Friday, October 19, 2012

Mordechai Kedar: Hizb'Allah Gets Trashed

by Mordechai Kedar

Read the article in Italiano (translated by Yehudit Weisz, edited by Angelo Pezzana)

The Second Lebanon War ended in August 2006, after thirty three days of Israeli attacks that resulted in the deaths of 1300 Lebanese, most of whom were Hizb'Allah militants, the destruction of infrastructure and buildings, and half a million people becoming refugees, having fled from South Lebanon. Despite this, Hizb'Allah's propaganda has managed to change the actual rout into a perceived victory, because Hizb'Allah's leader - Hasan Nasrallah, managed to survive, and because he did not hand surrender the two kidnapped IDF soldiers, Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, may G-d avenge their blood, and because he did not agree to disarm Hizb'Allah, the excuse being that these weapons are intended for fighting the Zionist enemy and liberating the occupied lands.

As a result, Hizb'Allah has become the most popular organization in the Arab world, because it succeeded where all the other Arab armies failed, and Nasrallah has become a national Arab hero because of his courage and tenacity of purpose. The Arab world ignored the fact that Hizb'Allah is a Shi'ite organization while the great majority in the Arab world are Sunnis, and the fact that Hizb'Allah is an extension of Iran. The Arab admiration of Nasrallah in 2006 soared exceedingly. Despite the strengthening of UNIFIL and the broadening of its mandate following Resolution 1701 of the Security Council, the border between Lebanon and Syria continued to be a wide open thoroghfare for the missiles, weapons and ammunition that have been streaming in undisturbed from Iran via Syria to Lebanon. Hizb'Allah has been restored and strengthened by the joint efforts of Syria and Iran, and owes its existence to both of them. If it wasn't for Hafez and Bashar Asad, and the imams Khomeini and Khamenei, the Shi'ite community in Lebanon would have remained marginalized and neglected, with an aging militia, Amal.

Since the demonstrations broke out against Bashar Asad in March of 2011, the spokesmen of Hizb'Allah have been expressing unreserved support for the Syrian regime, because their hearts are with the Damascus regime and not with the masses, most of whom are Sunnis and want to overthrow the regime. In June 2011, the first reports surfaced concerning Hizb'Allah people, mainly snipers, who came to Syria in order to help suppress the demonstrations that were, at that time, not violent.

During 2012, reports abounded about especially cruel "Lebanese" who fight on the side of Asad's military, about secret graves of slain Lebanese fighters near the Lebanese border with Syria, about the ban that Hizb'Allah imposed on families of the fallen who were killed in Syria, forbidding them to mourn publicly and about Lebanese prisoners being held by the Free Syrian Army. However Hizb'Allah usually disregarded these reports, and when it did relate to them, it denied them.

The Arab media was not silent, and dealt extensively with the involvement of Hizb'Allah in Syria, especially since a few weeks ago it was disclosed that the Free Syrian Army is negotiating with Hizb'Allah about freeing several dozens of Hizb'Allah fighters who were captured by the Free Syrian Army. To the Arab world it is now clear that Hizb'Allah, the hero of 2006, has become a murderer of Arabs, an assasin of Muslims, and therfore, an enemy of the Sunnis. Hizb'Allah's detractors, both inside and outside of  Lebanon, principally in Saudi Arabia and the Emirates, scoffed at the usual claim by the spokesmen of the organization that their weapons are for use against Israel, and that they are committed to jihad only against the Zionists. "How many Israelis are in Damascus? How many Zionists are in Homs?" they asked. 

The organization that calls itself The Association of Arab Intellectuals, which is headed by a Palestinian by the name of 'Amr al-'Azam, recently published a messagae in which he called for Nasrallah immediately to withdraw his forces from Syria, and especially the 1500 Hizb'Allah fighters who, according to al-'Azam's claim, are guarding President Bashar Asad. Below is the text of the message (my comments are in parenthesis, M.K.).

"We, who believed in you and supported you in the War of July 2006, regard you with deep contempt and disdain in light of your obscene involvement with your partner in spilling Syrian blood. The despicable Shi'ite sectarianism deep within you has overcome your fake claim of interest in Arab identity, ideals and goals. In the past, we imagined that the Shi''ites in Lebanon are the closest to their Sunni Arab brothers historically, culturally, nationally and religiously, however the turban on your head was made in Qom (In Iran, the city of the Ayatollahs) and therefore you are a collaborator with the Iranians in spilling the blood of Syrians. Your part in the assassination of many Lebanese politicians and intellectuals (for instance Rafiq al-Hariri) and the part you play in the suppression of the Syrian rebellion, heralds the end of your era, and you should be brought to trial for war crimes against the Arab nation and humanity. We promise you that we will open large Shi'ite religious centers in which thousands of people will mourn for you after you are eliminated, together with your gang of mercenaries, and we call on you to redeem what is left of your desecrated Arab honor, before your treasonous machine gun (Hizb'Allah's weapon, with which it was supposed to fight only against Zionists) silently commits suicide in the nearest trash can."

However, criticism of Hizb'Allah is not limited to The Association of Arab Intellectuals, and today, criticism of Hizb'Allah comes from most of the organizations and spokesmen of the Arab world, including Shi'ites - and not only them - in Lebanon. There have always been Shi'ites in Lebanon who sharply criticized the alliance between Arab Hizb'Allah and the Iranians, which was supposed to be an alliance against Sunni Arabs and Christians, but their criticism was marginalized following the Hizb'Allah "victory" over Israel in 2006.

Today, Nasrallah must support Asad because of the long-standing support of the Asads, both father and son, for Hizb'Allah, and because the Iranian patron of Hizb'Allah supports the Asad regime, heart and soul. In a discussion that was held this week on the BBC Arabic radio station, the spokesman claimed in the name of Hizb'Allah that if there are fighters of that organization in Syria, their role is  limited to defending the Lebanese border from "terrorists" who threaten Lebanese  citizens. In response, the spokesman of the Free Syrian Army threatened  that after they eliminate Asad and his gang, 23 million Syrians will settle accounts with the Hizb'Allah gang and eliminate Hasan Nasrallah even if he continues to hide like a mouse in his bunker in Dahiya, the southern Shi'ite suburb of Beirut.

This threat along with the unstable situation of Bashar Asad, makes Nasrallah seem like a person who gambled on the wrong horse, because when Asad falls, Nasrallah will become a persona non grata, and he will have to flee for his life from Lebanon.

Regional Implications

Undoubtedly, when the bloody Asad regime falls, the status of Hizb'Allah will be severely undermined, and so, with one slash of the sword, the Syrian tentacle and the Lebanese tentacle of the Iranian octopus will be cut off. This might cause an internal conflict for the ruling elite in Iran over the question of who is responsible for the Iranian gamble on Asad, and who is responsible for his abandonment and fall. Such a conflict might weaken the internal cohesion of the ayatollahs' regime and hasten its end.

An important question is how the Iranians will respond to such a situation. Will they accept this double misfortune of the fall of both Asad and Hizb'Allah as an edict from heaven or will they act energetically and decisively against Asad's opposition. In the current situation, they are capable of transferring large military forces - including armored divisions - to Syria via Iraq, because they control matters in Iraq almost completely, for the information of some people in the White House. The transit of the Iranian forces will be, of course, by official and totally legal invitation of the Iraqi and Syrian governments, just as the Saudi armed forces were officially and legally
"invited" into Bahrain to crush the demonstrations of the Shi'ite majority, in spite of Iranian objections. In such a case, will Turkey become involved by attacking the Iranian forces streaming into Syria via Iraq? Will the United States or NATO act? What will Israel do to prevent the Iranian army from lodging itself near the border of the Golan? And How will the world react to the streaming of Iranian forces into Syria if Iran declares that it possesses a nuclear weapon?

Another problem that it is hard to deal with, for the world in general and Israel in particular, is the situation in Jordan, because Iraq, which borders Jordan on the East, has become an honored member of the Iranian coalition this past year, after the withdrawal of NATO forces from Iraq. The Iranian army, entering Iraq with the consent of its government, could easily and quickly reach Jordan also, not only Syria, and from there, threaten Saudi Arabia and Israel as well.

Because of the possibility - even if it is remote - of a scenario such as this, Israel must firmly reject any suggestion to retreat from the Jordan Valley, because it is the only area where Israel can stop any foreign force, whether Iranian or Iraqi, that tries to attack Israel from the East. Any substantial military force that succeeds in crossing the Jordan Valley from the East to the West might bring the next war to the streets of Tel Aviv. 

It is enough to see the photographs of Homs, Damascus and Aleppo to get an idea how the streets of Tel Aviv and Haifa would look should such a scenario occur, and what Hizb'Allah does to Syrians in the streets of Homs, it would do to Israelis in Tel Aviv in Shenkin Street. I would ask whoever thinks that a scenario like this is delusional and impossible: two years ago, did anyone imagine a scenario in which Mubarak in Egypt, Qadhaffi in Libya, Ben 'Ali in Tunisia, Saleh in Yemen and perhaps Asad in Syria would all be overthrown?

This is why the world must ensure that the coalition of Iran, Asad and Hizb'Allah will end up in the trash heap of history as soon as possible, so that when armed with nuclear weapons, and having no moral limitations, they will not be able to repeat the
atrocities that they committed in Homs and Aleppo in other countries.


Dr. Kedar is available for lectures in the U.S. and Canada 

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

Translated from Hebrew by Sally Zahav.

Links to Dr. Kedar's recent articles on this blog:

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

Syrian Air Defense Bases, Chemical Plant, Seized By Opposition Forces

by L. Barkan and Y. Yehoshu


In the past few weeks, there have been increasing reports that the forces fighting the Syrian regime have seized control of air defense bases of the Syrian military, and have captured considerable quantities of weapons and ammunition, including missiles and missile launchers, mortars and radars. During some of the takeover operations, the regime bombarded the bases in order to destroy them before they fell into rebel hands. The operations came to a head last weekend (on October 12-13, 2012), when three air defense bases in the Damascus, Aleppo and Homs regions fell to the rebels. 

In most of the cases, the seizure operations were carried out by the main fighting force of the opposition, the Free Syrian Army (FSA). However, in the case of one base near Aleppo, it was reported that jihadi forces had also participated in the takeover.  

In addition, the Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar has reported that armed opposition forces have seized control of a plant that fills tanks with liquid chlorine gas, which can be used as a lethal chemical weapon.

FSA Takes Over Air Defense Bases In Damascus, Homs Regions

During October 2012, the FSA in the Damascus region has often reported on the takeover of air defense bases in the Eastern Ghouta (a rural region east of the capital), and the capturing of Syrian soldiers as well as weapons and gear, including missiles, launchers and radars. The FSA's military council in Damascus and its suburbs reported that FSA battalions had seized bases in this region on October 1[1] and again on October 4.[2] The council also released videos of the operations.

From a video documenting the October 1 FSA takeover of an air defense base near Al-Ash'ari[3]

According to another report, FSA battalions took over another air defense base in the region on October 8. A video of this operation was also published, showing the captured base and the weapons seized. 

FSA soldiers pose on top of a missile launcher in a captured air defense base

On October 13, 2012, four FSA battalions seized control of yet another air defense base near Al-Otaibah in the same region. According to a report by the FSA military council in Damascus, this takeover was achieved after a difficult eight-hour battle in which government forces attacked the FSA fighters from the ground and air, but the latter nevertheless prevailed and proceeded to capture soldiers and weapons, including anti-aircraft and other missiles, tanks and mortars.[5] In a video of the captured base released by the council, the cameraman is heard saying: "These are the missiles that the FSA seized on October 13, 2012, and which were aimed at the Syrian people instead of Israel... Now they belong to the FSA, and they will be aimed at Assad's heart."[6]

FSA video shows radar, missile and launcher captured at the Al-Otaibah base[7]

On the same day, the FSA's Al-Ghouta Armored Brigade reported attacking a convoy of Assad's air defense forces in the region that had set out from Shab'a in the Eastern Ghouta. According to the report, many soldiers were killed in the attack and missiles were seized.

Missile seized from military convoy

October 13 also saw the capture of an air defense base in Deir Foul near Al-Rastan in the Homs district.[9] The commander of the FSA military council in Homs, Qassem Sa'd Al-Din, told the French news agency AFP that the seizure of the Deir Foul base had "provided [the militants] with new ammunition" that would help them break the siege on Homs.[10]

It should be noted that the various reports give the impression that the FSA does not operate as a unified body with a definite hierarchy, and that its headquarters in Turkey, headed by Riyadh Al-As'ad, have no control over the battalions in the field. In fact, the FSA forces have often declared explicitly that they do not take orders from the commanders in Turkey and that they have the autonomy to decide their own moves.[11] Moreover, though they all call themselves "FSA," these forces do not seem to coordinate their actions, but rather to function as a loose collection of battalions and brigades, each operating in its own district.

Reports On Joint FSA, Jihadi Attacks In The Aleppo Area

While the seizure of air defense bases in the Damascus and Homs areas involved the FSA exclusively, similar actions that took place on October 12 in the Al-Ta'aneh area near Aleppo reportedly involved jihadi forces as well, such as the Al-Fajr movement, which is a union of several fighting groups; Jund Al-Islam, which is one of these groups, and the well-known jihadi organization Jabhat Al-Nusra.

The Facebook page for the Al-Umayyad Brigade,[12] which was formed in September 2012 out of FSA battalions operating in Aleppo, reported during the operation in Al-Ta'aneh that its fighters had infiltrated the air defense base near Aleppo along with members of these three jihad organizations. In a video published after the operation, the FSA fighters describe the takeover as a joint action with Jabhat Al-Nusra and the Al-Fajr movement, and displayed three captured soldiers.[13]
Al-Umayyad Brigade Facebook page reports the joint action with Jabhat Al-Nusra and the Al-Fajr movement.[14]

Jihadi forces also reported on the operation, but did not mention any collaboration with the FSA. In a message it posted on jihadi websites, the Al-Fajr movement claimed that Jund Al-Islam (which belongs to it) had carried out the operation in collaboration with Jabhat Al-Nusra. The message read: "Today Allah has allowed us to conquer [the base of] the air defense battalion near Al-Ta'aneh... The preparations [for this operation] took over a month. Observations of the base were carried out several times during the night and day, which is very dangerous and a bold challenge [of the regime]. Then we formulated the final plan, choosing three routes of attack..." [15]

Message by the Al-Fajr movement and Jund Al-Islam claiming responsibility for the attack[16]

From the video attached to the Al-Fajr movement's message[17]

It should be mentioned that the Al-Fajr movement, one of the Salafi movements active in Syria, was most likely established this April, and began military actions in June. As mentioned above, it consists of several armed groups, including Jund Al-Islam, which was established in early October. The latter's founding announcement indicates that it is a hard-line Salafi group which pursues an Islamist agenda, including the establishment of an Islamic state. The announcement read: "Jund Al-Islam was founded as part of a union of several military battalions and civilian groups that believe... that the Islamic shari'a is the system that governs human [actions]... that governing is for Allah alone, and that the regime must be based on Islamic law... [The organization's] primary target is the establishment of the state of Islam and reinstating Islamic shari'a in all walks of life... In order to achieve its goals, the organization will utilize all means permitted by the shari'a, whether through jihad or through da'wa..."[18]

Image accompanying the Al-Fajr movement's claim of responsibility, with Jund Al-Islam logo.[19]

The same image from the Al-Fajr movement's Facebook page, with the Al-Fajr movement logo.[20]

On the other hand, a report posted October 12 on the Syrian oppositionist website Sooryoon ascribed the operation to Jabhat Al-Nusra alone, without mentioning the involvement of either the FSA or of other jihad organizations.[21] Al-Jazeera reporter Ahmad Zaidan, who reported from the base, likewise described it as being under the control of Jabhat Al-Nusra, whose members, he said, had declined to reveal their faces or speak on camera.[22] However, as of this writing, Jabhat Al-Nusra itself has not published any official announcement on its involvement in the attack, unlike in the case of previous operations.[23] However, the Facebook page for "The Supporters of Jabhat Al-Nusra," which is not an official organization page, posted live updates during the operation and mentioned that it took place in collaboration with the Al-Fajr movement.[24]

Despite the ideological discrepancies between the FSA and the jihadis, collaboration between them is not exclusive to this operation. The Facebook page for the FSA's Al-Tawhid Brigade reported on October 11 that the brigade, along with Jabhat Al-Nusra and independent Islamist fighting forces, had been besieging the air defense battalion in the rural area of Kafr Takharim in the Idlib province for two days.[25] The Facebook page for "The Supporters of Jabhat Al-Nusra" reported three days later that the siege on the regiment was continuing with the participation of Jabhat Al-Nusra, the Al-Tawhid Brigade and other forces.[26]

Moreover, a review article on the opposition forces in Aleppo, published a few months ago in The Washington Post, stated that "no significant schism" existed between the fighters of Jabhat al-Nusra and the more-secular units. According to the article, the commander of Jabhat Al-Nusra in Aleppo said that his men worked together with the FSA and maintained "good coordination" with it. The spokesman of the Revolutionary Council in Aleppo said: "And although many in the Free Syrian Army say they reject the ideology of Islamist extremism, the fighters of Jabhat al-Nusra are regarded as heroes in Aleppo. They fight without fear or hesitation."[27] Several days ago, an opposition activist in Aleppo told the BBC: "The Islamist groups are helping us to get back our rights, whereas the West is watching from the sidelines."[28]

Despite evidence of collaboration between the jihadis and the FSA, they appear to be competing for media credit for these operations. There is no official acknowledgement of joint operations, and the announcements by individual groups after the operations often ignore the involvement of other forces. Such omissions are also occasionally apparent on the general media, and have triggered criticism. A Facebook page posting updates from Homs recently criticized Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya for ignoring the participation of the FSA in the Al-Ta'aneh operation. When the FSA's Al-Umayyad Brigade later published a video taking responsibility for the operation, this page posted a message stating: "This is the proof that the Al-Umayyad brigade participated in the operation to liberate [the base of] the air defense battalion, even though Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya [attributed] the operation to Jabhat Al-Nusra. Help us spread this [video] clip to all channels, so that no one participating in the campaign to liberate Syria loses their rights, since the media is marginalizing us."[29]

Syrian Regime Bombards Air Defense Bases To Prevent Rebel Takeover

It should be mentioned that during rebel attacks on bases, the regime army often bombards the bases to prevent them falling to the rebels. An FSA announcement of the seizure of the air defense base in the Damascus area on October 13 states that the operation succeeded "despite ongoing bombardment by Mig aircraft, helicopters, and canon..." The announcement was accompanied by videos showing the base being bombarded by the regime army.[30]

Evidence of this is also found in reports by jihadi fighters. The announcement of the takeover of the base in Aleppo stated that "the operation ended at 3:00 AM, and the jets increased their attacks to insane levels in order to destroy the battalion and its equipment, paying no heed to the [soldiers] stranded there. Then Allah the Almighty sent a heavy fog that the brothers used as cover to retreat to safety without being hit by the shells..."[31]

An editorial on the Syrian oppositionist website Sooryoon attacked the regime for this strategy and called on the rebels to defend the anti-aircraft weapons: "Within two days, the sectarian regime in Syria has lost three air defense battalions, which possess missiles and large quantities of combat equipment paid for with the Syrian people's money, sweat and effort in order to fight the Zionists. After all this, the Qarmatian[32] regime in Syria is losing its control over them and is destroying them with its jets. This is what we have seen in Homs, Damascus and Aleppo... Our advice to our Syrian brothers-in-jihad is to make great efforts to defend the anti-aircraft [missiles], in hopes that we will manage to transfer them to defensible areas. We will need them, oh heroes. Assuming this is possible for you..."[33]

A burnt missile in the aftermath of the FSA and jihadi takeover of the air defense base in Aleppo[34]

Lebanese Daily: Armed Opposition Forces Have Taken Over Chemical Plant

In addition to the capture of air defense bases by rebel forces, the Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar, which is close to Hizbullah, has cited "a reliable source" as saying that armed opposition forces have taken over the only plant in Syria that specializes in filling liquid chlorine tanks. The plant is located 40 kilometers east of Aleppo, near the Euphrates River, on the Al-Raka road. It was claimed that the plant has large 100-kilogram chlorine tanks, each of them "capable of destroying a town of 25,000 people."

According to the source, the regime, after discovering that opposition forces had taken over the plant, asked international observers who were in Syria at the time to intervene, fearing that the rebels would use the chlorine for military purposes. The rebels reportedly refused to allow the observers to remove the chlorine tanks from the plant, but agreed to evacuate it and declare it a "sealed zone," while retaining control of the area where the plant is located.

The daily expressed the Syrian regime's fear that the chlorine could still be used militarily, since the rebels retain control of the area. The article said: "The opposition still possesses the option of chemical weapons if it chooses to break the promise it made... enter the factory, empty the chlorine gas from the large tanks into [explosive] charges or smaller tanks, and use it for military purposes."[35]

* L. Barkan is a research fellow at MEMRI; Y. Yehoshua is Director of MEMRI.ORG

[1], October 2, 2012. The report specified that the bases were in the Al-Ash'ari area.
[2], October 4, 2012.
[4] See video at:, October 8, 2012.
[5], October 13, 2012.
[6], October 14, 2012.
[7], October 14, 2012.
[10], October 13, 2012.
[11] Recently, however, some of the FSA top commanders have returned to Syria, which might strengthen their ties with the fighters there.
[14], October 12, 2012. It should be noted that a previous announcement, from October 11, mentioned collaboration with Jund Al-Islam.
[15] Shumoukh Al-Islam,, October 13, 2012.
[16] Shumoukh Al-Islam, October 13, 2012.
[17] See MEMRI TV clip No. 3605, Rebels Seize Control of Syrian Air Defense Base and Missiles, October 12, 2012.
[19], October 13, 2012.
[21], October 12, 2012.
[23] In the past, the organization has taken responsibility for major attacks against the Syrian regime, such as attacks on security service and military headquarters in the heart of Damascus and in Aleppo.
[27] The Washington Post (USA), August 20, 2012.
[28], October 14, 2012.
[30], October 13, 2012.
[31], October 13, 2012.
[32] The Qarmatians were members of a ninth century Shi'ite-Isma'ili sect that rebelled against the 'Abbasid caliph and sacked Mecca, desecrating its holy places.   
[33], October 14, 2012.
[35] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), October 13, 2012.

L. Barkan and Y. Yehoshu


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

Debunking the Claim that Obama Could Not Have Affected the Islamist Takeovers

by Barry Rubin


One argument we will be increasingly hearing is that President Barack Obama couldn’t have done anything to change events in the Middle East. This is ironic of course because when things were going well he wanted to take credit as the inspiration for the “Arab Spring.”

Let’s remember that the president began with three acts that foreshadowed what was to come. He gave a speech in Cairo in which Muslim Brotherhood leaders were seated at the front, thus making it impossible for Egyptian government officials to attend. Obama thus not only declared himself on the side of the opposition but of the Islamist opposition.

What’s even important but never noticed was something critical Obama did. In discussing the Middle East and the Arabic-speaking world he exalted Islamic identity. Remember that for six decades national, i.e., Arab, identity that had dominated. True, it was used by dictatorships and for demagogic, anti-American purposes.

Now, however, here was an American president declaring that religious identity should dominate. This was an action against both the existing regimes but also against the moderate opposition forces.

After the demonstrations in Egypt began In January 2011 the U.S. State Department, with the approval of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, advocated a policy in line with traditional U.S. strategy. They would work with the military to institute reforms and more freedom while jettisoning the aged, ineffective President Husni Mubarak. But they opposed the dismantling of the regime.

The White House rejected that approach and  publicly declared its desire for Egypt’s fundamental transformation. Anyone who knew Egypt should have and could have predicted this meant Islamist dominance. Yet the administration rejected the idea that this might happen. Indeed, without being asked, Obama publicly stated that he had no problem with a Muslim Brotherhood government taking power. Obama deliberately didn’t consult with the leaders of Israel, Jordan, or Saudi Arabia because he didn’t want to hear their warnings about the risks he was taking and their opposition to what he was doing. He had already decided that a Brotherhood regime would be his preferred outcome.
By such actions, Obama conveyed to the military that it could not expect U.S. support and made it impossible for the generals to try to retain control over events. Indeed, in the following months, U.S. policy under Obama’s direction constantly criticized the military and called for a quick transition.

But that did not mean that the Obama Administration supported the moderate opposition. Reportedly, U.S. programs that helped prepare political forces for elections and taught them lessons about organizing were directed to the Brotherhood, not the liberals. There was certainly no systematic effort to help the moderates.

Indeed, in briefings to Congress and the media literally every day in 2011 and throughout 2012, the Obama Administration—under the president’s supervision—whitewashed the Brotherhood as a moderate organization. Anti-American speeches by Brotherhood leaders, calls for Jihad against Israel, extremist actions, and support for violence against U.S. soldiers in Iraq were all ignored. The best known example was intelligence director James Clapper’s declaration that the Brotherhood was a secular, moderate group.

What America says and does has more influence in the region than many Americans think. If local forces fear the United States or think it involved in conspiracies against them (rightly or wrongly) that influences their behavior. They act more cautiously. Moderates and anti-Islamist military officers may be encouraged or demoralized to become more active and tough. In Obama’s case, he persuaded the anti-Islamist forces that he was on the other side and that they had no chance of winning.

Therefore, while of course the main determinant factors took place in Egypt, U.S. influence was considerable but was deployed to help the Brotherhood. If Obama had backed the Egyptian army it probably would have retained control, even while granting a lot more freedom and a role for elected authorities. If Obama had backed the moderates, they probably would have done much better in the elections.

So while, of course, the U.S. government and Obama are only responsible in part for what happened in Egypt, they did have real influence and that was provided to anti-American, radical, and antisemitic forces.

There are those who want to focus on the idea that this was on purpose because of Obama’s own views and nature. Such ideas are not provable and in a real sense aren’t important. What is important is to show that Obama’s actions were objectively against U.S. interests, made peace in the region less likely, and contributed toward creating new dictatorships.

The reason for this was the view held by the White House, National Security Council, CIA, and to a limited extent in the State Department that al-Qaida was the enemy but that other Islamist groups did not pose a threat because they did not seek to attack the United States directly. Out of ignorance in some cases and their own radicalism in others, Obama appointees claimed they could moderate hardline anti-American Islamists or at least the prospect of being in power would mellow them.

The second thing Obama did was his romance with the Islamist regime in Turkey. He constantly portrayed that government as his best friends in the region, despite their anti-American, anti-Israel actions. This conveyed the message that the United States could be easily suckered. Looking at Turkey, Arab Islamists concluded that the “Turkish model”—pretended moderation combined with continued but patient radicalism—could bring them to power. And that’s what happened in Egypt and elsewhere.

The way the Turkish regime broke that country’s army which, despite its long friendship with the United States, received no help from Obama was also a model for radicals in the Arabic-speaking world. I have it on good authority that when the Turkish generals explored the idea of bringing down a government they saw as destroying the republic, they got no sympathy in Washington. Hence, they gave up and patiently awaited their decapitation.

The third way Obama affected the regional situation and “Arab Spring” was by his clear expressions of weakness, his proud outspokenness about surrendering leadership, his apologies and criticisms of America. This translated into a belief by the radicals that the United States was collapsing and that it would no longer support the existing regimes. Thus, the moment for revolution had come and the radicals need not fear being put down by local governments deprived of U.S. backing.

Finally, there is the shocking strategy by which Obama turned over management of the Syrian civil war to the aforementioned Turkish Islamist regime, which wanted a Muslim Brotherhood government in that neighboring country. The United States thus threw its prestige behind an exile leadership dominated by the Syrian Brotherhood. If the group had not stumbled and been rejected by the internal revolutionary forces, Obama would have been parent to a Muslim Brotherhood government in Syria.

And afterward, Obama and his government made no effort to channel weapons to the anti-Islamist forces in Syria—defected officers, Kurdish nationalists, liberals, and apolitical instant warlords. Qatar and Turkey were allowed, under U.S. supervision, to arm the Brotherhood; Saudi Arabia gave weapons to the Salafists. No doubt if and when a Muslim Brotherhood regime takes over in Syria we will be told that this was beyond Obama’s control.

There are many other examples.  Obama stood silent as an Iranian opposition arose, took to the streets, and was crushed by the Islamist regime there. He did not lift a finger to help the moderate opposition in Lebanon. And when pro-Hamas activists launched a flotilla he pressured Israel to reduce sanctions on the radical Brotherhood regime in the Gaza Strip, thus ensuring it would stay in power.

In Libya, Obama basically determined the overthrow of the Muammar Qadhafi regime and the rebel victory in the civil war. He was father of a regime which is certainly not Islamist or anti-American but may either significantly appease or be overthrown by such forces. As the Libyan government’s patron, Americans will become the target of revolutionary Islamists who blame the United States for their rulers and understandably believe that attacking America is a necessary part of overthrowing them. That, of course, is why the U.S. ambassador was murdered.

While, of course, we should acknowledge that the United States had only so much influence over the Middle East during Obama’s term, that does not change the fact that it did have considerable influence. And it was largely used in the service of extremists, not moderates, of America’s enemies and not America’s friends.

This article originally appeared on PJMedia.

Barry Rubin


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

Iran Further Expanding Enrichment Capacity

by News Agencies and Israel Hayom Staff

Estimates say Iran is two to four months away from having enough material to produce a nuclear bomb.
Photo credit: Reuters

News Agencies and Israel Hayom Staff


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

Benghazi: Emperor Obama's Waterloo?

by Daren Jonescu

It is now obvious that the U.S. government's original story about the Benghazi consulate attack, delivered by its two heaviest hitters, the president and secretary of state, was false, and, more importantly, that it was intended to deceive.  How can Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton outrun the scandal that now chases them, a scandal that makes Watergate look like cheating at tiddlywinks?  As if "Fast and Furious" weren't enough, the administration now gives America "Slow and Spurious." 

On the morning of September 12, Obama and Clinton gave a joint statement that every sentient being could immediately recognize as a pack of lies, delivered (particularly on Obama's part) with the conviction and intonation of a child actor doing a first read-through of a new script.  The president could not have projected less seriousness about the murder of his Libyan ambassador if he had delivered his speech wearing a propeller beanie.  (Of course, as we learned during the vice-presidential debate, someone else has dibs on that cap on weekdays.)

Though vague about details, Obama and Clinton were clear, unequivocal and emphatic about a few key points during that official statement: (1) this assault on the Libyan consulate was an expression of understandable anger in the Arab world about a YouTube video mocking Muhammad; (2) the American government will not tolerate any intolerance toward Islam; and (3) violence - even as an expression of understandable anger over "disgusting" and "offensive" YouTube videos - never solves anything.

The administration, through its various mouthpieces, continued to emphasize these three points over the days and weeks following the Libyan consulate assassination/movie review.  As time passed, however, and various truth missiles from beyond Washington's reach found their way through Obama's media defenses and into the American mainstream, the fissures in the government's official story became increasingly inescapable, even to those who had desperately hoped to help Obama escape them.

Obama himself, in his Univision town hall interview on September 21, fell back on his original script, connecting the attack to a "natural protest" ("natural"?) about a video, days after his own administration had begun to pull away from this script in the face of ridicule and exposure.  So indefensible has this grand lie become that Martha Raddatz, though thoroughly devoted to the task of holding Joe Biden's hand through his debate with Paul Ryan, was forced to begin the evening with a carefully worded question about the lie:
The State Department has now made clear there were no protesters there.  It was a pre-planned assault by heavily armed men.  Wasn't this a massive intelligence failure, Vice President Biden?

Biden's response, naturally, ignored the thrust of the question, repeating the usual talking points about "the ongoing investigation" before quickly moving on to praise the broader Obama foreign policy. 

But the phrasing of Raddatz's question is itself part of the issue.  Much like George Stephanopoulos' famous question to Obama regarding his relationship with Bill Ayers, it was designed and framed, not to discover anything, but to give the Democrat a chance to answer an unavoidable charge, and then move on.

Notice that the question was not, "Why did Obama and his surrogates run immediately to the media, to the American public, and to the UN, to blame a YouTube video and downplay any talk of a planned terrorist attack, when this was in fact an Al-Qaeda operation with no connection whatsoever to any video?"

"Intelligence failure" is a cute way of deflecting blame from the administration itself.  "Failure" suggests error and ignorance, rather than dishonesty and duplicity.  Blaming the "intelligence" is a clever attempt to produce some "fog of history" around the initial moments of this story, in the hope that the public will accept the inaccuracy of the administration's official narrative as an honest mistake. 

But the primary scandal here, masked by the establishment media's new "intelligence failure" trope, is not that an assault on the Libyan consulate occurred "without warning" -- there was warning -- but rather that the government knowingly and repeatedly lied about the attack's cause and meaning.

Candy Crowley's unconscionable intervention into the second presidential debate, falsely affirming that President Obama attributed the Benghazi attack to pre-meditated terror in his September 12 Rose Garden address, has merely served to keep in the public eye the trail of deception and misdirection as the administrations scrambles to reconcile its multiple conflicting stories about the terror attack.

Do a quick internet search about the Arab protests over the YouTube video.  You will find that every story is dated September 11 or later.  No one was talking about this video at all prior to that time frame.  How did it become the administration's convenient "root cause" cover story in the hours after the Benghazi attack?  And why were they so quick and unequivocal in embracing a storyline which, as we now know, was completely unsupported by any facts?

The video -- a purported "trailer" for an alleged film -- was posted on YouTube in July.  No one saw it or cared, until, on September 8, Sheikh Khaled Abdullah, a host on the Egyptian Islamist TV station Al-Nas, played an excerpt from it on the air.  (Note: Al-Nas altered the video, blurring out a female character, because they do not allow women to be seen on the air.)

Three days later, which just happened to be September 11 ("don't jump to conclusions," the White House warned), a larger than usual group of "protesters" swarmed the American embassy in Cairo.  As Ian Lee, the CNN reporter on the scene, noted during his live report from Cairo that day, this was "not the usual crowd that we see at most protests," but rather "definitely a very Islamic-looking crowd -- we see a lot of men in their traditional garb." 

Members of this "very Islamic-looking crowd" tore down the embassy's American flag and replaced it with a black al-Qaeda flag. 

Then, within hours, came the "intelligence failure" in Libya, in which hundreds of armed movie critics, knowing exactly where to look, attacked both the U.S. consulate and an alternate safe-house location, killing the ambassador and three of his protectors -- protectors who, as Lieutenant-Colonel Andrew Wood reveals, were woefully undermanned and ill-armed, due to the administration's explicit refusal to provide requested reinforcement, and the State Department's explicit demand to stop asking for reinforcement. 

By September 12, mainstream media sources from everywhere but the United States were reporting on this attack as an al-Qaeda plot carried out behind the thin cover of "ordinary protesters."  These media sources were relying on statements from members of the Libyan government, reports from witnesses on the scene, and even statements from "U.S. officials." 

For example, Reuters, while spouting Obama's official line, also neglected, in the confusion of those early hours, to delete the actual reporting that had slipped into its original story:
U.S. government officials said the Benghazi attack may have been planned in advance and there were indications that members of a militant faction calling itself Ansar al Sharia -- which translates as Supporters of Islamic Law -- may have been involved.
They also said some reporting from the region suggested that members of Al-Qaeda's north Africa-based affiliate, known as Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, may have been involved.
Ansar al-Sharia has been identified as the name of a variety of al-Qaeda front groups.  Within hours of the attack, while many of the details remained understandably confused, and while the White House was preparing its official position -- to paraphrase, "we despise our deplorable infidels as much as you do, so please stop killing our ambassadors" -- the BBC was reporting eye-witness accounts of Ansar al-Sharia's involvement. 

On September 11, the Daily Telegraph described al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri's message, issued on September 10, calling for jihadists to "puncture" America's arrogance in revenge for the death of Libyan al-Qaeda commander Abu Yahya al-Libi.  The next day, following the murder of Ambassador Stevens, the Telegraph observed, pointedly, that (a) Zawahiri's message of September 10 was too late to have provoked such a carefully planned and successfully staged attack, and (b) the calls for protests against the video seemed to have fallen on deaf ears in Libya, as no protest took place in the capital, Tripoli, where the actual U.S. embassy is located. 

The efforts, in the days immediately preceding September 11, of a hard line Egyptian Islamist broadcaster, along with the official head of al-Qaeda, to drum up protests and anger against the evil empire, in conjunction with the well-orchestrated attack in Benghazi on the very day those protests were to be staged, suggests more than an opportunistic connection between the two.  Rather, it seems plausible that Islamists were attempting to stoke general public protests as a smokescreen for their assault team(s), or perhaps that they hoped, having drawn a crowd, to commandeer the assembled mob in order to swell their jihadist numbers, in a well-known strategy of militant revolutionary groups worldwide.  (This technique was attempted by the Weather Underground, for example, during Chicago's Days of Rage in 1969.)

The key to this Slow and Spurious scandal, however, is that all of this information -- Libyan officials' descriptions of a planned attack, eye-witness accounts of armed Ansar al-Sharia militants approaching the consulate, the direct involvement of al-Qaeda's leader in calling for revenge for the death of a Libyan commander, repeated requests from Ambassador Stevens and his security team for more resources, and, obviously, the fact that this was the eleventh anniversary of September 11, 2001 -- was readily accessible to the entire world on September 12.  And yet on that same day Obama and Clinton, who would have had access to all of this information and more, issued their joint statement explicitly blaming the whole thing on a cheap video exhibiting disrespect for Islam, a narrative the administration and its media enablers attempted to cling to for weeks, while the rest of the world -- along with Americans who seek their information beyond the bubble of the American legacy media -- was learning more and more about the horrors and indignities of the ambassador's murder, and the extent of the planning and security breaches that made it possible. (More on this latter issue from James Lewis at American Thinker.)

Hundreds of armed men carried out a carefully planned attack in a public place.  Many witnesses described the events.  U.S. and Libyan personnel who were at the scene, and survived, were already being debriefed on the attack. 

The real question is not, "Wasn't this a massive intelligence failure?"  The administration's new template of "intelligence failure" is just a convenient and untenable diversion from the central issue.

Rather, the real questions are: Why did the president and the secretary of state try to hide the facts about this attack, facts that were being reported by mainstream media sources in Europe and Canada from day one?  Why did they try to deny that this was a planned al-Qaeda operation?  Why did they repeatedly recite and disseminate the script about a "deplorable" video, and their disavowal of "religious intolerance," when they knew that Ambassador Stevens' death had nothing to do with any video, or any slight against Islam?  Why did the world have to suffer through weeks of conflicting and contradictory tales from the administration, as they tripped all over each other trying to conceal their own obfuscations? 

Current events reveal the complete and tragic disaster of Obama's Middle East policy of combining appeasement, apology, and empathy for Islamists with showy targeted attacks on individual terrorists.  This policy has turned most of the region into civilization jihad's playground, and signaled open season on representatives of the self-emasculated Great Satan.  The Bush policy may have been foolish.  The Obama policy is suicidal. 

The coordinated and concerted effort to conceal the relevant facts about the Libyan attack is merely the final and most egregious lie in the continuing cover-up of the realities of Arab Spring, and the Obama administration's complicity in this reality.  And this cover-up is, in turn, just one facet of the sparkling jewel of subterfuge, concealment, and untruth that is the Obama presidency.

Will the Benghazi cover-up become Obama's Waterloo?  If so, then it is fitting that in this Battle of Waterloo, the role of the Duke of Wellington, the emperor's nemesis, will be played by Truth itself, which, as Shakespeare wrote, will out.

Daren Jonescu


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