by Caroline Glick
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.
It may be the truth, but it was definitely undiplomatic. New York Daily News:
A top U.S. general in Afghanistan has been canned after he made critical remarks about Afghan President Hamid Karzai, at one point calling the leader "isolated from reality."
Top U.S. Commander in Afghanistan Gen. John Allen issued a statement on Friday saying Maj. Gen. Peter Fuller has been relieved of his duties following his "inappropriate public comments."
Fuller made the off-the-cuff remarks during an interview with Politico. The No. 2 general in charge of training characterized Afghan leaders as erratic and ungrateful.
He also blasted Karzai's recent assertion that Afghanistan would side with Pakistan if war were to break out with the U.S.
"Why don't you just poke me in the eye with a needle! You've got to be kidding me," Fuller told the political website in an interview published on Thursday. "I'm sorry, we just gave you $11.6 billion and now you're telling me 'I don't really care?'"
He also ripped Afghans who he says have made unreasonable requests for U.S. help.
"You can teach a man how to fish, or you can give them a fish," Fuller was quoted as saying. "We're giving them fish while they're learning, and they want more fish! (They say,) 'I like swordfish, how come you're giving me cod?' Guess what? Cod's on the menu today."
Allen said Fuller's remarks were not representative of the Untied States and its mission.
At this point, I'm wondering why we even care what Karzai thinks. A more concrete signal of our discontent would be to start grooming someone else for the top spot. If Karzai thinks we're going to abandon him, he may become more manageable. He still needs us more than we need him.
America's foreign policy is clearly not working. The world, and the U.S. itself, are not any safer than they were three years ago, the military is still mired in Afghanistan, Libya's Gaddafi dictatorship is likely to be replaced by a sharia-based regime, and Pakistan is turning against the U.S., while China is rising both economically and militarily, and Russia is resurgent.
Despite Hillary Clinton's claims to the contrary, Obama's foreign policy has failed completely and is making America less safe. Thus, it is time for a new foreign affairs approach. The purpose of this article is to lay out such a proposal. It borrows certain principles from the Reagan administration, but it is designed around the 21st-century world.
As a number of readers have rightly stated in comments to several previous articles, the U.S. should not be policing the world and shouldn't be an empire, but it should invest adequately in defense (not offense). AT readers also seem to agree that the U.S. government (including the DOD) should not be involved in nation-building under any circumstances.
I wholly concur with these opinions.
The overriding guiding principles for U.S. foreign policy should be:
- Firstly, while America cannot afford to isolate itself from the world and retrench behind its borders, neither can it try to remold the entire world in its image or try to enact grandiose "Democratize the Middle East" schemes. There are limits to what a superpower -- even the U.S. -- can do.
- The overriding goal must always be to defend and advance American interests. Whenever a decision on any issue (e.g., signing a treaty, giving aid, or committing American troops to combat) has to be made, the choice must be the one that best protects American interests.
Next, we must define the purpose (mission) of the U.S. military, and thus give it a clear mission statement. The role of the United States military should be to protect U.S. soil, citizens, interests, and crucial allies. That's it.
Nothing else should be the U.S. military's task. Nation-building, democratizing the world, and righting every wrong on this planet are not the purposes of America's Armed Forces.
America also needs clear rules about when and where the U.S. military should be used in combat. The best guidelines on this subject are contained in the Weinberger Doctrine, developed by Caspar Weinberger in 1984. Wholly endorsed by President Reagan (and later refined by the "Powell Doctrine"), the Weinberger Doctrine instructs us that:
To which I would only add that once American troops are committed to a truly necessary war, they must receive all the training, equipment, supplies, and funding to accomplish their job, and no punches should be pulled to defeat the enemy. No restrictive ROE. No kid gloves. You either try to vanquish your enemy with all means at your disposal, or you don't fight at all.
However, if American troops have been involved in the wrong war, the president should not refrain from disengaging them from it. When you make a mistake, the only right thing to do is to correct it (as Reagan did in Lebanon in 1983), not to perpetuate it and throw good money after bad.
Accordingly to these principles:
The U.S. should not try to, and cannot afford to, involve itself in grandiose world democratization schemes, nation-building, or peacekeeping where American interests are not at stake (e.g., in the Balkans and Uganda). Such needless crusades only bleed the U.S. military needlessly and drain the Treasury without offering any chance of success. America's hopeless military adventures in Uganda, Pakistan, and Afghanistan should be ended quickly.
Next, the entire network of America's alliances and defense commitments should be reexamined. Alliances that have passed the test of time should be kept, as should commitments to loyal, useful allies. NATO, however, has long outlived its usefulness and needs to be abolished. The U.S. should keep its "special relationship" with Britain and continue to supply it with whatever weapons it needs. However, continental European countries should start defending themselves on their own. The EU collectively has a larger GDP than the U.S., so it can surely afford such measures.
Similarly, all multilateral organizations of which the U.S. is a member need to be reviewed. Like NATO, the U.N. and the IMF have outlived their usefulness. The U.S. needs to withdraw from them promptly.
The U.S. also needs to withdraw from any treaty that does not advance American interests. The first should be the New START, whose nuclear arsenal cut requirements and constraints on missile defense are damaging to America's national security.
Next, America's entire network of foreign bases and list of deployments abroad should be reviewed. Why, almost 20 years after the USSR's collapse, does the U.S. have bases in Germany and Italy? Why is there still a four-star Combatant Command in Europe? The world center of gravity is in the Pacific Rim, not in Europe.
The U.S. military must be funded adequately to protect America. Politicians should never play budget games with defense, even during a time of budgetary crisis. Defense needs, not budgetary constraints, should determine the size and composition of the defense budget. The federal government needs to determine what the threats to America and its interests are, then how to face off these threats, then what resources are needed to accomplish that, and finally sum their costs up. The result should be the defense budget topline. That's how the Reagan administration designed defense budgets.
Significant reforms of the DOD should be undertaken along these lines. All defense needs must be funded adequately, but some programs and missions need to be prioritized above others. The #1 priority should always be nuclear deterrence, followed by missile defense (#2) and long-range strike (#3). The first two are essential for America's very survival (a nuclear, biological, or EMP attack would threaten the nation's very existence), while the third is a mission the military will likely have to undertake frequently in a world littered with access-denial weapons.
In conclusion, Obama and his predecessors have made a huge mess of America's foreign policy. But it can be fixed using the principles outlined above, as shown in the several examples listed. I sincerely hope Republican presidential candidates will consider fixing U.S. foreign policy among their first tasks.
Earlier this year the present writer exposed the plans of prominent Muslim professionals and academics in the USA to exploit the American legal system by filing lawsuits, even frivolous ones, that would serve primarily, no matter what the merits of the case, to bring to the attention of the public the plight of the Palestinians and the evils of their Zionist oppressors. Such exploitation of our legal system by American Muslims and their supporters for political goals, now known as “lawfare,” is not limited to the politics of the Arab-Israel conflict. For almost a decade, Muslim political action committees and other Muslim social and legal organizations have exploited our court system with lawsuits about alleged religious or racial discrimination against Muslims.
The entry “Muslims sue” into Google brings up a surprisingly long list of references to individual Muslims or Muslim organizations, such as CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) and ISNA (Islamic Society of North America), that are suing a variety of individuals, employers, airlines, theatres, school districts, states, universities and even the FBI for religious discrimination or harassment.
Certainly some suits are legitimate, but some look very much like they are frivolous, intended only to harass the accused and create a substantive or at least symbolic victory for Islam.
Here are a few examples:
Muslim tenants harass an Anaheim apartment manager then sue when the manager evicts them.
Muslim neighbors sue an Austrian retiree for yodeling while mowing his lawn.
Muslim female employees sue Abercrombie and Fitch over their right to wear a hejab despite the fact that the hejab violates the A&F dress code.
Muslim female employees sue McDonalds over its dress code which is incompatible with the hejab, and later add to their lawsuit the demand that the McDonalds store in which they work should serve no bacon.
Muslim female workers sue Disneyland because the Disneyland costume dress code does not accommodate the hejab. These workers were offered jobs in Disneyland concessions that did not require a costume, but refused.
Female Muslim workers at a Whirlpool appliances plant sued because they were fired due to their demand for prayer breaks during work time. It is important to note that there is no fixed schedule for when the Islamic 5 prayers per day must be said, so one could pray five times a day before and after work.
The “flying imams” incident on US Airways flight 300 on 11/20/06 still reverberates as the lawsuit, filed by the imams and resolved in 2009, threatens to imperil anyone who alerts authorities to a Muslim’s suspicious behavior.
The Fox Theatre in Atlanta was already booked for the date that a Muslim group wanted; but the group sued anyway, alleging religious discrimination because they were denied the right to have a post-Ramadan party there on 9/11/2010.
A teacher read a Christmas story to her fourth-grade elementary school class in a Delaware public school and Muslim parents sued the entire school district for endorsing Christianity and creating a hostile environment for Muslims.
Two days after Oklahoma passed a law banning Shari’ah (Islamic religious law) in state courts (with 70% voting in favor of the ban), CAIR filed a lawsuit against the state claiming religious discrimination. Space does not permit a debate regarding the merits of the Oklahoma law or the CAIR lawsuit, but it is important to recall that injecting Shari’ah law into the secular legal arena is one of the means whereby Islamist terrorist organizations have successfully created the legal environment allowing Muslim supremacist organizations to establish their own fiefdoms in England and France. The demand for Shari’ah law in secular courts is a “calling card” for Islamist terrorist infiltration.
GWU Law School Professor John Banzhaf has filed a complaint with the Washington, D.C. Office of Human Rights against the Catholic University of America for displaying Christian crosses in its classrooms, something that Banzhaf describes as an act of malice against Muslim students. This complaint has been filed without Muslim participation. Muslim students at Catholic U. have made no complaints, and deny having complained to Banzhaf.
One can only wonder about Banzhaf’s motivation for this lawsuit.
Los Angeles Muslim groups, with the assistance of the ACLU, have filed suit against the FBI, claiming that FBI surveillance of their mosques and other meeting places is a violation of their civil rights, freedom of religion, and rights to privacy. US Attorney General Eric Holder has invoked state secrets rules in order to prevent information about the lawsuit from being released.
It may be impossible to determine how many of the suits in this litany of complaints are legitimate, and how many are examples of Muslim lawfare intended to incrementally advance the cause of Islamist jihad and Shari’ah law in the USA, much as has been done in Europe. But it is frightening to note that the legal initiative against the FBI may be having a rather salacious effect upon our Department of Justice (DoJ).As part of the George Washington University’s conference on “Confronting Discrimination in the Post-9/11 Era,” Department of Justice officials convened a meeting on October 21, 2011, with leaders of several national Muslim organizations and other American Muslims who demanded that the DoJ cut back federal anti-terror funding to state and local law enforcement organizations, rewrite FBI agent manuals to remove references that connect “Islam” and “Muslims” with terrorism, and create a legal basis for the definition of “U.S. citizens’ criticism of Islam” as racial discrimination.
One might think that demands to reduce our nation’s ability to defend itself against terror attacks, to obfuscate the glaringly obvious connection between Muslim terrorists and Islam, and especially to curtail freedom of speech would be met with incredulity and rejection. But one would be wrong.
Tom Perez, head of the DoJ’s division of civil rights, enthusiastically endorsed these demands and urged the attendees to “…continue to have the open and honest and critical dialogue…” that took place at the meeting. He took myriad notes and asserted that he had some “concrete thoughts” about how to address these demands.
No one at the meeting raised any objection to the demand for restrictions on freedom of speech!
No one from the DoJ expressed any concern that one of the most outspoken Muslim representatives at the meeting was the Imam Mohammed Majid, president of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), a Muslim lobbying group accused of having close ties with Islamic terror organizations. The Justice Department named ISNA an unindicted co-conspirator in the 2008 Holy Land Foundation trial – the largest terror-finance case in U.S. history. In a post-trial opinion, a federal judge ruled that prosecutors had provided “ample evidence” to support ISNA’s involvement in the conspiracy to underwrite terrorism, and he refused ISNA’s petition to remove its name from the list of co-conspirators.
The putative justification for the outrageous demands made by the Muslim representatives was the assertion that “…Americans’ fear of Islamists’ bombs has evolved into racism towards dark-skinned men” and “…the word ‘Muslim’ has become racialized.” One Muslim spokesperson went so far as to say that people in the USA are teaching that “..all Muslims are a threat to the country…” and that criticism of Islam is “religious bigotry and hate.” None of the Muslim spokespersons offered any evidence for these assertions, nor did the DoJ participants request any.
Ironically, the FBI’s own statistics show that hate crimes against Muslims amount to less than 8% of religious hate crimes in the USA. The latest statistics, for 2008 indicate that there were 1,606 hate crime offenses motivated by religious bias in 2008 (the last year for which the FBI reports identify victims of religious hate crime by religion). Of these:
No one at the meeting pointed out the discrepancy between the FBI’s statistics and the near-hysteria of the wildly exaggerated assertions of Imam Majid and others about the anti-Muslim atmosphere in America, nor did anyone point out that no FBI training material, nor anything anywhere else in the DoJ, has ever asserted that all Muslims are a threat to our country.
Shortly after this meeting, in a gloating sermon on his ISNA website, Imam Majid crowed that the DoJ has acknowledged the accuracy of his accusations and will purge the FBI training manuals of their offensive anti-Islamic diatribes. He clearly felt that he had won a meaningful victory.
None of this makes any sense.
If these DoJ officials were committed to stamping out hate crimes, they should look first into the hate-crimes against Jews, which made up almost two-thirds of all hate crimes in 2008. If these DoJ officials were consistent with the DoJ’s own actions toward Muslim organizations tied to terror groups, they should never have invited ISNA representatives to the meeting. If these DoJ officials were committed to the defense of the USA against terrorist enemies, they should have spoken out when Muslim representatives ranted about fictitious Islamophobia in FBI training materials and in American society at large. If these DoJ officials honored the sacred American tradition of freedom of speech, they should have dismissed demands for the criminalization of that freedom when criticism of Islam is involved.
But they did not.
Is the DoJ intimidated by the recent Los Angeles Muslim organizations law suit against the FBI?
Or is it possible that these DoJ officials were acting on the directives of President Obama; directives made official only a few days ago, which require that FBI training materials be purged of anything that might portray Islam as somehow related to terrorist violence, and that any investigation of the beliefs, motives and goals of jihad terrorists be considered off-limits?
What reason could Obama have for banning the truth about jihad terrorism and Muslim terrorist? Surely he must know that his directives merely open the door for increased jihadist activity in the USA. Imam Majid has indeed won a victory, and with Obama and the DoJ on a crash course with reality, he has no reason to do anything other than strive for more such victories.
The story that has made headlines in recent days deals with the various weapons being shot from Gaza into the south of Israel. As this is written, over 40 projectiles have been launched: Grad Katyusha rockets, Kassam rockets, and mortars, much of this arsenal supplied by Iran. The Grads – which are both the most accurate and have the greatest range – are the most deadly.
Israel has responded, but in a severely limited fashion (which some refer to as “tit-for-tat”). Air Force planes take off over Gaza, hit a launching site, or a smuggling tunnel, or a group of terrorists planning a launch, and return.
Since Saturday, one Israeli man has been killed by a rocket, and four others have been injured. Damage has been done to buildings, and cars have been gutted. Children within range of the rockets (some 40 kilometers of the border with Gaza) are being kept home from school, and the populace of southern Israel lives with fear.
Scant attention is paid to the fact that some individuals end up going to the hospital because of anxiety attacks, but high anxiety – perhaps better called panic – is both psychologically and physically debilitating. Additionally, as it is important for them to try to stay close to shelters, residents of places such as Ashdod, Beersheva and Ashkelon have limited opportunities for moving about.
Bottom line: Citizens of Israel should not have to live this way. Israelis in growing numbers are of the opinion that it’s time to launch a second operation such as Cast Lead. That brief war, involving both air and ground operations in Gaza, took place during the first weeks of 2009 and dealt Hamas a significant but not fatal blow.
In many quarters, it is felt that the Israel government is not doing its best to protect its citizens or to ensure deterrence. As a matter of full disclosure, this writer confesses readily enough to a visceral longing to see appropriate heads in Gaza blown off. It’s difficult to witness what’s happening, especially when one must struggle with the impression that Israeli action is insufficient.
But decisions cannot be based on a visceral desire to do damage, however valid that desire may be. Before a conclusion is reached regarding what should be done now, the broader context must be considered – both in terms of history and the complexity of current prevailing factors. The Middle East is rife with shifting inter-Arab/Muslim rivalries, hatreds, and alliances of convenience. Israel, the only non-Arab/Muslim state in the region, is often caught in regional crossfire and must maneuver accordingly for its best interests.
As we consider reports of the situation, what stands out is that the rockets are being launched by Islamic Jihad; Hamas, which runs Gaza, is sitting on the sidelines – neither actively participating nor attempting to control Islamic Jihad. This is a new situation.
What is not well known is that Islamic Jihad has links with Fatah. Quite simply, Hamas and Fatah are rivals, while Fatah and Islamic Jihad function, at least covertly, as allies. (There are reports within the last few days of Fatah people joining the Islamic Jihad forces.)
A look backwards explains this situation: During the time of the Iranian Revolution, Yasser Arafat – functioning as head of both the PLO and Fatah, which were essentially one and the same then – provided assistance to the revolutionary forces via both training and weaponry. When the Shah fell, Arafat emerged as one of the first supporters of the new radical Islamic Iranian regime; he entered Tehran jubilant.
The Ayatollah Khomeini, who had sparked that revolution from outside of Iran, was so pleased with Arafat that he gave to the PLO as its headquarters the building that had housed the Israeli mission to Iran during the time of the Shah. A special bond then evolved between Arafat and Khomeini. It was a honeymoon of short duration, as a displeased Arab world (reflecting Sunni-Shia tensions) delivered Arafat a message: Us or Iran.But it was during that brief period in which Arafat and Khomeini bonded that the Islamic Jihad emerged. Until then the PLO had been a largely secular nationalist movement. With a melding of perspectives, a Palestinian nationalist (Islamic) religious movement was possible.
Today we are looking at shifting alliances and an exceedingly complex situation:
Over a period of time, Iran has strengthened Hamas for its own purposes. Iranian leaders, mindful of the possibility that they might eventually be attacked by Israel, wanted a strong Hamas that would be able to generate a military distraction at Israel’s border.
But now Hamas has fallen out of favor with Iran. There is, first, the fact that Iran had not signed off on the Shalit deal; Hamas aroused Iran’s ire by acting independently and in defiance of its orders. What is more, according to reliable sources, covert understandings reached between Hamas and Israel transcended the Shalit deal.
But there are further complications, some of which have been alluded to by analysts in the course of the Israel-Hamas deal on Shalit.
Turkey and Iran have been engaged in a rivalry with regard to influence in Syria. Turkey, in fact, aspires to assume a position in Damascus that would allow it to supplant the Muslim Brotherhood, which has a long-standing relationship with Iran. In the midst of this rivalry, it has hardly escaped Iran’s attention that Hamas is courting Turkey. Perhaps this was the proverbial straw. Or perhaps it was the fact that Hamas is now considering moving its headquarters from Damascus to Cairo.
Whatever the case, Iran is well aware that a rapprochement of Turkey, Egypt and Hamas would be at its expense.
Once Iran decided it could no longer trust Hamas to act on its behalf, the time had come to activate Islamic Jihad. And Voila! the rocket attacks.
This report was most certainly not written to make a case for Israel holding to the military status quo. It may be that in the end the Israeli government’s obligation to protect its citizens and develop strong deterrence mandates significant action in Gaza without delay.
What has been demonstrated here, however, is the absolutely complexity of the issues involved in making that decision. Incredibly, with all of the above, there are still other factors at play. Consider:
Any Israeli military action in Gaza right now will strengthen the Muslim Brotherhood position in Egypt. But it is, indubitably, in Israel’s best interest to strengthen Egypt’s military regime, which would be the most stable and the most likely to retain the peace treaty with Israel. Egyptian elections are slated to be held in November. Could it be that a major action in Gaza should wait until after those elections?
A purported “cease fire” with Islamic Jihad, which is being discussed (a planned escalated action by Israel has been table for the moment), is patently a sham. The terrorists will start firing whenever they choose. However, that “cease fire” is being negotiated by Egypt’s military leaders. In the weeks before that election, is it prudent to give them the edge, and allow them the prestige of showing they are players of significance in the region?
Were Israel to undertake a major military mission in Gaza, its primary target would be the ruling power, which is Hamas. But what are the consequences of taking out or severely weakening Hamas at this juncture? At one time, a decision to do so might have seemed a “no-brainer.” But the situation has shifted.
If background information is correct, and Hamas has fallen out of favor with Iran, to be replaced by Islamic Jihad, it may be that Hamas is no longer the worst of what must be dealt with in Gaza. It is possible that taking down Hamas would open the door for an even more virulent terrorist group to gain control. If the military wins in Cairo, and Hamas falls under its sway, it certainly will not become an ally of Israel, but it might be a great deal less problematic than an Islamic Jihad under the sway of Iran.
This brings us, then, full circle, to the issue of a Fatah-Islamic Jihad alliance. PA President Mahmoud Abbas, sitting in Ramallah, may project a far more moderate stance than do the Islamic leaders in Gaza. But in the end, his goal of the destruction of Israel is no different. Any thinking person who had until recently still held out hope against hope that Abbas in the end would act for peace has certainly been disabused of this notion by his UN gambits.
Over and over we have heard about a Hamas-Fatah unity government. In spite of the fact that it would have served purposes for both parties, it has never held because of the inherent rivalry and animosity between them.
But if Islamic Jihad, with which Fatah has a history of alliance, were the major factor in Gaza? What would be the PA stance then?
Saudi Arabia was not surprised when U.S. authorities uncovered the Iranian plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to the United States, Abdel al-Jubair. According to Saudi intelligence, Teheran in the last months has started a campaign of chain murders targeting Saudi diplomats to destabilize the Royal family.
In May 2011, gunmen on motorcycles shot and killed Hassan al-Qahtani, a Saudi diplomat working in the consulate in the Pakistani city of Karachi. The murder came after a previous attack on the Karachi Consulate with Russian-made HE-36 hand grenades. At first the media linked the assassination to Al-Qaeda groups trying to revenge the killing of Osama bin Laden, but further investigation revealed that the murder was planned by the Iran's Quds Force. Pakistani intelligence identified the Saudi diplomat's killer as a member of a Shi'ite terrorist organization, Sipah-e-Muhammad [the Army of Muhammad], which maintains close links to the Quds Force. The link to the killing was allegedly proven by recorded messages between Iranian officials in Islamabad and members of the terrorist group.
In September 2011, the Saudi online newspaper Elaph revealed that the Saudi Ambassador to Cairo, Ahmad Abdel-Aziz Kattan, survived an attempted assassination by poison, allegedly staged by Iran.
Elaph states that the Saudi diplomats, al-Jubair included, are all linked to prince Bandar bin Sultan, Secretary-General of the National Security Council, and former Ambassador to the U.S., 1983-2005. Prince Bandar, a strong opponent of Iranian influence in the Middle East, is at the center of an Iranian smear campaign to discredit him and tarnish his image. Recently, Iranian media have gone so far as to circulate fake "news" according to which Prince Bandar would have been arrested by Syrian security forces at Damascus Airport and would have confessed that he was involved in the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri - for which, instead, the Syrian government has been indicated by international investigators.
Saudi Arabia: The Obstacle to Iran's Ambitions in the Middle East
Sunni Saudi Arabia is generally perceived by Iran as possibly the greatest obstacle to its ambitions in the Middle East, in that Iran has been trying to export its Shi'te Islamic revolution both culturally and militarily throughout the Middle East, according to Ahmed Jarallah, editor-in-chief of the Kuwaiti paper, Al-Seyassah.
Saudi Arabia tried to do everything it could, both politically and militarily, to stop a recent Shi'ite uprisings in Bahrain -- an island off the coast of Saudi Arabia that is predominately Shi'ite but ruled by Sunnis -- which Iran has been claiming belongs to Iran, and which is separated from Saudi Arabia by only a small causeway a few miles long. The Saudis were concerned that the Shi'ite uprising in Bahrain might embolden Saudi Arabia's own minority Shi'ite population -- located by the oil fields, far from Riyadh, Mecca and Medina -- thereby increasing Iran's influence over the Arabian Peninsula.
Saudi Arabia must therefore have been alarmed by the announcement that the U.S. would be leaving Iraq. Saudi Arabia might well assume that even though it managed to thwart Iran's influence in Bahrain, Iran will nevertheless manage to try to take control of the oil-rich region by way of Iraq. The Saudis have desperately been trying to find strategic ways to prevent such a scenario, including probably hoping for a change in the U.S. administration in next year's election.
"The facts on the ground say that Tehran's influence in Iraq has increased under the eyes of the current US administration," writes Tareq Al-Homayed, editor-in-chief of the Saudi newspaper, Asharq Al-Awsat, "whilst Iranian influence [in Iraq] also benefited from the mistakes made by the previous US administration. This is not all, for now we see Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad […] appear in an interview on CNN saying that he does not expect any change in his country's relations with Iraq following the withdrawal of US forces. Indeed Ahmadinejad went on to confidently state – and this is the crux of the matter – that 'the government of Iraq, the parliament, we have a very good relationship with all of them…and we have deepened our ties day by day.'" Al-Homayed adds, "This 'day by day' is true, and it has happened before the eyes of the Americans, therefore the extent of Iran's influence in Iraq is no surprise, nor is Tehran's support for the Shiite militias there. It is enough to listen to the complaints of the honorable people of Iraq – Sunnis and Shii'tes and others – who do not accept their country becoming a proxy in Iranian hands or ruled by Qassem Suleimani and his Qods Force."
Iran Would Like a War in the Middle East
As the Kuwaiti paper Al-Seyassah pointed out, Iran might soon start a war in Middle East as the only way to show that Tehran still has influence in region and can threaten whoever opposes its plans. If Bashar al-Assad is removed from power in Syria, Iran could be concerned that the world might perceive Iran as isolated; it could therefore want to make the point that even if Syria might be lost for now, Iran can still take control of Iraq, and fight proxy wars by means of its proxy group, Hezbollah. To Iran, the main enemy that stands in its way is Saudi Arabia, which has already fought Iran's influence in Lebanon, Syria, Bahrain and Iraq.
As Saudi Arabia is the first new superpower in the Arab world, Iran might well have designs on replacing it. Al Seyassah's editor in chief recently noted that Iran's conspiracies necessitated constant caution and that Teheran is trying to make a conflict zone out of the Middle East. He then differentiated between the Shi'ite faith in the Arab world, which does not pose any threat, and what he labeled "Persian Safavi Shi'ism" --- referring to the most significant Persian dynasty that controlled "Greater Iran," when it stretched from the Caucasus to the Indus River, and represented Iran's aims and ideologies to exercise its influence throughout the Arab world.
As Syrian dictator Bashar Assad continues to slaughter his people, there are growing indications that the Islamists are increasing their efforts to replace his regime.
What started as a secular Facebook revolution against the Assad regime is now beginning to look more like a jihad [holy war] led by Muslim fundamentalists.
The Muslim Brotherhood is clearly seeking to hijack the anti-Assad protests, in both the political and military fields.
In the past few months, there have been many signs of a "return to Islam" in Syrian society. Large banners urging women to wear the hijab have appeared in Damascus and other main cities and many restaurants and hotels have stopped serving alcohol in keeping with Islamic law. This is in addition to the fact that many of the daily anti-Assad demonstrations are being launched from mosques, especially after Friday prayers.
The Muslim Brotherhood is by no means a "moderate" organization. Its motto leaves no room for questions about its true intentions: "Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. The Koran is our law. Jihad [holy war] is our way. Dying for the sake of Allah is our highest hope." Muslim Brotherhood's spiritual leader, Sheikh Yusef al-Qaradawi, has come out in favor of suicide bombings, which he cslled "evidence of God's justice;" the death penalty for homosexuals; the beating of women; a genocidal a hatred of Jews: "O Allah, do not spare a single one of them….kill them down to the very last one," as he put on al-Jazeera on January 9, 2009 [www.MEMRI.org]; and, as he said on April 14, 2004, boycotts of America and Israel: "Our duty is to make them as weak as we can."
According to reports in the Arab media, Islamic fundamentalist groups have been smuggling weapons into Syria from Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan.
Most of these weapons have fallen into the hands of Muslim fundamentalists, who are now waging a guerrilla warfare against Assad's security forces, the reports say.
Syria's fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood organization, which was banned by the Syrian dictator's father, Hafez Assad, decades ago, has come back to life thanks to the uprising that was initially launched by secular forces.
"We have a desire to coordinate the position of the opposition," declared Zuhair Salim, a spokesman for Syria's Muslim Brotherhood. "We are supporters and not creators."
As has been the case in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Libya, Syria's Islamists did not show their faces in public at the beginning of the anti-Assad uprising. Instead, they preferred to wait in the shadows to see where the uprising was headed.
Muslim Brotherhood officials have already found their place in the main opposition group, the Syrian National Council, which was formed in Istanbul last September with support from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and the US State Department.
Although the Muslim Brotherhood has not joined the council officially, it has many representatives there.
Out of the 19 members of the council's general secretariat, four belong to the Muslim Brotherhood and six are "independent" Islamists.
The participation of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Syrian National Council is seen in the context of the Islamists' hitherto successful bid to hijack the Arab Spring.
What is disturbing is that while the US and many European governments have endorsed the Islamist-dominated opposition council, they have also turned their backs on secular groups that are opposed to the creation of a Sharia state in Damascus.
Last week Assad hinted at the possibility that his country could fall into the hands of Islamists when he warned that Syria would become "another Afghanistan" if the West intervened in favor of his enemies.
For many Syrians, the only choice today is between a murderous secular regime led by Assad and Muslim fundamentalists seeking to turn their country into an Islamic state. Assad's brutal crackdown on his opponents, which has so far claimed the lives of more than 3,000 Syrians, as well as his failure to implement major political reforms, is driving more people into the open arms of the Islamists.
The recent victory of the Islamists in the Tunisian elections is serving as a catalyst for the Muslim Brotherhood to double its efforts to replace the Assad regime.
After yesterday's blog post about the Israeli cabinet mulling military action against Iran, today, it's the turn of the British military also apparently gearing up for a strike. They're calling it "contingency planning" and it may very well be. But it is a curious coincidence that preparations are occurring less than a week before the much anticipated IAEA report on the Iranian nuke program is published.
Britain's armed forces are stepping up their contingency planning for potential military action against Iran amid mounting concern about Tehran's nuclear enrichment programme, the Guardian has learned.
The Ministry of Defence believes the US may decide to fast-forward plans for targeted missile strikes at some key Iranian facilities. British officials say that if Washington presses ahead it will seek, and receive, UK military help for any mission, despite some deep reservations within the coalition government.
In anticipation of a potential attack, British military planners are examining where best to deploy Royal Navy ships and submarines equipped with Tomahawk cruise missiles over the coming months as part of what would be an air and sea campaign.
They also believe the US would ask permission to launch attacks from Diego Garcia, the British Indian ocean territory, which the Americans have used previously for conflicts in the Middle East.
The Guardian has spoken to a number of Whitehall and defence officials over recent weeks who said Iran was once again becoming the focus of diplomatic concern after the revolution in Libya.
They made clear that Barack Obama, has no wish to embark on a new and provocative military venture before next November's presidential election.
But they warned the calculations could change because of mounting anxiety over intelligence gathered by western agencies, and the more belligerent posture that Iran appears to have been taking.
As I mentioned yesterday, the current leadership of the IAEA is far more suspicious of Iranian intentions than the former chairman and Nobel Prize winner Muhammad ElBaradei. Any new information is likely to come in the warhead design area or missile modifications - a sure sign that Iran is close, or already possesses, the means to make a bomb.
Obama might see an Iran attack as just the ticket to win re-election so don't count on his indecision to use force. He hasn't backed down from Pakistan, or Yemen in launching drone strikes or even missiles at terrorist targets. As long as American forces won't be exposed to casualties, he may see an Iran attack as a cheap way to score commander in chief points with the voters.
No one at France’s national satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, was laughing this week after the publication’s Paris offices were destroyed by a firebomb overnight late Tuesday or early Wednesday morning. It is believed Islamists, angry that the editors had named the Prophet Mohammad as guest “editor-in-chief” for this week’s edition, were responsible for the attack. The edition was dedicated to a satire of sharia law, but the firebomb assault took place before it had even hit the newsstands on Wednesday.
“We received threats, but no one had seen this edition,” said Stephane Charbonnier, the magazine’s designer and director. “People reacted violently to the paper yet they were completely ignorant of the edition’s contents; that is the most aberrant and idiotic.”
The leftist weekly publication, founded in 1960, came up with the idea to satirise sharia law and to honour Mohammad with the editor title after the victory of the Islamist Ennahda party in Tunisia’s election last week and the announcement sharia law would be introduced in Libya. The editors proclaimed the upcoming sharia theme in a humorous statement they released in advance that elicited “quite a few letters of protest, threats, insults,” on Twitter and Facebook.
“To fittingly celebrate the victory of the Islamist Ennhada party in Tunisia…Charlie Hebdo has asked Mohammad to be the special editor-in-chief of its next issue,” the statement read. “The prophet of Islam didn’t have to be asked twice and we thank him for it.”
When it appeared on Wednesday, the controversial edition’s front page showed a caricature of a “visibly happy” Mohammad and had him saying “100 lashes if you don’t die laughing.” The edition had also had its title changed to ‘Sharia Hebdo’ and contained a women’s section called “Madame Sharia” as well as an editorial by Mohammad titled the ‘Happy Halal Hour.’ There are also two pages of cartoons with sharia law as their subject, and Mohammad appears again on the last page, wearing a clown’s nose, with, ironically, the caption: “Yes, Islam is compatible with humour.”
As it turns out, the magazine was wrong. Its headquarters were also not the only target singled out for attack. In what may have been a co-ordinated move with the firebombing, Charlie Hebdo’s website was simultaneously hacked. On Wednesday morning, its home page showed the words “no god but Allah” accompanied by a picture of the grand Mosque in Mecca with a message in English and Turkish.
“You keep abusing Islam’s almighty Prophet with disgusting and disgraceful cartoons using excuses of freedom of speech,” the message read. “Be God’s curse upon you!”
French politicians and France’s newspaper association were all quick to condemn the assault on the Charlie Hebdo offices and express solidarity with its staff. French Prime Minister Francois Fillon said the “…every attack against the freedom of the press must be condemned with the greatest firmness,” while the French minister of culture, Frederic Mitterand, called the assault “intolerable.“There is no democracy without irreverence, without parody and without satire,” said Mitterand.
But as usual after such events in France regarding Muslim terrorism, the politicians will not discuss or investigate how their country reached this point where a well-known, national publication could be burned out of its offices in its capital, like in a Third World dictatorship. To do so would only help confirm that France, once the land of the Enlightenment, is turning into a place of darkness, thanks to Islamic fanaticism. So it is best just to express nice-sounding phrases, let things settle back down to the way they were and prepare a new set of reassuring phrases for the next attack, which in France nowadays is probably never too far off.
Muslim leaders in France also condemned the firebomb attack, but the president of the French Council of the Muslim Religion (CFCM) qualified his condemnation by stating his uneasiness about the “climate of Islamophobia” in Europe. But this is unsurprising. Mentioning Islamophobia is becoming a common tactic on both sides of the Atlantic whenever Muslim radicalism comes under scrutiny. It helps deflect attention from the real wrongdoings. And while expressing strong condemnation, the CFCM president added his organization “also vigorously deplored the magazine’s tone of caricature in regard to Islam and its prophet…,” indirectly indicating Charlie Hebdo may have itself to blame for the night assault.
France, a country of 62 million people, has a Muslim population of about six to eight million, the largest in Europe. The week-long riots of Muslim youths in suburbs on the outskirts of French cities in 2005 brought to the world’s attention that all was not well with multiculturalism in what was once one of the West’s leading democracies. Once highly regarded for its culture, French society is now probably so sick from the Islamist infection, it is beyond help.
American author and Islam expert Robert Spencer, for example, was unable to have his translated book, Islam Unveiled, published in France in 2003 by a publishing house that had agreed to do so. The book contested conventional wisdoms held in the West about Islam. Publication was cancelled when both the translator and the publisher received death threats.
More in keeping with France’s dhimmi status, while people were threatened with death over Spencer’s book, the novel Rever la Palestine (Dream of Palestine) was published the previous year with no apparent obstacles. Written by a fifteen-year-old Egyptian living in Italy and published by France’s third-largest publishing house, Rever concerns Palestinian teenager’s fighting against “bloodthirsty Jews, who assassinate children and old people, profane mosques, and rape Arab women.” Which says it all about the state of French culture and freedom of expression nowadays.
Charlie Hebdo is moving temporarily into the offices of the leftist daily newspaper Liberation and intends to bring out next week’s edition on time. Europe already experienced a serious and potentially deadly caricature crisis in 2006 when the Danish newspaper, Jyllands Posten, published different drawings of the Muslim prophet. Since then, several terrorist attacks have been broken up that targeted the newspaper building, editors and Posten caricaturist Kurt Westergaarde.
It is as yet unknown whether Charlie Hebdo and its staff will also have to live under the same, years-long terrorist threat as the Jyllands Posten newspaper. But from its recent fiery experience, its editors should at least take away the realization France is no longer a land of unbridled humour, but also one of Islamist hatred.
Earlier this week, The Washington Post’s Lally Weymouth interviewed King Abdallah of Jordan. Here’s how King Abdallah responded to Weymouth’s question, “Do you and other leaders in this area believe you cannot rely on the U.S.?”
“I think everybody is wary of dealing with the West….Looking at how quickly people turned their backs on [Egyptian President Husni] Mubarak, I would say that most people are going to try and go their own way. I think there is going to be less coordination with the West and therefore a chance of more misunderstandings.”
This is devastating. I’m not shocked that the king thinks that way but I am shocked that he says so openly. In other words he isn’t afraid of Obama’s being angry and thinks he has nothing to lose because things aren’t going to be better. That’s how far the situation has deteriorated.
Imagine that instead of going to Jordan (which is also an Arab country in addition to being a pro-American, moderate one) for advice on building the opposition leadership in neighboring Syria, the Obama Administration went to the non-Arab, Islamist Turkish regime!
Jordan is now turning to Saudi Arabia, another country that is no longer relying on Obama, to be its protector and source for financial aid.
Jordan has been the most long-term, consistent ally of the United States in the Arab world, continuously for more than 40 years. Yet the king cannot trust those in the White House any more. They dumped Mubarak, they might dump him.
Therefore, no one will stick his neck out on behalf of U.S. interests or requests. Moreover, they are going their own way. While Washington extolls Islamist forces or things that benefit them in Egypt, Lebanon, Libya, Tunisia, and Turkey, they don’t seem to care at all about Israel, Jordan, or Saudi Arabia, the scattered survivors of recent developments and Obama’s pro-Islamist policies.
Iraq’s disinterest in having a continued U.S. troop presence arises from several issues but Baghdad’s determination to go its own way is also connected to this situation. And in Afghanistan, the government knows that it cannot depend on a U.S. government that is not only withdrawing but has subverted the Kabul regime, proven powerless in dealing with Pakistan, and openly talks of political negotiations with the Taliban and even al-Qaida-linked terrorist groups (the Haqqani Network).
The U.S. policy formulated around 1955–allying with moderate Arab monarchies and nationalist regimes–as well as that originating in the 1970s–adding Israel to that list–has been undone by the Obama Administration. When the king of Jordan openly complains you know that U.S. credibility among pro-Western Arabs is pretty close to zero.source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/jordans-king-abdullah-on-egypt-syria-and-israel/2011/10/24/gIQAejhRDM_story.html
Suddenly, a new term is foisted on us without serious debate or proof and we are supposed to rejoice at the triumphs of those now called “moderate Islamists.” The problem here is not just that I don’t believe such a thing exists but that no case can be made that it does. The tactics of some Islamists (participate in elections, advance slowly) are being confused with principles (impose Sharia law, overthrow all non-Islamist governments, defeat the infidels).
This is no abstract argument. In effect, we are being told to rejoice as the West’s worst enemies take power. We are being told about the alleged virtues of forces intent on repressing their own people; destroying women’s rights; trampling on non-Muslim, non-Arab minorities; genocide against Israel; overthrow all non-Islamist governments, and demolish Western interests. And on what grounds? Because in some statements, which must be cherry-picked from a sea of extremist expressions, they claim to be moderate.
Where are the academics and mainstream journalists laying out a persuasive case that Moderate Islamism exists, rather than just assuming it does? Where is an honest presentation of the “Moderate Islamists” many radical statements? Where is even an even-handed discussion based on a fair hearing for the doubters?
Where has this new “movement” suddenly come from? Remember, up until now the debate has been over defining “Moderate Muslims,” but now the most radical sector of Muslim politics–the enemy of Muslims who are moderate–is declared worthy of that designation. Yet the whole case for “Moderate Muslims” was based on saying that these people weren’t Islamists and indeed that they were fighting against Islamism.
Up until now, the only important group that might conceivably have been called “moderate Islamists” has been the Turkish Justice and Development Party. Yet examining that party’s views and behavior disproves the idea of any “Moderate Islamist” movement.
First, party leaders consistently denied they were Islamists, knowing any such admission would be political disaster because most Turks–even most of the party’s voters–don’t believe in “Moderate Islamism.” The party defined itself as center-right
Second, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the party’s leader, has publicly said that there was no such thing as moderate Islam but only Islam; that the minarets of mosques are the bayonets of the revolution; and that democracy is like a trolley and you just get off when you want. Do you need him to draw you a picture?
Third, Erdogan has now gotten off the trolley, since repression in Turkey is increasing with, for example, hundreds of political prisoners and more added each day.
So the phrase “moderate Islamist” is like something out of George Orwell’s novel 1984, along with such phrases as war is peace and freedom is slavery.
How should we know if someone is a moderate Islamist? There should be some historical record of this species’ development. There should have been highly visible ideological battle. Where are the admissions of past mistakes, the explanations of Moderate Islamist philosophy, a reinterpretation of Muslim texts, a struggle between “moderate” and “traditional” Islamists in a group like the Muslim Brotherhood? There’s nothing, not the least hint.
Professor John Esposito, the leading advocate of the Moderate Islamist theory (the CIA is the leading advocate in government rightly points out that Muslim reformers, “are often initially perceived and received as a threat by religious institutions and more conservative religious leaders and believers.,” even being threatened with death. So if the Muslim Brotherhood now embodies such a huge reform in Islamist and Islamic thinking as to justify leading a government that would substitute votes for divine instruction, where is the angry rebellion against such treason by powerful forces? Where is the revolt, even split, within its ranks against such heresy?
The answer is that while a few–notably tiny and isolated al-Qaida–hold a different view of what should be done, almost everyone else sees this as a merely tactical shift. No heresy, just a different way of implementing the proper goals.
Thus, the “Moderate Islamists” speeches, statements and internal articles remain extremely radical and even bloodthirsty. And when moderate statements are made (usually in English, almost never in Arabic or Turkish), they assert only that democracy is a good idea for gaining power, not that it is a good idea.
So what do those who believe in “Moderate Islamism” think is going to happen?
Option A: The Islamists gain power and impose Sharia law. Then they lose the election, the opposition comes in and abolishes Sharia. The Islamists chuckle, “Oh well you can’t win them all!”
Option B: The Islamists gain power but contained by public opinion, coalition partners, and the restraint of the military, they content themselves with making small changes and “sell out.” To put it another way, they can become the Islamic version of European Christian Democratic parties. Yet this would require daily violations of their interpretation of Allah’s will in even the smallest acts–giving a construction license to a Christian church, appointing a woman judge. Muslims, even pious Muslims, can do things like this–because they either don’t want to impose Sharia or interpret it loosely–but Islamists cannot and don’t want to do so.
The closest real thing to moderate Islamism is the tiny al-Wasat Party in Egypt. But that group argues that the Muslim Brotherhood isn’t moderate!:
–Leaders of al-Wasat quit the Muslim Brotherhood precisely because they were convinced that it is hardline and cannot be moderated.
–Not a single leader of the Brotherhood joined these defectors.
–The Brotherhood today has about 40 times the base of support of the real (if it is possible to exist at all) “moderate Islamists.”
Thus, “Moderate Islamism” is not a movement but a propaganda line: Conceal your aims, neutralize the infidels with soothing words, get non-Islamist votes by promising to be flexible, and then spring the trap closed. In other words, we are merely talking about clever tactics, a situation that should have been obvious given decades of dealing with parallel Communist maneuvers.
And yet the great institutions of the Western democracies–a free press and, scholarly community fearlessly debating and seeking truth; a political leadership grounded in the real world—have fallen for this nonsense. Worse, much worse, they are trying to indoctrinate their own people to believe it. Yet events will increasingly contradict such assertions, just as they did about similar ideas that Iran’s revolution was going to be moderate or that the Palestinian movement would be moderates by power.
So how is this illusion of “moderate Islamism” going to be maintained?
First, by under-reporting of the Islamists’ radical statements.
Second, by under-reporting the Islamists’ extremist actions.
This is exactly what has happened in Turkey. The Turkish model is very ugly indeed. And note the New York Times coverage of Tunisia, pushing the line that real Arab liberals like the Islamists and that if you campaign against the Islamists the voters won’t like you. Actually, I pointed out that it was leftist parties that were eager to form coalitions with the Muslim Brotherhood that whitewashed the Islamists; the real liberals condemned them as phonies and extremists. So instead of supporting the true democratic reformers in their battle to avoid having their countries turned into Islamist states, the counterparts of these people in the West are subverting them!
On the surface, it would seem that two of American Jewry’s most highly regarded Jewish leaders, both deeply committed and devoted to Israel, have lost – at least temporarily – their political bearings.
In a recent column titled “The silence of American Jewish leaders,” I drew attention to the fact that over the past year, despite a major Jewish grassroots backlash against President Obama’s Middle East policies, American Jewry’s principal leaders appeared to have adopted a policy of avoiding public criticism of the administration’s hostile policies toward Israel.
This is especially noteworthy in relation to ADL National Director Abe Foxman, who two years earlier broke with many of his colleagues by courageously and publicly condemning the administration’s bullying of Israel.
But now, together with American Jewish Committee Executive Director David Harris, Foxman has called for a new “National Pledge for Unity on Israel.” Many of the statement’s objectives would be endorsed by the vast majority of American Jews of all political persuasions. In addition to a call for unity, the statement calls on Jews to avoid actions that could threaten or undermine bipartisan support for Israel.
Traditional support by both major parties is the key to maintaining support for Israel in Congress and amongst the American people. It is also one of the principal reasons for the success of AIPAC and the esteem in which they are held by both Congressional parties.
YET THERE are now worrying indicators of growing hostility towards Israel emanating from far-Left elements within the Democratic Party. Currently they are a minority, unable to detract from the overwhelming prevailing congressional Democratic support for Israel. But they carry immense influence inside the current White House administration. Should they garner greater support within the Democratic Party as a whole, the long-term durability of the American-Israeli alliance would be in jeopardy.
For this reason, leaders of mainstream Jewish organizations must continue ensuring that they not be perceived as favoring one party against the other unless basic Jewish interests are involved. Jewish voters are perfectly capable of making their own judgments based on the facts.
In addition, praise should be extended towards positive initiatives such as Obama’s recent UN address, US opposition to Palestinian statehood at the UN, membership of UNESCO and of course crucial ongoing military support.
WHY THEN, is there so much agitation over this ADL-AJC national unity pledge? Because this is a manifesto that goes to the other extreme and gives the impression of primarily seeking to silence critics of the Obama administration. It represents an attempt to muzzle public criticism of the president’s anti-Israel policies and silence those who Foxman claimed “challenged their opponent’s pro-Israel bona fides or questioned the current administration’s foreign policy approach vis-a-vis Israel.” It effectively amounts to a call for an embargo on any condemnation of policies espoused by political candidates in relation to Israel.
If such an approach were adopted, it would provide a green light for President Obama to revert to appeasing the Arabs by distancing the US from Israel without facing political repercussions. Of course, in future that could apply equally to a Republican administration which chose to abandon Israel.
That would certainly ensure “bipartisanship.”
But it would also amount to abandoning American Jewry’s public efforts on behalf of Israel, relying exclusively on Shtadlanut – silent diplomacy. Yet our recent history has repeatedly demonstrated that when applied in isolation, in the absence of a dual track policy involving public action, silent diplomacy invariably resulted in failure.
I recollect similar situations when I was a leader of the Australian Jewish community.
We learned that as long as in our capacity as Jewish leaders we avoided becoming embroiled in the broader political arena and restricted ourselves to commenting exclusively on Israel- or Jewish-related issues, the major political parties respected us for acting in a principled manner. In fact, it strengthened bipartisanship which to this day still prevails in Australia.
Surely, American Jewish leaders who have considerably more influence, should be expected to do no less. In response to a flow of criticism – largely limited to understandably angry rejections from conservative and Republican sources – Foxman has taken a step backwards, stating that the true intention of the pledge was “to post Israel ahead of politics” – a far cry from the language of the “national unity pledge.”
The litmus test will now be whether American Jewish leaders will break their self-imposed curtain of silence and display the courage to speak up and be critical of US policies related to Israel which they deem to be based on double standards or motivated by discredited appeasement policies.
For example, this week, immediately following the unprovoked missile attacks from Gaza – clear breaches of international law – the US State Department again reverted to pathetic moral equivalency “urging all parties to stop the violence and engage in negotiations.”
Is that an appropriate response by the US to an ally defending itself from missile launches against its civilians? Do we deserve to be treated on the same level as the Islamic Jihadist murderers? Yet the major Jewish organizations greeted this outrageous statement with deafening silence.
This will become especially relevant over the coming months when Israel will be subjected to highly sensitive diplomatic pressures which may have long-term repercussions.
There is no doubt that a positive US role will be crucial to inhibit the Quartet from making further unrealistic and dangerous demands of us. There are grounds for concern that notwithstanding his splendid UN General Assembly address, President Obama could once again revert to his former policies. To avoid further fallout from Jewish voters prior to the elections, President Obama may simply give the Quartet the green light to implement these policies while he stands on the sidelines.
Should that be the case, hopefully American Jewish leaders will not remain silent but will call on their president to intervene and prevent the Quartet from abandoning Israel. American Jewish leaders should revert to publicly and judiciously expressing praise or condemnation of administration initiatives taken in relation to Israel.
By so doing, far from undermining bipartisanship, they will be strengthening it and providing Israel with the moral support it is entitled to receive from the world’s premier democracy and its most important ally.Isi Leibler
Ramallah, Asharq Al-Awsat – Internet service to the Palestinian territories was disrupted yesterday after hackers attacked the servers providing the West Bank and the Gaza Strip with online access in the early hours of the morning. This led to the entire internet network in the Palestinian territories being brought down, wreaking havoc on Palestinian organizations and businesses that rely the web, including government ministries and banks, as well as the media. Internet service had largely been restored across the Palestinian territories by Wednesday afternoon.
This cyber-attack took place after Palestine was granted full membership status to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization [UNESCO], a move that was received with widespread condemnation and anger from within Israel, leading to the belief that Jewish or pro-Israeli hackers were responsible for this attack.
Palestine was subject to an organized DoS [denial of service] attack on Tuesday, cutting internet services and phone lines to the Palestinian territories. Palestinian Communications Minister Mashur Abu Daqqa said that the Palestinians would ask the International Telecommunications Union [ITU], a UN-agency, to officially investigate the cyber-attack which targeted the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
The Palestinian Communications Minister also told the press that the Palestinian servers were attacked “in an organized way using mirror servers” adding “I think, from the manner of the attack and its intensity, that there is a state behind it.”
Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, Mohamed al-Ayadi, who is an adviser to the Palestinian Communications Minister, revealed that “since 5 am [on Tuesday] we were subject to an organized and systematic cyber-attack from hackers from more than 20 countries…which led to the disruption and the disabling of the internet service, firstly to the West Bank, before the cyber-attackers turned their attention to the Gaza Strip.”
Al-Ayadi told Asharq Al-Awsat that this cyber-attack continued throughout the day until Tuesday evening, with local, Arab, and even international efforts being exerted to repel this.
The Palestinian Communications Ministry adviser refused to speculate as to who was responsible for this cyber-attack, but stressed that every effort is being made to uncover those responsible for this.
However Palestinian Communication Minister Mashur Abu Daqqa later told the press that “Israel could be involved, as it announced (on Monday) that it was considering the kinds of sanctions it would impose on us.” He added “it was clear that this attack was intended to wipe the name of Palestine off the internet in response to Palestinian membership at UNESCO.”
Abu Daqqa also suggested that this “organized” cyber-attack was the “work of a state” whilst Palestinian Communication Ministry adviser, Mohamed al-Ayadi, told Asharq Al-Awsat that “ordinary people or even average hackers could not have carried out this cyber-attack.” He added “the hackers who carried out this attack are more dangerous and more numerous than some people imagine, this was part of a large-scale organized and systematic attack.”
Palestinian sources have suggested that Jewish or pro-Israeli groups could be responsible for this cyber-attack in retaliation for Palestine obtaining full UNESCO membership. One of the IT experts who was working on repelling this cyber-attack told Asharq Al-Awsat that “they [the hackers] are sending 5 million communication requests [to Palestinian servers] every minute from more than one source, which overloaded the Palestinian servers.” He added “this led to the collapse of all the [Palestinian] internet servers that operate globally, whilst those that operate on the local level were not affected.”
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.
The referendum held on January 9, 2011, was a milestone for Sudan. With an overwhelming majority of 98.3 percent, southerners decided to secede from the north and to create Africa's youngest state—the Republic of South Sudan. While this momentous development was expected to end Khartoum's decades-long struggle with the southern Sudanese rebels, it has set off a number of ticking time bombs and exacerbated existing conflicts. On top of Sudan's financial problems and the wider impact of the Arab upheavals, President Omar Bashir's government is now facing a number of pressing issues in the post-referendum era. With the rise of new disputes and the escalation of protracted conflicts, is Bashir's Sudan on the verge of further instability?
While rebel factions jockey for power, and President Bashir's northern Sudan government seeks to undermine resistance, conditions in Sudans's internal displaced persons camps worsen. The Zam Zam camp in Darfur is one of the world's largest refugee camps, home to more than 200,000 residents.
Thus the referendum added fuel to the fire and inspired the Darfur rebels to unite their military forces against Khartoum. For the first time, major rebel movements such as SLA/MM (the Sudan Liberation Army's branch under Minni Minawi's control), SLA/AW (the faction under the leadership of Abdul Wahid al-Nur), JEM (Justice and Equality Movement), and LJM (the Liberation and Justice Movement) formed coalitions and have been fighting against the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) since early 2011.
In addition to some external factors, notably pressure from the international community, the January referendum also played a role in pushing the rebel movements to form political pacts. Previous attempts at pacts had failed due to power struggles between the groups. But in early 2011, several formerly adversarial organizations united and declared their support for a northern democratic state. In March, the JEM and LJM, which had agreed to participate in ongoing peace talks in Doha, signed an agreement to coordinate their positions in future negotiations. Khalil Ibrahim's JEM and Minawi's SLA/MM faction signed an agreement to unite their political resistance to the government, demanding a modern, secular, democratic state, which would resolve both the Darfur issue and Sudan's problems in general. JEM also confirmed their contact with Abdul Wahid, in a demonstration of the groups' determination to bring all Darfur movements together. By the same token, Abdul Wahid's SLA/AW faction, worried about losing its grassroots support given Abdul Wahid's long exile in France, announced its readiness to unite with the other armed movements in Darfur and, equally important, emphasized its willingness to reunite with Minni Minawi. Indeed, in mid-May Abdul Wahid and Minni Minawi announced their alliance and vowed to strive together to establish a democratic regime in Sudan. In the same month, a breakaway faction of the LJM and SLA/MM signed a coordination agreement to unify their armed resistance, and a number of SLA splinter groups such as SLA/Juba Unity and SLA/Mother reunited with SLA/AW. A final significant development was the integration of an Arab group, the Revolutionary Democratic Forces Front (RDFF) with SLA/AW in May. All these developments indicate that the Darfur movements are not only reorganizing among themselves, they are also integrating other anti-government factions, including Arabs, against Khartoum.
In order to weaken the Darfur armed groups, the northern Sudanese government made two major decisions. The first was the "New Darfur Strategy," approved by the government in July 2010, which sought to end the Darfur conflict through a skillful use of sticks and carrots: heavy strikes against rebel forces accompanied by economic incentives for the civilian population. To this end, Khartoum has announced a large number of investments and initiatives in the region, some of which have been actualized while others remained dormant.
The second and most recent government initiative was the creation of two new states—Central and East Darfur—in addition to the three existing ones in the north, south and west. According to the 2006 Darfur peace agreement, the government will hold a referendum on the permanent status of Darfur, in which Darfurians will be given two choices: 1) retention of the status quo, in which the three existing states will continue to be directly responsible to the central government; 2) creation of a Darfur region composed of the three states under the Darfur Regional Authority which will be responsible to the government.
The government is in favor of the first option as it consolidates its control over the states and, further, facilitates creation of two more states. Khartoum argues that increasing the number of states will give local leaders the ability to develop closer relations with their constituents, and the internecine disputes will be more effectively resolved. According to the government, peace can only be achieved from the grassroots up. Hence President Bashir held meetings with Darfur leaders in an attempt to reach a common understanding on this matter, and the National Council of Ministers endorsed the creation of East and Central Darfur in early May.
However, these moves failed to impress the rebels. Darfur armed movements demanded that Darfur become one region, which could give them an advantage over the central government as they expect to be supported by the majority of Darfurians. That is to say, they could exert more pressure on the government and potentially succeed in future elections. Against this backdrop, Minawi's SLA/MM accused Khartoum of using divide and rule tactics. At the same time, the JEM charged the government with seeking to divide Darfurians along tribal lines and favoring certain tribes over others, so that the government could share power with the tribes it favors in the new two states (in Central Darfur, the Fur tribe, and in East Darfur, Arab tribes such as the Reizegat). They believe the government is seeking ways to weaken the rebel groups and prevent Darfur from following in the footsteps of South Sudan. After all, the region had been an independent sultanate of the Fur tribe until 1916. SLA leader Abdul Wahid makes clear that he does not want secession for Darfur, but he adds that he cannot prevent others considering the possibility under the current circumstances.
While the armed groups and the government have been strategically, militarily, and politically positioning themselves, the local population has been the ultimate victim of the ongoing and violent clashes. The hotspots include Jabal Marra, Shangil Tobaya, and Dar al-Salam in north Darfur, Kor Abeche in south Darfur, and Jebel Marra in the center of the province. Government air strikes throughout February 2011 resulted in the deaths of many civilians and the destruction of residential areas in Kabkabiya, Wadi Murra, and Sortony in north Darfur. In May, the intensified SAF airstrikes hit villages in Kutum, Kabkabiya, El Fasher in north Darfur and Shaeria, Nyala in south Darfur in a bid to eradicate rebel movements. Yet despite its absolute air superiority, the Sudan Armed Forces have thus far only been partially successful in taking full control of rebel strongholds, and the real victims of the airstrikes have been civilians.
Consequently, camps for internally displaced people, such as the Zam Zam camp in north Darfur, were overloaded with civilians fleeing from air strikes and armed clashes on the ground. According to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, nearly 66,000 civilians have been internally displaced since January 2011 as they fled their homes to camps in north and south Darfur. Yet even this desperate move brought little relief to the hapless refugees as the government, viewing the camps as safe havens for the rebels, cracked down on the camps, both militarily and economically by imposing an economic blockade on the supply of basic commodities and fuel (notably in the Zam Zam camp in early April 2011).
In addition to Darfur, the referendum results have rekindled other problems between Juba and Khartoum for which the Bashir government will feel increasing heat in the coming months.
Among these issues is the status of the Abyei area in south Kordofan, which is particularly important for the governments of both northern and South Sudan because of its rich oil reserves and fertile lands and has become a focal point for violent conflict. According to the 2005 comprehensive peace agreement, the referendum on the future of South Sudan was to be followed by a referendum on Abyei's status to decide whether it should become part of South Sudan or remain in the south Kordofan region of northern Sudan. However, thus far the referendum has not taken place as the issue of eligibility to vote on Abyei's future has not been resolved. Ethnically, Abyei is populated by the Christian Dinka Ngok, who consider themselves part of South Sudan and are supported by the Sudan People's Liberation Movement. According to the peace agreement, only the Dinka were supposed to vote. However, with a view to diluting the region's heavily African identity by injecting an Arab population, Khartoum settled thousands of nomadic Arab Muslims, the Misseriya, who travel to Abyei regularly during the dry season to graze their cattle. Given Bashir's declaration in late March 2011 that the referendum would only be held with Misseriya participation, it is clear that the north will continue to fight for the territory from which it derives substantial oil revenues.
Consequently, the South Sudan government has accused the north of arming the Misseriya and using its paramilitary Popular Defense Forces for raids in Abyei villages. According to U.N. reports, attacks against the Dinka led 20,000-25,000 people to flee to the south. U.N. civilian protection officials assert that by March 16, 2011, clashes between rival communities had claimed more than one hundred lives in Abyei. While the Sudan People's Liberation Movement held Khartoum responsible for the tensions, the northern government argued that the clashes are due to the south's internal problems. The Misseriya, on the other hand, argued that the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) deployed forces disguised as police in Abyei and that these forces attacked them and blocked their migration route. Indeed, the combatant indicators evinced a further increase in the spiral of violence in the territory as recent satellite imagery showed a military buildup in the area. The Harvard Humanitarian Initiative warned that Khartoum was deploying extra security forces in Abyei. By the same token, the commander of the United Nations Mission in Sudan, Maj. Gen. Moses Obi, announced that both the north and south had deployed forces with heavy weapons to the region. Juba and Khartoum agreed to resolve the issue before the south's official independence in July, and Misseriya and Dinka Ngok tribes signed the Kadugli agreement in mid-January to stop the fighting. Yet, these initiatives were not fruitful. Consequently, May 2011 witnessed clashes in Abyei resulting in the deaths of fourteen people followed by SPLM's ambush of a convoy of northern troops and U.N. peacekeepers in which twenty-two SAF soldiers died and which led to the occupation of the area by heavily armed northern troops. According to U.N. officials, nearly 100,000 people, most of them Dinka Ngoks, had to flee from their homes as a result.
The Abyei crisis is only a part of a bigger dispute between the south and the north over the oil-producing state of south Kordofan. Similar to the developments in Abyei, the tension in the region was building. Several incidents created further strains, such as SPLM's allegations against Bashir's National Congress Party of fraud in the southern Kordofan gubernatorial elections and Khartoum's June 1, 2011 ultimatum to SPLA forces to leave the region and the Blue Nile. Consequently, the increase in violence in and around the state capital Kadugli forced an estimated 40,000 people to flee.
The turmoil in south Kordofan poses a new security threat in Sudan as it may expand the battleground from the Darfur conflict, owing to the activities of certain rebel groups in both regions. JEM, whose agenda has always been nationwide and who has close relations with SPLM, has increased activity in the region. Further, JEM is said to be recruiting Arab Misseriya youth unhappy with the government. In the past, the group played an active role in several attacks, such as in Hamrat al-Sheikh in north Kordofan in July 2006, in Wad Banda in west Kordofan in August 2007, against Chinese oil operations in south Kordofan (October and December 2007), and most recently, against an airport used by Chinese oil companies in Heglieg in June 2011. Consequently, JEM's agenda seems to be the integration of anti-government forces in Darfur and south Kordofan—regardless of their ethnic background—and fighting against Khartoum nationwide.
Despite the gloomy picture and Bashir's threats not to recognize the south's independence if it persists in claiming rights over Abyei, the separation of South Sudan took place on July 9, 2011. From the northern perspective, the south's independence will have a constructive impact on Bashir's government in the international arena because of his positive approach to the referendum and his acceptance of the results. From the southern perspective, the south will not risk its independence at this stage by engaging in all-out war with the north. Nevertheless, the level of violence between southern and northern forces as well as their proxies is highly likely to escalate in the contentious areas of southern Kordofan and Darfur in the coming days.
In an attempt to gain leverage, the leaders of both South and northern Sudan hurled accusations at each other of using proxies to further destabilize their respective governments. Khartoum has continuously warned Juba not to support the Darfur movements, which in turn means escalation of violence in the region and further instability for northern Sudan in general.
On the other hand, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement claims to have evidence that Khartoum supplied southern rebels with weapons, so as to enable them to remove the new southern government from power before the official declaration of independence. Since the January referendum, several SPLM defectors, such as Gen. George Athor, Col. Matthew Puol Jang, and most recently Gen. Peter Gadet have been fighting against the Sudan People's Liberation Army. Given the region's poor infrastructure, the heavily armed population, fast spawning SPLA defectors, and the weak government, South Sudan is in danger of being dragged into a civil war especially if the opposing groups receive external support.
Another outstanding issue brought to the fore by the southern secession is that of border demarcation between the north and the south. According to the 2005 peace agreement, a precise demarcation of this border in line with the January 1, 1956 frontier of Sudan's independence day should be agreed upon between the parties. However, the Technical Border Committee established to resolve the issue could not solve all of the border problems between the two parties. Unsatisfied with the current arrangement, the southerners argue that the River Kiir/Bahr al-Arab should constitute the border between the two countries, requiring the north to make territorial concessions. The south has also argued that the mineral-rich Kafia Kingi area, in the horn of southern Darfur, historically belonged to South Sudan. The other contentious border disputes between the northerners and the southerners are between the Sudanese states of the Upper Nile and the White Nile and between the Upper Nile and south Kordofan. These issues are likely to contribute to further armed clashes in the near future unless a flexible solution, such as the recognition of soft borders between the two states, is rapidly implemented.
The January 2011 referendum has rekindled old conflicts and created new bones of contention. Khartoum will have to deal with the rebel movements in both Darfur and south Kordofan, which are both likely to continue supporting each other against their mutual adversary. Khartoum will also have to establish a working relationship with the independent government of South Sudan despite the existence of several unresolved issues. Any retaliatory measures by the northern government are liable to produce further instability, not only for its adversaries but also for northern Sudan. More than ever before, the Sudanese government is confronted with a string of ticking time bombs, ready to explode at the first available opportunity.
 Julie Flint, "Darfur's Armed Movements," in Alex de Waal, ed., War in Darfur and the Search for Peace (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2007), pp. 148, 160.
 Agence France-Presse, Nov. 13, 2010; Bloomberg News, Jan. 5, 2011.
 Agence France-Presse, Mar. 23, 2011.
 Radio Dabanga (Darfur), Mar. 22, 23, 2011.
 Ibid., Mar. 24, 2011.
 Sudan Tribune (Paris), May 16, 2011.
 SudanJem.com (Sudan Justice and Equality Movement), Mar. 28, 2011.
 Sudan Tribune, May 10, 2011.
 Terrorism Monitor (Jamestown Foundation, Washington, D.C.), June 2, 2011.
 Sudan Tribune, July 31, 2010.
 Ibid., May 5, 2011.
 Sudan Vision Daily (Khartoum), Mar. 24, 2011.
 Agence France-Presse, May 5, 2011.
 Reuters, Apr. 24, 2011.
 Sudan Tribune, May 5, 2011.
 Sudan Vision Daily, Mar. 24, 2011; The Independent (London), Mar. 18, 2011.
 Edward Thomas, The Kafia Kingi Enclave (London: Rift Valley Institute, 2010), p. 28.
 Terrorism Monitor, June 2, 2011.
 Sudan Tribune, Mar. 9, 2011.
 Agence France-Presse, May 18, 2011.
 U.N. Integrated Regional Information Networks via COMTEX, Mar. 16, 2011.
 Radio Dabanga, Apr. 5, 2011.
 Sudan Tribune, Apr. 1, 2011.
 Ibid., Mar. 31, 2011.
 Ibid., Apr. 4, 2011; Associated Press, Mar. 23, 2011; U.N. News Center, New York, Mar. 16, 2011.
 Sudan Tribune, Feb. 28, 2011.
 Agence France-Presse, Mar. 23, 2011.
 Reuters, Mar. 30, 2011.
 Sudan Tribune, Jan. 29, 2011.
 Agence France-Presse, May 3, 2011; Reuters, May 30, 2011.
 Agence France-Presse, June 12, 2011.
 Ibid., June 5, 2011.
 Ibid., June 12, 2011.
 Small Arms Survey (Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva), June 4, 2011.
 Jerome Tubiana, "Renouncing the Rebels: Local and Regional Dimensions of Chad–Sudan Rapprochement," Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mar. 2011, p. 61; Sudan Tribune, June 14, 2011.
 BBC, Apr. 28, 2011.
 Reuters, May 26, 2011.
 Radio Miraya (U.N. Mission in Sudan and Swiss NGO Fondation Hirondelle, Juba and Khartoum), Mar. 23, 2011.
 Xinhua News Agency (Beijing), Mar. 31, 2011; Agence France-Presse, May 21, 2011.