Friday, October 23, 2009

Jihad: A Wake up Call!

 

by Yoram Ettinger

 

1. Jihad (Holy War) has been a cardinal feature of Islam since the 7th century. It constitutes a clear & present danger to Western democracies, irrespective of the Arab-Israeli conflict, independent of the Palestinian issue and regardless of Israel's policies and existence.

 

2. The most authoritative analysis of Jihad was published by the late Prof. Majid Khadduri of Johns Hopkins U. in War and Peace in the Law of Islam

 

3.  Hebrew University Prof. Moshe Sharon, a world renowned authority on Islam, sheds light on Jihad in Islam Against Israel and the West (2007):

 

"Jihad is the strategy and, therefore, agreements are a [tactical] interlude in the war [against the infidel]…

 

"Islam came to being as a fighting religion. Mohammed imposed his authority by means of his military strength…Islam established empire before it crystallized as a systematic religion…The imperial and religious aspects of Islam are interconnected. Without an empire, Islam feels that it lacks a home. The empire expressed Islamic power, prominence and virility. Islam was born in order to rule, as is only fitting for the religion of Allah which is one and exclusive…Jews and Christians cannot claim that they possess true, holy scripture as all of the holy scriptures must be identical to the Qur'an…Islam is supreme… Anyone challenging this Muslim law of nature rebels against Allah and should not be allowed to exist…The establishment of a Jewish state on Islamic land is an open rebellion…insolent towards the Prophet and impudence towards Allah…

 

"Any territory that was ever Muslim becomes sacred to Islam [Waqf – sacred Islamic endowment]…If the territory is conquered by enemies of Islam, like Spain, Palestine and parts of Europe, it is incumbent upon Islam to do everything to restore it to Islamic rule…Islam has not recovered from the loss of Spain…Spain, which Arabs insist on calling Andalus, is regarded to be a lost Islamic territory, the recovery of which is a religious and political duty…The Jihad for the conquest of Europe already began a few decades ago…[Muslims migrants] are coming to Europe as masters and not as immigrants…Thousands of mosques have been established from Finland to France.  Islamic version of history and thought is creeping into al the echelons of [European] political and intellectual life, affecting the educational system on all levels…

 

The laws of Jihad…form the basis of the relations between the Muslim world and the West…The only possible relations between Muslims and non-Muslims are war or a limited ceasefire…Any sign of weakness is a clear call to renew Jihad…An agreement which contains anything beyond a limited armistice or ceasefire is null and void. The only agreement with non-believers that is permitted by Islamic law is one that enables Islam to strengthen itself, so that when the time comes it can resume Jihad in better conditions. An armistice/ceasefire is based on the postulation that the infidel enemy will mistake the agreement for peace, lower its defenses and slide into a slumber, thus turning itself into an easy target…

 

According to Prof. Bernard Lewis, the world's leading expert on Islamic history, "the Muslims believe that they had caused the fall of the Soviet Union [in Afghanistan]…Dealing with the soft, pampered and effeminate Americans would be  …The lessons of Vietnam and Beirut (1983) were confirmed by Mogadishu (1993). A murderous attack on Americans was followed by a prompt and complete withdrawal…This was the course of events leading to 9/11…

 

"The Muslims are now convinced that terror is the most effective weapon in their arsenal. They found out that they can kill civilians without being punished…that terror has become an acceptable phenomenon. Some western writers have even defined terror as 'the weapon of the weak'…Muslim terrorists are encouraged by 'experts,' who keep repeating: 'There's no military solution to terror.'

 

"In the Mideast, negotiations are a method to win time… Terrorists need time to arm themselves with more deadly missiles for more effective attacks on civilians…"

 

4Israel is the West's First Yard Line of defense. A strong Israel deters Jihad; a weakened Israel fuels Jihad.

 

 

Yoram Ettinger

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

Our freedom and rights.

 

In the face of rising threats to their freedom and rights, Americans today are uncertain about what a proper foreign policy should be. This uncertainty arises from the philosophical influences of pragmatism and altruism, which have misguided American leaders for 50 years,  and have made it difficult for Americans to evaluate their leaders and to evaluate their actions. As a result, Americans have failed to forthrightly confront rising threats, and have not properly supported allies – in particular, Israel. We have, as a result, emboldened and empowered the worst threat to the West in centuries. Islamists pursue their campaign of intimidation against the West. Compared with the legendary  fighting spirit of the British, the seeming capitulation of European capitals to their tormentors and the baffling incomprehension they exhibit of the Islamist phenomenon which has repeatedly declared itself so clearly inimical to them cannot be explained.

 

History reveals very clearly that the apathetic give way to the passionate and the complacent are subdued by the committed. This is the time for people to rise up and defend our freedoms. Defeating Islam is the single most important issue of our time. It is more important than global warming, than welfare reform, than stem cell research, even than reproductive rights. And that's because none of those issues can be addressed if we've been subjugated to Islamic fundamentalism. Punish them where it hurts most. To understand more please open the two following videos:

 

I.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NQOCcx5V9RI&feature=player_embedded

 

II. 

Geert Wilders Warning to America Part 2 of 2

 

 

 

Stop using limited powers in a way that expands our enemies' advantages over us.

 

by Caroline B. Glick

If, to paraphrase Carl von Clausewitz diplomacy is war by other means, then just as armies are called upon to concentrate their efforts and resources where they can do the most good for their cause, so governments must utilize their diplomatic resources - whether plentiful or scarce - to advance their most important national interests.

The Palestinians and the Iranians have formidable diplomatic resources at their disposal. Both the Palestinians and Iran can expect to receive the support of automatic majorities at the UN for everything they do. And today most international diplomacy is conducted under the aegis of the UN or its affiliated bodies. Understanding their strength, the Palestinians and the Iranians use the UN and its affiliated organs to advance their most important goals. In the Palestinians' case, UN-based diplomacy is used to delegitimize Israel. In the Iranian case, UN-based diplomacy is used to facilitate the mullocracy's acquisition of nuclear weapons. Over the past week, both the Palestinians and the Iranians enjoyed strategic victories in their diplomatic campaigns.

Last Friday, the UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution condemning Israel in every possible way for asserting its sovereignty over its capital city and for defending its citizens against wanton, massive, unprovoked and illegal terror from the skies emanating from Hamas-controlled Gaza. The resolution represented a massive achievement for the Palestinians. It referred Israel to the Security Council with the recommendation that Israel's leaders be tried as war criminals before international tribunals. That is, the UNHRC's resolution effectively delegitimized Israel's right to exist by denying that it has a right to defend its territory and its people from illegal aggression carried out by an illegal terrorist organization.

Then on Wednesday, Muhammad elBaradei, the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency's virulently anti-Israel Chairman announced a deal has been reached between Iran and the US, Russia and France regarding Iran's nuclear program. The deal -- which the parties initialized in Geneva after just three days of talks -- legitimizes Iran's nuclear weapons program and effectively transforms the US, the EU and Russia into facilitators rather than opponents of that program.

According to news reports of the accord, the US agreed to send American personnel to Iran to upgrade a research reactor in Teheran that was provided to the Shah in the 1960s. Russia agreed to increase enrichment levels of Iranian uranium from their current level of 3.5% to 19.75%. And France agreed to transform the higher-enriched uranium into metallic nuclear fuel.

Until Wednesday, in accordance with three binding UN Security Council resolutions, the US, Russia and the EU refused to accept the legitimacy of Iran's uranium enrichment activities. Their refusal stemmed from the fact that by enriching uranium, Iran stands in breach of its commitments to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. Wednesday's accord ignores this inconvenient fact and so whitewashes Iran's illicit behavior, effectively accepting Iran's right to enrich uranium.

And that isn't all. According to Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, by agreeing to enrich Iran's uranium from 3.5 to 19.75%, the US, Russia and France have provided Iran with a solution to its technical deficiencies. Citing a report in Nucleonics Week trade journal, Ignatius wrote last week that Iran has apparently been unable to enrich uranium beyond 3.5% and its current "supply of low-enriched uranium appears to have certain 'impurities' that 'could cause centrifuges to fail' if the Iranians try to boost it to weapons grade."

Jack Wakeland, an engineer employed in the nuclear power industry expanded on Ignatius's revelation at The Intellectual Activist Website. Wakeland explained that the metallic fuel Iran will receive in this deal "can be converted back to highly purified uranium hexafluoride very, very easily." That is, the deal allows Iran to surmount the scientific hurdles it reportedly now faces, clearing the mullahs' path to acquiring the weapons-grade uranium.

For their part, the Iranians haven't wasted a moment pushing the diplomatic envelop still further. As the Americans, French and Russians were offering them more than they could have ever imagined possible - including the prospect of US personnel serving as human shields against a possible Israeli airstrike on Iran's nuclear installations -- back in Teheran they ratcheted up their demands.

On Tuesday, Abdolfazl Zohrehvand, who serves as an advisor to Saeed Jalili, Iran's chief negotiator at Geneva told Iran's IRNA press agency, "Circumstances may arise under which Iran will require uranium enriched to 63%."

Then on Thursday Iran said it isn't willing to accept a deal that would take all of its enriched uranium out of the country. This is not a deal breaker since the accord the US, France and Russia initialized Wednesday only foresees removing 80 percent of Iran's known supply of enriched uranium to Russia. But still, it signals that the Iranians have only begun extracting concessions from the Americans and their partners.

And the Americans will no doubt be willing to concede still more. After all, now President Barack Obama can brag that he has an historic, Nobel Peace Prize-worthy deal with Iran. He cannot be expected to give it up just because the Iranians use it as a new path for building nuclear bombs.

Until Wednesday, Israel refrained from publically attacking the US's decision to seek an accommodation with Iran. This made sense. Israel had no interest in being perceived as pre-judging the outcome of a process on which the Obama administration staked its prestige. But now that the administration has agreed to an accord that effectively transforms America into a facilitator of Iran's nuclear weapons program, the time has come for Israel to start voicing its objections.

Unlike the Palestinians and the Iranians, Israel has no great diplomatic assets. It can assume that it will always be condemned by the UN.

The EU, with its member nations' own anti-Jewish baggage, a burgeoning and radicalized Muslim minority, and an addiction to Arab oil cannot be expected to stand with Israel.

Western NGOs are largely funded by anti-Israel governments and leftist philanthropists and so use their resources to advance the causes of Israel's enemies.

Under the Obama administration, the US is charting a diplomatic course that places it directly in the anti-Israel camp. Indeed, while the US voted against the UNHRC's resolution against Israel last week, it made no significant effort to convince other countries to follow suit and had no problem with Britain's and France's decision not to cast a vote despite the dangerous precedent the Goldstone report and the UNHRC's resolution set for US forces fighting terrorist foes in Iraq, Afghanistan and throughout the world. Worse still, the US has refused to announce whether it will use its Security Council veto to block a referral of Israel's military and political leaders to the International Criminal Court.

In the current climate, Israel's diplomatic resources are limited to popular opinion in the US, and shared interests on specific issues with a number of governments throughout the world. In light of Israel's diplomatic assets, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman who in recent months has been travelling the globe to cultivate bilateral ties with countries in South America, Africa, Central Asia, and Central Europe should be congratulated for his efforts.

On the public diplomacy front, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, his cabinet ministers and the Foreign Ministry should use every opportunity to discredit the latest deal with Iran. They should point out its dangers and call for an end to this diplomatic catastrophe before more damage is done to the cause of preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Such a campaign would probably fail to derail the current talks. But if successful, it would prevent the deal from being used as a means to delegitimize Israel's right to militarily strike Iran's nuclear installations.

As for the Palestinians' diplomatic triumph with the risible Goldstone report and its attendant UNHRC resolution, Israel's response to date has been misguided and self-defeating. This week, the government began considering forming a commission of inquiry into the IDF's handling of Operation Cast Lead. Judge Richard Goldstone has been claiming that if Israel conducts an investigation into his allegations that our soldiers committed war crimes and crimes against humanity, Israel can avoid prosecution of IDF personnel at the International Criminal Court. Lawyers like Attorney General Menachem Mazuz have latched onto Goldstone's statements and the media are atwitter with rumors that Netanyahu may agree to form such a commission.

That would be a wrong move for several reasons. First of all, Goldstone is in no position to negotiate. Once he submitted his libelous report to the UNHRC, Goldstone's writ of authority was a thing of the past. Even if Goldstone now wants to get Israel off the hook he placed it on, he has no power to do so. And the officials at the UNHRC who gave Goldstone the mission of proclaiming that the IDF committed crimes against humanity have no interest whatsoever in crediting any internal Israeli investigation or ending the organization's hounding of the Jewish state.

Beyond that, any investigation Israel could launch into the IDF's conduct of Operation Cast Lead would be perceived internationally as an admission of guilt. If that commission were to conclude truthfully that the IDF conducted its operations in full accordance with international law, its findings would be dismissed as a whitewash.

In response to the UNHRC resolution and the Goldstone report itself, the government announced this week that it will seek changes in international law to strengthen the ability of democracies to fight against terrorism. This move is also deeply misguided. The fact of the matter is that Israel did not break international law in Operation Cast Lead. It is simply the victim of its enemies' cynical use of the rhetoric of international law as part of their diplomatic war against Israel. That is, the problem is not the law. It is the law's distortion for political purposes by Israel's diplomatically powerful foes. By announcing that it plans to work to change the law, the government missed this central point.

Moreover, by ignoring the fact that the problem is not with the law itself but rather with the distortion of international law by hostile actors for political gain, the government failed to recognize that even if it succeeds in changing the law, in all likelihood the new law will be similarly distorted by its enemies to advance their political war against Israel.

For that matter the government's very announcement that it wishes to change international law will be pounced upon by its enemies as proof that it broke the law.

Israel's enemies are making adept use of their vast diplomatic power to advance their most important goals. Israel should use its meager diplomatic powers to do the same by going on a public diplomacy offensive against the criminalization of Israel and against the international community's surrender to Iran. A good first step in that direction would be to stop using our limited powers in a manner that expands our enemies' advantages over us.

 

Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East Fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, DC and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

Iranian Negotiations: Ploy of the Week or Deal of the Century?


 by Barry Rubin

There are widespread reports about an imminent deal with Iran regarding its nuclear program. Here’s how the New York Times optimistically presents the proposal:

“Iranian negotiators have agreed to a draft deal that would delay the country's ability to build a nuclear weapon for about a year, buying more time for President Obama to search for a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear standoff.”

(To be fair, even this somewhat cautious note may be much less ecstatic than what we'll be hearing if the deal goes through.)

What is the proposed bargain? It is based on an offer the Iranian government made in 2007 and reintroduced last June. In practice, the result would be that Iran enriches unlimited amounts of uranium to a level near that needed for weapons, a large amount of this would be shipped off to France and/or Russia where it would be converted into something useful for medical purposes alone. Thus, it could be said that Iran having nuclear weapons has been either stopped or delayed considerably, though in fact it would only be delayed (if at all) not very long.

If the deal is made—and don’t take for granted it will be as the Iranian regime can think of plenty of delaying tactics, demands for modifications, real or imaginary internal conflicts blocking acceptance, etc.—there will be general rejoicing and the idea of further sanctions will be put on a back shelf to gather dust.

Indeed, it could effectively be argued, that existing sanctions could be removed. This does not seem likely at present--it would require a UN resolution undoing existing sanctions--but such a thing could arise in the future. And of course various countries in Europe could interpret the restrictions more loosely to allow deals that would not have gone through otherwise.

In other words, Iran could go on sponsoring terrorism (in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, against Israel, and in other places) and calling for Israel’s destruction while being treated as a regular member of the international community. It would only be a matter of a week or two before media outlets start writing that this proves President Barack Obama did deserve the Nobel Peace Prize.

Iran is trumpeting the proposed deal as a victory. But that seems rather strange doesn’t it? If this deal is as it appears (and again assuming it happens), then Iran won’t get nuclear weapons, has wasted billions of dollars and years of effort for nothing. In fact, it will be running a huge nuclear program to produce a product which in strategic terms is totally useless.

Or to put it another way, it's like setting up a massive and expensive sword-making industry, then shipping off the completed swords to be turned into ploughshares and pruning hooks when you didn't have any agriculture.

And by the way, since Iran--and its apologists--have been insisting that its real goal was nuclear power plants (as if one of the world's largest oil producers which exports almost all of its production needs that) then why doesn't Iran just agree to some deal in which all the uranium went to fuel such reactors with foreign-enriched fuel and close supervision? Even that would make more sense than this deal.

Does this make sense? There will be many silly reasons for this put forward: Iran was scared by sanctions and a united front against it, or Obama is so popular that they like him or trust him and it proves his strategy works. These ideas are nonsense but one a lot of average people in the West will believe them).

One logical argument that will be advanced is that internal disorder is forcing the regime to take a step back and be more cautious. This is a partial argument but, again, doesn’t explain why there would be such a huge apparent concession from a regime unaccustomed to making them.

So what’s really going on?

First, the whole thing may turn out to be a maneuver for buying time and no agreement is actually made.

Second, the Franco-Russian reworked uranium could be turned back into something suitable for further enrichment into weapons’-grade material in several months.

Third, Iran may well have other secret facilities which are going to be pumping out military useful enriched uranium. We have just seen how well they can conceal these things by the public exposure of such a secret facility. These could easily replace the uranium shipped abroad in a brief period of time.

Fourth, Iranian leaders, knowing that they have some way to go before being technologically ready to build weapons, are happy to accept a seeming delay in providing the uranium which will allow them to catch up with the technological and engineering requirements of making a bomb that works and missiles that will carry it to the target. Indeed, with sanctions loosened, it might get the very techniques and tools it needs to complete this process under the guise of other uses.

Note that the Bushehr nuclear reactor, which was supposed to have begun operation some months ago, has not been started up yet. Is this due to some technical difficulties? The reason certainly doesn't seem to be Iran sending a signal of willngness to compromise since the regime has not used this factor as proof of its flexibility.

If this last argument is true--and it seems to be a reasonable one--then the idea that such a deal would even "slow" Iran's obtaining nuclear weapons wouldn't necessarily be true.

There could also be Iranian deals with other countries—perhaps North Korea or Venezuela, for example—to cooperate in supplying what’s needed. Such a possible arrangement with Syria was destroyed by an Israeli attack on a facility in that country last year.

And speaking of an Israeli attack, this agreement would buy Iran assurance that this couldn't happen no matter what Tehran did since the regime's program would be now under Western protection.

As an Arabic-language expression has it: How do you know it was a lie? Because it was so big.
For example, if Iran was truly going to change course in any real way, there would have been a heated debate within the government of which we would have heard something about.

Or there would have to be a factional dispute or domination by a less extremist group in the ruling circle that argued President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s adventurism was too dangerous to pursue. But all these people have been expelled.

Or it would seem apparent that Iran really was afraid of Western military action or tremendous pressure that would be so great as to force it into a big defeat.

Such cautions seem quite logical. Yet no matter how ridiculous the situation seems if Iran pulls off this ploy it could be a devastatingly successful one.

 

Barry Rubin
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

The United Nations apply a Nazi legal system on the Jews.

 

It is becoming common practice for nation states and non-nation actors to apply legal means to achieve political results.

Known as 'lawfare' these methods have been increasingly applied against Israel.  They are being used as yet another weapon in their armoury to eliminate the Jewish state.

As such, their roots reach back to wartime Germany. Their ultimate application is eerily similar to that created by the Nazis.  Back in the dark days of European history Nazi Germany operated a legal system that gave legitimacy to the machinations of the Third Reich.

The raison d-etre for the Nazi anti-Semitic programs were to remove a stain to world peace, namely the Jews, and to create a new world order.  When Hitler condemned the Jews for all of the world's woes German jurisprudence rubber stamped the measures demanded by its leaders.

The Jews, they claimed, were guilty of the most heinous crimes against humanity and laws were established to deal with these Jewish criminals.

It became legal to deprive Jews of work, to make them wear the Yellow Star, to herd them into Ghettos, to deprive them of their property, to transport them to the death camps, and to execute them.

This was all performed under a veneer of a legal respectability, that everyone involved in this genocide was obeying his duty in law and, therefore, upholding the legal rulings that applied in the territories controlled by Germany.

Records were kept at each stage of the delegitimation and extermination of the Jews. These records showed that the law was being enforced. The book-keeping was part of the legal system that proved, in Nazi eyes, that everything was being done in a legally-acceptable and systematically transparent manner. German courts upheld the fragmentation of Jewish society and its elimination as required by Nazi law.

Few dared question whether the Jews were truly guilty as charged. The law, and the resultant punishment, took its course - and the rest is history.

At various stages of the 'legal' genocide of the Jews, whether in the Ghettos or the concentration camps, the Germans employed Jews to enforce their actions.

The horrors of the Holocaust should have buried the notion that Jews are the enemy of the world and are easy prey to fanatics and their supporters.  Sadly, the old hatred was merely dormant. It has re awoken in a different form and has found itself coalescing under the auspices of the United Nations.

The year is 2009 and it is happening, again, before our very eyes.

The United Nations is enacting a Nazi-style legal system.

It began before the United Nations Human Rights congress in Durban that decreed that 'Zionism is Racism'.                             

Israel had already been targeted by member states for accusations and deligimisation.  Just as perversely as the European Jews were the victims of the evil Third Reich and their anti-Semitic supporters so now the Jewish state is solely and exclusively being dehumanized, sentenced, and condemned by nations guilty of the worst crimes against humanity.

Massacres and genocides by brutal dictators have largely been ignored. Only the Jewish state has had laws and rulings applied against it that do not apply to other members.

These rulings were not made in order to have Israel reform itself to the fictitious demands and, therefore, feel at ease among the league of nations. They are biasly enacted to turn Israel into the Jewish pariah among the nations.

The United Nations Human Rights Council, hatched in a Wannsee-type conference in Geneva this year by malevolent instigators, shrewdly selected a naive jurist to be their Jewish Kappo.

Richard Goldstone thought he had been elected to uphold the law. In his academic simplicity he assumed that he would apply universal jurisprudence. Instead, he became a prisoner to the imposition of Nazi-style justice.

His victims - the Jews of Israel.

The year is 2009 and it is happening, again, before our very eyes.

His report, replete with documented evidence, eye witness testimony, statements of legal requirements and recommendations that fit neatly into the prescribed illegality of the guilty party will be brought to the United Nations General Assembly.  Lengthy discourse will inevitably condemn Israel.

The parties who are truly guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity, the very ones who are creating the lawfare against the Jewish state, get a free pass.

The United Nations has become a chamber akin to the Third Reich.  As in Nazi Germany, there will be one or two brave voices that will attempt to rescue Israel, but these will be minority individuals battling against a Nazi-like system determined to enforce The Final Solution of the Jewish Nation.

 

The year is 2009 and it is happening, again, before our very eyes.

The ones perpetrating the campaign against the Jewish state are, as with the Third Reich in the 30's and 40s, those guilty of the worst crimes today. They include Libya, the Hamas-led Palestinian protest, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, China, Egypt, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan.

Those that support the Goldstone Report and the current UN motions against Israel do so in the same spirit of evil intent as Nazi Germany, or assume that the blood libel against Israel must be true. Just as there were those who gave lip service to the thought that Jews were capable of the crimes imposed on them by the Nazi laws so today some assume that Israel deliberately targeted and massacred innocent people in Gaza.

The inversion of Nazi-type justice imposed on the Jewish state while defrauding Israel by portraying it as a Nazi-type regime is meant to isolate, delegitimize, and eventually eradicate the Jewish state.

Israel, as with the Jews in Nazi Germany, finds itself in the harsh spotlight of those who would do us harm.

The report is not an end in itself just as the Nazi judgments were not an end in itself but plainly the beginning of the end for European Jewry.

The intent, the destiny decreed by the perpetrators, is the same.

 

The year is 2009 and it is happening, again, before our very eyes.

 

 

Never Again must remain more than a mere slogan.

 

A Third Intifada?


by Eric Trager

On Monday, Jordanian King Abdullah II referred to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as “the most serious threat to the stability of the region and the Mediterranean.” Middle East policy analysts should take his warning to heart. After all, in gauging the political trends of the Middle East, the Jordanian monarchy has been among the most reliable barometers historically.

 

This is partly due to Jordan’s uncomfortable geo-strategic position. Indeed, with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to its west and Iraq to its east, Jordan is uniquely susceptible to the ideological currents and strategic shifts affecting the region’s hottest battle zones. Moreover, Jordan’s imbalanced demography – in particular, the fact that a Hashemite king presides over a Palestinian majority – makes its monarchy particularly wary of any destabilizing signals. These sensitivities create a strong bias in favor of non-ideological, interest-based policy-making, with Jordan shifting its priorities – and, at times, its loyalties – in rapid response to the regional changes that it perceives.

 

In this vein, Abdullah’s sudden insistence that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is “the most serious threat to the stability of the region” represents a critical shift in judgment. Indeed, back in 2004, the Jordanian monarch warned that a looming “Shiite crescent” – a near-contiguous sphere of Iranian influence extending through Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and the Palestinian territories – was the foremost threat to regional stability. Abdullah was prescient: Iran’s interference in Iraq undermined the U.S. war effort, while Tehran’s increased support for Hamas, Hezbollah, and Syria solidified an anti-western axis in the Middle East.

 

Of course, the challenges associated with Iranian ascendancy haven’t been resolved, and dealing with Iran’s ongoing pursuit of nuclear capabilities still tops the U.S.’s Middle East agenda. Still, Abdullah’s shift in priorities towards the Israeli-Palestinian sphere is worth noting, as it constitutes the best open-source indicator that recent Palestinian threats to resume suicide terrorism and launch a third Intifada are not idle chatter. Naturally, the prospect of renewed Israeli-Palestinian fighting – particularly within the West Bank – is far more threatening to Jordan than a nuclear Iran, and Abdullah’s diversion from his former fear of a “Shiite crescent” suggests that the next, bloody chapter of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict might be fast approaching.

 

 

Eric Trager
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Big Freeze: U.S. Policy on Peace Process comes to Dead Halt and Likely to Remain that Way.


by Barry Rubin

If solving the Israel-Palestinian and Arab-Israeli conflict is the centerpiece of the Obama Administration's Middle East policy—at times it seems the keystone of the government's entire policy—there's an obvious problem derailing it.

Here it is. The president of the United States on several occasions and notably in his UN speech and high officials repeatedly have announced that they want and expect there to be quick, final status negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) to resolve all issues and end the conflict.

This event isn't going to happen.

When the president of the United States announces there will be talks soon and has no reason to believe that's true he's making a fool of himself. It is one of the most basic rules of presidential behavior that you don't put the chief executive's prestige on the line, that you do not let him predict an imminent event, unless you know for darn sure it is going to happen.

Yet when President Barack H. Obama stood before the world's assembled leaders that's precisely what he did. For an administration approaching the end of its first year in office that's dangerous amateurism.

The fly in the ointment here is the PA and this is no minor detail. The PA says repeatedly that it will not even meet formally with Israel until all construction on all Jewish settlements on the West Bank plus east Jerusalem stop completely. Already, however, U.S.-Israel discussions have moved past that point. We don't know precisely where they stand but clearly the administration isn't pushing for a total halt and it isn't pushing all that urgently on the issue.

Therefore, while Israel has succeeded in conciliating the United States, the PA is going to defy the United States. We know that it is serious in doing so because of what has just happened with the Goldstone report in the UN. The administration asked the PA not to take a leading role in pushing the report; the PA complied for about 48 hours and then internal pressure forced it to go back on its word. Most of this pressure was not the spontaneous outrage of the masses but from the hardline elements which dominate the ruling Fatah group as well as in the PA itself.

In short, PA leader Mahmoud Abbas is not going to back down on his demand. He is more afraid of his own colleagues, Hamas's baiting him as a "moderate" (a compliment perhaps from the West but a deadly insult in Palestinian politics), and his own people than of Obama. Indeed, nobody is afraid of Obama which is one of the main problems with his foreign policy.

Disdaining the use of threats, leverage, and pressure, the Obama administration is not likely to push the PA very hard on this and even if it did Abbas would stand firm. Having extolled the Palestinians as peace-loving martyrs, courting Arab and Muslim opinion, treasuring popularity, the administration won't get tough. No amount of funding or other goodies is going to move the PA or Abbas either. For Abbas, it is something like the classical choice which can be paraphrased as: Your money or your life?

So there is, and will be, a deadlock, month after month through into 2010. Is there some clever way out? I don't see one and am willing to bet the administration doesn't either.

Remember this president said repeatedly--in his Cairo speech, at the UN, almost daily--that he is going to solve the issue; that his predecessor missed easy opportunities to do so; that this is the world's main issue. So what's he going to do other than spin about how hard he's working and how much progress he's making?

In contrast, Abbas has an attractive policy alternative: strike a militant pose, blame America, seek rapprochement with Hamas. In addition, what both the United States and Europe fails to see is that the Palestinians don't need or want rapid progress on negotiations or even a state except on what would be completely their own terms.

The Palestinians can also afford the luxury of believing—and this is what Western policy has taught them—that Europe and America needs them more than they need the West. Moreover they believe, and again this is what they have been shown, that intransigence on their part actually brings more criticism on Israel. If you believe, rightly or wrongly, that the world is about to condemn Israel as a pariah, war criminal state why make compromises with it?

This is the corner into which the Obama Administration has painted itself. And all that it has left is what might be called the cat strategy. Have you ever seen a cat miss a leap or have an embarrassing fall? It merely licks itself and looks around with an expression saying: I meant to do that. Everything is going according to plan.
But it isn't.

The newest development is the idea, favored by many in the European Union, of endorsing PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's "plan" for there to be a Palestinian state within two years. Of course, this won't happen either.

The whole thing is taking on a comic opera air. It reminded me of something. And then I remembered: the classical description of the Arab defeat in the 1948 war and Israel's creation by Constantine Zurayk, vice-president of the American University of Beirut, in his book The Meaning of the Disaster. He wrote:

"Seven Arab states declare war on Zionism in Palestine, stop impotent before it and turn on their heels. The representatives of the Arabs deliver fiery speeches in the highest international forums, warning what the Arab state and peoples will do if this or that decision be enacted. Declarations fall like bombs from the mouths of officials at the meetings of the Arab League, but when action becomes necessary, the fire is still and quiet and steel and iron are rusted and twisted, quick to bend and disintegrate."

For the Arab states, the fiery speeches do have a value of their own, cowing rivals and mobilizing the masses to support their local dictator. But when the United States acts like a pitiful, helpless giant—even if it is a nice and friendly, apologetic one—the world shudders and shakes. The evil, with laughter; the good, with tears.

 

Barry Rubin
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

When it comes to the Middle East: The Brains in Spain (and elsewhere) Fall Mainly Down the Drain.


by Barry Rubin

You've all seen horror movies in which the stupid characters just don't look behind them at crucial moments.

And you want to yell: "Look out!" Or: "Can't you see that he's the murderer!" Or: "That innocent-looking green globule is actually a man-eating silicon-based creature from Andromeda!"

Welcome to my world, the world of analyzing the contemporary Middle East or, to put it a different way, yelling, "Look out!" to those who think the best way to handle a threatening regime or revolutionary foe is to take them out to dinner and a movie.

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero and Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos, who is widely considered in the European Union to be their big brain on the Middle East, visited Israel and met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

According to reliable leaks, Moratinos told Netanyahu that Turkey will stop baiting Israel—excluding it at the last minute from long-planned joint military maneuvers, running antisemitic shows on state television, and a whole range of other insults—if Israel agrees to have it mediate between Israel and Syria.

One of the two Spaniards then remarked: "Assad is serious and more responsible….It is possible to reach an agreement with him."

Netanyahu politely, and no doubt firmly, demurred.

When last heard from before this, Moratinos, who seems to take his own middle name as meaning he is the Syrian dictatorship's guardian angel, was advocating signing a major economic cooperation agreement with Damascus without conditioning it on that regime behaving better on human rights.

Israeli leaders know, largely across the political spectrum, that Assad isn't interested in peace with Israel.

They also know:

--Iran is seeking nuclear weapons at all costs and will use them to further Tehran's ambitions, and that halfhearted sanctions and falling for more of the regime's stalling tactics won't help matters.

--The Palestinian Authority is incapable of making a comprehensive peace and not that interested in trying. That doesn't mean some cooperation can't be fruitful but not a full resolution ending the conflict. At the same time, it is clearly recognized that the Palestinian Authority—being too weak and too radical simultaneously—is the main barrier to peace, and that the true moderate transformation of Palestinians and acceptance of a two-state solution has barely begun. Indeed, one can argue that public opinion and politics are moving in an even more intransigent direction.

--Hizballah and Hamas are not interested in becoming moderate and that concessions both enable and encourage them to be more aggressive.

--If radical Islamist groups take over Arab countries they won't moderate, whatever their pretensions to fool the West, and this will be the source of massive war, terrorism, and suffering for the region.

--That all too few people in Western governments either understand the above-mentioned facts or for a variety of reasons (greed for trade, fear of conflict, seeking easy popularity, naiveté, ideology, ignorance, antisemitism, and you name it) won't face these facts.

At the beginning of this year, a new addition was made to this list:

--Turkey is governed by an Islamist party that has strong ant-Israel, anti-American, and anti-Western views no matter how much it pretends otherwise.

Now it can certainly be argued that Israeli analysts, journalists, and political figures have a vested interest in pushing these arguments. But that isn't exactly true. Many or most of them would be far happier celebrating the great chance for a breakthrough to peace and how apparent enemies just want to get along.

The same goes for ideology as an explanation. A variety of different viewpoints are represented, one can find people who have changed their minds due to experience and developments. And even if you think that someone is "right-wing" or any other category you dislike, it is still worthwhile examining the facts and arguments presented to judge whether they are correct.

So this analysis cannot just be disregarded by assumptions about what the sources of it think or want or need.

How does much of the world respond to the Israeli analysis? Parts do understand it or are learning it to be correct. But many or most simply ignore or demonize it. Once Israel is viewed as an illegitimate state, a war criminal genocidal monster—in short, as all Islamist and most Arab and Muslim-majority state propaganda puts it—the ears can close completely.

Another element in this deafness is the unique argument that various dilettantes, visitors, intellectuals, self-proclaimed peacemakers, people in the entertainment world, U.S. and European officials, etc., want to save Israel in spite of itself. This is a standpoint practically never heard regarding any other country in history, certainly not a democratic country whose voters disagree with the assessment.

It is furthered by the taking up of the idea by certain Jews—usually quite ignorant of conditions in Israel and often committed to movements with different interests—who insist they are the true guardians of a country they know little about and (in many cases) have done little to help in the past.

And so delegation after delegation arrives in Jerusalem to tour around, talk to the usual suspects, and bestow advice on its potential victims—I mean, fortunate interlocutors!

In all cases, politeness inhibits explaining to these people that they are meddling in things of which they understand little or nothing. When they are high-ranking officials of the United States or European countries, there are additional reasons for not doing so. They can choose to listen or not to the explanations as to why Israel does not believe what they believe or do what they want it to do.

Ultimately, anyone who believes too much in soft power is soft in the head. Or as the English political philosopher Thomas Hobbes put it: "Covenants, without the sword, are but words, and of no strength to secure a man at all."

As for the international affairs of the Middle East nowadays, however, one cannot do better than by paraphrasing the American political philospher Robert Zimmerman, also known as Bob Dylan: We're surrounded by people who don't want to "admit that the waters around you have grown" at the very same moment that "the pump don't work cause the vandals took the handles."

 

 

Barry Rubin
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

In the fight against nuclear proliferation, don't forget about Syria.


by Bennett Ramberg

Renewed international efforts to reign in Iran's atomic program have shrouded another unresolved Middle East nuclear challenger, Syria. The International Atomic Energy Agency's failure to get Damascus to reveal the history of its secret nuclear reactor and related elements raise troubling questions not simply about the Assad regime's nuclear intentions but, more fundamentally, about the ability of the IAEA to act as an effective watchdog. Unless Syria provides a full accounting, its successful stonewalling will only serve further to undermine international efforts to curb proliferation.

International awareness that Syria poses a nuclear threat emerged only in September 2007 when it is believed that Israeli aircraft destroyed the nuclear plant under construction in the country's remote northeast desert.

The attack generated a surprisingly muted response from Damascus and Jerusalem, but in Vienna, the IAEA condemned the strike arguing that Israel should have informed the agency about Syria's installation. Israel's unwillingness reflected a common and growing uneasiness that the IAEA has become a hollow instrument to ferret out nuclear cheaters or reverse them once revealed. The result - Jerusalem, unwilling to risk international dithering, allegedly took matters into its own hands.

THE SEPTEMBER 2009 meetings of the agency's 35 nation Board of Governors and the General Conference - the annual conclave of the IAEA's entire membership - sustained growing apprehensions about Middle East nuclear proliferation but focused on Israel to abandon its program. The General Conference only gently rapped the knuckles of Syria and Iran, calling on both "to cooperate fully with the IAEA within the framework of their respective obligations."

The statement reflected a "coaxing" strategy - repeated requests that nuclear transgressors provide transparency and eliminate contraband - that has become the agency's trademark to constrain violators. The approach builds on the hope that calibrated calls for openness can prompt transgressors to feel more comfortable with revelation. However, too often the response is otherwise. Violators throw a few bones followed by agency demands for more. The dance repeats but never comes to a satisfactory non-proliferation conclusion.

The Iran case illustrates. Coaxing discouraged the revolutionary regime from bolting the non-proliferation treaty while tethering it to safeguards on declared nuclear sites. Coaxing also generated IAEA inspector access to sites otherwise unavailable for review, but not "comprehensive" nuclear transparency. But the policy also allowed Teheran to buy time to build a nuclear weapons breakout capacity.

Evidently, Syria has learned much from the Iranian experience as it denies agency requests for a full explanation of its nuclear enterprise. The behavior reveals why coaxing that buys time wastes time to promote accountability.

Syria, which became an NPT party in 1968, applied safeguards to a small research reactor in Damascus in 1992. The agreement required Syria to inform the IAEA about any planned nuclear installations. The alleged Israeli strike clearly spoke to the Assad regime's failure to do so.

In a time line provided by Washington eight months later, officials traced the origins of the Dair Alzour reactor to a collaborative North Korean undertaking that broke ground in 2001. Israeli operatives confirmed the facility's weapons potential prior to the assault, although there remains the mystery of how Damascus intended to extract weapons usable plutonium absent a chemical extraction plant.

Following the attack, the IAEA attempted to get Syria to clarify the plant's purpose. Ten months would pass before Damascus allowed inspectors access to the site. Syria used the interim to demolish the installation's skeleton. It then buried its foundation, plowed over the ground and built a structure over the remains. It removed debris to an undisclosed location. Despite the cover-up, inspectors found uranium particles in soil samples. Syria unsatisfactorily explained that the residue came from Israeli munitions that destroyed the plant.

IN FOUR reports published by the agency since 2007, Director-General Mohammed ElBaradei repeatedly called upon an "uncooperative" Damascus to reveal the facility's function, the uranium residue and the location of debris carted away. He also requested access to three additional suspect sites. Syria stonewalled.

Damascus' repeated resistance to transparency naturally raises questions about what the Assad regime is hiding. But Syria's behavior also begs a response to an equally fundamental matter: How ought the international community deal with current and future violators? Evidently coaxing does not work. Transgressors see coaxing as IAEA impotence. Change requires the agency and the Security Council to replace the practice with meaningful "benchmarks" enforced by with "time certain" sanctions that nuclear violators cannot ignore.

In the months to come the IAEA will have an opportunity to strengthen its policing function, with a new director-general in December followed in May 2010 with the important NPT Review Conference that convenes every five years. The meeting offers an opportunity for attendees to press the Security Council to authorize the IAEA to be more assertive with nuclear violators. The practice is long overdue.


Bennett Ramberg  served as a State Department policy analyst during the George H.W. Bush administration and as a consultant to the US Senate, Rand, Nuclear Control Institute, Henry Stimson Center, Global Green and Committee to Bridge the Gap.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

Why I'm Optimistic.

 

by Barry Rubin

Every day dreadful things happen in the Middle East and in the echoes of that region—diplomacy, news coverage—in the West. Yet things are by no means as bad as they seem. Precisely because a lot of what happens simply doesn’t reflect reality, ultimately the material effect is minimized.

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing," warned Edmund Burke. But even when those who should be the defenders of liberty spend their time coddling and apologizing to evil, that still doesn’t mean it’s home free.

Let’s examine two aspects of the situation: Israel-Palestinian (and Arab-Israeli) along with the effort of Islamists to seize power in Muslim majority countries. By the way, it is the second—not the first—of those two topics is by far the most important in the Middle East, arguably the most important issue for our entire era. Then we'll say a few words about President Barack Obama's learning opportunity.

Israel-Palestinian

Despite all the sound and fury—note this well—absolutely nothing has changed on this issue since the end of the Gaza war in January. The Palestinian side is intransigent and has no interest in serious negotiations, therefore these go nowhere. Hamas has been intimidated into virtually stopping its attacks on Israel. (Note to Western leaders: force still works at achieving reasonable goals.) Israel’s morale and national unity is relatively high; the economy continues to do well, especially in light of the international recession.

A potential crisis in U.S.-Israel relations has been brilliantly defused by the Israeli government. The Obama Administration has still not taken—despite a lot of questionable verbiage—any material step against Israel. The West wants to pretend it is negotiating peace but won’t devote much real effort to doing so.

Therefore, all this talk of freezing construction, final status negotiations, Western pressure, Palestinian threats, and so on has amounted to absolutely nothing in practice.

What is the long-term prospect? On one hand, there will be decades more—an entire generation at least—without formal peace. Yet that doesn’t mean war either but rather a status quo punctuated by sporadic low- to medium-level violence. The biggest danger, a Hamas takeover of the West Bank, has been pushed back. Israel’s defensive capacity grows steadily stronger. Life will go on.

Again, please note that there is possibly no issue in the world which generates as much media coverage, academic publication and debate, peace plans and conferences, and Western officials’ speeches as the Israel-Palestinian and Arab-Israeli conflict. And yet nothing really changes. Keep that in mind every day.

Islamists Seizing Power

Islamist governments now rule in Iran, the Gaza Strip, and to some extent in Sudan. In every other country (including Israel) of the region (including Central Asia, Pakistan, and Afghanistan), radical Islamists pose the main real opposition to the status quo. They make propaganda, sometimes run in election, and carry out violence. With every ounce of energy and a great deal of innovation, they are trying to seize state power.

Will they succeed and if so where? Are they really the wave of the future?

While the Islamists have a lot going for them, they also face many problems. First, don’t underestimate the incumbent regimes. Arab nationalism still appeals to a majority of Arabic-speakers. The rulers have lots of resources at their command, including money and repressive power. The Islamists are not poised to take power in any country, while basically they have not—despite the spilling of so much blood--taken over any state since the Iranian revolution 30 years ago.

The Islamists are often divided. While they have definitely picked up ground, they are still saying and doing many things which most Muslims deem to contradict their normative, traditional Islam.

And the Islamists also make a lot of mistakes.

Within their own countries, confessional differences among Muslims often matter a great deal. In Lebanon, for example, Shia Islamists led by Hizballah have unnecessarily antagonized Sunni Muslims, while in Iraq the revolutionary Sunni Islamists are rejected by the majority Shia Muslim Arabs and ethnic Kurds. In North Africa, the large ethnic Berber minority opposes Islamism.

At home and internationally, the intransigence of radical regimes (Iran, Syria, and Hamas) and movements alienates potential allies. By making such huge demands and refusing to make small concessions to make big gains they throw away opportunities and virtually force the West to confront them despite the preference of many Western leaders for appeasement. Similarly, the constant aggression and insults pushes Western public opinion to reject concessions or surrenders.

Nor can the Middle Eastern dictatorships, whether Islamist or nationalist, defeat the West or Israel. Their treatment of women (there are variations) as second-class citizens deprives them of half their potential talent. They lose out on the advantages which democracy brings to development. The centralization used to preserve the dictators’ power inhibits prosperity. In the longer-term, the oil-producing countries will run out of petroleum and the rest of the world might even develop alternative and more efficient energy use.

“Commerce,” wrote Winston Churchill of the Sudan in 1898, doubting that country would ever be a success, “is a plant of slow growth even in the most generous soils. And it never grows more slowly than when the unwise husbandman has tried to fertilize with corpses.”

Then, too, there is the endless bickering and conflicts that sap their strength. Where Westerners see such unified categories as “Arab” or “Muslim” there are really many different communities, sects, ideologies, and factions competing for power. These include such deep-seated conflicts as Persian versus Arab, Sunni versus Shia, and the rival ambitions of the various dictators and states.

U.S. Policy

Something very big--but totally predictable--is starting to happen: the Palestinians and no doubt soon a lot of the Arab world is turning against Obama. He will find shortly that unless he gives everything and asks nothing they will soon be calling him another Bush.

Their grievances are: He hasn't (or hasn't gone far enough) in dumping Israel; he didn't threaten or punish Israel for not doing a complete freeze of construction on settlements, he forced Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to appear with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the UN photo opportunity he set up, he pressed the Palestinian Authority not to take the lead on pushing Goldstone.

The fact that Obama is perceived as weak doesn't help him any.

Cairo speech, UN speech, distancing from Israel, engaging radicals? All these things will get him nowhere. Help him on Iran? Well they weren't going to do that any way. The hostility is partly due, of course, to the interests of the Arab rulers, partly to the radicalism of the opinionmakers there; partly to the Islamists who always outbid their incumbent rivals and need anti-Americanism as one of their main tools to stir passions.

This is how the Middle East works. It is totally predictable. But in most of the mass media, academia, and in Western governments (especially the Obama Administration) they have absolutely no idea. They basically accept the concept that if you are nice enough, give enough, and bash Israel enough, the Arabic-speaking political forces--and maybe even Iran--will love you and be nice to you, or at least leave you alone.

When this proves wrong, as it does periodically (1990-1991, Iraqi invasion of Kuwait; 2000, failure of Camp David followed by September 11) there is a period of comprehension when policies get better. Might this be a stage coming next year?

All the silly articles in Western newspapers, wrong-headed speeches by Western leaders, threats of mass murder by Islamist clerics, and all the other things that could be added to this list changes the material realities of the Middle East. Or, to use a supposed Arab saying, the dogs bark but the caravan moves on.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), with Walter Laqueur (Viking-Penguin); the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan); A Chronological History of Terrorism, with Judy Colp Rubin, (Sharpe); and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley).

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

Share It