Saturday, November 24, 2012

How Wars End


by Dore Gold

At a time when the political discourse in Israel is focusing on how the current operation in Gaza should have come to an end, it is useful to look at a classic book on international affairs called "Every War Must End." The author of this study is Fred Ikle, who was not only an undersecretary of defense in the Reagan administration, but also a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the head of the prestigious RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, Calif.

The book really is about what perpetuates wars unnecessarily. Ikle’s analysis was written with the Vietnam War in mind, but he has revised it since then. He appears to have been mainly concerned with how states handle guerrilla wars. Some of its principles are useful to review in the Israeli context, if mistakes that many other countries have made are to be avoided. 

Ikle’s first principle is that the purpose of the use of force is to defeat the military forces of the enemy. This is not as obvious as it seems. Many states locked into difficult guerrilla wars eventually turn to “punishment” strategies that are used to break the will of their adversaries, or what he calls “peace through escalation.” When a state is stuck in what appears to be a stalemate, there will always be people who look for more extreme solutions, hoping that the use of more force will change the situation fundamentally.

Ikle reminds his readers that the use of force against the civilian population will not work. Despotic rulers will not seek peace simply because his soldiers and civilians are suffering from the war. The U.S. tried punishment strategies in the Korean War against Kim Il-sung and in the Vietnam War against Ho Chi Minh and failed to get either leader to seek a peaceful outcome. The Iranians tried to punish Iraq’s allies in the Iran-Iraq War by striking their oil infrastructures, but by expanding the conflict they only brought in the U.S. against them.

Thus there are unintended side effects for a state adopting punishment strategies that can be totally self-defeating. In the current Gaza conflict, it is Hamas that is using a punishment strategy by striking larger numbers of Israeli cities and reaching northward as far as Tel Aviv and the outskirts of Jerusalem. But what Hamas has done is to create far greater solidarity on the Israeli side rather than break the will of the Israeli public. Rather than splitting the Israeli public it has put Tel Aviv and Ashdod in the same boat, thereby forming a strong Israeli consensus for waging a war to stop the rocket attacks.

A second issue that Ikle raises that perpetuates modern wars is the existence of outside support for the guerrilla forces a state might be fighting. This is not just a matter of the supply of weapons or funding, it is has a broader impact on the morale of guerrilla fighters involved in an insurgency against a well-equipped army. If they are isolated and have no reinforcements coming they are psychologically more prone to halt their fight.

Israel has acquired experience in this area in the last decade. One of the cardinal strategic errors in the 2005 Disengagement was the decision of Prime Minister Sharon to withdraw Israel’s military presence from the Philadelphi Route along the Gaza-Sinai border, after which the number of supply tunnels increased dramatically. Prior to the Disengagement, only short-range rockets were fired at Israel, like the Qassam, that was manufactured in Gaza. But in 2006, suddenly the longer-range Grad rocket that is manufactured in Iran was fired for the first time at Ashkelon, indicating how the improved lines of supply to Hamas was changing the battlefield. 

It became extremely difficult to reach a decisive outcome in the war in Gaza and defeat Hamas as long as it had this link to external sources of supply, like Iran. In comparison, the IDF was able to defeat Hamas and other organizations in the West Bank in 2002, during Operation Defensive Shield, partly because their forces had no external source of supply. Israel continued to seal off the outer perimeter of the West Bank — the Jordan Valley — and did not pull out from this strategic area, as it had withdrawn from Philadelphi Route. As a result, the war in Gaza continued from the Disengagement until today, while no such armed conflict on a similar scale erupted in the West Bank. 

There is a third issue that Ikle raises that sometimes keeps conflicts going for longer than they should: a pessimistic outlook in Western democracies has taken hold that guerrilla forces cannot be defeated. As a result many people tend to doubt the ability of their own armed forces to win modern wars and popular support for guerrilla conflicts tends to evaporate very quickly. 

In Israel it is frequently stated that “only a political process can vanquish terrorism.” But what happens to “political solutions” when Israel confronts an organization like Hamas that is unwilling to compromise on its rigid ideology of muqawama and armed struggle against Israel?

Yaakov Amidror, who is now the National Security adviser, wrote a study showing that historically counterinsurgency wars have actually been won by the West when certain conditions were fulfilled. 

Amidror reviewed the U.S. victory in the Philippines in 1954, the British victory in Malaya in 1952 and that in Oman in the 1970s as classic textbook cases. More recently there was the counterinsurgency campaign waged by General David Petraeus, who converted what looked like an American defeat in Western Iraq to a victory against al-Qaida in 2007.

What emerges from all these theoretical writings is the obvious point that wars against terrorism come to an end if they are won. But it is important to remember that victory is not achieved in these kinds of wars with a photograph of the enemy emerging from a bunker holding a white flag. In Operation Defensive Shield in 2002, as Amidror wrote, the wave of suicide bombings that the Palestinians employed against Israel came to an end. That result alone constituted a victorious outcome.

In the Gaza conflict we just had [Operation Pillar of Defense], the stated goal of military operations was to bring to an end the constant rocket fire on Israel by Hamas and other organizations which receive sanctuary in the territory Hamas controls.

If the cease-fire stabilizes in the weeks ahead, then the IDF will have achieved its stated goal. But to preserve what it has accomplished, Israel and the U.S. will have to put in place arrangements for the Philadelphi Route to prevent Iran from replacing all the weaponry that Israel has destroyed. Closing the outer perimeter to a territory where an insurgency war is being waged has been proven time and again to be a prerequisite for assuring stability in the long term.

Hamas escalated its rocket war on Israel in 2011 and especially in 2012, largely because it felt that the regional balance of power had changed with the outbreak of the Arab Spring and the rise of Islamist regimes, especially in Egypt, where the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists became the dominant political force. It did not feel regionally isolated any longer. The Hamas leadership assumed that it could attack Israel while hiding behind the protective umbrella of President Muhammad Morsi of Egypt and Prime Minister Erdoğan of Turkey.

Israel demonstrated that nothing would deter it from exercising its right to self defense, even in the era of the Arab Spring. Hamas miscalculated. Essentially, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt felt strongly that now was the time for it to consolidate its control on power and not to get drawn into the military adventurism of Hamas, despite the full ideological identification of the former with the latter. But this change appears to be tactical in nature.

Thus Egypt played a constructive role at the end of this round of conflict in the Gaza Strip, but it remains to be seen whether this shift becomes permanent or is only temporary. The ideological hostility of the Muslim Brotherhood movement in Egypt against Israel remains stronger than ever and was just demonstrated this week in statements made by its supreme guide, Mohammed Badie. In any case, Israel will continue to have to rely on itself for its security, backed by the national fortitude that the Israeli people convincingly demonstrated all throughout the Gaza crisis.

Dore Gold


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

Has the West Given Up on Isolating Hamas?

by Seth Mandel

Last month, I wrote about the danger Hamas poses to peace in the Middle East on a second, and relatively new, front: its newfound diplomatic clout in the region. Saudi Arabia first began dumping cash into Gaza, and was soon followed by Qatar doing the same—between them the countries just pledged nearly $1 billion in investment in the Strip. And Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has figured out that he wields more influence with the West as a mediator between Hamas and the Western world.

Always clearly, though quietly, opposed to the creation of a Palestinian state, the Arab world is no longer hiding it, choosing instead to garishly empower and enrich the entity that will make peace impossible. And so, as Egypt mediated an Israel-Hamas cease-fire this week, Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal also received a prime interview slot on CNN at the tail end of Operation Pillar of Defense. Did he use this time to feign moderation? On the contrary, Meshaal reads the support he’s getting from around the world as a signal that he need not moderate, nor claim to. Here is Christiane Amanpour asking Meshaal about a two-state solution and renouncing terrorism:
AMANPOUR: You say you would prefer the route that did not cause so much violence, so much death.
And yet, you say that you would accept a two-state solution, but that you will not recognize Israel’s right to exist.
Is that still the case?
MESHAAL (through translator): First of all, the offer must come from the attacker, from Israel, which has the arsenal, not from the victim. Second, I say to you from 20 years ago and more, the Palestinians and Arabs are offering peace. But peace is destroying peace through aggression and war and killing.
This idea (ph), this touch failed experiences, we have two options. No other. Either there’s an international will, led by the U.S. and Europe and the international community and force Israel to go through the way of peace and a Palestinian state, according to the border of 1967 with the right to return. And this is something we have agreed upon as Palestinians, as a common program.
But if Israel can continue to refuse this, either the — either we force them or resist to — resort to resistance. I accept a state of the 1967. How can I accept Israel? They have occupied my land. I need recognition, not the Israelis. This is a reversed question.
The Palestinian right of return Meshaal talks about is obviously the end of the state of Israel. And if Israel won’t agree to let the Palestinians control the land from the river to the sea, “we force them or… resort to resistance.”

Later, Amanpour asks Meshaal if the conflict in Syria and Bashar al-Assad’s support from Iran has caused Hamas to distance itself from Iran. Meshaal answers frankly: “No. You see, the relationship with Iran is present.” And not just Iran, and not just the Arab world, either. Meshaal adds: “Everyone giving us support, whether it’s from Iran or Europe.”

When George Mitchell stepped down as White House envoy to the Middle East in 2011, Walter Russell Mead wrote an essay about the failure to make any headway during Mitchell’s tenure. Mitchell famously tried to apply his experience as a negotiator in Northern Ireland to the Middle East, and Mead gave several reasons this was doomed from the start. But there were, as Mead noted, lessons to be learned from the situation in Northern Ireland. Among them:
The Irish weren’t secretly funding radical and rejectionist nationalist terror groups.  Iceland and Denmark weren’t funding Irish terrorists to advance their own agendas.  France wasn’t encouraging the IRA to fight on as a way of containing Britain.  Catholics around the world weren’t demonstrating and raising money for Irish annexation of Ulster; the Pope wasn’t issuing encyclicals affirming the religious duty of Catholics to fight to kick the heretics out.  (A few grizzled US-based Irish emigrants raised money for the IRA, but this is nothing compared to what groups like Hamas get from abroad.)  The European Union wasn’t condemning British war crimes in Ulster and passing resolutions in favor of Irish grievances.
The EU, the US, Ireland, the Vatican and Britain all wanted the troubles to stop.  None of them were willing to help troublemakers.  All of them were willing to crack down on terrorist groups.
The international community wanted peace and the end of terrorism. But watching Meshaal preen on CNN, promising an unending war of terror against Israeli civilians while at the same time and in practically the same breath boasting of the support Hamas receives from around the world, it’s clear there is no such dedication this time around. Hamas’s isolation was always a key to bringing some measure of peace to the region. There is no isolation, and Hamas is promising that there will be no peace.

Seth Mandel


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

Egyptian Democracy Protesters Firebomb Islamist Al Jazeera in Tahrir Square

by Daniel Greenfield

Al Jazeera is the voice of the Islamist Qatar regime. And Qatar is the paymaster of terror. Qatari money and propaganda from its pet propaganda network broadcast around the Middle East and the world helped make the Arab Spring happen and then be hijacked by the Islamists.

Now it appears that Egyptian democracy protesters have firebombed Al Jazeera’s offices in Tahrir Square for the network’s agenda of backing the tyrannical Muslim Brotherhood takeover of Egypt.
Egyptian protesters firebombed one of the offices of satellite broadcaster al-Jazeera in the third day of violence in central Cairo.
The protesters attacked the studio overlooking Tahrir square with Molotov cocktails and petrol bombs early Wednesday, leaving it gutted by fire hours later, witnesses said.
Disgruntled youth and security forces have been clashing in the area since Monday, with protesters hurling stones and firebombs and security forces firing birdshot and tear gas into the crowd. Some protesters had been accusing al-Jazeera of bias in support of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s most powerful political force from which President Mohammed Morsi hails.

Daniel Greenfield


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The Absurdity of Treating a Terrorist Gang Like a State

by Bruce Thornton

The currently suspended missile duel between Israel and Hamas exposes yet again the surreal absurdity of the way the international community handles this conflict between a democratic state and a terrorist gang. Yesterday’s cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas is another example of the folly of treating a bunch of murderers like a legitimate government.

Consider, for example, the way a terrorist outfit like Hamas, self-defined in its charter by its genocidal goals, is treated as if it were a legitimate state. But Hamas is not a government that rules over a sovereign territory defined by international borders. If you want a recent graphic illustration of Hamas’ true nature, peruse this video of the aftermath of the summary execution of 6 accused “collaborators.” Or consider Hamas’ official television coverage of this week’s terrorist bombing of a bus in Israel. Or contemplate the barbarity of using its own “citizens” as human shields for its munitions dumps and rocket launchers. Calling Hamas honcho Ismail Haniyeh a “Prime Minister,” as virtually every world government and news organization does, doesn’t mean he is actually a prime minister, no matter how many elections are held. These titles and voting procedures do not constitute a legitimate government that should be recognized as such by the world community as though it respects international laws and treaties like the Geneva Conventions. Let alone should this façade of political legitimacy rationalize the millions of dollars Western governments give to Hamas under the guise of U.N. aid for social services, freeing up funds for purchasing weapons and munitions.

The same pretence of state legitimacy is equally absurd in the case of Palestinian “President” Mahmoud Abbas, the holocaust-denying head of the Palestinian Authority, which is recognized as the sole representative of the Palestinians instead of the terrorist Palestinian Liberation Organization ever since the cosmetic makeover brought about by the 1993 Oslo Accords. The PA is still just another terrorist gang, as demonstrated by its frequent honoring of terrorist murderers by naming streets and parks after them, and its clinging to the goal of destroying Israel through demands for territorial concessions and the “right of return” for an endlessly growing number of “refugees.” As such, the PA’s main functions include peddling to the international community the “two-state” and “nationalist aspirations” canard in order to delegitimize Israel and obtain money, and to distribute to its people whatever international financial aid is left over after PA fatcats have skimmed their take. Yet today as in the past, the U.S. is intervening in the current conflict to ensure that Abbas rather than Hamas is the “primary interlocutor with the international community,” as the Wall Street Journal reported, because it allegedly is more “legitimate” and “moderate”––the only sign of its moderation being that it believes Israel should be destroyed later rather than sooner.

Of course, totalitarian regimes for decades have appropriated the government titles and offices of legitimate governments, but at least a state like the laughably named Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea actually controls a recognized territory defined by international borders (except for the armistice line in the south). That hypocrisy is bad enough, but extending it to terrorists whose sole foundation for existence is the destruction of a neighboring legitimate nation compounds hypocrisy with delusion. It demands that superficial nomenclature substitute for reality. After all, as Plato pointed out, a gang of thieves behaves “democratically” when it divvies up the loot. But that machinery does not signify the presence of the principles and beliefs that constitute legitimate government.

That absurdity leads to another––the “negotiations” and “diplomacy” in which legitimate and technically legitimate states participate when dealing with this terrorist gang. This absurdity is compounded when one of those states is Egypt and its rulers the Muslim Brotherhood. Asking Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi to intercede with its offspring Hamas is akin to asking Hitler in early1938 to intercede with its stooge Sudeten Nazi Party to stop its violence against the government of Czechoslovakia. Morsi does not object to Hamas’ rain of missiles on principle. Indeed, the Iranian Fajr-5 missiles able to hit Tel Aviv reached Gaza by transiting Egyptian territory on their way from Sudan. No, the Egyptians are trying to restrain Hamas on tactical grounds. Given that the Muslim Brothers have not yet consolidated its power or control over the army, and that Egypt is near bankruptcy and dependent on a promised $9 billion in aid from the EU, the IMF, and the U.S., Morsi doesn’t need Hamas and Islamic Jihad causing problems right now. And his role in mediating the cease-fire has endowed this soldier in the “grand jihad” against the West immense international praise and prestige.

And how despicable is it to watch a state like Turkey, a member of NATO and thus an ally of the U.S., send its foreign minister to Gaza to show “solidarity with the Palestinian nation’s [sic] suffering”? Or to hear its Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan––Obama’s international BFF he’s scheduled to visit soon––say, “Israel is a terror state and its acts are terrorist acts”? Isn’t anyone else disgusted by this spectacle of “solidarity” with an actual terrorist outfit whose foundational charter calls for genocide, and that indiscriminately rains missiles down on its neighbor? There is no doubt that Hamas is emboldened in its intransigence by this diplomatic support from legitimate states, or visits by U.N. chief Ban Ki-Moon, or news agencies like CNN interviewing Hamas foreign policy spokesman Osama Hamdan, all of which are as important as the rockets and other weapons provided by Iran.

Yet despite this manifest absurdity of treating a gang of murderers as though it were a legitimate state, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton jetted to the region, putting the full force of American prestige to securing a cease-fire agreement with such a gang, one that regards such agreements as mere tactics that allow the ongoing war of extermination against Israel to continue. Equally disturbing is the price America will pay for Egypt and Turkey’s help in bringing about this for now vague, fragile cease-fire that’s supposed to be enforced by the same Egyptian government that allowed the most dangerous rockets into Gaza in the first place. As Jonathan Tobin speculates, the cost of cooperation is likely to be more pressure on Israel to make yet more concessions in pursuit of a mythical “land-for-peace” bargain that repeatedly in the past has led to more terrorist violence. Indeed, the incessant barrage of rockets and other terrorist attacks from Gaza for the past seven years have taken place because Israel withdrew from Gaza as a gesture to that grand bargain. Imagine the damage Fajr-5 rockets could inflict on Tel Aviv if fired from a West Bank handed over to the PA.
A cease-fire now will no more resolve the conflict any more than did the more violent and costly Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009. As long as the international community and Israel’s allies continue to treat a nest of murderers as a state deserving of international aid and legitimacy, instead of as terrorist outlaws to be hunted down and destroyed, Israel will have to pay a very high price to end Hamas’ terrorism.

Bruce Thornton


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

More Trouble in Jordan

by Mudar Zahran

"They will not tolerate the king any longer…. It is too late for him to make any reforms." — Opposition leader, who preferred to remain anonymous
Last week, protests broke out in Jordan after a government decision to raise fuel prices. While protests have been taking place in Jordan for almost two years now, for the first time there is major involvement from Jordan's Palestinians, with open calls for toppling the regime. With the future of Jordan's King Abdullah in jeopardy, so is regional stability a,s well as Jordan's peace with Israel. Pro-Western forces have critical options to consider.

The protesters, last week, started openly to call for the king to step down. The Independent noted that previously the protests had been "peaceful and rarely targeted King Abdullah II himself," and reported that this time crowds "chanted slogans against the king and threw stones at riot police as they protested in several cities."

Al Jazeera, as well, reported that protests have been taking place "across the width and the length of the country," with "most chanting for toppling the regime." Several of the king's photographs – regularly displayed in public places in Jordan – were set on fire.

What came as a surprise in the recent protests, according to Al Jazeera, is that Palestinian refugee camps have been also participating to the fullest. These protests apparently broke out in the Al-Hussein refugee camp, close to Jordan's capital, Amman. Protesters were seen calling for toppling the regime.

In another protest, Al-Hussein refugee camp protesters chanted: "Our god, may you take away our oppressor. Our country Jordan has existed before the Arab Revolution," referring to the revolt against the Turks by which Jordan's king's great grandfather established the Hashemite kingdom.. Al-Hussein refugee camp protesters eventually marched into lively Douar Firas area near central Amman, where they were attacked by the fearsome Jordanian gendarmerie.

The gendarmerie officers were even harsher in the Al-Baqaa refugee camp, Jordan's largest, where protests broke out for the first time, and slogans targeted the king with demands that he step down. Protesters reportedly burned tires, blocking the highway which borders the camp and connects Amman to Northern Jordan.

The Jordanian news website Ammon published a video showing an al-Baqaa refugee camp leader calling for "calm" within camps in Jordan, while admitting that the refugee camp's leaders, usually favored by the regime over the Palestinian public, were not able to form a public committee to reach out to protesting youths. The Palestinian-dominated Jabal Al-Nuzha camp has also been the site of regular protests, with demonstrators also calling for toppling the king.

Other Palestinian-dominated areas are witnessing first-time protests as well, including Al-Ashrafiah, the Hiteen refugee camp and the broader East Amman.

It is not the Palestinians alone who are protesting against the king. "East Bankers" in Northern Jordan had generally kept away from the protest movements until last week, when the residents of Irbid, the biggest city in Northern Jordan, started calling for toppling the regime.

Other major protests have been taking place in several parts of the country. Tensions ran high in the southern city of Kerak, an East Banker-dominated city. A known opposition leader in Kerak, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said he was expecting serious escalation from the regime, and alleged that Jordanian police were cracking down on protesters and arresting their leaders. His claim was consistent with footage that appeared on YouTube, exhibiting parts of the unrest. He also claimed that southern Jordanians "have made up their minds, they will not tolerate the king any longer …it is too late for him to make any reforms."

The Muslim Brotherhood too organized a protest, in the city of Rusifay, east of Amman. Their demonstration, critical of Abdullah's Prime Minister, Al-Nosuor, but with no criticism of the king or calls for toppling his regime, simply demanded that fuel prices be reduced.

On November 18, the popular Jordanian news website, Al-Sawt, published an article entitled: "Will the Muslim Brotherhood get the price for its realism and positivity during the fuel-prices protest?" In the article, editor in chief, Tarek Dilawani (also a seasoned journalist for the Jordanian daily, Ad-Dustor), claims that the Jordanian regime had "an arrangement with the Muslim Brotherhood not to surf the tide of the protests, and to keep their demands fixed on peaceful reform of the regime."

Nonetheless, the supposed arrangement between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Hashemite regime has not worked. It has not stopped protests by either Palestinians or East Bankers. As The Independent recently wrote: "The protesters…were led by activists that included the secular Hirak Shebabi youth movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, and various nationalist and left-wing groups." It is therefore possible that the Muslim Brotherhood is only a part of the opposition, and not "the opposition."

On 20 November, the Muslim Brotherhood-formed National Reform Council held a public conference attended by the Brotherhood's most senior Jordanian leaders. In the conference, Zaki Bani Rushied, the head of the Brotherhood's political party, the Jordanian Islamic Action Front Party, addressed the media: "The people of Jordan have chosen to reform the regime; people can choose to topple the regime or reform it, and here in Jordan we have chosen to reform the regime."

The Muslim Brotherhood does not seem to want the regime to fall, but rather to change in a manner that gives them control over the government as occurred in Morocco, where King Mohammed VI appointed Islamists to form the government. Further, the Muslim Brotherhood may not be confident that, if the regime falls, it can dominate future elections. The current protests have shown that, contrary to what it has always claimed, the Muslim Brotherhood does not have full control of the Jordanian opposition. Its members therefore would apparently prefer King Abdullah to hand them control over the government.

The current situation in Jordan raises concerns for pro-Western forces, including Israel, and rightfully so. With all its shortcomings, the Hashemite regime has kept Israel's longest border worry-free for the last forty years. If the king falls, will the future regime in Jordan keep the peace treaty with Israel, and the borders calm?

While the protests show that the Muslim Brotherhood does not have full control over the Jordanian opposition, if the King falls, the Muslim Brotherhood will be the only group that is financed and organized enough to win any future elections. Even if the Brotherhood does not win a landslide victory, it will be the group most able to influence Jordanian politics, and which has connections with Iraq and Iran – both anti-Israel and anti-West – thereby forming a major bloc of fundamentalism and terrorism.

Those interested in sustaining peace between Israel and Jordan, as well as global forces keen for peace in the Middle East, have the option of either supporting the King or supporting secular opposition forces in Jordan who might come to power should the king fall.

In a recent article, Jonathan Schanzer, vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, opines there may still be time to help the King of Jordan, by pushing him "to enact meaningful reforms," "ensuring that international donor funds continue to flow," and "providing security guarantees that he [the king] will not go the way of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak." These might be the few steps necessary to keep the king in his place; still, these steps might be unlikely to take place now under the current US administration, which, perhaps inadvertently, at worst assisted the Islamists in taking over Egypt, and at best did nothing to offer the Egyptians a pro-democratic alternative.

Those interested in keeping Jordan calm, peaceful, and out of the hands of Islamists should either support the king significantly, or find a quiet plan B to support the secular opposition in Jordan. As the active opposition figure Kamal Khoury, a Palestinian Christian, said, "The seculars in Jordan are strong in their numbers and following, they just need financial and media support to dominate the arena." Dr. Khalid Kassimah, an East Banker opposition member residing in exile, stated: "The non-Islamist Jordanian opposition is no more in disarray than the Syrian secular opposition once was; minimal Western support might work wonders here; and I would not be surprised if a Jordanian opposition council is to be established in exile just as was the case in Syria."

Raed Khammash, an East Banker and well-known anti-Hashemite opposition member, active against the regime on social media networks, said, "I believe the opposition's success lies within the refugee camps, as they make up the majority of the population. Whoever cares for Jordan should establish contact with their leaders".

It seems the situation in Jordan is moving towards change at a faster pace than before. There ought, therefore, to be some serious effort to establish contact with, and examine the potential of future support for, the secular opposition's heads within the refugee camps, the Hirak Shababi (Youth Movement) and seculars within the East Bankers' opposition.

Mudar Zahran


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

Hamas's Victory: How Muslims See It

by Harold Rhode

The loser has no say in the terms; only the victor has. The current agreement emboldens Israel's and America's enemies.
Do Americans understand the Muslim view of war? Throughout the Muslim world, there were celebrations with people singing and dancing and giving each other sweets, celebrating Hamas's victory over the Israelis. Hamas suffered serious losses. As Ehud Barak, Israel's Defense Minister, stated at the news conference in which he announced the ceasefire, many Hamas leaders were eliminated and their military capabilities were sharply degraded.

But Hamas was not defeated. It will clearly be able to rain down rockets on the Israeli civilian population again when it chooses.

What we call terror is a legitimate tactic of Muslim warfare -- terror is how the Muslim prophet Muhammad subdued his enemies. He struck fear into their hearts, coercing them to surrender. Hamas is doing nothing more than following Muhammad's guidance.

Ironically, at the same time as Barak was proudly announcing the ceasefire -- and his colleagues Prime Minister Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Lieberman were chiming in -- Israeli radio could be heard interrupting their speeches with Code Red alerts to the people of the south to run to their shelters: Hamas and its cohorts had continued firing rockets at Israel.

Why did Hamas fire these rockets during the ceasefire announcement? The last day of the Israel-Hamas fight was the most violent: Hamas apparently wanted to prove it had the upper hand going towards a cease fire, and that it could impose a cease fire on Israel on Hamas's terms. That would erase the perception that Israel was trying to create of a Hamas crawling for dear life to the finish line, saved by the bell. To drive this point home, Hamas therefore fired rockets after the ceasefire to get the last shots, to thereby prove that Israel gave in to Hamas. For Hamas, this was all about managing perceptions as to which side needed the ceasefire more than the other. Moreover, this does not even touch on the additional point that Hamas is making that Israel did not launch a ground offensive because it was too afraid, concerned about the cost of doing so.
* * *
How would ibn Hazm, the great Muslim theorist on war, understand the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas? He probably would have believed -- as, most likely, do his modern day co-religionists -- that the Israelis were afraid to destroy Hamas's leadership.

Ibn Hazm wrote: "When at war, show your enemy no mercy, but when you have him at your mercy, you must give him breathing room but you dictate the terms." The loser has no say in the terms; only the victor has.

The terms of this agreement allow Hamas to live another day, re-arm and fight again. To the Muslims, this is a sign that Israel does not have either the ability or the will to make them surrender. Israel and its allies have thus proven to the Arabs, Turks, Iranians, and other Muslims, that Israel is weak and, for whatever reason, is incapable or unwilling to do what is necessary to subdue its enemies.

The current agreement emboldens Israel's and America's enemies. It gives them the emotional fortitude to fight on. Unless Israel destroys Hamas's leadership once and for all, it can expect many more years of terrorists showering death and destruction on its population. These Islamic terrorists are consequently inspired to think that America and other Western allies are easier targets for more Islamic fundamentalist terror.

Where does America fit into this picture? Muslims have a deep belief that all non-Muslims are united against the Muslims; people are either Muslims or non-Muslims. According to a classic Arabo-Islamic principle: "Unbelief is one nation". That means that all Muslims belong to one "nation" and all non-Muslims belong to another, united against the Muslims. Many Muslims therefore have difficulty making a distinction between Americans and Israelis, both members of the same non-Muslim people.

Many Muslims also believe that America pressured Israel to accept this ceasefire. In Muslim eyes, this means that non-Muslim America did not stand by its natural non-Muslim ally, Israel. America as an ally is therefore unreliable. If America would not even support its fellow non-Muslim ally, how can Muslims, such as, say, the Sunni Saudis, rely on the US to protect them from their existential enemy, Shi'ite Iran? The Saudis can only conclude that they have no alternative other than to seek different, less feckless, allies such as China or Russia to protect them from the Iranian regime. America, they likely recall, refused to support its ally, the Shah, against Khomeini, and thus America lost Iran as a great ally. It also quickly abandoned its ally Egyptian President Mubarak. Will America lose the Saudis as well?

It hard to imagine that at least some of Israel's leaders do not understand this Muslim mindset. That notion makes it even more difficult to understand why Israel stopped short of victory, unless Israel might possibly have decided to weaken Iran's ally, Hamas, to such an extent that it could then address the Iranian problem without worrying about an attack from Gaza.

Until the early 1970s, the Israelis seem to have understood their enemy's view of war; do they now? Being farther away, the Americans have had less of a need to do so. Will America ever understand the Muslim world they way it sees itself and make policy decisions more appropriate to, and in line with, that view? If America and Israel choose not to, they embolden their enemies, but do so at their peril.

Harold Rhode


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

What a Surprise - Trouble at the Border

by Melanie Phillips

Here is some more information about the Middle East which you may not have come across in the UK mainstream media.
  • Trouble at border
Well there’s a surprise – rioting in Gaza at the Israel border yesterday and today, when dozens of Palestinians hurled rocks at Israeli forces and tried to breach the border fence within the 300 metres-wide buffer zone within which no Palestinian can enter, established by the Israelis as a deterrent to cross-border terrorism. Palestinians reported that one man was killed and six injured after the Israelis opened fire.

This Palestinian violence was always on the cards given the way in which the people of Gaza were whipped up into a dangerously combustible state by being told they had won a great victory over the Israelis. One of the many things the west totally fails to understand is that, far from a cease-fire producing peace, to the Arabs it is on the contrary a signal for war since they believe it means the other side has shown weakness and that victory is therefore within their grasp. 

The rioting was also on the cards given the immediate misrepresentation of the ceasefire memorandum by the Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, who claimed that it stipulated the opening of all crossings between Gaza into Israel. In fact, it did nothing of the sort; the text says merely:

‘Opening the crossings and facilitating the movements of people and transfer of goods and refraining from restricting residents’ free movements and targeting residents in border areas and procedures of implementation shall be dealt with after 24 hours from the start of the ceasefire’ (my emphasis).

‘Dealt with’ does not mean the crossings would be opened -- let alone the buffer zone destroyed or the border fence torn down! But this misrepresentation offers an excuse for the usual pattern: Hamas create a violent incident to which the Israelis respond by opening fire; Hamas can then claim Israel has broken the ceasefire terms, which entitles them to start firing missiles again. And so the whole thing starts up again.
  • Why did Bibi cave?
It is clear from remarks made by Israeli ministers that the real reason why the Israel government decided not to mount a ground invasion of Gaza but to ‘give the ceasefire a chance’ has not emerged. The latest theory, as reported in Israel Hayom, is that Israel would have faced the prospect not just of house-to-house battles with Hamas but of war with Egypt: 

‘A senior diplomatic official claimed on Thursday that Netanyahu avoided a ground assault due to an Egyptian threat to cancel the peace treaty with Israel. According to the official, Egypt warned Netanyahu of that consequence via Mossad chief Tamir Pardo, who served as chief Israeli cease-fire negotiator in Cairo.

‘Although former U.S. special envoy Sen. George Mitchell confirmed that possibility, Lieberman said, “That is really inaccurate, to say the least. They did not threaten us and that was never a consideration.”’

Well, that’s a pretty strong denial. So we’re still in the dark about the precise nature of the threat that made Israel back away.
  • The glass half-full
Opinion polling in Israel suggests that Benjamin Netanyahu’s electoral prospects have taken a knock as a result of public fury over his decision to pull out of Gaza rather than going in with ‘boots on the ground’. However, there is no doubt that the Israeli air force managed to inflict significant harm on Gaza’s terrorist infrastructure.  Zvika Fogel, a reservist who was called up during Pillar of Defence, has emphasised in Israel Hayom that the criticism of the cease-fire should not obscure what was actually achieved:  

‘Hamas fired some 1,600 rockets at Israel throughout the operation, each time with the intent to kill or hurt innocent civilians. These rockets came up against Iron Dome, which saved lives and allowed decisions to be made using the head and not the gut. The Israel Defense Forces attacked more than 1,600 targets in precise and unexpected ways, obliterated dozens of years of cumulative Hamas and Islamic Jihad experience, dealt a devastating blow to Hamas’ force-building efforts, in which the group had invested all the Palestinian people's money (obtained by enacting a “smuggling tunnel tax”), and destroyed terrorist infrastructure on and under the ground that had been built since Operation Cast Lead.

‘When Hamas officials emerged from their bunkers on Thursday, they saw there was not a single victory they could present to their people. Hamas and Islamic Jihad are now banging their heads against the wall — how did they [Israel] know? How did they manage to attack the terrorists at every hide out? How did they manage to prevent almost every attempt to hurt Israeli civilians and soldiers?

‘In their great frustration, Hamas and Islamic Jihad summed up their failures by executing Palestinian citizens [suspected collaborators with Israel] in the center of town, as if they were the ones aiming the IDF’s weapons.’
  • A little less Spring in the Arab step?
Cast your minds back to the fall of Egypt’s President Mubarak. The demonstrations that helped force him out were, we were told, the joyful expression of the ‘Arab Spring’ that would usher in freedom, democracy and human rights for the Egyptian people labouring under the yoke of the dictator Mubarak. On that basis America’s Obama, the UK’s Cameron and France’s Sarkozy helped lever Mubarak out of power. 

The US then helped lever in as Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. Never mind that he was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist organisation whose aim is to snuff out all freedom for Muslims and subject them to the slavery of Islamic sharia law, and also to conquer and Islamise the west. No, Morsi was to represent the brave new dawn of liberty for Egypt.

Oh dear. For two days ago, Morsi suddenly gave himself the powers of a dictator. As the Guardian reported:

Egypt's president, Mohamed Morsi, has granted himself far-reaching powers and immunity from legal oversight as he ordered the retrial of his predecessor Hosni Mubarak over the killing of protesters during the country's revolution. 

‘In a surprise move, Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood leader who was instrumental in securing a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas on Wednesday, issued a series of measures preventing Egypt's courts from challenging any laws or decrees passed since he assumed office in June.

‘The decrees prevent the courts from attempting to dissolve the upper house of parliament or the constituent assembly which is drawing up the country's new constitution, both dominated by his Islamist allies.’

So now Egypt has replaced a secular autocrat by a fanatical Islamic dictator – and the Egyptian crowds are back in revolt.

So much for democracy then! And well done Obama, Cameron and Sarkozy for helping establish another theocratic dictatorship to enslave the masses at home and threaten the west! 

This Islamist coup took place a mere 24 hours after the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was praising Morsi to the skies as the deal-maker between the Hamas and Israel, and the guarantor that weapons smuggling to the Hamas through Egypt would now cease.

As I wrote here previously, Obama’s main concern in establishing the ceasefire in Gaza appeared to be not so much to secure the safety of Israel as to cement his protégé Morsi in Egypt. This view was echoed today in the Times of Israel, which suggested that Obama had now given up on Israel and the Palestinians and was only interested in shorting up Morsi. 

But puzzlement as to why Obama should thus want to promote in Egypt the Brotherhood, the mortal foes of the west, can only deepen into acute alarm in view of the signals from his administration that he is now also preparing to throw King Abdullah of Jordan to the Islamist wolves. As Khaled abu Toameh reports:

 ‘Deputy State Department Spokesman Mark Toner managed to create panic [and anger] in the Royal Palace in Amman when he stated that there was "thirst for change" in Jordan and that the Jordanian people had "economic, political concerns," as well as "aspirations."

‘The spokesman's remark has prompted some Jordanian government officials to talk about a US-led "conspiracy" to topple King Abdullah's regime. The talk about a "thirst for change" in Jordan is seen by the regime in Amman as a green light from the US to King Abdullah's enemies to increase their efforts to overthrow the monarchy.

‘The US spokesman's remark came as thousands of Jordanians took to the streets to protest against their government's tough economic measures, which include cancelling subsidies for fuel and gas prices.

‘The widespread protests, which have been dubbed "The November Intifada," have resulted in attacks on numerous government offices and security installations throughout the kingdom. Dozens of security officers have been injured, while more than 80 demonstrators have been arrested. And for the first time, protesters in the Jordanian capital have been calling for overthrowing King Abdullah. In an unprecedented move, demonstrators last week tried to march on the monarch's palace in Amman in scenes reminiscent of anti-regime protests in Tunisia, Libya, Yemen and Egypt.’

Just whose side is America now on in the great battle for civilisation?

Melanie Phillips


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Hamas: The Terror Elite



It’s déjà vu all over again.  Now, in November 2012, the violent Islamofascist organization “Hamas” has started yet another military conflagration, this time by firing nearly a thousand missiles into civilian areas of Israel.  Some of these missiles landed near the major population centers of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. All of this took place in spite of the fact that Israel long ago removed every last one of its citizens from the Gaza Strip and allowed Hamas to seize control of the area and convert it into an oppressive Islamofascist terrorist mini-state and rocket base.  As always, Israeli gestures of goodwill did nothing but trigger Arab aggression.  And as always, Hamas daily issues its Orwellian lies about Gazan “civilians” being “victims” of Israeli “aggression,” fraudulent claims that the anti-Semitic Western media and the campus Left devour and promulgate.

So just what is Hamas?  Is it a movement for Palestinian independence and self-determination? Or is it an al-Qaeda-like Islamist fascist organization seeking the destruction of everything civilized?  Dr. Steven Plaut’s penetrating pamphlet, “Hamas: The Terror Elite,” answers precisely these questions by delving deep into the group’s history and organizational structure. What Dr. Plaut reveals about the Left’s media darlings is both shocking and disturbing.

[Editor: Click here to order your own copy of the pamphlet]


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Time was not Right to Conquer Gaza, says Barak

by Shlomo Cesana, Lilach Shoval, Itzik Saban and Reuters

Defense minister Ehud Barak says the government alone has the tools to see "the bigger picture" and that a time may come when Israel may decide to conquer the Gaza Strip • A senior diplomatic official: Netanyahu avoided a ground assault due to an Egyptian threat to cancel the peace treaty.

Troika against terror. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Wednesday.|Photo credit: AP

Shlomo Cesana, Lilach Shoval, Itzik Saban and Reuters


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

The Trap that Arik Built

by Caroline Glick

bomb shelter kids.jpg
The cease-fire agreement that Israel accepted Wednesday night to end the current round of Palestinian rocket and missile attacks is not a good deal for Israel by any stretch of the imagination.

At best, Israel and Hamas are placed on the same moral plane. The cease-fire erases the distinction between Israel, a peace-seeking liberal democracy that wants simply to defend its citizens, and Hamas, a genocidal jihadist terrorist outfit that seeks the eradication of the Jewish people and the destruction of Israel.

Under international law, Israel is not just within its rights to defend itself from Hamas. It is required to. International law requires all states to treat Hamas terrorists as criminals and deny them safe haven and financing. But the cease-fire agreement requires both the Israeli policeman and the Hamas criminal to hold their fire.

At worst, the cease-fire places Israel beneath Hamas. The first two clauses require both sides to end hostilities. The third suggests Israel is expected to make further concessions to Hamas after the firing stops.

Then there is the cease-fire's elevation of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood government to the role of responsible adult. Hamas is the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. Egyptian President Muhamad Morsi openly supports Hamas. Morsi sent his Prime Minister Hesham Kandil to Gaza to personally express the Egyptian government's support for Hamas's criminal assault against Israeli civilians.

Over the weekend, Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood held what the media claimed was a stormy meeting. Its members were split over what to do about Israel. Half wanted to go to war with Israel immediately. The other half called for waiting until the Egyptian military is prepared for war. In the end, the voices calling for patient preparation for war won the day.

And for their patience, the Muslim Brothers received the plaudits of the US government. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her boss President Barack Obama were effusive in their praise of the Egyptian government, and joined Egypt in placing Israel on the same moral plane as a terrorist group.

Moreover, Obama and Clinton compelled Israel to accept wording in the cease-fire that arguably makes Egypt the arbiter of Israeli and Palestinian compliance with the agreement.

Aside from the administration's de facto support for the Hamas regime in Gaza, it is hard to think of a greater humiliation than Israel being forced to submit complaints to its sworn enemy about the actions of the sworn enemy's terrorist client.

And yet, for all of that, it isn't clear that Israel had a better option than to sign on the dotted line. Israel might have gotten better results if Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak had ordered the ground forces poised at the border to take out a few Hamas ground installations. It certainly would make sense for Israel to end Gaza's electricity supply.

But as it stands today, a full-blown ground invasion in the mold of the 2002 Defensive Shield Operation, where Israel seized control of Judea and Samaria from Palestinian terror groups and reasserted its security control over the Palestinian areas, so ending the Palestinian terror onslaught against Jerusalem and central Israel, was not in the cards.

Israel is in a strategic trap. And it is one of its own making. Starting with the Rabin-Peres government's decision to embrace the PLO terrorist organization as a peace partner in 1993, Israel has been in strategic retreat. Each incremental retreat by Israel has empowered its worst enemies both militarily and diplomatically and weakened the Jewish state militarily and diplomatically.

In May 2000, following years of political agitation by the radical Left, then-premier Ehud Barak ordered the IDF to retreat from Israel's security zone in south Lebanon. Hezbollah immediately seized control over the border area. Within months it kidnapped and killed three IDF soldiers and held them for ransom - hiding the fact that they had been murdered. The same Barak-led government that withdrew the IDF from south Lebanon was loath to acknowledge the failure of its policy and so did nothing when the three soldiers were kidnapped.

Within six years, Hezbollah was strong enough to launch an all-out missile war against Israel.

Facing them was the government that had just carried out the withdrawal from Gaza. The governing strategy of Ariel Sharon's heirs, Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni, was based on surrendering land and demonizing as warmongers those who opposed surrendering land. When Hezbollah attacked Israel in July 2006, Olmert and Livni were in no position to order a serious ground invasion of Lebanon. And since that was the only way to win the war, Israel lost the war, paving the way for Hezbollah's subsequent takeover of the Lebanese government.

As for that withdrawal from Gaza, just like the phony peace process with the PLO and the strategically demented withdrawal from south Lebanon, the withdrawal from Gaza was a self-evidently insane policy. It was obvious that it would lead to the strengthening of Palestinian terrorist groups and so put Israel's population centers in striking range of their missiles.

After both the Oslo process and the withdrawal from Lebanon left Israel strategically and diplomatically weakened, with its politicians, generals and its very existence brought before international tribunals and targeted by diplomatic pogroms, there was no basis for the empty claim that by withdrawing from Gaza, Israel would gain international legitimacy to defend itself.

By leaving Gaza, Israel was saying - as it had in Lebanon - that it had no right to be there. And if it had no right to be there, it had no right to return.

To force this mad initiative through, Sharon had to explicitly disavow the platform he was elected to implement. Sharon won the 2003 elections by pledging never to surrender Gaza.

After he betrayed his voters, Sharon demonized and, when possible, fired everyone in positions of power and influence who opposed him.

He called a referendum of Likud members to vote on his plan, and when his opponents won the vote overwhelmingly, he ignored it. He fired Lt.-Gen. Moshe Ya'alon, then IDF chief of General Staff. He fired his cabinet ministers. He castigated as "rebels" his party members who opposed his plan.

Moreover, with the active collusion of the legal system, Sharon violently repressed his political opponents. Young girls were thrown into jail without trial for months for participating in anti-withdrawal demonstrations. Privately chartered buses en route to lawful demonstrations were interdicted by police and prevented from traveling.

Protest organizers were arrested in their homes at 3 a.m. And with the active collusion of the media, all debate on the merits of the withdrawal plan was stifled.

As bad as it was in Israel, the situation in the US was arguably even more devastating. Since Oslo, Israeli opponents of the Left's strategic insanity were intellectually and politically buoyed by their conservative counterparts in America.

The latter helped legitimize political opposition and enabled the conceptualization and maintenance of alternative policies as viable options.

Despite government repression, some 45 percent of Israel's Jewish population actively participated in anti-withdrawal protests. In the US, virtually no one supported them. The absence of opposition owed to the fact that in America withdrawal opponents were boycotted, demonized and blacklisted by the American Jewish community and the previously supportive conservative media.

During the years of the fake peace process, conservative US Jewish groups and conservative publications led by Commentary, The Weekly Standard and The Wall Street Journal forcefully opposed it. But when Sharon joined the radical Left by adopting its plan to withdraw from Gaza, these formidable outlets and institutions enthusiastically followed him.

Leading voices like former Jerusalem Post editor and Wall Street Journal editorial board member Bret Stephens, Commentary editors Norman Podhoretz and Neal Kozodoy, commentator Charles Krauthammer and Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol not only lined up to support the dangerous planned withdrawal. They barred all voices of opposition from the pages of their publications.

To greater and lesser degrees, their shunning of voices that warned against the Gaza withdrawal continues to this day.

So, too, with the exception of the Zionist Organization of America, every major American Jewish organization supported the withdrawal.

Like the editors of Commentary, the Weekly Standard and the Wall Street Journal, they barred voices of opposition from speaking to their groups.

All commentators who warned of the strategic calamity that would befall Israel in the aftermath of a withdrawal from Gaza were marginalized and demonized as extremists.

In a notable gesture, this week, Stephens along with Commentary's Max Boot, acknowledged their error in supporting the withdrawal from Gaza. Their recantations are noteworthy because most of their colleagues who joined them in pushing Israel down the garden path and cheered Sharon's "democracy" as 8,500 Israelis were thrown out of their homes and off their land in order to free it up for a terrorist takeover, continue to deny that they were wrong to do so.

But Stephens's and Boot's belated intellectual integrity on Gaza is not enough to make a difference for Israel today.

Israel has only two options for dealing with the ever-escalating threat from Gaza. It can try to coexist with Hamas. This option is doomed to failure since Hamas seeks the annihilation of the Jewish people and the eradication of Israel. Recognizing this state of affairs, in a public opinion survey taken on Wednesday for Channel 2, 88% of Israelis said that a cease-fire with Hamas will either not hold at all or hold for only a short time.

74% of Israelis opposed accepting a cease-fire.

The other choice is to destroy Hamas. To accomplish this Israel will need to invade Gaza and remain in place. It will have to kill or imprison thousands of terrorists, send thousands more packing for Sinai, and then spend years patrolling the streets of Gaza and arresting terrorists just as it does today in Judea and Samaria.

Whereas the first option is impossible, the latter option is not currently viable. It isn't viable because not enough people making the argument have the opportunity to publish their thoughts in leading publications. Most of those who might have the courage to voice this view fear that if they do, they will be denied an audience, or discredited as warmongers or extremists.

So they remain silent or impotently say that Israel shouldn't agree to a cease-fire without mentioning what Israel's other option is.

The millions of Israelis who opposed the withdrawal from Gaza do not seek personal vindication for being right. They didn't warn against the withdrawal to advance their careers or make their lives easier. Indeed, their careers were uniformly harmed.

They did it because they were patriots. They felt it was their duty to warn their countrymen of the danger, hoping to avert the disaster we now face. They should be listened to now. And their voices should be empowered by those who shunned them, because only by listening to them will we develop the arguments and the legitimacy to do what needs to be done and stop fighting to lose, again and again and again.

Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.

Caroline Glick


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