Connect with us

Expert Reviews

Kashmiri Nationalism Bringing Iran, Turkey, Saudi Together Overlooking The Sectarian Rivalry: Singapore Expert

Published

on

Did you think that sectarianism was a pillar of the Saudi-Iranian rivalry? Think again, think Kashmir where the two countries’ geopolitical rivalry and Turkish ambitions cross sectarian lines.

Meet The Person Promoting Moderate Islam In Saudi Arabia

With Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey competing for Indian Kashmiri hearts and minds, Iran and Turkey’s embrace of Kashmiri nationalism is winning them sympathy among both Shiite and Sunni Muslims.

The two countries’ perception of Kashmiri aspirations as nationalist rather than religious gives them a fighting chance to counter long-standing Saudi influence in the troubled South Asian region.

The Kashmiri competition, like Kazakhstan where a Saudi-inspired apolitical and loyalist strand of ultra-conservative Islam has gained popularity, suggests that crown prince Mohammed bin Salman has not given up on religion as a soft power too despite who seeking to root his legitimacy in newly found Saudi nationalism rather than the kingdom’s ultra-conservative interpretation of Islam.

Middle-East Heading Towards a Deadly Nuclear Arms Race Thanks To US – OpEd

Prince Mohammed, since coming to office in 2015, has significantly cut back on funding and converted the kingdom’s major funding vehicle, the World Muslim League, into a group that sings his praises and propagates tolerance and inter-faith dialogue.

Nevertheless, the crown prince views the promotion of Madkhalism, a particular Saudi strand of ultra-conservatism that preaches absolute obedience to the ruler and sees the kingdom as the model of Islamic governance as a way of countering Iranian activism and the notion of an Islamic republic that recognizes a degree of popular sovereignty.

Saudi Arabia invested an estimated US$100 billion in funding of religious seminaries, cultural and higher educational institutions, media organizations and in a handful of countries militant groups as part of a more than 40-year religiously cloaked, globally waged covert war with Iran.

More recently, Turkey has sought to lay claim to leadership of the Muslim world by funding mosques and other institutions across the globe and seizing up Islamic causes like Jerusalem.

Has Pakistan Reprimanded Syed Ali Shah Geelani For Inappropriate Remarks on China?

The funding, coupled with diplomatic pressure, also aims to counter the far-flung, embattled empire of Fethullah Gulen, an Islamic preacher who lives in exile in Pennsylvania and whom Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accuses of having staged a 2016 failed military coup.

Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey’s identification of Kashmir as a battleground points to the increased importance they attribute to South and by extension Central Asia.

Image result for iran saudi turkey

In a twist of irony, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan appears to be embracing the Sufi Menzil sect, one of the largest and most powerful Sufi orders in Turkey, that is far more liberal than Saudi Arabia’s ultra-conservatism but shares with Madkhalism a rejection of politics.

India, Pakistan, Autonomy or Freedom: What is the Permanent Solution to the Kashmir Dispute?

Menzil Sufis have filled vacancies in the government bureaucracy and security services created by Mr. Erdogan’s mass purge in the wake of the failed coup of alleged followers of Mr. Gulen, according to journalist Timur Soykan, who recently published a book on a more controversial Sufi order.

Like Madkhalis, Menzils, with a history of support for the Turkish state and its military, potentially could serve as anti-dotes to Iranian Shiites’ activism in places like Kashmir where Iran is targeting the Shiite minority who account for 15% of the region’s population.

Iran and Turkey’s emphasis on nationalism rather than religion compensates to some degree for Saudi Arabia’s first starter advantage, allowing Iran in particular to make significant inroads in Kashmir.

Turkey Accuses India of Subduing Kashmir with Amarnath Yatra

Portraits of Iran’s late spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, loom large on billboards in Shiite neighbourhoods whose streets are named after Shiite martyrs. Saudi Arabia’s execution in 2016 of a prominent Shiite cleric sparked anti-Saudi protests in Kashmir.

Unlike Iran, Turkey, eager to expand economic cooperation with India, has restricted its focus in Kashmir to verbal support in international fora rather than the funding of mosques and/or schools. That has not stopped separatist groups from embracing Mr. Erdogan even if that doesn’t challenge Saudi influence on the ground.

India Using Israel’s “Palestine Strategy” To Crush Rebellion in Kashmir?

Indian journalist Asit Jolly estimated as far back as 2011 that 15 percent of Kashmir’s population was affiliated with some 700 Saudi-inspired ultra-conservative mosques. A Sufi organization put the figure ten times higher.

Ahl-e-Hadith, South Asia’s oldest Saudi-backed religious group, is believed to have funded some 150 schools, colleges, orphanages, clinics and medical diagnostic centres in Kashmir.

“Practically every village along the picturesque, poplar-lined, 60-km stretch northwest of Srinagar towards Gulmarg has one or more Ahl-e-Hadith-funded mosques. The new mosques and their attendant madrassas make for a contrasting picture with the hundreds of dilapidated mosques built over centuries in the age-old Sufi tradition,” Mr Jolly reported.

Blood Will Continue To Flow in Kashmir Until Genuine Demands Not Met: Unpatronized Analysis

“The Wahhabi influence is not new to Kashmir as followers of this Islamic practice have been there since the last 100 years. But the phenomenal growth in their influence and their far and wide reach now can be attributed only to the funding the local ‘Ahle Hadith’ have got from Saudi Arabia in the last 30 years,” said an Indian intelligence official more recently.

Added analyst Abhinav Pandya: “Kashmir is becoming the ground zero for a new geopolitical race for influence: Iran and Turkey have deep, sometimes overlapping interests, Saudi Arabia wants to ensure a return on its financial and ideological investment… The question is whether these states…will weaponize those supporters in a future proxy conflict between themselves, or between separatists and India itself.”

James M. Dorsey is a senior fellow at Nanyang Technological University’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, an adjunct senior research fellow at the National University of Singapore

Advertisement
Advertisement

Facebook

FEATURED

PAK-DA-RUSSIA PAK-DA-RUSSIA
Featured2 hours ago

Rafales, F-35s, J-20s or Su-57s: Which Air Force Operates The World’s Fastest Fighter Jets?

Ahead of the dawn of sixth-generation fighter jets including Britain’s “Tempest”, US’ secret fighter under NGAD program, and proposed Russian...

Trillion-Dollar-Infra Trillion-Dollar-Infra
Americas5 hours ago

“Shut-Up Man!”: Donald Trump Has A Face-Off With Joe Biden At US Presidential Debate

US President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden clashed Tuesday evening during a political showdown that repeatedly broke down...

rafale-jets rafale-jets
Featured6 hours ago

After The Rafale Fiasco, How Will Indian Armed Forces Benefit From The Removal Of Offset Clause?

The Rafale fighter jets were back in the media limelight when the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) reprimanded...

S400-VS-F35 S400-VS-F35
Americas15 hours ago

Inside America’s Trillion Dollar Disaster – How The US’ F-35 Jets Emerged From The Ashes?

The United States currently houses the most sought after and probably the most potent fighter jets in the world, the...

TURKEY TURKEY
Featured16 hours ago

Armenia Threatens To Shoot-Down Turkish F-16s With Russian Iskandar Missiles

In a severe escalation of tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan, Armenian Ministry of Defense reported that an Armenian jet was...

Sargsian-Armenia Sargsian-Armenia
Expert Reviews1 day ago

Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict: Why Armenia Needs To Pull-Out From Occupied-Regions Of Azerbaijan: OPED

The Armenia-Azerbaijan Upper-Karabakh conflict was sparked with the open territorial claims of Armenians to Azerbaijan's historical lands, as well as ethnic provocations in...

AMCA-DRDO AMCA-DRDO
Featured1 day ago

Indian 5th-Gen Aircraft To Be Fast-Tracked As DRDO, French Tech Giant Safran Set To Join Hands

As India looks to build its future fifth-generation fighter within its national boundaries, the country’s Defence Research and Development Organisation...

rafale-jets rafale-jets
Europe1 day ago

4.5 Gen Rafale Fighter Jets Find A Freakish Challenger In Ageing Italian AV-8B Harriers

With Greece set to receive its Dassault Rafale fighter jets from France, Turkey has also been beefing up its defence...

Capital-of-Israel-Jerusalem Capital-of-Israel-Jerusalem
Featured1 day ago

How Sworn Enemies Pakistan & Israel Are Supporting Azerbaijan While Armenia Gets Russian & Indian Backing?

The tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia are at its peak with deadly attacks that shook the Armenian-controlled Karabakh in the...

F-35-INDIA F-35-INDIA
Americas2 days ago

Not F-35 Jets or F-22 Raptors, This Is The World’s 1st Stealth Aircraft & Still The Fastest Ever

The United States along with Russia are front-runners when it comes to devising modern technology and blending it with state-of-the-art...

Advertisement