Friday, May 24, 2013

Mordechai Kedar: Egypt - The Land of the 'Total Loss' Brotherhood

by Mordechai Kedar

Everyone knows what a "total loss" is: the general loss of a vehicle's value as the result of an accident, when the vehicle becomes either impossible or impractical to repair, and is sent for scrap metal. It seems that Egypt's situation today very much resembles a "total loss" situation following a series of accidents and misfortunes that it has experienced over the past two years, since Mubarak was sent to the defendant's cage. As long as he was in power, the country was functional. And although it did not function well, there was a sort of dictatorial  stability. But since he was overthrown nothing works in that dismal country, whose residents number today ninety million.  Egypt is like a car with ninety million problems, and to describe it as a "total loss" is to understate the situation.

The problems began on November 11, 2011, with the resignation of President Mubarak after the demonstrations against him degenerated into a state of general chaos, prompting the minister of defense, General Tantawi, to demand that Mubarak step down in order to calm the raging street. Tantawi took the reins of power for half a year, to stabilize the governmental system and then transfer it to the civilian branch, the dictatorial stability of the Mubarak era turned into public chaos with increasingly anarchistic characteristics, despite the fact that the group in power had won the right to rule democratically. It seems that the governmental situation in Egypt will become a new concept in the field of political science: "democratic anarchy" or "anarchistic democracy".

Despite Egypt's having a president, an army, police and judicial system, it seems that these components of government do not all function as one system, but rather each one behaves according to it's own private agenda, as if it exists as a separate country: the public elects a parliament and the court disperses it, the president issues edicts overriding the laws of parliament and the court cancels his edicts, the majority of the public elects a president but large sectors of the public want to get rid of him, an Islamist president is elected but he is forced to manage the state according to laws that contradict Shari'a, the Bedouins in Sinai are citizens of Egypt, but they behave as if Egypt is their enemy.

The straw that broke the camel's back was when seven soldiers were kidnapped in Sinai. the Bedouins kidnapped them in order to pressure the government into freeing some imprisoned Bedouins, and Mursi found himself between a rock and a hard place: if had given in to the Bedouins, thus freeing the soldiers this would have been interpreted - and rightly so - as the state surrendering to a violent group of criminals, and this surrender would have encouraged them as well as other groups to take similar steps to achieve their ends. In such a situation, when every law breaker can pressure the government to submit to his demands, there is no state. So what can be done? Attack the Bedouins with a large military force? This is problematic because the present government claims to have a religious basis, and how can such a regime kill Muslims?

On Wednesday of this week the seven soldiers were freed healthy and whole after representatives of the army met with heads of the Jabal Halal tribes and warned them that the army would destroy anything that moved in the area. What was promised to the heads of the tribes in exchange for freeing the soldiers was not divulged, but the fact that the government was forced to appease the heads of the tribes proves who is in charge in Sinai. The government again had to play according to the rules of the desert, where anyone who has a request must close the deal with the tribal heads. The struggle between the state and the Bedouins will continue in the next round, which is just a matter of time. Because the state has not yet freed the Bedouin prisoners accused of terrorist activity, and their liberation was the original reason for kidnapping the seven soldiers.

And this was not the first time that the Bedouins have challenged Mursi's government: last August they murdered 16 soldiers, and during the past year they attacked a police station and security patrols, and sabotaged the gas pipe that provides Egypt with its livelihood. The Bedouins collaborate with Hamas and there were rumors that the kidnapped soldiers were already in Gaza. The families of the kidnapped soldiers appeared in the media and put pressure on the government to submit to the kidnappers demands, and Mursi had already requested and received religious permission to fight the Bedouins from the Mufti of Egypt. The army wanted to seal the tunnels that connect Sinai with the Gaza Strip, and Mursi feared Hamas' negative propaganda and Hamas' big brother, the Emir of Qatar.

The kidnapping of the seven soldiers more than a week ago in Sinai was just one more link in a long chain of acts betraying a basic lack of law and order in the Sinai Peninsula, but its implications on how the state functions are great; its implications extend beyond Sinai, and and has influence on events all over Egypt. The army, whose soldiers' lives endangered, is not interested in starting an all-out war against the Bedouins because the army is at a disadvantage in such a war: It has almost no intelligence on the many hiding places scattered in the mountains of the peninsula, because it its very difficult to infiltrate agents into this sort of familial and ideological jihadist groups, and also because these groups use almost no electronic media operators that can be located and listened in on. Because of the difficult terrain in the mountains of the Sinai Peninsula the army cannot use tanks but only commando soldiers of the infantry who have no advantage over the Bedouins, sons of the desert, who know every fold of the land, every rock and every cave and every bush.

And if at any time battles in Sinai break out against the Bedouins and the jihadists, how will the army explain to the soldiers' parents why and how they were killed? Does the army really want to sacrifice the blood of its soldiers to consolidate the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood in the state? How will the army stand up to the criticism of the Salafists, who already claim that the army is an agent of Mubarak and that the army hopes to get him out of the defendant's cage and return him to the presidential palace? And in the future, when they kidnap soldiers again, and if the army won't be able to liberate the kidnapped soldiers and then the Bedouins kill them on camera, how will it appear in the eyes of the soldiers and the citizens of the state when they see on youTube that the Bedouins kill the soldiers of the biggest army in the Middle East in cold blood and the impotent army cannot do anything to save them? This is an army? This is a state?

Ideological Confusion

Fahmi Hawadi, one of modern Egypt's most prominent writers, claims that it was not only the Egyptian soldiers who were kidnapped, but that the whole Sinai Peninsula was abducted by Bedouins and perhaps the whole country was held hostage by anarchists of various sorts, from lawless Bedouins to unemployed students, from the Salafists who don't believe in the laws of man to the seculars who don't want Allah managing their lives for them.

The interesting thing is that all the Egyptians claim without hesitation that the revolution has been stolen from them: the restless young demonstrators of Tahrir Square who brought down Mubarak cry that the Muslim Brotherhood stole their revolution. The Muslim Brotherhood, who won the elections, complain that those who lost in the elections are trying to steal the governmental revolution, which the Brotherhood is trying to lead after having won the elections fairly. Many accuse the remnants of the Mubarak regime of acting behind the scenes in order to snatch the revolution from the others, and all of the Egyptians are convinced that the current miserable and hopeless condition of Egypt is a result of a conspiracy of the West and Zionists, who want to steal Egypt from the Egyptians.

Mursi is caught in the middle of a power struggle and each side pulls him in a different direction: his comrades, people of the Muslim Brotherhood and the public that identifies with them want the state to have an Islamic character but not be radical in its application of Shari'a like cutting off the hands of thieves. The Salafists - who adhere more closely to Allah and his commandments - threaten to declare that Mursi is an infidel if he behaves in a way that is contrary to Islam according to their approach. The army is concerned first and foremost about its own interests and not the interests of the state and the elected government, and the street is divided between violent groups with contrasting views: religious versus secular, traditional against modern and Mubarak followers against all the others.

Is Mursi and Escaped Criminal?

Lately the opinion is widely expressed that President Mursi is nothing but an escaped criminal. The basis for this matter began after the demonstrations of the 25th of January, 2011, when the Egyptian police - still under the regime of Mubarak - arrested hundreds of agents of the Muslim Brotherhood and other opposition groups, who were sent to prison with arrest warrants that were issued according to the Emergency Law, which was then still in force. Mursi was among those arrested at the time, and he stayed a number of days in the Wadi Natrun Prison. On the 29th of January, when the demonstrations intensified and policemen and prison guards were transferred to the streets, friends of the prisoners - among whom were people of Hamas and Bedouins from Sinai - took advantage of the weakened guard force, forcibly broke into the jail and freed almost three thousand prisoners and detainees, including members of Hizb'Allah and al-Qaida. Until this day, none of these has given himself up to the authorities, and all of them are still considered escaped prisoners and detainees. So it seems that Mursi is one of them, and this is where the legal tangle in this matter begins. Because if he is an escaped criminal, how can he be president, since someone who evades the law can't even be a candidate?

Mursi's supporters claim that there is no document that mentions his name among the detainees. This claim is problematic because the fact is  that he and many of his colleagues were in prison, so who hid the documents in their case? That is, Mursi is also involved in concealing documents, not just escaping from prison. His supporters claim that the Emergency Law, according to which Mursi and his friends were arrested, had been cancelled afterward, and therefore, it follows that the arrest was not legal and he is not to be considered an escaped convict. His detractors claim that when he escaped, the Emergency Law was still in effect and therefore he is indeed an escaped prisoner.

Meanwhile a lawsuit was filed in court demanding dismissal and punishment of  Mursi on this basis whether because he is an escaped prisoner who has not given himself up or whether he helped others to escape from prison. Another problem is that some of the escapees were killed while escaping so anyone who assisted in their escape - meaning Mursi - might be accused of an accessory  to causing a death. There is an additional claim that since physical damage was caused to the prisons by the break-in, Mursi is also responsible for the great damage to the prisons. The accusations of escape, aiding in escape, causing death and damage to the prison might bring the court to sentence the democratically elected president of Egypt, to life imprisonment... so how can he function in this situation?

The economic situation has also completely deteriorated. Tourism - which used to provide a livelihood  for many Egyptian citizens until the riots broke out on the 25th of January, 2011 - has almost totally disappeared, and the balloon accident of a number of months ago, where several tourists were killed, heightened the sense among world tourists that for the time being it is better to look for a more stable and safer place to take their annual vacation. Foreign investments in industrial plants have almost totally disappeared because reasonable investors don't invest their money in places with no apparent economic future. Egypt finds it difficult to get loans from foreign sources, whether because of the economic crisis gripping Europe and the United States, causing a lack of available cash ("the poor of your own city first"), or because Egypt cannot come up with collateral to repay a loan even if it was accepted.

Mursi visits Saudi Arabia and Qatar often to beg for alms.  These funds allow him to maintain the excessively subsidized price of bread, so that the hungry masses will not break out into the streets in protest that they can't afford to pay a realistic price for a loaf of subsidized bread.  And although the price of bread has increased steadily over the years, its weight has steadily decreased.

There are reports that Iran has offered Egypt generous economic support if Mursi would agree to allow Iran to manage the Egyptian mosques that were built in the days of the Shi'ite Fatimid dynasty, which ruled in Egypt about a thousand years ago. This Iranian requirement sounds logical, but Mursi firmly rejected it for two reasons: one is that he does not want to allow Shi'ite Iran to have any influence in Egyptian public life, which might allow Iran to lead the hungry Egyptians to Shi'a in exchange for a handful of dollars, and the second reason is that one of the mosques that were built in the Fatimid era is the al-Azhar mosque, the highest institution of Sunni Islam.

Strangely, many officials who were appointed in the days of Mubarak still operate in Egypt, and they remain in their jobs because of the bribes they pay to their superiors and which they, in turn, take from the citizens who require their services, just as in the days of Mubarak. Because of the terrible economic condition today, it is dangerous to walk the Egyptian streets, whether by foot or in a vehicle. Pedestrians are robbed by groups of the hungry who fall upon those people in the street who look like they have money in their pockets or food in their baskets. Other groups attack drivers who are stopped in traffic jams or at a red light (a rare phenomenon in Egypt, where traffic signals are considered only as suggestions), forcibly take the driver out of the car and make off with the car in order to sell it for a few lira to buy a little bit of food.

As a result of the economic, political and legal situation, a general sense of deep disappointment with the revolution exists among the public at large. As high as their hopes were two years ago, that's how deep is the disappointment and frustration that exists today, and the price for the miserable situation is paid by the weak sectors of society: the women, the children, the homeless, the many who live in the streets and the millions of Copts. The government claims that the Copts are about one tenth of the population, but the Copts claim that the true proportion is at least twice that, and that they are about one fifth of the citizenry. It is in the government's interest to underestimate the proportion of Copts within the population so that they will not be obligated to give them the rightful share in the government that they would deserve according to their actual number.

A day doesn't pass without  reports of suicides of people who have lost all hope of earning a decent livelihood for their families and they prefer death rather than to behold every day the  hungry looks on the faces of those who depend upon them. The public space is flooded with many cases of abuse of the helpless, and many Muslims take their rage out on the Christian Copts, the original residents of the land. Their monasteries are broken into and their churches are burned, their houses are attacked and their stores are looted, their sons are beaten and their daughters are humiliated. Many Copts have lost hope that their homeland will ever be theirs again after it was Islamized by the Bedouins who burst out of the Arabian Peninsula in the seventh century and forced the religion of the desert upon its indigenous agricultural residents. When looking at the situation of Egypt today, one concludes that when the Muslim Brotherhood took control in Egypt, it made the worst possible deal anyone can make: it tried to buy a car which was basically a "total loss", and then drive it and its passengers as if it could actually get somewhere besides the garbage heap, the garbage heap of history. "He who dwells in heaven laughs, the Lord derides them" (Psalms, Chapter 2, Verse 4).


Dr. Kedar is available for lectures

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

Translated from Hebrew by Sally Zahav with permission from the author.

Additional articles by Dr. Kedar

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

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

Al-Sharq Al-Awsat: Obama is the Weakest President in the History of the U.S.


In his May 21, 2013 column, Mashari Al-Zaydi, columnist for the London-based Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, harshly criticized President Barack Obama and his foreign policy, particularly as it relates to the crisis in Syria. 

Al-Zaydi wrote that Obama's handling of the Syrian crisis had proven his failure as president, showing him as completely lacking in leadership ability, hesitant and diffident, and overall the weakest president in the history of the United States. He added that it is because of these failings that Obama allowed the crisis in Syria to escalate to the current situation, and that it is he who "caused the wound to become deeper and the bloodshed to continue." He also stated that Obama's hesitant and failed leadership in the Middle East, and especially in Syria, had laid the groundwork for the development of extremism and sectarian violence greater than those of Al-Qaeda.

This column by Al-Zaydi joins a series of recent articles in the Saudi press that attacked America's policy on Syria following the American-Russian agreement to hold an international conference at which a political solution to the Syrian crisis will be sought. For example, an article in the government daily Al-Yawm stated: "The Syrian opposition did not welcome the outcome of the meetings that U.S. State Secretary John Kerry held in Moscow [on May 6, 2013], because [this outcome] is a clear American retreat towards the position of the Russian-Iranian alliance. 

Considering the crimes of ethnic cleansing that have been perpetrated by Iran's and Assad's killing machine in Baniyas [in early May 2013], the American position is a clear [act of] capitulation to this killing machine at the expense of human rights and America's claims that it supports the freedom of the peoples…" The daily stated further that the U.S. is once again falling into the Iranian trap, as it did in Iraq.[1] Baina Al-Mulhim, a columnist for the government daily Al-Riyadh, asked whether the U.S. had "sold out the Syrian revolution," and wrote: "The crisis of the Syrian revolution changed with the appointment of [John] Kerry as U.S. secretary of state. Kerry is known as a friend of Bashar Al-Assad… and now he is traveling around the world trying to save Assad's regime and to eliminate the so-called 'Al-Qaeda in Syria'…"[2] Tariq Alhomayed, the former editor of Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, wrote that Obama's hesitancy was increasing the bloodshed and the extremism and allowing Russia to play a role in the region.[3]
The following are translated excerpts from Al-Zaydi's column: [4]  

Mashari Al-Zaydi (image:
Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, May 21, 2013)

"The problem of U.S. President Barack Obama can be summed up in a single word: hesitation. The man is short-sighted, confused and diffident. It seems that the gist of his policy is disagreeing with every position of his predecessor, George W. Bush, and that is quarrelsomeness, not policy. 

"This assessment of Obama's policy is not voiced only by his Republican rivals in the U.S., or by those who hate some [aspects] of his global [foreign] policy, but also by some proponents of his own school of thought, like the well-known American author David Ignatius, who recently wrote a critique of the Obama administration's policy that was not confined to foreign [policy] affairs... Summarizing the problematic aspects of  Obama's conduct, he said that the public is more afraid of a weak administration than a strong one!

"We are not talking [only] about harsh critics of this administration, inside or outside the U.S. This is apparent from a recent article by Lebanese-American writer Fuad 'Ajami, who slammed Obama for his feebleness, his lack of leadership, and his inability to take bold decisions under difficult circumstances, especially when it comes to his position on the Syrian catastrophe. Nor is it only Republicans who attack [Obama]. [Criticism is also voiced] by people who were overjoyed by the arrival [in the White House] of a black Harvard graduate with African and Islamic roots, the son of Hussein Obama. [They expected him] to have a better understanding of the Islamic and Arab societies and their nature. But eventually, as the helplessness of the international community  [to address the situation] in Syria increased due to the [conduct of] the U.S. and Obama, it became apparent that this man is unable to lead and that he hides his failure and ignorance behind a lot of hypothetical talk about red, green and purple lines..."

Obama Is Responsible For Exacerbating The Syrian Crisis

"Perhaps he is sincere in his belief in democracy and has [genuine] sympathy for other nations, especially those of Asia and Africa, [and perhaps he really believes that] America's problems in the world can be eliminated by improving its image and expressing appreciation for other cultures. Perhaps he really feels that way, but feelings are one thing and reality is another. I wish matters could be resolved through good intentions [alone]...

"Evidence of Obama's narrow approach to the Syrian crisis can be found in statements he made to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in their meeting several days ago. [He said that] there was no 'magic solution' to the escalating Syrian crisis and that a realistic solution was needed, [namely] a non-ideal political solution. [But Obama] is the one who complicated the Syrian problem and caused the wound to grow deeper, the bloodshed [to continue]... the voices to grow louder and the thugs to interfere, from Hassan Nasrallah's militia... to the young men who come from all over [the world] to fight jihad in [the ranks of the Al-Qaeda-affiliated organization] Jabhat Al-Nusra.

"[Obama] is responsible for the fact that Syria has reached this level of confusion and loss. Were it not for his hesitancy, his weak approach, his lack of determination and his eagerness to [gain] popularity on Twitter... the Russian 'Snow Emperor' Vladimir Putin wouldn't have dreamt of attaining the role [he has attained], with the Western world ready to charge him with the task of solving the Syrian problem. [Were it not for Obama's weakness,] Bashar Al-Assad would not have said in a recent interview with the Argentinean paper [Clarin] that he felt he was beginning to overcome the intense pressures that have been exerted upon him. [Moreover,] Iran's arrogance and contempt wouldn't have grown to the point of making a public announcement that the war in Syria is its own war and [to the point of] ordering its [operations] officer in Lebanon, Hassan Nasrallah, to declare war and launch resistance [actions] – not on the Israeli border but against the Syrians in Al-Qusair, which has been besieged by Assad's shabiha[5] and by Nasrallah's fighters for a while, right in front of Obama!

"The U.S. is currently living under one of the weakest leaders in its [history]... while Russia has a firm and determined leader. This becomes even sadder when you realize that the U.S. is believed to be supporting the Syrian rebels while Russia [is considered] a supporter of the [Syrian] regime. In this situation, the alliance [between the U.S. and the rebels] is a liability more than an asset...

"The most acute [aspect of] the problem is that Obama is laying down the systematic groundwork for the development of extremism and sectarian violence that will make us miss the Al-Qaeda of George W. Bush's era, while deluding himself that he eliminated Al-Qaeda when he killed Osama bin Laden!"

Iraq, Syria, Lebanon And Perhaps Also Turkey Face "Great Danger" Because Of Obama's "Policy Of Wholesale Retreat"

"There is great danger in what is happening in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon and may soon also happen on Turkey's southern border because of the policy of wholesale retreat that Obama is employing without any deep consideration. These countries – and probably also Egypt and North Africa, in a different way – are about to enter a terrifying era of religious terrorism, sectarian war and civil strife that will harm everyone. The Al-Qaeda attacks of the recent years pale beside what might happen in the future and what is already happening: [the fighting] in Homs and its rural area, the attacks on mosques and Husseiniyyas [Shi'ite cultural and religious centers] in Iraq, and [the attacks of] the Turkish 'Alawite fighters [of the Popular Front for the Liberation of] Alexandretta,[6] who are coming to the aid of the 'Alawites in Syria.

Al-Qaeda's former attacks were high-quality and were carried out be elite squads of fighters, [but these fighters] did not represent broad sectors of Arab society. The wars currently being waged in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, on the other hand, are frightening because they rely on [entire] social [sectors] that support [the fighters] and shelter them.

"This leads us to a frustrating conclusion about Obama's precise and rigid implementation of his bad and superficial policy of retreating [from the Middle East] at any cost, even in the face of new developments. [We must conclude that] this is not a skilled statesman and politician with creative solutions, but an ordinary academic who repeats meaningless slogans and does not possess the political sensitivity to give each factor the weight it deserves, to take bold [action] when necessary and to refrain [from action] when necessary..."


[1] Al-Yawm (Saudi Arabia), May 8, 2013.
[2] Al-Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), May 12, 2013.
[3] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), May 18, 2013.
[4] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), May 21, 2013.
[5] The popular name given to the Syrian regime's plainclothes militia, which is assisting the regime security forces in suppressing the uprising.
[6] An organization established in 2012 by pro-Assad Syrians on the Turkish border. Its stated goal is the liberation of Alexandretta from the rule of Turkey, which is now among the countries opposed to Assad's regime. Assad's  opponents claim that the members of the organization are 'Alawites.



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

Theater of Absurd as Syria Slams Israel for Health Violations on Golan

by Amir Mizroch

At an official U.N. health conference, Syria accuses Israel of burying nuclear waste on Golan Heights, placing "nuclear land mines" on cease-fire line and conducting medical experiments on Syrian prisoners • Israel: Absurd how U.N. being cynically abused.

Amir Mizroch


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

Barry Rubin: Saudi Arabia/United States: Strange Bedfellows in the Middle East

by Barry Rubin

Photo by Martin Prochnik

What is the difference between Saudi and U.S. policy in the Arabic-speaking Middle East? It’s complex but fascinating and if you can understand the weird twists and turns in this situation you can understand the Middle East. While the two countries may appear aligned in fact–and often when they have the same goals–their policies differ extensively. And the Saudis are not always wrong. Arguably, they are pursuing their own interests more effectively than is the United States.

The Saudis define the three main enemies today as:

–The Muslim Brotherhood
–Shia Muslims as political forces: as ruling Iraq; Hizballah in Lebanon; and the Shia majority in Bahrain.

All three of these forces are perceived as threatening Saudi stability and even survival. Al-Qaida, of course, originated as a revolutionary movement to overthrow the Saudi monarchy.

Notably, Israel is not on that list. Whatever violent and vile rhetoric that comes from Saudi Arabia and whatever monies spent by private individuals, the Saudis are simply not much concerned about Israel or combating it. Unlike the revolutionary Islamists and especially the Shia ones, Israel does not threaten Saudi society and internal stability. And whatever lip service is given to the contrary, Israel doesn’t threaten international Saudi interests either.

Among the four principle Saudi enemies, U.S. policy only sees al-Qaida as a total enemy of itself. It views Iran as a big problem that might somehow be reconciled through appeal to what is thought to be its true self-interest. And it has viewed the Muslim Brotherhood—shocking but true—as an ally. In Iraq, the United States helped put Shias into power and President Obama showed a willingness–before the State Department warned him that Tehran would gain–to do the same thing in Bahrain. The United States would be better off if it had the same basic list as Saudi Arabia, with the addition of the Iraqi, Syrian, and other Sunni Muslim radical Islamists supported by the monarchy.

On Iran, the Saudis are harder-line than is the Obama Administration. The regime views Iran as a deadly adversary trying to destroy Sunni Islam (the Iranians are majority Shia Muslim) and the Arabs (the Iranians are majority ethnic Persian). The Saudis view the United States as naïve on this matter. They would like to see the United States or even Israel attack Iran to destroy its nuclear weapons’ facilities. Of course, that’s as long as the Saudis don’t have to take any risks themselves.

The same Saudi antagonism applies to the hated Muslim Brotherhood. True, there was a time when the Saudis were protectors of the Brotherhood, when it was a fugitive group persecuted by radical Arab nationalist regimes like Egypt, Syria, and Iraq. But that time is long over. While the Saudis are just as militantly “Islamic” as the Brotherhood, the Brotherhood opposes the monarchical principle and it does not accept the Saudis Wahhabi brand of Islam.

From the Saudis’ perspective, U.S. support for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Syria is foolish. The Muslim Brotherhood reciprocates, listing the Saudis (and its ally the United Arab Emirates) as one of Egypt’s three main enemies, along with the United States and Israel.


The U.S. government backed a Shia majority government with autonomy. Loathing the Shia and seeing them as a cats-paw for Iran, Saudi Arabia encouraged Sunni Islamists to launch a terrorist revolt and were ultimately defeated. The irony is that the Sunni Islamists came under al-Qaida leadership, putting the two enemies–Saudi Arabia and al-Qaida–on the same side temporarily. The Saudis have now given up the subversive effort in Iraq.

But for several years, Saudi Arabia was backing America’s number-one enemy in killing Americans! At the same time, though more excusably, the United States was backing forces  influenced by Iran. In defense of the Shia, the United States had no choice because not only were the Iranians their fellow Shia but by boycotting them and backing a terrorist insurgency against them, the Shia were left no choice by the Arab world.

At any rate, the United States and Saudi Arabia, despite both acting on anti-Iran sentiment,  were on opposite sides in a war!


Both the U.S. and the Saudis want to see the Bashar al-Assad regime overthrown, in large part because it is an ally of Tehran. But by whom? The Obama Administration’s candidate is the Muslim Brotherhood. The Saudis want anyone but the Muslim Brotherhood. Both are equally opposed to al-Qaida.

So the Saudis back a third force, the non-al-Qaida Salafists, just as extreme but not interested in making direct attacks against the United States or Saudi Arabia. The Obama Administration has been okay with this strategic difference though it is starting to get a bit nervous about Salafist terrorists running around with advanced weapons.

At any rate, both of them acting on anti-Iran and anti-al-Qaida sentiment the U.S. and Saudi Arabia were backing different Islamist factions!


Here, too, the Saudis wanted to back Sunni Muslims. But since there are few Sunni Islamists and the kingdom has old ties to the Hariri faction which provides the anti-Syria, anti-Iran Sunni leadership, the Saudis are backing the pro-Western moderates.

The United States was pretty inactive, giving aid to the politically ineffective Lebanese army but not lifting a finger to help the moderate coalition. As Washington looked on with apparent indifference, Hizballah and the pro-Syria, pro-Iran politicians took over Lebanon.

Once Syria falls, which may not be too soon, the Saudis will turn toward battling its Shia enemies—which means Hizballah—and Iranian influence in Lebanon. Meanwhile, the Obama Administration may be restrained in embracing a terrorist-led government in Lebanon but will remain passive.

An any rate, the Saudis—for their own interests—have been defending Western interests in Lebanon while the West (especially France alongside the United States) are appeasing a radically anti-Western, terrorist-led regime. The Saudis are seeking more influence in Lebanon by opposing a weakened Hizballah and strengthening Sunni Muslim (often Islamist) elements to battle Iranian influence.

Of course, this doesn’t make the Saudis good guys as such, especially since the government and wealthy citizens of that country spend a lot of money on promoting radical views of Islam in many countries.   Yet what is necessary is for all those on the anti-Islamist side to do the most fundamental thing necessary in making foreign policy: to define properly friends and enemies.

It may be said that even while different interests promote conflicting foreign policies, the United States has been remarkably unsuccessful in coordinating with the Saudis. Except on Syria the two countries don’t work together, and in Syria’s case that cooperation isn’t a good thing. Generally, the crowning irony is that the Saudis are now thoroughly disgusted with the Obama Administration for being soft on Islamist, and especially Iranian and Shia, threats to the kingdom.

Barry Rubin


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

Is Brennan behind the Leaks Witch Hunt?

by Thomas Lifson

A heretofore obscure document revealed by Wikileaks points to John Brennan, current head of the CIA, as the man behind the media subpoena abuses just revealed. Hmm, the same guy who insisted on being sworn into office on a copy of the original Constitution, lacking the Bill of Rights. Downright spooky.

Kerry Picket of Breitbart flags the document in a post that deserves to be read in its entirety:

A little over a week after President Barack Obama's reelection, Wikileaks released an email dump of global intelligence files from the private intelligence company Stratfor. One particular email, dated September 21, 2010 discussed President Obama's "Leak Investigations."

So according to Burton, whoever that is, Brennan is "behind the witch hunt" and there is a "specific tasker" in the White House. People pay Stratfor a lot of money for access to inside insights, so maybe this is true.

Brennan is a scary man. G. Murphy Donovan profiled him in 2010:

Brennan is an Arab specialist, a product of Fordham University and the American University of Cairo. He claims to be fluent in Arabic. While with CIA, Brennan served in Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Back at Langley headquarters, Brennan became the agency briefer to the Clinton White House. During the Bush administration, he was elevated to be George J. Tenet's chief of staff. After leaving the government, Mr. Brennan became a national security advisor to the Obama presidential campaign. By any definition, background, or proximity, John O. Brennan is the most influential professional intelligence officer in the Obama administration.
Since formally joining the Obama team, Brennan has written two significant papers with enough political spin to qualify as carnival rides. The first, entitled "Conundrum of Iran," was published during the campaign to change the vector of policy towards Tehran. The second, entitled "A New Approach to Safeguarding Americans," was delivered in the form of a speech the summer before last at CSIS in Washington, D.C. The purpose of the "new approach" was to illuminate the Obama strategy for confronting an enemy who would remain nameless.

How's that new direction with Tehran workin' out for ya? Are we safer? Brennan was Deputy National Security Adviser for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism before taking over the CIA wiuthout benefit of the BIll of Rights.

Somewhat notoriously, Brennan has publicly referred to Jerusalem as "al Quds," its Arabic name, signaling his audience at the Islamic Center of NYU (and throughout the Arab world) his agreement with their perspective on Israel.

Thomas Lifson


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

A Jihadist in the Pulpit

by Bruce Bawer


At Christmastime last year, I wrote about a vicar in a heavily Muslim part of Oslo who decided that the best way for a group of schoolchildren in her care to celebrate the holidays was to read aloud in church from the Koran.

She’s not alone in her special understanding of her duty as a Christian cleric. The other day came news that Louise Britze Kijne, vicar of Holy Cross Church in Nørrebro – a heavily Muslim neighborhood in Copenhagen – had, with the blessing of her ecclesiastical higher-ups and her own parish council, invited an imam, Abdul Wahid Pedersen, to speak to her congregation on the subject of “peace” just after the wrap-up of the Pentecost Monday worship service.

Originally, Britze Kijne’s idea was to have Pedersen speak during the worship service itself. But she changed her mind. Not because she realized it would a betrayal of her vocation or an affront to her congregants’ beliefs, but because she worried that it might cause controversy. And she didn’t want that.

In Christian belief, of course, Pentecost commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit to the Apostles after Christ’s ascent into heaven. Needless to say, there’s no Islamic connection here whatever. But Britze Kijne didn’t consider her innovation problematic. “The Bible’s account of the Pentecost shows that we are spiritual beings,” she told the newspaper Kristeligt Dagblad, “and therefore we can understand each other and share the belief in being created in God’s image – across languages and cultures that may otherwise separate us.” She said it was important for Christians and Muslims to “stand shoulder to shoulder” and discuss peace, “especially in this neighborhood that is best known to the public for gang wars and other problems.”

Britze Kijne is right about the prevalence of gang activity in Nørrebro. It’s through the roof. What she omitted to mention, however, is that the violence that has increasingly plagued the streets of Nørrebro has been committed by Muslims and fueled by Islamic teachings about infidels – the teaching, for example, that uncovered women deserve to be raped, and that those who refuse to follow the prophet generally have what’s coming to them.

For folks in Scandinavia, Abdul Wahid Pedersen is a familiar name. A Danish convert to Islam (he was born Reino Arild Pedersen), he runs a private Somali Muslim school and goes on TV a lot to speak about issues related to Islam, immigration, and integration. Many people in Denmark appear to have bought the view of him as a moderate or liberal member of his faith – partly, I suppose, because he’s not some scary-looking, hotheaded foreigner but a relatively mild-mannered native Dane, partly because of his high-profile involvement in various interfaith activities, but mainly because he’s made a cause of presenting the prettiest possible image of Islam to audiences large and small.

It is hardly an exaggeration, indeed, to describe him as carrying out a perpetual one-man promotional tour for Islam. Last year Jens Gregersen and Kit Louise Strand, who write for a website run by Islam critics Ralf Pittelkow and Karen Jespersen, attended a talk Pedersen gave at a church in the little Danish town of Stege. According to their account, he presented his audience with a “sterilized and purified version” of Islam and was clearly at pains to come off as a genial, loving, and (despite his faith) ordinary Danish guy – a far cry, in short, “from the traditional imams of Middle Eastern/Turkish/Pakistani origin.”

Pedersen’s moderate image, however, is a meticulously crafted subterfuge. In reality, he’s a staunch, consistent champion of sharia law who insists that while punishments such as stoning may seem less than humane, mere humans have no right to question the will of Allah. He firmly endorses polygamy, defends female genital mutilation, and supports the death penalty for apostates and adulterers. When Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad traveled to Copenhagen in 2009 for the  UN Climate Conference, Pedersen was one of several leading Danish Muslims who met with him. In the same year, Pedersen walked off a TV interview program in fury after being asked about the practice, popular among some Muslims, of “restoring” the hymens of non-virginal brides before marriage.

In their account of Pedersen’s talk in Stege, Gregersen and Strand noted the consummate skill with which he worked his trusting audience of small-town churchgoers, taking advantage of their “polite and responsive” reception, their utter incapacity to mock or scorn an invited guest, their readiness to paper over any uncomfortable aspects of Islam “with quiet hymns, coffee and homemade cake.” In Stege, Pedersen acknowledged that sharia law will be introduced once Denmark becomes a majority-Muslim country, but he apparently managed to convince his audience that a sharia-run Denmark will be a perfectly livable place for its Christian citizens – a veritable City on a Hill overflowing with mutual respect and understanding. Pedersen slipped up only once during his visit to Stege, responding to a pointed, informed query about the treatment of Christians under sharia by furiously calling the questioner “stupid” – but he quickly collected himself, putting “the big smile on his face again” and resuming what Gregersen and Strand described as his “charm offensive.”

Such criticism of Pedersen is extremely rare. In any case, it plainly hasn’t put a dent in the willingness of credulous church officials to provide him with platforms for his noxious propaganda. Unsurprisingly, Britze Kijne’s invitation to Pedersen enjoyed the full support of her bishop, who told Kristeligt Dagblad that he saw no problem with the idea, calling it a “really nice and welcoming initiative.” Pedersen himself told Kristelig Dagblad: “We must show that we can easily step into each other’s houses and say conciliatory words. As Christians and Muslims we do not have religion in common, but we have faith and longing for God in common. We believe in the same God, but in different ways.”

Well, yes indeed, there is a big difference – an all-important difference – between the gospel message of love and forgiveness and the stoning of apostates and adulteresses in accordance with the dictates of Islam. When Christian leaders overlook that difference, they’re not serving the cause of multicultural harmony – they’re serving as dupes and pawns of the perpetrators of creeping jihad. And, in doing so, betraying their flocks, their faith, their country, and their God.

Bruce Bawer


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