Readers may recall that I recently interviewed the Egyptian jihadi cleric Abu Anas al-Masri who is currently based in northwest Syria. In that interview we discussed his view of the current situation in northwest Syria as well as the status of the global jihad.
Here, I asked for his take on the partial U.S. withdrawal from Syria's northeastern borders with Turkey and the greenlight U.S. president Trump gave for Turkey to launch an operation against the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). I posed the following two questions:
- Will these operations benefit the Muslims in al-Sham (Syria)?
- Do you prefer for the victory of the Turks over the SDF?
Masri has responded to me in the form of an essay. In short, he makes the following points:
- The recent developments are part of God's arrangement for His believing allies as He makes the enemies preoccupied with each other.
- The American withdrawal superficially looks like an individual Trump decision in a dysfunctional administration in light of internal opposition to it. However, the decision is a strategic one that goes beyond Trump and reflects the receding of American hegemony (which has occurred against America's will) with other evidence to show for it such as the planned withdrawal from Afghanistan. God willed to lower the Americans in their haughtiness before they should bring their forces home.
- The Turkish operations have benefits for the Muslims in al-Sham: for instance, in reducing the grip of the atheist SDF (/PKK) on the Sunnis living in its areas. The Muslim women held prisoner by the SDF could also hopefully be freed. Further, the Turkish operations could distract the Turks from their presence in Idlib, perhaps allowing the mujahideen there to expel the occupying Turkish presence there.
- Despite these benefits, participating in the operations themselves is not permitted. In the end, the Turks are apostates who have inflicted great harm to the Muslims in al-Sham. So in terms of the actual Turkey-SDF fight, we ask God to destroy the oppressors with the oppressors.
Below is Masri's essay for me that I have translated in full. Any parenthetical insertions in square brackets are my own.
The Turkish-Kurdish War and the Divine Arrangement for the Oppressed
Praise be to God the Powerful, the Vanquisher, the Glorious, the Mighty
Who folds the night upon day,
Who alone directs the fates
And has placed His Sunan in His Universe that no one can reject,
proceeding with gracefulness through the time and ages.
Exalted is He who creates what He wills and chooses what has been best for them.
No one can overcome His affair or obstruct His ruling.
In His hand is the transformation of the night and day,
And He is the One who has subjected the sea in order for the ship to run in it by His command and He is the One who has subjected the days and the One who has subjected the Sun and Moon and has subjected the night and day.
And if you count God's bounties you will not be able to enumerate them. Indeed man is unjust and ungrateful.
Then as for what follows:
We say and in God is guarantee of success:
God Almighty has said: 'The similitude of those who have taken helpers besides God is the spider that has taken up a houses and the weakest of houses is the house of the spider, if they knew' (al-Ankabout 41). This is the similitude God has applied to the people in His revealed Book the Qur'an to which falsehood does not come before it or behind it, that they may know and understand and consider.
So the picture that you ask about has aspects, the most prominent of which is that God (Exalted and Lofty is He) preoccupies our enemies with our enemies and God (Almighty and Exalted is He) has an arrangement for us.
. So here is America going out and slipping away as the plague-stricken snake from the corners of Syria in a suspicious exit, revealing the receding of the hegemony and revealing a shrinking after expansion and weakness in military, economic and political force, and a retreat into a conceitedness punctured by open disagreements that we have not seen except among the small, weak states that God has made to be preoccupied with themselves, indicating the dysfunction of the administration and a disturbance in the means of taking decisions. And the wondrous thing is that the opposition came this time within the American administration itself and not from the adversaries, in a decision that seems to be individual from a reckless and crooked president on the pretext of the return of the children of the Americans safe and sound to the homeland. And he should have been thanked rather than opposed, but we think that this decision was cooked up at a higher level than the level of the administration that rules America. It has come from the strategic decision makers and the entity that rules behind the scenes and is above the position of the president and every president.
And the president- whoever the president may be- is only a translation for the decisions of this entity responsible for the degree of firmness of the strategies and their course in a considered path from which no president leaves. So they want to show to us that the partial withdrawal decision came as a matter of choice even if it seemed as though it is a crooked choice through a reckless president in disfavor.
But what is apparent to us is that America's partial exit from the Syrian equation was an exit of necessity in spite of the haughty 'abomination of desolation' inflated with falsehood [i.e. America: the reference is Biblical].
. For after the moving of the American air command centre from Qatar to South Carolina, and in the same context, the commander of the joint centre for air and satellite operations- Frederick Coleman: 'Iran has referred through multiple sources to its determination to attack American forces, and frankly, with the retreat of the war against the Da'esh organization and as we continue to operate through a probable peace process in Afghanistan, the region has begun to calm down and perhaps will be more stable than it has been for decades, with the exception of Iran.'
(Of course Frederick is justifying the accursed retreat for them and portraying it in a logical justified picture but clearly receding is being sprayed from it and humiliation drips from it and plucked feathers are dispersed from it).
. And after intense efforts to establish peace in Afghanistan and panting behind the Taliban to hasten the peace process, which has shown America is leaving defeated against its will however much it tries to beautify the agreement between it and the Taliban. And it seems that the latter has also been burdened by the war so it has compensated by participating in that beautification process to help America in establishing and raising the desire to hurry to leave, leaving behind it its allies to meet their black fate.
. And here again it is leaving the Syrian equation or almost doing so, relinquishing its promises and abandoning its Kurdish allies to meet a difficult fate.
. And as proof of these abandonments of allies is what McGurk said whose resignation came a few days after the American defence and justice ministers resigned in the twelfth month of the last year- and he was Washington's envoy for the international coalition to fight the Dawla [Islamic State] organization, as he said: 'The results of lack of confidence in the White House will be for what is beyond Syria, and will diminish the value of the 'American handshake.' Trump said that we will wage war on the Dawla organization if it reappears, but with whom will we wage war against it? Who are the allies who will accept that? Who will fight in exchange for our guarantees?'
. McGurk who announced frankly that his resignation came because of President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw the forces from Syria.
. The decision that was delayed to save the face of the 'abomination of desolation' of America as the description of it has come in the traces of the People of the Book and their books, and despite that the statements of the crooked president appeared to allude to and indeed make clear the receding of the American hegemony and also reveal a defeatist spirit. For Trump said on Monday 7 October 2019: that the time has come to bring back the American soldiers and leave these stupid wars that have no end and many of them tribal.
. And Trump likewise comments on the decision of his administration to withdraw American forces from the north of Syria, saying that 'it is very expensive to continue supporting the Kurdish forces allied with the U.S. in the region in which they are fighting Da'esh.'
. He also said in a series of tweets through his own page on 'Twitter': 'The Kurds fought with us, but huge sums of money and equipment were paid out to undertake that.' And he said: 'The time has come for us to leave these stupid wars that have no end and return our soldiers home.'
And we say: has the time come that America is bringing back its army and arrogance to their islands as the reviver of jihad Sheikh Osama bin Laden advised them?
But when Bin Laden advised them at the time: had they taken his advice, they would have gone out from our land and returned to their islands with glory, but God willed humiliation for them and that they would indeed return to their islands and that the Muslims would indeed attack them so that the words that are not articulated out of arbitrary whim should be fulfilled, in what the noble companion Tamim bin Aws al-Dari (may God be pleased with him) narrated: he said: the Messenger of God (SAWS) said: 'This matter will certainly reach what the night and day have reached, and God will leave no house (built or tent) without God bringing into it this religion in glorious might or lowly humiliation: a might by which God makes Islam mighty, and by which God makes kufr [disbelief] lowly'- narrated by Imam Ahmad and al-Tabarani and al-Baihaqi, and deemed authentic by al-Hakem and the 'alama al-Albani.
. America's abandonment of the Kurds to face their fate after they relied on their being fortified with the spider's house and the abomination of desolation.
Definitively it is in the determined time by God's permission for God to arrange the matter of His allies. For in the two Authentic collections on the authority of Abu Huraira (may God be pleased with him): he said: the Messenger of God (SAWS) said: 'Indeed God will support this religion through the immoral man.'
The fact the secularist, immoral and gravely immoral Erdogan- the apostate from the religion of Islam who legislates without the One who has the right to legislate alone and that is the Sovereign Lord the Exalted- has gone to fight the Kurds at this time: in it God will place good by His grace and mercy.
. And the Ahl al-Sunna believe that the fateful determinations of God are all good.
. So the Turks' fighting the atheists has in it reduction of the grip of the PKK atheists on the Ahl al-Sunna in these areas and this is of good. For the deeds of these atheists has got to a far point that many now of those following know and there is no reason to mention it as it has spread.
. And reducing the grip of the atheists and their defeat should hopefully be a reason for freeing the Muslim women, the freeing of whom the Muslims have been too weak to do and have fallen short in doing.
. Also the preoccupation of the apostate Turks with fighting these atheists may distract them from their presence in the points of the liberated areas in the northwest: Idlib and its environs, which may enable the mujahideen to begin their campaign against the Turks in these areas which we think, if it begins, will have its great negative impact on the kafir and criminal Turkish occupation of our areas, and its positive impact on our jihad, in durability and expansion.
. So we consider this fight to be from the arrangement of God (Almighty and Exalted is He) for the people of His religion by making the disbelievers preoccupied with the disbelievers.
So in this operation will be good for the Sunni Muslims in al-Sham if God wills for the long term and in Idlib for the short term.
. But it should not be understood from the fact that we sense good for the interest of the Muslims in this battle that we permit participating in it in any circumstances, even in a portion of a word.
As for your question: do you prefer the victory of the Turks over the SDF?
I say: I think from what has come before the answer has been known.
. And I say despite the convergence of the enemies in their different forms, colours and enmities, it has not harmed us- we, the Ahl al-Sunna in al-Sham- such as the secularist apostate Turks have harmed us in the path of secularist Turkey's interest.
. The apostate criminal Erdogan sold out the Syrian cause and he was not content with selling out but also he conspired with all the sides against us in every way.
. Once by heeding the requests of his American master.
. Once by heeding the requests of his Russian master.
. Once by his serving the atheist nations [UN] in being a guarantor to implement the resolutions of the atheist nations.
. Once by his support for the traitor factions to assist him in the betrayal.
. And once by building the concrete wall out of greed on big parts of the borders.
So in answer to your question we say:
Oh God, destroy the oppressors with the oppressors and the atheists with the apostates and the disbelievers with the disbelievers and arrange our affairs, oh Lord of the Worlds.
And the last of our calls is praise be to God the Lord of the Worlds.