Jul 13 2014

Islamic Hatred: The Foundation of the Palestinian/Israeli Conflict

Tag: Israel: Middle EastSage @ 6:04 pm

From KHouse.Org

The beauty, more aptly stated, the ugly in writing about the Middle East is nothing really changes. You could do a piece today or a decade ago about a homicide bomber, or “peace talks” being broken off for some reason or other, or violence escalating. The dictates fueling this contention remain the same.

Arafat Turns Down Peace

The following is a summation according to Dennis Ross, the senior adviser to President Clinton at the Taba negotiations in 2000:

  1. Yasser Arafat presented no ideas at Camp David.
  2. The Taba talks would have happened in late September if not for the outbreak of violence. Arafat knew the US was ready to make a proposal and thus promised to control the violence, but didn’t. (I think he was hoping that he could leverage the violence into political gain.)
  3. All of Gaza and a net of 97% of the West Bank were offered at Taba.
  4. The West Bank area offered was contiguous, not “cantons.”
  5. The Jordan valley would be under Israeli patrol for only 6 years.
  6. The Palestinians were offered a capital in eastern Jerusalem.
  7. There would be a “Right of Return” to the nascent Palestinian state.
  8. A $30 Billion fund to compensate refugees would be set up.
  9. Taba was rushed due to Clinton’s, not Barak’s, end of term.
  10. Members of the PA delegation thought Taba was the best they could hope to get and encouraged Arafat to accept it.
  11. Arafat accepted everything he was given at Taba, but rejected everything he was supposed to give.

Arafat scuttled the Camp David offer. Arafat scuttled the Taba offer. Arafat scuttled the Mitchell plan. Arafat scuttled the Tenet plan. Arafat scuttled the Zinni plan.

Most looking for a “just” solution to this age-old conflict would agree with Ross on this one. But equally the old adage, “the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity” also came into play 8 years later.

Abbas Turns Down Peace

On September 16, 2008, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert presented Mahoud Abbas with a similar plan for a two-state solution: He offered to make Jerusalem the capital of two states—Israel in the western part and a Palestinian capital in the east. The Old City of Jerusalem would be administered by a committee made up of so-called wise people including Palestinians, Jordanians, Saudis, Americans and Israelis. Surprising to some but not to others, Abbas likewise turned it down.

Short of total Israeli capitulation on all topics of concern, it’s evident these issues—including statehood itself—are not what’s driving this conflict. If it was, a compromise could have been reached 66 years ago when the Arab world turned down the creation of a free, democratic, Palestinian state to live peacefully alongside its nascent sibling, the Jewish state of Israel.

Foreshadowing the future, the night before the U.N. was to vote on Partition, September 16, 1947, Arab League Secretary Azzam Pasha, as would his successors in years to come, rejected compromise and statehood opting instead for war. What was his motivation? Why would Arafat and Abbas later follow suit?

For anyone not named Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, or George W. Bush for that matter, it’s not difficult to ascertain. This is not and never was a secular dispute.

Islamic Hatred of Jews

The underlining issue here is indoctrinate enmity of Jews taught to generations of Palestinians, past, present and most likely future.

As moms and dads get ready to send their kids off to summer camp to participate in boating, camping, and sports, Palestinian parents are sending nearly 10,000 boys at a time to another type of camp in the Gaza Strip.

At this camp some of the crafts taught are how to kidnap an Israeli soldier. Children between the ages of 6–16 are enriched by learning the fine art of crawling under barbed wire. The final activity for the day is a game of jumping over burning tires and ducking for cover behind sandbags as counselors fire live rounds over their heads.

The detestation of Jews, not just Israelis, is intrinsic in the Islamic world. No Pollyanna, political spin can deny this. To be certain, the hatred is populist, it’s ubiquitous amongst the Palestinian people, the vast majority of which are adamantly opposed to any rapprochement with Israel.

What animus can be greater than a mother happily sending her children to commit suicide for the sake of a cause?

At the funeral of Izz Al-Din Al-Masr, the infamous homicide killer that blew up the Sbarro restaurant killing 15 people in 2001, his mother had this to say:

By Allah, today is the best day of my life. I feel that our Lord is pleased with me, because I am offering something [my son] for Him. I wish to sacrifice more [sons] for Allah’s forgiveness, and for the flag of Islam.

Juxtapose this admonition with that of Naphtali Fraenkel’s mother, one of the kidnapped [and murdered] Israeli teenagers: “We just want to embrace our children.” It’s unmistakable, the Palestinian mindset indicates a theological clash of civilizations, not a secular dispute.

Such rancor is beyond the limits most rational people can fathom. Yet it’s the reality of the Middle East conflict. As they’ve pressured and cajoled Israel into unrequited tangible concessions, it’s perplexing that the Obama Administration doesn’t distinguish or doesn’t care to recognize that from the Palestinian standpoint, this is a holy war. Palestinian mothers aren’t sending their kids off to meet Allah because some guy extended his porch in a Jewish settlement.

More likely they are responding to the invocations of a moderator at a Fatah event in 2012 who proclaimed: “Our war with the descendants of the apes and pigs (i.e., Jews) is a war of religion and faith. Long Live Fatah!” At least he’s honest. Lauding the “moderate” faction of the new “unity” government, the speaker was just echoing Article 7 of the Hamas Charter of 1988:

“Hamas has been looking forward to implementing Allah’s promise, whatever time it might take. The prophet [Muhammad] said: ‘The time (of Resurrection) will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews; until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: 0 Muslim! there is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him!’”

— Sahih Muslim, Book 41, Number 6985

This quote and countless others come from scriptures in the Koran and the words of the Prophet Muhammad found in the Hadith.

The crux of this conflict goes even beyond dar-al Islam, the Islamic concept which doesn’t allow for a non-Muslim country to exist on land claimed by Islam. The expressed aims of Hamas, Hezbollah, and their offshoots isn’t just to banish Israelis from Israel, or even to return them to submissive dhimitude, it’s to kill Jews—plain and simple. Political correctness aside, that’s the bottom line that even the Left in Israel is grudgingly beginning to acknowledge.

As stated earlier, when speaking of the Middle East conflict, nothing ever changes except employing modern tools, and resurgent Islam is once again on the move. For those willing to remove blinders from their eyes it’s not difficult to ascertain that the Palestinian/Israeli conflict is just one battle in a religious war being fought by Muslim zealots throughout the world. In defeating Islam at the battle of Tours in 732, Charles Martel recognized this. Hopefully, before it’s too late Western leaders will see it as well today.

Jerry Sobel is a writer specializing in the Middle East conflict. For the past 40 years his essays have appeared in hard copy and cyber publications throughout the world. The Israeli Advocate goes out to 26,000 people, once a month.


  • “Kill Jews for Allah”
    — Palwatch
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    Jul 13 2014

    Hacking the Think Tanks

    Tag: Israel: Middle EastSage @ 5:48 pm

    From American Thinker.Com

    Shifting its focus from spying on the countries on its periphery, cyber experts say China has moved to interests farther afield. Specifically, China’s leaders have apparently been trying to figure out what the United States is going to do about the emerging chaos in Iraq after ISIS seized over a third of Iraqi territory. In an operation called “Deep Panda,” Chinese cyber spies targeted the top strategic think tanks and policy organizations in Washington for answers.

    It has long been the case that China’s “official” hackers targeted U.S. government organizations and institutions. But focusing on think tanks is something that is, apparently, new.

    One presumes that the Chinese wanted to read the private e-mails as well as texts and opinion pieces of American-based experts to try toget an inside handle on America’s strategic posture toward Iraq. While we don’t know which organizations were targeted, it is likely the Chinese chose the ones they felt are most closely aligned with the current administration because their experts would have close ties to Obama’s National Security Council, Pentagon, CIA, State Department and, possibly, to other “insiders” who use think tanks as sounding boards.

    It has been said that one can eat out every day in Washington by visiting different policy organizations for the ubiquitous “luncheon panel and discussion.” Foreign governments with representation in Washington, who generally devote a lot of effort to gleaning policy information, often find it easier to learn the nuances of American government thinking and talk to those who talk to administration sources than it is to get appointments with the sources themselves. China, like Russia, and all the friendlier countries (UK, Japan, Israel, and many others) make the rounds, collect information, and send it home.

    But this time, China opted to collect information by hacking, not meeting. Why?

    By relying on a secret operation to steal information, China’s leaders probably thought they could find out more than think tank specialists would be willing to tell them in public discussions. For one thing, China is not in good odor today, even with the liberal think tanks that support the Obama Administration. That is in part because China is a growing power and increasingly a threat to American interests. But the bigger reason is that China’s increasingly poor track record on human rights and freedom is offensive both to liberal and conservative thinkers in Washington. A Chinese official, even one who ostensibly presents him/herself as an independent academic seeking information, is likely to be accosted with complaints about China’s behavior toward dissidents and minorities. From China’s perspective, this results in low productivity garnering needed information. Thus there is reason to believe that China needs to steal information because it cannot get it through “normal” channels.

    China maintains a sophisticated hacking capability with all the latest technology and almost certainly has been following the relationships among think tank experts and administration officials — this administration and prior ones — for years. The incorrigible sloppiness of Americans toward their own security is certainly well known to the Chinese, and it goes without saying that they exploit it. The blabbermouths on cellphones, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and everywhere else not only provide timely information on specific policy subjects, but the Chinese can easily connect the dots and figure out who is connected to whom and which relationships are the most productive. A think tank leader, therefore, will be known to the Chinese not only for what he or she says, but also by his best connections, his reliability as a source, and his influence in decision-making circles. The rapid shift of operational hacking resources to find out about Iraq was easy for the Chinese. They had already mapped the network and only needed to probe more deeply and urgently to get answers to their specific questions.

    Why was Iraq so important?

    China is a relatively big industrial player in Iraq. Iraq is China’s fifth-largest overseas oil supplier behind top producer Saudi Arabia, and China as an imported oil consumer is larger than the United States. Unlike the United States, however, China has no military capability of any significance in the Middle East and cannot either ensure the stability of oil-supplying regimes or protect the sea lines of communication (SLOC) that bring the oil to China’s refineries. Ironically, while China is in the midst of a significant military buildup challenging U.S. interests in Asia, China is depending entirely on the U.S. for protection of its vital oil supplies. While Americans don’t generally recognize it, a substantial part of our defense budget directly benefits China in this way while, at the same time, China is assiduously stealing American defense secrets in an unparalleled, brazen manner.

    While China could live without Iraq’s oil, and can afford even to lose the $3 billion or so it has invested in Iraqi oil projects, the main Chinese interest is the risk that an out of control Iraq will lead to a general political collapse even beyond Iraq’s borders. A blow-up in Saudi Arabia, for example, could create chaos in China itself.

    This is the same threat that, naturally, concerns the U.S. and its European allies. But, if the Chinese have been listening carefully, as they have, they won’t be very happy with what they are hearing through their hacking channels. Right now an effective military response by the United States to the increasing chaos in Iraq seems unlikely, and the U.S. position is further complicated by the administration’s foolish attempt to find common ground with the Iranians and Syrians (along with Hizb’allah). This moronic move will do nothing more than further frighten Saudi Arabia and push the Sunni Kingdom into ISIS’s outstretched and wicked arms.

    In short, China’s leaders have good reason to be depressed. All their hacking is likely to tell them is that America is not coming to rescue their economic or energy position in Iraq.

    Stephen Bryen is Chairman, Ziklag Systems, a mobile security company. Shoshana Bryen is Senior Director of The Jewish Policy Center and Editor, InFOCUS Magazine.

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    Jul 13 2014

    Many Egyptians openly hope that Hamas is destroyed

    Tag: Israel: Middle EastSage @ 5:35 pm

    From American Thinker.Com

    There are a few good things coming out if the current turmoil in the Middle East. One of them is that at last sensible voices are being heard, here and there, in reaction to the crazies and haters that doomed Arabs for so many decades, distracting them from the urgent task of improving their own lives with the obsession over Jews occupying a small sliver of land in the territory they conquered centuries ago, taking it away from the Jews and Christians who had preceded them.

    Egypt, which tasted and rejected Moslem Brotherhood rule, lives very close to the margin of starvation, sustained only by vast financial aid from Saudi Arabia. In Egypt, ruled by an anti-MB military regime under General Sisi, we are seeing prominent voices supporting the destruction of Hamas, uncluding the deputy editor of Al Ahram, the influential daily newspaper. Via The Elder of Ziyon:

    There was a big stir in Arabic media over this Facebook post by Azza Sami, deputy editor of Egypt’s’Al Ahram newspaper. It translates to:

    Bless you Netanyahu, may Allah make a lot of people like you to destroy Hamas,the base of corruption, treachery and being an agent for the (Muslim) Brotherhood. By Allah, whoever tells me “forbidden (to say this)”, I don’t know what I’ll do.

    She later responded to critics:

    I’d like to make my position clear. I did indeed make fun of Netanyahu that he threatened to finish Hamas off despite the fact that for years he hasn’t been able to deal with it, and he even had to run to Mursi in order to have a ceasefire with (Hamas). The US administration praised Mursi for his success in this. As for Hamas and my accusation of it that it is treasonous: I believe I haven’t said anything new. I made my position clear for the Palestinian people, that I didn’t mean to call for striking Gaza. I haven’t mentioned Gaza with even one word. My (Facebook) page is private and it doesn’t express the newspaper’s opinion.

    The Gatestone Institute also reports on voices rising in Egypt against Hamas:

    Palestinian Authority [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas telephoned Sisi and urged him to intervene to achieve an “immediate ceasefire” between Israel and Hamas. Abbas later admitted that his appeal to Sisi and (other Arab leaders) had fallen on deaf ears.

    Sisi’s decision not to intervene in the current crisis did not come as a surprise. In fact, Sisi and many Egyptians seem to be delighted that Hamas is being badly hurt.

    Some Egyptians are even openly expressing hope that Israel will completely destroy Hamas, which they regard as the “armed branch of the Muslim Brotherhood terrorist organization.”

    Sisi’s Egypt has not forgiven Hamas for its alliance with Muslim Brotherhood and its involvement in terrorist attacks against Egyptian civilians and soldiers over the past year.

    The Egyptians today understand that Hamas and other radical Islamist groups pose a serious threat to their national security. That is why the Egyptian authorities have, over the past year, been taking tough security measures not only against Hamas, but also the entire population of the Gaza Strip. (snip)

    The reaction of some Egyptians to the Israeli military operation has shocked Hamas and other Palestinians. As one Hamas spokesman noted: “It’s disgraceful to see that some Egyptians are publicly supporting the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip while Westerners are expressing solidarity with the Palestinians and condemning Israel.”

    Addressing the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, Egyptian actor Amr Mustafa said that they should not expect any help from the Egyptians. “You must get rid of Hamas and we will help you,” he said. He also called on Hamas to stop meddling in the internal affairs of Arab countries. “Pull your men out of Egypt, Syria and Libya,” Mustafa demanded. “In Egypt, we are today fighting poverty that was caused by wars. We have enough of our own problems. Don’t expect the Egyptians to give more than what they have already given. We’ve had enough of what you did to our country.”

    In response to Egyptian Defense Minister Sedki Sobhi’s decision to dispatch 500 tons of food and medical aid to the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, the Egyptian newspaper El-Bashayer remarked: “The standard of living for a Gazan citizen is much higher than that of an Egyptian citizen. The poor in Egypt are more in need than the poor in the Gaza Strip. Let Qatar spend as much as it wants on the Gaza Strip. We should not send anything that Egyptians are in need of.”

    Famous Egyptian TV presenter and journalist Amr Adeeb has been told by many Egyptians to “shut up” after his criticism of Sisi’s “silence” toward the war in the Gaza Strip.

    One Egyptian reminded Adeeb that “Hamas is responsible for the killing of Egyptian soldiers.”

    Egyptian ex-general Hamdi Bakhit was quoted as expressing hope that Israel would re-occupy the Gaza Strip. “This would be better than the Hamas rule,” he said.

    Egyptian TV presenter Amany al-Khayat launched a scathing attack on Hamas.

    She pointed out that Hamas agreed to the reconciliation pact with Fatah only in order to get salaries for its employees in the Gaza Strip.

    Al-Khayat said that Hamas was seeking to depict itself as a victim of an Israeli attack only in order to get the Egyptian authorities to reopen the Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip. “They just want us to open the Rafah border crossing,” she said on her show. “Hamas is prepared to make all the residents of the Gaza Strip pay a heavy price in order to rid itself of its crisis. We must not forget that Hamas is the armed branch of the Muslim Brotherhood terrorist movement.”

    Hat tip: Clarice Feldman

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    Jul 12 2014

    Iraq’s League of the Righteous: Our Friend in Iraq and Enemy in Syria

    Tag: Israel: Middle EastSage @ 4:55 pm

    From American Thinker.Com

    One of the groups that America, and perhaps also the UK, may be helping (with training and funding) to fight ISIS in Iraq is Asaib Ahl al-Haq — the League of the Righteous. This group is a Shia militia led by Sheik Qais al-Khazali. It’s also funded and trained by both Iran and Lebanon’s Hizb’allah.

    Of course, it can be said that any help the American government will be offering will be to the Iraqi army; not to groups like the League of the Righteous. However, there doesn’t really seem to be much of an Iraqi army to speak of. It was the troops of the Iraqi army who either gave up — more or less without fighting — or deserted in response to the preliminary advances of ISIS. (90,000 Iraqi soldiers, in total, deserted.) So all the Iraqi government — if not the Iraqis themselves — really has are its militias.

    The League of the Righteous (Asaib Ahl al-Haq)

    By 2011, the League of the Righteous had carried out over 6,000 operations against the Americans, the Iraqi army and the Coalition.

    At present, the League of the Righteous has around 10,000 men, which, on some counts at least, is less than ISIS.

    The League of the Righteous is not only funded and trained by Iran, it’s actually controlled by it. Indeed it operates under the jurisdiction of an Iranian general, Qassem Suleimani, who is the head of Iran’s Quds Force. (This group was featured in the news a couple of weeks ago when it sent 100 “advisers” to Iraq.)

    In terms of Hizb’allah, not only has the League of the Righteous been funded and trained by it: this Lebanese terrorist group has also been active in Iraq in recent years.

    The League of the Righteous is a typical Islamic fighting force in that it fulfils three Islamic requirements: it’s a political force, a military force, and a religious force. In fact the military, political, and religious are often blended together in Islam; as the “example of the Prophet” graphically shows.

    On Monday the BBC’s Jeremy Bowen met a military — rather than religious — leader of the League of the Righteous. One of the first things he said to Bowen was that he is “a hard man”. It’s not surprising, then, that his paramilitary group prides itself on being extreme. It has more or less said that it could happily outdo ISIS when it comes to sectarianism if it needs to. And indeed the League has done so in the past.

    To give just one example of how the League of the Righteous replicates the sectarian actions and attitudes of ISIS, take the case when it stormed a Sunni mosque in Baghdad’s Al-Amin al-Thaniyah district (in August 2012) and converted it into a Shia mosque. All Baghdad’s Sunnis were thenceforth banned from entering their own place of worship.

    The League of the Righetous (or Asaib Ahl al-Haq) has also said that ISIS “is terrified” by the thought of going into battle against it.

    The lesson to be learned here is that Shia Islam can be as extreme as Sunni Islam; it just depends on the time and the place.

    The League of the Righteous in Syria

    The important point is that the League of the Righteous has fought in Syria in defense of Bashar al-Assad’s regime. That’s not a surprise. Assad is a Shia (i.e., Alawite).

    It has fought alongside and been funded by Hizb’allah. This Lebanese Islamic group is also Shia.

    The League has also been trained and funded by Iran. Yes, Iran is a Shia theocracy.

    In terms of Syria itself, it has been reported that there are between 8,000 and 15,000 non-Syrian Shia (mainly Iraqi) fighting against the Sunni rebels in Syria. In fact those non-Syrian Shia will be fighting against many non-Syrian Sunnis (including ISIS and Sunnis from the UK).

    So this is the scenario.

    The U.S. is training and funding Sunni “radicals” to fight Bashar Assad’s regime.

    The U.S. may well be also training and funding Shia militias in Iraq to fight ISIS in Iraq.

    Now here’s the crunch.

    Some of the Shia that the U.S. may be training and funding in Iraq will be fighting the Sunni radicals in Syria. That means that the U.S. is both supporting and fighting the same groups. In other words, the American government is supporting Shia in Iraq; though it’s fighting them in Syria. And it’s supporting Sunnis in Syria; while fighting them in Iraq. Sure, the U.S. isn’t fighting and supporting the same groups in Iraq. Nor is it doing that in Syria. Still, it is fighting groups in Syria that it’s supporting in Iraq.

    Now all this could be played down by the American government simply by saying that the League of the Righteous hasn’t got an important or relevant role in Syria. However, the Shia militia does have a fighting force, the Haidar al-Karar Brigades, in Syria which has already fought in southern Damascus and West Aleppo against the Sunni “rebels”.

    In any case, even if Iraq’s Shia militias weren’t fighting in Syria (which they are), the Iraqi government itself wants still the Assad regime to survive and the Sunni rebels to be defeated. Thus, if we forget the League of the Righteous for one moment, we can still say that the American government is supporting a regime (the Iraqi government) which supports another regime (Assad’s government) which it is also fighting against.

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    Jul 09 2014

    Israel expands offensive against Hamas; readies ground forces

    Tag: Israel: Middle EastSage @ 4:34 pm

    From American Thinker.Com

    The Israeli air force pounded more than 100 targets in Gaza yesterday as the cabinet approved the call up of 40,000 reservists.The escalation is in response to the more than 160 rockets fired by Hamas into Israel, some of which reached far into Israel’s interior.

    Washington Post:

    Since the Israeli offensive, dubbed Operation Protective Edge, began Tuesday, Israel has attacked more than 400 sites in Gaza, killing at least 24 people and wounding hundreds of others.

    Wednesday’s strikes came after Palestinian militants from Gaza fired more than 160 rockets at Israel, including one that reached the northern Israeli city of Hadera, some 70 miles from Gaza, for the first time. There were no reports of injuries from the rocket attacks, with most falling in open fields or intercepted by Israel.

    The Israeli military says the Hamas rocket that struck Hadera was an M-302 class rocket, similar to ones found aboard a freighter that the Israelis intercepted in the Red Sea in March. The ship was ferrying a load of Iranian arms to Gaza when it was stopped, the Israelis said. They said Hamas militants have dozens of rockets capable of striking deeper into Israel than ever before.

    The Israeli army said it attacked more than 160 sites in Gaza early Wednesday, including concealed rocket launching sites, Hamas compounds and militant command centers.

    The fighting, the heaviest between Palestinian militants and Israel since an eight-day battle in 2012, was sparked by the abduction and killing of three Israeli students and a Palestinian teenager.

    Warning sirens Tuesday night sent Israelis scrambling for bomb shelters in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, where a police spokesman said three rockets landed on the city’s outskirts. Israel said that its missile-interception systems blocked 29 of the rockets, including two over Tel Aviv, and that no injuries or major damage were reported.

    Palestinian President Abbas has asked new Egyptian President al-Sisi to intervene on the behalf of Hamas and get Israel to agree to a cease fire. No doubt they will - right after their military objectives have been achieved. Whether that includes some kind of ground operation remains to be seen, but if there is, it will probably be limited in scope. As is their custom, many Hamas facilities are located next to schools and hospitals, making bombing them a dicey proposition. Ground troops can be more surgical in their approach, thus lessening civilian casualties.

    Little noticed has been the great success of Iron Dome, the Israeli missile defense system. The IDF reports that “missiles from the system had intercepted 56 rockets fired out of Gaza, preventing strikes in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Kiryat Gat and elsewhere.” That’s a lot of lives potentially saved by Israeli’s home grown missile defense system.

    That battle is likely to last a few more days, but Israel would like to complete its mission as soon as possible before major international pressure on them can be brought to bear.

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    Jul 04 2014

    Starvation and the Middle East

    Tag: Israel: Middle EastSage @ 6:47 pm

    From American Thinker.Com

    A lot of the folktales we were told as children involved starving peasant children begging for scraps of bread.  That is what happened in Europe during the creation of our folk memory.  People spent a lot of their lives on an involuntary calorie-restricted diet.  The stories from those times do not involve twelve year old girls getting ponies for their birthday or the horror of an older teenager getting the wrong-colored car for her birthday.  Starvation is what stopped the human population blowing out to 10 billion thousands of years ago.

    As a civilisation, we have largely forgotten about starvation because of two technical advances: 1) the Haber process enables coal or natural gas to power the conversion of atmospheric nitrogen to fertilizer (the source of half the protein on our plates) and; 2) the green revolution pioneered by Norman Borlaug.  That is all by way of background, and is history.

    Meanwhile, population growth in some places is still galloping along.  For example the population of the West African country of Gambia is doubling every 26 years.  Gambia is importing food now, so all the growth in population, while it continues, will have to be fed with imported grain.  It is a game of musical chairs that will end in tears when the music stops.  But nobody cares much what happens in West Africa.  Perhaps the supply of cocoa beans for making chocolate will be interrupted.  At the time of West Africa’s inevitable starvation and population collapse, everyone else on the planet will be more focussed on their own survival and getting bread into their own children’s mouths.

    There is another region on the planet that has a date with destiny on the musical chairs dance card.  It is a region that is troubling the world needlessly when you consider the big picture.  The Middle East-North Africa (MENA) region has 500 million Arabs, Persians, North Africans and others living in an area with an agricultural system that can support half that number.  The region as a whole has a population doubling time of 34 years.  While they are being fed, they breed.  All that does is increase the number of people who ultimately will be dying of starvation.  In the meantime some might be beheaded by an ISIS jihadi.  But most of those who escape that fate won’t live their allotted span of three score years and ten and then die peacefully in their sleep.  Nothing can be done to avoid this outcome.  Nothing.  And neither should any time or treasure be wasted in worrying about it either.

    The only thing uncertain about the MENA game of musical chairs is when the music stops.  It might stop due to an external factor such as a hard, late-spring frost in the Corn Belt causing a grain shortage.  It might be due to the collapse of civil administration in Yemen stopping the distribution of subsidised food.  The spectacle of mass starvation will cause the governments of countries that import food, which is most of them, to scramble for whatever grain stocks they can get their hands on.  Thus a localised outbreak of starvation will turn into a contagion.

    Some parties on the planet are well aware that this is going to happen and want everyone to starve together rather than have nations being responsible for the consequences of their own actions.  Thus the perfidious French concocted a scheme at the 2011 G20 meeting of agriculture ministers to require grain trading companies to report all their contracts to a central authority.  Auditing is the basis of control.  As with most of these sorts of schemes, it is a conspiracy of the profligate against the provident.  In other words the French and their fellow travellers tried to gang up on the US, as they did with the carbon tax.

    Europe is in a precarious position.  In worshipping the false god of climate change, they have managed to destroy a lot of their power industry to the extent that the International Energy Agency is warning that the lights are likely to go out. They import most of their oil and a lot of their gas comes from Russia.  But while they are cold and in the dark, they might also be starving.  This graph showing wheat stocks as a proportion of annual consumption plotted against per capita consumption for a number of wheat producing and consuming countries and regions:

    Most countries with a culture of eating wheat have a per capita consumption in the range of 200 to 250 kg per annum.  While the EU is currently a net exporter of wheat, that could easily reverse with a bad season.  There are no stocks in the EU system to cushion a bad outcome.  Though not a part of the EU, Norway is an example of Europe’s forgetfulness of its heritage of starvation.  Norway had a bad time in WW2 and so undertook to keep two years’ worth of wheat consumption in storage ever after.  Those stocks for a rainy day were sold off in 1996 and the grain silos converted to student accommodation.  It took two generations to forget the bitter lessons of WW2 and thus the next generation will have to relearn them.

    We have digressed — back to the MENA region.  The fate of the region is a collapse event with the deaths of several hundred million people when the grain ships stop arriving.  Democracies or any other type of regime can’t be installed with any hope that they will endure.  The Syrian cities that are now rubble are just another layer (funded by fossil fuels) of civilisation on top of the ruins that preceded them.  The whole region will end up like that.  Don’t get involved.  Don’t get fond of anyone in the region or choose one over the other.

    If you try to fix one of their problems you get to own all of their problems, and all of their problems are intractable.  Don’t bother to even learn their names.  The reasons some of them might be upset with the rest of the world count for nothing.  Don’t parlay with them because their undertakings mean nothing in the long term.  And when they stop paying for their grain, don’t send them grain.  Don’t let them into this country, and don’t pretend that their civilisations, with all their repellent customs, are worth visiting.  That is a list of seven don’ts.  That is all that is need be known.

    The Romans had similar problems in the region two thousand years ago.  Their response to being attacked was to wipe out the entire population of the country or tribe that attacked them.  We don’t have to go that far these days.  All we have to do is remove the errant leadership of the offending entity. Sometimes that will have to be pre-emptive as when a nuclear state has undertaken to destroy the US.

    What of the oil, you might ask?  With respect to disruption of oil supply, any suffering on our part is of our own choosing.  We have it in our gift to make all of our transport fuels with our own resources with those sources being economically viable at the current oil price.  The economics of those sources will only improve as events unfold in the Middle East.  We will get to energy independence but it would be better to get there from our own efforts first rather than have it forced upon us.

    David Archibald, a Visiting Fellow at the Institute of World Politics in Washington, D.C., is the author of Twilight of Abundance: Why Life in the 21st Century Will Be Nasty, Brutish, and Short (Regnery, 2014).

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    Jul 03 2014

    Will ISIS Open The Door For Turkey To Reclaim The Ottoman Empire?

    Tag: Israel: Middle EastSage @ 5:57 pm

    From Prophecy News Watch.Com

    For most Westerners, Turkey is a hard nut to crack.

    How can you understand a state sponsor of terrorism that is also a member of NATO?

    How can you explain Turkey’s facilitation of Kurdish independence in Iraq in light of Turkey’s hundred-year opposition to Kurdish independence?

    What is Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyep Erdogan trying to accomplish here?

    Is he nuts?

    On the terrorism support front, today Turkey vies with Iran for the title of leading state sponsor of terrorism.

    First there is Hamas.

    Last week an Israeli security official told the media that the abduction of Naftali Frankel, Gilad Shaer and Eyal Yifrah was organized and directed by Saleh al-Arouri, a Hamas commander operating out of Turkey.

    Turkey has welcomed Hamas to its territory and served as its chief booster to the West since the jihadist terror group won the Palestinian legislative elections in 2006. Erdogan has played a key role in getting the EU to view Hamas as a legitimate actor, despite its avowedly genocidal goals.

    Then there is al-Qaida. As Daniel Pipes documented in The Washington Times last week, Turkey has been the largest supporter and enabler of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS).

    Erdogan’s government has allowed ISIS fighters to train in Turkey and cross the border between Turkey and Syria at will to participate in the fighting. Moreover, according to Pipes, Turkey “provided the bulk of ISIS’s funds, logistics, training and arms.”

    Similarly, Turkey has sponsored the al-Nusra Front, ISIS’s al-Qaida counterpart and ally in Syria.

    The Assad regime is not the Turkish- sponsored al-Qaida-aligned forces’ only target in Syria. They have also been engaged in heavy fighting against Rojava, the emerging Kurdish state in northwest Syria. Yet the same Turkey that is sponsoring al-Qaida’s assault on Syrian Kurdistan is facilitating the independence of Iraqi Kurdistan.

    In breach of Iraqi law that requires the Kurds to sell their oil through the central government and share oil revenues with the central government, earlier this month Turkey signed a 50-year deal allowing the Kurds to export oil to the world market through a Turkish pipeline. The Kurds are currently pumping around 120,000 barrels of oil a day to the Turkish port of Ceyhan.

    Top Turkish officials have in recent weeks come out openly in support for Iraqi Kurdish independence from Baghdad.

    Following ISIS’s takeover of Mosul, Huseyin Celik, the spokesman for Erdogan’s ruling AKP party told the Kurdish Rudaw news service, “It has become clear for us that Iraq has practically become divided into three parts.”

    Blaming Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for Iraq’s instability Celik said, “The Kurds of Iraq can decide where to live and under what title they want to live. Turkey does not decide for them.”

    To date, most Western analyses of the Erdogan regime’s behavior have come up short because their authors ignore its strategic goal. In this failing, analyses of Turkey are similar to those of its Shi’ite counterpart in Iran. And both regimes’ goals are wished away for the same reason: Western observers can’t identify with them.

    Iran is not a status quo power. It is a revolutionary power. Iran’s goal is not regional hegemony per se, but global supremacy. As Lee Smith recently noted, two decades before al-Qaida and its goal of establishing a global Islamic caliphate burst onto the scene, Ayatollah Khomeini had already made the Islamic division of the world into the House of Islam and the House of War the basis for Iran’s foreign policy. He viewed his Shi’ite theocracy as the rightful leader of the Islamic empire that would destroy all non-believers and their civilization.

    Iran’s first act of foreign policy – the takeover of the US Embassy in Teheran – was a declaration of war not only against the US, but against the nation state system as a whole.

    Iran uses terror, irregular warfare and subversion to achieve its ends because such tactics induce chaos.

    As Iran expert Michael Ledeen wrote last week, to defeat the US in Iraq, “the Iranian regime provoked all manner of violence, from tribal to ethnic, because they believed they were better able to operate in chaos.”

    The US failed to understand Iran’s strategy because the US was unable to reconcile itself with the fact that other actors do not seek stability as it does.

    Like Iran’s mullahs, Erdogan and his colleagues also reject the nation-state system. In their case, they wish to replace it with a restored Ottoman Empire.

    Spelling out his goal in a speech in the spring of 2012, Erdogan described Turkey’s mission thus: “On the historic march of our holy nation, the AK Party signals the birth of a global power and the mission for a new world order. This is the centenary of our exit from the Middle East [following the Ottoman defeat in World War I]. Whatever we lost between 1911 and 1923, whatever lands we withdrew from, from 2011 to 2023 we shall once again meet our brothers in those lands.”

    To achieve this goal, like Iran, Turkey seeks to destabilize states and reduce peoples to their ethnic, sub-national identities. The notion is that by dividing societies into their component parts, the various groups will all be weaker than one unified state, and all of them will feel threatened by one another and in need of outside support.

    This is the same model Erdogan is following in Turkey itself as he remakes it in his Ottoman mold.

    As Amir Taheri explained last October, Erdogan has been encouraging members of ethnic groups that long ago melted into the larger Turkish culture to rediscover their disparate identities, learn their unique languages and so separate out from the majority culture of the country. At the same time he is repressing the Kurds, Alevis and Armenians, minorities that have maintained their identities at great cost.

    In parallel to his attempt to subsume the Kurds, Alevis and Armenians into a wider morass of separate sub-Turkish ethnicities, Erdogan has been assiduously cultivating hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood associations to enable their takeover of mosques and other key institutions to build a countrywide support base for Islamic supremacism.

    By fragmenting Turkish society into long-forgotten component parts while uniting it under radical Islam, he wishes to unite the country under his Sultanate rule while dividing its various factions against one another to maintain support for the regime over the long haul.

    A large part of repressing the Kurds at home involves denying them outside assistance. By acting like Iraqi Kurdistan’s best friend, Erdogan hopes to attenuate their support for Turkish Kurds.

    While Turkey and Iran are rivals in undermining the international system, their goals are the same, and their strategies for achieving their goals are also similar. But while their chaos strategy is brilliant in its way, it is also high risk. By its very nature, chaos is hard, if not impossible to control. Situations often get out of hand. Plans backfire.

    And what we are seeing today in Syria and Iraq and the wider region demonstrates the chaos strategy’s drawbacks.

    As Pinchas Inbari detailed in a recent report for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, the Syrian civil war is causing millions of Syrians to leave the country and their migrations are changing the face of many countries.

    For instance, their arrival in Lebanon has transformed the multiethnic state into one with a preponderant Sunni majority, thus watering down Hezbollah’s support base.

    The Kurds in Iraq may feel they need Turkey today, but there is no reason to assume that this will remain the case for long. Kurdish unity across Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Iran will destabilize not only Turkey, but Iran, where Kurds make up around ten percent of the population. Iranian Kurdistan also abuts the Azeri provinces. Azeris comprise nearly half the population of Iran.

    As for ISIS, it is scoring victories in Iraq today. But its forces are vastly outnumbered by the Baathists and the Sunni tribesmen that defeated al Qaida in 2006. There is no reason to assume that these disparate groups won’t get tired of their new medieval rulers.

    Many commentators claimed that Erdogan’s recent foreign policy setbacks in the Arab world convinced him to abandon neo-Ottomanism in favor of more modest goals. But his cultivation of Iraqi Kurdistan, and his sponsorship of ISIS, al-Nusra, the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas tell a different story.

    Erdogan remains an Islamic imperialist.

    Like Iran he aims to destroy the global order and replace it with an Islamic empire. But like Iran, if his adversaries get wise to what he is doing, it won’t be very difficult to beat him at his own game by using his successes to defeat him.
    Read more at http://www.prophecynewswatch.com/2014/July03/035.html#bw84ccir65l6TFTb.99

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    Jul 03 2014

    Armageddon On The Doorstep: The ISIS Conquest Of Iraq Leads To Jerusalem

    Tag: Israel: Middle EastSage @ 5:50 pm

    From Prophecy News Watch.Com

    As we witness the brutalization of Iraq by the ISIS terror organization consider this: this Islamic march of death leads to Jerusalem. The leading result of the call of the people in the Arab world for the overthrow of unsatisfactory leaders has been their cause being hijacked by insurgent jihadist terrorists.

    We saw that in Libya with the fall of Gadhafi. We saw it in Egypt where Mubarak was replaced by the Muslim Brotherhood, in this case an in-house jihadist movement. We see it in Syria where the people’s cry against Assad has led to an influx of Al-Qaida type groups vying for dominance. Now we witness the conquest of Iraq by a vicious Islamic terror regime against which Al-Qaida pales into moderation.

    The Islamic State of Iraq (ISIS) is headed by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. He transformed a few small terror cells into the most brutal and lethal terror group on earth. Mercy is not in this man’s vocabulary. Abu Bakr picked up the mantle after Abu Omar al Baghdadi was killed in a joint U.S.-Iraqi operation in 2010. Al-Qaida in Iraq was under the leadership of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi who, in a 2005 letter to the head of Al-Qaida, Ayman al-Zawahiri, put the aims of Al-Qaida in Iraq into four stages;

    1. Drive America out of Iraq.

    2. Create a Caliphate in Iraq.

    3. Use that as a base to attack other countries.

    4. Attack Israel.

    When both al-Zarqawi and al-Baghdadi were killed by American forces it looked as if Al-Qaida was decimated in Iraq, but Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi reformed a weakening terror group by leading it in battle, honing its fighters’ training and experience in Iraq and Syria, and by using political savvy to link his growing group to local and tribal demands and interests.

    It became both a fighting force and a social benefactor, winning local hearts and minds along a bloody path of victory. He absorbed the al-Nusra Front terror group in Syria into his ranks, demanding their obedience. Seeing the growing threat, Al-Qaida’s al-Zarqawi, from his hiding place somewhere in Afghanistan or Pakistan, criticized ISIS for not concentrating on Iraq. In response, a confident ISIS hit back, accusing the Al-Qaida chief of “Sheikh Osama (bin Laden) gathered all the mujahedeen with one word, but you divided them and tore them apart.”

    ISIS has attracted thousands of foreign fighters to its ranks, increasing its power and size. The shockwaves caused by its Iraqi Blitzkreig in seizing the towns of Mosul, Tikrit, and Fallujah was met by a mocking response by ISIS.

    “The battle is not yet raging, but it will rage in Baghdad and Karbala. Put on your belts and get ready” as they contemptuously called Iraqi leader, Nouri al-Maliki, an “underwear salesman.”

    Clearly, the battle for Iraq is along sectarian lines with the Sunni ISIS, representing the majority of Iraqis, challenging the Shia al-Maliki rule. Clear also was al-Maliki’s refusal to allow American forces to stay on in Iraq, but the ISIS victories were enhanced by the military vacuum in Iraq following the American pullout, and this responsibility can be put at Obama’s White House door.

    Obama’s self-proclaimed foreign-policy “achievements” have been U.S. troop withdrawals from Iraq, and “Al-Qaida has been decimated and is on the run!” These two boasts have now come back to haunt him. Al-Qaida has morphed into a bigger monster that is about to take over Iraq. And what was President Obama’s response?

    “We don’t have the resources. Let the local leaders deal with them.”

    This is shortsighted weakness, and dangerous. This was emphasized on Friday, June 13, when Obama, confronted by the deteriorating situation in Iraq, decided to head off to California for a fund-raising event and some golf. America spilled blood and treasure in Iraq including 4500 lives, $17 billion in military training to Iraqi forces, and $15 billion in military equipment. Now ISIS terrorists are seen driving around in American military Humvees.

    The United States embassy in Baghdad is the largest global American embassy. It has 15,000 workers. It would be a mistake to think that they did not pick up intelligence on the gathering Islamic terror storm. They did, and it fed it up the chain to the State Department and the White House, for months. Neither of those bodies acted on the intel. As one staffer told Lt. Colonel Ralph Peters,

    “We couldn’t convince the President that this is serious!”

    Now the Baghdad embassy could be under ISIS fire, making Benghazi look like child’s play. And the attack on Americans will not end there. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was captured, imprisoned, and then released by America in Iraq, just as Obama recently released the five top Al-Qaida/Taliban prisoners at Gitmo.

    America, and others, will pay for both these foolish gestures. As Ken King, the commander of the Bucco Camp that was ordered to release al-Baghdadi, related on the Fox News “Kelly Files” program, as a parting shot the ISIS leader glared at King and warned:

    “I’ll see you in New York!”

    In a strange twist on “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” Republican lawmakers called for a partnership with Iran to stop ISIS from attacking Baghdad. Senator Lindsey Graham warned that ISIS “will eventually march on Jordan and Lebanon. They’re going to take the King of Jordan down.” The unspoken implication is that Israel will be next. ISIS is now pumping Iraqi oil. It grabbed half a trillion dollars when it seized Iraq’s central bank in Mosul making it the richest terrorist organization in the world. ISIS has been called too extreme for Al-Qaida with justification. Al-Baghdadi is being crowned “the next Bin Laden.”

    ISIS is guilty of wholesale massacres in Syria, leaving the bodies to rot for all to see. It beheaded a top rival rebel commander, leaving his head in the middle of the market. Amnesty International listed a few of their atrocities in their 18-page report “Rule of fear;ISIS abuses in detention is northern Syria.”

    “They have conducted hundreds of executions, beheadings, even crucifixions in Mosul, Iraq. They destroy anything that is not Islamic, such as the Assyrian Church in Mosul. Hundreds have been slain for being “infidels.”

    Once Islamic ISIS establishes its permanent presence in Iraq, as Hizb’allah has done in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza, it will strengthen its grip on Syria. While looking down on Israel from the Golan Heights, it is likely to turn its attention to a militarily weak Lebanon, seeking to remove the Shiite Hizb’allah from power, taking over its armory of a hundred thousand rockets, and taking control of that country.

    From its northern stronghold in Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria it will target Jordan with the intention of deposing, or killing, the Hashemite king, as a preliminary step to taking over his country. If America, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia do not immediately move to strengthen the kingdom, King Abdullah will be exposed to mortal danger, granting ISIS control over Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan in their march to a global Caliphate, and Stage 4 of their original plan. Israel would be advised to keep a sharp eye on future moves by ISIS to attack or infiltrate Jordan via Syria.

    Who is to say that radical Palestinians and Islamists in Jordan will not open the gates of that country to ISIS, just as Syrians reached out to them at their cost?

    When that scenario is achieved, Israel will be exposed to a threatening and powerful terror enemy stretching from Rosh HaNikra on the northern Mediterranean to Mount Hermon in the northeast of Israel, sweeping through the Golan Heights and down the Jordan Valley to the Dead Sea and the Red Sea in the south. In the turmoil that is the Middle East, where regimes are falling and nations are toppling, who is to say that such a nightmare scenario is not possible unless ISIS is stopped in its tracks now?
    Read more at http://www.prophecynewswatch.com/2014/July03/031.html#Kv11fMDxZA4oiBWv.99

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    Jun 29 2014

    ISIS Jihadis move on Baghdad, desiring Extremist Islamic State

    Tag: Israel: Middle EastSage @ 3:06 pm

    From KHouse.Org

    A full-fledged caliphate is being planned in the Middle East. Well-organized, well-financed extremist leaders with the wherewithal to use Twitter are successfully advancing their jihad across Syria and Iraq, like a terrifying game of Risk. Old Islamic ideas meet new methods, which the group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has used to empower forces that overran Mosul on June 9th and Tikrit on June 11th. Tweets by the thousands now show a picture of a jihadist gazing up at the ISIS flag Photoshopped atop the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad, complete with the caption, “We are coming, Baghdad.”

    The capture of Mosul was a disaster for the government of Iraq in its battle to squash these jihadist piranhas. ISIS was able to parade right into Mosul’s central bank and gain access to a possible $425 million plus large amounts of gold bullion. The International Business Times has called ISIS the “World’s Richest Terror Force” and it’s a brutal, bloody Sunni force with no qualms about beheading or shooting large groups of Shiite Muslims wherever they are found.

    ISIS did not appear from nowhere; it is a conglomerate of a variety of Sunni forces, included those associated with now-dead terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s Al Qaeda in Iraq and the Mujahideen Shura Council. Al Qaeda cut ties with ISIS in February, claiming no responsibility for the radical Islamist group. “Clearly, Zawahiri believes that ISIS is a liability to the al-Qaeda brand,” said Aaron Zelin, jihadist tracker at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “They are not playing nice with other groups and they are acting as a sovereign state, aggravating other rebels and hurting the effort against the regime.”

    ISIS has proved, however, that it doesn’t need Al Qaeda. It has built up about 4000 men who are responsible for attacking both Iraqi military personnel as well as thousands of civilians. Young men, eager to belong to something powerful, are drawn in by the top-notch social media campaign waged by the ISIS leadership. They can take advantage of an app that allows them to receive regular tweets, complete with links, hashtags and images that offer well-developed propaganda and direction. Thousands of activists tweet repeating hashtags so the hashtags trend on the network, exposing more and more young people to the messages ISIS wants to send.

    ISIS now controls the border between Syria and Iraq as well as large portions of both countries. It’s goal is to form a caliphate in the likeness of the Islamic states dating back to the 7th century, ruled by caliphs considered successors to Mohammed.

    The Shiite-led Iraqi government recognizes the very real danger marching to its gate, and an advisor to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki recently warned that Iraq would have to turn to Iran for help if the United States did not offer any. Shiite Iran would gladly fight the ISIS Sunnis in Iraq, but at the steep price of Iranian influence over the country.

    The Iraqi official blamed the United States for part of the mess, stating, “I am not saying the Americans are responsible for everything, but they did not leave a well-trained army and they left us without any real air support, and the Obama administration really shares much of the blame.” The Obama administration has responded by criticizing Iraq’s poor leadership and declining troop morale. Iraq is asking for advisors and support, and the United States has agreed to send in 275 soldiers to protect the U.S. embassy and other American interests in Baghdad, as well as 300 Green Berets to serves as advisors. An American aircraft carrier, a cruiser and a destroyer have also been moved into the Persian Gulf.

    Isis will not be slowed easily, not with its expert propaganda campaign through social media and an abundance of discontent in the area. Whether the United States dropped its newly formed Iraqi ally by pulling out troops prematurely — before the Iraqi government was ready to walk on its own — or whether the Iraqi leadership is inherently weak, the prospect of a highly radical Islamic caliphate in Syria and Iraq should concern the whole world and not just the governments of Iraq or the United States.

  • Al-Qaeda Disavows Any Ties with Radical Islamist ISIS Group in Syria, Iraq
    — The Washington Post
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    Jun 29 2014

    Fouad Ajami: Honest Commentator on the Middle East

    Tag: Israel: Middle EastSage @ 2:19 pm

    From American Thinker.Com

    The world of forthright and honest commentary on the societies and politics of the Middle East suffered a sad loss with the death of Fouad Ajami of cancer at the early age of 68. Born of a Shiite family in a small village in southern Lebanon, he came to the United States in 1963 and became a proud American citizen with a passionate attachment to his adopted country.

    Ajami was a brilliant analyst of Middle Eastern politics, societies, and personalities, expounding his sometimes controversial views, often with sadness when faced by tragic events in his region of origin, but always with great courage, eloquence, gentle wit, and impeccable scholarship. He was also the most influential Arab-American public intellectual of modern times as adviser to members of the Administration of President George W. Bush, and as continuing supporter of the American war in Iraq that started in 2003.

    Ajami was fundamentally a realist in international politics. His views were based on a combination of secularism, modernity, and the realities of power politics. Ajami understood the primary function of states was to act in what they thought were their best interests. Power always mattered, and liberty needed the protection of great powers. He said he learned these lessons from the Greek historian Thucydides. The Melians, for instance, while they were besieged by the Athenians, assumed that their supposed allies, the Lacedaemonians, would come to their aid, but help did not come.

    Ajami, devoted to honest intellectual exchange, was prepared to change his mind on controversial issues in the light of new evidence. An important example, and one still relevant because of the rise of Islamist fundamentalism in recent years, was his continuing deliberation of whether civilizations control states or states control civilizations. Ajami emphasized the importance of the state structure system and the traditional concept of balance of power that this embodies. States resorted to reliance on brotherhood and faith and kin, only when it was in their interest to do so.

    His writing on this issue originated with an essay on the political importance of Islamism entitled “The Summoning” in Foreign Affairs, September-October 1993. In it he challenged the well-known thesis of the political scientist Samuel P. Huntington that international politics could best be understood as the clash of civilizations, and that “The next world war, if there is one, will be a war between civilizations.” The world, according to Huntington, is divided into eight civilizations, and these cultural divisions are more fundamental than economics, ideology, or the individual states.

    Ajami rebutted Huntington’s thesis by pointing out that Huntingdon had simplified issues to mark out the borders of civilization. He argued that Huntington had minimized the continuing significance of states as dominant actors, that he gave too much emphasis to the “de-Westernization” of societies, and that he regarded Islamic fundamentalism as ascendant. Ajami declared that Huntington had underestimated the tenacity of modernity and secularism. He argued that Islamic fundamentalism was less a sign of resurgence of extreme religious beliefs than a response of Arab states and groups against the influence of the West.

    However, fifteen years later, in January 2008, in an article “The Clash”, Ajami qualified his position, partly because of the changes in Turkey which had elected an Islamist to the presidency. He now recognized that Huntington’s thesis was more compelling than he had thought. Yet, even while admitting that radical Islamists were knocking at the gates of Europe, he still doubted they were bearers of a civilization.

    In light of events in the Middle East during the last decade and the victories of ISIS today, Huntington seems more prescient in his apprehension that the ramparts of the West were not being carefully monitored and defended. In view of the passivity of American and European policy regarding the Islamic upsurge, that fear is well founded. The question is stark: will the West remain true to itself, and will Western culture survive?

    Ajami became increasingly concerned and critical about the passivity or misplaced policies of U.S. policies, especially the character and ability of President Obama to deal with complex Middle East issues. He commented, on January 12, 2014 that Obama’s call five years ago in Cairo for a new policy of engagement with the Islamic world had not been implemented. As early as January 2009, Ajami recognized the political and rhetorical skill of Obama and his understanding of the mood of the country. On November 14, 2013 Ajami tried to explain the “Obama phenomena” of popularity by the passions and delusions of crowds, a mysterious and universal phenomenon: the spell of personal charisma and “the magician stands exposed.” He was critical of Obama as a polarizing figure, an imperial president, one who had an exalted view of himself and his mission. In his last article, on June 14, 2014, Ajami blamed Obama for the collapse in Syria and Iraq, and for choosing to “look the other way” rather than be the leader of the Free World.

    However, for most of his career Ajami was concerned with the foibles and failures in the Arab world, not with criticisms of American politics. In his first book, The Arab Predicament, Ajami discussed the political and intellectual crisis in the Arab world after the Arab defeat in the Six Day War of 1967, and the choices its leaders would have to make. The book for him was a chronicle of illusions and despair, of politics repeatedly degenerating into bloodletting. He explained the predicament as resulting from the lack of a cohesive political, economic, and social system.

    The Arab world had failed in attempts at change including proposals for pan-Arabism that he saw as Sunni domination dressed in secular manner. Some in the Arab world had therefore turned to its religious identity, especially Islamic fundamentalism. He explained the continuing but failed efforts of the Arab world to deal with the conflict between modernization and tradition. He viewed recent Arab history as a chronicle of illusions and despair, of the degeneration of politics.

    He was critical of the Arab dictators and their regimes. Saddam Hussein was a “Sunni thug;” Moammar Gadhafi was “deranged,” and his “Islamic socialism” was a farce; Syria’s Hafez al-Assad ruled a decades-long brutal dictatorship. Ajami pointed out the sad truth that Arab attempts at social and economic development had bypassed the free market reforms and economic liberalization that had remade East Asia and Latin America.

    In a later work, Dream Palace of the Arabs, which was partly autobiographical, he wrote of the Arab world as one “where triumph rarely comes with mercy or moderation.” A generation of Arab intellectuals tried to build their own dream palace for progressive change in the Arab world, but suffered disappointment, and even worse. Throughout his hundreds of articles, Ajami continued to be forthright about Arab reality and its failings. He viewed the Arab world as “wedded to a world view of victimology,” and with megalomaniac potentates who never tell the truth. Though he was an early proponent of Palestinian rights, he was also friendly towards, and understanding about, the State of Israel which he frequently visited. He made an interesting comparison. Israelis were realistic in understanding what can and cannot be had in the world of nations. Palestinians were romantics who “imagined themselves to be exempt from the historical laws of gravity.”

    Ajami, in an article reflecting on Israel’s 60th birthday in May 2008, contrasted the Israeli state and experience with Palestinian failures. Israel had built a durable state; it had room for faith but remained secular; it maintained a deep and abiding democratic ethos. In contrast, the Arabs could have learned from the Israeli experiment but drew back in horror. They did not have the courage to tell the truth to their unsuspecting people about their defeat in war. Ajami called for some honest Palestinian and Arab retrospect on how Arab history has played out since 1948.

    Even with his brilliant analysis of the Middle East, his advocacy of specific policies was often controversial. He argued in 2003 that that there was no need for the U.S. to pay excessive deference to the political pieties and self-images of the Middle East. He supported the war in Iraq and a continuing American presence there. He held his minority position on American involvement in Iraq to the end. The United States, he thought, should be prepared to remain in Iraq despite its costs and heartbreak. These consequences are an “integral part of staying on, rightly, in so tangled and difficult a setting.”

    Ajami was important as a scholar of the Middle East who understood and was sympathetic to Arab problems and hopes without being anti-Israeli or anti-American. He spoke truth to Arab rulers and intellectuals. If only other Arab would follow his intellectual footsteps.

    Michael Curtis is author of Jews, Antisemitism, and the Middle East.

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