Iran also by and large left the 8th century a long time ago. Under Shah, say, it wasn't really any different from other authoritarian European regimes from a decade before.
It's almost like Islam is some kind of religion... oh wait.
It's a bit more complicated.
Ukrainian military right now basically consists of three distinct parts. One is the regular army - those are reasonably well equipped (all the usual stuff, artillery, tanks, air etc - if somewhat outdated), but poorly motivated. The other is the National Guard, which was basically recreated and stuffed with mostly ex-MVD and internal troops - these are neither well equipped nor well motivated (many of them were on the "wrong" side of Maidan).
Then there is that part of the National Guard that consists of the volunteer batallions - Azov, Dniepr, Donbas, Aidar etc. These consist mostly from people who were on Maidan and wanted to keep the fight going, but also from the newly reinvigorated far right groups like Right Sector (in particular, Azov is almost 100% neo-Nazi, and they aren't even hiding that fact - take a look at their insignia, and if you're not familiar with the symbolism, look up Schwarzezonne and Wolfsangel). Now these guys are very motivated, and they are one of the few units which sometimes even refuse to retreat against direct orders to do so, and are generally very battle efficient. However, they are not well equipped - in many cases the state didn't even issue a proper uniform, so they're wearing the stuff that was crowdsourced for them, and they have very little heavy armor or artillery.
If Russia had been "rolling tanks, armoured personnel carriers, rockets, heavy field guns, anti-aircraft guns, and airbourne [sic] troops" into Ukraine, it would have been subdued within a week at most - just as Czechoslovakia (sp) and Poland and Hungary were subdued, despite being far better organized than Ukraine today.
Czechoslovakia and Hungary were subdued in an open invasion - the Soviet troops that were rolling in on the tanks did not disguise their allegiance or which state sent them. And comparison doesn't work on many other levels. In Czechoslovakia, in particular, there was pretty much no open resistance. In Hungary, resistance was fierce, but poorly organized and very poorly equipped - basically, they had small arms, but little else, and definitely no artillery or armor. In Ukraine, the undercover Russian troops are facing the Ukrainian military, complete with UAVs, artillery, tanks and air support. It's not a "pacification" operation, it's modern warfare, almost at a full scale (the only thing that's missing is air support on the separatist/Russian side - though they already use UAVs for recog).
They are unapologetically acting like the USSR; using the old national song as the basis of russia's national anthem is like the Germans taking up "deutchland, deutchland uber alles".
Guess what the official state anthem of the Federal Republic of Germany is?..
I'm not GP, but the two tell-tale signs that I'm seeing are the spelling of "Abhasia" (direct transliteration of Russian "x" into "h" - it doesn't make sense for an English speaker, because the sounds are very different, which is why normal transliteration is "kh") and "08.08.08" (date format with dots and leading zeroes that is normally used in Russia, and it's also one of the few countries that refers to that conflict by the date alone, much like 9/11 in US).
Not all Russians live in Russia. And even in Russia, there's still mostly unfiltered Internet, you know.
85% of the citizens may be sucking Vova's dick and enjoying it, but the rest of us are not so enthused, thank you very much. So don't dismiss a point just because of the person's native language. Dismiss it based on the validity or lack thereof of his arguments.
Last time I checked, Ukraine was fighting a separatist movement that wants to liberate the east of Ukraine after a coup occured in Kiev.
"Liberate" is a funny word here. The previous leader of separatists, Alexandr Borodai, said in an interview that he does not consider himself a separatist - rather, Ukrainians are the separatists from the "Russian World", and his fight against them will only be over with the militia's tanks on the streets of Lviv.
If the separatists have the support of the majority of the local people, why would we oppose them?
They haven't shown any clear evidence that they do have the support of the majority of local people. Unlike the referendum in Crimea, the ones in DNR and LNR were so ad-hoc that their results are basically meaningless.
Here's a tip, my Russian friend: if you want to pretend to be a neutral observer on the Ukrainian conflict in an internet forum, then you'd do better to proofread your post again and again until you manage to remove the little telltale signs that your native language is Russian. No informed reader of your post above is going to be convinced you don't have a significant dog in this fight.
You know, maybe some of us should complain to Slashdot about the Obama/Poroshenko-bots that reliably and consistently troll every single story about this conflict? You know, the ones who imply that anyone who even slightly skeptical about the propaganda we're all being fed, must be Russian or a paid Kremlin propagandist?
Suck on this. I'm a native English speaker from the UK, I have never been to Russia, I have been reading Slashdot for about 14-15 years, posting for most of that time too. And the Anonymous Coward tells it like it is. Poroshenko has claimed Ukraine was invaded like ten times already. He claimed he was being "invaded" by a fucking aid convoy, including after Putin's honesty about it's contents had been verified by international journalists and the Red Cross. In fact he asserted he'd shell said convoy, so the Red Cross chickened out, but the crazy Russians just drove right in there and delivered that aid anyway.
So as a native speaker, please heed my call - let's all stop abusing the English language shall we? We know what an invasion looks like. It looks like what the USA did to Iraq. It looks like Russian flags flying above Kiev and Russian tanks rolling down the streets to the parliament building. It does not look like journalists scrabbling around presenting the testimony of a milkmaid in a farcical attempt to find an army, as the Guardian did only a few days ago. Now condemn Putin for militarily supporting the rebels if you like (though the proof of this is wafer thin as well), just be aware that this is something many countries do, including the ones that are currently being most shrill about Ukraine. So such an argument doesn't have much impact, unfortunately, though I wish we lived in a world where it did.
Just as Christianity, Islam often adapted to the circumstances. However, the original restrictions on dhimmi did include armed service and bearing arms in general, and this was enforced in the original Caliphate.
I wouldn't exactly call it voluntary. For one thing, Qu'ran is pretty harsh on people who refuse to pay it when they have the means, to the point of calling such munafiq. For another, a state-administered system of collecting it (which was not voluntary) was in place from a very early time, since the second Caliph.
But, yes, the original intent was charity, and specifically a form of guaranteed basic income.
With jizya, yes, it was positioned as a monetary compensation for lack of armed service. On the other hand, the reason why armed service was not expected was also telling: non-Muslims were prohibited from owning and bearing weapons in general.
Those quotes are correct. The problem is that taking them like that completely ignores their context. For example, take by far the most widely known verse advocating such things, known as ayat al-sayf, or the Sword Verse:
"So when the sacred months have passed away, then slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captives and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush, then if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful."
The context of this is a war that Muhammad and his followers are waging against a hostile pagan Arab tribe in Mecca (while Muhammad himself is in Medina, where he escaped from Mecca due to persecution). There was a truce in effect at that time, but it was violated by the Meccans, and Muhammad gave them four months to make amends, or else hostilities would be resumed.
Now, most Muslims today interpret this quote in that context - that it was a specific commandment given to the followers within the boundaries set by that particular conflict, and that it ceased to be relevant afterwards. Some - in particular, Salafi - interpret it the way you did, by saying that the context doesn't matter, and that the commandment is generic and applies to the entire Ummah from there on.
The governments are, in fact, fighting the propaganda war - for example, make the state-approved Islamic authorities condemn such interpretations, and issue fatwas against following them.
The Sword Verse is very widely known and there's no dispute about its authenticity. It's a matter of its interpretation in context, and contexts can vary.
No, it's not. GP is entirely correct, zakat is a tax on Muslims, jizya on non-Muslims.
Also, Islamic rulers in the past have extended the notion of "People of the Book" to pretty much any religion that fell under their control in practice - Zoroastrians, even Hindus. The only ones that they truly cannot tolerate is the ones that appeared after Islam and are derived from it or borrow from it heavily (like Yazidi, Ahmadiyya or Ba'hai).
What made you believe this is meant to target USA? ISIS has killed one American so far, and what, around 10K Syrians and Iraqis?
How about Shiite-dominated areas of Iraq, for instance? I doubt their hygiene and medicine is on par with US - can it combat such a threat?