by Caroline Glick
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.
You might think this sort of thing would backfire, kidnapping children and holding them hostage to change the behavior of tribesmen who support the Pakistani government.
But, the Taliban seems to have made their point. Reuters:
Pakistani Taliban on Saturday claimed responsibility for holding up to 25 boys hostage as punishment for tribesmen who supported the military in the country's troubled northwest.
Pakistani officials said Friday militants in Afghanistan kidnapped the boys after they mistakenly crossed the border while on an outing in the border tribal region of Bajaur on Wednesday.
A Pakistani Taliban spokesman said they held the boys, and their fate would be decided by the militants from Bajaur.
"We have kidnapped them as their parents and tribal elders are helping the government and are fighting against us," spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan told Reuters from an undisclosed location.
He said they held between 20 to 25 boys, but did not say where they have been kept. Bajaur's top government administrator, Islam Zeb, said 25 boys were missing.
A group of around 60 boys took part in the outing but about 20 below ten years old were allowed to return to Pakistan, while up to 40 others between 12 to 14 years old were held, officials said earlier.
The news of Governor Rick Perry jumping into the Republican nomination race for president released a media tsunami that assaulted my brain. In no time at all, people came up with a long list of negatives about him. In a democracy, honest and thorough scrutiny of anyone's records seeking a public office is not only the prerogative of the electorate, but its duty.
Being a lifelong critic of Islam, red flags popped up in my head at Perry's purported cozy relationship with Islam and prompted me to look very closely at the governor's record on this particular issue and at this specific time.
All kinds of worrisome thoughts flashed through my head. For one, I recalled another Republican Texas governor who became president and grew hoarse by so often shouting the mantra "Islam is a religion of peace." Is this another Texas Republican governor somehow beholden to oil interests and the oil sheiks of Saudi Arabia? Is he really another for-purchase politician dispensing favors to the powers that be? In this case, are deep-pocketed Muslims hell-bent on furthering Islam by exploiting the vulnerabilities of democratic societies? Are this man's sympathies with Arabs, and is he none too friendly toward Israel? I decided to strip my biases, look for facts, and let them settle these issues.
The facts are that Perry has indeed had a cordial relationship with Muslims. Hundreds of thousands of Muslims live in the Lone Star State. And a governor is to serve every segment of the population in accordance with the law. I grant that. But, is Governor Perry being even-handed with Muslims, as he is expected to be, or is he favoring them?
He is reported to be particularly friendly with the Ismailis, a relatively small sect of Shi'a Islam. Is there something fishy about that? There are roughly twenty to thirty thousand Ismailis who live in Texas, a small percentage of the Muslims in the state. Besides, if Perry wanted to curry favor with Muslims, why would he hitch his wagon to the Ismailis? Ismailis are persecuted and castigated by major Islamic sects such as the Sunnis who rule Saudi Arabia and the Twelve Imamates Shi'a who run Iran.
The Ismailis are hardly a significant Islamic force, as compared to the other sects. They number around fifteen million in the world and are splintered into several sects. By far the largest of the Ismaili sects is the Nizari Ismaili, with its followers adhering to dual loyalties. Their spiritual allegiance is to the Imam of the Time (Imam az Zaman), who is believed to be the interlocutor between Allah and the people. The position of the Imam az Zaman is hereditary from male to male, purportedly tracing back to Muhammad. Ismailis also owe allegiance to their countries as a fundamental obligation.
How militant and jihad-minded are the Ismailis, as compared to other sects of Islam? The Ismailis still hold to the notion of jihad, since the admonition is frequently stipulated in the Quran. They believe in what can be called "self-jihad" -- battling the self to become a better Muslim -- and "other-jihad," which is warring against non-Muslims. Only the Imam az Zaman can proclaim the fatwa authorizing warring against others. Since they are a small Muslim minority and widely scattered in many countries, Ismailis are less likely to be able to wage any kind of violent campaign against others. Yet, the idea of "other-jihad" is still within their belief make-up, since it is nearly a pillar of Islam. Furthermore, the notion of "self-jihad" can also be problematic, if the individual believer molds himself into a "pious" type by adopting the numerous anti-non-Muslim provisions of the Quran.
Any and all sects of Islam operate on the basis of the Quran and its various derivations, such that one and all are inimical to liberty and are violence-prone. In fairness to the Ismailis, it must be granted that they are less combative and Ummahist (international community of Islam) than other sects of Islam.
It is a fact that Perry, following the practice of a long line of other politicians such as Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and the late President John F. Kennedy, built a cordial relationship with the Aga Khan (Imam az Zaman) of the Ismailis.
Although Perry's cordial relationship with the Ismailis is indeed true, it hardly warrants alarm. What is more disturbing is the claim, nearly all of it originating from one source, that Governor Perry is supported by CAIR.
Facts show the contrary. There are reports that CAIR, the Islamist organization, was upset for not being invited to Perry's Response prayer event in Houston. CAIR has teamed up with the ACLU protesting the exclusion.
Another line of argument implying Perry's Islamic leanings, if not his out-and-out support, pertains to inclusion of Islam in the state's educational curriculum. I looked closely into that claim, because it is indeed a critical juncture where young minds can indeed be influenced.
The nuggets of the Muslim history curriculum Perry helped coordinate in Texas are summarized below. It says:
No matter how I tried, I couldn't reach the conclusion that this inclusion promotes Islam or is pro-Sharia. It seems that the mere fact that Islam is included in the curriculum represents supporting it.
And with regard to the concern that the education curriculum Perry promoted is pro-Arab and against Israel, the evidence is exactly the opposite. The lesson on Israel reads:
Since the end of World War One Palestine had been under the control of Great Britain, who at first welcomed the hardworking Jewish settlers. They made the most of the harsh conditions, bringing economic success to an area that had for a very long time been poor. Arab natives also welcomed the newcomers. But as the number of Jewish settlers increased and their economic success contrasted sharply with the economic backwardness of the Palestinian Arabs, the Arab attitude began to change.
Immediately, all its Arab neighbors declared war on Israel. As a result of this war, the territory of Israel expanded somewhat, and many Arab citizens of Israel fled to a small corner of Israel called the Gaza Strip. The Arab states refused to admit these refugees, preferring them to stay there as a testimony to the evil of the Jewish state. They are still there. These Arabs began calling themselves Palestinians and demanding a state of their own.
Criticism flew Rick Perry's way fast and furiously and from all directions. Here, Alana Goodman in Commentary bats a big one down.
And Perry's stance on other Islam issues speaks for itself. When Perry was questioned about building a mosque near ground-zero in New York, for instance, he said, "To build a mosque near Ground Zero would be insensitive to the victims and families of 9/11 and would make the healing process much more difficult for everyone that was touched by this tragedy. I'm a big believer in freedom of religion but believe it would be best for all involved to put the facility elsewhere. However, zoning is a local responsibility and as a staunch supporter of the 10th Amendment, I do not think the federal government should take steps to intercede or overrule the wishes of local residents. The citizens of New York City will decide the fate of this building.
What about Perry's support for Israel? After a trip to the area in 2007, the governor supported Texas' divestment from companies that do business with Iran, a main supporter of Hamas. Also, the Texas-Israel Chamber of Commerce was created to help launch future commercial interests and solidify the strong business and cultural connections between Texas and Israel.
Governor Rick Perry was awarded the Defender of Jerusalem 2009 award during his trip when he also met with top Israeli political and academic leaders.
Unless someone can come up with solid evidence to the contrary, I feel relieved that Governor Perry is not an Islamophile. He is not even an Islamic apologist, and he can be entrusted with the responsibility of guarding our nation's priceless heritage of liberty against the assaults of Islamic fascism.Amil Imani is the author of a new book, Operation Persian Gulf.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas wants to go down in history as a leader who defied Israel, the US and many EU countries by asking the United Nations to recognize a Palestinian state. He wants to be remembered as a leader who made a historic achievement for his people by persuading more than 122 countries to support the statehood bid he is about to launch at the United Nations.
Abbas is so desperate that he is prepared to go to the UN even if such a move could turn out to be counterproductive for his people. At all costs, he wants to enjoy the glory of being the "first president of Palestine".
He has chosen to turn a blind eye to legal opinions by international experts who tell him that UN recognition of a Palestinian state would abolish the PLO's status as the "sole and legitimate" representative of the Palestinian people.
According to these opinions, the Palestinian Liberation Organization, which would be replaced by the state of Palestine, would no longer be able to claim that it represented millions of Palestinian refugees living around the world. After the Palestinian state is declared, the PLO would no longer be able to say that it represented the refugees, and therefore would not be able to demand the "right of return." According to the legal experts, in other words, millions of Palestinian refugees would be deprived of the "right of return" to their former villages inside Israel.
The experts have also warned Abbas that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict could be reduced to a mere dispute over territory and borders between two states, and not a national, religious or ideological confrontation. This means that the conflict would no longer center around important issues like Jerusalem, the holy sites, settlements, water and refugees.
The 76-year-old Abbas, however, is evidently not concerned about the consequences of his UN gamble.
So what if the Americans cut off more than $500 million in annual aid to the Palestinians?
Who cares if many of the Palestinians' friends in Europe are advising Abbas that his initiative would damage the peace process and further complicate the situation in the Middle East?
And who cares if even some Arab countries are opposed to the statehood plan? Just this week it was reported that Jordan's King Abdullah II had advised Abbas to reconsider the statehood bid out of fear that it would result in the loss of the "right of return" for Palestinian refugees.
Like the rest of the Arab regimes, the Jordanians are afraid that a Palestinian state would mean that millions of refugees living in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon would stay in these countries.The refugees do not want to go to a Palestinian state in the 1967 territories.They want to go back to Israel, and this is what the Palestinian Liberation Organization has been demanding. So if the PLO is gone, the refugees will not have anyone to represent their case.
A Palestinian state will not be able to demand that its own people be allowed to go and live in another country -- Israel.
The Arabs do not want to help the Palestinians and would prefer to see them leave rather than absorb them. Palestinians are regarded by Arab governments as trouble-makers and a threat to stability of these regimes.
The Arab countries, which treat the Palestinians as second- and third-class citizens, are dying to get rid of the refugees. These countries, furthermore, have always refused to give the Palestinians full rights and better living conditions.
But Abbas cares less about the Palestinians and more about his image. His resume so far includes a long list of blunders and unwise decisions, although even his political adversaries agree that he is much better than his predecessor, Yasser Arafat.
Prior to his election in January 2005, Abbas promised the Palestinians good government, democracy and an end to financial corruption. Instead, he has since surrounded himself with many of Arafat's former cronies and officials suspected of involvement in the embezzlement of public funds.
Credit for the recent economic boom in the West Bank and the establishment of proper state institutions goes to Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and not to Abbas and his Fatah. That is why the Fatah does not like Fayyad: because he gets the glory, amd because he has made it harder to steal funds.
It is also why jealous leaders of Fatah have been working behind the scenes to undermine his efforts.
Abbas and his entourage have also blocked the emergence of a new generation of younger and more charismatic leaders. The decision-making process in Ramallah continues to be under the monopoly of Abbas and five or six associates.
Under Abbas, the ruling Fatah faction lost the entire 2006 parliamentary election –- and a year later, the entire Gaza Strip -– to Hamas.
Abbas is the person responsible for the fact that the Palestinians already have two states – one in the West Bank and another in the Gaza Strip.
As for" democracy" and "freedom of expression," these terms do not seem to exist in the lexicon of decision-makers in Ramallah.
It is with this unimpressive resume that Abbas is now hoping to become the first internationally recognized head of the state of Palestine.
Failed leaders need to step aside and pave the way for new faces.
Failed leaders should not be rewarded for bringing their people to the brink of the abyss.
A confrontation between Muslims celebrating the end of Ramadan at the Rye Playland amusement park in Westchester County, New York and local authorities turned ugly yesterday, in a perfect demonstration of the toxic influence agitation outfits like the Council on American-Islamic Relations have had on American discourse. “It’s clear, this all happened because we’re Muslim,” said Dena Meawad, an 18-year-old Muslim woman who was in the midst of the action. She, of course, is the aggrieved victim of the supposedly racist, sexist and, above-all, Islamophobic American society.
Three years ago, Westchester County, which operates Rye Playland, put a policy into effect that forbids people from wearing headgear on certain rides. That rule was imposed because of safety concerns, both that a hat landing on the tracks of certain rides could cause problems and that some coverings – like a head scarf – could represent a strangulation hazard. Peter Tartaglia, deputy commissioner of Westchester County Parks, said the Muslim American Society of New York was informed about the headgear rule on multiple occasions in advance of yesterday’s event, during which about 3,000 members of the society visited the park. “Part of our rules and regulations, which we painstakingly told them over and over again, is that certain rides you cannot wear any sort of headgear,” Tartaglia said.
Some of the young women attending the event either didn’t get the message or chose to ignore it. According to reports, some Muslim women began arguing with police over the rules when they were denied entrance to rides. The confrontation escalated to the point that about 100 police converged on the park to get the melee under control. Fifteen Muslims, including three women, were taken into custody. Two park rangers were injured in the fracas.
The Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) was naturally quick to take offense over the incident. “In this heightened state of Islamophobia, a woman wearing a hajib is an easy target these days,” said Zead Ramadan, president of CAIR – New York. Except that’s not even remotely the way that America works “these days.”Far from being “Islamophobic,” modern-day America bends over backwards to avoid even the slightest appearance of impropriety when it comes to interacting with the Muslim community, which is evident in everything from our public school curriculum to our airports. This is a natural outgrowth of the kind of leftist mentality that permeates our society; that America is a racist, sexist and Islamophobic nation for which we must perpetually atone. Unfortunately, some of the “victims” of this paradigm, like CAIR head-hunters, whose relevancy and power is parasitic on the fear of discrimination in the Muslim community, understand that American psychology all too well.
Organizations like CAIR trade in exploiting victimhood, and, as the Rye Playland incident too richly illustrates, that victim mentality filters down into the mainstream Muslim community most readily. The young women at the amusement park were more than ready to take offense at a perfectly reasonable park policy, because they have been propagandized into believing they are constantly under attack. The outraged young Muslims at Rye Playland were merely acting in accordance with the leftist backstory and CAIR plot-line. They behaved in the way they should be expected to behave, given the nature of the indoctrination on “American-Islamic relations” to which they have been subject.
As has been amply documented, about 70% of all hate crimes are anti-Jewish in nature, while only about 9% of hate crimes are anti-Muslim. Yet this staggering degree of blind bigotry largely goes unnoticed relative to the comparatively minuscule number of anti-Muslim hate crimes. The grossly exaggerated portrayal of Muslim discrimination in the US directly feeds the hysteria that results in ugly incidents like that at Rye Playland and, even worse, stands to excuse them.
But the Rye Playland incident also shows that the prevailing narrative that the Islamic community is a passive, persecuted American enclave doesn’t hold up. It is in fact a politically aggressive community, whose outrages tend to be instigated by Islamophobia manufacturers and the political crowd rather than by acts of bigotry themselves. Rest assured, the more these parties are given credence by society at large, the more Rye Playland incidents we will see.
Rep. Allen West isn’t being deterred by accusations of “Islamophobia,” and will be hosting a screening of the Christian Action Network’s film, “Sacrificed Survivors: The Untold Story of the Ground Zero Mosque” in Congress on September 7. The event kicks off a screening tour in New York City public parks around the tenth anniversary of 9/11 that is sure to rile up the deniers of the Islamist threat.
The event is being held on the morning of September 7 from 11:30 am to 1:00 PM in Room B-339 of the Rayburn Congressional Office Building, thanks to Rep. Allen West. It is generating significant media coverage and controversy, as is the Christian Action Network’s tour in New York City against the Ground Zero Mosque that begins later that night. West and some of the other participants have been labeled as “Islamophobes” in the Center for American Progress’s “Fear Inc.” report, which specifically mentions this event as evidence of the alleged growing anti-Muslim bigotry in the country.
Rep. West is listed in the report as part of the “Islamophobia echo chamber.” He is called a “loyal foot soldier in the misguided campaign against Sharia.” A Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations recently wrote him a letter asking him to end his relationships with Islamophobic activists. He wrote a one-sentence response: “I am writing to you with regard [to] your recent letter: ‘NUTS!’”
It was an appropriate response given CAIR’s extremist affiliations. Tellingly, one of the authors of the letter is Hassan Shibly, who I interviewed extensively after learning that he was a frequent guest speaker at schools in New York. He defends Hezbollah, supports 9/11 conspiracy theories, and made other very concerning statements.
West is being criticized for his hosting of the film screening in Congress. On FOX News Channel’s The Five, liberal pundit Bob Beckel called West “a politician who knows a good story and how to get in front of the cameras.” He then shockingly said, “We all understand 9/11, but you got to get over this in New York, the rest of us are being affected by it.” He is also being criticized by Americans Against Islamophobia and the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Martin Mawyer, President of the Christian Action Network, will be speaking at the event. His organization previously released “Homegrown Jihad: Terrorist Camps Around the U.S.,” described in “Fear Inc.” as “inflammatory.” Of course, not a single bit of the compelling evidence in the film and covered here at FrontPage Magazine is addressed.There are several other speakers that will anger the Islamism-deniers. The group includes Tim Brown of 911FamiliesForAmerica.com, and first responder on 9/11 and Michael Del Rosso, Senior Fellow at the Center for Security Policy. Tom Trento of the United West and former CIA operations officer Clare Lopez are also on the panel. Both are mentioned in “Fear Inc.”
The Christian Action Network begins its screening tour of the film in New York City on the same night. The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation originally hesitated in granting permits and accommodating the tour, but that changed after the American Center for Law and Justice filed a “demand letter” on CAN’s behalf. Four screenings have now been scheduled in Manhattan on the nights of September 7, 9, 10 and 13.
This is the second screening tour by the Christian Action Network of “Sacrificed Survivors.” The first was nationwide and had stops right near speaking engagements by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, one of the pioneers of the Ground Zero Mosque effort.
“We rallied Ground Zero Mosque opponents during his speaking events in Michigan and then again in North Carolina. We wanted to make sure he knew that we would not tire. And now, we are touring in his backyard, right in New York City,” said Martin Mawyer, President of CAN.
The film’s purpose is to give 9/11 survivors and the victims’ family members to express their opposition to the Ground Zero Mosque. It also reviews questions regarding the extremist affiliations of the group behind it and their financing. The chief financial backer of the Ground Zero Mosque, Hisham Elzanaty, has just been hit with a lawsuit for over $5 million from Allstate Insurance for allegedly running a “highly developed and sophisticated kickback scheme.” He is also being sued for millions of dollars by Geico and State Farm. In 1999, he donated $6,000 to the Holy Land Foundation, a front set up by the Muslim Brotherhood to finance Hamas.
The “Islamophobes” who have put together the September 7 event with Rep. Allen West are trying to make a point on the tenth anniversary of 9/11 that goes beyond the Ground Zero Mosque controversy. The anti-Islamist activists being attacked as paranoid bigots are dedicated to protecting the country from its patient enemies, violent and non-violent. They know the price of this commitment is to have their integrity questioned. And this 9/11 anniversary, they want to show it is worth the price.
Chaotic conditions in post-Gaddafi Libya have led to a breakdown in security that threatens hundreds of thousands of sub-Saharan black African migrant workers. Reports from Tripoli indicate that the rebels who took control of the city last week have been rounding up people described as “mercenaries,” but who appear to be innocent residents caught up in a racial dragnet, with the soldiers and their neighborhood council adjuncts arresting and detaining almost all males with a black face.
There is no firm number of blacks being held in Tripoli, but one rebel commander said that about 5,000 prisoners were being detained in several locations around the city. Human rights groups believe the number is much higher and have raised the alarm about the conditions in which prisoners are being held, as well as concern over the safety of all blacks in Libya. The African Union has withheld recognition of the National Transitional Council, taking them to task for what they view as a racist detention policy. And the NTC has rejected a UN offer of peacekeeping troops to “monitor” the situation.
The NTC has called on its soldiers not to abuse the prisoners, saying those charged with crimes will be given a fair trial. But there are many young men with guns roaming the streets, some of them robbing and beating innocents, with many reports of summary executions. Amnesty International has documented one gruesome atrocity outside of a hospital where 30 bodies, all of them black, were found to have been massacred.
And the rebels’ racism is not confined to black Africans. PJ Media’s John Rosenthal documented dozens of examples of anti-Semetic graffiti in Benghazi after that city fell into rebel hands, as well as many examples of black Africans being singled out for brutal treatment.
“Libyan people don’t like people with dark skins,” one militiaman said in reference to the arrests of blacks. That is certainly one reason for the indiscriminate nature of the round ups. But the rumors — apparently overblown, or downright false — that Gaddafi had hired black African mercenaries from Chad and elsewhere to act as executioners of Libyan civilians, gunning them down in cold blood during protests, has particularly poisoned the minds of many Libyans and has contributed to the racial tensions in the post-Gaddafi era. Representatives from both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch say they have investigated the claims by rebels of African mercenaries committing atrocities and have been unable to verify any of the rumors about them. This may be a case of rebel propaganda blowing back and putting thousands of innocents in danger.
There is also an historical context to be considered when talking about racism in Libya. As Stephen Brown pointed out in FPM last April, since the 7th century, 14 million blacks have been sold into slavery in Arab countries. This has resulted in a kind of racism not seen in America for decades, where blacks are considered sub-human and not fit for any task except those that an Arab considers beneath him. One African columnist writes, “In Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea, Mauritania and the rest of the Arab world, Africans are treated like scum.” In marketplaces, Arabs throw stones at blacks, while preventing them from achieving any positions of authority in Arab countries. “There are hardly any Africans in high government positions in Arab governed countries…It is simply a way of life that’s all. Blacks do not really exist or at best are not human.”
With history — both recent and ancient — working against the black African workers that Gaddafi exploited and discriminated against, the mass arrests have angered the African Union to the point that they are refusing to recognize the NTC until they are assured that their citizens are protected by the new government. “NTC seems to confuse black people with mercenaries,” AU chairman Jean Ping said.”All blacks are mercenaries. If you do that, it means [that the] one-third of the population of Libya, which is black, is also mercenaries. They are killing people, normal workers, mistreating them,” he said.
But several western news organizations would disagree with those denials. Reuters reports on a camp that desperate black Africans have set up along the sea shore where refugees tell grim stories of murder, robbery, and beatings at the hands of young Libyans who accost any male with a black face and are likely to haul them off to one of dozens of detention centers in the Libyan capital.
“The danger is that there is no oversight by any authorities, and the people who are carrying out the arrests – more like abductions – are not trained to respect human rights,” said Diana Eltahawy of Amnesty International. “They are people who carry a lot of anger against people they believe committed atrocities.”
Reuters also reports:
Reporters saw the bodies of 22 men of apparent African origin at a Tripoli beach Saturday, people who locals said were mercenaries killed by anti-Gaddafi fighters.
Elsewhere in Libya, dead men of African origin have been a common sight since the uprising, as has been the sight of ill treatment of Africans by Libyan anti-Gaddafi fighters.
While Gaddafi recruited heavily among the black tribes in southern Libya for the military, few of the victims in Tripoli were members of the armed forces. And the arbitrary nature with which the black males were rounded up with no effort to establish the residency of the detainees, has given Western governments, as well as human rights groups, cause for great concern. What of the thousands of detainees held elsewhere in Libya, but without the minimal protection of Western reporters and human rights observers being on hand? Rosenthal cataloged atrocities by rebels dating back to the beginning of the rebellion. One wonders whether violations of human rights by the anti-Gaddafi opposition will be investigated with equal fervor shown toward pro-Gaddafi forces.
One thing is certain: The NTC will not allow foreign military personnel on the ground in Libya. No peacekeepers, no “observers, no foreign troops at all.” Libya’s deputy representative to the UN, Ibrahim Dabbashi, said that Libya’s situation was unique: “It is not a civil war, it is not a conflict between two parties, it is the people who are defending themselves against the dictatorship.” That may well be, but their refusal raises suspicions that the NTC knows full well what’s happening and feels the fewer witnesses the better.
The UN can’t force the NTC to accept the observers, nor can Western governments deploy military units to help with even routine security. As it stands now, black African migrants are staying indoors, terrified to go out, or are huddling in makeshift camps with little food and water and no medicine. At the camp visited by the Reuters correspondent, disease had already broken out from the unsanitary conditions and fresh water was extremely scarce.
This is obviously a major test for the new government. While intentions may be good, the NTC have yet to demonstrate that its control over forces occupying the capital city is strong enough to counter the blatant racism and anger of rebel fighters who have yet to prove that they respect the human rights of prisoners regardless of their color. Massacres have already taken place. Indiscriminate killing is continuing.
Can the government do anything to stop it except offer platitudes about justice? The answer to that question will shape a post-Gaddafi Libya in the minds of the West and the rest of the world.
Expelling an ambassador is the diplomatic equivalent of a wife ordering her husband out of the bedroom and on to the living room couch. It may be temporary but it sure stings.
Gaby Levy, from Bergama, Turkey, has been Israel's ambassador to Ankara.
Although disappointed and saddened by the shift taking place in Turkey – as recently as a decade ago, I saw it as a model of modernity and moderation for other Muslims to follow – I am quite content to see the Israeli emissary pack his bags and leave Ankara, for this small drama helps anyone still myopic about Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the AKP to understand just how much they are repositioning Turkey as a state hostile to the West.
I have argued before and repeat here: an ally no more, time has come to remove, or at least to suspend, the Turkish government from membership in the NATO alliance. (September 2, 2011)Daniel Pipes
It’s 1936 all over again, and Egypt is Germany, and the Sinai Desert is the Rhineland which is being remilitarised. There are none so blind as those who will not see.
Almost a third of a century ago, on 26th March 1979, Israel and Egypt signed the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty. The main provisions of the Treaty were that Israel would withdraw from the entire Sinai Desert and hand it over to Egypt, and that Egypt would keep the Sinai desert almost demilitarized. The Treaty divided the Sinai Desert into three zones:
In the western zone (closest to Egypt, bordering the Suez Canal), Egypt was limited to an “armed force of one mechanized infantry division and its military installations, and field fortifications”;
In the central zone, they were limited to “border units of four battalions equipped with light weapons and wheeled vehicles [to] provide security and supplement the civil police in maintaining order... The main elements in the four Border Battalions will consist of up to a total of four thousand personnel”;
In the eastern zone (bordering Israel), “only United Nations forces and Egyptian civil police will be stationed”.
Israel’s security was guaranteed by the 240 km (150 miles) distance that the Egyptian Army was to be kept from the Israeli border.
Last Friday, as a response to the threat of Islamist terror cells throughout the Sinai Desert, Defence Minister Ehud Barak proposed that Egypt begin to remilitarize the Sinai Desert.
The Economist (http://www.economist.com/node/21526921) reported that Barak and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will agree to Egypt “deploying thousands of troops in Sinai… [with] helicopters and armoured vehicles”.
Barak acknowledged the inherent dangers in returning Egyptian troops to the Israeli border, but argued that “sometimes you have to subordinate strategic considerations to tactical needs”.
Israel officially denied relaxing the restrictions on Egyptian remilitarisation of the Sinai Desert. However, these official denials are hardly reassuring.
Some seven months ago, on 31st January this year, Israel allowed Egypt to move two battalions (about 800 troops) into Sharm-el-Sheikh, ostensibly to prevent arms smuggling to Gaza. However, since Sharm-el-Sheikh is at the very southernmost tip of the Sinai Peninsula – about as far off the track to Gaza as it is possible to get – that explanation sounded somewhat unconvincing.
With hindsight, it is far more plausible that the then-president Hosni Mubarak was simply preparing this remote and easily defensible area as a refuge from the unrest which had started a few days previously, and wanted 800 soldiers there as his personal bodyguard. Though Mubarak fled Cairo for Sharm-el-Sheikh on 11th February, in the event, this did not help him as he was arrested there on 24th May.
It is entirely conceivable that Israel agreed to these two Egyptian battalions to re-occupy Sharm-el-Sheikh in order to protect Hosni Mubarak personally, and by extension the regime which he led. But though the revolution has successfully removed him from office, those units have remained there.
Similarly with all further troop deployments in the Sinai: any militarization allowed by Israel will be permanent, and any Egyptian units stationed in the eastern Sinai Desert, on or close to the Israeli border, will remain there as a constant potential military threat to Israel.
Four and a half years ago, on 13th November 2006, addressing the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America in Los Angeles, Binyamin Netanyahu (at the time leader of the Opposition) sounded a stark warning about Iran: “It’s 1938, and Iran is Germany, and it is arming itself with atomic weapons”.
With all due respect to Netanyahu, the reality is somewhat different: it’s 1936, and Egypt is Germany, and the Sinai Desert is the Rhineland which is being remilitarised.
According to the Treaty of Versailles of 1919, Germany was forbidden to maintain or to establish any military facilities west of the River Rhine, or within 50 km (30 miles) to the east; this demilitarised zone was designed to protect France and Belgium, which Germany had attacked during the First World War. So long as that strip of land remained demilitarised, western Europe was safe from German military aggression.
At 10:00 in the morning of 7th March 1936, Konstantin von Neurath, the German Foreign Minister, proposed to the British, French, Belgian, and Italian Ambassadors a 25-year pact, a demilitarisation on both sides of the Rhine frontier, a pact limiting air forces, and non-aggression pacts to be negotiated with eastern and western neighbours.
Just two hours later, Hitler announced to the Reichstag his intention to remilitarise the Rhineland; as he was speaking, columns of the Wehrmacht were marching across the bridges over the River Rhine. This was in accordance with formal orders which the Minister for War, Werner von Blomberg (who had represented Germany in the World Disarmament Conference of 1932), had issued five days earlier.
In one bold action, Nazi Germany effectively annulled the single greatest guarantee of peace installed by both the Treaty of Versailles and the Treaty of Locarno of 1925.
The Allies could not possibly have known it at the time, but Hitler and von Blomberg had given secret, but very strict, orders to the officers of the Wehrmacht: if there was any sign of Allied (British or French) reaction, then they were to turn round and return to their previous positions instantly. In 1936, Hitler did not yet dare risk war against two of Europe’s mightiest armies.
It is chilling to understand the implications: a few French jeeps could have forced the Wehrmacht to retreat – and that loss of face for the Nazi regime might have caused it to collapse. Almost six years later, on 27th January 1942, Hitler conceded this: “A retreat on our part would have spelled collapse” (Hitler’s Secret Conversations, 1941-1944, New York 1953). And 36 years later, in 1969, Albert Speer (the chief architect of the Third Reich, and later Hitler’s Minister of Armaments) wrote that when Hitler “was waging a war against almost the entire world, he always termed the remilitarisation of the Rhineland the most daring of all his undertakings” (Inside the Third Reich, chapter 6).
Put simply, it is conceivable that a dozen French jeeps and fifty French soldiers, had they but challenged Hitler’s troops on that spring afternoon of 1936, might have averted the Second World War with all its attendant horrors.
However, the political leadership in Britain and France refused to confront the Wehrmacht. Neither Britain nor France had any leading politicians who had the courage to be controversial enough to confront Nazi Germany. Winston Churchill, in The Second World War (Volume 1, Chapter 11), cites Lord Lothian’s words as a representative British view: “After all, they are only going into their own back garden”.
A few months later, in September 1936, David Lloyd George, the former Prime Minister who had led Britain to victory against Germany in the First World War, visited Berchtesgaden and came away with a signed photograph of the Nazi dictator, whom he called “the greatest living German”. In an article he wrote for the Daily Express of 17th September, Lloyd George wrote that “Hitler is the George Washington of Germany, the man who made his country independent of all of its oppressors”. He continued, “What Hitler said in Nuremberg is true. The Germans would resist to the last man any attempt to invade their country. But they have no desire to march into any other country”.
It was far easier to attempt to appease the dictator, in the desperate hope that appeasement would preserve peace.
Egypt has already begun to remilitarise the Sinai Desert, and Israel has either quietly ignored this or actively acceded. As a post-Mubarak Egypt becomes progressively less committed to the 1979 peace treaty with Israel, this Egyptian remilitarisation of the Sinai will inevitably become ever more extensive. And if Egypt falls to radical Islam – a fate that is almost inevitable given the strength and mass popularity of the Moslem Brotherhood – Egyptian remilitarisation will no longer be a question of if, but only when.
And as additionally Al Qaeda and other Islamist terror organisations consolidate their military capacity in the Sinai Desert, manoeuvring there with ever-increasing independence, the dilemma which Israel will face in the next few months is already clear: which poses a greater threat to her security – unrestrained Islamist cells on Israel’s south-western border, or the Egyptian Army?
It is hard, given the current political climate in Israel, to imagine that Israel will implement the third option: Israel reoccupying the Sinai Desert and driving out both the hostile Egyptian Army and the even-more hostile Islamist terrorists. True, a very few voices – General (res.) Uzi Dayan, for example – have suggested this. But even if Egypt were to officially rescind the treaty with Israel, it hardly seems likely that any Israeli prime minister would risk all-out war by sending the IDF into the Sinai Desert.
It’s 1936, and Egypt is Germany, and the Sinai Desert is the Rhineland which is being remilitarised. And at the present time, Netanyahu is acting like David Lloyd George.
These are difficult times, as we simultaneously confront threats from our neighbors and intensified pressure from every direction.
The situation is aggravated by the upheavals in the Arab world, which have in all instances resulted in radical anti-Israel Islamic elements either taking control or significantly strengthening their influence. Even our peace treaty with Egypt is now in question. And at the same time, Hezbollah and Hamas have accumulated arsenals of deadly rockets which in the event of a conflict would be directed toward all the country's major populated areas.
In this context, the enthusiastic bipartisan congressional support accorded Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on his recent Washington visit should not create excessive euphoria. It is the White House, in the main, that controls foreign affairs, and in view of the current economic meltdown, the pro-Israel Congress is more likely to be concentrating on issues of urgent domestic concern rather than confronting Obama over his Middle East policies. We also have legitimate grounds for unease if Obama obtains a second term and no longer faces election constraints and party pressures; he will likely intensify his one-sided demands on us.
To this day, Obama has not diverged from his initial approach of appeasing Islamic states and making harsh demands on Israel. Yet the American president is respected by neither friend nor foe. The manner in which he unhesitatingly abandoned long-standing US ally Hosni Mubarak while delaying calls for the ouster of Syrian President Bashar Assad have encouraged America's traditional Muslim allies to lose confidence in him. At the same time, his adversaries consider him a wimp who capitulates on every front. Even dovish former Labor minister Yossi Beilin maintains that Obama "holds zero accountability for his presidency" and "waits for someone else to implement his grand plan."
We are confronted with a major challenge in September. Irrespective of whether the UN General Assembly endorses Palestinian statehood, there are likely to be concerted attempts to encourage tens of thousands of Palestinians to bypass roadblocks into Israeli territory. We will be obliged to exercise force to protect our security and sovereignty. Even taking maximum precautions, there will almost certainly be casualties, and Israel is likely yet again to face global condemnation.
In the face of these imminent challenges, only idiots or those relying exclusively on divine intervention would dismiss the crucial importance of maintaining US support. Aside from our essential defense requirements, only the US is in a position to economically pressure the Egyptian military regime to resist Islamic extremists baying for the annulment of the peace treaty with us. In addition, the absence of a US diplomatic umbrella would leave us at the mercies of the Europeans, who would have no compunction about supporting boycotts and sanctions at the UN in order to appease the Arab and Third World countries.
Politics is the art of the possible, and we must therefore resist populist attitudes exhorting us to be "tough" and face the world alone. In this context, one would not envy the role of an Israeli prime minister. He is obliged to retain the support and friendship of the American people and Congress. To achieve this in such a fake environment requires an extraordinary diplomatic balancing act in which he remains firm on essentials but must not be perceived as an obstacle to resolving the conflict.
It is in this context that one must assess the unconfirmed reports that Netanyahu has tentatively agreed to Obama's "revised" formula of employing "1967 borders with swaps" as a benchmark for negotiations with the Palestinians. In return, Obama has allegedly undertaken to revert to the Bush recognition of demographic changes that entitle Israel to retain the major settlement blocs and defensible borders.
Netanyahu is said to have made this offer subject to a quid pro quo by the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
As this would imply a repudiation of the Arab ‘right of return' - something the Palestinians would never endorse - this exercise remains an extension of the theater of the absurd, in which we are obliged to make meaningless motions to humor the Obama administration.
Unfortunately, previous experience has demonstrated that vague understandings are frequently selectively implemented. An example is the total disregard of the clause in the Quartet road map stipulating that prior to any further Israeli concessions, the terrorist infrastructure would be dismantled.
Any agreement along these lines with Obama may thus return to haunt us. In the absence of clear definitions of defensible borders and "major settlement blocs," these new undertakings could be exploited to pressure us into making territorial concessions with potentially disastrous long-term consequences.
The even more detrimental outcome of these theatrics is the confusion and bewilderment it sows among Diaspora Jews and our friends. On the one hand, we occasionally speak the truth and expose the Palestinians as a criminal society promoting a genocidal culture. Then, to placate our Western "allies" we relate to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as a ‘peace partner,' and babble on about negotiating for a settlement.
One day our prime minister has a confrontation with the US president and the next day Defense Minister Barak proclaims that Obama is God's gift to Israel. In contrast, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has a penchant for occasionally making aggressive statements (often based on reality) that enthuse his supporters but embarrass the government and detract from our international standing.
Of course, ministers of a government should ideally speak with one voice. However, the concept of cabinet responsibility in Israel has been ignored for many years, so individual ministers feel entitled to say what they like, even in stark opposition to the policy of their own government.
Nevertheless, within the constraints of the fantasy world in which our government must operate, a strategy must be devised to ensure that despite the doublespeak which portrays those seeking to destroy us as "peace partners," we ensure that Diaspora Jews and our friends are able to comprehend the reality of the situation.
This column was originally published in the Jerusalem PostIsi Leibler email@example.com
I searched for the Web for the proper translation but to no avail. All I want to do is bid Sayonara to the Iranian Navy's Fifteenth Fleet as it sails into harm's way. And, boy, do I ever mean harm's way. As the Israeli Navy begins a buildup of warships to protect against growing Egyptian militancy, the Iranian government has decided to dispatch its Fifteenth Fleet to the Red Sea, "to patrol the high seas and thwart pirate raids."
The Iranian Fifteenth Fleet, which consists of "a submarine and several other vessels," could very well be sailing straight through the Straits of Paradise should it attempt in any way to interfere with Israeli naval operations against Egypt, Syria or the Palestinians. For decades, the Israelis have repeatedly demonstrated that they do not suffer foolish military adventurism gladly. For the Iranians to threaten such bald interference into issues affecting Israel's borders is inviting a naval disaster comparable to leaping into another Lepanto.
I think the naval forces of most major nations would give long, thoughtful pause to the idea of going up against the small but extremely lethal Israeli Navy, especially within operational range of the Israeli Air Force. The advanced Israeli missile boats should be intimidating enough all by themselves but throw a submarine or two and a whole swarm of fast patrol-torpedo boats equipped with Hellfire missiles into the mix and I'd say the Iranians are definitely sailing straight into harm's way if not oblivion.
Perhaps Achmadinejad could coax the Twelfth Imam from the well just in time to go down with his ships.
Walls can be used to keep people in and keep people out, as was true of he Berlin Wall erected in 1961 and today of the walls being erected throughout Europe.
These contemporary walls operate under the name of "no go" zones, areas that are off limits to non-Muslims. These zones function as micro-states governed by Sharia Law. In many locations from Malmo to Hamburg, and from Liverpool to Rotterdam, host country authorities have lost effective control over these zones, and often are unable to provide even basic public aid -- such as police and fire assistance and ambulance services -- without permission from the local imam.
Here, in unvarnished terms, are the influences of multicultural policies that encouraged Muslim immigrants to live in parallel societies "walled in" through both a desire for separation and the host's desire to avoid integration.
In Britain, for example, a Muslim group called Muslims Against The Crusades, has launched a campaign to convert twelve British cities – including London – into independent Islamic states. In the "Tower Hamlets" area of East London, extremist Muslim preachers routinely issue death threats to women who refuse to wear Islamic veils. Neighborhood streets are plastered with posters that declare: "You are entering a Sharia controlled zone; Islamic rules enforced." The Muslim extremist Abu Izzadeen heckled the former Home Secretary John Reid by saying, "How dare you come to a Muslim area!"
At last count, the French police maintain there are 751 "no go" zones (Zones Urbaines Sensibles, ZUS) listed on the French government website. And mosques in Paris have been broadcasting sermons and chants of "Allahu Akbar" on loudspeakers into the streets. By any stretch, this represents an occupation force in France.
In a widely publicized event, fire fighters trying to extinguish a fire in the town's main mosque in Malmo, Sweden, were attacked by Muslim stone throwers. The argument for the disruption was that the fire fighting team did not obtain permission from the imams to enter "their" community. According to Malmo-based Imam Adly Abu Hajar: "Sweden is the best Islamic state."
These walls that divide are having a crippling influence on European societies. Muslim extremists employ the separation as a tactic to proselytize, and Europeans often describe these zones as evidence that Muslims cannot be integrated. The governments in question, eager to maintain stability, acquiesce in favor of the multicultural position. However, the acquiescence does not yield an expected result. The "no-go" zones breed hostility; these areas are time-bombs waiting to be set off by even relatively benign circumstances.
For decades the Berlin Wall was a symbol separating two worlds: freedom and dictatorship. It is instructive that the new walls separate liberal values from notions of religious extremism in a manner not that dissimilar from the past. Although guns, tanks and barbed wire do not separate "no go" zones from host societies, the separation is no less real and no less dangerous.
The municipality of Salt, a town near Barcelona where Muslim immigrants now make up 40% of the population, has approved a one-year ban on the construction of new mosques. It is the first ban of its kind in Spain.
The moratorium follows public outrage over plans to build a massive Salafi mosque that is being financed by Saudi Arabia. Salafism is a branch of revivalist Islam that calls for restoring past Muslim glory by forcibly re-establishing an Islamic empire (Caliphate) across the Middle East, North Africa and parts of Europe such as Spain, which Salafists view as a Muslim state that must be reconquered for Islam.
Much of Spain was ruled by Muslim conquerors from 711 and 1492; Salafists believe that the territories the Muslims lost during the Spanish Reconquista still belong to them, and that they have a right to return and establish their rule there – a belief based on the Islamic precept that territories once occupied by Muslims must forever remain under Muslim domination.
Sacrificing common sense on the altar of multiculturalism, the previous Socialist government in Salt secretly gave permission to the Salafi Muslims to build the mega-mosque, which, with four stories comprising 1,000 square meters (11,000 square feet) accompanied by towering minarets, would be the largest Salafi mosque in Europe.
The secret deal was only discovered after the Socialists were ejected from power in May 2011. Angry natives began pressuring the new town council – now ruled by the center-right Convergència i Unió (CiU) party – to prevent the mosque from being built. On August 24, the council approved the one-year ban on the building of new mosques in order to provide "some time for reflection."
The Salafi mega-mosque may still be built, however, because the construction permit was issued before the non-retroactive moratorium took effect. The building permit, which is valid for a period of six months, expires at the end of September 2011.
Muslim radicals associated with two Spain-based Salafi groups, Al Hilal Islamic Cultural Association and Magrebins per la Pau Association, are now asking groups in Saudi Arabia to advance the funds needed to begin construction of the mosque within the next few weeks, before the building permit expires.
The Catalan nationalist party Plataforma per Catalunya (PxC) – which opposes not only the mosques but also Muslim immigration – attempted to hold an anti-mosque protest in Salt on August 27. PxC spokeswoman María Osuna said the party, which has some 70,000 active members, did not want Salt to become "the new Mecca of the most radical Islamism."
But provincial law enforcement authorities banned the PxC demonstration after learning that Muslims from across Spain were organizing a counter-demonstration in the town on the same day. Fearing the risk of violence, the provincial interior ministry issued a statement saying that the anti-mosque demonstration would be banned because it could "hurt the religious feelings of the majority of Muslims in Salt." Around 12,000 of Salt's 30,000 inhabitants are Muslim immigrants.
Salt and other towns in the north-eastern region of Catalonia have become ground zero for Salafi Islam in Spain. The movement is based in the Catalonian city of Tarragona, but Salafi Islam also has a major presence in the municipalities of Badalona, Calafell, Cunit, El Vendrel, Lleida, Mataró, Reus, Roda de Bara, Rubí, Salt, Santa Coloma de Gramenet, Sant Boi, Torredembarra, Valls, and Vilanova, not to mention Barcelona, which hosts five Salafi mosques.
Salafi preachers in Catalonia teach that Islamic Sharia law is above Spanish civil law. They also promote the establishment of a parallel Muslim society in Spain. Salafi imams have set up Sharia tribunals to judge the conduct of both practicing and non-practicing Muslims in Spain and to punish those who fail to comply.
The leaders of Salafi Islam in Salt are the "Caliph" Mohammed Attaouil and his right hand man, the cleric Rachid Menda. They are two of the most effective anti-Western propagandists in Spain, and have been able to create a Salafi stronghold in Catalonia by employing the twin strategies of spreading fear and proselytizing.
In December 2009, for example, nine Salafists kidnapped a woman, tried her for adultery based on Sharia law, and condemned her to death. The woman just barely escaped execution by fleeing to a local police station.
In January 2010, a Salafi imam in Tarragona was arrested for forcing a 31-year-old Moroccan woman to wear a hijab head covering. The imam had threatened to burn down the woman's house for being and "infidel" because she works outside of the home, drives an automobile and has non-Muslim friends. Bowing to political pressure to prevent "a social conflict," a court in Tarragona on August 2 absolved the imam of all wrongdoing.
Much of the Salafi proselytizing occurs by means of conferences which are attended by thousands of followers, many of whom also provide the movement with an important source of financial support. Speakers at the conferences often include Salafi luminaries from Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, as well as from Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. As many of the latter have European passports, they do not require visas to enter Spain and are free to move about the country as they please.
Salafi conferences in Spain are almost always scheduled during Christian holidays such as Christmas and Easter with the objective of directly challenging the majority culture. Conference attendees are warned that Muslims should not integrate into the "corrupt" Western society.
The Madrid-based ABC newspaper estimates that there are more than 100 Salafi mosques in Spain where radical imams preach to the faithful each Friday. The newspaper says some imams have established religious police that harass and attack those who do not comply with Islamic law. ABC also reports that during 2010, more than 10 Salafi conferences were held in Spain, compared to only one in 2008.
From Catalonia, Salafists are planting roots in other parts of Spain, including the Basque Country, Madrid, and Valladolid as well as all along the Mediterranean coast. In Guadalajara in central Spain, hooded Salafists have assaulted at least six native Spaniards with rocks since July. Local citizens' groups are protesting the opening of a Salafi mosque in the city.
The mayor of Salt, Jaume Torramadé, says Muslim immigrants in his town have become noticeably more radicalized in recent years. In an interview with RAC1 radio, Torramadé told listeners: "A few years ago, the Maghreb women were more westernized, but nowadays one sees much less of that. The large numbers of Muslim immigrants in Salt have attracted imams who are enforcing conduct and dress codes. Muslim women used to wear blue jeans, but now they cover their hair. These imams are not promoting coexistence."
During the last few days, there has been a flurry of talk at the United Nations Security Council regarding the post-conflict transition in Libya, as well as the situation in Syria.
With respect to Libya, there has been no concrete action from the Security Council since the approval last week of the release of $1.5 billion dollars in frozen assets for humanitarian relief.
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon gave a report to the Security Council on August 30th in which he emphasized that the United Nations must take the lead role on behalf of the international community in responding to the needs of the Libyan people as they move forward in a post-conflict environment. He said that the Libyan rebels’ National Transitional Council has requested help in five areas:
1. Restoring public security and order and promoting the rule of law;
2. Leading inclusive political dialogue, promoting national reconciliation, and determining the constitution-making and electoral process;
3. Extending state authority, including through strengthening emerging accountable institutions and the restoration of public services;
4. Protecting human rights, particularly for vulnerable groups, and supporting transitional justice; and
5. Taking immediate steps to initiate economic recovery.
Ban said that the “National Transition Council appears to be largely in control of Tripoli and other cities,” which appears to be an overstatement. While Qaddafi’s regime has collapsed, The New York Times has reported that top civilian officials of the National Transitional Council (NTC) are yet to arrive in Tripoli, citing personal safety concerns. Moreover, there is still a jockeying for power amongst rival regional and ideological groups. The Times quoted an influential member of the NTC, who said that there is a “power vacuum” in the civilian leadership in the capital. There are also sharp divisions among competing military brigades in determining who should be in command. Thus, the United Nations may be counting on dealing with a group that will turn out to be an essentially powerless organization.
The Secretary General made no mention of plans for any UN peacekeeping force or of NATO’s role in Libya going forward. However, the UN special advisor on Libya, Ian Martin, who is overseeing the UN’s efforts in Libya during the post-conflict transition, told reporters during a press briefing following closed-door Security Council consultations that no UN peacekeeping role was envisioned. There will be no “military observers” on the ground, he said, disavowing his own earlier recommendation for the presence of such observers and continued NATO support.
As for NATO, there appears to be a disconnect between NATO itself and key players at the UN on NATO’s future role.Oana Lungescu, the NATO spokesperson, and Colonel Roland Lavoie, Operation ‘’Unified Protector’’ military spokesperson, paid lip service to the UN’s “leading role” during their press conference on August 30th, but also made it clear that it was up to NATO itself to decide when to cease its activities.
Colonel Lavoie said:
[M]y message is that despite the fall of the Qadhafi regime and the gradual return of security for many Libyans, NATO’s mission is not finished yet. We remain fully committed to our mission and to keeping the pressure on the remnants of the Qadhafi regime until we can confidently say that the civilian population of Libya is no longer threatened.
In reply to a question concerning the process for ending the NATO mission and whether NATO would look to the UN to make that decision, Oana Lungescu responded, “The decision will be taken by the North Atlantic Council on the military advice of our commanders of Operation Unified Protector and of the military authorities.” The NATO spokesperson claimed that Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had endorsed this approach, but Ban’s associate spokesman in New York as well as Ian Martin refused to confirm whether this was true.
The Chinese and Russian UN ambassadors have made no secret of their displeasure with NATO’s military actions in Libya, which they claim have exceeded the authority granted under UN Security Council 1973 and contributed to civilian casualties. They are likely to press for a quick end to NATO’s mission, now that the conflict is essentially over. Indeed, the Chinese Ambassador Li Baodong made this precise point in remarks to the press on August 30th.
As for any further UN Security Council action on Syria, two competing resolutions have been introduced. Russia, supported by at least China, has introduced what amounts to a reiteration of the bland, toothless Security Council Presidential Statement issued on August 3rd. The United Kingdom, on behalf of itself, France, Germany, Portugal and the United States, introduced a much stronger resolution containing economic sanctions. Russia and China point to the civilian casualties in Libya that accompanied NATO’s escalation there as justification for not starting down that slippery slope again in Syria.
Key non-permanent members India, Brazil and South Africa have not publicly indicated which resolution, if any, they would support, but it is likely they are leaning toward the Russian version. India’s UN Ambassador, Hardeep Singh Puri, who has served as the president of the Security Council during the month of August, tipped his hand to the press on August 30th when he used terms like “coercive” and “punitive” to describe the UK version.
In a demonstration of how ineffective the Security Council has been in dealing with the ongoing atrocities by the Assad regime against the Syrian people, it has spent days trying to decide which draft resolution was filed first for consideration.
Confusion, obfuscation and inaction continue to rei[g]n at the United Nations.