Canada's Middle East policy, whether Conservative or Liberal, is shameful. We back Israel on everything (just look at our voting record in the UN General Assembly if you don't believe that) and, on the Muslim side, we support the Saudis and their underlings, the Gulf States. Why?
The Saudis represent the cornerstone of Sunni Islam which, to Israel, is the lesser of two weevils, the worst being Shiite Islam represented by Iran. Hence we too side with the Saudis and villify the mullahs of Tehran.
Sunni, Shia, Salafi, Wahhabi, Sufi - to a Westerner it can be so confusing.
In the wake of a murderous attack on a Sufi mosque in Egypt, Deutsche Welle
published a very helpful examination of the parties to the turmoil rocking the Middle East
and it's a perspective that lays bare Canada's hypocrisy in denouncing Iran while giving the Saudis a convenient pass.
First of all, a quick look at the recent terrorist targets, the Sufi, known in some corners as the "whirling Dervishes."
Sufism is a mystical and acetic Islam practiced by tens of millions of Muslims. Known as "Tasawwuf" in the Muslim world, in the West it is often erroneously thought of as a separate sect.
Sufism is more prominent among Sunnis, but there are also Shiite Sufi orders, or "tariqa."
Followers of Sufism believe they can become closer to Allah through inner purification and introspection. They do this by meditating and receiving guidance from their spiritual leaders, or "murshid" (guide).
Adherents of Sufism follow the five pillars of Islam just as other practicing Muslims. They declare faith in one God Allah and Mohammed as his messenger, pray five times a day, give to charity, fast and perform the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca.
Sheikh Esref Efendi described Sufism for DW.
"The Sufis are Muslims and live Islam in perfection with body and soul. The body of Islam is Sharia, the law, and soul of Islam is Sufism, spirituality. For Sufis, Sharia is indispensable, because law provides order in life and Sufism provides for joy in life. The daily remembrance of God in the dhikr and the different forms of meditation in the community, strengthen the conscious feeling of closeness to God and the charity for the other."
He continued: "Sufis adhere to the prophet's tradition of loving every creature for the sake of the Creator's love. So they overlook the mistakes and blemishes of the people they encounter and only look at the light of God in them. By recognizing the light of God, the Sufis practice forgiveness of mistakes of man."
And then there's the Muslim bad boys, oddly enough our allies, the devotees of Sunni Wahhabism which just happens to be the state religion of Saudi Arabia.
The 18th Century saw the emergence of a new puritanical Islamic ideology and movement on the Arab peninsula that would later give birth to violent extremist groups such as al-Qaeda and IS.
Wahhabism sought to purge Sunni Islam of accretions and innovations such as the widespread Sufi practice of venerating saints and visiting tombs and shrines. The goal was to create a "pure" Islam.
The Wahhabi movement allied with the House of Saud, which eventually established the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932.
From the 1960s onward, Saudi and Arab Gulf oil wealth helped fuel the global expansion of Wahhabism ideology, which is often associated with hardline Salafism.
Salafist jihadists have repeatedly targeted Sufis, deeming them heretics. They have also targeted Christians, Shiites and others they deem apostates.
Al-Qaeda linked militants in 2012 destroyed ancient Sufi shrines in Timbuktu, Mali, drawing international condemnation. But IS that has taken the jihadist violent ideology further.
Earlier this year, an IS suicide bomber killed more than 70 people at a Sufi shrine in Pakistan.
WTF, why are we backing these guys?
Wahhabism vs everything else
For centuries, most of the Muslim world has accepted Sufism, a stance that has been supported by leading mainstream Sunni Muslim scholars and centers of learning.
"The current disputes in the Middle East are not really between 'Sufism' and 'extremism,' but between Wahhabism and everything else," said Winter, adding that mainstream Sunni Islam advocates tolerance and peace.
As Sheikh Esref Efendi explains, IS only sees perceived violations within Islam and "not the people and the light in the people, and therefore call Sufis traitors of Islam."
"IS thinks that any wrong must be punished. They think and commit even the greatest sin of Islam: They declare themselves Gods who can decide on life and death and use violence to kill."
As they say, "lest we forget." Let's remember a few things. The terrorists behind the "embassy bombings" were Sunni Islamist radicals, Wahhabists. The gang that bombed the USS Cole, the same bunch. al Qaeda, al Nusra, Isis, Boko Haram and whatever bunch next crops up, yeah Wahhabists. The 9/11 bombings, of course. Every major terrorist attack across Europe these past several years, radical Sunni Islamists.
So why haven't we gone for the head of the snake and laid waste to the Saudi princes and the Gulf State sheikhs and emirs? We might also ask why our other ally, Israel, is siding with these guys. We might ask but I'm damned sure we won't.