Saturday, May 18, 2013

Caroline Glick: Obama and the ‘Official Truth’

by Caroline Glick

Originally published in the Jerusalem Post. 
Nakoula Basseley Nakoula has been sitting in a US federal prison in Texas since his photographed midnight arrest by half a dozen deputy sheriffs at his home in California for violating the terms of his parole. As many reporters have noted, the parole violation in question would not generally lead to anything more than a court hearing.

But in Nakoula’s case, it led to a year in a federal penitentiary. Because he wasn’t really arrested for violating the terms of his parole.

Nakoula was arrested for producing an anti-Islam film that the Obama administration was falsely blaming for the al Qaeda assault on the US Consulate in Benghazi and the brutal murder of US Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans on Sept. 11, 2012. Obama and his associates falsely blamed Nakoula’s film – and scapegoated Nakoula — for inciting the al Qaeda attack in Benghazi because they needed a fall guy to pin their cover-up of the actual circumstances of the premeditated, eminently foreseeable attack, which took place at the height of the presidential election campaign.

With the flood of scandals now inundating the White House many are wondering if there is a connection between the cover-up of Benghazi, the IRS’s prejudicial treatment of non-leftist non-profit organizations and political donors, the Environmental Protection Agency’s prejudicial treatment of non-liberal organizations, and the Justice Department’s subpoenaing of phone records of up to a hundred reporters and editors from the Associated Press.

On the surface, they seem like unrelated events. But they are not. They expose the modus operandi of the Obama administration: To establish an “official truth” about all issues and events, and use the powers of the federal government to punish all those who question or expose the fraudulence of that “official truth.”

From the outset of Obama’s tenure in office, his signature foreign policy has been his strategy of appeasing jihadist groups and regimes like the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran at the expense of US allies, including Israel, the Egyptian military, and long-time leaders like Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen.

The administration defended its strategy in various ways. It presented the assassination of Osama bin Laden by Navy SEALs as the denouement of the US war on terror. By killing the al Qaeda chief, the administration claimed it had effectively ended the problem of jihad, which it reduced to al Qaeda generally and its founder specifically.

Just as importantly, it has tried to hide the very existence of the jihadist threat. To this end, the administration purged all terms relevant to the discussion of jihadist Islam from the federal lexicon and fired officials who defied the language and subject ban.

It has hidden the jihadist motive of terrorists and information relating to known jihadists from relevant governmental bodies. The Benghazi cover-up is the most blatant example of this policy of obfuscating and denying the truth. But it is far from a unique occurrence.

For instance, the administration has stubbornly denied that Maj. Nidal Malik Hassan’s massacre of his fellow soldiers at Ft. Hood was a jihadist attack. And in the months preceding the Tsarnaev brother’s bombing of the Boston Marathon, and in its immediate aftermath the FBI did not share its long-held information about the older brother’s jihadist activities with local law enforcement agencies.

To advance its “official truth,” the administration leaked information to the media about top secret operations that advanced its official narrative. For instance, top administration officials leaked the story of the Stuxnet computer virus that compromised Iranian computers used by Iran’s nuclear weapons program. These stories compromised ongoing US and Israeli intelligence operations. But they advanced the administration’s foreign policy narrative.

Conversely, as the AP scandal shows, the administration went on fishing expeditions to root out those who leaked stories that harmed the administration’s narrative that al Qaeda is a spent force. In May 2012, AP reported that the CIA had scuttled an al Qaeda plot in Yemen to bomb a US airliner. The story damaged both the credibility of Obama’s claim that al Qaeda was defeated, and challenged the wisdom of Obama’s support for the al Qaeda aligned anti-regime protesters in Yemen that ousted President Saleh in November 2011.

Finally, the administration has promoted its policy by demonizing as extremists and bigoted every significant voice that called that policy into question. For example, in his satirical speech at the White House Correspondents Dinner last month, Obama snidely – and libelously — accused Rep. Michele Bachmann of “book burning.” Bachmann is an outspoken critic of Obama’s policy of appeasing Islamists at the expense of America’s allies.

Bachmann is also the chair of the House of Representative’s Tea Party caucus. And demonizing her is just one instance of what has emerged as the administration’s tool of choice in its bid to marginalize its opponents. This practice arguably began during Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign when then-senator Obama referred to his opponents as “bitter” souls who “cling to guns or religion or antipathy to those who aren’t like them.”

In the lead up to the 2010 midterm elections, Obama and his supportive media characterized the grassroots Tea Party movement for limited government as racist, selfish, extremist and uncaring. And now we have learned that beginning in March 2010, the Internal Revenue Service instituted what can only be considered a systemic policy of discriminating against non-profit groups dedicated to fighting Obama’s domestic agenda. The IRS demanded information about the groups’ donors, world views, reading materials, social networking accounts, and personal information about its membership and leaders that it had no right to receive. And according to USA Today, it held up approval of non-profit status for 27 months for all groups related to the Tea Party movement. Some 500 organizations were victimized by this abuse of power.

We also learned this week that the IRS leaked information about donors to at least one non-profit group that opposes homosexual marriage to a group that supports homosexual marriage. The latter group was led by one of Obama’s reelection campaign’s co-chairman. We learned that the IRS audited a university professor who wrote newspaper articles critical of fake Catholic groups that supported Obama’s pro-abortion policies.

All of this aligns seamlessly with the Obama administration’s demonization of conservative donors like the Koch brothers, and other stories of persecution of conservative donors that have come out over the past several years. Last July the Wall Street Journal’s Kim Strassel reported that after the Obama campaign besmirched as “less-thank reputable” eight businessmen who supported political action committees associated with Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, one of the donors, Frank VanderSloot found himself subjected to an IRS audit and a Labor Department investigation.

Finally there is the administration’s discriminatory treatment of pro-Israel organizations.

A day after Lois Lerner, the head of the IRS department overseeing non-profit groups, admitted the IRS had been discriminating against groups affiliated with the Tea Party movement, we were reminded of the appalling treatment that Z Street, a new pro-Israel organization that opposes Obama’s policy towards Israel, received at the hands of the IRS.

Z Street was founded in 2009 and applied for non-profit status in December 2009. In 2010 Z Street filed a lawsuit in federal court against the IRS. According to court documents, the suit was filed after Z Street was informed by an IRS spokesperson that consideration of its application was being delayed, and could be denied because the IRS has a special policy for dealing with non-profit applications submitted by groups related to Israel.

According to Z Street’s court filings, the IRS official said that all Israel-related organizations are assigned to “a special unit in the DC office to determine whether the organization’s activities contradict the Administration’s public policies.”

Around the same time Z Street’s application for non-profit status hit a brick wall of discriminatory treatment, Commentary Magazine, also a non-profit organization, received a letter from the IRS threatening to revoke its non-profit status because in 2008 the publication posted the transcript of a speech then Sen. Joseph Lieberman gave at a Commentary dinner in which he endorsed Sen. John McCain for president.

As John Podhoretz, Commentary’s editor wrote last week, to disprove a false charge, the magazine had to spend tens of thousands of dollars and waste “dozens upon dozens” of work hours copying two million pages of articles posted on the magazine’s website in 2008 to prove that Lieberman’s speech was a tiny fraction of the magazine’s overall output.

Then too, the David Horowitz Freedom Center, a non-profit where I work as the Director of the Israel Security Project, was recently subjected to an IRS audit – which it also passed in flying colors. The Freedom Center’s work spans the spectrum from domestic policy to foreign policy, and like Z Street and Commentary, is generally critical of the Obama administration’s policy towards Israel.

Finally, there is the administration’s obsessive targeting of billionaire donor Sheldon Adelson. During the 2012 presidential election, Obama’s top political advisor David Axelrod wrote a letter to Antonio Miguel, a Socialist member of the Spanish parliament attacking Adelson as “greedy.” Miguel leaked the letter to the media while Adelson was in Spain promoting his Las Vegas Sands casino corporation’s plans to build Eurovegas, a casino in Madrid. Axelrod later sent his letter to Obama supporters in an email from the Obama presidential campaign.

Adelson is best known for his support for the US-Israel alliance, and his friendship with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. By calling Adelson “greedy,” Axelrod was channeling age-old anti-Semitic imagery, and by inference engaging in it, in his assault against Adelson. In the letter in question, Adelson was the subject of this ad hominem assault due to his support for Romney in the 2012 elections.

The Tea Party movement has to date limited its scope to domestic policy – challenging the growth of the federal government on a host of issues. For its part, still smarting from the unpopularity of former president George W. Bush’s campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Republican Party has yet to enunciate a clear foreign policy.

The closest thing to a systematic rebuke of the Obama administration’s signature foreign policy of courting Islamist movements and regimes and treating US allies in the region with hostility are organizations like the David Horowitz Freedom Center, Z Street, and Commentary and wealthy donors like Adelson. Their stalwart and articulate support for a strong US alliance with Israel, and a strong and vibrant Israel are the only coherent challenge to Obama’s pro-Islamist foreign policy.

By targeting them, the Obama administration completes the circle of an overall modus operandi of punishing those who oppose and expose the failures of his policies – domestic and foreign. The underlying theme that connects Benghazi to the Tea Party, to the subpoenaing of AP phone records, to Z Street, to Nakoula is that they all have challenged the administration’s “official truth.”

One can only hope that Obama’s thuggish creation and corrupt defense of his “official truth” will anger, disgust – and frighten – all Americans.

Caroline Glick


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Is the Temple Mount Really in our Hands?

by Nadav Shragai

This week a senior official from the Foreign Ministry's Jordan desk was asked who was in charge of the Temple Mount. Without hesitating, the official said: The de facto sovereign of the Temple Mount is not the State of Israel but rather the Kingdom of Jordan, which has effective rule there.

Nadav Shragai


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Expect Israeli Strikes on Russian Arms Shipment to Syria-Hezbollah

by Shlomo Cesana, David Baron, Daniel Siryoti and Israel Hayom staff

U.S. officials tell The Wall Street Journal: Another round of Israeli airstrikes could target a new Russian transfer of Yakhont advanced anti-ship missiles in the near future • Russia moving more quickly than previously thought to deliver S-300 surface-to-air defense systems to Syria • CIA Director John Brennan in Israel to coordinate policy.

Shlomo Cesana, David Baron, Daniel Siryoti and Israel Hayom staff


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Fatah's Drive Against "Normalization"

by Khaled Abu Toameh

The Fatah activists who are threatening Palestinian teenagers for talking to Israelis and playing football with them are the same people who claim, at least in public, that they support the peace process with Israel. But how can there ever be a peace process when anyone who meets with an Israeli is immediately denounced as a traitor? It is worth noting that most of these denunciations are coming form the "moderate" Fatah, and not from Hamas.

While Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was meeting in his office in Ramallah with Shelly Yacimovich, chairwoman of Israel's opposition Labour Party, his Fatah faction was busy threatening Palestinians who meet with Israelis.

That Abbas continues to meet with Israelis on a regular basis in Ramallah does not seem to bother Fatah.

Nor does Fatah seem to be bothered that Palestinian security officers work closely together with their Israeli counterparts in the West Bank. That is called "security coordination" between the Palestinians and Israel.

But when Palestinian youths are invited to meet with Israelis as part of an interfaith dialogue project, Fatah is quick to issue denunciations and threats.

When Palestinian and Israeli teenagers are invited to play football together as part of a project to promote peace and coexistence, Fatah is also quick to react.

But Fatah has no problem when Abbas or any top Palestinian official meets with Israelis.
Nor does Fatah have a problem with some of its senior representatives carrying Israeli-issued VIP cards that grant them various privileges that are denied to most Palestinians, such as permission to enter Israel and avoid waiting at Israel Defense Force checkpoints.

Palestinian youths from Hebron, though, who met with Israelis near Bethlehem to share their problems and insights have been forced to issue a statement distancing themselves from the meeting.

Following threats from Fatah, which condemned the event as a form of "normalization" with Israel, the Palestinian participants claimed that they had been "misled" regarding the true goals of the meeting.

This claim was clearly issued because of the "anti-normalization" campaign waged by Fatah over the past few years. This is a campaign that -- in the context of "peace" and "coexistence" projects that are often sponsored and funded by the European Union and the U.S. -- aims at banning meetings between Israeli and Palestinians.

The most recent victims of the anti-normalization drive are Palestinian boys and girls who committed the "crime" of playing in a football match against Israeli teenagers. When pictures of the match appeared in the media, Fatah rushed to issue threats against the Palestinian players and those behind the tournament.

Organizers of the "anti-normalization" campaign, most of whom belong to Abbas's Fatah faction, have been boasting that, in recent years, they have succeeded in thwarting dozens of planned meetings between Israelis and Palestinians.

But Fatah has not condemned its own leader, Abbas, for meeting with Yacimovich and other Israelis.

The real problem here is that Abbas himself has not come out against Fatah's campaign of intimidation and threats. By remaining silent, Abbas in fact appears to have endorsed the "anti-normalization" campaign -- at least so long as its does not affect him personally.

The Fatah activists who are threatening Palestinian teenagers and youths for talking to Israelis and playing football with them are the same people who claim, at least in public, that they support the peace process with Israel.

But how can there ever be a peace process when any Palestinian who meets with an Israeli is immediately denounced as a traitor? It is worth noting that most of these denunciations are coming from the "moderate" Fatah, and not from Hamas.

It now remains to be seen how Fatah will react if and when U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry persuades Abbas to return to the negotiating table with Israel. Will Fatah condemn Abbas for advocating "normalization with the Israeli enemy" when he sits at the negotiating table? Or will Fatah continue to go only after Palestinian boys and girls who just want to have fun and play football?

Khaled Abu Toameh


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Dangerous Times: The Genocidal Logic of Anti-Zionism

by James Lewis

Physicist Stephen Hawking is a famous media scientist, with all the pristine morality of a Hollywood starlet starving for publicity.  By calling for an academic boycott of Israel, Hawking just joined the long, long list of bloody-minded professors, as Winston Churchill called his Hawking's species.

Paul Johnson's excellent book Intellectuals shows that most of the famous professors of the 20th century actively promoted mass murder -- far away from home, of course.  Most of the bloody-minded gang favored leftist mass murderers like Stalin and Mao, but others supported Hitler before he started to lose.  Famous philosopher Martin Heidegger even joined the German Nazi Party, and he never renounced his support.  French intellectual star Jean-Paul Sartre managed to serially support Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot, for a record high murder count of 80-90 million human beings.  Sartre never renounced his support, either.


Even today, bloody-minded professors are a dime a dozen on the campuses.  They are obscene, but they still thrive like poison mushrooms.

Yet even a Professor Hawking should be able to follow this logic.

1. Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East.  It has about 7 million Jews, almost all descended from refugees from deadly persecutions in Europe and the Middle East.

After Mr. Obama called for Hosni Mubarak to resign as president of Egypt in 2011, the "Arab Spring" started mass killings in all the Muslim countries around Israel.  Some 100,000 Syrian Arabs have died, and unknown thousands of Libyans, Tunisians, and Egyptians.  When refugees from the jihad war in the Sudan run for safety, they often find refuge in Israel.  Not in the surrounding Islamist countries, because they are the wrong religion.

2. Israel is the only country left standing after the "Arab Spring."  Egypt is starving.  Libya is in chaos.  Syria is in terminal civil war.  Israel is stable and well-defended.

3. It is therefore clear to the shining genius of Professor Hawking that Israel must be an illegitimate foreign substance in the rich native soil of the Middle East and must disappear as soon as possible.

That is the goal of the academic boycott.

4. Israel has always been surrounded by crazy calls for genocide of the Jews (and also for killing Arab Christians, Bahá'ís, and atheists).

Since Jimmy Carter handed Iran to theocrat Ayatollah Khomeini three decades ago, all the schoolchildren in that peaceful country have been forced to chant every single day, "Death to Israel!  Death to America!"

Only liberals are idiotic enough to convince themselves that the daily hate indoctrination in Iran means nothing.

Professor Hawking is, of course, a delusional liberal.

5. On top of Iran's hate industry, the Saudis and Gulf tribes are busy paying for international hate campaigns, as shown every day by the excellent website.  European fascist parties are indoctrinating their own followers into the Muslim hate campaign, resurrecting the Dark Ages of Europe's ethnic genocides of the 1930s and '40s.  Muslim oil dollars are going to neo-neo-fascist parties that have now gained real power in Hungary, Italy, and Albania.

6. Israel is therefore the obsessive target of a genocide campaign.  Iran is predicted to have nukes in a couple of months.  Egypt will follow.

Israel declared its independence in 1948, the same year as India and Pakistan did.  The 1948 Partition between those countries killed an estimated 3-4 million human beings in Muslim-Hindu riots.  The Partition was demanded by the Indian Congress Party, led by...Mahatma Gandhi...who was instantly deified by the Western media for his love of peace.

Remember that year, 1948, the year of independence for Israel, Pakistan, and India.

Pakistan is Muslim and dangerously unstable.  It has nukes and missiles.

India is mostly Hindu today.  It also has nukes and missiles.

You might call India and Pakistan "apartheid nations" if you were a liberal, and therefore delusional.

But there is no liberal campaign to boycott India or Pakistan.

Same year of independence, same big ethnic divisions, but no liberal boycott.

Professor Hawking has apparently never heard of Pakistan and India and their "apartheid."

It's just one of those things, I guess.

India is still targeted by Muslim jihadis directed by Pakistan.

Professor Hawking is not calling for an academic boycott of India.

Or Pakistan.

Or any other ethnically divided country in the world.

Oddly enough, Hawking is just focused like a laser on Israel.

Bloody-minded professors.

Winston Churchill had it right, as usual.

James Lewis


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Islamic Forced Conversions—Past and Present

by Raymond Ibrahim

Originally published by The Blaze.
The lost history of Christians forced to convert to Islam—or die—is reemerging, figuratively and literally. According to the BBC: “Pope Francis has proclaimed the first saints of his pontificate in a ceremony [last Sunday] at the Vatican—a list which includes 800 victims of an atrocity carried out by Ottoman soldiers in 1480.They were beheaded in the southern Italian town of Otranto after refusing to convert to Islam.”

The BBC adds in a sidebar: “The ‘Martyrs of Otranto’ were 813 Italians beheaded for defying demands by Turkish invaders to renounce Christianity.  The Turks had been sent by Mohammed II, who had already captured the ‘second Rome’ of Constantinople.”

Historical texts throughout the centuries are filled with similar anecdotes, including the “60 Martyrs of Gaza,” Christian soldiers who were executed for refusing Islam during the 7th century Islamic invasion of Jerusalem.  Seven centuries later, during the Islamic invasion of Georgia, Christians refusing to convert were forced into their church and set on fire.  Witnesses for Christ lists 200 anecdotes of Christians killed—including by being burned at the stake, thrown on iron spikes, dismembered, stoned, stabbed, shot at, drowned, pummeled to death, impaled and crucified—for refusing to embrace Islam.

If history is shocking, the fact is, today, Christians—men, women, and children—are still being forced to convert to Islam.  Pope Francis alluded to their sufferings during the same ceremony: “As we venerate the martyrs of Otranto, let us ask God to sustain those many Christians who, in these times and in many parts of the world, right now, still suffer violence, and give them the courage and fidelity to respond to evil with good.”

Consider some recent anecdotes:

In Pakistan, a “devoted Christian” was butchered by Muslim men “with multiple axe blows [24 per autopsy] for refusing to convert to Islam.” Another two Christian men returning from church were accosted by six Muslims who tried to force them to convert to Islam, but “the two refused to renounce Christianity.”  Accordingly, the Muslims severely beat them, yelling they must either convert “or be prepared to die. . . . the two Christians fell unconscious, and the young Muslim men left assuming they had killed them.”

In Bangladesh some 300 Christian children were abducted in 2012 and sold to Islamic schools, where “imams force them to abjure Christianity.”  The children are then instructed in Islam and beaten. After full indoctrination they are asked if they are “ready to give their lives for Islam,” presumably by becoming jihadi suicide-bombers.  (Even here the historic patterns are undeniable: for centuries, Christian children were forcibly taken, converted to and indoctrinated in Islam, trained to be jihadis extraordinaire, and then unleashed on their former Christian families.  Such were the Janissaries and Mamelukes.)

In Palestine in 2012, Christians in Gaza protested over the “kidnappings and forced conversions of some former believers to Islam.” The ever-dwindling Christian community banged on a church bell while chanting, “With our spirit, with our blood we will sacrifice ourselves for you, Jesus.”

Just as happened throughout history, Muslims today regularly “invite” Christians to Islam, often presenting it as the only cure to their sufferings—sufferings caused by Muslims in the first place.

In Pakistan, a Christian couple was arrested on a false charge and severely beaten by police. The pregnant wife was “punched, kicked and beat” as her interrogators threatened to kill her unborn baby. A policeman offered to drop the theft charge if the husband would only “renounce Christianity and convert to Islam,” but the man refused.

In Uzbekistan, a 26-year-old Christian woman, partially paralyzed from youth, and her elderly mother were violently attacked by invaders who ransacked their home, confiscating “icons, Bibles, religious calendars, and prayer books.” At the police department, the paralyzed woman was “offered to convert to Islam.” She refused, and the judge “decided that the women had resisted police and had stored the banned religious literature at home and conducted missionary activities. He fined them 20 minimum monthly wages each.”

In Sudan, Muslims kidnapped a 15-year-old Christian girl; they raped, beat and ordered her to convert to Islam. When her mother went to police to open a case, the Muslim officer of the so-called “Family and Child Protection Unit,” told her: “You must convert to Islam if you want your daughter back.”

Indeed, because Christian females are the most vulnerable segments of Islamic societies, they are especially targeted for forced conversions. In 2012, U.S. Congress heard testimony about the “escalating abduction, coerced conversion and forced marriage of Coptic Christian women and girls [550 cases in the last five years alone].Those women are being terrorized and, consequently, marginalized, in the formation of the new Egypt.”

As my new book Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians documents, wherever there are large numbers of Muslims—whether in the Arab World, Africa, Asia, or even in the West—Christians are being persecuted.  Forced conversions are the tip of the iceberg, and certainly not anomalies of history.

Raymond Ibrahim


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As Obama Fetes Erdoğan, Turkey Seizes Opposition Press

by Michael Rubin

While the scandal surrounding the government seizure of Associated Press records continues to percolate in Washington, such state intrusion on the press would seem positively mild inside Turkey where, today, most journalists assume they are being tapped. It is near impossible to talk politics with Turkish journalists before everyone at the table first takes batteries out of their cell phones. The judiciary has been tapped, as have newspapers.

Erdoğan has stacked previously apolitical bodies with his own party hacks, and transformed technocratic institutions to wield against the press. He has had them, for example, levy fines of billions of dollars to silence some outfits, and seized and sold at auction another. The sole bidder (after others dropped out because of political pressure)? Erdoğan’s son-in-law. Ironically, it was Sabah—the once-opposition paper confiscated by Erdoğan and given to his son-in-law—that President Obama chose to contribute a glowing op-ed to on the occasion of Erdoğan’s visit to Turkey.

Now, against the backdrop of Obama’s glowing endorsement comes word that a financial body solely consisting of Erdoğan’s appointees has seized one of the last conglomerates which owns independent newspapers and television.

I have a bridge over the Bosphorus to sell anyone who still believes that the reforms that Erdoğan has implemented will push Turkey closer to democracy. Erdoğan cares little about democracy; he wishes domination, personal enrichment, and a complete transformation of Turkish society that is impossible to achieve if anyone can ask questions or expose his actions. That he uses a state visit to the United States as cover for his actions is truly shameful.

Michael Rubin


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The U.S. Role in the Sunni-Shi'ite Conflict

by Harold Rhode

America should back only pro-American forces who do not privately finance or publicly promote hatred against the U.S. It is in America's interest to rid the Muslim world of the Islamic fundamentalist forces whose goals and actions are inimical to American and Western interests; not to cozy up to them.
You might think that what the United States should be doing in the Sunni-Shi'ite conflict -- in which it has no theological stake -- is working to eliminate all forces in the Muslim world, whether Sunni or Shi'ite, who want to bring down the U.S. You might also think that what the U.S. should not be doing is looking the other way when countries it calls allies -- and wealthy individuals from those countries -- support, with both money and arms, forces who kill U.S. soldiers and citizens.

At present, this is not what is happening.

Today we appear to be supporting the Sunnis against the Shi'ites just about everywhere, and have sided with the Saudi and Bahraini governments as they repress their Shi'ites. When the Americans were in Iraq, the administration went to great lengths to develop a "Sunni strategy," while seeming purposefully to overlook the small problem that the majority of Iraqis happen to be Shi'ites. The U.S. openly frets about Syria's murderous government, which is allied with Iran, while again disregarding the irritant that most of the Syrian opposition is composed of Sunni fundamentalist factions – frequently more at war with each other than they are with Bashar al-Assad -- and who are outspokenly and viciously anti-Western. Why should we in the U.S. support these Sunnis -- backed by our supposed Turkish, Saudi, or Qatari allies, against the Shi'ites and their allies -- when both they and the Iranian-supported Shi'ites are equally anti-American and anti-Western?

At the moment, nevertheless, our most bellicose self-declared adversary in the Muslim world is the fundamentalist Shi'ite regime of Iran. (Of course, this does not mean that all Shi'ites are adversaries.) There are, however, many Sunni states -- say, Saudi Arabia and Qatar -- which, although we call them allies, continue lavishly to bankroll forces who hate America and the principles for which it stands just as much as the Iranian Shi'ite mullahs do -- just far more stealthily. These states are plainly not allies.

When the Islamic terrorist regime in Iran eventually falls, as it probably will, we shall then have to tackle the problem of our so-called Sunni "allies," who are also doing everything in their power to support the Sunni forces trying to bring down America. These Sunni "allies" dedicate far more of their resources to destroying Western culture than the current Iranian government can. In the long run, they are therefore at least as dangerous to America and the West as is the Iranian regime.

Ironically, America and many Western governments seem to have an enmity towards the Shi'ites, possibly, in part, stemming from Islam being taught in Western universities from a Sunni point of view. We are taught that Shi'ism is heterodoxy -- not the "true" Islam -- and consequently not really "legitimate." It should not be particularly surprising, therefore, that so many government experts in the Middle East and Islam – both in the U.S. and abroad – refer to Shi'ism as the "terrorist branch of Islam" -- which is the equivalent of alleging that all Catholics in Northern Ireland were members of the Sinn Fein, the Irish terrorist group that tried to expel the British from Northern Ireland.

As an example: when, just before a meeting with the UK Foreign Minister in the 1990s, a Middle Eastern Sunni leader brought with him a Western-educated, Western-oriented Shi'ite advisor, a British aide told the Minister to keep in mind that the advisor was a Shi'ite. Although this might have been a disinterested observation, according to witnesses in the room it was not. Worse, the British aide had apparently not even been embarrassed to voice his remark in front of his Shi'ite visitor.

Such occurrences, though minor, play into the Shi'ites' worst fears, of which Western policy-makers seem unaware. Shi'ite history is filled with examples of how Sunnis slaughtered Shi'ites since the beginning of Islam 1,400 years ago. Shi'ites are, therefore, constantly looking for protectors to hold the Sunnis at bay. Consequently, the Shi'ites could be potential U.S. allies. We would not have to be anti-Sunni; we could just stabilize the situation in the Gulf by keeping the Strait of Hormuz open to help all countries in the Gulf export oil and gas.

Even earlier, when the Shah was in power, Western prejudice against Shi'ites was widespread. The U.S. and its Western allies usually accepted at face value, unquestioningly, the (Sunni) Saudi and Bahraini government views, blaming the Shi'ites among them for "terrorist actions" in the Gulf. No one ever even investigated whether or not these allegations of Shi'ite terrorism were true.

Later, when Saddam Hussein, a Sunni, oppressed his Shi'ites -- who, as in Bahrain, form the majority in Iraq -- the West looked the other way. And when, after the Kuwait war, President George H. W. Bush encouraged Iraqis to overthrow Saddam, and Iraq's Shi'ites revolted against Saddam -- who then brutally crushed them in the south -- the U.S. did not even criticize him.

Before the Iraq war, some American bureaucrats were expressing then deep reservations about U.S. intervention. They claimed it would empower the Shi'ites, upset our Sunni Arab allies, and then add that Iraq was keeping Iran "in check." Iraq, however, never kept Iran "in check." What ended the Iran-Iraq war was Khomeini's conviction in Iran -- after the Vincennes-Iran aerial bombardment -- that America had decided to intervene on the side of Iraq. A week later -- telling his people that stopping the war was poison but that, for the survival of Iran, it was necessary to swallow it -- Khomeini called for a ceasefire.

Imagine if the Iranians were convinced that the U.S. was serious now...
As Iran is the largest and most powerful Shi'ite country in the Muslim world -- and, until the recent liberation of Iraq, the only country ruled by Shi'ites -- it is only natural that Shi'ites everywhere look to Iran for protection and support against the ancient oppression they suffered at the hands of the Sunnis. Moreover, many of the world's Shi'ites who live outside Iran, as about three quarters of them do, speak of the dilemma they face. While they look to Iran for support against Sunni oppression, they say they wish Iran would stop claiming to speak for them. [1] Further, in countless conversations with them, many also say they wish Iran would stop trying to interfere in their affairs.

What the non-Iranian Shi'ites really think about the Iranians – by which they mean Iranian Shi'ites - can be deduced from the Arab Shi'ite proverb: "When you break open the bone of a Persian [Iranian], sh*t comes out" -- meaning that because the Iranians tried to "Persianify" Shi'ites -- and destroy their non-Iranian culture -- Iranians cannot be trusted.
As for what is happening among Iran's Shi'ites, many -- as seen in their failed uprising of 2009 -- do not support their present terrorist government. It appears that a large number of Iranians would like nothing better than to have the Iranian regime replaced by one that could get along with the outside world. What Iranians say they most want is an end to their misery under this regime and an end of their country being thought of as a pariah state. While of course we cannot know the future, conversations with people inside Iran, especially after the riots against the government, give us reason to hope. Unlike the Egyptians, who voted in the Muslim Brotherhood, the Iranians have already experienced the rule of Islamic fundamentalism. If a new Iranian government could be pro-Western, regime change could be a win-win for both Shi'ites and the West.
Sadly, Western officials often claim that Iraqi Shi'ite political and religious leaders - both political and religious are spies for the Iranian government. Some probably are; but what many Western officials appear not to understand is that because the Shi'ites justifiably fear the Sunnis, the Shi'ites are likely to support any Iranian government -- especially a new one. Many of the fathers and grandfathers of these so-called "spies" had excellent relationships with the closest American ally in the region, the Shah; when these "spies" are asked if they would support a change of regime in Iran, they usually say they would like nothing better. Further, they often add that the Shah, although not without faults, had emphasized his country's Iranian rather than its Islamic Shi'ite identity, while the Mullahs, instead, have been trying to minimize -- if not smother -- Iran's Iranian identity in favor of their Shi'ite one.

If Iran had a new regime that emphasized its cultural identity as opposed to its religious one, we could then turn our attention to pressuring our Sunni "allies" not only to cease their stealth jihad against the U.S., but also their abysmal treatment of their own Shi'ite population. There are a number of ways prepared and available, although not yet ready, understandably, to be publicly disclosed.

A non-expansionist cultural Iran – as opposed to a transnational Shi'ite one -- would at the very least remove the excuse our Sunni "allies," especially the Saudis and Bahrainis, give the U.S. as the reason they repress their Shi'ites: they would no longer be able to scare the U.S. by invoking a looming Iranian aggression and anti-Americanism. They doubtless fear that if Iran were to become less of a threat to the world at large as well as to them, they would risk losing the support of their allies in the West. So as long as the present anti-Western Iranian regime is in power, the Sunnis feel assured that we will be at their side to help them defeat a powerful Shi'ite Iran. We, of course, seem to have no idea – or not to mind -- that we are being used as pawns in their unending conflict.

Regime change in Iran, in favor of almost any other government, would also liberate Iraqi, Bahraini, and other Shi'ites from the religious and cultural domination of the Iranian mullahs, and enable them to start looking to the West as the natural partner and "protector" they historically have sought.
Although there are currently violent clashes throughout the Middle East -- with Sunnis and Shi'ites killing each other in Syria, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan -- the U.S. would be wise not support one side against the other. Any preference would only embroil the U.S. in their unending internal conflicts and be detrimental to U.S. interests. Given the innate suspicion Middle Easterners have of the U.S. and the West, whichever side the U.S. is helping, the other side will most certainly accuse the U.S. of "actually" helping the other side. That fight is no-win.

Instead, we should be pursuing United States' policy goals: protecting the Gulf oil routes and eliminating the terrorists our "allies," of any stripe, support. As a global power, the U.S. is engaged in that region by default, backed into acting as reluctant policemen to prevent autocratic groups and undemocratic nations from filling the possible vacuums there.
From its history and from what we can deduce, Iranians by and large go with the strong horse. If the rulers do not demonstrate the will or the ability to do what is necessary to keep themselves in power, their populace will gravitate towards strength. If the situation in Iran is to change, not only must Iran's nuclear weapons program be eliminated, but therefore so must its government's ability to retain its rule.

No one, naturally, can guarantee what will happen with Iran's nuclear program, but a government that looked inward to its country's internal reconstruction and technological modernization, neglected for 34 years, would no longer necessarily be a threat to its neighbors. It might possibly also be more amenable to the international community's demands in order to get the desperately needed American and Western support to rebuild its infrastructure.

The mullahs most assuredly know that as long as they strive to attain weapons of mass destruction, the outside world will not be willing to help them rebuild their country. In Iran, there are apparently passionate debates on whether the pursuit of nuclear weapons might bring down on them the wrath of the West. Even though many Iranians would like the prestige of being in the "nuclear club," they recognize that the price for attaining it could be the destruction of their country.
After the Iranian problem is solved, it is urgent to begin seriously addressing the forces in the Sunni world who privately, and sometimes even publicly, encourage anti-U.S. and anti-Western values while at the same time aggressively funding forces antagonistic to the West and building fifth-column communities there. Wahhabis -- most notably Saudis and Qataris -- who claim to be among our closest allies in the region, are the major funders of much of the anti-Western activity in Europe, Turkey, and the U.S., especially of groups that have the same terrorist goals as al-Qa'ida. We should demand that our supposed "allies" stop these actions against us at once.

Now, however, given the regime ruling Iran, these "allies" have little problem re-directing our attention away from the terrible treatment they mete out to the Shi'ites, as well as to us.
America should back only pro-American forces who do not privately finance or publicly promote hatred towards the U.S. It is in America's interest to rid the Muslim world of the Islamist fundamentalist forces whose goals and actions are inimical to American and Western interests; not to cozy up to them.

The more we show that we are prepared to expend every effort to do so, as we did in the successful 2006 surge in Iraq, the more Muslims of all types are likely to support the U.S.

Another way, of course, to end U.S. involvement in the never-ending internal battles of that region, would be to develop alternative sources of energy, especially as they become more economically feasible to extract; to find new methods of mining the enormous quantities of energy in other parts of the world, and to develop other types of energy apart from oil and gas. Then the Middle East and its religious and political quarrels could happily retire into quiet insignificance.

[1] For more on Iran's involvement in the affairs of non-Iranian Shi'ites, see, "Lebanese Shiite leader: Iran does not represent all Shiites, wants to use them". See also, "Yemenis suspect Iran's hand in rise of Shiite rebels", "The Shia Factor for the Stabilization of Afghanistan: Iran and the Hazara," and "Iran and the Shi'ite Solution."

Harold Rhode


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