The Great War - 1914-1918

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014

For a number of years after 1918 the First World War was called 'The Great War' in English, and 'Der Große Krieg' in German - simply because it was the great war.
The had been no other war like it, and no one contemplated another war so devastating or so terrible.
It was the 'War to end all wars'.
But, of course, it was not, and 'part two' was to follow about twenty years later.

The first world war was the first war to touch almost everyone in England since the brutal civil wars of the seventeenth century.

Zeppelin Raid
Gotha Bomber Raid
The great war had a far greater impact on English families than the wars against Napoleon, or the numerous imperial wars of the Victorian era.
It was, without a doubt, the 'Great War', - and the numerous war memorials scattered all up and down the land were mute and tragic testimony to that fact.
And, although the war was fought on the continent, it was surprisingly near.
On the east coast of England the windows and the crockery would rattle during the fierce bombardments on the Somme, and when the devastating British mines exploded, the sound could be heard even in central London.
And then there were the Zeppelin Raids ('Baby Killers') and the Gotha Bomber raids.

The Gotha G.V was a heavy bomber used by the Luftstreitkräfte (Imperial German Air Service) during World War I. Designed for long-range service, the G V series was used principally as night bombers.

Ferdinand Graf von Zepplin
A Zeppelin is a type of rigid airship named after the German Ferdinand Adolf Heinrich August Graf von Zeppelin (8 July 1838 – 8 March 1917) a German general and later aircraft manufacturer, who pioneered rigid airship development at the beginning of the 20th century. Zeppelin's ideas were first formulated in 1874 and developed in detail in 1893. They were patented in Germany in 1895. After the outstanding success of the Zeppelin design, the word zeppelin came to be commonly used to refer to all rigid airships. Zeppelins were first flown commercially in 1910 by Deutsche Luftschiffahrts-AG (DELAG), the world's first airline in revenue service. During World War I the German military made extensive use of Zeppelins as bombers and scouts, killing over 500 people in bombing raids in Britain.

The great war, with its coastal bombardments and air-aids was truly a 'people's war'.
But to begin at the beginning - and a very muddled beginning its was ......

The First of August

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014
Today (1st August) one hundred years ago, in 1914, the German Empire declared war on the Russian Empire.
This declaration of war was related to the Schlieffen Plan.
The Schlieffen Plan was a 1905 German General Staff 'thought-experiment', which later became a deployment-plan, and set of recommendations for German Commanders to implement as they saw fit using their own initiative. 
The German army would be deployed on the German-Belgian border so it could launch an offensive into France through the southern Dutch province of Maastricht, Belgium, and Luxembourg.

Alfred Graf von Schlieffen
Helmuth von Moltke
Helmuth von Moltke the Younger succeeded Schlieffen in 1906, and became certain that an isolated Franco-German war was impossible, due to shows of Franco-Russian solidarity during the Moroccan and Bosnian crises.
Moltke also became convinced that Italy would not join in, due to the increasing Italian-Habsburg enmity and the anticipation of British entry into a Franco-German war, in which the Italian economy would be highly vulnerable to blockade.
Under Moltke Aufmarsch I was retired, but in 1914 he attempted to apply the offensive strategy of Aufmarsch I West to the deployment plan Aufmarsch II West.
This plan was designed for a two-front war and so reduced the forces available in the west by a fifth, meaning that the German offensive was too weak to succeed.
Aufmarsch I Ost anticipated war between the Franco-Russian Entente and Germany, with Austria-Hungary supporting Germany and Britain perhaps joining the Entente.
This is near enough what actually happened.
60% of the German army would deploy in the west and 40% in east.
France and Russia would attack simultaneously, because they had the larger force, and Germany would execute an "active defence", in at least the first operation/campaign of the war.
German forces would mass against the Russian invasion force, and defeat it in a counter-offensive, while conducting a conventional defence against the French force, but rather than pursue the retreating Russian force over the border, 50% of the German force in east (about 20% of the German army) would be transferred to the west, for a counter-offensive against the French attack force.

Krasnoye Selo
And so the scene changes to Russia.
On 25 July 1914, the council of ministers was held in Krasnoye Selo at which Tsar Nicholas II decided to intervene in the Austro-Serbian conflict, (which had arisen as a result of the assassination of Erzherzog Franz Ferdinand) and bring the matter a step closer toward a general European war.
He put the Russian army on "alert" on 25 July.
Although this was not mobilisation, it threatened the German and Austrian borders and looked , to all intents and purposes, like a military declaration of war.

Kingdom of Serbia
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Kaiser Wilhelm II and Tsar Nicholas II
On 29 July 1914, Nicholas II sent a telegram to Wilhelm II (The 'Willy-Nicky Correspondence'), with the suggestion to submit the Austro-Serbian problem to the Hague Conference (in Hague tribunal).
Nicholas wanted neither to abandon Serbia to the ultimatum of Austria-Hungary, nor to provoke a general war.
In a series of letters exchanged with Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany (the so-called "Willy and Nicky correspondence") the two proclaimed their desire for peace, and each attempted to get the other to back down.
Nicholas desired that Russia's mobilisation be only against the Austrian border, in the hopes of preventing war with the German Empire.
Wilhelm II did not address the question of the Hague Conference in his subsequent reply.
Count Witte told the French Ambassador Paleologue that from Russia's point of view the war was madness, Slav solidarity was simply nonsense and Russia could hope for nothing from the war.

Count Sergei Yulyevich Witte
Count Sergei Yulyevich Witte (Russian: Серге́й Ю́льевич Ви́тте, Sergey Yul'evich Vitte) (29 June [O.S. 17 June] 1849 – 13 March [O.S. 28 February] 1915), also known as Sergius Witte, was a highly influential policy-maker who presided over extensive industrialization within the Russian Empire. He served under the last two emperors of Russia. He was also the author of the October Manifesto of 1905, a precursor to Russia's first constitution, and Chairman of the Council of Ministers (Prime Minister) of the Russian Empire.

On 28 July, Austria formally declared war against Serbia, which eventually brought Germany into conflict with Russia and with France and Britain as Russia's allies.
Meanwhile, the Tsar's armies had no contingency plans for a partial mobilisation, and on 31 July 1914 Nicholas took the fateful step of confirming the order for general mobilisation, despite being strongly counselled against it.

Sergei Sazonov
On 31 July, Russia completed its mobilisation against Germany, but still spuriously maintained that it would not attack if peace talks were to begin.
Germany then replied that Russia must demobilise within the next twelve hours.
In Saint Petersburg, at 7pm, with the ultimatum to Russia expired, the German ambassador to Russia met with the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Sazonov, asked three times if Russia would reconsider, and then with shaking hands, delivered the note accepting Russia's war challenge, and declaring war.
So why did Germany declare war ?
Well, as we have seen, Germany deeply feared a war on two fronts - East and West - Russia and France.
And Germany felt encircled - by Russia, France, and England.
Germany also felt obliged to support it's fellow (German speaking) state, Austria-Hungary - although Germany had no real quarrel with Serbia.
However, Germany, like Austria, and the Ottoman Empire, was nervous of Serbian (Slavic) ambitions in the Balkans - and feared the possibility of a Russian attack on Constantinople, and attacks on the Austro-German sphere of influence in the Balkans.
The main cause of the declaration of war by Germany, however, was Russia's unwieldly and unfocussed mobilisation which, while supposedly initiated to support Serbia, appeared to threaten not only Austria, but also Germany - and if Germany was attacked by Russia, then it could also expect to be attacked by Russia's ally - and Germany's old enemy, France.
The German declaration of war was therefore seen by the Central Powers as an act of self-defence.
And what was happening in London ?
Herbert Henry Asquith

Well Asquith had driven to Buckingham Palace early in the morning.
His intention, once he had got the King out of bed, was to ask the monarch to write to the Tsar, asking him to stop the mobilisation of the Russian forces.

King-Emperor George V
George V (George Frederick Ernest Albert; 3 June 1865 – 20 January 1936) was King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and Emperor of India, from 6 May 1910 until his death in 1936.

And why should George, still wearing his brown dressing gown, do this ?
Well, - Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, was George's first cousin (their mothers were sisters).
The letter itself had been written by Edward Grey, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, but it required the King's approval, and his handwritten prefix - 'Dear Nicky'.
Did it do any good ? .... No !

Herbert Henry Asquith, 1st Earl of Oxford and Asquith, KG, KC, PC, (12 September 1852 – 15 February 1928) served as the Liberal Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1908 to 1916. As Prime Minister, he led his Liberal party to a series of domestic reforms, including social insurance and the reduction of the power of the House of Lords. He led the nation into the First World War, but a series of military and political crises led to his replacement in late 1916 by David Lloyd George. 
Edward Grey, 1st Viscount Grey of Fallodon

Edward Grey, 1st Viscount Grey of Fallodon, Bt KG PC FZL DL (25 April 1862 – 7 September 1933), better known as Sir Edward Grey, Bt, was a British Liberal statesman. He served as Foreign Secretary from 1905 to 1916, the longest continuous tenure of any person in that office. He is probably best remembered for his remark at the outbreak of the First World War: "The lamps are going out all over Europe. We shall not see them lit again in our time". Ennobled as Viscount Grey of Fallodon in 1916, he was Ambassador to the United States between 1919 and 1920 and Leader of the Liberal Party in the House of Lords between 1923 and 1924.

The Second of August

On 24 July 1914 the Belgian government had announced that if war came it would uphold its neutrality. 

Kingdom of Belgium
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On 2 August the German government sent an ultimatum to Belgium, demanding passage through the country and, at the same time, German forces invaded Luxembourg.
Explaining that an imminent French attack on Germany was expected, the German ultimatum demanded - 'with the greatest regret' - free passage for its troops through Belgium.
This was an essential precondition to the successful implementation of the Schlieffen Plan (see above).
Guarantees were also given for the safety and good treatment of the Belgian people and Belgian property.
Despite the polite tone of the request, Germany felt impelled to warn the Belgian government that failure to comply would automatically bring Belgium into military conflict with Germany.
Germany was justified in suggesting to the Belgian Government that there would be an imminent French attack as, on the 2nd of August 1914 France mobilized its forces and sent them to the German border.

Grand-Duchy of Luxemburg
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014
In response, Germany crossed the borders of the Grand-Duchy of Luxemburg, which was an important step in the execution of the Schlieffen Plan.
King Albert, King of the Belgians, however, in council, explained to his ministers that the German requests were a breach of Belgium’s neutrality and independence, and that it was time for the Belgians to defend themselves from Germany.
The ministers, in a vast majority, agreed.
The Belgian reaction, however, helped the public opinion in Germany to believe they were in a defensive war.

And now we move east.
Far beyond Central Europe (Mitteleuropa), the Ottoman – German Alliance was ratified on August 2, 1914.
The alliance was created as part of a joint-cooperative effort that would strengthen and modernize the ailing Ottoman military, as well as possibly providing Germany safe passage into neighbouring British colonies.
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014
On the eve of the First World War, the Ottoman Empire was in ruinous shape.
As a result of subsequent wars fought in this period, territories were lost, the economy was in shambles, and people were demoralized and tired.
What the Empire needed was time to recover and to carry out reforms; however, there was no time, because the world was sliding into war.
For reasons best known to the Ottomans, staying neutral and focusing on recovery did not appear to be possible, the Empire had to ally with one or the other camp, because, after the Italo-Turkish War and Balkan Wars, it was completely out of resources.
There were not adequate quantities of weaponry and machinery left; and neither did the Empire have the financial means to purchase new ones.

محمد طلعت پاشا
Mehmet Talat Paşa
The only option for the 'Sublime Port' (Ottoman Government) was to establish an alliance with a European power; and at first it did not really matter which one that would be.
As Talat Paşa, the Minister of Interior, wrote in his memoirs: “Turkey needed to join one of the country groups so that it could organize its domestic administration, strengthen and maintain its commerce and industry, expand its railroads, in short to survive and to preserve its existence.”

Mehmed Talaat Pasha (Turkish: 1874 – 15 March 1921), commonly known as Talaat Pasha, was one of the triumvirate known as the Three Pashas that de facto ruled the Ottoman Empire during the First World War.

The problem was that most European powers were not keen to conclude an alliance with the ailing Ottoman Empire.
Only Russia seemed to have an interest – however, under conditions that would have amounted a Russian protectorate on the Ottoman lands.
It was impossible to reconcile an alliance with the French: as France's main ally was Russia, the long-time enemy of the Ottoman Empire since the War of 1828.
Great Britain declined an Ottoman request.

محمد خامس
Ottoman Sultan Mehmed V
The Ottoman Sultan Mehmed V specifically wanted the Empire to remain a non-belligerent nation, however pressure from some of Mehmed's senior advisors led the Empire to align with the Central Powers.

Mehmed V Reshad (Mehmed V Reşad or Reşat Mehmet) (2/3 November 1844 – 3/4 July 1918) was the 35th Ottoman Sultan. He was the son of Sultan Abdülmecid I. He was succeeded by his half-brother Mehmed VI.
Mehmed V hosted Kaiser Wilhelm II, his World War I ally, in Constantinople on 15 October 1917. He was made Generalfeldmarschall of the Kingdom of Prussia on 27 January 1916, and of the Empire of Germany on 1 February 1916.

Whilst Great Britain was unenthusiastic about aligning with the Ottoman Empire Germany was enthusiastic.
Germany needed the Ottoman Empire on its side.

The Orient Express had run directly to Constantinople since 1889, and prior to the First World War the Sultan had consented to a plan to extend it through Anatolia to Baghdad under German auspices.
This would strengthen the Ottoman Empire's link with industrialised Europe, while also giving Germany easier access to its African colonies and to trade markets in India.
To keep the Ottoman Empire from joining the Triple Entente, Germany encouraged Romania and Bulgaria to enter the Central Powers.

سعيد حليم پاشا
Said Halim Paşa
اسماعیل انور پاشا
Enver Paşa
A secret treaty was concluded between the Ottoman Empire and the German Empire on August 2, 1914.
The Ottoman Empire was to enter the war on the side of the Central Powers one day after the German Empire declared war on Russia.
The alliance was ratified on 2 August by many high ranking Ottoman officials, including Grand Vizier Said Halim Paşa, the Minister of War Enver Paşa, the Interior Minister Talat Paşa, and Head of Parliament Halil Bey.

Said Halim Pasha (Albanian: 18 January 1865 – 5 December 1921) was a statesman who served as the Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire from 1913 to 1917. Born in Cairo, Egypt, he was the grandson of Muhammad Ali of Egypt, often considered the founder of modern Egypt. He was one of the signers in Ottoman–German Alliance. Yet, he resigned after the incident of the pursuit of Goeben and Breslau, an event which served to cement the Ottoman–German alliance during World War I. It is claimed that Mehmed V wanted a person in whom he trusted as Grand Vizier, and that he asked Said Halim to stay in his post as long as possible. Said Halim's term lasted until 1917, cut short because of continuous clashes between him and the Committee of Union and Progress, which by then controlled the Imperial Government of the Ottoman Empire.

Ismail Enver Pasha (Turkish:  22 November 1881 – 4 August 1922), commonly known as Enver Pasha, was an Ottoman military officer and a leader of the 1908 Young Turk Revolution. He was the main leader of the Ottoman Empire in both Balkan Wars and World War I. Throughout his career, he was known by increasingly elevated titles as he rose through military ranks, including Enver Efendi (انور افندي‎), Enver Bey (انور بك‎), and finally Enver Pasha, "Pasha" being the epithet Ottoman military officers gained after they were promoted to the rank of Mirliva.

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However, there was no signature from the House of Osman (?) as the Sultan Mehmed V did not sign it.
The Sultan was the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, as written in the constitution, this made the legitimacy of the Alliance questionable.
This meant that the army was not be able to fight on behalf of the Sultan.
The Sultan himself had wanted the Empire to remain neutral.
He did not wish to command a war himself, and as such left the Cabinet to do much of his bidding.

احمد جمال پاشا
Ahmed Cemal Pasha
The third member of the cabinet of the Three Pashas, Djemal Pasha, also did not sign the treaty as he had tried, unsuccessfully, to form an alliance with France.

Ahmed Cemal Pasha (Turkish: May 1872 – 21 July 1922), commonly know as Djemal Pasha, was an Ottoman military leader and one-third of the military triumvirate known as the Three Pashas that ruled the Ottoman Empire during World War I. Djemal was also Mayor of Istanbul.

The Alliance therefore was not universally accepted by all parts of the Ottoman government 
The Ottoman Empire itself did not enter the war until German elements in the Ottoman Navy took matters into their own hands and bombarded Russian ports on the 29th of October 1914.

The Third of August

Sir Edward Grey
The following statement was made, by the Foreign Secretary, Sir Edward Grey, to the House of Commons, late in the day:

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'I want to give the House some information which I have received, and which was not in my possession when I made my statement this afternoon.
It is information I have received from the Belgian Legation in London, and is to the following effect:
"Germany sent yesterday evening at seven o'clock a note proposing to Belgium friendly neutrality, covering free passage on Belgian territory, and promising maintenance of independence of the kingdom and possession at the conclusion of peace, and threatening, in case of refusal, to treat Belgium as an enemy. A time-limit of twelve hours was fixed for the reply. The Belgians have answered that an attack on their neutrality would be a flagrant violation of the rights of nations, and that to accept the German proposal would be to sacrifice the honour of a nation. Conscious of its duty, Belgium is finally resolved to repel aggression by all possible means."
Of course, I can only say that the Government are prepared to take into grave consideration the information which they have received. I make no further comment upon it.'
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In the afternoon, two days after declaring war on Russia, Germany declared war on France, moving ahead with a long-held strategy, conceived by the former chief of staff of the German army, Alfred von Schlieffen, for a two-front war against France and Russia.

Presented by the German Ambassador to Paris:

M. Le President, the German administrative and military authorities have established a certain number of flagrantly hostile acts committed on German territory by French military aviators. Several of these have openly violated the neutrality of Belgium by flying over the territory of that country; one has attempted to destroy buildings near Wesel; others have been seen in the district of the Eifel; one has thrown bombs on the railway near Carlsruhe and Nuremberg. I am instructed, and I have the honour to inform your Excellency, that in the presence of these acts of aggression the German Empire considers itself in a state of war with France in consequence of the acts of this latter Power. 

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At the same time, I have the honour to bring to the knowledge of your Excellency that the German authorities will retain French mercantile vessels in German ports, but they will release them if, within forty-eight hours, they are assured of complete reciprocity.
My diplomatic mission having thus come to an end, it only remains for me to request your Excellency to be good enough to furnish me with my passports, and to take the steps you consider suitable to assure my return to Germany, with the staff of the Embassy, as well as, with the Staff of the Bavarian Legation and of the German Consulate General in Paris.

Hours later, France made its own declaration of war against Germany, readying its troops to move into the provinces of Alsace and Lorraine, which it had forfeited to Germany in the settlement that ended the Franco-Prussian War in 1871.
With Germany officially at war with France and Russia, a conflict originally centred in the Balkans  - with the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife by a Serbian nationalist, in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914, and a subsequent stand-off between Austria-Hungary, Serbia and Serbia’s powerful Slavic supporter, Russia - had erupted into a full-scale European war.

Schlieffen Plan - Open in new tab to view full size
Also on August 3 1914, the first wave of German troops assembled on the frontier of neutral Belgium, which in accordance with the Schlieffen Plan would be crossed by German armies on their way to an attack on France.
This threat to Belgium, whose neutrality had been guaranteed by a treaty concluded by a number of European powers - including Britain, France and Germany - in 1839, united a divided British government in opposition against Germany.

That August, as the great powers of Europe readied their armies and navies for war, no one was preparing for a long struggle - all the participants were counting on a short, decisive conflict that would end in their favour.

Field Marshal Horatio Herbert Kitchener
Kaiser Wilhelm II
"You will be home before the leaves have fallen from the trees," Kaiser Wilhelm assured troops leaving for the front in the first week of August 1914.
Even though some military leaders, including German Chief of Staff Helmuth von Moltke, and his French counterpart, Joseph Joffre, foresaw a longer conflict, they foolishly did not modify their war strategy to prepare for that eventuality.
One man, the controversial new war secretary in Britain, Lord Horatio Kitchener, did act on his conviction that the war would be a lasting one, insisting from the beginning of the war - against considerable opposition - on the need to build up Britain’s armed forces.
"A nation like Germany," Kitchener argued, "after having forced the issue, will only give in after it is beaten to the ground. This will take a very long time. No one living knows how long."

Field Marshal Horatio Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener, KG, KP, GCB, OM, GCSI, GCMG, GCIE, ADC, PC - (24 June 1850 – 5 June 1916) was a senior British Army officer and colonial administrator who won fame for his imperial campaigns and later played a central role in the early part of the First World War, although he died halfway through it. Kitchener won fame in 1898 for winning the Battle of Omdurman and securing control of the Sudan, after which he was given the title "Lord Kitchener of Khartoum"; as Chief of Staff (1900–02) in the Second Boer War he played a key role in Lord Roberts' conquest of the Boer Republics, then succeeded Roberts as commander-in-chief. His term as Commander-in-Chief (1902–09) of the Army in India saw him quarrel with another eminent proconsul, the Viceroy Lord Curzon, who eventually resigned. Kitchener then returned to Egypt as Sirdar and Consul-General. In 1914, at the start of the First World War, Lord Kitchener became Secretary of State for War, a Cabinet Minister. One of the few to foresee a long war, he organised the largest volunteer army that Britain, and indeed the world, had seen and a significant expansion of materials production to fight Germany on the Western Front

The Fourth of August

And now, for England, the peace had ended...

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Now, God be thanked Who has matched us with His hour, 
And caught our youth, and wakened us from sleeping, 
With hand made sure, clear eye, and sharpened power, 
To turn, as swimmers into cleanness leaping
Glad from a world grown old and cold and weary, 
Leave the sick hearts that honour could not move, 
And half-men, and their dirty songs and dreary, 
And all the little emptiness of love !

Oh ! we, who have known shame, we have found release there,
Where there's no ill, no grief, but sleep has mending,
Naught broken save this body, lost but breath; 
Nothing to shake the laughing heart's long peace there 
But only agony, and that has ending; 
And the worst friend and enemy is but Death.
Rupert Brooke

Rupert Brooke (3 August 1887 – 23 April 1915) was an English poet known for his idealistic war sonnets written during the First World War. He was also known for his boyish good looks, which led him to be described as "the handsomest young man in England". Brooke belonged to a literary group known as the 'Georgian Poets', and was one of the most important of the 'Dymock Poet's, associated with the Gloucestershire village of Dymock, where he spent some time before the war.

Rupert Brooke's Grave - Skyros
He also lived in the Old Vicarage, Grantchester. Brooke's accomplished poetry gained many enthusiasts and followers and he was taken up by Edward Marsh who brought him to the attention of Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty. He was commissioned into the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve as a temporary Sub-Lieutenant shortly after his 27th birthday, and took part in the Royal Naval Division's Antwerp expedition in October 1914. He sailed with the British Mediterranean Expeditionary Force on 28 February 1915, but developed sepsis from an infected mosquito bite. He died on 23 April 1915 in a hospital ship moored in a bay off the island of Skyros in the Aegean on his way to the landing at Gallipoli. As the expeditionary force had orders to depart immediately, he was buried at 11 pm in an olive grove on Skyros, Greece.

A somewhat sterner response to the outbreak of war is to be found in Binyon's 'Fourth of August'.

Endure, O Earth! and thou, awaken,
Purged by this dreadful winnowing—fan,
O wronged, untameable, unshaken
Soul of divinely suffering man.

Robert Laurence Binyon, CH (10 August 1869 – 10 March 1943) was an English poet, dramatist and art scholar. His most famous work, 'For the Fallen', is well known for being used in Remembrance Sunday services. Three of Binyon's poems, including "For the Fallen", were set by Sir Edward Elgar in his last major orchestra/choral work, the superb "Spirit of England".

Middle East Madness

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الدولة الاسلامية في العراق والشام‎
Islamist State of Iraq and al-Sham
Iraq - Map of the Conflict
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Fundamentalist Sunni terrorists advancing on Baghdad after taking Mosul have captured the city of Tikrit, the home town of Saddam Hussein, as government forces disintegrate and fail to offer resistance.

Fundamentalist Sunni Terrorists
Iraqi soldiers and police are reported to have discarded their uniforms, changed into civilian clothes, and fled after firing only a few shots.
Fundamentalist Sunni terrorists from Isis have taken the refinery town of Baiji on the Tigris, which is also the site of a power station supplying Baghdad.
Some 250 guards protecting the refinery withdrew after militant fighters asked local sheikhs by mobile phone to tell them to pull out or face a fight to the death.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Emblem of the Republic of Turkey
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014
The fundamentalist Sunni terrorists are reported to have seized the Turkish consulate in Mosul, taking captive the consul general and 47 Turks.
If they continue to be held hostage, this raises the possibility that Turkey may intervene in the escalating crisis.
The Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, held an emergency meeting with senior officials to discuss the deteriorating situation in Iraq.
The UN Security Council deplored the attacks "in the strongest terms", and demanded the immediate return of all hostages abducted from the consulate.
The UN envoy in Iraq is scheduled to brief the council at a closed meeting on Thursday.

So what is going on ?


Well, we have to go back a long way to find the roots to these problems - and the 'roots', interestingly, involve Turkey - or Turkey as it was.
Rulers of the Central Powers - 1914
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Osmanli Armasi
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'Turkey as it was', was known as the  Osmanlı padişahları (Ottoman Empire) - a sprawling Islamic Empire (Sunni), ruled from Istanbul, which included, among others, all the currently unstable Middle Eastern states, including Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Palestine (Israel) Iraq, and the Kurds.
The era prior to the 1914-1918 war was dominated by the politics of the 'Committee of Union and Progress', and the movement that would become known as the 'Young Turks'.

Caliph Mehmed V - Tugra
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Mehmed V Rashād
The ruler of this huge empire was Mehmed V Rashād - (The True Path Follower), who was known as  ظل الله في العالم‎ - "shadow of God on Earth", and "caliph on the earth" - خلیفه روی زمین‎ - khalife-i ru-yi zemin.

A caliphate (خلافة‎ - khilāfa, meaning "succession") is an Islamic state led by a supreme religious and political leader known as a caliph – i.e. "successor" – to the prophet Muhammad. The succession of Muslim empires that have existed in the Muslim world are usually described as "caliphates". Conceptually, a caliphate represents a theocratic sovereign polity of the entire Muslim faithful (the Ummah, i.e. a sovereign nation state) ruled by a single caliph, under the 'Constitution of Medina' and Islamic law (sharia). The last authentic caliphate was that of the Ottoman Empire.

Although the caliphate was in many ways deeply conservative, the Ottoman government, under the influence of the 'Young Turks' was, in many ways, progressive and secular.

انور پاشا - Enver Paşa 

Genç Türkler - the Young Turk Revolution of 1908 reversed the 1878 suspension of the Ottoman parliament, the General Assembly, by Sultan Abdulhamid II, marking the onset of the Second Constitutional Era of the Ottoman Empire. The Revolution arose from an unlikely union of reform-minded pluralists, Turkish nationalists, Western-oriented secularists, minorities such as Ottoman Armenians and Greeks. One of the most prominent of the Young Turks was Enver Paşa - انور پاشا‎ - who became Ottoman Minister of War. After the 1913 Ottoman coup d'état, Enver Pasha became the Minister of War of the Ottoman Empire, forming one-third of the military triumvirate known as the "Three Pashas" (along with Talaat Pasha and Djemal Pasha) that held de facto rule over the Empire from 1913 until the end of the War in 1918.

The fact that the Ottoman Empire, in its final years, was largely controlled by a secular orientated, progressive, European trained Army, led by such individuals as Enver Paşa created a tradition that persisted beyond 1922 when the Sultanate was abolished.

 Mehmet VI Vahidettin leaves Istanbul
Caliph - Mehmet VI Vahidettin
the last Otoman Padishah
It was not the abolition of the Sultanate, however, that threw the Middle east into turmoil, but rather the abolition of the Caliphate in 1924.

محمد سادس - Mehmed VI - Meḥmed-i sâdis, وحيد الدين Vahidettin (14 January 1861 – 16 May 1926) was the 36th, and last Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, reigning from 1918 to 1922. The brother of Mehmed V, he succeeded to the throne as the eldest male member of the House of Osman after the 1916 suicide of Abdülaziz's son Yusuf Izzettin Efendi, the heir to the throne. He was girded with the Sword of Osman on 4 June 1918, as the thirty-sixth padishah. His father was Sultan Abdülmecid I and mother was Gülüstü (1831 – May 1861), a Circassian. Mehmed was removed from the throne when the Ottoman sultanate was abolished in 1922.

عبد المجید الثانی - Abdülmecid II
The Turkish Grand National Assembly abolished the Sultanate on 1 November 1922, and Mehmed was expelled from Constantinople, aboard the British warship Malaya on 17 November. He went into exile in Malta; Mehmed later lived on the Italian Riviera.
On 19 November 1922, Mehmed's first cousin and heir Abdülmecid Efendi was elected Caliph, becoming the new head of the Imperial House of Osman as Abdülmecid II before the Caliphate was abolished in 1924. Mehmed died on 16 May 1926 in Sanremo, Italy, and was buried at the Tekkiye Mosque of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent in Damascus.

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Most of the Ottoman vilayets (provinces) became mandated territories under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles.

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A League of Nations Mandate was a legal status for certain territories transferred from the control of one country to another following World War I. The mandate system was established under Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations, entered into on 28 June 1919.  Ottoman territorial claims were first addressed in the Treaty of Sèvres (1920) and finalized in the Treaty of Lausanne (1923). The Turkish territories were allotted among the Allied Powers at the San Remo conference in 1920.

The Class A mandates were:
Palestine (United Kingdom), from 29 September 1923 – 15 May 1948.
In April 1921, Transjordan provisionally became an autonomous area for 6 months but then continued to be part of the Mandate until independence. It eventually became the independent Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan (later Jordan) on 25 May 1946. A plan for peacefully dividing the remainder of the Mandate failed. The Mandate terminated at midnight between 14 and 15 May 1948. On the evening of 14 May, the Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Palestine had declared the establishment of the State of Israel. Arab states attacked the following day, marking the start of the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. Following the war, 75% of the area west of the Jordan River was controlled by the new State of Israel. Other parts, until 1967, formed the West Bank of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the Egyptian-occupied Gaza Strip. Small slivers of territory east and south of the Sea of Galilee were held by Syria.
Crown of the Khedive of Egypt

Syria (France), 29 September 1923 – 1 January 1944. This mandate included Lebanon; Hatay (a former Ottoman Alexandretta sandjak) broke away from it and became a French protectorate until it was ceded to the new Republic of Turkey. Following the termination of the French mandate, two separate independent republics, Syria and Lebanon, were formed.
Mesopotamia (Iraq) (United Kingdom), not enacted and replaced by the Anglo-Iraqi Treaty.

 المملكه المصريه
al-Mamlakah al-Miṣriyyah
The Kingdom of Egypt
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Significantly, Egypt was the subject of a British Protectorate. Prior to the First World War Egypt was the خديوية مصر the Khedivate of Egypt - an autonomous tributary state of the Ottoman Empire, established and ruled by the Muhammad Ali Dynasty. In 1922 the British esatblished the المملكه المصريه -Kingdom of Egypt - al-Mamlakah al-Miṣriyyah, following the Unilateral Declaration of Egyptian Independence by the United Kingdom.
Until the Anglo-Egyptian treaty of 1936, the Kingdom was only nominally independent, since the British retained control of foreign relations, communications, the military and the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. Between 1936-52, the British continued to maintain military presence and political advisers. This protectorate survived until Nasser forced the last king of Egypt - King Farouk - to abdicate.

Eventually all the Ottoman vilayets became independent, but as can be seen from the map, the countries that emerged, after the end of the Mandates, bore little or no resemblance to the Ottoman vilayets.
What had happened was that new countries had been created, and the borders of these countries often ignored the vilayet boundaries, and often ignored racial, sectarian and linguistic areas.
The new countries, however, managed to hold together because of the importation of a new philosophy, - a new ideology of nationalism.

القومية العربية
Arab Nationalism

القومية العربية‎ 'al-Qawmiyya al-`arabiyya' - Arab nationalism is a nationalist ideology celebrating the glories of Arab civilization, the language and literature of the Arabs, calling for rejuvenation and political union in the Arab world

Saddam Hussein
President of  Ba'athist Iraq
Muammar Gaddafi
President of Libya
Its central premise is that the peoples of the Arab World constitute one nation, bound together by common linguistic, cultural, religious, and historical heritage.
It rose to prominence with the weakening and defeat of the Ottoman Empire in the early 20th century (see above).
Personalities and groups associated with Arab nationalism include the great Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser, the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party which came to power in Syria and Iraq for some years, and its founder Michel Aflaq.
Pan-Arabism is a related concept, in as much as it calls for supranational communalism among the Arab states.
ميشيل عفلق‎‎ - Michel Aflaq - 1910 – 23 June 1989) was the most influential figure in the world of Arab Nationalism, along with Salah al-Din al-Bitar.
Michel Aflaq
founder of  Ba'athism

Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party
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He was a Syrian philosopher and sociologist.
His ideas played a significant role in the development of Ba'athism and its political movement; he is considered by several Ba'athists to be the principal founder of Ba'athist thought.
He published various books during his lifetime, the most notable being 'The Battle for One Destiny' (1958) and 'The Struggle Against Distorting the Movement of Arab Revolution' (1975).
The Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party slogan "Unity, liberty, socialism" is the key tenet of Aflaq's and Ba'athist thought.
Unity meant the unification of the Arab people into one nation, the Arab Nation.
The creation of an Arab Nation would have direct implications on Arab development.

General Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr
 حافظ الأسد‎ -Ḥāfiẓ al-ʾAsad
The establishment of this new state would lead to an Arab Ba'ath (literally meaning "Renaissance").
The Arab nations of his time would only progressively "decline" if not unified; these nations had various ailments – "feudalism, sectarianism, regionalism, intellectual reactionism".
The only way to "cure" the Arab nations was, according to Aflaq, through a revolutionary movement. 
Ba'athism developed in Iraq under Abd as-Salam Muhammad `Arif, General Abdul Rahman Arif,  General Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr, and finally Saddam Hussein.
In Syria developed under حافظ الأسد‎ Ḥāfiẓ al-ʾAsad, father of Bashar al-ʾAsad, the current president of Syria.

حافظ الأسد‎ Hafez al-Assad (6 October 1930 – 10 June 2000) was a Syrian statesman, politician and general who was President of Syria from 1971 to 2000, Prime Minister from 1970 to 1971, Regional secretary of the Regional Command of the Syrian Regional Branch and Secretary General of the National Command of the Ba'ath Party from 1971 to 2000. He participated in the 1963 Syrian coup d'état which brought the Syrian Regional Branch of the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party to power, and was appointed Commander of the Syrian Air Force by the new leadership. In 1966, Assad participated in a second coup. In 1970 Assad seized power and appointed himself the undisputed leader of Syria in the period 1970–71.

Ba'athism, of course, was only one form of Arab nationalism.

Gamal Abdel Nasser
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التيار الناصري‎ - Nasserism is a socialist Arab nationalist political ideology based on the thinking of Gamal Abdel Nasser, one of the two principal leaders of the Egyptian Revolution of 1952, and Egypt's second President.
Spanning the domestic and international spheres, it combines elements of Arab socialism, republicanism, nationalism, and anti-imperialism.
In the 1950s and 1960s, Nasserism was amongst the most potent political ideologies in the Arab World.
This was especially true following the Suez Crisis of 1956 (known in Egypt, quaintly, as the Tripartite Aggression), the political outcome of which was seen as a validation of Nasserism.
Nasserism continues to have significant resonance throughout the Arab World to this day, and informs much of the public dialogue on politics in Egypt, and the wider region.
Nasserism is an Arab nationalist and pan-Arabist ideology, combined with a vaguely defined socialism, often distinguished from Eastern bloc or Western socialist thought by the label 'Arab Socialism'.
Though opposed ideologically to Western capitalism, Arab Socialism also developed as a rejection of Communism, which was seen as incompatible with Arab traditions, and the religious underpinnings of Arab society
Though mindful of the Islamic and Christian heritage of the Arab World, as with Ba'athism, Nasserism is largely a secular ideology.
'This is the revolution’s understanding of religions: love, fraternity, equality.
With equality we can create a strong homeland that knows no sectarianism, only patriotism…
We as a government, and I as president, carry responsibility for everyone in this country,
whatever their religion, whatever their origins...'

Gamal Abd El Nasser
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G A M A L   A B D  E L   N A S S E R
'T H E   L A S T   P R O P H E T'

Great Socialist People's
Libyan Arab Jamahiriya
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Muammar Gaddafi
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Less well known is Muammar Gaddafi's 'The Third International Theory', also known as the 'Third Universal Theory' (نظرية عالمية ثالثة).

It refers to the style of government proposed by Col. Muammar Gaddafi in the early 1970s, on which his government, the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, was officially based.

It was partly inspired by Arab Socialism and Arab Nationalism, and partly by the principles of direct democracy.

معمر محمد أبو منيار القذافي Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi‎ was a Libyan revolutionary and politician, and the de facto ruler of Libya for 42 years. Taking power in a 1969 coup d'etat, he ruled as Revolutionary Chairman of the Libyan Arab Republic from 1969 to 1977 and then as the "Brotherly Leader" of the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya from 1977 to 2011, when he was ousted in the Libyan civil war. After beginning as an Arab nationalist and Arab socialist, he later governed the country according to his own ideology, the 'Third International Theory'.

Green Book" (1976–1979) - Muammar Gaddafi
In the 1960s and 70s, in the countries of the Arab-Muslim East, various theories of "national brands of socialism" became widespread.
This socialism was based on the principles of nationalism, religion and equality.
The official ideological doctrine is the 'Third International Theory', described in Gaddafi's "Green Book" (1976–1979).
Copies of the "Green Book" were always on sale in Libyan book-stores in many languages.
The book is a collection of quotes of the Libyan leader, divided into three parts and covering the following vital aspects of existence: Solving the problem of Democracy (People Power); Solving the problem of the economy (Socialism); The public aspect of the "Third International Theory."
While accepting the importance of Islam in Middle Eastern Society, (at least in principle), the Third International Theory was, like other forms of Arab Socialism, fundamentally secular and progressive.

Now what you should notice is that almost all of these middle Eastern leaders were military men.
They had been brought up in the 'Ottoman tradition' of a technologically adept, progressive, secular military.
While most of these leaders gave lip-service to Islam, in truth, they thought of Islam, and the Sharia, as an impediment to the development of an advanced Western-style culture, and while they were always talking about the superiority of the Arabs, in actuality they aspired to a European, Western lifestyle for their peoples
The talk of Islam, and even Socialism (as the Russians found out to their cost) was just window dressing.
And this was quite right, as we can see from recent events in the Middle East.

محمد حسني السيد مبارك
Muhammad Hosni El Sayed Mubarak
 جماعة الاخوان المسلمين‎
gammāʿat el-Ikhwan al-muslimūn
Muslim Brotherhood

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To take Egypt as an example - the people tired of Muhammad Hosni El Sayed Mubarak (an ex-air-force general), and thought an Islamist group, جماعة الاخوان المسلمين‎ gammāʿat el-Ikhwan al-muslimūn - the Muslim Brotherhood, would solve their problems.
So, out went Mubarak.

محمد حسني السيد مبارك‎, Muhammad Hosni El Sayed Mubarak, born 4 May 1928 is a former Egyptian President, leader and military commander. He served as the fourth President of Egypt from 1981 to 2011.

Under Mubarak, however, most Egyptians had become substantially more wealthy.
In the space of twenty years a country of mud brick had become a country of brick and concrete.
Working people now had cars and motorbikes, and colour televisions, with satellite dishes, and even kids had mobile phones.
It was the beginning of the good life for the vast majority.
But the alluring, but false visions of the Internet made them feel that they were being left behind.
So they chose the  Ikhwan - the brotherhood which had been a thorn in the side of Egypt since the time of Nasser - the brotherhood, with its origins in the writings of Sayyid Qutb, the father of modern Islamic Fundamentalism and Jihadism.

سيد قطب
Sayyid Qutb
'Ma'alim fi al-Tariq
سيد قطب Sayyid Qutb (9 October 1906 – 29 August 1966) was an Egyptian author, educator, Islamic theorist, poet, and the leading member of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood in the 1950s and 1960s. In 1966 he was convicted of plotting the assassination of Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser and was executed by hanging. Author of 24 books, including novels, literary arts critique and works on education, he is best known in the Muslim world for his work on what he believed to be the social and political role of Islam, particularly in his books 'Social Justice' and 'Ma'alim fi al-Tariq' (Milestones). His magnum opus, 'Fi Zilal al-Quran' (In the Shade of the Qur'an), is a 30-volume commentary on the Quran. His writings have inspired Jihadists and Islamic Terrorists throughout the world. Many have considered him to have been a 'closet homosexual'.
iمحمد محمد مرسى عيسى العياط
Muḥammad Muḥammad Mursī

Perhaps by returning to Islam, the Egyptian people thought, Allah would be encouraged to reward them.

iمحمد محمد مرسى عيسى العياط‎, Muḥammad Muḥammad Mursī ‘Īsá al-‘Ayyāṭ (born 8 August 1951) was an Egyptian politician who served as the fifth president of Egypt, from 30 June 2012 to 3 July 2013, when he was removed by Field Marshal Abdel Fattah el-Sisi after June 2013 Egyptian protests.

The Ikhwan, of course - a gang of self-seeking, weird fundamentalists, brought the country to the edge of ruin, and so once again the Egyptian people, who are not stupid, turned to the Ottoman tradition of the officer corps.

They elected another general - General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi - and he simply rounded up members of the  Ikhwan, executed a few of them, and put the country back on the path of slow, but sustainable development.

عبد الفتاح سعيد حسين خليل السيسي‎ Abdel Fattah Saeed Hussein Khalil al-Sisi - born 19 November 1954) is the sixth President of Egypt, in office since 8 June 2014. Previously he was Commander-in-Chief of the Egyptian Armed Forces, as well as Minister of Defence, from 12 August 2012 until 26 March 2014. As head of the armed forces, he played the leading role in ousting Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi following mass protests against Morsi and his government. El-Sisi resigned from the military on 26 March 2014, announcing he would stand as a candidate in the 2014 presidential election. The poll, held between 26 and 28 May 2014, resulted in a resounding victory for El-Sisi.

Imperial Ottoman Standard
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So, because of the Ottoman connection, there is a reason why most Middle Eastern countries have been ruled by 'strong men' (usually termed 'dictators' by the West when they fail to cooperate), with a military background.
These military  'strong-men', regardless of their avowed politics, were, at heart, secular pragmatists, and this was expressed by their determination to prevent ethnic, and particularly sectarian differences from tearing apart the states which were, in fact, artificial constructions created by the Western powers - and this explains the emphasis on 'nationalism'.
Islam, of course, Islam always remained a strong force in the political lives of the various Middle Eastern and North African States, and while the rulers of these ststes gave 'lip-service' to Islam, the were determined to prevent Islam from controlling the state - and this was evidenced by their rejection of Sharia law.
The first serious problem developed in Egypt.


Hassan al-Banna founded جماعة الاخوان المسلمين‎ - gammāʿat el-Ikhwan al-muslimūn - the Muslim Brotherhood, in the city of Ismailia in March 1928 along with six workers of the Suez Canal Company, as a Pan-Islamic (Sunni), religious, political, and social movement.

Ismailia - 1920s
The Suez Canal Company helped Banna build the mosque in Ismailia that would serve as the Brotherhood's headquarters.
According to al-Banna, contemporary Islam had lost its social dominance, because most Muslims had been corrupted by Western influences.
Sharia law, based on the Qur'an and the Sunnah, were seen as laws passed down by God that should be applied to all parts of life, including the organization of the government, and the handling of everyday problems.

Hassan Al-Banna
As such the ʾIkḫwān was - and still is - a totalitarian organisation, and a Muslim form of fascism.
The ʾIkḫwān  founded social institutions such as hospitals, pharmacies, schools, etc.
Al-Banna held highly conservative views, however, on issues such as women's rights, opposing equal rights for women, but supporting the establishment of justice towards women.
The Brotherhood grew rapidly going from 800 members in 1936, to 200,000 by 1938, 500,000 in 1948.
In November 1948, following several bombings and assassination attempts, the Egyptian government arrested 32 leaders of the Brotherhood's "secret apparatus", and banned the Brotherhood.
At this time the Brotherhood was estimated to have 2000 branches and 500,000 members or sympathizers.

Cairo Fire - 1952
In 1952, members of the Muslim Brotherhood were accused of taking part in the 'Cairo Fire', that destroyed some 750 buildings in down-town Cairo – mainly night clubs, theatres, hotels, and restaurants frequented by British and other foreigners.
In 1952 Egypt's monarchy (King Farouk) was overthrown by nationalist military officers, supported by the Brotherhood, however the Brotherhood opposed the secularist constitution of the coup leaders, and in 1954 they unsuccessfully attempted to assassinate Egypt's President Gamal Abdel Nasser.
The Brotherhood was again banned, and this time thousands of its members were imprisoned.
Imprisoned Brothers were gradually released after Anwar Sadat became president of Egypt in 1970, and were sometimes enlisted to help fight Sadat's leftist opposition.
Brethren were allowed to publish the magazine 'Da'wa', though the organization remained illegal.

Assassination of President Anwar Sadat
During this time, more radical Qutb-inspired Islamist groups blossomed, and after Egypt signed a peace agreement with Israel in 1979,  these groups became confirmed enemies of Sadat.
Sadat was assassinated by a violent Islamist group 'Tanzim al-Jihad' on October 6, 1981, shortly before he had Brotherhood leaders (and many other opposition leaders) arrested.

Supreme Guide Umar al-Tilmisani
Again with a new president, (Hosni Mubarak), Brotherhood leaders (Supreme Guide Umar al-Tilmisani and others) were released from prison.
Mubarak cracked down hard against radical Islamists, but foolishly offered an "olive branch" to the supposedly 'more moderate' Brethren.

Mohammad Hosni Mubarak
The brethren reciprocated, going so far as to endorse Mubarak’s candidacy for president in 1987.
The Brotherhood dominated the student associations of Egypt, and was famous for its network of social services in neighborhoods and villages, however, the government did not approve of the Brotherhood's renewed influence (it was still technically illegal), and resorted to repressive measures starting in 1992.
In the 2000 parliamentary elections, the Muslim Brotherhood won 17 parliamentary seats.
In 2005, it won 88 seats (20% of the total compared to 14 seats for the legally approved opposition parties) to form the largest opposition bloc.
Under Egypt's emergency law Brethren could only stand as independents, but were easily identified since they campaigned under the slogan - 'Islam Is the Solution'.
During and after the 2005 election the Brethren launched what some have called a "charm offensive."
Its leadership talked about its `responsibility to lead, reform and change in Egypt.`
Following the 2011 Egyptian 'revolution', and fall of Hosni Mubarak, the Brotherhood was legalized.
On 30 April 2011, the Brotherhood launched a new party called the 'Freedom and Justice Party'.
In the First Egyptian elections after Mubarak, the candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohamed Morsi, won the election with 51.73% of the vote – over his competitor Ahmed Shafiq, the last prime minister under Mubarak's rule.
In late November 2012, offices of the Muslim Brotherhood were burned in response to Mohamed Morsi's move to outlaw challenges to his presidential authority.
On 3 July 2013 Mohamed Morsi was arrested and detained by the military following a period of widespread protests of millions of Egyptian citizens demanding the resignation of Morsi due to his failure to unite the country or lead effectively.

سيد قطب‎
Sayyid Qutb and the Brotherhood

سيد قطب‎; - Sayyid Qutb (9 October 1906 – 29 August 1966) was an Egyptian author, Islamic theorist, poet.

سيد قطب
Sayyid Qutb
Complete with his 'Hitler mustache' he was also extreme misogynist and 'closet homosexual' - and the leading member of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood in the 1950s and 60s.
Sayyid Qutb, like all members of the Brotherhood, was a fanatical anti-Semite.
In 1950 he published a book "Our Struggle against the Jews", which forms a central part of today's Islamist Antisemitism.
Even though most of his observations and criticism were leveled at the Muslim world, Qutb is also known for his intense disapproval, and actually hatred,  of the society and cultures of Europe and the United States, which he saw as obsessed with materialism, violence, and sexual pleasures.
After visiting the USA in the 1950s, Qutb criticized its materialismindividual freedoms, economic system, brutal boxing matches, "poor" haircuts (?) - superficiality in conversations and friendships,  restrictions on divorce, enthusiasm for sports, lack of artistic feeling, "animal-like" mixing of the sexes (which "went on even in churches").
He was also upset by the way Americans tended, cut and watered their lawns.
His opinion of American culture was equally critical: 

American Decadence - 1950s
'The American is primitive in his artistic taste, both in what he enjoys as art and in his own artistic works. “Jazz” music is his music of choice. This is that music that the Negroes invented to satisfy their primitive inclinations, as well as their desire to be noisy on the one hand and to excite bestial tendencies on the other.'
Qutb concluded that major aspects of American life were primitive and "shocking", a people who were "numb to faith in religion, faith in art, and faith in spiritual values altogether".

'Ma'alim fi-l-Tariq'
Qutb was obviously paranoid and terrified of women, and had many psychological problems, probably exacerbated by his overwhelming guilt with regard his homosexuality.
His experience in the U.S. is believed to have formed in part the impetus for his rejection of Western values and his move towards Islamism upon returning to Egypt.
In his book 'Ma'alim fi-l-Tariq' (Milestones), he advocated a political system that is the opposite of dictatorship—i.e. one with no government (?).
Qutb's also stated that "physical power" and jihad had to be used to overthrow governments, and attack societies, "institutions and traditions" of the Muslim - but according to Qutb 'jahili' -world.

جاهلية‎ Jahiliyyah/jāhilīyah "ignorance") is an Islamic concept of "ignorance of divine guidance" or "the state of ignorance of the guidance from God" or "Days of Ignorance" referring to the condition in which Arabs found themselves in pre-Islamic Arabia (in the non-Islamic sense), i.e. prior to the revelation of the Quran to Muhammad. The root of the term jahiliyyah is the I-form verb jahala "to be ignorant or stupid, to act stupidly". Use of the term for modern Muslim society is usually associated with Qutb's other radical ideas namely that reappearance of Jahiliyya is a result of the lack of Sharia law, without which Islam cannot exist; that true Islam is a complete system with no room for any element of Jahiliyya; that all aspects of Jahiliyya ("manners, ideas and concepts, rules and regulations, values and criteria") are "evil and corrupt".

Al-Azhar - Cairo
When Qutub was sentenced to death for conspiring to assassinate President Nasser the ulema of Al-Azhar, in Cairo, took the unusual step, following his death, of putting Sayyid Qutb on their index of heresy, declaring him a "deviant" (munharif) - which he undoubtedly was, in more ways than one.

Osama bin Laden
Regardless of the fact that the supreme authority in Sunni Islam had declared Qutub's teachings as deeply 'heretical', Qutb, after his death, influenced Islamist insurgent/terror groups in Egypt and elsewhere
His influence on Al Qaeda was felt through his writing, his followers, and especially through his brother, Muhammad Qutb, who moved to Saudi Arabia following his release from prison in Egypt, and became a professor of Islamic Studies and edited, published and promoted his brother Sayyid's work.
Osama bin Laden was a close friend of Sayyid's brother, Muhammad Qutb.
Bin Laden regularly attended weekly public lectures by Muhammad Qutb, at King Abdulaziz University.
So Islamist fundamentalist extremism, thanks to Sayyid Qutb, was born in Egypt, and has now spread, like some obscene plague, to much of the Middle East, and to a lesser extent, many other parts of the world.
Ironically, while such fundamentalism seem to be out of control in the Middle East, the Egyptians, by returning to the 'old model' of Arab Nationalism under al-Sisi, seem to have effectively bring a halt to the activities of the Ikhwan.

But what has all of this got to do with the so called 'Islamist State of Iraq and al-Sham', and its attack on Iraq ?
To understand the attack on Iraq, it is essential to understand the problem of the Sunnis and the Shia.


Shia Islam is the second largest denomination of Islam, after Sunni Islam.
The followers of Shia Islam are called Shi'ites or Shias.
"Shia" is the short form of the historic phrase شيعة علي  (Shiatu Ali), meaning "followers of Ali", "faction of Ali", or "party of Ali".
Shia Islam is based on the teachings of the Islamic holy book, the Quran and the message of the  prophet Muhammad.
The Shias believe that only the Almighty has the right to choose a representative to safeguard Islam, Quran and Shariah (Based upon verses in the Quran which stipulate this according to Shias).
Shias believe that these Quranic verses make it clear that only Allah chooses a vicegerent on Earth, therefore no one else has a choice in the matter.
This means that God's representatives like Prophets and Imams cannot be elected by common Muslims, which is why Shias disown the election and selection of Abu Bakr, Umar and Uthman by the people, to represent Islam and the Quran. 

Thus Shias do not consider Ali to be the fourth Caliph, rather the first "Imam".

Shias believe that there are numerous narrations where the prophet selected Ali as his successor.
Shia Muslims further believe that Ali, Muhammad's cousin and son-in-law, was the first of 'The Twelve Imams', and was the rightful successor to Muhammad, and thus reject the legitimacy of the first three caliphs.
The Grandsons of the Prophet Muhammad, Hasan ibn Ali and Husayn Ibn Ali are agreed upon by all Muslims to be the "leaders of all youths in Paradise."
Shias also believe that these sons of Imam Ali were the true leaders and caliphs of the Muslims.

Shrine of Imam Ali - Najaf - Iraq
Imam Ali
Shias regard Ali as the second most important figure after Prophet Muhammad.
Ali, as the successor of Muhammad, not only ruled over the community in justice, but also interpreted the Shariah Law, and its esoteric meaning.
Hence he was regarded as being free from error and sin (infallible), and appointed by God by divine decree (Nass) to be the first Imam.
Ali is known as "perfect man" (al-insan al-kamil), similar to Muhammad, according to Shia viewpoint.
As a result, Shias favor Hadiths attributed to Muhammad and Imāms, and credited to the Prophet's family and close associates, in contrast to the Sunni traditions where the Sunnah is largely narrated by the Prophet Muhammad's companions, whom Sunnis hold to all be trustworthy.
Thus the Qurʻān and Hadithinterpretation and differences in Hadith narrators are the main distinction of the Shias.

The Battle of Karbala

Battle of Karbala
The Battle of Karbala took place on Muharram 10, in the year 61 of the Islamic calendar (October 10, 680) in Karbala, in what is now known as Iraq.
On one side of the highly uneven battle were a small group of supporters and relatives of Muhammad's grandson Husain ibn Ali, and on the other was a large military detachment from the forces of Yazid I, the Umayyad caliph, whom Husain had refused to recognise as caliph. 
Husain and all his supporters were killed, including Husain's six months old infant son, and the women and children were taken as prisoners.

Immam Hussein
Shrine of Abu-Ahrar Hussein bin Ali - Karbala - Iraq
The dead are regarded as martyrs by Muslims, and the battle has a central place in Islamic history and tradition, with particular emphasis in the faith, and has frequently been recounted in Shi'ah Islamic literature.
The Battle of Karbala is commemorated during an annual 10-day period held every Muharram by the Shi'ah, culminating on its tenth day, Ashura.
It is widely regarded as an event which saved Islam.
Hussein bin Ali is credited with saving Islam from oblivion by offering timely sacrifice to draw the line of demarcation between real Islam and the version promoted by the tyrannical Yazid.

Now this all seems like ancient history but, for Arabs and Muslims in particular, one thousand years ago is the same as yesterday.

Even 'moderate' Sunnis consider Shia to be 'bad' Muslims (although they won't admit this to non-Muslims as they have to appear 'liberal').
Strict Sunnis, and Sunni Fundamentalist consider Shia to be either heretics, or more usually, non-Muslims - kuffār.

كافر‎ kāfir, (plural كفّار kuffār) is an Arabic term, usually translated as "unbeliever," "disbeliever," or "infidel." The term refers to a person who rejects God in Islam or who hides, denies, or covers the "Islamic version of truth." The practise of declaring another Muslim as a kafir is takfir. And the Quran makes it clear about how infidels should be treated:

 "Accursed wherever they are found, being seized and massacred completely." [33: 61]

So we have this huge divide between Sunni and Shia - at least it's a huge divide now.
During the Ottoman Empire, however, most Sunni and Shia managed to live together in harmony.
Strangely enough, they also managed to live in harmony in Sadam's Iraq, under the Ba'ath Party - although it must be admitted that the minority Sunna dominated the society and the state.
And in Syria, under the Ba'ath Party, until recently, Sunnis and Shia lived in harmony - although it must be admitted that the minority Shia Alawi dominated the society and the state - the opposite situation to that pertaining in Iraq..
And during Ottoman rule Jews and Moslems lived in harmony throughout the empire, and particularly in Lebanon and Palestine (now Israel and the West Bank).
So what went wrong ?

Abdul-Azeez ibn Abdullaah
Aal ash-Shaikh
The Author of this Post
and Dr Ahmed el-Tayeb
later Sheik of the al-Azhar
Well, it's simple - the development of Sunni extremism as preached by Qutb and al-Banna.
The blame for the rise of Muslim Sunni Extremism doesn't only lie with these two appalling individuals, however.
Much of the blame lies with آل الشيخ - the Al ash-Sheikhs in Saudi Aabia and شيخ الأزهر الشريف - the Grand Sheikhs of Al-Azhar in Egypt for not totally condemning and outlawing all religious teaching tending toward and encouraging Islamic extremism.

King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques
Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Abd-al-Wahhab

آل الشيخ‎ - The Al ash-Sheikh is Saudi Arabia's leading religious family. They are the descendants of Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, the 18th century founder of the Wahhabi form of Sunni Islam which is today dominant in Saudi Arabia. Within Saudi Arabia, the family is second in prestige only to the Saudi royal family, the Al Saud, with whom they formed a power-sharing arrangement nearly 300 years ago. The arrangement, which persists to this day, is based on the Al Saud maintaining the Al ash-Sheikh's authority in religious matters, and the Al ash-Sheikh supporting the Al Saud's political authority.

Grand Sheikh Mohamed Ahmed el-Tayeb.

الإمام الأكبر - The Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar is a prestigious Sunni Islam title and a prominent official title in Egypt, and is considered by some Muslims to be the highest authority in Sunni Islamic thought and Islamic jurisprudence, and holds a great influence on followers of the theological Ash'ari and Maturidi traditions world wide. The Grand Sheikh supervises on al-Azhar Mosque, and by extension Al-Azhar University and is responsible for the official religious matter aside with the grand mufti of Egypt. The current Grand Imam of Al-Azhar is Mohamed Ahmed el-Tayeb.

And not only is there the lack of condemnation, but there is also the involvement of Sunni Saudi Arabia with the terrorists, (who refer to themselves as Islamist State of Iraq and al-Sham), in the form of fighters, and more significantly huge amounts of 'petro-chemical' finance.
It should also be remembered that many of those involved 9/11 plot, and of course Osama bin Laden were a Saudi Arabian.
The Saudis, of course, were extremists from the beginning, before Qutb began preaching his pernicious doctrines, as the were the followers of Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab.

وهابية‎ Wahhābiyyah is an extremist Islamic religious cult - often described as an "extremist pseudo-Sunni movement". It aspires to return to the earliest fundamental Islamic sources of the Quran and Hadith, with inspiration from the teachings of Medieval theologian Ibn Taymiyyah and early jurist Ahmad ibn Hanbal.
In July, 2013, European Parliament identified Wahhabi movement as the source of global terrorism and a threat to traditional and diverse Muslim cultures of the whole world. Initially, Wahhabism was a movement instigated by an eighteenth century theologian, Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab (1703–1792), from Najd, The movement gained unchallenged precedence in most of the Arabian Peninsula through an alliance between Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab and the House of Muhammad ibn Saud, which provided political and financial power for the religious revival represented by Ibn Abd al-Wahhab. The alliance created the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where Mohammed bin Abd Al-Wahhab's teachings are state-sponsored, and the dominant form of Islam.

to be continued

this post is under construction