Saturday, October 12, 2013

Dangerous Times: Obama Bows to the Mullahs

by James Lewis

It looks like the fix is in. The mullahs will certainly get their nukes and ICBMs, and neither Israel nor the Saudis (who are scared to death of the mullahs) will rely on American protection as long as Obama is in office. Obama just put out the welcome mat for Mullah Rouhani, the killer of 245 U.S. Marines in Beirut in 1984, and the ultraleft UK Guardian just claimed that its readers voted for Great Humanitarian Rouhani to be the next winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. The post-Stalinist Guardian is not known for telling the truth too often, and nobody knows if that "survey" is real or not. But the Guardian and the BBC are the two biggest hard-left organs of propaganda in Europe, and they have long promoted a kind of Hitler-Stalin Pact between European socialists in the EU and radical Muslims of both stripes in the Middle East. These are politically powerful signals, and they will be read as such around the world. 

Here is the way the dominos seem to be falling: We are going back to a binary power split between Russia and the United States, with China dominating Asia. Our former allies like Israel and the Saudis are quickly moving away from us and seeking more trustworthy allies, notably Russia, as this column has pointed out before. Putin successfully protected his ally Assad in Syria against a pathetic Obama, who has systematically sabotaged the Pax Americana of the last seven decades. The U.S. only needed to betray a few allies (like Poland on anti-missile defense and Israel against Iran) to spur on our other allies to get the idea. Japan and South Korea may be drawn to China, and Japan is now said to be developing its own nuclear weapons, seventy years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Europeans (who have lost the will to defend themselves) are looking to Russia as well, which is acting like the old Tsarist empire, promising to protect Western civilization against the barbarian hordes of imperial Islam. Vladimir Putin visited Jerusalem last year and sat down to talk with the Israeli Cabinet. He also prayed at a Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where the Russian Orthodox Church has long staked its own claim. Putin says he is a Christian, and is often shown in photos with the ancient Patriarch of Moscow, the equivalent of the Catholic Pope.

Putin has dealt ruthlessly with his own Islamist terror threat from Chechnya, and the Europeans will huddle under any umbrella in the nuclear proliferation storm that is about to break loose. Serious nations defend themselves seriously. In the nuclear missile age, non-serious nations have to buy protection.

Huge discoveries of shale deposits around the world are promising to liberate industrial countries from the chokehold of the Persian Gulf oil -- and once that's gone, who will defend the Sunni Arabs against Iranian aggression? Texas is becoming the biggest oil and gas producer in the world. Both Saudi Prince Bandar and Al Waleed, the richest zillionaire in Arabia, are publicly warning that the price of oil will soon go down as China, Poland, Russia, Germany, Britain and of course the United States are expecting domestic energy to supply their own needs for decades to come.

Even today, Obama is supporting the radical Muslim Brotherhood in the Middle East, in spite of its defeat by a modernist alliance in Egypt. Indeed, the U.S. has just cut off supplies to the armed forces of Egypt, the biggest political force for stability. In Syria, the news is now out that yes, we are supplying the 60,000 jihadis who are trying to overthrow Assad, Russia's ally.

Obviously we are siding with the barbarians in the jihad war. We have given up any moral justification for our foreign policy. In Obama's world, as the ACORN Manual proclaims, "Might is right." Until Obama's is gone, the world will grab any life preserver within reach.

The United States is still trying to disorganize the Middle East, just like the "Arab Spring" that overthrew Sunni regimes in Egypt and Libya. Jordan is reporting violent unrest against the Hashemite King who is considered to a foreigner by many Jordanian Arabs.

The Middle East is indeed in already in a regional war -- the prime minister of Libya was just kidnapped -- and the United States is no longer supporting stability anywhere. Just the opposite.

In the ME only Israel is rock-solid domestically -- and it is preparing for war. More than 60% of Israelis now believe that war with Iran is inevitable. The idea of a stable Israeli-Palestinian agreement emerging in this storm-whipped ocean looks increasingly unlikely.

If there is any logic behind Obama's actions, it is to increase the pressure on Israel for dangerous territorial concessions by empowering its worst enemies: The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and Iran on the Shi'ite side of the Muslim world. The Iranians control tens of thousands of missiles in Lebanon, Syria, and Iran, confronting Israel with its most dangerous threat.

As everybody knows by now, Obama is a high-stakes gambler with other people's freedom, safety, and welfare. The whole Arab Spring fiasco has spread medieval Shari'a rule, reversing a century of gradual modernization in the Muslim world. That means reactionary tyranny for many millions of women, for religious minorities like Christians and for any Jews who have not yet fled yet, along with Muslim modernists (they do exist) and scores of other religious minorities. Obama is not a believer in civilization.

Nobody knows the outcome. So far, Obama's gambles have not paid off. Egypt revolted against his favorite, Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood. By now an estimated 120,000 Arabs have died in Syria, with millions of refugees destabilizing neighboring countries, and the United States immorally supporting the Al Qaida-linked rebels. The Arab Spring is now a winter of warfare from Libya to Yemen.

Here are some possible outcomes.

1. Israel will be forced to explode an underground nuclear weapon to stop the triumphalist advance of the mullahs and Sunni radicals. Or it may attack Tehran using EMP-type weapons, which do not have to be nuclear, and which can strike energy plants without killing people. Israel has no interest in killing its enemies; it only needs to scare the daylights out of them, in the most unambiguous way possible. The Yom Kippur War allowed the 40-year Egypt-Israel peace treaty to be signed.

Israel will be pressured to place its nuclear forces under some sort of international inspection regime. However, when Stalin's Soviet Union had overwhelming conventional superiority in Europe, the U.S. refused to bargain down its nuclear weapons, because only nukes could stop a massive Soviet tank attack into Western Europe. The U.S. didn't surrender its nukes, and it is extremely doubtful that Israel will do so.

Israel is now talking to Putin, to the Gulf Arabs, and even to China and India to strengthen its international alliances. With fast-growing domestic energy supplies, high technology, a strong economy, and a major military, Israel can build new alliances before Iran goes nuclear. China is now constructing a railroad across Israel to the Red Sea to compete with the Suez Canal. That would give China new energy supplies that it desperately needs.

2. Absent a reliable U.S. nuclear umbrella, the Saudis will seek protection from the only serious nuclear world power in the neighborhood, Putin's Russia. If not, the Saudis will activate a longstanding plan to import nuclear weapons from Pakistan to arm its own Arab protector, Egypt. Nuclear proliferation will accelerate.

3. Europe is in a self-inflicted economic crisis, and needs a more reliable protector than Obama's United States. Much of Europe is still in economic despair, with the resulting rise of neo-fascist parties like Golden Dawn in Greece, Beppe Grillo's Five Star Movement in Italy, and nearly fascist parties in Hungary, Bulgaria, and Spain. Without reliable U.S. protection, NATO countries desperately need a new military umbrella. In France, the National Front is now receiving high poll numbers after proposing a French-Russian alliance against Germany. Europe has world-class industries but it has cannibalized its military to feed the welfare state.

In sum, the safety and security we have provided the world for seventy years is crumbling. Countries at great risk are looking to Moscow for military protection. Russia is still much weaker than it was when the Soviet Union looked dominant, but it has two big sources of clout: Its military and its energy supplies. Russia is also the only nation that can intimidate the mullahs -- it is far more willing to use its full range of weapons than the United States. Putin has proven that in Chechnya.

Under Obama, the United States is letting the world fall into crisis. Chances are that he wants to use the resulting chaos to force Israel into making concessions. But countries do not willingly commit suicide, and Israel has a much better option, which is to bring in Putin's Russia to balance a far-left-ruled United States.

In previous Middle East crises the United States could act as a trusted mediator -- but nobody can trust Obama, as the Republicans in Congress know so well. Any peace settlement will therefore require a two-nuclear-power guarantee to be trustworthy.

Obama is a crisis-monger. It is the only way he knows how to operate. But nobody can predict how his crises will come out. So far he has mainly destroyed American credibility. 

James Lewis


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

Israel's Blind Watchmen

by Caroline Glick


During his visit to Israel in March, US President Barack Obama compelled Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to apologize to his Turkish counterpart for the actions of IDF Naval Commandos aboard the Mavi Marmara terror ship in May 2010.

The Mavi Marmara was sent by the IHH, a Turkish- government supported, al-Qaida-aligned group, to try to break Israel's lawful maritime blockade of the Gaza coast. When the lightly armed naval commandos boarded the ship they were attacked by terrorists wielding knives and iron pipes. They were stabbed and bludgeoned. In the violence, nine Turkish terrorists were killed.

By forcing Israel to apologize to Turkey, Obama took the side of the aggressor against the victim.

Netanyahu apologized to Turkey's pro-Hamas Prime Minister Recep Erdogan in a phone call that Obama participated in. Obama promised that Turkey would accept Israel's apology and restore full diplomatic relations.

But nothing of the sort occurred. Last week, Turkish President Abdullah Gul told Yediot Aharonot that the apology came too late. And this week, Erdogan hosted Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal for the third time in the past year. Commentators have raised the prospect that Hamas may be hoping to transfer its headquarters from Qatar to Turkey.

The Egyptian military is now fighting Hamas in Sinai. The military-backed government blames the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood branch for fomenting the Islamist insurgency there. Egyptian forces have destroyed much of the tunnel network linking Gaza with Sinai that had enabled the cross-traffic of terrorists and munitions between the areas. This week, Egypt announced plans to demarcate Egypt's territorial waters along Gaza to prevent the transfer by sea of weapons and terror operatives between them.

Under these circumstances, Erdogan's embrace of Mashaal was a sign not only of support for Hamas and ill will toward Israel. It was a sign of animosity toward Egypt.

It is notable that the same day Erdogan welcomed Mashaal to Turkey, the Obama administration announced it is scaling back US military assistance to Egypt. The administration claims it is freezing the transfer of major military platforms to Egypt to show its dissatisfaction with the government's crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood government, and its impatience with the military's refusal to date to call elections after deposing the elected Muslim Brotherhood government in July.

The administration's declared concern for democracy is apparently limited to Egypt. One finds no trace of such concern for instance in the administration's relationship with Turkey. There, as Michael Rubin reported in Commentary, the Justice and Interior ministries just announced that people can now be jailed if they think about protesting against the government. In other words, NATO member Turkey is not merely considering becoming the official sponsor of a terrorist organization. The regime of the man Obama praised as his closest friend in the region has criminalized thought.

Not only has the administration refused to take any action against Turkey for its authoritarian governance and its pro-terror policies. Last month the US and Turkey along with Qatar announced a $200 million program under which Turkey and Qatar will develop materials aimed at promoting the Muslim Brotherhood's Islamist agenda. The stated aim of the Global Fund for Community Engagement and Resilience will be to convince Muslims to adopt the totalitarian Muslim Brotherhood version of Islam, but at the same time, to convince them not to join al-Qaida. The official launch of the initiative took place at the US-Turkish Global Counterterrorism Forum last month in New York.

When the forum was founded two years ago, the Obama administration bowed to Turkey's demand and barred Israel from participating in it.

Obama's success in forcing Netanyahu to apologize to Erdogan was the culmination of years of US pressure on Israel. Obama began gunning for an Israeli apology to his friend Erdogan almost immediately after the incident.

NOTABLY, IDF commanders led by then-defense minister Ehud Barak were early supporters of the move. They claimed that an apology would enable the US to restore Israel's strategic alliance with Turkey, and that the alliance with Ankara was too valuable to squander simply to defend the honor of our soldiers.

As Turkey's embrace of Hamas, its cultivation of the al-Qaida- and Muslim Brotherhood-dominated Syrian rebel forces, and its general hostility toward Israel at every turn show, Israel's military brass's hope to restore Israel's strategic alliance with Turkey was based a critical misreading of Turkish intentions. Barak and the generals failed to understand who Erdogan is. They failed to understand that by persecuting his political opponents through summary arrest and imprisonment without trial of leading members of the military, state bureaucracy, business community and media, Erdogan was transforming Turkey from a strategic ally into an enemy of Israel.

Instead of recognizing what was happening, they clung to the false belief that the blame for the deterioration of relations lay with Israel for insisting - albeit incompetently - on maintaining the blockade, and later on defending its soldiers' good names. They trusted that Obama would take care of things if Israel simply backed down.

AS EVELYN GORDON noted this week in Commentary, Israel's defense establishment has been similarly wrong about Iran. Much, if not all of the blame for the fact that Israel has failed to attack Iran's nuclear installations falls on the defense establishment. In an arguably treasonous act, in May 2011, outgoing Mossad director Meir Dagan publicly attacked Netanyahu for considering attacking Iran's nuclear installations. He was joined by outgoing Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin and outgoing IDF chief of staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi.

The three defense chiefs, along with President Shimon Peres, reportedly prevented Netanyahu and Barak from ordering a strike against Iran in 2010.

In repeated public statements, Dagan has insistently claimed that Israel can trust the US to take care of Iran for us. Yet as Obama's latest decisions on Syria and Iran make clear, the Obama administration is not committed to preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, or to stemming the flow and use of weapons of mass destruction by Iran and its allies. The administration's repeated claims that "all options are on the table" have no credibility.

In truth, it was easy to discern Obama's abject lack of concern about Iran becoming a nuclear power from the outset. Even before taking office he made every effort to show the Iranians that all he wanted was to negotiate with them. They had no reason for concern from an Obama administration.

On the other hand, as former national security adviser Giora Eiland revealed in August, Obama pressured Netanyahu to call off a planned strike against Iran's nuclear installations in the fall of 2012.

And yet, senior Israeli defense officials have served as Obama's chief lobbyists.

Then there is Egypt. Speaking at the Jerusalem Post conference in 2012, Ashkenazi said that neither he nor any of his colleagues foresaw the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak. They did not recognize how Obama's open support for the Muslim Brotherhood endangered Mubarak. They did not notice how Mubarak's economic liberalization policies and his plan to have his son Gamal succeed him weakened the military's support for his leadership.

Israel's military and intelligence chiefs did not recognize how Egypt's economic weakness raised public dissatisfaction with Mubarak to unprecedented levels.

They did not consider the possibility that Obama could transfer US support from the man who upheld the peace treaty with Israel for three decades - and so served as the anchor for the US's alliance system in the Arab world - to his greatest enemies, the Muslim Brotherhood, which spawned Hamas and al-Qaida, along with jihadist networks throughout the world including in the United States.

And then there is Syria. As Gordon noted, the IDF leadership was similarly blinded by its preconceived notions on Syria. Israel's miliary leaders so misunderstood the nature of Syria's subservient alliance with Iran that they supported an Israeli surrender of the Golan Heights to Syria believing that such an Israeli move would convince Bashar Assad to ditch his alliance with Tehran. They did not recognize that Syria has never stood on its own. It was run first by the Ottomans, then the French and then by the Soviets. Once the Soviet Union broke up, Iran stepped into the breach.

As for the Palestinians, for the past 20 years, the same military and intelligence leadership has insisted that only a political settlement between Israel and the PLO will defeat and end Palestinian terrorism against Israel. The fact that the IDF has repeatedly defeated Palestinian terrorism, and the PLO has consistently organized and abetted that terrorism, has made little impact on the position of the General Staff.

On Saturday night, nine-year old Noam Glick was shot at close range by a terrorist while playing in her backyard. The terrorist had infiltrated her town. Her father reported hearing three gun shots.

Yet for several days, the IDF refused to acknowledge that it was a terrorist attack.

In a similar fashion, in September 2011, when Palestinian terrorists stoned Asher Palmer's car murdering him and his infant son Yonatan, the IDF took more than a week to acknowledge that it was a terrorist attack rather than a traffic accident.

In both cases, the clear aim of this insensitive obfuscation was to diminish public criticism of the Palestinians with whom Israel is now engaging and was seeking to engage in 2011.

Israel's military leadership failure to notice, let alone grasp the strategic implications of, regional and international developments is not new. It has been going on for at least 40 years.

Ever since our defense establishment fell asleep at the watch in the period leading up to the Yom Kippur War, many causes have been identified to explain its ongoing myopia. 

Intellectual reliance on the leftist-dominated media; blind trust rather than critical analysis of statements by foreign sources and colleagues; lawyerization of military operations; over-dependence on technology; politicization of the senior ranks; and discrimination against religious officers have all been pointed to as factors that have contributed to Israel's senior defense officials' failure to foresee any major development and insistent blindness to their significance. 

Certainly all have played a role in bringing about this dismal state of affairs.

But whatever the cause of our military and intelligence leadership's insistence on getting everything wrong, the fact is that they are Israel's Achilles' heel. Until steps are taken to rectify this situation, Israel's technological prowess and tactical brilliance will remain of limited value for securing the country and our interests.

Caroline Glick


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

Spain's Escalating Mosque Wars

by Soeren Kern

"The rules of the city and the country are mandatory for everyone, and Mollet del Vallès will be uncompromising toward any kind of radicalism or blackmail." — Josep Monràs, Mayor of Mollet del Vallès, Spain

Police in Spain have forcibly removed Muslim activists from an illegal mosque in a small town in Catalonia, an autonomous region in northeastern Spain that is home to the largest Muslim population in the country.

The eviction ends -- for now, anyway -- a highly public one-year standoff in which Muslim immigrants in the Catalan town of Mollet del Vallès openly and aggressively challenged the authority of municipal officials to evaluate and determine the proper location of new mosques based on established urban planning regulations.

The dispute over the unauthorized mosque is the latest in a growing number of mosque-related conflicts resulting from efforts by towns and cities across Spain to relocate overfilled mosques from congested downtown areas to uninhabited industrial parks.

Catalan police ended the standoff in Mollet del Vallès on October 2 by conducting an early morning raid on the property, which was being illegally occupied by up to 50 Muslims from North Africa who were angry over a decision by the town council to prohibit the premises from being used as a mosque.
The confrontation began in July 2012, when the Al Huda Muslim Community told the town council that their existing mosque on Sant Ramon Street in downtown Mollet del Vallès had become too small for the swelling ranks of Muslims who gather for weekly prayers each Friday.

Al Huda -- one of two Muslim communities in this town of 50,000 inhabitants, near Barcelona -- went on to tell municipal authorities that the group was interested in purchasing an old factory building, also situated in the downtown area, in order to convert the property into a mosque.
In response, the mayor of Mollet del Vallès, Josep Monràs, warned Al Huda that the building in question was zoned for commercial use only and, in accordance with the Municipal Management Plan dated 2004, could not be used as a mosque.

As an alternative, Monràs offered to provide Al Huda with a much larger property in an industrial park located two kilometers from the downtown area. This location would not only accommodate a greater number of worshippers, it would also serve to avoid the noise and parking problems associated with hundreds of Muslims gathering in the cramped downtown area.

In any event, Monràs argued, the Islamic Council of Mollet del Vallès, the other Muslim community in town, had accepted a similar offer and was already operating a mosque in the same industrial park without any problems.

Al Huda rejected the mayor's alternative offer, calling it a case of "Islamophobia" and alleging that the municipality was eager to "banish" all Muslims from the downtown area. "We are not some merchandise that should be in an industrial park," a member of Al Huda told the Catalan newspaper La Vanguardia.

Rejecting the mayor's warning, Al Huda went ahead and purchased the old factory building in June 2013. Shortly thereafter, Al Huda demanded that the town council change the zoning regulations so that the property could be converted into a mosque. The town council refused this demand.

The conflict escalated when members of Al Huda began construction work to convert the new building into a mosque -- in defiance of the town council, and despite lacking a building permit. On July 10, 2013, the town council sealed off the old factory building, due to urban planning violations, thus prohibiting Al Huda from continuing its illegal construction activities.

Al Huda responded by ordering more than 400 Muslims to hold five prayers each day in front of the town hall (photos here, here and here). "We will be one or two months or however long it takes. We will not leave until the town council gives us back our site," said the president of Al Huda, Ahmed Balghouch.

Members of the Al Huda Muslim community stage a public prayer protest in Mollet del Vallès, Spain.

The "pressure tactic" ended up disrupting normal daily activity for non-Muslims in downtown Mollet del Vallès for three months, from July through September.

Mayor Monràs refused to back down, however, saying he would not give in to Al Huda's "blackmail" tactics. "The [Al Huda] Muslim community knew that they could not purchase the property in order to convert it into a mosque because it would be a breach of municipal planning regulations. Yet, they have launched a number of protest actions that are illegal. The rules of the city and the country are mandatory for everyone and Mollet del Vallès will be uncompromising toward any kind of radicalism or blackmail," Monràs said.

After the daily prayer ploy failed to force the town hall to budge, Al Huda escalated the conflict still further. On September 20, around 50 Muslims broke the seal on the old factory building and occupied the property, on the pretense that they wanted to turn off a light that had been left on. In fact, they sought to deceive the police and several of the men went on a hunger strike in an effort to force the municipality to amend the zoning regulations.

On September 21, the municipality gave Al Huda 72 hours to vacate the premises or the 50 protesters would be subject to a court-ordered eviction. Mayor Monràs said he was not "Islamophobic" and reiterated that Al Huda knew full well that the factory building could not be used as a mosque. He also warned its members that they would not get anywhere "with impositions, radicalism and violence."

After Al Huda refused to comply with the order, police raided the property on October 2 and forcibly removed those who were holed-up inside. The property has now been resealed, but Al Huda now says it plans to file a lawsuit against the municipality.

The conflict in Mollet del Vallès is just one of many mosque-related incidents in Spain in recent months.

In July 2013, for example, public prosecutors charged one of the key figures behind the construction of a mega-mosque in the municipality of Salt -- a town near Barcelona where Muslim immigrants now make up 40% of the population -- with money laundering.

Police are questioning Mohamed Ataouil, a prominent Moroccan businessman who lives and works in Salt, about the source of the money used to purchase the land for the mosque. An investigation that began in late 2012 is looking into the origin of €280,000 ($380,000) that was wired to an entity controlled by Ataouil. The transfers were always in quantities under €3,000, apparently in an effort to avoid detection by counter-terrorism authorities.

Ataouil has been in the crosshairs of Spanish intelligence for years due to his suspected links to the Salafi stream of Islam. Salafism, a branch of radical Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia, openly seeks to replace the democratic order in Europe and elsewhere with an Islamic system of government that would be ruled by Sharia law.

Police suspect the funds used to build the Salt mega-mosque, to be located in an industrial park on the outskirts of the town, are being secretly provided to Ataouil by Islamic radicals in the Middle East who are seeking to spread their ideology in Spain. Ataouil has so far refused to cooperate with police.
In April 2013, the City of Tarragona approved a new regulation that would limit the opening of new mosques within inhabited parts of the city. The modified Municipal Urban Development Plan would restrict mosques to "exclusive buildings," meaning single purpose buildings that have no other residential or commercial tenants. In the local context, this implies that from now on mosques can only be built in suburban industrial parks.

In March 2013, contrarily, the Supreme Court of Catalonia ruled that the Catalan municipality of Lérida is prohibited from relocating a mosque to an industrial park situated on the outskirts of the city. The court ruled that efforts by the Lérida City Council to rezone a parcel of land from industrial use to religious use was illegal.

The dispute began in July 2010 when the city council voted to close the controversial North Street Mosque in downtown Lérida -- led by a Salafist imam named Abdelwahab Houzi -- because of repeated violations of over-occupancy ordinances that saw hundreds of Muslims spilling out into the streets for Friday prayers.

Muslims retaliated by praying in public squares and streets in protest. The Lérida City Council eventually decided to amend the zoning laws in an industrial park in an effort to get Muslims off public property. But Muslims complained that the city was seeking to remove them from the city center in violation of their rights to religious freedom.

The Catalan Supreme Court agreed, saying that the Lérida City Council's decision to rezone the industrial park was "irrational and arbitrary." City officials said they would not appeal the decision because there was no money to finance construction of the new mosque.

Until another solution can be found, Muslims in Lérida are now meeting in a pavilion at the Camps Elisis trade fair grounds -- situated within walking distance from the city center – courtesy of the Lérida City Council.

Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute. He is also Senior Fellow for European Politics at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group. Follow him on Facebook.

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Reza Aslan: Authority on Islam and the Middle East?

by Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi


An author who came to widespread attention during the past couple of months over the release of his book Zealot (July 2013) on the life Jesus, Reza Aslan has been known primarily as an authority on Islam and the Middle East. He has been hailed by an array of commentators, most notably the celebrity comedian Jon Stewart, who described him as “the fantastic Reza Aslan.” But where did this reputation come from? More importantly, does it hold up to critical scrutiny?

To understand the rise of Aslan, one must turn to his 2005 book No God but God. Aslan was alarmed by what he saw as a supposed “clash of monotheisms” through polarizing rhetoric in both the West and Middle East. Denouncing “rising anti-Muslim vehemence that has become so much a part of the [Western] mainstream media’s discourse about the Middle East,” Aslan purported to demonstrate continuity between Islam and its predecessors, Christianity and Judaism. In other words, to demonstrate that there is no need for a “clash of monotheisms.”

Fundamental to Aslan’s argument is that the message of Islam, as intended by its founder, is a “revolutionary message of moral accountability and social egalitarianism.” Aslan is open about his apologetic intentions, making it clear that “there is no higher calling than to defend one’s faith, especially from ignorance and hate.” Indeed, as one reviewer noted, “this book is designed for the west.”

The result is not scholarship, but apologetics. It leads Aslan to make usual and predictable howlers. To focus on a single crucial issue, he asserts that “the most important innovation in the doctrine of jihad was its outright prohibition of all but strictly defensive wars,” while Qur’anic verses such as 9:29, with the injunction to fight non-Muslims until they pay a poll-tax in a state of subjugation, are explained away as “directed specifically at the Quraysh (the pagan tribe in Mecca opposed to Muhammad) and their clandestine partisans in Yathrib (Medina, with the Jews opposed to Muhammad).”

Aslan is of course entitled to his personal interpretation of the texts, but presenting it as the “true” view for a non-Muslim audience amounts to disinformation. This is evident especially when he portrays what he terms the “classical doctrine of jihad” as something formulated during the “height of the Crusades” and “partly in response to them.”  In fact, the doctrine of jihad demands that the “House of Islam” (Dar al-Islam) must subdue the “House of War” (Dar al-Harb, the non-Islamic world), although Aslan uses the softened (and misleading) phrase “in pursuit of “the “House of Islam.”

Insum, Aslan presents offensive jihad as a response to Western aggression. This is blatantly unhistorical: offensive jihad as a doctrine—beginning with elaboration from the first biographers of Mohammed such as Ibn Ishaq in the ninth century—was developed precisely to unify and justify the rapidly growing Arab empire from Islam’s early years.

Though Aslan also purports to be a voice for reform, his apologetic approach in No God but God leads to little insight in the wider realm of modern Middle East analysis. Instead, he regurgitates worn-out talking points.

Thus, given his portrayal of jihad as merely defensive, Aslan refuses to consider whether al-Qaeda’s worldview might have any ideological appeal with roots in Islamic theology. Rather, the only way to diminish al-Qaeda’s influence is to address the “very grievances that the movement uses to rally young Muslims to its cause: the suffering of the Palestinians, American support for Arab dictators . . . the fact that we in the west tend to treat that entire region [the Middle East] as a giant gas station.” In fact, this is typical of the propaganda that al-Qaeda employs in messages to Westerners.

Other recycled talking points from Aslan include the familiar idea that the U.S. should work with non-violent and supposedly moderate Islamists such as Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, whose nefarious role in the country he hailed as a “good thing,” along with cheering the election of Mohammed Morsi. For Aslan, these groups offer a healthy antidote to the real problem of violent Islamists.

What then if the lines are blurred, as when Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood [MB]-led government indicated it would have no problem with its citizens going to fight jihad in Syria, or when its claims of Coptic conspiracies behind the anti-MB coup in Egypt resulted in an upsurge of attacks on churches? How about Tunisia, where the Islamist-led government under Ennahda has tolerated Salafist mobs provided they pose no direct threat to its rule?

As a matter of fact, Islamism, according to Aslan, is nothing more than “religious nationalism of the Islamic variety,” to be distinguished from jihadism, which is defined as a transnational project. Amusing, to say the least. For by Aslan’s twisted logic, Iran must be a jihadist state, for it is foremost committed to spreading its Islamist ideology of vilayat al-faqih (“guardianship of the jurists,” whereby supreme political authority should rest in the hands of Islamic clergy) beyond its own borders, both among established Shi’a communities and through proselytism (including far afield areas such as West Africa via its surrogate Hezbollah, which Aslan denies is a proxy of Iran and hails for supposedly focusing “solely on nationalist politics” with an agenda of “domestic reform” and “civic duty”).

Despite being widely touted as an expert on Islam and the Middle East, in reality, Aslan’s ideas and arguments do not really extend beyond Islamist apologetics repeated ad nauseam. While he frequently touts his academic credentials (which he has misrepresented, including an absurd claim to “fluency” in Biblical Greek), Aslan’s response to criticism is generally to resort to profanity and childish ad hominems, deriding those who disagree with him as “morons” (as he addressed this author once), “ignorant twits,” and “f*****g liars.”

Hardly the tone of a scholar and frequently self-described “expert,” yet so long as Aslan’s spiteful behavior, disinformation, and nonsensical talking points go unexamined, he will continue to have fans in the mainstream and among celebrities. 

Aymenn Jawad Al Tamimi is a Shillman-Ginsburg Fellow at the Middle East Forum. He wrote this article for Campus Watch, a project of the Forum.


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Brotherhood in Retreat

by Jonathan Speyer

Jerusalem Post, 11/10

Reports surfaced this week suggesting that Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal is seeking to relocate from his current base in the Qatari capital of Doha. Hamas has indignantly rejected these claims. This shouldn’t be taken as authoritative – the movement also dismissed evidence that it was leaving Damascus in 2012 until the move was complete and could no longer be denied. 

If it turns out that the Hamas leadership is indeed on its way out of Qatar, this is the latest indication of the astonishing change of fortunes that has hit the Muslim Brotherhood. History may remember 2013 as the year of the movement’s eclipse, after its very brief moment in the sun in 2011-12. 

Observe: at the beginning of this year, the Muslim Brotherhood held power in Egypt and Tunisia. A Syrian insurgency dominated by militias with similar ideas to the Brotherhood and supported by the same patron (Qatar) looked to be heading for victory in Syria’s civil war. 

A Brotherhood-related party was in power in Turkey, and the Emirate of Qatar had emerged as the energetic financier and enthusiastic cheerleader of the Brothers’ advance across the region. 

Qatar, through its immensely popular al-Jazeera channel, had the ability to sculpt public opinion according to its will, across borders in the Arabic-speaking world. 

The Brotherhood/Qatari alliance also seemed well on the way to claiming the commanding stake in Palestinian nationalism. Hamas, the Palestinian branch of the movement, had carved out the only genuinely independent Palestinian entity in the Gaza Strip. 

The Palestinian cause and opposition to Israel remain key badges of legitimacy in the politics of the Arab world. Hamas, led by Mashaal, spent 2011 and 2012 relocating itself out of Damascus, and drawing ever closer to Doha. Emir Hamed Bin Khalifa al-Thani then visited Hamas-controlled Gaza in October, 2012, pledging $400 million to the Hamas enclave. 

Everything seemed to be going in the right direction. 

But the advance of the Muslim Brotherhood was alarming to the conservative Gulf monarchies of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Israel, too, was watching events with concern. Israel was far less vulnerable than the fragile Gulf states, but the rise of the Brotherhood in Egypt seemed to promise trouble somewhere down the road. 

In the course of 2013, the advance was reversed. 

Most importantly, the Brotherhood was forcibly removed from power in Egypt in a Saudi and UAE supported military coup in July. The new military regime is in the process of destroying Islamist military resistance. The Brotherhood has been declared illegal and will not be permitted to stand in future elections once the civilian political process has been reactivated. 

In this age of asymmetric conflicts in which the very concepts of victory and defeat are said to be obsolete, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt has suffered something that looks very much like an old fashioned, unambiguous and clear defeat. 

In Qatar, meanwhile, Emir Hamed Bin-Khalifa was replaced in June by his son, Tamim. The precise circumstances and reasons for Emir Hamed’s sudden departure from power remain mysterious. Since then, Qatar has virtually disappeared from the regional stage. Its contributions to the Brotherhood in Egypt are drying up. 

Hamas, alarmed by the turn of events in Egypt, is reactivating its contacts with Iran and the rival, Shia-dominated Islamist bloc led by Teheran.. 

In Syria, the Assad regime rallied in the first months of 2013 and its existence is no longer in imminent danger. On the Syrian rebel side, meanwhile, it is now the Saudis who are making the running – officially supporting the ‘moderate’ Supreme Military Council, and enabling the funding of Salafi organizations through private funds. The Qataris and the Muslim Brotherhood are no longer the main players. 

And in the latest reversal of fortune, the Al-Nahda party in Tunisia has agreed to dissolve the government which it formed following its election victory in 2011. The government will be replaced by an administration of technocrats pending new elections. This move follows the unrest and political crisis that erupted after the assassination of opposition leader Mohammed Brahmi in July. 

In Turkey, meanwhile, the Muslim Brotherhood related AKP is left to ponder the ruins of its plans and hopes for the region. It had expected the formation of an alliance of like-thinking MB-style Sunni Islamist regimes across the region, in North Africa, the Levant and the Gulf. 

After the events of 2013, this is no longer on the cards. Instead, the AKP government must cope with angry protests by non-Islamist Turks, the loss of allies and regional isolation. 

This appears to be taking its toll. A broadcast featuring Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayep Erdogan and discussing the crushing of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt had to be stopped recently when the Turkish leader began weeping uncontrollably.

What all this means is that on literally every front on which it made significant advances, the Muslim Brotherhood has now stalled. 

Whether or not it turns out that the reports regarding Khaled Mashal’s relocation are true, Hamas is being forced to reposition itself, and to go back to Iran cap in hand. The reason is because this movement too had placed its bets on a Qatar-financed alliance of Muslim Brotherhood oriented states which will now not come into being. 

The Muslim Brothers are by no means finished. Their politics retain a natural purchase in the conservative, Sunni Arab Middle East. But the moment when everything seemed possible has decidedly passed. What looked like the potential beginning of a new age ended up as a brief moment in the sun. 

The sun is now setting on the Muslim Brotherhood’s hopes of regional domination. 

Jonathan Speyer


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

New Islamist Approach to Turks in Germany

by Veli Sirin

The alignment of a German Islamist party with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's AKP tends to demonstrate that an AKP campaign to penetrate and, ultimately, dominate German Turks has begun in earnest.

Germany's federal election, held on September 22, had two new consequences, one reported widely in global media -- the failure of the centrist Free Democrats [FDP] to retain their presence in the parliament, or Bundestag -- and the other observed almost exclusively by Turks, whether in Turkey or in the large Turkish immigrant community in Western Europe. That was the public emergence of an ambitious Islamist party in Germany.

In the political contest in September, for the first time, state-level candidates appeared with an Islamist ideology that values separation from -- rather than cooperation with -- other German parties. The Islamists are represented by the Alliance for Innovation and Justice, known by its German-language title as BIG, founded in 2010 and currently headed by Haluk Yildiz. A management consultant and leader of the Muslim Council of Bonn, Yildiz was elected in 2009 to the Bonn city council on the ticket of the Alliance for Peace and Fairness [German acronym: BFF], a group that joined in founding BIG.

The appearance of an ardent, nationally-organized German-Turkish Islamist party should elicit a strong and critical response from the German authorities as well as moderate German Muslims.

The Islamist BIG does not hesitate to call itself an "immigrant party," notwithstanding that most Turkish and Kurdish people in Germany, whether coming from Turkey or, as with their offspring, born in Germany, favor integration into German society and do not want to be judged by their immigrant origin. For that reason, they have generally voted for the Social Democrats, the Greens, and The Left (the last are ex-Communists), which favor their acceptance as Germans.

But the future of German Turkish and German Kurdish politics is difficult to predict. Germans of Turkish background debate the rise of the "soft-Islamist" Justice and Development Party, or AKP, headed by current Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and its impact on Turks and Kurds in Germany and elsewhere abroad. Since many Turkish immigrants to Western Europe were and are secular, with a considerable number of adherents to the Alevi Muslim religious minority among them, they wonder how the religious, Sunni-oriented AKP will deal with Turks living in the West. To some, the AKP represents an economically prosperous and increasingly influential Turkey; to others, a radicalizing Islamist and authoritarian menace.

BIG disclaims publicly a formal connection with the AKP and Erdogan – unsurprising, given that foreign financing of political parties is illegal in Germany. But the "immigrant party" in Germany and the AKP share some notable personalities. In a visit to Berlin in 2011, according to Der Spiegel, Nevzat Yalcintas, a Turkish academic and influential AKP deputy, spoke at a rally during local elections and called on Turks to vote for BIG. BIG may be AKP's spear-point for penetration of the German Turkish community.

Hasan Ozdogan, described by Der Spiegel as the unofficial and unacknowledged controller of BIG, is the chairman of the Union of European Turkish Democrats [UETD], a network established to mobilize support for the Erdogan regime. In referring to the creation of BIG, Ozdogan declared, "It is time to join our forces."

Both Haluk Yildiz, the public face of BIG, and Hasan Ozdogan, have had extremist links. In the Muslim Council of Bonn, Yildiz defended Bekkay Harrach, a member of Al-Qaida, after Al-Qaida produced videos in 2009 with the Moroccan-born, naturalized German Harrach threatening a terror campaign in Germany if Berlin did not withdraw from the NATO military effort in Afghanistan. German authorities treated the Harrach videos as a credible threat and upgraded their anti-terror watch systems. Germany did not remove its troops from Afghanistan. Yildiz, nevertheless, portrayed Harrach as an Islamic freedom fighter with "hot-headed" tendencies, while downplaying his status in the Bonn mosques where Harrach was a radical preacher. The British Broadcasting Corporation reported in 2011 that Harrach was killed in Afghanistan while fighting under the alias "Abu Talha Al-Almani," or "Abu Talha the German." (The original Abu Talha was a combatant in early Islamic history.)

For his part, Hasan Ozdogan is associated also with the anti-Western and particularly anti-Jewish Milli Gorus [National Vision] movement, formerly led by the Islamist Necmettin Erbakan (1926-2011), Turkey's prime minister for a year, from mid-1996 to mid-1997. As secretary-general of Milli Gorus in Germany, Ozdogan had expressed his surprise that anti-Jewish public rhetoric was considered normal in Turkey, but is prohibited in Germany. Many Milli Gorus cadres have entered the AKP administration under Erdogan.

Ozdogan admits to no pessimism about the future of radical Islam among German Turks. Although the BIG has not yet been seated in any German state parliament, he has declared, "We are only beginning," and notes that it took years for the Greens to gain serious political influence. "We need a long time to breathe," he says.

While the majority of immigrants and their children want to leave the mark of the foreigner behind, except during vacations in Turkey, BIG stands for primary loyalty to their ethnic heritage. In this regard, BIG, with its separatist outlook, appears unlikely to gain much support from German Turks, who, to judge by their history, after they began moving to Western Europe in search of work in the 1960s, do not want to maintain walls between them and their ethnic German neighbors.

Among other proposals, BIG calls for German Turks and their children, even if they possess German citizenship, to be allowed dual passport status as Turks and as Germans. At present, the right to dual citizenship is denied in Germany except to citizens of the European Union or Switzerland, and in complex cases involving serious hardship for the applicant. Immigrants from Turkey do not currently qualify for German citizenship while retaining Turkish citizenship.

The future of BIG may well depend on how much open and active support it receives from Erdogan's AKP. The ranks of BIG, for now, remain thin enough to keep it out of national politics; it is doubtful that it will, at least in the near future, send members to the Bundestag. Under German electoral law, a party must receive 5% of votes to be included in parliament. The Free Democrats slipped under the 5% requirement in the most recent election, for the first time since their formation after World War II. The FDP had long served as allies of the Christian Democrats/Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU), led by victorious incumbent chancellor Angela Merkel. The FDP loss has left chancellor Merkel searching for a coalition partner, since her CDU/CSU, the Social Democrats, the Greens, and The Left are now alone in the Bundestag. The CDU/CSU could form a government with the Social Democrats or Greens, but not with The Left, because of the association of the latter with the former East German dictatorship and with radical socialism.

But a German think-tank, the Futureorg Institute, determined that 6.9% of German voters of Turkish origin favored BIG. In addition, another German non-governmental organization, Citizens for Europe, carried out a survey among 400,000 residents of Berlin who did not have German citizenship, and therefore could not vote in the local state elections of 2011. Citizens for Europe found that 6% of those it interviewed said that if they had the franchise they would choose BIG. And the German weekly, Der Spiegel, reported last year that The Greens had conducted a study of BIG, which the environmentalists assessed as a competitor among the many Turks and Kurds who have voted for them.

The "immigrant party" has yet to summon mass enthusiasm that might undermine German Turkish and Kurdish loyalty to parties favoring their integration into the majority society. The U.S.-based news portal,, states that in the September 2013 Bundestag contest, BIG received only 2,700 votes for its own candidates and 17,700 for its general party slate. Under the German system, voters cast two ballots, one for a local candidate and one for a list under the party's name. For those concerned about BIG's possible expansion and influence, the poor number of ballots cast for it were evidence that a German Islamist party would likely remain marginal.

This result for BIG was far below the 5% barrier, which, from a pool of 62 million eligible voters, would range from about three million downward according to voter participation. Germany's population of Turkish background, including Turkish Kurds, is estimated at two million, or about 2.5% of the country's total of 81 million.

The alignment of a German Islamist party with Erdogan's AKP appears to demonstrate that an AKP campaign to penetrate and, ultimately, dominate German Turks has begun in earnest. Such a development, long feared by German Turkish and Kurdish moderate and secular Muslims, may be slender in its probability of success, but its involvement in German Muslim life can only be negative.

Veli Sirin is the German Director of the Center for Islamic Pluralism.

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

After Jordan Valley Murder Will PM Netanyahu Truly Give Zionist Response To Terror - Settlements?

by Aaron Lerner

Historically, settlements were considered the "Zionist response to terror."

A look at the map of modern Israel finds it sprinkled with the names of settlements named in memory of the victims of various Arab attacks.

Today's terrorists are popular folk heroes in Palestinian society. The cost to the Palestinians of terror, in the form of restrictions on movement and commerce, may be painful, but the pain is temporary in nature. Large terrorist attacks may postpone what the Palestinians see as the ongoing capitulation of Israel either at the negotiating table or via unilateral withdrawals, but, again, these are temporary setbacks.

Terrorist attacks may, in fact, be viewed in the long run by the Palestinians as serving their interests by softening Israel's resolve.

Less than a month ago Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu responded to the murder of Sgt. Gabriel Kobi in Hebron by ordering the immediate resettlement of Beit Hamachpela, a Jewish owned building near the West Bank city’s Tomb of Patriarchs which was previously boarded up by order of the Defense Ministry.

PM Netanyahu declared that "Those who attempt to uproot us from the city of our forefathers will achieve the opposite effect. We will continue on one hand to fight terror and to harm terrorists and on the other hand to strengthen settlements."

But shortly after the news cycle winded down on the incident it turned out that PM Netanyahu's "order" notwithstanding, the actual return of Jews to the Jewish owned building remains mired in a web of legal processes with no clear end.

The latest murder of an Israeli in the northern Jordan Valley provides Mr. Netanyahu the opportunity to truly return to the "Zionist response to terror."

That means having the Defense Minister sign all the paperwork needed for something tangible to be built somewhere immediately.

That's "immediately" - not another step in a series of bureaucratic steps but all the steps.

What pending projects fit this description? There are people only a phone call away with the answer to that.

It should be made clear that the murder of Israelis leads to new settlement construction.

Sure, the Palestinians won't be pleased to learn that settlement construction is taking place in the memory of the man murdered, but will the murderers still be the same heroes they expected to be if their action leads to the building of yet more Jewish homes?

The "Zionist response to terror" has another benefit. Besides deterring Arab terror, it would serve to bolster the morale of the Israeli public by offering it a positive emotional outlet through which to respond to Arab terror. By establishing living memorials, Israel would be effectively saying: "We are on the map. Terror will not vanquish."

It is said that the Arabs decided to make peace with Israel when they came to the conclusion that they could not destroy the Jewish State on the battlefield. By the same token, settlement activity today may very well convince the Palestinians that they must compromise now or face the prospects of a considerably worse deal in the future.

Aaron Lerner


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Dore Gold: Iran's First 'Charm Offensive'

by Dore Gold

Iranian President Hasan Rouhani's recent U.N. visit was not the first time a top Iranian official succeeded in hoodwinking the West and especially its leading newspapers and media outlets. Just before he arrived in Tehran in 1979, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini succeeded at waging a successful deception campaign from his place of exile at Neauphle-le-Chateau, just outside of Paris. He completely hid his true intentions of what he planned to do once he would become the ruler of Iran. 

A committee of advisers recommended to him that he refrain from rhetorically attacking the US or saying anything against women's rights. He sent his personal representative, Ibrahim Yazdi, who had American citizenship and would later become his foreign minister, to meet U.S. officials in Washington as well as many influential academics. This was the first Iranian charm offensive.

The results of this Iranian effort were impressive. There was the embarrassing case of Professor Richard Falk from Princeton University who wrote an op-ed in The New York Times, entitled "Trusting Khomeini." He wrote that the people around Khomeini were "moderate" and even "progressive." He even added that they had "a notable concern for human rights." Years later it should be noted, Falk adopted increasing extremist positions, even accusing the U.S. government in 2004 of complicity in the 9/11 attacks. Nonetheless, in 2008 the U.N. appointed him as a "special rapporteur" on Palestinian human rights. In 1979, his article was typical of many elite attitudes about Khomeini in academia and in the U.S. government.

In fact, among American experts there was little knowledge about Khomeini's background, except for information transmitted by his supporters. The one exception to this trend was the case of Professor Bernard Lewis, who served in the Intelligence Corps of the British Army in World War II and then became one of the most influential Middle Eastern historians at British and American universities. One of his assistants found a written book by Khomeini in the Princeton University Library that contained the Arabic lectures he had delivered in 1970, while he lived in exile in Najaf, the Shiite holy city in Iraq. The book was entitled "Islamic Government." 

The CIA, as well as other parts of the American government, apparently did not even know the book existed. But Lewis studied the text, revealing Khomeini's extremist positions, which he shared with the Washington Post. These included calls for "armed jihad" and the need to "take the lead over other Muslims." The book was plainly anti-Semitic, suggesting that the Jews were seeking "to rule over the entire planet." 

There were American academics who were cultivated by Khomeini's people and were prepared to suggest that Lewis had quoted Khomeini "out of context." Henry Precht, who was head of the Iran desk at the U.S. State Department, went even further and rejected Lewis' conclusions. He even said that the book that Lewis found was a forgery. He criticized the Washington Post for publishing excerpts of the book. Precht, who had met with Khomeini's envoy, argued in internal meetings in Washington that after the fall of the Shah, Khomeini's government would leave Iran more stable. 

Years later, Khomeini admitted that he employed traditional techniques of deception, specifically referring to the tactic of khod'eh, which according to his biographer, Amir Taheri, meant "tricking one's enemy into a misjudgment of one's true position." Thus in 1978, Khomeini told the British daily, The Guardian, that he was not interested in having "the power of government in my hand." Many analysts thought he would retire to the Shiite seminaries of Qom, after he returned to Iran. William Sullivan, the U.S. ambassador to Tehran, wrote a cable in 1978, in which he envisioned Khomeini taking up a "Gandhi-like role." 

Among his British counterparts, there were those who anticipated "enlightened Islamic rule." The French intelligence services were somewhat better since they carefully monitored the speeches that Khomeini recorded and distributed on cassette tapes, but their recommendations were ignored by the political eschelons in Paris under the leadership of French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing. In short, Khomeini's deception campaign worked. 

What followed after Khomeini reached Iran was the exact opposite of what Western experts had predicted. Revolutionary courts were set up which arbitrarily arrested and executed anyone suspected of opposing the new government. A bloodbath followed as hundreds were sent before firing squads. Khomeini's regime was brutal. Under international pressure, the Shah had ordered a halt to the use of torture in Iranian prisons; Khomeini reintroduced torture when he came to power. He did not retire to Qom, but rather promulgated a religious doctrine, known as velayat-e faqih (the rule of the head jurisprudent) that made him the supreme source of authority in Iran.

In foreign affairs, Khomeini's constitution called for "the continuation of the Revolution at home and abroad." A month after declaring Iran as an Islamic Republic in 1979 he established the Revolutionary Guards, which not only protected the regime from internal threats but also took part in the export of the Islamic Revolution, by undermining the internal stability of Arab states. U.S. allies in the Arab world were quickly targeted. For example, Shiite uprisings in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia in 1979 and 1980 were backed by Tehran. 

At this time, the Iranians promoted popular Shiite revolts in Bahrain and Iraq as well. They deployed an expeditionary unit of Revolutionary Guards in eastern Lebanon which gave orders to Hizbullah after its foundation in the early 1980s. This included the attacks in 1983 on the U.S. Marine Barracks in Beirut and the headquarters of the French peacekeeping forces there. Years later, Iraqi Shiite politicians disclosed that the Revolutionary Guards also directed an organization known as al-Dawa to undertake attacks in 1983 against the U.S. embassy in Kuwait. 

While Iran was invaded by Iraq in 1980, it recovered all its lost territories by 1982 and yet Khomeini continued his war against Saddam Hussein for another six years. The Iranians even expanded their war with Iraq to the waters of the Persian Gulf where it attacked the tankers used by Arab states to export their oil. By the early 1990s, Revolutionary Guards were also stationed in Sudan, where Iran sought facilities for a future naval presence in the Red Sea. Today, using the Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guards, which was specifically formed for these foreign operations, its commander General Qassem Sulaimani is active in advancing Iranian hegemony across the Middle East, by intervening in local wars with weapons, advisers, and even military forces. 

It now appears that the community of Middle Eastern experts -- both inside and outside of government -- had absolutely no idea back in 1979 what the rise of Ayatollah Khomeini would mean for the future of the Middle East. They were charmed into believing that Iran, after the fall of the Shah, would adopt a moderate course. The consequences of their miscalculation were disastrous for the Iranian people and the world. 

The first Iranian charm offensive required two parties to succeed: Iranians who skillfully employed a campaign of deception and gullible commentators in the West, who took at face value what the Iranians said. It can only be hoped that this time, with Rouhani's charm offensive, this dangerous combination will not reappear, leading the U.S. and its allies to repeat the errors in interpreting Iranian intentions, that were committed in the earliest days of Khomeini's rule.

Dore Gold


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

Turning Back the Tide of Sharia Adjustments

by Cynthia Yacowar-Sweeney

According to CTV News Canada, on October 7, 2013, the previously canceled Halloween and Christmas celebrations have just been reinstated at Winnipeg's Hastings School.  These Canadian traditional holidays that have been celebrated for a few hundred years, were about to be replaced with possibly Islamic ones.  Yes, Islamic ones.  How so?

Hastings School chose to replace Christmas festivities with African "drumming."  Given the insistence on an African theme, why did the school not choose African "music" instead, like the magnificent and magical music of Mali that was outlawed by Islam when al-Qaeda took control there?  Why drumming?  Here's why.

According to the more authentic and reliable hadiths -- traditions or deeds attributed to Mohammed that provide the basis of sharia or Islamic law, after the Koran -- musical instruments are all regarded as tools of Satan (Bukhari, vol.2, book 15, hadith 70) and forbidden in Islam, except for the daf drum (Abu Dawud, book 15, hadith 3306).

Singing, which was not a Christmas-replacement option for Hastings School, is also forbidden in Islam (especially for women), as it "produces hypocrisy (Abu Dawud, book 41, hadith 4909) in the heart" and is considered to be the voice of Satan.  Both musical instruments and singing lead man astray and deviate from the path of Allah.  Those who use musical instruments will be destroyed and "transformed into monkeys and pigs" (Bukhari, vol. 69, hadith 494v).  One hadith from the sacred collection called Hadee's-e-Qudsi Ahmad (19:5) commands Mohammed "to destroy all the musical instruments, idols, crosses and all the trappings of ignorance."

The daf drum from Islamic North Africa is the only musical instrument and the only kind of drum allowed in Islam because this drum, being hollow like the tambourine but without jingles, emanates a sound that could be construed as uninspiring and incapable of stirring up human emotion.  Moving the human spirit is simply not allowed in Islam when it has nothing to do with worshiping Allah or promoting faith in him.  Therefore, this particular drum is often allowed in Islam, as it supposedly evokes no emotion.  Is this the drum that Hastings school would have offered in lieu of Canada's traditional celebrations?

Hastings School just happens to be part of the Louis Riel School Division, which changed its music curriculum to accommodate Islam back in 2011.  In doing so, the division did not stand up for Canadian values.  A dozen recently arrived Muslim families to Canada demanded that their children be excused for Islamic reasons from the elementary school compulsory music and co-ed physical education programs.  These families would not allow their children to be exposed to singing or playing musical instruments, as this is not permitted in Islam.

Despite the great importance that Louis Riel School Division places on music education, as can be seen on its website ("music is an integral part of a well-rounded education that stimulates and enriches the mind and the emotions, and contributes to the development and quality of life for the individual and society"), the school division caved to Muslim demands by suggesting that these students write a music project instead.  Regarding the elementary school physical education classes, it was decided that boys and girls would have separate classes.  Well, so much for promoting Canadian values.

Hastings School in the end decided to bring back the traditional holiday festivities to its students, thanks to all those who got involved to turn the tide of sharia.  One small victory for the Western world.  However, there are many more waves to tackle.  Religious and traditional holiday celebrations foreign to Islam are being canceled in many other cities, towns, and school districts throughout the world where Muslim immigration is on the rise.  Furthermore, when these festivities are not being canceled, they are being renamed, giving new meaning to the term "all-inclusive holidays": Christmas and Halloween have become Winter Concert and Spirit Day, respectively.  Hastings School renamed the former.

Inclusivity paves the way for religious Islamic organizations, like the Canadian Council of Muslim Theologians, which opposes the participation of Muslim children in Halloween festivities, to continue pushing their sharia agenda onto the West with great ease.  Hastings School is one school amongst many that is hastening this sharia process by offering more and more concessions and accommodations to Islam, in order to avoid offending Muslims.

Unless Western citizens continue to turn back the tide of sharia and resist its encroachment, as concerned citizens did at Hastings School, those tides will eventually envelop the West and drown everyone within.  Banning traditional holiday celebrations and tolerating all-inclusive holidays can no longer be options if Western civilization is to survive.

Cynthia Yacowar-Sweeney is a Montreal-based freelance writer and artist. She monitors and comments on global media reports and the rising threat of radical Islam.


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