Saturday, April 21, 2012

Hamas: We’ll Never Recognize Israel


by Jonathan S. Tobin

For those optimists who continue to believe peace with the Palestinians is possible, the focus in the Middle East continues to be on Israel. The fact that even the supposedly hard-line government of Benjamin Netanyahu has agreed to a two-state solution and proposed peace talks without preconditions is ignored. Instead, the world focuses on the wayward behavior of a single Israeli officer who assaulted protesters in the country to demand its destruction. That officer’s actions were wrong, but they were not, as the New Republic’s Leon Wieseltier incorrectly claimed, a reflection of Netanyahu’s “contempt” for world opinion. Rather, they were an individual’s response, albeit wrong-headed, to the contempt that those who hate Israel have for it. However, today brings a reminder that those who view Middle East peace as something that only is about Israeli decision-making are looking at the situation through the wrong end of the telescope.

The Forward’s Larry Cohler-Esses snagged an interview with Mussa Abu Marzook, the second-highest ranking official in Hamas, and what he found out was something that caused him, as the journalist later told Haaretz, to view the situation with less optimism. Though apologists for Hamas claim the group is moving toward peace with Israel, Abu Marzook made it plain that the best that could be hoped for is “hudna,” or truce, rather than a peace that would end the conflict. He also defended Hamas’s right to continue attacks on Jewish civilians.

Pressed by Cohler-Esses to define what even a hudna, rather than peace would mean, Abu Marzook said it would be similar to Israel’s relationship with Syria and Lebanon. Both countries remain in a state of war with Israel.

Some optimists will claim the mere fact that the interview took place at all and that a man like Abu Marzook is talking about a truce is positive and a sign the Fatah-Hamas unity agreement is moving the Palestinians toward peace. But it is far more likely that what this shows is how Hamas will use its new influence over the Palestinian Authority to render any hopes for peace ephemeral.

In particular, Abu Marzook took issue with the idea that Hamas is dropping its legacy of violence to take up Gandhi-like non-violence. The Hamas leader stands by his group’s charter that, as Cohler-Esses points out, contains blatantly anti-Semitic material including “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” and passages of the Koran that call for the death of the Jews.

Whatever changes may be happening inside Hamas, as Abu Marzook jockeys with his rivals for the leadership of the group, it remains an Islamist terrorist group committed to Israel’s destruction. If the Fatah-Hamas agreement is finalized and men like Abu Marzook assume power in the West Bank while continuing their tyrannical rule over Gaza, it will mean the end of any hopes for a Western-style Palestinian government dedicated to cooperation with Israel and economic development. With the Muslim Brotherhood–the group that inspired the creation of Hamas–on the brink of assuming power in Egypt, the “new” Hamas may sound a bit more presentable to Western audiences but, as a close reading of Abu Marzook’s interview with the Forward shows, its substance is unchanged.

Jonathan S. Tobin

Source: http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2012/04/20/hamas-never-recognize-israel-abu-marzook/

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

Who Gets to be the Caliph?


by Barry Rubin

Who gets to be the caliph? After all, if you want to have a caliphate , as revolutionary Islamists do with much popular support among Muslims, somebody has to get the job and he has to have his capital somewhere. And that’s why the caliphate issue, beyond the most abstract demagoguery, is a potential suicide machine.

Once the issue is raised the battle begins. The caliph would have to be Sunni and thus the Shia would not accept any Sunni caliph. Indeed, while the caliph may be a positive symbol for Sunni Islamists, such a caliphate would be a symbol of oppression for the Shias, that is the majority in Iran, Iraq, and Bahrain, as well as a leading factor in Lebanon and elsewhere . This situation would set off Sunni-Shia wars.

As for the Sunnis, who among them might be a legitimate candidate? Ironically, the two who have the best credentials are anti-Islamist monarchs: the kings of Morocco and of Jordan who both claim—a claim that is generally recognized—descent from Muhammad, Islam’s founder.

Ever since the Turkish Republic abolished the caliphate, Islamists have sought to restore it. Indeed, the Muslim Brotherhood was founded in the 1920s for that very purpose. One should note, by the way, that the Istanbul-based caliphate had long been meaningless. When the caliph declared a jihad against Britain and France during World War One, a move promoted by Germany, he was almost totally ignored. In fact, Arab nationalists revolted against his rule and that event is the historical basis for most of the Arabic-speaking states that exist today.

Just two days after the Turks deposed the old one, Sharif of Mecca Husain Bin Ali, ruler of the Hijaz in western Arabia, declared himself caliph. But nothing came of it since he had so many enemies. In 1925 his own kingdom was conquered and annexed by Abd al-Aziz Ibn Saud, who went on to create Saudi Arabia. Jordan’s kings are descended from the sharif of Mecca.

To read the rest of this article, click here.

Barry Rubin

Source: http://www.gloria-center.org/2012/04/who-gets-to-be-the-caliph/

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

The Muslim Brotherhood's 'Reserve' Presidential Candidate


by Rick Moran

Earlier this week, the state election commission barred the Muslim Brotherhood candidate Khairat al-Shater, a millionaire businessman and top Brotherhood strategist, from running in the Egyptian presidential election due to a Mubarak-era criminal conviction. Al-Shater was widely believed to have been the frontrunner until he, and two other major candidates (including the Salifis entry) were disqualified by the commission.

But the Brotherhood had a back-up candidate already entered; a 59 year old engineer who heads up their Freedom and Justice Party.

Mohammed Mursi doesn't have the name recognition of al-Shater, but he will benefit from the vast grass roots network the Brotherhood has been building for decades.

Reuters:

The Brotherhood's broad grass-roots network will help Mursi, but rival Islamists and liberal candidates who served under Mubarak have campaigned longer and can boast better name recognition.

Mursi also needs to prove that as the Brotherhood's reserve candidate he has the authority to lead the Arab world's most populous nation after a turbulent transition led by generals who took power after Mubarak was ousted 14 months ago.

"The word 'reserve' is over ... Now the Brotherhood and (its) Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) has a candidate with a clear program in this election," Mursi told Reuters in an interview shortly before his first campaign news conference.

"I hope the people will choose me, an Islamist candidate from the FJP and Muslim Brotherhood, and God willing the system will move towards stability and development," he said.

The election is the final stage in Egypt's transition to civilian rule. The army has said it will hand over power by July 1, but the military, which has provided every president for six decades and has sprawling business interests, is expected to be a powerful player behind the scenes for years.

The outcome of the race is being closely watched around the region, where Egypt has long had an influential role, and in the West, wary of the rise of Islamists in a nation that in 1979 became the first Arab state to make peace with Israel.

The Muslim Brotherhood has broken several promises they made prior to the start of the transition to democracy. They swore they wouldn't compete for more than 1/3 of the seats in Parliament. They ended up competing for more than 50%. Then they promised to have an "inclusive" panel empowered to write the new constitution. They packed it with more than 70% Islamists. They also promised not to enter a presidential candidate in the race. Now they've entered two.

Why should anyone believe their promises that they want a "coalition" government? Or that they won't reneg on the treaty with Israel?

The Muslim Brotherhood has zero credibility - except with the Obama White House who believes them to be moderates and committed to democracy.

We'll see about that, for sure.

Rick Moran

Source: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2012/04/the_muslim_brotherhoods_reserve_presidential_candidate.html

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

Tunisia's Religious Persecution


by Anna Mahjar-Barducci

The new Ennahda Islamist rulers are keeping Ben Ali's autocratic laws to persecute not only political opponents, but also those who deviate from the required path of religion.

After two Tunisian citizens were condemned to a seven-year prison term for publishing writings perceived as offensive to Islam on March 28, Tunisian journalist Najoua Jo wrote, "In today's Tunisia, has anyone the right to be an atheist and to publicly avow it? The answer is clear: it is no." It was published by the Tunisian media outlet, Webdo.tn.

One of the two men, Ghazi Ben Mohamed Beji, was convicted for publishing an essay in July 2011 entitled, "The Illusion of Islam," in which he depicted in a satiric way Prophet Mohammed's life with particular reference to his sexual habits. The other jailed man, Jaber Ben Abdallah Majri, simply published photos on his Facebook page containing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed drawn from Beji's book.

As reported by Human Rights Watch, the two men, both 28, have been tried and condemned by a Tunisian court for having published documents "of such a nature as to be detrimental to public order and morality." The two men were indicted on the basis of article 121 (3) of the penal code. Beji managed to flee to Europe on March 9 and was therefore tried in absentia. Mejri is deteriorating in prison.

This case is not the only one. A few days after that sentencing, the official media reported that another Tunisian court sentenced a man, Ramzi Absha, to four years in prison for desecrating the Koran. Absha had allegedly thrown copies of the Koran into lavatories at several mosques in the southern city of Ben Guerdane. According to his lawyer, was suffering from mental illness -- a fact totally ignored by the court.

According to the media outlet Tunisia Live, the Association for the Memorization of the Holy Quran and Imams and Mosques of Ben Guerdane, represented by a team of seven prosecutors, "demanded that the Absha's case be referred to the office of the public prosecutor to 'carry on with the investigation and require that a maximum sentence is inflicted on the accused.'

Mohamed Mars, the press officer representing the Association for the Memorization of the Holy Quran and Imams and Mosques of Ben Guerdane, stated to Tunisia Live that Absha's crime is "quite significant in principle." Mars added, however, that if Absha were to be diagnosed with a mental illness, "he would no longer be responsible for his act." He then hypocritically stated that he was not willing to contradict the judge's sentence on Absha, insisting that his association and he do not want to add a political dimension to the case.

The two cases, however, have already a political dimension: they both contravene the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which in its article 18 reads: "Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance." Nobody, therefore, has the right to be put in jail for his ideas and or profound convictions. Despite international norms that are formally accepted by all UN member states, Tunisia seems now attempting to dictate in what one should believe.

The international media are still refer to ruling Ennahda party as "moderate Islamist". Moderate probably means that it is not affiliated to Al-Qaeda, but since the party -- which has strong ties with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood – is ruling, Tunisia is assisting in the repression, violence and jailing of people, whose only crime was to express their opinions. The AFP reported that the number of trials on charges of transgressing morality has surged since the Islamist Ennahda party won Tunisia's first post-revolution elections in October.

Human Rights Watch commented that this episode is an example of the need to repeal repressive laws dating to the Ben Ali era. This is certainly true, but it should be added that the Ben Ali regime was not particularly interested in going after miscreants, but used illiberal laws to mainly persecute political opponents. The new Ennahda Islamist rulers are instead keeping the Ben Ali's autocratic laws to persecute not only political opponents, but also those who deviate from the required path of religion.

Anna Mahjar-Barducci

Source: http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/3025/tunisia-religious-persecution

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

Britain: Muslim 'Cultural Sensitivity' Runs Amok


by Soeren Kern

Far from thanking him for his multiculturalism, , Muslims say they are "offended" by his "generalizing about their beliefs."

The largest university in London plans to impose a ban on the sale of alcohol on campus to accommodate the "cultural sensitivity" of its Muslim students.

London Metropolitan University's Vice Chancellor, Malcolm Gillies, says it would be unwise to "cling" to a "nostalgic" view where the vast majority wants alcohol to be available. Instead, he says that he believes the university should take account of diverging views, namely those of Muslims, who now comprise 20% of the university's 30,000 students.

"Many of our students do come from backgrounds where they actually look on drinking as a negative. We therefore need to rethink how we cater for that 21st-century balance," Gillies declared in an interview. "What we don't want is the tyranny of a majority view," he added.

Gillies' proposals to re-engineer social life on campus have, not surprisingly, generated a mostly negative response from students, many of whom say a ban on alcohol smacks of politically correct pandering run amok.

Muslims, too, are unhappy with Gillies. Far from thanking him for his multicultural activism, Muslims say they are "offended" by his "generalizing about their beliefs."

To be sure, London Metropolitan University is not the first institution in Britain to bend over backwards to avoid "offending" Muslims. In fact, hardly a day goes by in which Britons are not surrendering some aspect of their culture and traditions -- not to mention their rights of free speech and free expression -- in order to make Britain safe for Islam.

British schools increasingly are dropping the Jewish Holocaust from history lessons to avoid offending Muslim pupils, according to a report entitled Teaching Emotive and Controversial History, which was commissioned by the Department for Education and Skills. British teachers are also reluctant to discuss the medieval Crusades – in which Christians fought Muslim armies for control of Jerusalem -- because lessons often contradict what is taught in local mosques.

British social welfare offices have banned novelty pig calendars and toys lest they offend Muslims. Workers in the benefits department at Dudley Council, West Midlands, for example, were told to remove or cover up all pig-related items, including toys, porcelain figures, calendars and even a tissue box featuring Winnie the Pooh and Piglet.

In West Yorkshire, the Park Road Junior Infant and Nursery School in Batley has banned stories featuring pigs, including "The Three Little Pigs," in case they offend Muslim children.

In Nottingham, the Greenwood Primary School cancelled a Christmas nativity play because it interfered with the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha. In Scarborough, the Yorkshire Coast College removed the words Christmas and Easter from their calendar not to offend Muslims. In Scotland, the Tayside Police Department apologized for featuring a German shepherd puppy as part of a campaign to publicize its new non-emergency telephone number. The postcards are potentially offensive to the city's 3,000-strong Muslim community: Islamic legal tradition says that dogs are impure.

The British Girl Scout Association has designed new uniforms especially for Muslims students, who had "issues" with the existing range of clothing.

In Sheffield, a five-year-old girl had her passport form rejected when an official said the bare shoulders on her photograph could offend Muslims.

Muslim doctors and nurses in Britain are now allowed to opt out of strict hygiene rules introduced by the National Health Service to restrict the spread of hospital superbugs. The change was made after female Muslims objected to being required to expose their arm below the elbow under guidance introduced to reduce the number of patients who were falling ill, and even dying, from bacteria.

Meanwhile, in South Yorkshire, an elderly woman in a nursing home died after she suffered a fall and was left lying on the floor bleeding because the Muslim nurse, Abdul Bhutto, said he had to finish his prayers before he could help the woman.

In Oldham, a breastfeeding mother was evicted from a waiting room in city hall (aka a "multicultural" building) to avoid offending Muslims. British law allows nursing mothers to breastfeed in public.

In Glasgow, a Christian radio show host was fired after a debate between a Muslim and a Christian on whether Jesus is "the way, the truth and the life." In Birmingham, two Christians were told by police "you can't preach here, this is a Muslim area." In Cheshire, two students at the Alsager High School were punished by their teacher for refusing to pray to Allah as part of their religious education class. Also in Cheshire, a 14-year-old Roman Catholic girl who attends Ellesmere Port Catholic High School was branded a truant by teachers for refusing to dress like a Muslim and visit a mosque.

In Liverpool, a Christian couple was forced to sell their hotel after a female Muslim guest accused the pair of insulting her during a debate about Islam. In London, Rory Bremner, a political comedian, said that every time he writes a sketch about Islam, he fears that he is signing his own death warrant. Also in London, Scotland Yard says that Muslims who launch a shoe at another person are not committing a crime because the practice is Islamic symbolism.

In Kent, police have been banned from asking for a person's "Christian" name, in case this request offends Muslims. The Kent Police Department's 62-page 'Faith and Culture Resource' guide tells officers to use "personal and family name" instead of "Christian" name.

In East London, all elected members of Tower Hamlets town council were told not to eat during daylight hours in town hall meetings during the Muslim month of Ramadan. Special arrangements were also made to disrupt council meetings to allow for Muslim prayer. Meanwhile, the council renamed a staff Christmas party as a "festive meal."

In Leicester, a gang of Somali Muslim women who assaulted and nearly killed a non-Muslim passer-by in the city center walked free after a politically correct judge decided that as Muslims, the women were "not used to being drunk."

Elsewhere in Britain, a foster mother was struck off the social services register for allowing a Muslim girl in her care to convert to Christianity. Officials insist the woman, who has looked after more than 80 children in the past ten years, failed in her duty to preserve the girl's religion and should have tried to stop the baptism. They ruled that the girl, 17, should stay away from church for six months.

In London, the Harrow Council provoked a storm of protest after announcing plans to offer Islamic halal-only menus in the borough's 52 state primary schools. Parents are outraged that meat prepared according to Islamic Sharia law is being pushed on non-Muslim children. Meanwhile, most of the in-flight meals on British Airways could soon be halal. The airline also says Muslim staff may wear veils, but Christian employees may not wear crosses.

In West Yorkshire, an electrician working for a housing association in Wakefield was told he would be fired for placing a small palm cross on the dashboard of his van. His employer said the cross could be offensive to Muslims: "Wakefield and District Housing has a stance of neutrality. We now have different faiths, new emerging cultures. We have to be respectful of all views and beliefs."

In London, a Christian employee at Heathrow Airport was fired for exposing a campaign of systematic harassment by fundamentalist Muslims.

In Leicester, furious Muslims demanded that Walkers, a British snack food manufacturer owned by PepsiCo, demanded that the company change its packaging labels after it emerged that certain varieties of its potato chips contain small amounts of trace alcohol to extract certain flavors.

Across Britain, Muslim bus and taxi drivers are telling blind passengers that they cannot bring their "unclean" dogs on board. The problem of prohibiting guide dogs on religious grounds has become so widespread that the matter was recently raised in the House of Lords.

In Reading, one pensioner, a cancer sufferer, was repeatedly confronted by drivers and asked to get off the bus because of his guide dog. He also faced hostility at a hospital and in a supermarket over the animal. In Nottingham, a Muslim taxi driver refused to carry a blind man because he was accompanied by his guide dog. The taxi driver was later fined £300 ($470).

In Stafford, a Muslim taxi driver refused to carry an elderly blind couple from a grocery store because they were accompanied by their seeing-eye dog. In Tunbridge Wells, Kent, a blind man was turned away from an Indian restaurant because the owner said it was against his Muslim beliefs to allow dogs into his establishment.

In London, a bus driver prevented a woman from boarding a bus with her dog because there was a Muslim lady on the bus who "might be upset by the dog." As the woman attempted to complain, the doors closed and the bus drove away. When a second bus arrived, she again tried to embark, but was stopped again, this time because the driver said he was Muslim.

In Britain, police sniffer dogs trained to spot terrorists at train stations may no longer come into contact with Muslim passengers, following complaints that it was offensive to their religion. Sniffer dogs used by police to search mosques and Muslim homes are now being fitted with leather bootees to cover their paws so they do not cause offense.

In British prisons, radical Muslim gangs are imposing Sharia law on non-Muslim inmates, who have been forced to stop playing Western music, take down pictures of women from their cells and stop eating sausage. The gangs are also targeting non-Muslim inmates for forced conversions to Islam.

In Leeds, more than 200 Muslim inmates at a high security prison are set to launch a multi-million pound claim for compensation after they were offered ham sandwiches during the month of Ramadan. They say their human rights were breached when they were offered the meat, which is forbidden by Islam. At the same time, Muslim sex offenders serving time in British prisons are asking to be exempt from a prison treatment program because the idea that "criminals should not have to talk about their offenses" is a "legitimate Islamic position."

Meanwhile, Muslim prisoners in Britain are being given fresh clothes and bedding after sniffer dogs search their cells. The inmates say their bedclothes and prison uniforms must be changed according to Islamic law if they have come anywhere near dog saliva. Government rules mean prison wardens must hand out replacement sets after random drug searches to avoid religious discrimination claims. The dogs have also been banned from touching copies of the Islamic holy book the Koran and other religious items. Prisoners now receive special bags to protect the articles.

At the same time, the British government has spent thousands of pounds of taxpayer money to rebuild prison toilets so that Muslim inmates do not have to use them while facing Mecca. Islam prohibits Muslims from facing or turning their backs on the Kiblah -- the direction of prayer -- when they visit the lavatory. After pressure from Muslim, who claimed they had to sit sideways on prison WCs, the Home Office agreed to turn the existing toilets 90 degrees.

Muslims attending the 2012 Olympic Games in London will be relieved to learn that toilet facilities at London's Olympic Park are being built so they will not have to face Mecca while sitting on the loo.

Nevertheless, the 2012 London Olympics have been plunged into controversy by the discovery that the Games will clash with Ramadan. In 2012, Ramadan will take place from July 21 to August 20, while the Olympics run from July 27 to August 12. Muslims have asked for the games to be rescheduled.

Soeren Kern is Senior Fellow for European Politics at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group. Follow him on Facebook.

Source: http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/3024/britain-muslim-cultural-sensitivity

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

Islamic Apartheid Conference Under Attack


by Robert Spencer

Leftist and Islamic supremacist thugs are planning to protest the Islamic Apartheid Conference that the David Horowitz Freedom Center is sponsoring at Temple University Monday. Hosted by Students for Intellectual Freedom, the Conference will feature Pamela Geller, Nonie Darwish, Simon Deng and me. In reporting on the coming protests, however, the Philadelphia City Paper noted only that “two of America’s most high-profile anti-Muslim bigots” will be speaking – Geller and me – and doesn’t mention Darwish or Deng even once. The omission was telling, revealing the hypocrisy of the protests as a whole.

Nonie Darwish is an ex-Muslim who grew up learning hatred for Infidels in a Muslim school in Gaza. Simon Deng is a South Sudanese Christian who was held as a slave by Muslim captors for several years. Both of them know Islamic apartheid firsthand, and have been its victims. The Leftists at the City Paper therefore could do nothing but omit them from their story attacking the Conference, for to include them would in itself have been to reveal the reality of what they’re denying: Islamic apartheid.

The City Paper’s story focuses on Pamela Geller, retailing hard-Left talking points against her consisting entirely of distortions, misrepresentations, and outright falsehoods about things she has said and positions she has taken. Its objection to the Conference appears to be that Geller, and apparently therefore also the Conference as a whole, is “anti-Muslim.”

The irony is thick: organizing the protests are Occupy Temple, the International Socialist Organization, Students for Justice in Palestine, the Party for Socialism and Liberation, and other hard-Left community and student organizations, none of which have ever raised the slightest objection to Temple’s Israeli Apartheid Week. Nor would any of them characterize the very idea of Israeli Apartheid Week as anti-Semitic, although anti-Semitism is rife at such events (and our event will not actually be “anti-Muslim” at all). The chief difference, however, between Israeli Apartheid Week and our Islamic Apartheid Conference is simply that there really is Islamic apartheid, but there is no Israeli apartheid.

In Israel, Arab citizens are represented in Knesset and enjoy full legal equality. The very idea of “Israeli Apartheid” is an attempt to stigmatize, and ultimately destroy, Israel’s efforts to defend itself. Islamic Apartheid, however, is a very different matter. Is it “anti-Muslim” to point out that Islamic law mandates institutionalized discrimination against women? Muslim women are the first victims of Islamic law’s denial of basic rights for women; is it “anti-Muslim” to speak out for them and say that as human beings they deserve better?

Women are greatly burdened in many Muslim countries. Across the Islamic world, they endure restrictions on their movements, their marital options, their professional opportunities, and more. In Kuwait and elsewhere, women cannot vote or hold office. According to Amnesty International, in Saudi Arabia “women…who walk unaccompanied, or are in the company of a man who is neither their husband nor a close relative, are at risk of arrest on suspicion of prostitution or other ‘moral’ offences.”

The oppression of women in Muslim lands is not an accident. The proposition that, as the Qur’an says, “men have a status above women” (2:228) is all-pervasive in the Islamic world. Aisha, the most beloved of the Muslim prophet Muhammad’s many wives, admonished women in no uncertain terms to submit: “O womenfolk, if you knew the rights that your husbands have over you, every one of you would wipe the dust from her husband’s feet with her face.”

The oppression of women sanctioned by the teachings of Islam, and often by its holy book, manifests itself in innumerable ways. Among its most notorious are female genital mutilation, which an Islamic legal manual approved by Cairo’s prestigious al-Azhar University states is required “for both men and women.” Then there is wife-beating, sanctioned by nothing less than the Qur’an itself, which tells men to “beat” women from whom they “fear disobedience” (4:34). The Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences has determined that over ninety percent of Pakistani wives have been struck, beaten, or abused sexually — for offenses on the order of cooking an unsatisfactory meal. Others were punished for failing to give birth to a male child. Dominating their women by violence is a prerogative Muslim men cling to tenaciously. In Spring 2005, when the East African nation of Chad tried to institute a new family law that would outlaw wife beating, Muslim clerics led resistance to the measure as un-Islamic.

There is much more, including the phenomenon of honor killing. It is no accident or coincidence that Muslims commit 91 percent of honor killings worldwide. A manual of Islamic law says that “retaliation is obligatory against anyone who kills a human being purely intentionally and without right.” However, “not subject to retaliation” is “a father or mother (or their fathers or mothers) for killing their offspring, or offspring’s offspring” (‘Umdat al-Salik o1.1-2). In other words, someone who kills his child incurs no legal penalty under Islamic law.

The Palestinian Authority gives pardons or suspended sentences for honor murders. Iraqi women have asked for tougher sentences for Islamic honor murderers, who get off lightly now. Syria in 2009 scrapped a law limiting the length of sentences for honor killings, but “the new law says a man can still benefit from extenuating circumstances in crimes of passion or honour ‘provided he serves a prison term of no less than two years in the case of killing.’” And in 2003 the Jordanian Parliament voted down on Islamic grounds a provision designed to stiffen penalties for honor killings. Al-Jazeera reported that “Islamists and conservatives said the laws violated religious traditions and would destroy families and values.”

Nor are women the only victims of Islamic apartheid: gays suffer in Muslim countries as well. The Iranian government has put to death an estimated 4,000 homosexuals since 1980. According to Scott Long, director of the Human Rights Watch Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Program, Iranians who are suspected of being gay commonly face torture. Hossein Alizadeh of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission said Iran gays live with “constant fear of execution and persecution and also social stigma associated with homosexuality.”

This is true not only in Iran, but in all too many areas of the Islamic world. The Qur’an characterizes those who “practice your lusts on men in preference to women” as “transgressing beyond bounds” (7:81). A hadith pronounces “the curse of Allah” upon those who engage in homosexual activity. A contemporary Muslim writer, Shaykh Abdul-Azeez Al-Fawzaan, called homosexuality “one of the most sinful acts known to humankind” and said that it was “evidence of perverted instincts, total collapse of shame and honor, and extreme filthiness of character and soul.”

Legal views on punishment vary. Among the Sunni schools of Islamic jurisprudence (madhahib), the Hanafi school mandates a severe beating for the first offense, and the death penalty for a repeat offender. The Shafi’i school calls for 100 lashes for an unmarried homosexual, death by stoning for a married one. The Hanbali school requires stoning across the board. Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, directed his followers to “kill the one who sodomizes and the one who lets it be done to him” (‘Umdat al-Salik, p17.3).

In many areas these words are still heeded. The Islamic Penal Law Against Homosexuals in Iran calls for the death penalty for sodomy and one hundred lashes for lesbianism for the first three offenses, with death for the fourth offense. Homosexuality is a capital offense not only in Iran, but also in Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Yemen and Mauritania. In Malaysia, it can draw a twenty-year prison sentence, and is illegal also in Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bosnia, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, the United Arab Emirates, and Uzbekistan, among others.

In light of all this and much more, it is ironic in the extreme that Leftist groups that profess a concern for “justice” would be trying to impede our Islamic Apartheid Conference. In doing so, they are running interference for a radically oppressive and intolerant ideology – as has been the Left’s modus operandi for decades.

Robert Spencer is a scholar of Islamic history, theology, and law and the director of Jihad Watch. He is the author of ten books, eleven monographs, and hundreds of articles about jihad and Islamic terrorism, including the New York Times Bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is The Complete Infidel’s Guide to the Koran (Regnery), and he is coauthor (with Pamela Geller) of The Post-American Presidency: The Obama Administration’s War on America (Simon and Schuster).

Source: http://frontpagemag.com/2012/04/20/islamic-apartheid-conference-under-attack/

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

‘Last Hope’ for Peace Fading in Syria


by Rick Moran

Saying that the six-point peace plan negotiated by Kofi Annan with the Syrian government represented “the last hope” for a peaceful resolution to the crisis, key members of the “Friends of Syria” coalition meeting in Paris on Thursday warned of further action by the UN Security Council unless President Assad lived up to the terms of the agreement.

In Damascus, representatives of the UN and the Syrian government signed a preliminary series of protocols that delineates the responsibilities of the Syrian government with respect to the advance team of UN monitors who arrived in the country on Tuesday. The agreement covers how the team of up to 30 observers will “monitor and support a cessation of armed violence in all its forms by all parties.” The UN Security Council will take up the issue of sending a much larger contingent of monitors to Syria — up to 300 according to Secretary General Ban Ki Moon — within days.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in her most serious warning to the Assad regime to date, threatened to invoke sanctions under Chapter VII of the UN Charter — a move that would allow the Security Council to authorize force. More strong words came from French President Nicolas Sarkozy who compared the situation in Syria with Libya and urged the formation of “humanitarian corridors” to get food, medicine, and relief aid to more than a million Syrians in desperate need of supplies.

And Turkey is considering invoking Article 5 of the NATO Charter that calls an attack on one NATO state an attack on the entire alliance. Syrian military units have fired on refugee camps in Turkey in recent days, killing 4 Syrian civilians and wounding two Turkish nationals.

Despite all the maneuvering, the bottom line is that the Annan “peace plan” is for all intents and purposes, dead. The plan called for the Syrian government to withdraw their heavy weapons from cities and towns, begin releasing detainees, start a dialogue with the opposition, allow foreign reporters into the country, allow peaceful protests to occur, and allow humanitarian aid to reach those who need it.

The Assad regime has failed on each and every point to follow through on their responsibilities under the plan. While the first few days of the 10-day old cease fire saw fewer civilian casualties, the last 48 hours have seen horrific shelling in the twin flashpoint cities of Homs and Hama. Dozens of deaths have been reported by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights in London. No detainees have been released, the two sides have refused to sit down while the fighting continues, foreign reporters are still barred from entering the country, Assad’s soldiers have fired on peaceful demonstrators, and humanitarian aid has been blocked or unable to reach the afflicted due to the fighting.

The question has been asked — why persist in trying to resurrect an agreement honored in the breach by both sides? The answer is, according to Ban Ki Moon, that there is no other choice but to try and make the agreement work. The Secretary General still sees an “opportunity for progress” despite the near collapse of the cease fire plan, and called on the Security Council to support a larger monitoring mission saying that it “would greatly contribute to observing and upholding the commitment of the parties to a cessation of armed violence in all its forms.”

Syria has suggested that 250 monitors would be sufficient while the UN and Friends of Syria think that a number of 300 to 400 observers spread out over 10 cities and towns would be more effective. The attitude of Russia and China toward this increased presence of monitors in Syria is unknown. Both nations have formed a “Friends of Assad” grouping at the UN and have vetoed every SC resolution that sought to strengthen sanctions and bring Assad to heel. But the monitoring mission might be more to their liking. China has said that it is studying the idea of joining an observer force and Hillary Clinton met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov earlier on Thursday, who agreed that the situation in Syria was no longer “a static state, but a deteriorating one.”

The tone of the Friends of Syria meeting was decidedly grim. Sarkozy, in likening the situation in Syria to the Libyan situation before the fall of Gaddafi, accused Assad of lying. “He wants to wipe Homs off the map just like Gaddafi wanted to destroy Benghazi,” he said. “The solution,” he added, “is the establishment of humanitarian corridors so that an opposition can exist in Syria.” French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe, in lobbying for the corridors, said that the peace plan was the “last hope” before civil war broke out — a war that could spill over into neighboring countries and precipitate a regional conflict.

It is widely believed in Western military circles that any kind of a “humanitarian corridor” would require a sizable number of combat troops as well as a substantial number of aircraft to protect civilians, as well as guard the mission itself. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said that “all options are on the table,” but warned against American military involvement during a congressional hearing on Thursday saying that Washington would need “a clear legal basis” and regional support to act. That will almost certainly not be forthcoming from the UN Security Council as Russia has been adamantly opposed to a repeat of the Libyan mission and would almost certainly veto any resolution that allowed foreign troops on Syrian soil.

The Free Syrian Army has been agitating for foreign intervention for months — even without UN approval, but the civilian Syrian National Council has opposed intervention. The SNC is calling for foreign powers to arm the rebels, however, and if the peace plan falls through, more nations could potentially join some of the Gulf states who are already supplying small arms to the FSA.

What is spurring the Friends of Syria to threaten more drastic action is not just the continued shelling of cities by the Syrian army, but also the growing humanitarian crisis that now includes at least 230,000 refugees who have been forced to flee their homes, and another million Syrians who are desperately in need of food, medicine, and other aid. Part of the Annan cease fire plan called for a two hour respite in the shelling and fighting every day so that relief could be delivered. Assad’s soldiers have ignored this part of the agreement and the situation is deteriorating rapidly. Thus, there have been calls by both France and Turkey for the humanitarian corridors to allow refugees safe passage to one of the border countries — Lebanon, Turkey, or Jordan — and for supplies to alleviate the escalating suffering.

Panetta told the congressional hearing that the Pentagon was supplying $25 million in humanitarian aid and “non-lethal” assistance to the rebels. Arab League members have pledged more than $100 million in aid — much of that to pay FSA fighters — while Great Britain has pledged another 4 million pounds, bringing their contribution to over 10 million pounds.

It isn’t that there isn’t enough money to aid the Syrian people. The problem is President Assad refuses to allow the aid to reach those who most need it. With the economy in a state of near collapse, unemployment skyrocketing, high inflation, and a dearth of goods on the shelves, people are leaving their homes by the thousands and heading for refugee camps outside the country. This has put Turkey directly in Assad’s line of fire as there have been several incidents in recent days of the Syrian army firing across the border hitting Syrian civilians on Turkish soil.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan took the extraordinary step of issuing a statement warning that he might invoke Article 5 of the NATO Charter that calls for the alliance to come to the aid of a member state if they are under attack. Invoking the article would allow NATO forces to take action against Syria without UN authorization. The chances of him doing so following a relatively insignificant border skirmish are low, but his words may alarm President Assad who believes himself invulnerable as a result of Russia and China’s veto power at the UN.

Erdogan has been an early and vociferous supporter of the corridor idea and he may act unilaterally to set up a conduit to the rebels using Turkish troops so the opposition can be supplied while helping to alleviate some of the humanitarian problems near the border.

But Turkey alone cannot address the humanitarian crisis, nor can the Friends of Syria do much at this point to stop the slaughter. If — and that’s a big if — President Assad allows hundreds of monitors into Syria, and if he begins to abide by the Annan peace plan, the UN will hold off on attempting to add additional sanctions on his regime. But realistically, no one expects Assad to comply beyond the empty promises he has already made. And once the fig leaf of a peace plan has been removed, the world community will find itself in exactly the same position it was prior to Kofi Annan’s efforts, with the same limited options, the same intransigence from Russia and China, and the same ruthless actions by Assad and his criminal military directed against the innocent as well as the growing armed insurgency against his rule.

Rick Moran

Source: http://frontpagemag.com/2012/04/20/last-hope-for-peace-fading-in-syria/

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

The Taliban’s Poisoning of Afghan Schoolgirls


by Frank Crimi

In a recent effort to prevent their attendance at school, the Taliban poisoned nearly 150 Afghan schoolgirls, marking just the latest atrocity in a litany of barbaric acts the Islamist terror group continues to inflict upon the women and girls of Afghanistan.

The afflicted girls — all of whom suffered severe nausea, headaches, and dizziness — had become poisoned after drinking contaminated water from jugs in their classrooms at their high school in Afghanistan’s northern province of Takhar. Many of the students were taken to a local hospital where some were listed in critical condition.

Fearing retribution, some school officials were initially reluctant to assign blame to any particular group for the chemical attack, with one simply saying, “This is either the work of those who are against girls’ education or irresponsible armed individuals.”

However, Afghan police investigators were somewhat more conclusive stating that they “strongly suspected” a water supply truck at the girls’ school had been poisoned by Taliban insurgents as “an intentional act to poison schoolgirls.”

Of course, it doesn’t take too much investigative legwork to confirm Taliban culpability in crafting such a heinous plot given the terror group’s historical fondness for using poison on Afghan schoolgirls.

Specifically, Afghan Education Ministry officials have stated that the Taliban was behind at least 17 poison-gas attacks on girls’ schools in Afghanistan in 2010, six of which took place in the Afghan capital of Kabul.

Those 2010 attacks included poison spray being used on four girls’ schools in Kanduz, attacks which hospitalized over fifty teenage girls; a gas poisoning of a girls’ high school in Kabul which required the hospitalization of 46 students and nine teachers; and a poison spray attack on a girls’ school in the northern province of Sar-e-Pul that hospitalized 20 students.

Now, the latest chemical poisoning in Takhar comes only weeks after Afghan President Hamid Karzai at a ceremony marking the start of Afghanistan’s school year had urged insurgent Islamist groups not to attack teachers and school children, saying that the country could only develop through the “spread of education.”

For Afghan girls, those educational opportunities have been growing significantly since the ouster of the Taliban from power in 2001 under whose rule women and girls were banned from going to school on the grounds that it was un-Islamic.

Instead, the Taliban subjected Afghan women to a terrifying Sharia nightmare that, among other things, forbade them from working outside the home or even leaving their homes unless accompanied by a close male relative. Failure to abide by these restrictions resulted in public whippings, beatings or stoning.

However, once freed from the Taliban yoke, the enactment of a national Afghan campaign to expand educational opportunities for women has driven school enrollment from several thousand girls in 2002 to more than 2.7 million girls in 2011.

As Farooq Wardak, Afghanistan’s Education Minister, has noted, “During the Taliban era the percentage of girls of the one million students that we had was 0 percent. The percentage of female teachers was 0 percent. Today 38 percent of our students and 30 percent of our teachers are female.”

Not surprisingly, those educational successes have also coincided with a decade of some remarkable progress made by Afghan women in other spheres, including the rise of women’s advocacy groups; election to government office; and training as military pilots and Olympic athletes.

Unfortunately, their incremental educational gains are being violently jeopardized by an unrelenting Taliban campaign of terror, a campaign which has subjected Afghan females to acid attacks and shootings; the destruction of their schools through arson, rocket and mortar attacks; and the killing of their teachers.

Examples of that campaign of violence includes ten Taliban fighters arrested for squirting acid onto 15 girls who were walking to school in the province of Kandahar, an assault which caused severe burns and disfigurement to many of the girls; Taliban gunmen beheading the headmaster of a girls’ school in Kabul: and insurgents destroying over 240 girls’ schools throughout the country.

Of course, it should be noted that while the Taliban are the most overtly lethal opponents of educational opportunities for Afghan women, they have been abetted in their efforts by the nodding assistance of Muslim men in the region who more often than not treat women little better than livestock.

As Farooq Wardak has acknowledged, historical opposition to schooling for girls extends beyond the Taliban to the “deepest pockets” of Afghan society, a patriarchal society that remains heavily stacked against Afghan women and girls.

For example, Afghan females are subjected to the widespread and socially accepted practice of forced child marriage; honor killings; and the traditional Afghan practice known as “baad,” whereupon women are given away to pay family debts or settle disputes.

Not unexpectedly, the result of these and other abuses has made Afghanistan one of the world’s most dangerous and unforgiving places for women, where the life expectancy of an Afghan woman is just 44 years, where 31 percent suffer from physical violence and another 30 percent suffer from psychological trauma.

Now, a sustained terror campaign by the Taliban against their burgeoning educational aspirations threatens to add to those nightmarish woes.

More disturbingly, it also comes as US, Afghan government officials and the Taliban have been engaged for several months in an effort to initiate peace talks that could lead to the Islamists playing a role in the Afghan government once the American-led Coalition forces completely withdraw from the country by the end of 2014.

While the Taliban suspended the peace talks in March and instead have reignited a spring offensive — highlighted by well-orchestrated attacks on Kabul and three provincial capitals in eastern Afghanistan — the haunting specter of its potential return to power is cause for fear among Afghan women.

As Manizha Naderi, who heads the civil rights group Women for Afghan Women recently said, “If there are negotiations with the Taliban, women’s rights will be the first to go, and women will be forced to stay at home all over again,” adding, “Dark days are in Afghanistan’s future.”

Unfortunately for Afghan schoolgirls, those dark days are already here.

Frank Crimi

Source: http://frontpagemag.com/2012/04/20/the-taliban%E2%80%99s-poisoning-of-afghan-schoolgirls/

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

Pro-Hamas Exhibit Opens in France


by IPT News

The local government in the French city of Angoulême has provided a room for a pro-Hamas photography exhibit, a month after a French Islamist terrorist murdered a Rabbi and three Jewish youth to "avenge the Palestinian children."

The organizing Charente Palestine Solidarity Association explained that the exhibit was at the center of a Palestinian cultural event, "in order that people could understand better what Hamas really is," according to the Jerusalem Post.

The display of photography by Frédéric Sautereau, which the organizer says "shows the daily activities of Hamas and its active and positive role in the social, economic and cultural life of the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip," has gone forward despite vociferous protests by French Jewish organizations.

The president of France's leading Jewish organization, Richard Pasquier, denounced the exhibit and the complacency of French society towards anti-Jewish, Islamist terrorist groups in an open letter about the event. The exhibit was part of the "perverse importation of this [Israeli-Palestinian] conflict onto French national territory," which has "almost always resulted in anti-Semitic attacks," he wrote

"What a beautiful tribute and what a blank check have been given to one the most odious terrorist perpetrators," Pasquier wrote. "Holding such an exposition under the false pretext of culture, while the blood of the [Toulouse] victims has not yet dried, is received by the community I represent as a new thrust of the dagger."

IPT News

Source: http://www.investigativeproject.org/3542/pro-hamas-exhibit-opens-in-france

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

Al-Arian Surfaces With Self-Serving Skype


by IPT News

He's been on house arrest for nearly four years, but the inability to be in the spotlight may constitute cruel and unusual punishment for Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) operative Sami Al-Arian.

A website called The Islamist posted what it says is the complete text of a statement the former University of South Florida professor and PIJ governing board member made via Skype Wednesday. In it, the man who created and ran the "active arm" of the terrorist group in North America and sheltered its current leader, decries his "persecution" and lamenting the plight of others convicted of supporting terrorist groups such as Hamas and al-Qaida.

The speech marks "my first public address in the U. S. in over nine years," he says, and comes despite attorneys' advice not to make public statements. "Nothing short of our very survival as free people living in a free and democratic society is at stake," he says, casting America as a security state in the wake of 9/11 law enforcement actions.

"We, as a community, are at the forefront in the fight to reclaim the foundations and principles that established this great country."

Al-Arian still faces a criminal contempt indictment issued in June 2008, after he repeatedly refused to testify before a federal grand jury investigating terror financing in northern Virginia. His argument that his 2006 guilty plea to providing goods and services to the PIJ meant he would never have to provide information to the government, be it voluntarily or under court order. The judge who sentenced him in Tampa, along with a separate judge in Alexandria and their respective circuit courts of appeal, all rejected that claim.

His attorneys have never produced any written evidence backing up the claim. It is not mentioned in his plea agreement, and when asked at in a hearing whether his plea was based on any additional promises, he said, "I don't recall anything else."

"You think anybody has attempted to trick you?" the judge asked.

"No," Al-Arian said.

The case has been frozen in limbo, however, by U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema's refusal to rule on defense motions to dismiss the contempt case despite repeated promises to deliver a written order as far back as the spring of 2009.

This week's remarks include an appeal for the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms. He said he speaks "(o)n behalf of all victims of injustice" in seeking support for the group. Then he recites a list of people he says were unjustly convicted on terror charges.

"Today Ali Al-Tamimi is serving life for giving a religious fatwa. Tarek Mehanna is serving 17 years for translating a document. Mufid Abdel Kader is serving 20 years because he had a beautiful voice and sang for Palestine. Ghassan El-Ashi and Shukri Abu Baker are serving 65 years each for feeding and clothing hungry Palestinian children ... Aafi (sic) Siddqui was sentenced to 86 years after she was shot and nearly died."

Al-Tamimi's fatwa urged followers to wage war against American troops and help the Taliban. Mehanna was convicted of conspiracy to provide material support to al-Qaida, providing material support to terrorists and conspiracy to commit murder in a foreign country. Abdel Kader, Elashi and Baker each were convicted for their work with the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, which illegally routed more than $12 million to Hamas before being shut down in 2001.

Aafia Siddiqui was apprehended in Afghanistan in possession of plans for a "mass casualty attack" in the United States, including a list of New York City landmarks. Prosecutors say she grabbed an Army officer's M-4 rifle and fired it at another officer and other members of a U.S. interview team at an Afghan police compound in July 2008.

To Al-Arian, they remain "Innocent people [who] are targeted and their families are suffering because of their beliefs, opinions, associations, and advocacy. All first amendment activities- supposedly guaranteed by the US constitution.

President Obama said if he had a son he would have looked like Trayvon Martin. Let me tell you, all our sons look like Ahmad Abu Ali, Ziad Yaghi, and Tarek Mehanna."

Despite his record of lies and support for murderers, Al-Arian remains a popular figure in the media and among academics. The Miami Herald and St. Petersburg Times (now Tampa Bay Times) provided sympathetic coverage. Georgetown University's John Esposito continues to consider Al-Arian a "very close friend" and "a man of conscience with a strong commitment to peace and social justice."

American Islamist groups, led by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) never wavered in supporting Al-Arian.

IPT News

Source: http://www.investigativeproject.org/3548/al-arian-surfaces-with-self-serving-skype

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

Friday, April 20, 2012

Mordechai Kedar: Syria, Iraq, the Gulf and the Iranian Tentacles


by Mordechai Kedar

Read the article in the original עברית
Read the article in Italiano (translated by Angelo Pezzana)


The Islamic Minister of History is Laughing all the Way to the Blood Bank


We have all been watching the horrific events happening in Syria for more than a year now, and the media report all the time about conflicts between "Syrian security forces" on one side, and the "rebels", the "opposition" and the "Free Syrian Army" on the other. However, most of us are not aware that the "Syrian security forces" include no small number of foreign soldiers, a true foreign legion, which came to Syria by the order of their superiors in order to help Bishar Asad and his cronies to remain in power at any price. The foreign soldiers who came to Syria to shore up the regime are mainly Lebanese members of Hizbullah, and Iraqis who serve in special units composed entirely of Shiites, who are routinely used by Iran to carry out assassinations and attack missions.

In the beginning of April, the governments of Iraq and Syria signed an agreement to organize a patrol on the border between them, in the area of Dir A-Zur, in order to stop the flow of weapons and ammunition that the Sunni Iraqis send to their Sunni brothers in Syria, in order to stand up to the murderous attacks of the Alawite regime. The Syrian regime especially fears the activists of "Al-Qaeda in the land of the rivers", those who in the past, operated under the leadership of Abu Musab Al-zarqawi, and who might relocate the focus of their activities from Iraq to Syria, and turn their jihad against the Alawite infidels who are supported by the Christian Russians and Chinese idol worshipers.

Iman Al-Zawahiri, Bin Laden's successor and head of Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, also declared a few weeks ago that it is the duty of every Muslim in the world to enlist in the holy jihad against the regime of infidels in Syria. These announcements harm the Syrian rebels very much, because they justify the claims of the regime that it is fighting not against peaceful citizens but against armed terror gangs. Organizations of the Syrian opposition have stated that they strongly object to the Al-Qaeda announcements, and that their intention is to establish in Syria a democratic, civilian state, not a radical Islamic emirate.

In parallel, there are many reports of a large quantity of weapons that are streaming into the rebels' hands, including those stolen from the munitions warehouses of the Syrian military. These weapons include mortars, heavy machine guns, anti-tank missiles and even katyusha rockets, which will enable the Free Syrian Army to renew its attacks on the Syrian regime's military bases and its units, if and when - and apparently it will be very soon - it will decide to renew the fighting, since it is now clear that the cease-fire exists only "on paper" in the documents of Kofi Anan. In the field, the regime continues to slaughter citizens, and dozens of them are killed every day of the "cease fire".

The head spokesman of Sunni Islam, Sheikh Dr. Yusuf al-Qaradawi, has also joined the chorus that supports the Syrian rebels. He recently published a Fatwa forbidding the purchase of Russian and Chinese goods, because of Russia's and China's support of the Syrian regime, which is murdering Sunni Muslims.

Iran is Very Worried

Iran watches all of these developments with great concern fearing the fall of the regime in Damascus. Because if it does fall, then Iran's whole sphere of influence in Syria, Lebanon, Gaza and other places in the Arab world will collapse as well, since Syria is Iran's spring-board to them. General Qassem Suleimani, one of the heads of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, has entered the picture. It he who is responsible for the portfolio that includes Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. He enlisted Iraqi Shi'a militias who were trained, armed and equipped in Iran in order to act against the American forces in Iraq, who have won for themselves the name "Asab ahl al-Haqiq" ("Teams of people of the Truth"), and commanded them to speed to Syria by way of Iraq to join forces with the Syrian military in the suppression of the Syrian rebellion. The operational battle experience of these militias, accumulated over hundreds of terror attacks carried out against Iraqi Sunnis, will be translated into similar "quality actions" against the Sunni rebels in Syria.

The head of this militia is "Abu Dara", a Shi'a mass murderer and one of the commanders of the "death squads" that belong to Muqtada Al-Sadr's "Mahdi Army". Born in 1970, his real name is Ismail Hafeth Allami, and he served previously in the Iraqi army. After he joined the "Mahdi Army" in 2003 he was assigned to hunt down officers, pilots, intelligence people and administrators who had served Saddam Hussein and the Baath party, and execute them without a trial. He took an active part in the mass attacks against Sunnis in Baghdad in order to rid the capital of the Sunnis and turn it into a Shi'ite city. In Islam, this act has very great significance, because for five hundred years, from 751 until 1258 CE, Baghdad was the capital of the Abbasid caliphate, which was established upon the skulls of the Shi'ites. The transformation of Baghdad to a Shi'ite city would be sweet revenge upon the Sunnis, who slaughtered Hussein bin Ali, the Shi'ite leader, in Karbala in the year 680 CE. And now, Abu Dara is sent to Syria in order to support Asad, who participates in the activity of the Iranian Shi'ites, to continue ruling in Damascus, which was the capital of the Sunni Umayyad dynasty between 660 and 750. The minister of Islamic history is laughing all the way to the blood bank.

The ability of Iran to send Iraqis to fight on Asad's side and cause the Iraqi government to participate in the action with Syria in order to prevent the smuggling of weapons to the rebels, may be the biggest strategic surprise in the world, because it has become known that it is Iran who controls Iraq, and that Iraq functions today according to the interests of Iran. After all of the Western blood and treasure that has been spent on Iraq since 2003, and after the elimination of the bloodthirsty dictator who ruled Iraq, this torn and divided country has clearly fallen like ripe fruit into the hands of the Ayatollahs of Qum. It can be said ironically that Iran is the big winner in the war of the West against Saddam. Iran achieved this position even while the Americans were still in Iraq, but they were too frightened to act decisively against Iran.

The Americans in Iraq had a lot of information about the involvement of the Guardians of the Revolution and Iranian Intelligence in Iraq since 2003. The Americans were able to get their hands on lots of standard equipment, weapons and ammunition that had been smuggled from Iran into Iraq and was used in the guerrilla war led by people like Abu Dara, and militias such as the "Mahdi Army" against the forces of the coalition. Thousands of coalition soldiers were killed and wounded in Iraq since 2003, by Iranian weapons and Iranian ammunition smuggled from Iran to Iraq and used by Iraqi militias (even Sunni ones) that had undergone training in Iran. Despite all of this, the United States and the coalition never dared to place the responsibility on Iran for killing coalition soldiers, because they feared that making such a statement would obligate them to act against Iran within Iran's territory, while they had to continue to protect themselves against Iranian attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Iranian regime realized the Western lack of determination, and increased the attacks upon coalition soldiers, in order to force the members of the coalition to declare one after another that they are withdrawing from the hopeless war, the treacherous swamp called Iraq. Finally, the United States also escaped from Iraq, and left that hemorrhaging country to the mercies of the Ayatollahs, who do with it as they please: if it suits them, they launch attacks against Sunnis, or they allow the Arab League summit to meet in Baghdad and create the appearance of a free, liberated and serene Iraq, so that they can sneak the representatives of the five permanent members of the Security Council (plus Germany) into Baghdad in order to extort from them more concessions and buy more precious time for the development of the military nuclear program.

Iran, which is suffering a difficult economic crisis and severe deterioration in the value of its currency because of the international sanctions , has found an easy way to support the collapsing Syrian economy: it pressures Iraq to supply Asad with cash to pay its military for protecting those faithful to Asad. Iran demanded from Nouri Al-Maliki, prime minister of Iraq, to also supply oil to Syria, so that it can fuel Asad's tanks and armored personnel carriers that shoot death bombs into the residential neighborhoods of Homs, Idlib and Dar'a. The payment for these services will arrive to Iraq when the hidden Mahdi will return to the world...

There are reports that Iraq is acquiring equipment that Iran is forbidden to acquire. And after this equipment arrives in Iraq, it is transferred to Iran. This is equipment and materials used in the infrastructures for oil and gas production, petro-chemical industries and factories that manufacture fertilizer and medicines. The concern is that Iran uses this equipment and material in order to produce chemical weapons, and that's why the countries of the world are forbidden to sell these items to Iran. Iraq serves as a legal cover for this Iranian acquisition. It may be that instrumentation and metals that are used in the weapons industries are also acquired today by Iraq in order to transfer them to Iran.

The Gulf is Burning

Along with the Iranian takeover of Iraq, Iran has also succeeded to frighten the states of the [Persian] Gulf to death by activating the Shi'ite noose: Shi'ite communities who live in all of the states of the Gulf serve as an Iranian fifth column. These communities undermine the internal stability in Iraq, and especially in Bahrain, the monarchy that is situated on an island opposite the coast of Saudi Arabia. This monarchy has mostly Shi'ite residents, but is ruled by the Sunni minority. And in this island-monarchy is situated the main naval base of the United States in the Persian Gulf. The goal of undermining the stability is to force the ruling family to demand that the Americans will leave, exactly as when the Saudis eliminated the American air base in Dhahran, in eastern Saudi Arabia in order to silence the Al-Qaeda propaganda, which stated that the House of Saud was collaborating with the modern crusaders who came from America and contaminated the land of the two holiest places to Islam. Eliminating the air base also served the purpose of depriving Iran of an excuse to incite the Shi'ite residents against the Saud family.

Iran is increasing its hold on the Gulf by emphasizing its control of the three islands that it conquered in the days of the Shah, Lesser Tunab, Greater Tunab and Abu Moussa. Last week Mahmud Ahmadinejad visited the Iranian base that was established on the island of Abu Moussa, provoking strong reactions in the Gulf states, which understand it as the first steps for Iran to begin the takeover of the Straight of Hormuz and other islands in the Gulf.

The fear of Iran that is harbored within the citizens of the Gulf states has increased in recent times as a result of the success that Iran has experienced in buying time in the negotiations with the West over its nuclear program. Increasingly, the states of the Gulf are convinced that the West, which is now very deservedly seen as weak and flabby, will not succeed in deterring Iran from taking practical steps against the Gulf states. Lately a discussion was held in the Kuwaiti parliament on the question of whether Kuwait should object to a possible future conquest of Kuwait by Iran or perhaps it would be preferable to surrender and accept it, because in any case, the West will not repeat the war of 1991, when Kuwait was liberated from the claws of Saddam. Needless to say that Kuwait does not not possess even the minimal the ability to stand up to an Iranian conquest; Iran will need only a few hours in order to conquer Kuwait, and will encounter little resistance.

However, Iran has no need to take dramatic military steps against its Arab neighbors West of the Gulf. It would be enough to take "soft" steps in order to bring them under the wings of its hegemony: elimination of an Emir here, buying off an Emir there, frightening a sheikh in one principality, a terror attack in a banking center, bringing down an office tower, a fire in an oil installation, sinking a ship of the Coast Guard or something of this sort such that everyone will know that Iran is responsible, will suffice to frighten the smug billionaires into thinking that it's better to cooperate quietly with their Eastern neighbor who has become the "landlord" of Iraq, rather than to experience what Iraq did until it was ultimately subordinated to the Iranian regime, and in order to keep the billions of petro-dolalrs in their accounts in Switzerland or other tax shelters.

The rich people of the Gulf have never been great fans of their countries, because had they wanted to preserve the character of their societies they would not have flooded the principalities with millions of foreign workers and business people, who have subsequently turned the citizens of the states of the Gulf into small minorities in their own states. And if they have sold out their countries in order to increase their personal wealth, why would they rebel against Iran? They have never had a real military force capable of defending them, and therefore the security forces in the Gulf states are composed of foreign soldiers, usually from Bangladesh or Balochistan. Will these foreign soldiers fight and put their lives on the line for a state that is not theirs?

The only state in the Arabian Peninsula that perhaps may have some ability to cope with Iran is Saudi Arabia, however the operational skills of its military forces are dubious, because they have never fought a real war on a national scale. From time to time they were involved in a border dispute with Yemen or Iraq, and performed an aerial bombing here or an artillery shelling there, but never in an actual war. It is reasonable to assume that without massive support from the United States, even the Saudis would not survive a war with Iran. A takeover of Saudi Arabia is especially attractive for the Iranians, because with Saudi Arabia, the holy places of Mecca and Medina would fall into their hands, and so the Shi'ites would again control Islam as it did in the days of the fourth Caliph, Ali Bin Abi Talib, the founder of Shi'a Islam, and all of the achievements of the Sunnis since the middle of the seventh century would be erased and it would be as if it never happened. And very sweet indeed would be the Persian revenge on the Bedouins, who left the Arabian Peninsula in the seventh century and destroyed the Sassanid Persian Empire.

This geo-strategic balance between Iran and the Gulf, which is clearly biased toward Iran, turns the Gulf into easy prey for the Iranian conquest machinery. The political and economic gains that would occur in Iran from the control of the reserves of oil in the Gulf, together with those that are hidden in the ground of Iraq, are tremendous. Iran would become the controlling state of the greatest quantity of oil and gas in the world, something that would buy it the ability to play with the prices in a way that, whenever it wanted, it could bring down states with poor economies like Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Ireland. And in order to placate Iran, the whole world might be offered as a potential sacrifice to the Ayatollahs, including Israel. Therefore, Iran, as it sees itself, does not need to attack Israel, because the West will shun the Zionist entity anyway, and abandon her to her fate, and she will certainly fall.

On the other hand, Israel in the current situation is not yet a superpower of either oil or gas, and therefore getting mixed up with Israel serves no useful purpose for Iran. The damage that Israel might cause to Iran might be fatal to Iran, because there are rumors going around by means of "copy and paste" on Internet sites that claim that Israel has between 200 and 300 nuclear warheads. I don't know if Israel has even one, but on the Internet there are reports about hundreds. Moreover, Israel has proved in Lebanon (2006) and in Gaza (2008-9) that sometimes it loses its cool and fights back "disproportionately". The Iranians fear that it may be too dangerous to mix with a state that may have between 200 and 300 nuclear warheads and sometimes loses its cool, and in comparison to the Gulf, nothing good will come of war with her. Therefore, in my opinion, Israel will not be listed on Iran's list of targets, anyway not among the primary ones. The states of the Gulf are on this list, though, whether because of the profits that Iran can earn from taking them over, or because of the low price that Iran would pay for taking them over. Israel is on the list of secondary targets, together with Turkey, North Africa and Europe.

Israel understands this consideration and so - in my opinion - there is no immediate reason, and therefore no chance that Israel will attack Iran. Iran is a problem for the Gulf and the world at large well more than it is a problem for Israel. Therefore Israel will not sacrifice itself on the altar of the Ayatollahs in order to rescue the Gulf and the world from the Iranian problem. The Iranians also do not believe that there is truly an argument between Dagan, Barak and Netanyahu about attacking Iran. They are sure that this whole public argument conducted in the media in Israel whether to attack Iran or not is intended only to ring the world's alarm bells in order to wake the napping Europeans as well as those sleeping in the White House, and that actually, Dagan, Barak and Netanyahu have divided up the work between them, like "the good cop and the bad cop". Since when does Israel conduct a public discussion about a military plan?

And speaking of short-term goals, there is another strategic goal that Iran is planning to execute in the near future: Afghanistan, its neighbor to the East. The moment that the foreign forces leave this failing country too, Iran will take control of it using its well-known methods - murder, terror, bribery and fear - and all the treasures of Afghanistan will fall into the hands of Iran, exactly as it happened in Iraq. This takeover as well would be a delicious historical plum for the Iranians, who will have succeeded to take over a country that the British, Russians and Americans, each in its own turn and its own time, failed miserably in its attempts to conquer and to take over its assets.

And when Iran will have nuclear weapons in its hands they will succeed to intimidate the whole world, they will complete their takeover of the Gulf, the Arabian Peninsula, Iraq and Afghanistan, and will continue their journey westward to Egypt and North Africa, Israel, Turkey and Europe.

Syria today is the key to the future of Iran: if Asad's regime survives, Iran will be encouraged and will continue in its global octopus-like plan; and if Asad will collapse, Iran's progress westward will be halted and it may sink into internal disagreements about the question of who is to blame for the failure in Syria. These disagreements might split the ruling class and bring it to total collapse. Therefore, for Iran, the war over Syria is critical, with a character of "to be or not to be", which explains the massive Iranian investment in the shoring up of Asad.

Whoever who wants to bring down Iran must support those rebelling against Asad. Erdogan in Turkey, King Abdullah in Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Hamed al-Thani in Qatar and King Abdullah in Amman, have understood the matter and what they are doing for the rebels in Syria may save them and the Gulf from the Iranian octopus. The question is how much time it will take for the sleeping Europeans and the dreamers in the White House to understand the reality of this complicated Middle East, and when they will begin to take action in order to bring Iran down.

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Dr. Mordechai Kedar (Mordechai.Kedar@biu.ac.il) is an Israeli scholar of Arabic and Islam, a lecturer at Bar-Ilan University and the director of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Islam (under formation), Bar Ilan University, Israel. He specializes in Islamic ideology and movements, the political discourse of Arab countries, the Arabic mass media, and the Syrian domestic arena.

Translated from Hebrew by Sally Zahav.

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Source: The article is published in the framework of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Islam (under formation), Bar Ilan University, Israel. Also published in Makor Rishon, a Hebrew weekly newspaper.

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

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