Friday, November 18, 2011

For Alawites, the Uprising in Syria is Existential

by Danny Brode

Alawites control nearly all aspects of the Syrian power network and have dominated the state for decades. Ethnically they are Arab; but religiously they are an obscure and unique sect. They have built their collective successes around the Assad regime and the Syrian military.

Once a downtrodden and peripheral mountain dwelling people, Alawites have managed, with French support, to become the premier political force in Syria. For them, their power will be difficult and dangerous to relinquish.

Furthermore, the Assad regime's collapse means more than a loss of privileges for the Alawite collective; it is a threat to their entire existence.

Unlike Mubarak and Ben-Ali, the Assads will not relinquish power easily. The Sunnis consider the Alawite religion heretical and this being so, they were formerly persecuted under Sunni rule.

The fragility of the Alawite identity in the Arab world means the Assads must not only consider their own family, but the collective future of the entire Alawite community.

In the Middle East, being a powerless minority, whether ethnic or religious is often a harsh reality. This fact only increases the will of a minority to remain dominant.

Trying to end the bloodshed, the Arab League's proposed peace plan fails to address the real sectarian concerns, which are at the heart of the conflict. Seeking concrete democratic reforms in Syria is a non-starter. To stay in power, Alawites know they must maintain control over Syria’s positions of influence.

If Bashar al-Assad were to grant greater Sunni representation at the governmental level, Alawite rule in Syria would soon collapse.

The debate over whether Bashar should step down is also irrelevant. The real authority within Syria is not Bashar, but rather his brother, Maher.

Maher is a ruthless military commander and leader. Allegedly, there is even video footage depicting Maher, flanked by supporters and dressed in civilian attire, firing a rifle upon a crowd of protestors. This video provides a vivid example of the ruthless measures Maher is willing to employ. With superior credentials, he commands the Syrian élite 4th Armored Division, which is an Alawite unit through and through. This unit is regarded as being so loyal; it is tasked with carrying out the "necessary" killings for the purpose of suppressing the Sunni uprising.

It is also widely believed that Bashar lacks both the will and determination to rule Syria. Thus, behind the scenes, Maher is a real force. Unless he or other senior Alawite commanders are removed, any change in leadership would be merely symbolic.

The Syrian regime is also finding itself ever more isolated in the international community. Today, Syria’s primary international supporters are China and Russia. However, as the fighting escalates to civil war, these ties are jeopardized.

In the Middle East, the regime is left with two strategic allies, Hizbullah and Iran. Therefore, the regime in Damascus has found itself cornered.

The question remains: how far will the Assad regime go to stay in power and to what avail?

It cannot be overstated how crucial the Syrian state is for Alawite identity. It could be argued, the Syrian state has become their identity. As long as the Assad regime seeks to safeguard Alawite dominance, few options are left other than to fight.

Popular protests and non-violence failed to topple Alawite rule. The opposition is increasingly turning to armed conflict, as the use of force remains the last effective option for dismantling the Assad regime. Syrians are aware of the dangers posed, as the memory of Hafez al-Assad’s crackdown in 1982 remains a collective memory.

Although brutal, the violence thus far pales in comparison to the 1982 Hama massacre, which resulted in tens of thousands dead in mere weeks. At present, no suitable option exists to thwart a recurrence. Thus, the current stalemate is a zero-sum game and a victory for one side will come at the expense of the other.

The overarching issue is the Alawite domination of Syria. The current conflict has more to do with sectarianism than democracy. Indeed, sectarian tensions were always present in Syria; however the breakdown of the regional balance of power structures has reignited historical animosities.

Until Alawites are removed from power, the conflict will only escalate to a fight for survival. With that being said, it remains to be seen if Bashar and Maher al-Assad are willing to employ the same level of force used by their father some thirty years earlier.

The Assads have left themselves with little choice…

Danny Brode


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

Sweden's New Anti-Semites

by Soeren Kern

Police in Sweden's third-largest city, Malmö, are reporting a significant uptick in the number of reported anti-Semitic hate-crimes this year.

During just the first six months of 2011, Malmö police registered 21 anti-Semitic crimes, more than the total number (20) of such crimes reported in the city during all of 2010. According to police officials interviewed by the public broadcaster Sveriges Radio, the actual number of anti-Semitic incidents is far higher.

Recent statistics from Sweden's National Council on Crime Prevention (Brottsförebyggande rådet) revealed that nationwide in 2010, there were 161 reported anti-Semitic hate crimes.

The data comes as the Swedish government on September 20 set aside 4 million kroner ($600,000) to help boost security around the country's synagogues, after accusations that Sweden has not done enough to protect its Jewish population.

The allocation will go to "increase security and reduce vulnerability for the Jewish minority," according to Integration Minister Erik Ullenhag. He said the one-time appropriation in the 2012 budget funding is primarily meant to pay for an increased police presence, but that the money could also be used to purchase security cameras if Jewish groups express the need for such equipment.

Sweden has been accused of complacency about the growing problem of anti-Semitism in the country. In December 2010, the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center advised Jews to avoid traveling to southern Sweden after a series of anti-Semitic incidents there.

"We reluctantly are issuing this advisory because religious Jews and other members of the Jewish community there have been subject to anti-Semitic taunts and harassment. There have been dozens of incidents reported to the authorities but have not resulted in arrests or convictions for hate crimes," the center said in a statement.

The upswing in anti-Semitic violence in Sweden is mainly being attributed to two key factors: the exponential increase in the number of Muslim immigrants in the country, thanks to some of the most liberal immigration laws in Europe: as well as to leftwing politicians who never miss an opportunity to publicly demonize Israel.

Muslims are now estimated to comprise between 20% and 25% of Malmö's total population of around 300,000; much of the increase in anti-Jewish violence in recent years is being attributed to shiftless Muslim immigrant youth.

During a two week period in July 2011, for example, the only synagogue serving Malmö's 700-strong Jewish community was attacked three times. The synagogue, which has previously been set on fire and the target of bomb threats, now has guards stationed around it, and bullet-proof glass in the windows, while the Jewish kindergarten can only be reached through thick steel security doors.

Jewish cemeteries in Sweden also have repeatedly been desecrated; Jewish worshippers have been abused on their way home from prayer; and Jews have been taunted in the streets by masked men chanting phrases such as "Hitler, Hitler" and "Dirty Jew."

Some Jews in Sweden have stopped attending prayer services altogether out of fear for their safety.

Hatred for Jews is also being stirred up by Sweden's leftwing political establishment and its pathological obsession with Israel. The demonization of the Jewish state by Swedish politicians is so frequent and often so fierce that it regularly crosses the line into blatant anti-Semitism.

Consider Ilmar Reepalu, the leftwing mayor of Malmö. Reepalu, who has turned a blind eye to the growing problem of anti-Semitism in Malmö during the more than 15 years he has been mayor, says that Jews are to blame for anti-Semitism because of their support for Israeli policies in the Middle East.

In January 2010, for example, Reepalu marked Holocaust Memorial Day by declaring that Zionism is racism. In an interview with the daily newspaper Skånska Dagbladet, he also said: "I would wish for the Jewish community to denounce Israeli violations against the civilian population in Gaza. Instead it decides to hold a [pro-Israeli] demonstration in the Grand Square [of Malmö], which could send the wrong signals."

Reepalu was referring to an incident in January 2009, during Israel's brief war in Gaza, when a small demonstration in favor of Israel was attacked by a screaming mob of Muslims and Swedish leftists, who threw bottles and firecrackers as the police looked on.

In July 2011, after a Hollywood film production company cancelled plans to shoot a movie in Skåne in southern Sweden due to concerns over anti-Semitism in Malmö, Reepalu cast his rage on the Simon Wiesenthal Center for issuing the travel warning.

Reepalu, in an interview with the newspaper Sydsvenskan, said: "I have a feeling that the Simon Wiesenthal Center is not really looking for what is happening in Malmö but they want to hang the people who dare to criticize the state of Israel. Are they once again saying I should be silenced? I will never compromise my morals."

The disdain for Israel is not limited to local politicians in Malmö; it goes right up to the top of Swedish politics.

In September 2011, for instance, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, a well-known Pro-Palestinian activist, unilaterally recognized the Palestinian representative in Stockholm as ambassador. Bildt said the upgrade of the Palestinian representation follows "great advances made in the development of the Palestinian state."

In December 2009, while Sweden held the six-month rotating presidency of the European Union, Bildt called for the creation of a "State of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital." Israeli officials, angry over EU efforts to prejudge the outcome of issues reserved for permanent status negotiations, persuaded French diplomats to remove the offending text, as well as other references to a Palestinian state that would comprise "the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza."

In November 2011, Swedish Foreign Aid Minister Gunilla Carlsson disclosed that Swedish taxpayer money had been used to fund a "one-sided" report on the conflict in the Middle East entitled "Colonialism and Apartheid: Israel's Occupation of Palestine."

The Palestine Solidarity Association of Sweden (PGS) received 700,000 kronor ($100,000) to produce a report on the Middle East conflict. The money was paid out by Forum Syd, a democracy and rights organization hired by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) to provide the agency with information on the issue.

In August 2009, Sweden's top-selling newspaper, Aftonbladet, published an anti-Semitic blood libel by alleging that Israeli soldiers routinely murdered Palestinian children and harvested their bodily organs for sale on the international black market.

The Swedish government responded with indifference: When the country's ambassador to Israel put up a note on the embassy's website distancing Sweden from the article, her enraged superiors in Stockholm ordered her to take it down.

Rabbi Shneur Kesselman, who leads the Jewish community in Malmö, blames the political leaders in Sweden for the rise in anti-Semitism in the country. He recently gave an interview with the Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter (in English here) in which he describes Jewish life in contemporary Sweden.

Speaking to Svenska Dagbladet, Integration Minister Ullenhag said: "Jews are one of our national minorities, and the state has a responsibility to ensure that people can go to synagogue and engage in Jewish activities and feel they have the security they believe they need. That is a fundamental human right."

But in "progressive" Malmö, the future looks so bleak that around 30 Jewish families have already left for Stockholm, England or Israel -- and more are preparing to go.

Soeren Kern is Senior Fellow for Transatlantic Relations at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group.


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

Netherlands Sliding into the Abyss

by Bruce Bawer

In a new interview in the Dutch magazine Panorama, Geert Wilders talks about a variety of things, including his forthcoming book about Islam, which will be published in the U.S. in April. In it, he says, he’ll document the fact that “Islam is a dangerous ideology” and that “Muhammed really is one of the big bad guys” of history, whose negative influence continues to be felt today. Yes, Wilders acknowledges, there are genuinely moderate people who call themselves Muslims, and if they want to call themselves Muslims that’s fine with him – but there is no such thing as a moderate Islam.

What, asks the interviewer, is his great fear? Answer: that “if we don’t put an end to Islamization, it will slowly but surely insinuate itself into our society, at the cost of our freedom. And bit by bit things will go the wrong way. That’s why I’m extending this warning. Otherwise someday our children and grandchildren won’t have freedom any more.” To which the interviewer replies: “And if people say: come on, Geert, it’s not really so bad, is it?…What do you say then?” “I say: it’s worse than you think.”

It’s hard to believe that in the year 2011 there exist Dutchmen – outside of the perennially clueless cultural elite, that is – who are still able to believe that things aren’t “really so bad.” But, alas, there are. There are.

To be sure, thanks largely to pressure from Wilders and his Freedom Party, the last few years have seen reforms in Dutch immigration and integration policies. But has it been too little, too late? For the unfortunate fact is that one set of indicators after another continues to head south. Take a new report commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of the Interior and produced by Risbo, a research institute at Erasmus University. It shows that of males in the Netherlands’ “Moroccan community” between the ages of 12 and 24, no fewer than 38.7 percent have come to the attention of the police at least once during the last five years in connection with some offense – mostly violent crimes and thefts.

The winner in this dubious sweepstakes is the historic city of Den Bosch, about fifty miles south of Amsterdam. In Den Bosch, just under half of young Moroccan males between 12 and 24 – 47.7 percent, to be exact – have police records. (That’s up from 45 percent last year.) In a long list of other cities – Zeist, Gouda, Veenendaal, Amersfoort, Maassluis, Oosterhout, Schiedam, Nijmegen, Utrecht, Ede, Leiden, and The Hague – the figure also topped 40 percent. In every municipality that was studied, incidentally, the scores for Moroccan youths far outstripped those for ethnic Dutch kids, among whom an average of 13 percent of boys in the same age cohort had come in for similar police attention during the same period.

One person who knows a good deal about the Dutch Moroccan youth milieu is filmmaker Roy Dames, who spent eight years – imagine! – working on Mocros, a documentary about young Moroccans in Rotterdam. (The film opened on November 10 in Amsterdam and Nijmegen, and will be aired on Dutch TV early next year.) In an interview with the Dutch edition of Metro, Dames, whose previous work includes documentaries about criminals, prostitutes, alcoholics, and homeless people, says that he “wanted to make a documentary about the Moroccan boys in the street, the street kids that you see everywhere. In 2002, when I started Mocros, Moroccan boys had a poor image. They still do. Many Moroccan boys are kicked out of school, cause trouble in the streets, and are in danger of leading a life of crime.”

The ones he’s been following around all these years with his camera now average about twenty-three years old. They’re on welfare and get “an occasional job.” One of them has spent some time in prison. It’s not easy to get them to open up, he says, because they “live in a culture of silence and shame” in which pressure from family, friends, and community “is enormous.”

Spending all these years in the company of these youths hasn’t exactly protected Dames from their not-so-chummy side. At one point he was filming a (shall we say) uncongenial encounter between thirty of his young subjects and some hapless “youth workers” when suddenly the boys “turned on me” aggressively. Dames jumped in his car and sped off just in time – and had to put the project on hold for six months. (Apparently it took that long for the kids to cool down.)

One gathers that while Dames has a certain degree of sympathy for at least some of these kids, he also doesn’t pull any punches, and shows things how they are – which is not pretty. (A snotty little review in De Telegraaf gripes that the film, intentionally or not, will confirm all the prejudices of ethnic Dutch viewers – and the reviewer ends with that line, as if to make it clear that the last thing he wants to do is to explore the disturbing implications of this observation.)

It seems significant that the profile of Dames appeared in the Dutch edition of Metro, of all places. Metro is a chain of urban newspapers that can be picked up for free in subway stations and other such places (the Dutch trains are always full of discarded copies), and over the years I’ve noticed that the Dutch and Swedish editions of Metro are – scandalously – often the only places you’ll find news stories that are too politically incorrect for those countries’ “real” media to touch. Apparently Dames’s documentary falls into that category. Mocros has received “little attention in the media,” he laments, because “the Dutch press is politically correct” and would prefer not to have a “real debate” about the issues raised by films like his.

Well, we knew that already – heaven knows Geert Wilders does. But after the murders of Pim Fortuyn and Theo van Gogh, the hounding of Ayaan Hirsi Ali out of the country, and the prosecution of Wilders – all because they dared to express their opinions about Islam – and given the increasingly out-of-this-world statistics such as those included in the Risbo report, one wonders exactly what it would take to persuade the Dutch media that it’s time, at long last, to permit a truly wide-open, no-holds-barred discussion of Islam in the Netherlands. One fears that by the time some of the media moguls realize it’s time to let ‘er rip, it’ll already be much too late.

Bruce Bawer


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

Juan Cole: Critic of Democracy, Apologist for Tyranny

by Alan Jacobs

[FrontPage Ed. note: published as "Juan Cole's Totalitarian Odyssey."]

Few professors in the controversial world of Middle East studies boast more about their own notoriety than Juan Cole, a man who believes the consistent criticism of his public positions to be a sign of distinction. Yale University's decision not to hire him for an endowed chair five years ago due to insufficient scholarship led him to publicly charge that George W. Bush and the CIA torpedoed his candidacy. When organizations such as Campus Watch publicize Cole's outlandish commentary, he cries "censorship" and labels them "McCarthyite."

His latest lecture at New York University—a collaboration with Sinan Antoon, an Iraqi-American assistant professor of Arab culture and politics at NYU—dealt with Iran's response to the "Arab Spring." In a packed room of over 100 mostly Iranian and Arab-American students, Cole analyzed the Islamic Republic of Iran from a "classical realist" perspective. If one didn't know any better, one would have departed the lecture believing that Iran justifiably protects its own interests; that America is a malignant and aggressive force and Israel its trigger-happy satellite; that Turkey's Islamist Freedom and Development Party (AKP) is headed by a practical and liberal Prime Minister Erdogan who promotes "Middle Eastern multiculturalism"; and that a moderate Islamist party in Tunisia called Ennahda does the same.

Cole's lecture bounced around the Middle East and North Africa, hardly sticking to one topic for more than a few minutes. His dispassionate professorial tone evinced few of the biases so clear in his intemperate blog Informed Comment. Yet his skewed view of the region was nevertheless obvious. He displayed a general tolerance for politically hostile sentiments toward America and Israel in the Arab world, spoke with astonishing credulity regarding Islamists and their goals, and argued that America and its allies are bullies and manipulators.

Amid an analysis loaded with sectarian distinctions between Sunni and Shiite, Cole pointed to an area of agreement between the two: support for Iran's aggressive stance toward Israel. It is no secret that religious divisions hardly dissuade run-of-the-mill Arab anti-Semites from supporting any entity which promises to "wipe the Zionist entity out of the pages of time"—an Ahmadinejad quote, which, incidentally, Cole falsely claims to be mistranslated and not in the least genocidal. But describing, as did Cole, the Iranian regime's bellicose threats merely as "a stand on the Palestine issue" speaks volumes.

Such apologetics are deeply troubling from a man who regularly uses terms such as "Zionofascism" in referring to Israel's right to exist. Whither the outrage in the following analysis, taken directly from his lecture:

The Islamic Revolution was an attempt to create a new paradigm for governance in the region, which was neither the traditional monarchy nor the officers' regimes or postcolonial one-party states that were so prominent in the Middle East. It combines in itself an elective branch of government with Montesquieu's spirit of laws, executive-legislative-judiciary, but at the same time incorporates into itself a set of institutions that are intended to be reflective of Iranian and Shiite sympathies.

The use of a principal figure of the French Enlightenment to bolster the legitimacy of the Islamic Revolution is typical of Cole's efforts to whitewash radical Islamists. This is a particularly egregious instance, in that Montesquieu is well known for advocating the separation of powers to prevent tyranny, which is precisely what exists in Iran.

Cole described America and Israel as imperialistic powers threatening the sovereignty of other countries. Israel, he claimed, will probably tone down its—ostensibly typical— aggressive behavior and refrain from attacking a nuclear Iran because of instability in Egypt:

You don't have a Hosni Mubarak or Omar Suleiman there to support the Israeli position. Now to look for trouble, to me, seems very unlikely, either from Israelis or Americans.

Similarly, discussing the new warming of Iranian-Egyptian relations, Cole noted that:

This is Washington and Tel Aviv's worst nightmare. I assume Egypt has gone from the column of supporters of the Washington and Israeli line, to . . . playing footsy with the Iranians. And the Iranians see this and they can see that one of the outcomes of the Arab Spring is that those countries that were close to the West before are now adopting a more independent foreign policy.

Leaving aside that Tel Aviv is not Israel's capital and that the Israeli government resides in Jerusalem, Cole consistently described America and Israel as powers demanding adherence to a party line, while Iran merely benefits from Egypt adopting a "more independent" stance. Throughout the lecture, such negative phrasing was always associated with an American interest and the positive with an Iranian one.

He later referred to Shiites who supported Musa Sadr—the Lebanese founder of the Amal party, a Shiite Islamist entity that laid the foundations for the development of Hezbollah—as "activist Shiites." (Cole has long been an apologist for Iranian former president Muhammad Khatami, who is married to Sadr's niece.) No one in his lexicon is an "extremist" unless they happen to be American conservatives, "Likudniks," or supporters of any military intervention he opposes.

Sinan Antoon chimed in toward the end of the lecture to express disagreement with Cole's known support for American intervention in Libya. He also seemed troubled by any Arab or Muslim nation that might approve of America's actions:

The Iranian regime are not fans of Qaddafi . . . but are really troubled, as are many leftists all over the world, by this cheering for the NATO intervention, which should be seen in its proper context as an intervention on the part of the counterrevolutionary forces of Saudi Arabia and the U.S. to contain the so-called Arab Spring and of course to ensure their own logistical interests on the ground. And I know I was surprised, too, that the Libyans are waving U.S. flags, but I think and hope that in the coming months—once all the documents come out and they realize that until the last second France and Britain and precisely the U.S. were firmly behind Qaddafi—these flags are going to disappear.

Antoon's anti-U.S. cheerleading was met with applause from the audience.

In the question and answer period following the lecture, the first questioner asked about Turkey's Islamist ruling party, the AKP, to which Cole responded with clichés about Islamist "multiculturalism." One wonders how many persecuted Turkish Kurds or Greeks the professor has spoken to about "multiculturalism" in Turkey. Noting that Tunisia's Islamist Ennahda party—the winner of recent elections—takes cues from Turkey's AKP in seeking a similar "moderate Islamist" model, Cole reassured the questioner, who correctly noted that Turkey has moved far from secularism, that:

They want to spread the Turkish model. They think this is the right mix of things; they think it should be a relatively secular constitution. They're not interested in promoting Sharia, and on the other hand, they think you should have a kind of Middle Eastern multiculturalism.

Yet Cole had earlier noted recent attempts by Erdogan's party to legislate criminal punishments for adultery.

He described Iran's government as modeled on Montesquieu; Israel as an aggressor willing, but unable, to strike; America as a cynical and domineering political actor; and Turkish and Tunisian Islamist parties as "relatively secular" and "multicultural." This is a remarkably inaccurate and ahistorical portrait of a region in which radical Islam is on the rise. But why should the author of a blog titled Informed Comment get hung up on facts?

Alan Jacobs is a student of Middle Eastern studies in New York.


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

How the Obama Administration Helps Kill the Chances for Arab, Turkish, and Iranian Democracy

by Barry Rubin

Note: This is a follow-up to my previous article on the Clinton speech, but stands alone also.

In a speech, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asks:

“Why does America promote democracy one way in some countries and another way in others?”

Here’ s how the question should be rephrased:

Why does America subvert the chances for democracy one way in some countries and another way in others?

Here’s the answer:

In some places—notably Iran, Syria, and the Gaza Strip—America does nothing to promote democracy and the downfall of anti-American regimes because it is afraid to challenge the dictatorships. In fact, at times it comes to their aid and comfort.

In Iran, it did so by wasting two years on engagement and by failing to back the democratic opposition, even at the height of protests over a stolen election.

In Syria, by coddling the dictatorship until that became too obviously gruesome in backing such a bloodthirsty regime during an all-out revolt. Since then the U.S. government sub-contracted choosing the Syrian opposition exile leadership to the Turkish Islamist regime. Naturally, it chose a majority of Islamists. So this is the group that will be asked by the U.S. government for advice and be given money!

In the Gaza Strip, it helped the tyrants by pressing Israel to reduce sanctions and by doing nothing seriously to subvert that anti-American, genocidal revolutionary Islamist entity. Now it is empowering Hamas’s strongest ally, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood which in power would give Hamas a huge amount of help.

While in other places—such as Libya, Egypt, and Tunisia–it enables anti-American, anti-democratic, antisemitic, dictatorial movements.

But if I were to take Clinton’s question at face value the proper answer would be this:

The United States should support democracy most energetically where it hurts enemies and is aimed against the most vicious, bloody dictatorships. That means Iran, Syria, and the Gaza Strip.

The United States should support democracy less eagerly when it hurts allies and the prospects are for a new regime far worse than the existing one. That means Egypt, Tunisia, and several other places. At any rate, in each such case U.S. policy should support genuine moderates and do everything possible to reduce the power of revolutionary Islamist and far left groups that are anti-American and anti-democratic.

Clinton explained U.S. involvement in Libya as being part of a broad coalition that worked “to protect civilians and help people liberate their country….”

Is U.S. policy going to defend civilians in Turkey, Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, and the Gaza Strip when they are threatened by Islamist regimes? No, it is going to help put those civilians in far greater danger . It is doing the opposite of liberating their countries. It is helping to enslave them.

“In other cases,” Clinton continued, “to achieve that same goal, we would have to act alone, at a much greater cost, with far greater risks and perhaps even with troops on the ground.”

Imagine the intellectual poverty of this statement. Is sending troops the only option? This is a trick known as setting up a straw man. We couldn’t help people in places like Iran or Syria, we are told, because we would have to send troops and since we don’t want to send troops we won’t do anything at all.

There are, of course, many other ways to act: to support the moderates through overt and covert means,, to consider establishing a no-fly zone, and to do everything possible to undermine the interests of those regimes. For example, a serious campaign to sabotage Syrian interests in Lebanon would make sense.

Instead we get a policy of helping Islamist groups in Egypt, Tunisia, Gaza, Libya, and even Syria.

Says Clinton:

“Our choices also reflect other interests in the region with a real impact on Americans’ lives — including our fight against al-Qaeda; defense of our allies; and a secure supply of energy,”

Yes, the U.S. government is fighting al-Qaida and the Taliban, or at least a “faction” of the latter. But those are the only revolutionary Islamist forces it is battling.

Moreover, which allies is America defending? Give us a list. When an ally tries to defend itself, like Israel, Obama says he can’t stand Netanyahu because the Israeli leader won’t buckle under to make more risky concessions. Is U.S. policy defending Arab allies? No, with the partial exception of Iraq. It is enabling their foreign enemies and often suggesting–albeit implicitly–that those monarchies should be overthrown as well.

What about defending Saudi Arabia and Jordan? The moderate government in Lebanon, was overthrown because Washington wouldn’t help. If the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is so moderate and should be running the country why doesn’t that apply to Jordan, too?

Concluded Clinton, “What parties call themselves is less important than what they do.”

But doesn’t what parties call themselves have something to do with what they do? And what has the Muslim Brotherhood done that shows it isn’t a radical group? How has the Turkish regime behaved, at home and abroad, that shows it isn’t a radical Islamist government?

Finally, here’s something interesting. Consider Bahrain, which Clinton called a “challenge.” She explains, “Mass arrests and brute force are at odds with the universal rights of Bahrain’s citizens and will not make legitimate calls for reform go away.”

What’s going on there? A hardline Sunni Muslim monarchy that is friendly toward the United States is repressing a Shia Muslim majority. Among the Shias there are more moderate forces that just want fair treatment and more rights, and a radical Islamist faction backed by Iran.

The Obama Administration makes things worse. By backing Islamists, it has convinced the Bahraini government and its Saudi backers that compromise is impossible. The ideal solution would be to make a deal with the moderates and defeat the radicals.

But with the Obama Administration arguing that there are no radicals, how could Bahrain’s regime take such a risk even if it wanted to? The Obama Administration has thrown away all of its potential leverage over Bahrain’s government. By becoming the enabler for radical Islamists, Washington proves the hardline regime “correct” in arguing that compromise would bring disaster. If an election were to be held, the Shias who want a pro-Iran Islamist regime (and to throw out the U.S. naval base there) would win.

So let me say it again: The chances for a stable, moderate democracy in Arabic-speaking states were always slim. By being so weak in supporting the moderates and so energetic in backing the radicals, the U.S. government has destroyed those chances and helped to ensure years of bloody dictatorship.

Does this sound too extreme and alarmist? That’s because the policy is too extreme and dangerous enough to set off the alarms.

Barry Rubin


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

What Does "Moderate" Islamist Mean?

by Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi

In the run-up to the Tunisian Constituent Assembly elections and the aftermath that saw a plurality of seats won by the al-Nahda (Renaissance) party, you may have noticed frequent references in the media to this political organization as a "moderate Islamist" party. This is of course not the first time such terms have been used to denote Islamist political factions: recall for example how the ruling AKP party in Turkey is often called "mildly Islamist" (to borrow the Economist's phrasing).

Unfortunately, however, such terminology can only be characterized as part of what Hussein Ibish - director of the American Task Force on Palestine - calls an "intellectually and politically indefensible rush" to portray Islamist parties as "more moderate or pluralistic than they actually are."

Take the case of al-Nahda in Tunisia, which outperformed by a factor of two most analysts' expectations that it would win 20% of seats at most. The party's leader- Rashid Ghannouchi- has tried to reassure secularists of his supposedly moderate credentials by pointing to the example of Turkey, which is often viewed as a model for harmonizing secular traditions with Islamism under the allegedly pragmatic AKP.

In fact, the AKP government's record demonstrates how the Islamists in Turkey have gradually been reversing the democratic reform process that was initiated in the first three years after the AKP's rise to power in the 2002 elections. The aim at the time was to win EU membership for Turkey, and given the widespread support among the Turkish population back then for such a goal, as well as the fact that the military had intervened to ban the AKP's ideological predecessor known as the "Welfare Party" in 1998, the AKP pragmatically went along with implementing the reform process.

Yet since 2005, as the EU bid process has stalled, the AKP's authoritarian tendencies have become increasingly apparent, in accordance with a step-by-step implementation of an Islamization program also supported by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Examples of these worrying trends include wiretaps on the cell phones of political opponents, hefty "tax fines" imposed on the independent media company Dogan, which was recently forced to sell one of its three television channels to reduce the fines, and greater control of the media as a whole by pro-AKP businesses as Turkish authorities have lobbied to reduce Dogan's share of the media market.

Meanwhile, more and more journalists and military figures have been imprisoned on flimsy allegations of coup plots. As the International Press Institute reports, Turkey leads the world in the number of jailed journalists, with 57 currently behind bars, and as analyst Soner Cagaptay points out, around half of all Turkish naval admirals have been imprisoned.

On the wider international stage, the AKP government has pushed for the Muslim Brotherhood to take advantage of the unrest in Syria, while Assad hopes to use the Kurds as proxies against Turkey by granting them autonomy, according to a report in Le Figaro. The AKP's belligerence towards Cyprus and Israel is also worthy of note, as the Turkish prime minister has threatened to send "frigates, gunboats and…air force" against Cyprus should it go ahead with plans to exploit potentially very large oil and gas reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean's international waters.

Coming back to Tunisia, Ghannouchi is also on record in Arabic for pointing to Hamas-led Gaza as the "model for freedom today." The Palestinian areas are a case in point to discuss. It is of course true that Hamas was democratically elected in the Palestinian legislative elections in 2006, but Hamas' term in power expired last year and the group has since blocked all attempts by the Palestinian Authority to hold elections.

The reason for Hamas' behavior here is the blow to its popularity the group has suffered for its poor governance in Gaza, where Fatah was ousted from power completely in 2007 and where Hamas has established the rule of Islamic law.

Thus, one must surely concur with Ibish's point that "it's simply foolish not to recognize that they [the Islamist parties] remain in every meaningful sense radical and retain their totalitarian impulses. That they would like to broadly and severely restrict the rights of individuals, women and minorities in the name of religion is obvious."

Given the significant support base groups like al-Nahda and the Muslim Brotherhood have, does it follow that we are back to the old dichotomy of "secular tyranny or Islamists"? Not necessarily. The general point to be made is that if democracy is going to work in the Middle East and North Africa, strong constitutional checks on government power, enforced by the military, together with a firm, healthy secular opposition are needed to prevent Islamists from attaining unrestrained power.

Hence, secularists can learn much from the Turkish experience with the AKP. First, the military should not be afraid to confront the government if the warning signs of Islamist authoritarianism become apparent. Unfortunately, after hundreds of arrests, the Turkish officer corps is choosing to act too late, if it is planning on any action to counter the AKP's autocratic initiatives. In Tunisia, it is disconcerting to note that the army appears to be largely withdrawing from the political realm, while in Egypt, the army panders to Islamist sentiment, as when it facilitated an attack on the Israeli embassy in Cairo and massacred Coptic Christian protestors in Maspero, Cairo.

In the meantime, secularist parties in Tunisia and other countries need to put aside factionalist squabbling and stand together in the promotion of liberal-democratic values, while making an effort to offer a comprehensive program of policies for voters, rather than just attacking the Islamist parties for their radical records. In Turkey, the opposition has failed to get its act together for ten years, and is behaving too erratically, condemning for the pure sake of being oppositional more sensible AKP policies like the stationing of a NATO radar system.

Ultimately, the solution for reducing the appeal of the Islamist parties and eventually marginalizing them lies in reform within mainstream Islam to bring the religion as a whole in line with modern conceptions of human rights and liberal democracy- above all in separating Shari'a from the public realm- but the suggestions outlined above should stand a reasonable chance of at least keeping the Islamist parties in check and perhaps forcing them to moderate out of political expediency, even as they remain radical at heart.

Update: Secretary-General of Al-Nahda- Hamadi Jbeli, was also recently caught on film footage proclaiming "We are in the sixth Caliphate, God willing." So much for "moderate Islamist," then.

Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi is a student at Brasenose College, Oxford University, and an intern at the Middle East Forum. His website is


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

Tunisian Pledges a New Caliphate

by IPT News

Secular Tunisians are expressing concerns after a leader of the country's Islamist Al-Nahda movement said Tunisia's emerging government marks "the Sixth Righteous Caliphate."

The fifth caliphate, an Islamic imperial governing system, was abolished by Turkish secular Kemal Ataturk in 1924. In a speech posted on YouTube Sunday, Hamadi Jbeli also pledged that "we shall set forth with God's help to conquer Jerusalem, if Allah wills… From here is conquest with the help of Allah Almighty."

Al-Nahda won 98 of 217 parliamentary seats in the nation's first free elections and Jbeli may be its candidate for prime minister. The group's electoral success won international praise as a "moderate" movement promoting a democratic form of political Islam. Headlines in mainstream media outlets like theNew York Times, Los Angeles Times, and CNN called Al-Nahda moderate.

Jbeli's statements have many Tunisians questioning the label's validity. He spoke at a rally held by the group in celebration of its electoral success and leading role in forming a governing coalition. It is also not the first time the group has promoted moderation to outsiders while preaching different values to party members.

Leading secularist party Ettakatol suspended its participation in committees to form a governing coalition. "We do not accept this statement," said Khemais Ksila, an executive committee member of Ettakatol. "We thought we were going to build a second republic with our partner, not a sixth caliphate." Issam Chelbi of the secular PDP party called the speech "very dangerous."

"This is what we feared," Chelbi said.

Tunisian women's groups also have been skeptical of Al-Nahda's moderation, saying there has been an increase in verbal and physical abuse since President Zine Abidine Ben Ali resigned in the wake of a popular uprising.

Party leaders tried to contain the damage, telling Reuters that Jbeli was talking about "good governance and a break with corruption ... not the establishment of an Islamic regime."

Although Al-Nahda's breach of Tunisian secularism dominated reports on the controversial political rally, including Reuters' article, speakers also promoted the military conquest of Israel. The event also marked the first time Al-Nahda invited a Hamas representative, Houda Naim of the Palestinian Legislative Council in Gaza, to address a political rally in Tunisia.

Naim expressed hope that the liberation of Tunisia would lead to the "liberation of Palestine," which Hamas believes can only be achieved through violence or "resistance." Al-Nahda's secretary general echoed Naim's call, stating, "The liberation of Tunisia will, Allah willing, bring about the liberation of Jerusalem."

Support for Hamas and the complete "liberation of Palestine" have been consistent messages from Al-Nahda's political leaders and its charter. Hamas has reciprocated with its support for Tunisia's revolt against dictatorship and embracing political Islam.

The Arab Spring "will achieve positive results on the path to the Palestinian cause and threaten the extinction of Israel," Party leader and ideologue Rashid Ghannounshi said in a May interview with the Al Arab Qatari website. "The liberation of Palestine from Israeli occupation represents the biggest challenge facing the Umma [Muslim nation] and the Umma cannot have existence in light of the Israeli occupation."

Further, in the same interview, Ghannouchi said: "I give you the good news that the Arab region will get rid of the bacillus [bacteria] of Israel. Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the leader of Hamas, said that Israel will disappear by the year 2027. I say that this date may be too far away, and Israel may disappear before this."

Ghannouchi has also given his support to specific types of terror carried out by Hamas, including rocket attacks against Israeli civilians and "martyrdom operations."

In June 2001, Ghannouchi appeared in an al-Jazeerah panel discussion in which he blessed the mothers of Palestinian suicide bombers:

"I would like to send my blessings to the mothers of those youth, those men who succeeded in creating a new balance of power…I bless the mothers who planted in the blessed land of Palestine the amazing seeds of these youths, who taught the international system and the Israel (sic) arrogance, supported by the US, an important lesson. The Palestinian woman, mother of the Shahids (martyrs), is a martyr herself, and she has created a new model of woman."

Ghannounchi has even gone beyond rhetoric, calling for Muslims to fund and provide logistical support for Hamas. He signed the controversial "Istanbul Declaration," issued by Muslim clerics in support of Hamas after Israel's January 2009 war in Gaza. The declaration stated that there was an "obligation of the Islamic nation to open the crossings – all crossings – in and out of Palestine permanently" to provide supplies and weapons to Hamas to "perform the jihad in the way of Allah Almighty."

Ghannounchi's statements are consistent with Al-Nahda's platform, which declares that the party "struggles to achieve the following goals … To struggle for the liberation of Palestine and consider it as a central mission and a duty required by the need to challenge the Zionist colonial attack. The platform also refers to Israel as an "alien entity planted in the heart of the homeland, which constitutes an obstacle to unity and reflects the image of the conflict between our civilization and its enemies."

In September, the organization stated that it "supports the struggle of peoples seeking liberation and justice and encourages world peace and aims to promote cooperation and collaboration and unity especially among Arab and Islamic countries and considers the Palestinian struggle for liberation to be a central cause and stands against normalization."

Standing against peace. Envisioning a new Caliphate. Meet the moderate Al-Nahda party.

IPT News (The Investigative Project on Terrorism)


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

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Wash. Post Extols Palestinian Agitators as Latter-Day 'Freedom Riders'

by Leo Rennert

Joel Greenberg, the pro-Palestinian Jerusalem bureau chief of the Washington Post, is in top form in the November 16 edition with a piece about a group of Palestinian agitators from the West Bank trying to take a bus ride from the West Bank into Jerusalem without requisite security permits.

The headline, splashed across three columns, reads:

"'Freedom Riders' arrested on the bus to Jerusalem - Palestinian activists tried to ride through Israeli checkpoint."

Here's how Greenberg uses his lead paragraph to shape his latest pro-Palestinian oeuvre:

"HIZMA CHECKPOINT, WEST BANK - Evoking the nonviolent tactics of the American civil rights movement, six Palestinian activists boarded an Israeli commuter bus linking Jewish settlements in the West Bank to Jerusalem on Tuesday and were arrested as they tried to ride through an Israeli checkpoint on the outskirts of the city."

Greenberg goes on to describe how these "activists" call themselves "Freedom Riders" so as to link their tactics to civil rights demonstrators who challenged segregated buses in southern U.S. states in the 1960s.

However, Greenberg's attempt to analogize these Palestinian agitators with non-violent challenges to segregation in the United States is a bit of a stretch too far - as even Greenberg has to admit farther down in his story, when he writes the following:

"Israel tightened restrictions on entry of Palestinians to Jerusalem after a string of suicide bombings in the city during a violent uprising in 2000."

Thus, Greenberg ends up arguing against himself. First, he extols Palestinians as non-violent "Freedom Riders" - in the headline and in the opening paragraphs -- only to acknowledge farther in his piece that Jerusalem has a history of violent suicide attacks by Palestinians encroaching into Israel's capital from the West Bank. This violent part of the equation gets buried, with no mention in the headline or in Greenberg's lead.

Actually, one doesn't have to go back 11 years, as Greenberg does, to find good reasons for Israel to maintain security checkpoints in West Bank approaches to Jerusalem. Since 2000, there have been numerous attempts by armed Palestinians to ram through Israeli checkpoints. Blood has been spilled by knife-wielding Palestinians as they tried to push their way through roadblocks.

American "Freedom Riders" left no such violence-soaked legacy. The analogy Greenberg touts between a genuine campaign of non-violence in the segregated south with a Palestinian propaganda ploy that tries to camouflage ongoing security threats against Israel is an affront to history.

By minimizing and trivializing these security threats, Greenberg follows a well-trod agenda that challenges Israel's basic right to defend itself.

In line with this agenda, Greenberg ignores or whitewashes Palestinian adherence to a violent struggle -- whether by camouflaging Mahmoud Abbas's glorification of suicide bombers or by failing to report, during the same news cycle, continued rocket fire from Gaza, including a rocket that hit near a kindergarten in the Negev just as the Post was putting the finishing touches on Greenberg's ode to Palestinian "Freedom Riders."

Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers.

Leo Rennert


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

Liberals, Israel and Disaster

by James Lewis

Liberals start from false premises. False premises always lead to false conclusions. Being stuck with delusional belief systems, they keep running into brick walls, getting bloody noses, and being surprised every time it happens. Then they fix up their false beliefs -- mostly by blaming any adults in the vicinity -- and go back to their delusions, having learned nothing.

Only to run into another brick wall. (Repeat from the top.)

This is the stuff of the Keystone Kops comedy, but it's funny only until one of them gets into the White House. Jimmy Carter. Bill Clinton (who had four chances to get bin Laden handed over without a shot being fired). And now we have the most mentally stuck hero of them all, Barack Hussein Obama.

Israel shares every delusional disorder of the West -- like radical left-wingers. The left is a cultic delusion both here and there, because they deny reality, make up their own, and then try to steer the supertanker of state using imaginary maps.

The one advantage Israel has in this mind game is more brick walls to bump into. Where it matters, Israelis are constantly focusing on reality. That's why the U.S. and Israel have the only two armed forces in the world that are effective: practice, practice, practice. War is the most disillusioning experience in the world, literally dis-illusioning -- its kills illusions and delusions starting with the first contact with the enemy. Peace is wonderful, but you can just see what's happened to American in times of peace -- we drift away from reality until some rent-a-mob of certifiable morons on Wall Street go out to stop capitalism, which has paid for every single diaper they've ever soiled. These people are not just ignorant. They are perverse. But then, kids of the very wealthy have been that way since the Roman Empire.

To Obama's cult-inside-a-cult, Israel is a problem, not a solution. This puts Obama at odds with the existence of Israel, which returned persecuted Jews in Europe and the Arab world (about a million refugees) to their ancestral homeland. You can't sink the refugee ship and pretend to love the drowning people. But that's the iron logic of the Obama left.

It was always in the cards that Obama would demand the abolition of Israel. If you don't remember that historic moment, it was because he lied about it, the way he does. When Obama "demanded" that Israel retreat to its 1967 borders, leftist low-brows around the world thought it sounded very reasonable. Everybody else realized that (a) there were no 1967 borders -- that's another Obama lie; rather, those were the 1949 ceasefire lines of the War on Independence, which the Israelis barely survived by stopping five invading Arab armies; (b) the resulting border between Israel and its deadly enemies looks like a gerrymandered Chicago ward, and is indefensible. Obama knows that. Anybody who bothers to read up on it knows it. But the vast, ignorant products of PC education, including half of American Jews, have never even thought about it.

Now, liberals always bring disaster. It's one of those fundamental truths of life. They think they have good intentions, and they think that's all they need. No farmer, hunter, ditch-digger, gardener, or politician in history has ever survived that way. Liberals survive because capitalist farmers, engineers, and even media protect them from reality and dis-illusionment. It's only in their private lives that they confront reality and become amazingly conservative. It's a miracle.

What does all that have to do with Israel and Disaster? It's simple. Israel is believed to have 200 nuclear weapons -- doomsday weapons that are never meant to be used except as a last resort.

Barack Obama has now created the conditions where in the next year, Israel (and the rest of the Middle East) may be forced to confront the doomsday option. The Saudis are the most directly threatened by maniacal Iran, because they live next door. They have openly said that they are importing nuclear weapons from Pakistan in the face of the Iranian threat. It was Barack Hussein Obama who helped push over Mubarak, Gaddafi, and maybe Syria's Assad, who is still fighting a vicious civil war. That's how you "organize communities" in Alinsky Cult.

In his celebrated Nobel Prize-winning quest to bring eternal love and peace to the Middle East, Obama is therefore driving every major government there to go nuclear. Read that again, please: Obama is forcing the Middle East to go nuclear precisely by his "peace" policies. Already 25,000 Arabs are reported to have died in the so-called "Arab Spring." The media are covering it up, as usual, but those are the actual facts on the ground.

If Iran is as suicidally determined to bring Shi'te Armageddon on earth, as soon as it gets enough nukes and missiles, as it seems like it's been saying at least once a day ever sing Jimmy brought Khomeini to power in 1979, there will be the first nuclear war in human history. When Golda Meir was prime minister during the 1974 Yom Kippur War, Israel seriously considered using nuclear weapons to stop the Egyptian tank divisions driving through the Sinai Desert from reaching Israel's civilian heartland. She would have done it, too.

By building up radical Muslims (who are winning the "Arab Spring" civil war), Obama is empowering the worst enemies of Israel and the West. Those radicals hate our guts, as they say every single day on MEMRI (the translation site for Muslim hate propaganda). But Israel and the West are not defenseless. When their backs are against the wall, they will certainly use weapons of mass destruction in self-defense.

Obama says he's all about bringing peace to the Middle East. In fact, like Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and all the other liberals, he is creating greater dangers than any Republican ever would.

They start from false premises, they end up with false beliefs, and when they're in power, they inevitably bring disaster. It's not a surprise. It just follows step-by-step from their delusional beliefs.

Obama Peace-Bringer inevitably turns into Obama War-Monger.

James Lewis


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

Iran’s Thugocracy Attacks Again

by Kenneth R. Timmerman

The 35-year-old son of the former commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards​ Corps, Gen. Mohsen Rezai​, was found dead in a luxury suites hotel in Dubai on Sunday, a death his family deemed “suspicious.”

Ahmad Rezai had gone to Dubai on September 8 to visit his family, who maintain a residence in Dubai. He has been unable to travel to Iran since he was released from house arrest by the regime on May 1, 2008.

According to the Tehran Times, the younger Rezai “died after receiving an electric shock.” An opposition Iranian source told me he was followed back from Tehran by two members of the Quds Force who may have carried out the hit.

The younger Rezai’s murder was discovered just hours after a series of explosions rocked the main depot for the Revolutionary Guards stockpile of Shahab-3 missiles in the southwestern suburbs of Tehran, killing one of Iran’s top missile experts, Brig. Gen. Hassan Moghadam.

It’s unclear if the two events are related, as many bloggers have been suggesting. However, Gen. Mohsen Rezai commands a substantial following within the IRGC even today, fourteen years after he was replaced as IRGC commander. The murder of his son by another faction of regime thugs will surely have repercussions inside Iran.

To me, this feels like the murder of Ahmad Shah Massood in Afghanistan on Sept 9, 2001. I can still remember hearing of Masood’s murder and thinking at the time: this is the beginning of something really bad.

By the very fact that he lived in the United States and had U.S. citizenship, Ahmad Rezai gave his father an “American connection” the regime jinned up into a massive conspiracy. The fact that they couldn’t prove any of their allegations against him, despite many years of efforts, only convinced them further that father and son constituted a threat to the regime.

Combine this murder with the missile base explosion, the latest IAEA report that reveals ongoing nuclear warhead work – despite the CIA’s 2007 National Intelligence Estimate to the contrary – and the intense factional warfare inside the regime that is pitting Ahmadinejad against Khamenei and splitting the IRGC into multiple, mutually-hostile factions – and you’ve laid the table for a dramatic series of events. Something bad is going to happen. And the target is likely to be Israel.

Family background

Gen. Rezai has twice run for president, both times against Ahmadinejad. After the stolen election of June 2009, he joined the other failed candidates, Mir Hossein Mousavi​ and Mehdi Karrubi​, in calling for a full investigation of election fraud.

But as street protests in Tehran and elsewhere intensified, Rezai caved into pressure from Ayatollah Khamenei​ – including threats to his family – and retreated to Mashad for several months where he lectured at the local university. (He holds a PhD in economics.)

Khamenei also threatened the family of Rezai’s boss at the Expediency Council, former president Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani.

Rafsanjani’s daughter, Faezeh Hashemi, was arrested after the election on allegations of failing to pay import duties on large quantities of green “mantos” – the head to toe covering, usually in black, that Iranian women are forced to wear in public – she was planning to distribute thanks to grants from NGOs with ties to George Soros​ and his Open Society Institute.

Rafsanjani’s son, Mehdi Hashemi, was planning to return to Iran from London after the election, but was ultimately warned away from returning by Ahmad Rezai, who learned that the regime had issued an arrest warrant for Hashemi and fully intended to carry it out if he came to Tehran.

Ahmad Rezai has been in the gunsights of the regime ever since he defected to the United States in 1997 at the age of 22.

I first interviewed him in Los Angeles the following year, when he blasted the regime for carrying out terrorist attacks, including the Khobar Towers​ bombing.

“Three persons sign off on every order to commit a foreign terrorist action: Ayatollah Khamene’i, Rafsanjani, and Khamene’i's chief of staff, Hojjat-ol eslam Mohammadi-Golpayegani,” he told me in that interview.

In 1999, his father dispatched two people to lure Ahmad away from Los Angeles, where he had obtained political asylum, to the estate of a wealthy Iranian businessman in Costa Rica, on the pretext that Iranian agents in Los Angeles were trying to kill him.

Gen. Rezai was trying to get Ahmad to return to Iran, where he thought he could get the regime to “forgive” his outspoken radio and television interviews. At the time, President Khatami​ was leading a reformist movement that included a loosening up of the regime’s intelligence apparatus. Gen. Rezai was working with Khatami at the time.

In the end, the younger Rezai managed to return to the United States from Costa Rica, with help from the Foundation for Democracy in Iran, which I founded in 1995. He learned English in my basement by watching Jackie Chan movies for three months while getting resettled into the United States.

He eventually moved to Los Angeles but shunned the Iranian exile community, which distrusted him because of his family background. For several years he worked at ordinary jobs. He got married, had a child, and tried to lead a normal life. In 2004, he became a U.S. citizen.

But Iran was always close to his heart.

Even as a 16-year-old, Ahmad Rezai rebelled against the repression of the regime his own father represented. As a young “inspector” within the Bassij corp, he would visit jails around the country, and quietly work to get political prisoners released.

On January 28, 2007, after reconciling with his father, Ahmad returned to Iran with his South Korean wife and their three-year-old daughter, with the understanding that his past “sins” would be forgiven and he could help his father build a political base after his first failed run for president in 2005.

But as soon as they arrived at the Tehran airport, regime agents confiscated his passports and accused him of being a U.S. spy. His wife and child were allowed to leave after ten days, but the younger Rezai was subjected to fourteen months of hell.

Regime intelligence agents interned him in a Tehran hospital to conduct extensive body scans looking for a “CIA chip,” and ultimately subjected him to several rounds of brutal electro-shocks, hoping to break his will. These sessions were video-taped by his father’s security guards, to make sure the regime doctors didn’t kill him outright.

An intelligence officer named Akbar Baghari accompanied the entire Rezai family on the Haj to Mecca in March 2007. He insisted that Ahmad marry a Muslim woman, and began presenting young women to him as potential brides. “I told these young women, ‘I am already married. This is who I am, I am not going to be your husband. I am under pressure,’” Ahmad told me later.

Baghari made clear that if he refused to take an Iranian Muslim wife, he would be jailed or killed, so in May 2007 the younger Rezai agreed to a white marriage with the daughter of an IRGC general, all the while he kept trying to get his passport back so he could leave Iran to rejoin his wife and child back in California.

Ultimately, Gen. Rezai wrote a report detailing the torture Ahmad had been subjected to and threatened to circulate it throughout the IRGC officer corps if the regime did not agree to allow his son to leave the country, and so on May 2, 2008, he was finally allowed to leave Iran to return to the United States.

Mexican stand-off

When his father declared his candidacy for president in early 2009, Ahmad again sought to return to Iran, thinking to assist his campaign.

After a failed effort in February 2009, he flew to Tehran from Dubai in April 2009 where armed intelligence agents were waiting to arrest him on the other side of the immigration line. Ahmad called his father, who dispatched armed guards to the airport, where they engaged in a Mexican stand-off with the MOIS goons until Ahmad abandoned his attempt to enter Iran and got on the next flight back to Dubai.

As Ahmad said in his initial interview with me in 1998, he represents 30 million young Iranians who are fed up with the violence and repression of this regime. That is why he was so dangerous then, and why he continued to be considered a threat to the regime today.

The regime was all the more determined to crush him after he reconciled with his father and joined his effort to reform the regime from within, an effort that is rejected by many Iranian opposition activists who believe that reform is impossible.

For those who think the Iranian regime is a government like any other, contemplate this: On the eve of a planned trip to Washington, DC in April 2010, where he was scheduled to brief Congressional staff on political developments inside Iran, Ahmad was brutally attacked and beaten almost to death by Armenian gang members while playing pick-up basketball at a 24-hour gym in Glendale, CA.

Although the police treated it as gang-related activity, his father phoned him from Tehran and warned him to stay away from public places, convinced that the attack on his son was the work of regime agents.

Mysterious death

Many questions remain surrounding Ahmad’s death.

- Who were the two Quds force goons who apparently shadowed him back from Tehran?

- When exactly was he murdered, and how? Some sources say he was drugged and suffocated three days before he was found; others say he was electrocuted.

- What was he doing in the Gloria Hotel to begin with, when his family maintained a residence in Dubai where he normally stayed when visiting there?

- What action has the U.S. government taken to ensure that the murder of an American citizen is properly investigated by the Dubai authorities?

Ahmad’s widow asked me what she should say to their seven-year old daughter. Here is what I told her: “Tell her that her dad was a hero, and that he was killed because he wanted people in Iran to enjoy the same freedoms that you enjoy here in America.”


Kenneth R. Timmerman


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

Egypt Falls into Darkness

by Daniel Greenfield

Rebuilding the Library of Alexandria some 1300 hundred years after its final destruction at the hands of its Islamic conquerors in a country where blasphemy against Islam is still a crime was always a fool’s errand. But it was a fool’s errand lavishly embraced by every collection of useful idiots from UNESCO to the National Library of France, which kicked in half a million books.

Most of the money was spent constructing a massive edifice housing only a fraction of the books that could be found in the Harvard University Library, the Library of Congress or the British Library– in a country with a lower literacy rate than much of the African continent. The Library was a Mubarak project and as the wonderful Arab Spring turns into the Islamic Winter, the mobs of Tahrir are coming for the library.

The Library of Alexandria 2.0 is hardly a beacon of culture and enlightenment, but its arts programs, feeble as they are, have already become a target for Egypt’s rising Islamists. There’s no room for ballet in a country where women are expected to cover themselves head to toe in black and walk behind a man. To learn its future, we need only go back to the words of Caliph Omar who declared that if the contents of the library accord with the Koran then they are redundant, if they contradict the Koran, then they are heretical and must be burned.

Ibn Khaldun​, the Berber historiographer, whose statue stands in a Tunis now fallen to Islamic mobs, asked, “Where is the literature of the Persians? Their literature was destroyed by order of Omar when the Arabs conquered the country. And so the literature of the Chaldees, the Babylonians, and a literature still more ancient that of the Copts.”

This cultural genocide isn’t discussed much by modern Western scholars who spend a great deal of time on what the Conquistadors did in South America, but are reluctant to address what the Arabs did in North Africa and the Middle East. Every traveling fair showcasing Islamic science, a misnomer in a religion that denies science, is an obscene spectacle of revisionist history by the conquerors who destroyed much of the knowledge and culture of the peoples they ground under their boot, and now want to take credit for what little they appropriated and put to use.

The true picture of Islamic science is of fragments of knowledge that survived despite Islamic barbarism. Caliph Omar’s encounter with the rich science of Persia is a frightening repetition of the same formula, according to Ibn Khaldun.

“We know that the Muslims, when they conquered Persia, found in that country an innumerable quantity of books and scientific treatises, and that their General, Saad Ibn Abi Oueccas, asked Khalif Omar by letter if he would allow him to distribute those books among the true believers with the rest of the booty. Omar answered him in these terms: — “Throw them into the water. If they contain anything which can guide men to the truth, we have received from Allah what will guide us much better. If they contain errors, we shall well be rid of them, Praise Allah.” In consequence of this order, the books were thrown into the water and the fire, and the literature and science of the Persians disappeared.”

What will happen to the Library of Alexandria, or to any library, under a new caliphate of the Muslim Brotherhood? The same thing that will eventually happen to the National Library of France, the British Library and the Library of Congress if the Islamic conquest continues to advance.

The Christians, Jews and pagans living in Alexandria could not have foreseen the crushing dark ages that would come with Islamic rule. And many Persians, Berbers and Copts still resent Islam for what it did to their cultural heritage. New York is the next Alexandria, Paris is the next Constantinople and London is the next Babylon.

When Muslims target our freedom of speech, when they tell us what we can say and think, they are acting as the vanguard of the new conquest. The Ground Zero Mosque is another Mosque of Omar, raised to celebrate the conqueror’s triumph in bringing down our great buildings and erecting their own mosque nearby.

The city of Alexandria once held many of the wonders of the ancient world. The Pharos Lighthouse, the Empire State Building of its day, was turned into a mosque by Muslims and then allowed to decay into ruin. Islamic rulers tore apart what was left of the building for their own projects. According to a story recounted by Al-Suyuti, the Caliph broke the lighthouse looking for the gold that he thought was buried under it and then could not get the lighthouse to work again. An apt metaphor for what Muslims are doing to the modern day wonders of the West.

Alexandria’s former multiculturalism has given way to Islamic dominance after the Arab-Muslim conquerors seized native women and converted them to their religion. Alexandria was once home to one of the largest Jewish communities in the world. Today it’s down to twenty-three people. But it’s not only the Jews who have vanished from Alexandria.

Life has become increasingly intolerable for Egypt’s Christians. In 2009, the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life listed Egypt, along with Iran, Pakistan and Indonesia as having the most restrictions on religion. Of the ten countries that scored “Very High” along with Egypt, only two, China and Burma, were non-Muslim. That was in the Mubarak era, the rise of the Brotherhood means that Copts, Bahai and other minorities will be able to look back on those days with nostalgia before the unfiltered version of Islam held sway over Egypt.

Al-Azhar University’s Islamic Research Council already controls what books may be published. It has succeeded in banning books directly through legal channels or through rioting and threats. Islamic pressure has resulted in the censorship of even the American University library. And the IRC has the power to seize books, magazines and other materials that violate Islamic codes. How long until the IRC’s power extends directly into the Library of Alexandria? Not very long.

Three years before the UNESCO design competition for the new Library of Alexandria began, an Egyptian court confiscated three thousand copies of “One Thousand and One Nights”. If one of the classics of Arabic literature could be seized that way and its publisher prosecuted, then any lesser book could.

The Library is a relic of the Mubarak era and it is easy for Islamists to make the case against an expensive building full of heretical books while the population doesn’t have enough to eat. The question isn’t whether Islam will burn the Library of Alexandria a second time around, but of when it will get around to pouring the gasoline and lighting the flames.

Daniel Greenfield


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

Share It