. Many were born between 1900 and 1910, at a time when most of the Islamic world was dominated by European empires. By 1920, the Ottoman Empire had shrunk to Anatolia, and yet they persevered and stamped their will upon their soon to be independent homelands.
They did so through metapolitics. They stated their ideas and transmitted them through every means of communication possible. They clearly articulated how their ideas could solve social problems. Their methods for achieving power should be studied by white advocates. Much of what they did was simply to show up. They provided aid to the afflicted when needed, and weapons to those facing Israeli oppression.
Their failure is the failure of Islam itself. They ended up rejecting science, but not the weapons derived from science. They provided law and order, but in a brutal fashion, such as by carrying out amputations for petty crimes. In the end their only export, aside from oil, was suicide bombers.
What I thought remarkable was that they persuaded women to wear veils by paying them to do so. The Iranians offered paltry sums to poor Lebanese families to wear a chador; then the Saudis paid much larger sums to glamorous Egyptian actresses to wear a veil of some kind. These strategic payments caused a revolution in women’s fashion.
White advocates are also engaged in metapolitcs in order to change things, but we are advocating for a society such as the one shown in Leave It to Beaver. Our goals are much more desirable. We don’t advocate for doing away with science but embracing it, freeing it from errors such as cultural anthropology, gender ideology, and Critical Race Theory. We are looking to ditch the massive subsidies for non-whites who are colonizing our homeland.
All we need to do is to continue with metapolitics, show up at events, and to be useful and productive. We also need to continue to strike at those abominable laws: the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the 1965 Immigration Act, and the birthright clause in the 14th Amendment. Our white ethnostate will follow.
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