Clerics denounce burning alive of pilot as un-Islamic

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Updated 10 February 2015

Clerics denounce burning alive of pilot as un-Islamic

DUBAI/AMMAN: Muslim clerics widely condemned the burning to death of a Jordanian pilot by Islamic State, saying such a form of killing was considered despicable by Islam, no matter the context.
Islamic State militants released a video on Tuesday appearing to show captured pilot Mouath Al-Kasaesbeh being burnt alive in a cage. Jordan, which has participated in a US-led military campaign to bomb Islamic State positions, responded overnight by executing two Al-Qaeda convicts on death row.
Egypt’s top Muslim authority, the 1,000 year old Al-Azhar university revered by Sunni Muslims around the world, issued a statement expressing “deep anger over the lowly terrorist act” by what it called a “Satanic, terrorist” group.
The Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar, Ahmed Al-Tayeb, said the killers themselves deserved to be “killed, crucified or to have their limbs amputated.”
Saudi cleric Salman Al-Odah wrote on his Twitter account: “Burning is an abominable crime rejected by Islamic law regardless of its causes.”
“It is rejected whether it falls on an individual or a group or a people. Only God tortures by fire,” he added.
The Islamic State posted a religious edict on Twitter, which ruled that it is permissible in Islam to burn an infidel to death.

Shocking
But even clerics sympathetic to the jihadist cause said the act of burning a man alive and filming the killing would damage Islamic State, an Al-Qaeda offshoot which controls wide territory in Syria and Iraq, and is also known as ISIL or ISIS.
“This weakens the popularity of Islamic State because we look at Islam as a religion of mercy and tolerance. Even in the heat of battle, a prisoner of war is given good treatment,” said Abu Sayaf, a Jordanian Salafist cleric also known as Mohamed Al-Shalabi who spent almost ten years in Jordanian prisons for militant activity including a plot to attack US troops.
“Even if the Islamic State says Muath had bombed, and burnt and killed us and we punished him in the way he did to us, we say, OK but why film the video in this shocking way?” he told Reuters. “This method has turned society against them.”
SITE, a US-based monitoring service, quoted Abdullah bin Muhammad Al-Muhaysini, whom it described as a Saudi jihadi, as saying on Twitter it would have been better if Kasaesbeh’s captors had swapped him for “Muslim captives.” His killing would make ordinary people sympathetic to Kasaesbeh, he said.
Still, some admirers of Islamic State cheered the killing. In a Twitter message, a user called Suhaib said: “To any pilot participating in the crusader coalition against the holy warriors — know that your plane might fall in the next mission. Sleep well!“
The killing was denounced in the Arab press. The pan-Arab Al-Hayat newspaper published the report on its front page under the headline “Barbarity.”
Saudi Arabia’s Arabic daily Al-Riyadh newspaper wrote that the Islamic state had “deepened its savagery and its bloody approach” by burning Kasaesbeh.

(Reporting by Sami Aboudi, Michael Georgy and Omar Fahmy in Cairo, Sylvia Westall in Beirut, Noah Browning in Ramallah)


Ankara accuses Tehran of betrayal: Is the alliance of convenience collapsing? 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin hold talks on Syrian crisis at the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, on Tuesday. (AFP)
Updated 52 min 42 sec ago

Ankara accuses Tehran of betrayal: Is the alliance of convenience collapsing? 

  • Erdogan says Iran betraying the consensus between the two countries

ANKARA: Recent developments on the ground in Syria may be proof of the demise of the already fragile partnership between Turkey and Iran, the two guarantor states of the Astana process alongside with Russia. On Monday, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi announced that Iran rejected any move from Turkey to establish military posts inside Syria, and emphasized that the integrity of Tehran’s key regional ally should be respected.
Prior to departing for Sochi, to meet with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said: “I condemn Iran’s stance on Operation Peace Spring. Unfortunately, there are splintering voices rising from Iran. This situation disturbs my colleagues and myself.”
Erdogan also accused Iran of betraying the consensus between the two countries, after Tehran condemned Turkey’s ongoing operation in northern Syria against Syrian Kurdish forces and demanded “an immediate stop to the attacks and the exit of the Turkish military from Syrian territory.”
The statements are considered by experts another sign that the alliance of convenience between the two regional competitors is ending, with their regional interests beginning to conflict.
Iran has always been a close ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad, and has been keen to engage Syrian Kurds, Assad’s government and Turkey in dialogue following Ankara’s offensive into northern Syria, within the framework of the Adana Agreement as a legal framework to establish security along the border.
Tehran also held surprise military drills near the Turkish border on the same day Turkey launched its operation into northern Syria.
Dr. Michael Tanchum, senior fellow at the Austrian Institute for European and Security Studies, said: “With the removal of US troops in northern Syria, which both Ankara and Tehran opposed for different reasons, Turkey and Iran’s conflicting strategic interests are now naturally coming to the forefront.”
Moreover, according to Tanchum, Iran has already fought elements of the paramilitary forces now that are now partnering with Turkey.
“Tehran is distressed that such elements are being empowered. While Iran needs Turkish cooperation in the face crippling US sanctions, Iran needs Russia’s cooperation much more,” he told Arab News.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi says Iran rejected any move from Turkey to establish military posts inside Syria, and emphasized that the integrity of Tehran’s key regional ally should be respected.

• Iran has already fought the elements of the paramilitary forces that are now partnering with Turkey.

However, Tanchum thinks that the idea Tehran would triangulate between Ankara and Moscow as a way of preserving its own position in Syria seems quite unlikely.
“If Iran has to choose between Turkey and Russia in Syria, it will choose Russia. In this sense, the previous dynamics of the Astana process are no longer in place,” he said.
However, Dr. Bilgehan Alagoz, lecturer at Istanbul Marmara University’s Institute for Middle East Studies, said that rumors about the death of the Iranian-Turkish alliance in Syria may be a bit exaggerated, at least for now.
For Alagoz, Iran is hesitant about cooperation between Turkey and the US, which has the possibility of creating a confrontation against Iran’s interests in Syria.
“On the other hand, Iran is uncomfortable with the US military presence in Syria. Therefore, Iran is facing a dilemma,” she told Arab News.
According to Alagoz, at this point Iran needs to pursue diplomacy with both Turkey and Russia.
“Thus, I do not think that the Iranian statements against Turkey will continue for a long time,” she added.
With the civil war now in its eighth year in Syria, Assad’s forces have gradually gained control of strategic cities in northwestern Idlib province, like Khan Sheikhoun, with Russian and Iranian support. The Syrian regime also attacked Turkish military observation posts in the region over the summer.
In the meantime, in a surprise decision on Monday evening, Turkey appointed former Halkbank executive Hakan Atilla, who was sentenced to prison in the US over Iranian sanctions breaches, as the new CEO of the Istanbul Stock Exchange.