Saturday, January 29, 2011

Special Report: The Revolt in Egypt and U.S. Policy

by Barry Rubin

There is no good policy for the United States regarding the uprising in Egypt but the Obama Administration may be adopting something close to the worst option. This is its first real international crisis. And it seems to be adopting a policy that, while somewhat balanced, is pushing the Egyptian regime out of power. The situation could not be more dangerous and might be the biggest disaster for the region and Western interests since the Iranian revolution three decades ago.

Experts and news media seem to be overwhelmingly optimistic, just as they generally were in Iran's case. Wishful thinking is to some extent replacing serious analysis. Indeed, the alternative outcome is barely presented: This could lead to an Islamist Egypt, if not now in several years.

What's puzzling here is that a lot of the enthusiasm is based on points like saying that the demonstrators are leaderless and spontaneous. But that's precisely the situation where someone who does have leaders, is well organized, and knows precisely what they want takes over.

Look at Tunisia. The elite stepped in with the support of the army and put in a coalition of leadership, including both old elements and oppositionists. We don't know what will happen but there is a reasonable hope of stability and democracy. This is not the situation in Egypt where the elite seems to have lost confidence and the army seems passive.

Can Omar Suleiman, long-time head of intelligence, as vice-president and former Air Force chief (the job Mubarak himself used to have) Ahmed Shafiq as prime minister stabilize the situation? Perhaps. He is an able man. But to have the man who has organized repression running the country is not exactly a step toward libertarian democracy.

There are two basic possibilities: the regime will stabilize (with or without Mubarak) or power will be up for grabs. Now, here are the precedents for the latter situation:

Remember the Iranian revolution when all sorts of people poured out into the streets to demand freedom? Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is now president.

Remember the Beirut spring when people poured out into the streets to demand freedom? Hizballah is now running Lebanon.

Remember the democracy among the Palestinians and free elections? Hamas is now running the Gaza Strip.

Remember democracy in Algeria? Tens of thousands of people were killed in the ensuing civil war.

It doesn't have to be that way but the precedents are pretty daunting.

What did Egyptian tell the Pew poll recently when asked whether they liked "modernizers" or "Islamists"? Islamists: 59%; Modernizers: 27%. Now maybe they will vote for a Westernized guy in a suit who promises a liberal democracy but do you want to bet the Middle East on it?

Here's the problem.

On one hand, everyone knows that President Husni Mubarak's government, based on the regime that has been running Egypt since the morning of July 23, 1952, is a dictatorship with a great deal of corruption and repression.

This Egyptian government has generally been a good ally of the United States yet has let Washington down at times. For example, the Mubarak government has continued to purvey anti-American propaganda to its people; held back on solving the Israel-Palestinian conflict (it did not endorse the 2000 Clinton plan, though I have good sources saying Mubarak said later he regretted that decision); has not taken a strong public stance on pressuring Iran; and so on.

For a long time it was said that Egypt was the most important U.S. ally in the Arabic-speaking world. There is truth in this but it has been less true lately, though due more to passivity in foreign policy than to hostility.

Clearly, though, Egypt is an American ally generally and its loss to an anti-American government would be a tremendous defeat for the United States. Moreover, a populist and radical nationalist-much less an Islamist-government could reignite the Arab-Israel conflict and cost tens of thousands of lives.

So the United States has a stake in the survival of the regime, if not so much that of Mubarak personally or the succession of his son, Gamal. This means that U.S. policy should put an emphasis on the regime's survival. The regime might be better off without the Mubaraks since it can argue it is making a fresh start and will gain political capital from getting rid of the hated dictator. Given the weakness of designated successor, Gamal Mubarak, who is probably too weak to deal with the situation the regime might well be a lot better off.

On the other hand, the United States wants to show that it supports reform and democracy, believing that this will make it more popular among the masses in the Arab world as well as being the "right" and "American" thing to do. Also, if the revolution does win, the thought is, it is more likely to be friendly to America if the United States shows in advance its support for change.

Finally, the "pro-democracy" approach is based on the belief that Egypt might well produce a moderate, democratic, pro-Western state that will then be more able to resist an Islamist challenge. Perhaps the Islamists can be incorporated into this system. Perhaps, some say (and it is a very loud voice in the American mass media) that the Muslim Brotherhood isn't really a threat at all.

So in this point of view, U.S. policy should favor the forces of change.

Of course, it is possible to mix these two positions and that is what President Obama is trying to do.

Thus, Obama said:

"I've always said to [Mubarak] that making sure that they are moving forward on reform -- political reform, economic reform -- is absolutely critical to the long-term well-being of Egypt, and you can see these pent-up frustrations that are being displayed on the streets....Violence is not the answer in solving these problems in Egypt, so the government has to be careful about not resorting to violence and the people on the streets have to be careful about not resorting to violence. I think that it is very important that people have mechanisms in order to express legitimate grievances. As I said in my State of the Union speech, there's certain core values that we believe in as Americans that we believe are universal: freedom of speech, freedom of expression -- people being able to use social networking or any other mechanisms to communicate with each other and express their concerns."

On paper, this is an ideal policy: Mubarak should reform; the opposition should not use violence; and everything will turn out all right. Again, this is the perfect policy in theory, and I'm not being sarcastic at all here.

Unfortunately, it has little to do with reality. For if the regime does what Obama wants it to do, it will fall. And what is going to replace it? And by his lack of support--his language goes further than it might have done--the president is demoralizing an ally.

And it is all very well to believe idealistically that even if Egyptians are longing to be free, one has to define what "free" means to them. Also, the ruler who emerges is likely to be from the best organized, disciplined group. People in Russia in 1917 were yearning to be free also and they got the Bolsheviks. In Iran where people are yearning to be free, the Obama Administration did nothing.

No matter what the United States says or does at this point, it is not going to reap the gratitude of millions of Egyptians as a liberator. For the new anti-regime leaders will blame America for its past support of Mubarak, opposition to Islamism, backing of Israel, cultural influence, incidents of alleged imperialism, and for not being Muslim. If anyone thinks the only problem is Israel they understand nothing.

This is not the first time this kind of problem has come up and it is revealing and amazing that the precedents are not being fully explained. The most obvious is Iran in 1978-1979. At that time, as I wrote in my book Paved with Good Intentions: The American Experience and Iran, the U.S. strategy was to do precisely what Obama is doing now: announce support for the government but press it to make reforms. The shah did not go to repression partly because he didn't have U.S. support. The revolution built up and the regime fell. The result wasn't too good.

There is a second part of this story also. Experts on television and consulting with the government assured everyone that the revolution would be moderate, the Islamists couldn't win, and even if they did this new leadership could be dealt with. So either Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini couldn't triumph-Islamists running a country, what a laugh!-or he couldn't really mean what he said. That didn't turn out too well either.

Even more forgotten is that, regarding Egypt, that's how the whole thing started! Back in 1952, as I wrote in my book, The Arab States and the Palestine Conflict, U.S. policymakers supported-don't exaggerate this, it was not a U.S. engineered coup but they were favorable-to an army takeover. The idea was that the officers would be friendly to the United States, hostile to the USSR and Communism, and more likely to enjoy mass support.

In other words, policymakers and experts are endorsing a strategy today that has led to two of the biggest disasters in the history of U.S. Middle East policy. And now it is even worse, since we have these precedents and particularly the point about what happens when Islamists take power.

There is no organized moderate group in Egypt. Even the most important past such organization, the Kifaya movement, has already been taken over by the Muslim Brotherhood. Since 2007 its leader has been Abdel Wahhab al-Messiri, a former member of the Muslim Brotherhood and a virulent antisemite.

Muhammad el-Baradei, leader of the reformist movement, makes the following argument against my analysis:

"Mubarak has convinced the United States and Europe that they only have a choice between two options -- either they accept this authoritarian regime, or Egypt will fall into the hands of the likes of bin Laden's al-Qaida. Of course that is not exactly true. Mubarak uses the specter of Islamist terror to prevent a third way: the country's democratization. But Washington needs to know that the support of a repressive leadership only creates the appearance of stability. In truth, it promotes the radicalization of the people."

This is a reasonable formulation. But one might also say that nothing would promote the radicalization of the people more than having a radical regime. Even el-Baradei says that if he were to be president he would recognize Hamas as ruler of the Gaza Strip and end all sanctions against it.

That is not to say that there aren't good, moderate, pro-democratic people in Egypt but they have little power, money, or organization. Indeed, Egypt is the only Arab country where many of the reformers went over to the Islamists believing-I think quite wrongly-that they could control the Islamists and dominate them once the alliance got into power.

Nothing would make me happier than to say that the United States should give full support for reform, to cheer on the insurgents without reservation. But unfortunately that is neither the most honest analysis nor the one required by U.S. interests. In my book, The Long War for Freedom, I expressed my strong sympathy for the liberal reformers but also the many reasons why they are unlikely to win and cannot compete very well with the Islamists.

Ihave pointed out that the Brotherhood's new leader sounds quite like al-Qaida and has called for war on both Israel and America.

And here is Rajab Hilal Hamida, a member of the Brotherhood in Egypt's parliament, who proves that you don't have to be moderate to run in elections:

"From my point of view, bin Ladin, al-Zawahiri and al-Zarqawi are not terrorists in the sense accepted by some. I support all their activities, since they are a thorn in the side of the Americans and the Zionists....[On the other hand,] he who kills Muslim citizens is neither a jihad fighter nor a terrorist, but a criminal murderer. We must call things by their proper names!"

A study of the Brotherhood members of Egypt's parliament shows how radical they have been in their speeches and proposals. They want an Islamist radical state, ruled by Sharia and at war with Israel and the United States.

Then it is also being said that the Brotherhood is not so popular in Egypt. Then why did they get 20 percent of the vote in an election when they were repressed and cheated? This was not just some protest vote because voters had the option of voting for secular reformers and very few of them did.

The mass media is full of "experts" who also argue that the Brotherhood is not involved in terrorism. Well, partly true. It supports terrorism against Americans in Iraq and against Israelis, especially backing Hamas. In major cases of terrorism in Egypt-for example the assassination of Farag Fouda and the attempting killing of Naguib Mahfouz-Brotherhood clerics were involved in inciting the violence beforehand and applauding it afterward.

The deeper question is: why does the Brotherhood not engage in violence in Egypt? The answer is not that it is moderate but that it has felt the time was not ripe. Knowing that it would be crushed by the government, and its leaders sent to concentration camps and tortured or even executed, as happened under Gamal Abdel Nasser in the 1950s and 1960s, is a deterrent. It is no accident that Hamas and Hizballah-unrestrained by weak governments-engaged in violent terrorism while the Muslim Brotherhood facing strong and determined regimes in Egypt and Jordan did not.

Having said all of this, U.S. influence on these events, already rejected by Egypt's government, is minimal. It is morally good to speak about freedom and seem to support the protestors but also quite dangerous and will not reap the gratitude of the Egyptian masses in the future. After all, aside from the likely radicalism of their leaders, a revolutionary regime would be hostile toward the United States since America would be blamed for supporting the Egyptian dictatorship for decades. President Obama will not charm them into moderation.

The Egyptian elite wants to save itself and if they have to dump Mubarak to do so-as we saw in Tunisia-the armed forces and the rest will do so. But if the regime itself falls creating a vacuum, that is going to be a very bad outcome. If I believed that something better could emerge that would be stable and greatly benefit Egyptians, I'd be for that. Yet is that really the case?

Consider this point. Egypt's resources and capital are limited. There aren't enough jobs or land or wealth. How would a new regime deal with these problems and mobilize popular support? One route would be to embark on a decades-long development program to make the desert green, etc. Yet with so much competition where would the money come from? How could Egypt try to gain markets already held by China, for example?

More likely is that a government would win support through demagoguery: blame America, blame the West, blame Israel, and proclaim that Islam is the answer. That's how it has been in the Middle East in too many places. In two cases-Lebanon and the Gaza Strip-democracy (though other factors were also involved) has produced anti-democratic Islamist regimes that endorse terrorism and are allied to Iran and Syria.

Is America ready to bet that Egypt will be different? And on what evidentiary basis would that be done?

The emphasis for U.S. policy, then, should be put on supporting the Egyptian regime generally, whatever rhetoric is made about reforms. The rulers in Cairo should have no doubt that the United States is behind them. If it is necessary to change leadership or make concessions that is something the U.S. government can encourage behind the scenes.

But Obama's rhetoric-the exact opposite of what it was during the upheavals in Iran which he should have supported-seems dangerously reminiscent of President Jimmy Carter in 1978 regarding Iran. He has made it sound-by wording and nuance if not by intention-that Washington no longer backs the Egyptian government. And that government has even said so publicly.

Without the confidence to resist this upheaval, the Egyptian system could collapse, leaving a vacuum that is not going to be filled by friendly leaders.

That is potentially disastrous for the United States and the Middle East. There will be many who will say that an anti-American Islamist government allied with Iran and ready to restart war with Israel "cannot" emerge. That's a pretty big risk to take on the word of those who have been so often wrong in the past.

Suggested Readings

Barry Rubin, Islamic Fundamentalism in Egyptian Politics, Second Revised Edition Palgrave Press (2002, 2008).

Barry Rubin, The Muslim Brotherhood: A Global Islamist Movement (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2010)

For the Brotherhood's political views on supporting Hamas "by any means necessary"

MERIA Articles


Adel Guindy, "THE ISLAMIZATION OF EGYPT", Vol. 10, No. 3 (September 2006)


Original URL:

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal.

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

Al-Jazeera 'Disclosures'

by Isi Leibler

If ever there was a need to provide irrefutable evidence of the extent to which all parties involved in the Arab Israeli conflict are living in Alice in Wonderland, this was demonstrated by the Al-Jazeera "disclosures" of the negotiations that allegedly took place between the PA leaders and the then Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.

It resulted in a massive global media campaign by anti-Israeli groups to distort and spin these reports in order to portray Israel as being intransigent in the face of major concessions offered by the Palestinians. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Most of the parties involved have egg on their faces.

That the major settlement blocs - Ariel, Maale Adumim and Gush Etzion - would remain under Israel sovereignty had already been mooted in the Clinton parameters and conveyed to Yasser Arafat at the Camp David summit in July 2000. It was reaffirmed by President Bush in his April 2004 letter to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon relating to the need to take account of demographic changes when finalizing the borders. The Israeli consensus, as ratified by all Israeli governments, including the Olmert government reflected this.

So Tzipi Livni was justifiably surprised when in the course of the private negotiations, the Palestinians demanded that Maale Adumim, Ariel and Efrat remain under Palestinian sovereignty. Even US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had told the Palestinians that if they persisted in demanding the dismantling of Maale Adumim and Ariel they would never achieve statehood. That Livni felt obliged to consult her advisers instead of outrightly rejecting the suggestion that Maale Adumim be retained with its 30,000 residents under Palestinian sovereignty will disturb many Israelis.

Livni is also quoted as having made other remarks that will not go down well with her Israeli constituents. She is alleged to even have reviewed pretexts for enabling terrorists to be released with the Palestinians. On another occasion she needlessly opined that "we're giving up the Golan".

The reality is that many of the concessions offered to the Palestinians by Olmert and Livni would probably not have been endorsed by the Israeli public. These included failing to insist on maintaining defensible borders and offering to share jurisdiction of the Temple Mount with other governments, including Saudi Arabia. Yet even these offers which were included in a package handing Palestinians 93.7% of territory over the green line, were rebuffed by the Palestinians.

The Palestinians also refused to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and when Livni asked Saeb Erekat how he would provide security for Israelis living in a Palestinian state, he responded "Can you imagine that I have changed my DNA and accepted a situation in which Jews become citizens having the rights that I and my wife have?"

Israelis were not the slightest surprised by these "disclosures" which were basically in synch with previous published unconfirmed Israeli media reports of what had taken place. In fact, most of the purported "concessions" from the Palestinians represented long standing Israeli positions that had already been taken as givens by the US and other Western powers.

The one major breakthrough was the verbal admission by Mahmoud Abbas that for the Jewish state to accept "five million or even one million refugees would mean the end of Israel". But once this was disclosed to the Arab public, it led to charges of high treason being leveled against the PA leadership who subsequently adamantly denied that they would ever contemplate compromising the "sacred" right of all Palestinians to return to Israel.

Indeed the release of the Al-Jazeera documents led to hysterical rage amongst Palestinians who accused their leaders of betrayal. The documents allege that the PA had been informed in advance concerning Operation Cast Lead in Gaza and that they had colluded with Israeli security forces, as Saeb Erekat is quoted, "to kill our own people". The disclosure of these allegations enraged the Palestinians who accused their leaders of betraying them. In response, Saeb Erekat claimed that the Al-Jazeera leaks were false, had been engineered by Palestinians associated with the CIA and British intelligence, and endangered his life.

Of course the absurdity of these "concessions" is that they directly contradict every public statement expressed by the PA in relation to these issues.

It is totally legitimate for diplomats to deal with controversial issues in camera. However to pay lip service to negotiating peace in good faith whilst simultaneously assuming a contrary hostile public profile must invariably end disastrously. Instead of attempting to dampen the flames of incitement and hatred, the Palestinian leaders have been encouraging all levels of their society to sanctify and glorify suicide bombers and promote hatred in the kindergartens, mosques and media.

Such behavior confirms that the PA representatives realized that they could never convey to their constituents an arrangement that sanctioned the maintenance of Jewish sovereignty. It demonstrates that when the Palestinian leaders indulge in private negotiations, they speak with a forked tongue and have no intention of ever publicly presenting compromises to their people. They were simply negotiating to obtain more concessions from Israel as part of their strategy to dismantle the Jewish State in stages.

However, this has now resulted in the PA is now being hoisted by its own petard. The incitement against Israel has succeeded to such an extent that their own people now feel betrayed and accuse them of behaving like quislings. Their bitter rage may undermine the leadership of Mahmoud Abbas and ultimately lead to the demise of the duplicitous "moderate" Palestinian leadership. The net gainers may be the more "honest" genocidal Jihadists - Hamas.

The other fallout in this imbroglio is the pro-Palestinian left which considered itself "betrayed" by the PA for contemplating any concessions. It was mind-boggling to observe the outraged "pro-peace" media like the Guardian and the BBC accusing the Palestinians of betraying their people, demanding that they reject any meaningful compromise and calling on them to adhere to their maximalist demands.

Needless to say, the principal loser is President Obama. His irresponsible and fatuous campaigns against construction in Jerusalem and the settlements were exposed as counter-productive acts of folly. The Al-Jazeera disclosures demonstrate conclusively that the Palestinians were unconcerned about this issue and had accepted the reality that the Jerusalem Jewish suburbs of Ramot, Pisgat Zeev and Gilo remain integral parts of Israel.

They only subsequently jumped on the bandwagon after Obama's demand that Israel institutes a settlement freeze, exploiting his assessment of Israeli settlements as representing "obstacles to peace", as a pretext to halt all negotiations with the Israelis.

By leaving it to the US Administration to pressure Israel on their behalf and avoiding dialogue, the PA were also able to conceal their intransigency.

The implication is that there are no credible Palestinian peace partners and when they indulge in private negotiations, they realize that they are unable to present any meaningful concession to their people who they themselves have brainwashed with hatred and extremism. At least in future they may now hesitate before embarking on duplicitous private peace gambits, which are never intended to be submitted to their people but merely designed to mollify Western public opinion.

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Isi Leibler

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

What I Learned From Iran’s Failed Revolution

by Abolhassan Bani-Sadr

By removing a despot who was the main obstacle to democracy, the Tunisian revolt has immense importance for the Arab and Islamic world. Above all, it has opened up a future that, due to the iron grip of an authoritarian political system backed by European and Arab governments, had been considered closed.

As we see from the burgeoning demonstrations in Egypt, it is not lost on others in the region that ousting corrupt autocrats is no longer just an impossible dream. Tunisia’s message to others in the region is that despotism is not a lot in life to which they must submit. That message is spreading fast because the Tunisian democratic movement is legitimately homegrown and not tied to a Western sponsor, as was the case with the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

As I well know from personal experience, however, an open future includes not only the possibility of democracy, but the possibility of resurgent dictatorship.

In order to achieve democracy and diminish the prospect of a new strongman taking over, certain conditions have to be fulfilled.

First, the movement has to distance itself from the old regime and its elites. Revolutions only happen when the system is thoroughly dismantled and rebuilt. For now, the political and neoliberal economic structures that supported Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali’s dictatorship, although shaken and fragile, are to a large extent still intact. The same elites are still in charge.

From this perspective, it was a mistake for the movement to enter into negotiations to form a coalition government with the old elites. They can be trusted only when they voluntarily resign and allow themselves to be replaced by others elected by the people.

Second, the entire structure of the despotic regime — the executive, judiciary and legislative branches — should be revolutionized. It would be a mistake to limit the objectives of the movement to simply changing personalities.

The lack of experience on the part of ordinary people should not lead the movement to import elites from the former regime into the new government. My experience of the 1979 Iranian revolution taught me that in any department and ministry there are enough patriotic experts who are not tarnished by their association with the former regime and who are willing to play a constructive role in rebuilding the country. The fact that the existing elites have the lion’s share of the seats in government indicates that there is a serious shortcoming here. This gap has to be filled as soon as possible; otherwise, the elites of the ancien rĂ©gime will reconstitute their power.

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Abolhassan Bani-Sadr

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

Column One: The Pragmatic Fantasy

by Caroline B. Glick

Today, the Egyptian regime faces its gravest threat since Anwar Sadat’s assassination 30 years ago. As protesters take to the street for the third day in a row demanding the overthrow of 82-year-old President Hosni Mubarak, it is worth considering the possible alternatives to his regime.

On Thursday afternoon, presidential hopeful Mohamed El Baradei, the former head of the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency, returned to Egypt from Vienna to participate in anti-regime demonstrations.

As IAEA head, Elbaradei shielded Iran’s nuclear weapons program from the Security Council.

He repeatedly ignored evidence indicating that Iran’s nuclear program was a military program rather than a civilian energy program. When the evidence became too glaring to ignore, Elbaradei continued to lobby against significant UN Security Council sanctions or other actions against Iran and obscenely equated Israel’s purported nuclear program to Iran’s.

His actions won him the support of the Iranian regime which he continues to defend. Just last week he dismissed the threat of a nuclear armed Iran, telling the Austrian News Agency, “There’s a lot of hype in this debate,” and asserting that the discredited 2007 US National Intelligence Estimate that claimed Iran abandoned its nuclear weapons program in 2003 remains accurate.

Elbaradei’s support for the Iranian ayatollahs is matched by his support for the Muslim Brotherhood.

This group, which forms the largest and best-organized opposition movement to the Mubarak regime, is the progenitor of Hamas and al-Qaida. It seeks Egypt’s transformation into an Islamic regime that will stand at the forefront of the global jihad. In recent years, the Muslim Brotherhood has been increasingly drawn into the Iranian nexus along with Hamas. Muslim Brotherhood attorneys represented Hizbullah terrorists arrested in Egypt in 2009 for plotting to conduct spectacular attacks aimed at destroying the regime.

Elbaradei has been a strong champion of the Muslim Brotherhood. Just this week he gave an interview to Der Spiegel defending the jihadist movement. As he put it, “We should stop demonizing the Muslim Brotherhood. ...[T]hey have not committed any acts of violence in five decades. They too want change. If we want democracy and freedom, we have to include them instead of marginalizing them.”

The Muslim Brotherhood for its part has backed Elbaradei’s political aspirations. On Thursday, it announced it would demonstrate at ElBaradei’s side the next day.

Then there is the Kifaya movement. The group sprang onto the international radar screen in 2004 when it demanded open presidential elections and called on Mubarak not to run for a fifth term. As a group of intellectuals claiming to support liberal, democratic norms, Kifaya has been upheld as a model of what the future of Egypt could look like if liberal forces are given the freedom to lead.

But Kifaya’s roots and basic ideology are not liberal. They are anti-Semitic and anti-American.

Kifaya was formed as a protest movement against Israel with the start of the Palestinian terror war in 2000. It gained force in March 2003 when it organized massive protests against the US-led invasion of Iraq. In 2006, its campaign to get a million Egyptians to sign a petition demanding the abrogation of the peace treaty with Israel received international attention.

Many knowledgeable Egypt-watchers argued this week that the protesters have no chance of bringing down the Mubarak regime. Unlike this month’s overthrow of Tunisia’s despot Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, they say there is little chance that the Egyptian military will abandon Mubarak.

But the same observers are quick to note that whoever Mubarak selects to succeed him will not be the beneficiary of such strong support from Egypt’s security state. And as the plight of Egypt’s overwhelmingly impoverished citizenry becomes ever more acute, the regime will become increasingly unstable. Indeed, its overthrow is as close to a certainty as you can get in international affairs.

And as we now see, all of its possible secular and Islamist successors either reject outright Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel or will owe their political power to the support of those who reject the peace with the Jewish state. So whether the Egyptian regime falls next week or next year or five years from now, the peace treaty is doomed.

SINCE THE start of Israel’s peace process with Egypt in 1977, supporters of peace with the Arabs have always fallen into two groups: the idealists and the pragmatists.

Led by Shimon Peres, the idealists have argued that the reason the Arabs refuse to accept Israel is that Israel took “their” land in the 1967 Six Day War. Never mind that the war was a consequence of Arab aggression or that it was simply a continuation of the Arab bid to destroy the Jewish state which officially began with Israel’s formal establishment in 1948. As the idealists see things, if Israel just gives up all the land it won in that war, the Arabs will be appeased and accept Israel as a friend and natural member of the Middle East’s family of nations.

Peres was so enamored with this view that he authored The New Middle East and promised that once all the land was given away, Israel would join the Arab League.

Given the absurdity of their claims, the idealists were never able to garner mass support for their positions. If it had just been up to them, Israel would never have gotten on the peace train. But lucky for the idealists, they have been able to rely on the unwavering support of the unromantic pragmatists to implement their program.

Unlike the starry-eyed idealists, the so-called pragmatists have no delusions that the Arabs are motivated by anything other than hatred for Israel, or that their hatred is likely to end in the foreseeable future. But still, they argue, Israel needs to surrender.

It is the “Arab Street’s” overwhelming animosity towards Israel that causes the pragmatists to argue that Israel’s best play is to cut deals with Arab dictators who rule with an iron fist. Since Israel and the Arab despots share a fear of the Arab masses, the pragmatists claim that Israel should give up all the land it took control over as a payoff to the regimes, who in exchange will sign peace treaties with it.

This was the logic that brought Israel to surrender the strategically priceless Sinai Peninsula to Egypt in exchange for the Camp David accord that will not survive Mubarak.

And of course, giving up Sinai wasn’t the only sacrifice Israel made for that nearly defunct document. Israel also gave up its regional monopoly on US military platforms. Israel agreed that in exchange for signing the deal, the US would begin providing massive military aid to Egypt. Indeed, it agreed to link US aid to Israel with US aid to Egypt.

Owing to that US aid, the Egyptian military today makes the military Israel barely defeated in 1973 look like a gang of cavemen. Egypt has nearly 300 F-16s. Its main battle tank is the M1A1 which it produces in Egypt. Its navy is the largest in the region. Its army is twice the size of the IDF. Its air defense force constitutes a massive threat to the IAF. And of course, the ballistic missiles and chemical weapons it has purchased from the likes of North Korea and China give it a significant stand-off massdestruction capability.

Despite its strength, due to the depth of popular Arab hatred of Israel and Jews, the Egyptian regime was weakened by its peace treaty.

Partially in a bid to placate its opponents and partially in a bid to check Israeli power, Egypt has been the undisputed leader of the political war against Israel raging at international arenas throughout the world. So, too, Mubarak has permitted and even encouraged massive anti- Semitism throughout Egyptian society.

With this balance sheet at the end of the “era of peace” between Israel and Egypt, it is far from clear that Israel was right to sign the deal in the first place. In light of the relative longevity of the regime it probably made sense to have made some deal with Egypt. But it is clear that the price Israel paid was outrageously inflated and unwise.

IN CONTRAST to the Egyptian regime, as the popular outcry following Al-Jazeera’s publication of the Palestinian negotiations documents this week shows, the Fatah-run Palestinian Authority is as weak as can be. Yitzhak Rabin, the godfather of the pragmatist camp, famously argued that Yasser Arafat and Fatah would handle the Israel-hating Palestinian Street, “without the Supreme Court and B’Tselem.”

That is, he argued that it made sense to surrender massive amounts of strategically critical land to a terrorist organization because Arafat and his associates would repress their people with an iron fist, unfettered by the rule of law and Palestinian human rights organizations.

And yet, the fact of the matter is that Arafat commanded the terror war against Israel that began in 2000 and transformed Palestinian society into a jihadist society that popularly elected Hamas to lead it.

The leaked Palestinian documents don’t tell us much we didn’t already know about the nature of negotiations between Israel and Fatah. The Palestinians demanded that the baseline of talks assume that all the disputed territories actually belong to them. And for no particular reason, Tzipi Livni and Ehud Olmert agreed to these historically unjustified terms of reference.

While this was well known, in publishing the documents, Al- Jazeera has still made two important contributions to the public debate.

First, the PA’s panicked reaction to the documents exposes the ridiculousness of the notion that the likes of Mahmoud Abbas, Saeb Erekat and Salam Fayyad are viable partners for peace.

Not only do they lack the power to maintain a peace deal with Israel. They lack to power to sign a peace deal with Israel. All they can do is talk – far away from the cameras – about hypothetical, marginal concessions in a peace that will never, ever be achieved. The notion that Israel should pay any price for a deal with these nobodies is completely ridiculous.

The Al-Jazeera papers also expose Livni’s foolishness.

Just as she failed to recognize the inherent weakness of the Lebanese state when she championed UN Security Council Resolution 1701 which called for the Hizbullah-dominated Lebanese army to deploy to the border with Israel at the end of the 2006 war, so Livni failed to understand the significance of the inherent weakness of Fatah as she negotiated away Gush Etzion and Har Homa.

And she didn’t need Al-Jazeera’s campaign against the PA to understand that she was speaking to people who represent no one. That basic fact was already proven with Hamas’s victory in the 2006 elections.

THE TRUTHS exposed by the convulsive events of the past month make it abundantly clear that Israel lives in a horrible neighborhood. It is a neighborhood where popular democracy means war against Israel.

In this neck of the woods, it is not pragmatic to surrender. It is crazy.

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Caroline B. Glick

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Tunisia: Don't Be Fooled, Returning Islamist Rachid Ghannouchi Is Not a Moderate

by Gabriel Scheinmann

"Zionism is both alien and illegitimate in origin: it is a hegemonist and nationalist project rooted and nourished on the traditional European impulse towards expansion and domination. The founding fathers of the Zionist adventure were not in any way believers in Judaism, not even in its distorted, rabbinical form: they were in essence pragmatists who exploited the Jewish heritage as a means to achieve their nationalistic goals. All this, moreover, was done within the broader context of Western strategic hopes for the destabilizing and enfeebling of the Islamic world."[1]

The above quotation is not from Osama bin Laden, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, or Hassan Nasrallah. It is penned from the works of Rachid Ghannouchi, the world's favorite "moderate" Islamist Tunisian leader who has recently announced his intention to return home following a two-decade exile in London. The interim post-Ben Ali Tunisian government has annulled his life sentences, promised to release all political prisoners, and has legalized the formerly banned and repressed Islamist party, Al-Nahda, which Ghannouchi heads. Ghannouchi, once-called a "democrat" by Harvard Law Professor and Islamic studies expert Noah Feldman,[2] a "progressive" by the New York Times,[3] and a moderate by countless other analysts, has vowed to reenter the Tunisian scene in force and will be the greatest wild card in the political scene for the months to come. By pledging to participate in the political process and pontificating on his democratic bona fides, Ghannouchi has encouraged the West's view of him as a repressed democrat. However, he is far from the liberal pluralist others claim he is. Don't believe my words on the subject, just read his.

Ghannouchi's writings, which are widely available in English and Arabic, quite clearly demonstrate that there is little difference between his global outlook and that of his fundamentalist Islamist brethren. He has advocated the annihilation of the State of Israel, accused Jews of controlling Western media and manipulating Western governments, and written screeds against what he perceives as the "Crusader" assault on Islam. The "Zionist media and diplomacy," he once wrote, "have been banging the drums of war against Islam, and have been mobilizing powers and offering expertise to fight against it."[4] His political worldview is indistinguishable from Bin Laden's and should be exposed for what it is: anti-Semitic.

Ghannouchi has long been a supporter of anti-American causes. He supported Saddam Hussein during the tyrant's invasion and occupation of Kuwait in 1990.[5] In private, he has been quoted sermonizing about "driving out the American invaders and their allies" to save "the Holy Kaaba and the Tomb of the Noble Prophet from the plots of the enemies of the Arabs and Islam".[6] While he condemned the September 11th terrorist attacks as a crime, he conditioned his denunciation by asking for Western understanding in "our anger towards America as the greatest supporter of dictatorships in the Arab and Muslims world and elsewhere."[7] He has gone on to accuse the United States of exploiting the attacks in order to arouse anti-Muslim forces in India, Russia, China, and Israel. And he has even gone so far as to describe Bush Administration Pentagon officials as "a mixture of Zionists and Zionized evangelists, weapon traders, oil companies, and others."[8] He charges the West as those who "destroyed the Islamic caliphate, colonized our countries, and imposed secularism and partition on us." It was the West "who implanted in the heart of our Ummah an alien and hostile entity, Israel, so as to sustain division and fragmentation. They are the ones who provide unconditional support to this entity and watch in acquiescence the daily crimes committed by its troops."[9] Ghannouchi's hatred for Western civilization is neither new nor satiable.

He reserves his greatest venom by far for Jews, Zionism, and the State of Israel; championing war as the only means of dismantling the alien entity within the Islamic lands. Zionism, he writes, is "a continuation of colonialism," denying the historic presence of Jews in the land of Israel. It "is mobilizing the West against us" in a "Zionist design which wants to destroy humanist principles that are the basis of civilization."[10] The Jews want to bring the Muslim Ummah and the West under its control.

Having already shifted "the center of civilization from London to Washington, it wants to move it to Orshalim (Jerusalem) and destroy all other civilizational and religious projects we have today." He calls on Muslims to "liberate" Palestine from the Zionists, "for to strike at Zionism in Palestine is to strike at the enemy in its new citadel, which it has constructed at the center of the world, in the very heart of our Muslim nation."

Israel, he believes, is mere a front for Western civilization, "set to extend its influence to the heartland of the Old World, the better to destroy the surviving traces of spiritual resistance which have remained intact there."

He has praised the Palestinian Intifadas for "restoring the vigor of the Palestinian movement" for its long quest to defeat the "Zionist assault on humanity" and "their neo-Crusader allies," which "represents an intensified form of a global undertaking which today spreads octopus-like over the whole planet."

Ghannouchi has triumphantly called for a global jihad against the "Zionist project"[11], berating Arab states for not committing their oil revenues to defend the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.[12]

Ghannouchi is, moreover, absolutely opposed to any negotiated solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, swearing to wait out Israel's destruction. "Our Ummah," he wrote, "will tear every document signed in a state of capitulation and incapacity and will disregard every treaty that in a moment of weakness is forged to strip it of its right to struggle for the restoration of what has been usurped. The crusaders' occupation of Jerusalem lasted for about a century" and yet the Islamic claim to it was neither abandoned nor relinquished.[13]

Following the end of the Gaza War in January 2009, Ghannouchi praised Allah who "routed the Zionist Jews," and labeled the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 as "the first step in the complete victory of all of Palestine and the holy places of the Muslims."[14]

He branded the Palestinian Authority as illegitimate because it "has given up the choice if jihad in the way of Allah Almighty as an effective means of defeating the occupation and the liberation of the Islamic holy places," and called for the recognition and support of the Hamas government because it was "maintaining the Resistance against the Jewish Zionist occupation."

Ghannouchi rejects and derides the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative as a "proven betrayal of the Islamic Nation and the Palestinian cause." Lastly, he tasks Muslims to "regard everyone standing with the Zionist entity, whether countries, institutions or individuals, as providing substantial contribution to the crimes and brutality of this entity; the position towards him is the same as towards this usurping entity." In short, Ghannouchi has declared war against not only Israel and the United States, but also the Palestinian Authority, Egypt, Jordan, the European Union, the United Nations, and all other states that recognize the State of Israel.

Sadly, Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi (no relation) has already met with Ghannouchi's deputy and has cleared the legal obstacles to herald the exiled Islamist's return to Tunisia. Although all signs point to the Tunisian people's rejection of Ghannouchi's illiberal and anti-Western agenda, his return, charisma, and long struggle against the Ben Ali regime make him a powerful player in the future political development of the country. Foreign governments and media should be wary of embracing Ghannouchi as a figure that can play a constructive role in the New Tunisia. His writings make that all too clear.

[4] Tamimi, 173.
[9] Tamimi, 177.
[13] Tamimi, 180.

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Gabriel Scheinmann

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Pakistan: American Ally and Terrorist Enabler

by IPT News

A new ProPublica investigation into the November 2008 Mumbai terrorist massacre raises troubling questions about Pakistan's dual roles as an American ally and a supporter of jihadist terror. The three-day siege ended with 166 people and 308 wounded. Six Americans were among the 26 foreigners killed.

Veteran journalist Sebastian Rotella documents in detail the close relationship between the perpetrators of the massacre- the Kashmiri separatist group Lashkar-e-Tayyiba – and the Pakistani government.

"The question, simply put, is whether the larger interests of the United States in maintaining good relations with Pakistan will permit [jihadist] suspects to get away with one of the most devastating terrorist attacks in recent history," he writes.

Rotella explains the problem by examining the actions of Sajid Mir, the terrorist operative who directed the Mumbai slaughter by telephone from a safe house in Karachi. Mir spent two years conducting reconnaissance of terrorist targets using a Pakistani-American businessman named David Coleman Headley.

Through interviews with law enforcement and intelligence officials in the United States, India, Pakistan and elsewhere, ProPublica provides what may be the most detailed account yet of Mir's activities and his connections with Pakistan's Inter-Service Intelligence Directorate (ISI).

The "ISI has been accused for years of playing a 'double game': acting as a front-line U.S. ally in the fight against terror while supporting selected terrorist groups," Rotella writes.

U.S. officials emphasize that they are constantly pressuring Pakistan to act against Lashkar. But they say they are limited in their ability to press Islamabad to go after Mir – a terrorist with American blood on his hands. "Sajid Mir is too powerful for them to go after. Too well-connected," a high-ranking U.S. counterterrorism official tells Rotella. "We need the Pakistanis to go after the Taliban and al-Qaida."

Read the full ProPublica report here.

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IPT News

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Grand Jury Probing Oren Speech Disruptions

by IPT News

A California grand jury reportedly is investigating possible criminal violations by members of the University of California, Irvine's Muslim Student Union (MSU) in connection with a plot to disrupt Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren's speech on campus last February.

Eleven students were arrested in a series of orchestrated disruptions. The university disciplined the students and suspended the MSU chapter for the fall term following an internal investigation.

Six members of MSU were subpoenaed to testify before the Orange County Grand Jury, Carol Sobel, the lawyer of the six students said on Southern California Public radio yesterday. The six were not among those arrested at the Oren speech, she said. By law, the Orange County DA's office has a year to issue indictments in the case. The speech took place Feb. 8.

Sobel and the UCI's founding law school dean speculated that the grand jury was pursuing a federal conspiracy charge, though the students were charged with misdemeanors when they were arrested.

"As far as the university is concerned, the MSU has completed the discipline that was meted out by our on-campus process and any further grand jury or charges from the DA's office is all handled out of there," said university spokeswoman Cathy Lawhon.

The grand jury will determine what, if any, criminal charges will be brought against the students.

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IPT News

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The Birth of Hizballahstan

by Jonathan Spyer

Events have moved fast in Lebanon. The country now faces the prospect of a government controlled by Hizbullah and consisting solely of the movement and its allies.

Parts of Lebanon looked in danger of slipping into chaos on Tuesday, as angry Sunnis took to the streets for a "Day of Rage" in protest of what they called Hizbullah's "coup."

They were responding to the securing of a parliamentary majority for Hizbullah's preferred prime ministerial candidate, Najib Mikati. Mikati received the backing of 65 members of the 128-member parliament earlier this week, clearing the way for his appointment as prime minister.

But the protesters' rage was insufficient to prevent Mikati's accession. He received the official presidential decree confirming his appointment on Tuesday, even as protesters blocked the Beirut-Saida road and shots were fired in the Sunni stronghold of Tripoli.

This is because the real, currently silent capacity for violence in Lebanon is on Mikati's side, not that of the demonstrators.

Mikati, 55, a billionaire telecommunications tycoon, tried to present himself as a compromise Sunni candidate (Lebanon's constitution requires that the prime minister hail from the Sunni sect). The candidacy of a previous pro- Hizbullah Sunni, Omar Karami, had been withdrawn because of his too-obvious ties to Syria.

The new prime minister-designate even called on supporters of the March 14 alliance and its leader, incumbent Prime Minister Saad Hariri, to remember his uneventful record as prime minister for a short period following the assassination of Rafik Hariri in 2005.

March 14 wasn't buying. It pointed to Mikati's close links with Damascus. More importantly, it is clear to all sides that Mikati would never have been put forward by Hizbullah and its allies as a candidate for the premiership were he not fully in line with the movement's plan to neuter or dismantle the UN tribunal investigating Rafik Hariri's murder.

Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah also tried to sound conciliatory this week. He said the new prime minister would form a new unity government in which "everyone participates."

Nasrallah's and Mikati's words were rendered particularly hollow by the means that engineered the parliamentary majority securing Mikati's nomination.

March 14's parliamentary majority was removed following the defection of Druse leader Walid Jumblatt's 11-man faction. This defection, according to Lebanese sources, was obtained by crude and extremely credible threats of violence against Jumblatt personally and against his family and community.

Saad Hariri, meanwhile, has made clear that Mikati is the candidate of the Hizbullah-led camp, while he remains the candidate of March 14. As such, his movement is refusing to join a government led by Mikati. This has led to the very real possibility that a government will be formed under direct Hizbullah domination.

The response of March 14 supporters has been, for the first time in half a decade, to take to the streets.

The demonstrators seen in recent days are not the well-behaved, idealistic protesters of the period following Hariri's assassination. This crowd has the unmistakable whiff of sectarian rage about it.

Angry Sunnis in their northern heartland of Tripoli smashed reporters' cameras. In Tripoli's Nour Square, the offices of Muhammad Safadi, the MP who proposed Mikati's candidacy, were burned. Protesters also targeted a transmission van belonging to Al-Jazeera, which they associated with Qatar and support for Hizbullah. The frightened journalists had to be rescued by members of the Lebanese Armed Forces.

The protests look set to continue.

But for all their rage, the Sunnis of northern Lebanon are helpless to prevent the rise of a government openly dominated by the Shi'ite Islamists of Hizbullah and their Iranian creators and backers. And it appears unlikely that the "international community" will be anywhere around to assist them.

The real story behind the coup now under way is that of Iran.

Since 1982, Iran has been engaged in establishing a political and military instrument in Lebanon designed to wage war with Israel. That instrument is Hizbullah. Since late 2006, the movement has been engaged in an ever-more-overt assertion of its political power.

It now looks set to move toward open domination of the government.

This may have profound effects on the way Lebanon is viewed by the world. Certainly, if a new government were openly to impede the work of the tribunal, isolation and even sanctions might follow.

Capital could withdraw from the country.

Hizbullah's rise to power is the latest victory for the Iranian model of combined political militancy and paramilitary strategy that has also enabled Teheran to split the Palestinian national movement and become the kingmaker in Iraq.

Israel now faces the prospect of two Iran-backed, Islamist entities to its north and south.

From an Israeli point of view, Hizbullah's move into plain view may also bring advantages. For a long period, the non-Hizbullah "government" of Lebanon functioned for the Shi'ite Islamists as part cloak, part human shield.

The emerging situation looks set to have the virtue, by contrast, of clarity. This would raise the possibility of the next clash between Israel and Hizbullah taking on the unfamiliar dimensions of a state-to- state conflict.

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Jonathan Spyer is a senior research fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs Center in Herzliya, Israel, the author of The Transforming Fire: The Rise of the Israel-Islamist Conflict (Continuum, 2010) and a columnist at the Jerusalem Post newspaper. Spyer holds a PhD in International Relations from the London School of Economics and a Masters' Degree in Middle East Politics from the School of Oriental and African Studies in London.

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Fighting the “Soft War” on Israel

by Giulio Meotti

More and more, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have become one of the most powerful — and controversial — pressure blocs in the global arena. In recent weeks, Israel’s parliament established a commission of inquiry into NGO funding from Arab regimes such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Algeria. Well-heeled NGO advocates have criticized the investigation for being heavy-handed, but in fact, an accurate understanding of the finances behind NGOs is desperately needed. Not only are these groups bankrolled by Israel’s enemies, but the funds are used for the express purpose of conducting “soft” warfare against the country from within. This nexus must be exposed.

According to Natan Sharansky, a former Soviet dissident who was pivotal in the creation of the famous NGO Human Rights Watch, many of these organizations are currently being used by dictatorships to fight democracies. NGOs have become crucial in biased reports against Israel submitted at the United Nations, like the Goldstone Report on the Gaza War. Their “humanitarian” lamentations are often generously funded by the European Union, which supports many anti-Israel enterprises.

NGOs fueled the legal battle to shut down Guantanamo Bay, which the former president of Amnesty International, Irene Khan, has shamefully called “the Gulag of our time.” The power of NGOs was discussed also in recently released WikiLeaks cables, with the revelation that Muslim “charities” are still playing a decisive role in financing terrorism.

Last year, a Turkish NGO called Insane Yardim Vakfi (IHH) sparked an unprecedented crisis in relations between Israel and Turkey. These organizations are also playing a role in the ongoing legal indictments against Israeli politicians and the country’s military. Israel has canceled “strategic dialogue” with London to protest a British law that allows judges to arrest members of the Israeli government for alleged “war crimes” if they set foot in the UK. Many Israelis cancelled UK trips out of fear of being arrested.

NGOs are promoting campaigns for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against the Jewish State. Some openly advocate “the abolition of Israel through the creation of a single state” in Palestine. The “soft war” against the Jews was born at the Durban UN Conference in 2001, at which 3,000 NGOs convinced the UN to condemn Israeli “racism.” Well-known NGOs such as Amnesty International and Save the Children attached their names to the conference. Israel was declared an “apartheid” and “criminal” state, and the Jews, inveterate racists.

NGOs at the conference supported the request of the Tanzanian minister of foreign affairs, Jakaya Kikwete, for immediate cash compensation to Africa for Western slavery. This fabricated colonial sense of guilt has become jet fuel for the humanitarian agenda. Encouraged by these NGOs, the genocidal Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe proclaimed that the Jews were responsible for all the ills of Africa. Some NGOs distributed leaflets with a portrait of Hitler and the inscription: “What if Hitler had won? There would be no Israel, and no Palestinian bloodshed.”

The mass of NGOs in the streets at the conference exalted Osama bin Laden, while the images of George Bush and Ariel Sharon were ornamented with swastikas and motifs of blood and death. Sadly, these NGOs will soon have another opportunity to showcase their Jew-hatred: the United Nations will celebrate “Durban III” in New York, just a few days after the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 atrocities.

Human Rights Watch used to be one of the most respectable NGOs. But the credibility of the organization, increasingly affluent after receiving million-dollar donations from the radical philantropist George Soros, has faded after controversy erupted over a talk by the NGO’s spokesperson, Sarah Leah Whitson, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Ms. Whitson was not there to protest religious persecution or the brutal anti-Semitism of the Saudi clergy. Rather, Human Rights Watch was there to collect Saudi donations because, as Whitson later explained, her group must balance the power of “pro-Israel pressure groups in the United States.”

Then came the affair of Marc Garlasco, the military organization expert for Human Rights Watch who enjoyed collecting Hitler memorabilia. Meanwhile, Amnesty International in its fifty years of activities has collected numerous humanitarian awards (including a Nobel Peace Prize in 1977), but it has also had many indictments — including for ignoring Pol Pot’s killing fields and the fate of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who has been held in captivity by Hamas since 2006.

Amnesty International used Moazzam Begg, a former Guantanamo prisoner and supporter of the Taliban and al Qaeda, to testify for them. The NGO even led Begg to Downing Street, the residence of British prime minister, to support the closure of the US detention camp for al Qaeda terrorists. The Italian secretary-general of Amnesty International Claudio Cordone, defended the organization by saying that the “defensive jihad” is not “diametrically opposed” to human rights. Recently, another Amnesty International official, Frank Johansson of Finland, called Israel “a scum state.”

We are still waiting for the moment when these NGOs will ride on Israeli buses to experience the truly unprovoked, homicidal nature of terrorist attacks. Perhaps, instead, they will demonstrate in the streets of Haifa and Sderot, destroyed by their allies’ Katyushas missiles and Qassams rockets.

Make no mistake, the NGO industry has betrayed the values embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It’s become an accomplice to evil. The new humanitarian industry is rooted in the equality of humankind to the exclusion of the Jew. This is why Western countries should reject Durban III.

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Giulio Meotti

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Jews in the Home of the Mufti: Historic Justice

by Elyakim Haetzni

Karm el-Mufti is the name of the land in Sheikh Jarrah owned by Hajj Amin el-Husseini ("der grosse Mufti," the great Mufti, as he was called in the Nazi German Reich, to which he was affiliated, body and soul). In 1929, the year in which he was responsible for the murder of 118 Jews, two Jewish architects, almost on a volunteer basis, built a spacious home for him.

Hajj Amin, the ideologue of harnessing belligerent Islam to all-out war against the Jews and Zionism and the father of Arab terrorism, was also an ideological Nazi, who in the [Second] World War directed from within Germany the Nazi propaganda for the Middle East. Hitler and Himmler's door was open to him, he built SS divisions in Bosnia, and he received a "franchise" to implement the destruction of the Jews of Eretz Israel by means of the local Arabs, upon Rommel's conquest of the area, as they expected. The Mufti also prevented the rescue of
Jewish children in exchange for German prisoners of war, and saw to their destruction in Auschwitz.

After the war, not only did the British not try him as a war criminal, they even allowed him to continue to fight against us in partnership with Nazis, until his dying day.

Now Jews are in the Karm of the Nazi murderer, and a synagogue in memory of the Holocaust will be located in his house: is there any greater historic justice than this?

The Mufti rented the house to the Christian Arab historian George Antonius, one of the creators ex nihilo of the false Palestinian mythos, in order to neutralize the historical claims of the Jews. Hajj Amin mobilized religious fanaticism in the service of the "Palestinian cause," and Antonius provided the educated West with a pseudoscientific Palestinian narrative with which to attack Zionism. Under the influence of his wife Cathy, the house functioned as a social salon in which, in an aristocratic atmosphere, the Palestinian nobility met with the senior British officials. Both shared their profound loathing of the Jews. Among other lovers, Cathy shared her bed with the infamous General Barker, the commander of the British forces in Eretz Israel, and the author of the slogan "Hit the Jews in their pockets." Members of the Haganah would eventually find his love letters in the house.

Jews in the cradle of Palestinian nationalism and the stylish social anti-Semitism in Eretz Israel: is there any greater historic justice than this?

On April 16, 1948, a convoy to Mount Scopus was attacked close to the "Mufti's House." The British broke their commitment to defend it, and for six hours, in broad daylight, Dr. Yassky, the director of the Hadassah Hospital, Dr. Moshe Ben-David, the director of the medical school, the linguistics scholar Dr. Benjamin Klar, Abraham Freiman, an expert on Jewish law, doctors, professors, nurses, and patients were brutally murdered. At that time, a British regiment (the Scottish Highlanders) was stationed in the Mufti's house, but didn't lift a finger.

And as in Hebron in 1929, the British put an end to the massacre with a single shot, but only after they drank their fill from the blood of 68 Jews, so, too, next to the Mufti's house, they put an end to the horror only after 78 had been murdered. To the contrary, they prevented the Palmah from coming to the assistance of those being slaughtered. On the border of the Mufti's house the British built a beautiful consulate building, that serves - what else? - as a focal point for the consuls' opposition to Jerusalem being the capital of Israel.

Now, the hostile British cannot open a window without seeing Jews through it, from close up: is there greater historic justice than this?

"The Mufti's House" stands at a major junction, in the seam line of historic Jerusalem. The Ramallah authorities, the American and European foreign ministries, and the Jewish collaborators claim that Jewish "settlement" here will prevent the partition of the city, and
will frustrate the establishment of the Palestinian capital in it.

O that it would be so! And if this is the case, then the couple Irving and Cherna Moskowitz, who purchased "Karm el-Mufti" and other strategic sites in order to plant Jewish life in them, have acquired their place in Jewish history.

Only a single question remains hanging in the air unanswered: what has happened to us, that we have lost the ability to experience the satisfaction of achievement, the gratification of success, and the joy of victory?

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Elyakim Haetzni

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Hizbullah, Lebanon PM Deny Cozy Relationship

by Chana Ya'ar

Lebanon's new prime minister and his backers are each working to deny the Hizbullah terrorist organization is pulling the strings of the new national government.

However, Prime Minister-elect Najib Mikati was in fact selected by the 12-member Hizbullah terrorist faction that toppled the previous Western-backed government earlier this month.

Nevertheless, Mikati denies he has any particular obligations to the terrorist organization that helped put him in power. The 12-member Hizbullah faction in the parliament is also denying exerting undue influence.

The head of the faction told the Associated Press Thursday "We did not give a list of conditions to Prime Minister Mikati. What we asked for is a national partnership and a national salvation government in which everyone cooperates for the interest of the country."

However, the former incumbent Prime Minister Sa'ad Hariri -- who was knocked out of power by Hizbullah -- and his Future Movement bloc say they will not join the new national government unless Mikati clarifies his position on the United Nations Tribunal for Lebanon.

Mikati garnered 68 votes to Hariri's 60 mandates Tuesday on the second day of parliamentary consultations at the presidential residence near Beirut.

The billionaire businessman challenger to the incumbent, Sa'ad Hariri, entered office against the backdrop of a conflict over the prospect of forthcoming indictments by the Tribunal. The U.N. body is expected to charge several senior Hizbullah terrorists with the 2005 assassination of Hariri's father, former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.

The Western-backed Lebanese leader was murdered in a massive truck bombing that targeted his convoy in downtown Beirut. Explosives approximating 1,000 kilograms of TNT were used to kill the former prime minister. Twenty others died in the blast.

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Chana Ya'ar

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Iran's Allies Gain Clout and Possible Softer Edges

by Brian Murphy

From the Afghan badlands to the Mediterranean, evidence of Iran's reach is easy to spot: a mix of friend and foe for Kabul leaders, a power broker in Iraq, deep alliances with Syria and a big brother to Lebanon's Hezbollah and Hamas in Gaza.

Tehran's proxy portfolio suddenly has a bit more aura after Hezbollah's political gambit - bringing down a pro-Western government in Lebanon and moving into position to pick its successor.

To those keeping score, it would appear that Iran is winning some important points around the Middle East at the expense of Washington and its allies.

But such gains have potential built-in costs, experts say. With Iran's extended family increasingly joining the ranks of power - first in Gaza, then Iraq and now Lebanon - there also comes pressure to moderate and make other compromises often required from those in charge.

It eventually could bring some uncomfortable contrasts for Tehran - with its partners in the region embracing more flexible policies and Iran facing more sanctions and isolation for refusing to make concessions over its nuclear program.

"Certainly there is more visible Iranian influence around the region," said Salman Shaikh, director of The Brookings Doha Center in Qatar. "But these are no longer just vassals of Iran. As they move into political roles, there will be changes that Iran cannot control. We shouldn't look at Lebanon as a zero-sum game between Iran and the West."

The same may hold true elsewhere.

In Iraq, influence from Iran is on the rise now that backers of militant Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr have joined the government in Baghdad, which already had deep ties with Iran. Al-Sadr remains fiercely opposed to American "occupiers" - which his Mahdi Army militia battled for years.

But al-Sadr - who took refuge in Iran in 2007 - showed hints of trying to cultivate a more statesmanlike demeanor during his first visit back to Iraq. Al-Sadr this month held meetings that included pro-Western figures such as President Jalal Talabani and urged Iraq's majority Shiites and Sunnis to look beyond their past bloodshed.

There's little chance that al-Sadr will ease his demands that the Pentagon stick to its timetable to withdraw all troops by the end of the year. And his Iranian links are obvious. At a speech in the Shiite holy city of Najaf, his guards wore Iranian style outfits: identical gray suits with shirts and no ties.

"Yet now he has to answer to the Iraqi people about rebuilding the country," said Hadi Jalo, a political analyst at Baghdad University. "He goes from outsider to insider and that means he has to look in all directions, including the West, and not just toward Iran."

Syria, too, appears to be facing similar choices.

Earlier this month, the first U.S. ambassador to Syria since 2005 took up his post in Damascus. Washington hopes the deeper diplomatic engagement will further nudge Syrian President Bashar Assad into the Western fold and perhaps make him more receptive to future talks with Israel and appeals to cut support for Hezbollah.

About a week later, Iran's acting foreign minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, held talks in Syria over "regional developments," said Syria's state news agency SANA.

High on the agenda was the political upheaval in Lebanon and their roles as co-patrons of Hezbollah, which became heroes in the Muslim world for its war with Israel in 2006. The Shiite militant group has added to its stature by becoming Lebanon's king-maker: On Tuesday, Hezbollah picked billionaire businessman Najib Mikati as its choice for prime minister.

Lebanon's government fell after months of tensions over a U.N.-backed investigation into the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Many Lebanese blamed the killing on Syria and Hezbollah - with huge protests forcing Syria to end its 29-year military presence in Lebanon and opening the way for a pro-Western government led by Saad Hariri, the slain politician's son.

The Hague-based tribunal has issued indictments, but they have not been made public. Many expect Hezbollah to be named.

Mikati, however, immediately sought to ease worries that Iran was now pulling the strings in Lebanon.

"I am not in a confrontation with the West," he told the private LBC station. "We are looking to build good relations with the West."

To some, it's not an empty promise - even as the Obama administration reconsiders its economic and military support for Lebanon, which has totaled $720 million since 2006.

Israeli officials and others have noted that important U.S. allies in the Arab world, such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt, have raised no serious objections to the U.S.-educated Mikati despite their deep-seated worries about Iran.

Saudi Arabia, however, advised its citizens Wednesday not to travel to Lebanon until "the return of calm and stability."

"Lebanon will not suddenly become more Iranian or more 'Hezbollian' than it was two days ago," said a commentary in the Israeli daily Ha'aretz. "It will primarily be more Syrian, and that is a major difference, as Syria - which seeks to move closer to the United States and, thanks to France, sees itself as close to Europe - does not want Iran to seize control in its traditional sphere of influence."

That still doesn't lessen the entrenched suspicions many Lebanese have toward Hezbollah and its backers in Iran.

A secret diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks describes an April 2008 meeting in Beirut in which Lebanon's telecommunications minister at the time, Marwan Hamadeh, tells a U.S. diplomat about a fiber optics network installed in Hezbollah-controlled areas. The memo, from the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, said Hamadeh called it "a strategic victory" for Iran's telecoms agency by creating an "an important Iranian outpost in Lebanon" that further binds Hezbollah to Tehran.

Earlier this week, Lebanon's Sunnis staged two days of riots, decrying Shiite Hezbollah for leading what they called an Iran-linked "coup" in bringing down Hariri's government and bringing in one of its own choosing.

Meir Javedanfar, an Iranian-born political analyst based in Israel, said the unrest cannot be ignored by Iran's ruling clerics.

"It was Hezbollah's actions that convinced many Sunnis to pour into the streets ... shouting 'Death to Hezbollah,'" he said. "This is something which Israel, despite its massive military superiority, could never achieve. Food for thought for Iran's senior decision makers."

Iran also was stung by demonstrations in Afghanistan this month over Tehran's decision to temporarily suspend shipments of fuel over suspicions they were aiding NATO forces. Fuel prices shot up as much as 70 percent in impoverished Afghanistan.

It was a display of both Iran's importance as an economic lifeline to Afghanistan and its apparent sympathies for groups fighting U.S. forces and others. Iran has deep cultural and linguistic ties to much of western Afghanistan, which was once part of the Persian Empire.

U.S. officials have alleged that Iran is providing weapons and other support to the Taliban and the so-called "Quetta Shura" - or governing council - believed led by Taliban commander Mullah Omar. It would, however, be an alliance of convenience that could strengthen the same forces that once targeted Iranians.

Iran was a staunch opponent of the Taliban when it ruled Afghanistan before the U.S.-led invasion triggered by the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

"In the short-term, Iran is playing its hand well, especially in Lebanon," said analyst Javedanfar. "This will boost Iran's position in the region as well as its leverage in negotiations with the West over its nuclear program. However, the Iranian are not playing the long-term game very well."

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Brian Murphy

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Mideast Unrest Challenges U.S.

by Jay Solomon and Bill Spindle

The Obama administration intensified diplomatic pressure on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to initiate wide-ranging political overhauls, an indication the U.S. is trying to re-channel the spreading anger in the region.

Uprisings in the Middle East have placed the future of some of the U.S.'s closest strategic allies into question, and raised the specter that grass-roots anger at leaders perceived as corrupt and out-of-touch could be seized upon by Islamic radicals hoping to ride the anger to power.

To prevent that outcome, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other senior officials have decided not to seek wholesale political change in Cairo and other Arab capitals, but instead to prod their long-serving political allies into embracing reform movements that, so far, appear to be largely secular and grass-roots in nature.


A succession of rallies and demonstrations, in Egypt, Jordan, Yemen and Algeria have been inspired directly by the popular outpouring of anger that toppled Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.

In Lebanon, meanwhile, the ouster of a Western-allied government dealt a blow to U.S. efforts to blunt the influence of Iran and Syria in the region.

U.S. officials have noted that the protests in Egypt this week haven't been dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood and other Egyptian Islamist parties, which are historically hostile to U.S. interests in the region, particularly peace agreements with Israel.

"We believe strongly that the Egyptian government has an important opportunity at this moment in time to implement political, economic, and social reforms to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people," Mrs. Clinton said in scripted comments given at the State Department on Wednesday. "The United States is committed to working with Egypt and with the Egyptian people to advance such goals."

In those remarks, Mrs. Clinton drew from a playbook the U.S. utilized during protests last week in Tunisia that eventually led to the overthrow of the long-serving strongman President Ben Ali.

This strategy has cast the U.S. as formally neutral in the political fighting, and focused on pressing governments to allow for the kinds of freedoms that give strength to the opposition, such as free speech and unhindered access to the Internet.

Mrs. Clinton pressed Cairo not to block Facebook, Twitter and other social-networking websites that activists have used to organize demonstrations.

"We urge the Egyptian authorities not to prevent peaceful protests or block communications, including on social media sites," Mrs. Clinton said alongside the foreign minister of Jordan, a U.S. ally whose government also faced street protests this week.

Egyptian officials took Mrs. Clinton's comments in stride. A senior official from Mr. Mubarak's ruling NDP party said they were "balanced."

The official added that many of the protesters' demands were legitimate, but that there remained concerns that the Muslim Brotherhood could hijack the protest movement.

Mrs. Clinton's comments marked a continuing, and relatively drastic, evolution of the Obama administration's stance on democracy promotion in the Mideast in just a few weeks.

Last year, the administration was criticized by Egyptian opposition leaders for not more aggressively pressing Mr. Mubarak to ensure transparent legislative elections.

Mr. Mubarak's party dominated the polls and the 82-year-old has appeared positioned to either gain another term in office this year or to pass power to an anointed successor. Some Mideast analysts, though, say the protests could be placing this transition in jeopardy.

Then, in a speech this month in the Persian Gulf, Mrs. Clinton slammed Arab leaders for failing to embrace political change.

U.S. officials said Mrs. Clinton's comments were focused on Cairo, which rebuffed repeated U.S. calls for independent political monitors to be allowed to witness the elections.

Still, the Obama administration faces significant risks in taking a more activist line in Egypt and other Arab states.

Mr. Mubarak has been a central player in U.S. efforts to broker peace agreements between Israel and the Palestinians, as well as Israel and other Arab governments. Mrs. Clinton has indicated there would be risks to any change in Cairo's leadership, noting that, "for both our nations, permanent peace in the Middle East remains our No. 1 priority."

Cairo also has been a central player in U.S. efforts to combat al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations. U.S. officials still remain wary that the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist organizations could piggy-back on the political turmoil in Egypt and use it to eventually wrest power in Cairo.

These officials note potential parallels to the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, in which secular and leftist parties were gradually purged from political influence by the late Ayatollah Khomenei.

Any major shift in Cairo, similar to Tehran, would have profound impact through the Middle East, as Egypt is the Arab world's most populous nation.

Recent political turmoil in Lebanon also illustrates how democratic systems in the region can challenge U.S. interests.

In Beirut last week, the militant Lebanese militia and political party, Hezbollah, constitutionally toppled the pro-Western government of Saad Hariri and paved the way for the election Tuesday of the party's chosen new prime minister.

Washington has appeared powerless to effect change in Beirut because the political transition was executed through the Lebanese parliament.

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Jay Solomon and Bill Spindle
—Margaret Coker contributed to this article.

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