Intro and Analysis
This latest statement from the Ba’athist-Sufi Naqshbandi Army [Jaysh Rijal al-Tariqat al-Naqshbandia: JRTN] condemning the burning alive of the Jordanian pilot Muadh al-Kasasbeh follows the usual pattern of condemning Islamic State [IS] excesses without mentioning IS by name: compare with the destruction of religious sites in Mosul and attacks on minorities in Ninawa province like the Yezidis and Christians, also condemned by the Naqshbandi Army without explicit mention of IS. Implicitly, JRTN is portraying the IS phenomenon as an agent of Iran.
But perhaps of greater interest in the statement is the glowing tribute paid to the pilot and to Jordan as a nation by JRTN. Note in comparison the condolences the group paid to the deceased Saudi king Abdullah, hailing his supposed role in “anchoring ties of the Arab brothers and connections of Islamic faith and humanity,” bringing about great changes through his actions in the “interest of the protected kingdom and the interest of our Arab and Islamic Ummah and all of humanity.” Clearly, the JRTN leadership views both Saudi Arabia and Jordan as allies even though they are actively participating in the U.S.-led coalition against IS. In contrast, the 1920s Revolution Brigades- another Sunni insurgent group of nationalist orientation that is quite close to the Naqshbandi Army, hence the front group run by the two groups (‘General Military Council for Iraq’s Revolutionaries‘)- has openly condemned the coalition for supposedly waging war on Islam and Sunni areas, and has questioned Arab states’ participation in the coalition.
That JRTN might view Jordan as an ally is understandable, given that the country provides host to Iraq Sunni insurgent leaders (witness the Amman Conference held in the summer of last year), but the relationship with Saudi Arabia is more unclear. It is possible that beneath the group’s constant re-affirmations of the necessity of ‘revolution’ and bombastic claims of coalition desperation is a realization of how badly things have gone for the group’s fortunes in losing out to IS in all major cities and towns outside of Baghdad’s control, with fear of sliding into complete insignificance as all notions of coordination and ‘alliance of convenience’ with IS quickly vanished in Mosul, Fallujah and elsewhere. Hence maybe a hope that Saudi Arabia and Jordan- as members of the coalition- can empower the JRTN with appropriate financial and logistical support and push for the group to have relevance in being recognized as an actor for Sunni interests with whom the Baghdad government may even have to negotiate. Indeed, talk of including JRTN members in the ‘National Guard’ formations may be one such avenue for the group to maintain relevance, even as that means working- at least temporarily- within the post-Saddam order the group has vociferously rejected so many times in its official discourse.
Of course, for JRTN and the central government to reach any kind of understanding is hugely problematic when JRTN is portraying IS and the ‘Safavid’ government as agents of Iran. In a similar vein notions of U.S.-Iran cooperation in Iraq to push back IS are hindered by Iran and its proxies’ portrayal of the IS phenomenon as an American conspiracy.
Oh dignified people of Iraq,
Oh brothers, people of Jordan
Oh sons of our Arab Islamic Ummah,
We were struck with serious affliction and sadness on the news of the burning of the heroic martyr the Jordanian fighter pilot who was fulfilling his obligation in defending the safe havens of truth and faithful creed as well as the holy sites of our Arab Islamic Ummah and its glorious heritage. And it is no surprise that this heroic martyr fighter belongs to a land deep-rooted in its creed and authentic in its Arabness like the brother Jordan. And it is right that all Arabness and its authenticity, all the Ummah and its depth, all righteousness and its force, all chivalry and its fairness, and all pride and its nobility should take pride in him. It is unusual that history should be made noble just as our Ummah was made noble from great men and noble heroes, when their peers diminish in every age and their zeal becomes isolated in every matter, and it is self-evident that falsehood is embroiled in a struggle against truth and is preparing armies of error against it; it has not been known that it [falsehood] is the one conquered and triumphed over: “We toss truth at falsehood, and it [truth] triumphs over it, and then it departs”- Anbiya 18 [Qur’an 21:18].
And the method that resulted in the execution of this despicable crime is not far removed from its likeness in your noble Iraq at the evil hands of sectarian and racist militias whose loyalty is to Iran in heart, mold and following of the ideological program of the Majus [Persian Zoroastrians] hateful against our Arab Islamic Ummah since King Chosroes [name for Sassanid king; common in anti-Shi’a discourse to portray Shi’a as descedants of Chosroes] cracked, his throne was uprooted and his state disappeared at the hands of our great men and leaders, the Companions of the Messenger of God- PBUH- and thus light spread in the Persian territory and around it. It is well known to any observer of history the that next to virtues he will find a vice, amid the noble ones a lowly one, in the depth of history something to be forgotten, and in the succession of blessings, agony. For Satan has misled some of their ignorant and roused them to be hateful, take the risk and take revenge for their falsehood; even as his fire has gone out and his limbs have been cut in an attempt on their part to revive the glory of the Majus, rekindle its fire, spread far and wide in the land of the Arabs, humiliate its people, and destroy their Hanif Islam, disseminating their vices, their innovations, their ambitions and their superstitions, and spreading their evil ideas, their wicked customs, but fate has turned against them, good omens for them have been frustrated, and their accounts have been lost.
And these people [those who burnt alive Muadh] are nothing but among people of this sort and all of them are loyal followers of Iran, and the link and relation between their crimes in Iraq and this repugnant crime that took our heroic martyr Muadh al-Kasasbeh is clear in evidence and signs with one method in which there is no ambiguity or doubt. The one who follows the events in Iraq and the crimes of the militias will evidently find the same treacherous method, and will see with absolute certainty that the same hands that committed evil here committed evil there. And we say that not for motive of partisan thought, ignorance, extremism or flattery but rather this is the truth visible to the eye.
On this painful, important occasion we share profound sadness with you, our brothers in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, in king, government, people and the relatives of the deceased martyr, and we support you in every misfortune because you are our brothers, our blemish, our depth, our history and a part of us. And indeed to God is what He has taken and to Him is what He has given. And every thing is in His hands in extent. Indeed we belong to God and to Him do we return; we ask God the Supreme the Almighty to cover our loss- the heroic fighting martyr- with the wideness of His mercy and place him in the highest Heaven of His Paradise… [etc.]
Leadership of the Jaysh Rijal al-Tariqat al-Naqshbandia
18 Rabi al-Thani 1436 AH
7 February 2015