Gen. David Petraeus, Col. David Furness, and Shafiq Mubarak (far right). Mubarak served as Furness's "right hand" during a recent deployment. "I can't do anything without him," Furness said.
And who is Shafiq Mubarak? All I can find out is that he is a Pro Sol contractor (?) hired by the Marine Corps Center for Advanced Operational Culture Learning to help implement "the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, the winning of hearts and minds." At least that's how Col. Furness puts it. According to the North County Times, Mubarak didn't come to the US until 2008 -- from where the story doesn't say -- but has been working with US troops in A-stan "for much of the past decade."
How is that? Why is that? Dunno. What the story does report is that Mubarak teaches the do's and don't's of sharia -- kind of, Islam for Leathernecks.
Mubarak teaches US Marines:
Don't spit toward Mecca.
Don't urinate toward Mecaa.
Don't sleep with your boots toward Mecca.
In other words, Mubarak teaches US Marines to become intensely sensitized to the whereabouts of Mecca, and to be guided by that magnetic North for Muslims as a matter of the most personal habits and hygiene -- in accordance with sharia (Islamic law). This goes well, of course, with ISAF's guidance to all troops to revere the Koran and its teachings.
What next, prayer rugs?
Mubarak told the North County Times:
"We can't win just by fighting," said Mubarak, who came to the U.S. less than three years ago after working with American forces in Afghanistan for much of the past decade. "Sitting with tribal elders, learning their problems and helping them is crucial."
Crucial to what? Solving the problems of one set of tribal elders. Such problems, of course, are likely to differ from those of the next set of tribal elders, particularly when there is a blood feud, a la al-Hatfields and al-McCoys. Talk about tar babies. To coin a phrase: You Don't Win Hearts and Minds by Losing Your Own.
Mubarak and Tremore spent hours walking troops through the nuances of meetings, or "shuras" with key local leaders. Both stressed the importance of those meetings. ...
Mubarak taught the troops the proper way to sit during a shura. He told them they should plan on at least 30 minutes for an initial meeting, and that they should always finish their tea and eat any food presented.
And that includes all the intestinal parasites.
"If you don't, that means to them that you don't trust them, or think what they are giving you is poison or is unclean," he said.
Mubarak also said the Marines should never spit or urinate to the west, the direction of Mecca that Muslims in Afghanistan face when they pray.
In addition, when sharing a base with Afghan army troops, Marines shouldn't sleep with their feet pointed west, because that also is considered offensive, he said.
Afghan compounds of tribal elders are always neutral ground, Mubarak said. There is no need to wear protective vests, because the custom is that any person inside the compound will have the full protection of the Afghans who live there.
Mubarek said that when Marine Col. David Furness led Camp Pendleton's Regimental Combat Team 1 during a recent deployment, Furness was able to win over 200 tribal families through shuras. What began as a violent deployment ended with little shooting, Mubarak said.
At what cost? That is, in exchange for what baksheesh, what edge over the next tribe, what amounts of money or local public works projects? We don't know. How permanent this little piece of shura-peace is, we don't know, either. But it all impressed Col. Furness, who gave a service award to Mubarak in June 2011 on behalf of the Regimental Combat Team - 1st Marines (RCT-1) CULAD. In the presence of Gen. Petraeus, Col. Furness said:
"General, this is my cultural advisor, Mr. Shafiq Mubarak. Mr. Shafiq is my right hand and I can't do anything without him. Mr. Shafiq directly assists in direct engagements with Afghan leaders and political decision makers. He has been instrumental in the pursuit of the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, the winning of hearts and minds.
Or, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.