Friday, November 22, 2013

Mordechai Kedar: The New Kid on the Block in Syria: Daash

by Mordechai Kedar

Read the article in the original עברית
Read the article in Italiano (translated by Yehudit Weisz, edited by Angelo Pezzana)
Read the article en Español (translated by Shula Hamilton)
The name “Daash” is an acronym for “Dulat al-Islam fi al-Iraq wal-Sham” – “the Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria”, and it is a Sunni Salafi organization affiliated with al-Qaeda. 

The organization was founded in Iraq in 2004, with the name “The Islamic State in Iraq”, with the goal of establishing an Islamic state in every area that was liberated by the al-Qaeda organization, meaning that they will assume sovereignty and take political and diplomatic control, after the jihadist organization of al-Qaeda has finished liberating the territory from the enemies of Islam, or Shi’ites or even Sunnis if they don’t establish Islamic religious law down to every last detail.

The Iraqi government, which represents the Shi’ite majority, has been conducting an all-out attack against the organization ever since it was established, and this war was conducted with American support until the United States soldiers withdrew from Iraq at the end of 2010. However, despite the persecution, the organization still exists  underground and has gained in popularity among the Sunni minority, which is politically and economically marginalized in Iraq.

In March 2011, when the civil war broke out in Syria, the al-Qaeda organization also became involved in the fighting against the regime, supporting the local Salafi jihadist organization, Jabhat al-Nusra li-Ahal al-Sham – The Front to Aid the People of al-Sham. “Al-Sham” is the geographic area of “Greater Syria” that includes Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and the Land of Israel. The Salafi organizations do not relate to these modern states because they were established by British and French colonialism, and therefore are not considered to be legitimate states. 

At the end of 2012, the Jabhat al-Nusra people  began to feel that the al-Qaeda operatives were giving themselves credit for successes in the battlefield, and there were ups and downs in the relations between the two organizations. Al-Qaeda brought fighters from the four corners of the Earth, and established units with traditional Islamic names. The northern city of Aleppo and its surroundings were liberated by al-Qaeda fighters, and today an al-Qaeda coalition rules in northern Syria under the name “The Islamic State In Iraq and al-Sham” – an expanded version of the organization that was founded in Iraq –with the acronym “Daash”.

Several Islamic courts operate in the city, imposing Islamic Shari’a law according to its strictest interpretation: women are required to cover their faces when they go out in public, and there are reports of amputation of the hands of thieves. In accordance with passages from Islamic oral tradition, Daash has imposed a tax on the olive growers, requiring them to hand over to Daash 611 kilograms of olives or oil per grower, according to their choice. The Daash morality police raids wedding parties sending the musical groups and the singers away, because music is against the Salafi tradition. In one case the morality police demanded that the father of the bride learn parts of the Qur’an by heart as educational form of punishment. 

The organization is expanding its area of operations by forming alliances with tribal heads in the area of Aleppo, who understand that at this point, the organization is a strong power, and there’s no point in going against it. Daash enjoys financial support from the Saudis: just lately, Saudi Arabia has allocated 300 million petrodollars to reconstructing the civil infrastructure of Aleppo, with Daash as the contractor. Every few days disagreements break out between Jabhat al-Nusra and Daash, mainly because of the involvement of the “immigrants’” – the jihadists who have come from the four corners of the Earth – in managing the Syrians’ lives.

The Salafi organizations’ takeover of northern Syria causes many Syrians in other areas to return to the bosom of the Asad regime, not out of their great love for Asad or nostalgia for the oppression that they suffered under his rule, but because they do not wish to be at the mercy of the Salafi foreigners, who rule in the name of radical Islam and are financed by Saudi money. Perhaps this provides an explanation for the successes of Asad’s army – which is supported by Hizb’Allah and forces sent by Iran – in dealing with jihadists in a number of areas in the south of the country during recent months.

The regime is conducting a large offensive these days in the Qalamoun Mountains, between Lebanon and Damascus, an area that is controlled by the rebels and through which the rebels receive logistical support. If Asad wins in the Qalamoun area, it will draw nearer the day when he will be able to declare victory over al-Qaeda terror and its political subsidiaries. The gnashing of teeth in the Saudi regime will be able to be heard from afar, because the Salafi Saudis’ rage will be as great as their investment in the rebellion in Syria and their disappointment from its failure.

It seems that the Iranian regime is about to prevail in two important fronts: Syria and the sanctions, and when the Iranians and their satellites win, the world loses.


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 SallyZahav 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.

Hezbollah and Iran get Punished

by Eyal Zisser

In recent months Hezbollah, with encouragement and perhaps even pressure from its Iranian patrons, has been ramping up its participation in the Syrian civil war. Iran's considerations -- which are identical to those of Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah -- are obvious: If Bashar Assad's regime falls in Syria, Nasrallah will go down with him, leaving Iran as the next target of the "unholy alliance" between the West and Israel, or so they fear in Tehran. Thus Iran feels compelled to do everything it can to help Assad stay in power.

Hezbollah's actual manpower contribution to Assad is not huge. In Syria 200,000 soldiers are fighting an army of 100,000 rebels. A few thousand Hezbollah fighters cannot really turn the tide. Nonetheless, these are well trained and highly motivated fighters who made the difference in several important battles throughout Syria.

In recent weeks the momentum of the fighting has shifted, and the Assad regime has slowly made gains in suppressing the rebels. While not a dramatic change in Syria's bloody civil war, it is still the first time since the uprising began that momentum is actually on Assad's side.

But Hezbollah and Iran's involvement in Syria's war comes with a price, even a heavy one. Barely a day goes by that Hezbollah is not burying one of its fighters killed in Syria. Add to that the recent terror attacks by Sunni extremists against Hezbollah strongholds in Lebanon and against Shiites within Syria, as well as Tuesday's attack on the Iranian embassy in Beirut. Tuesday's attack marked the first time suicide bombers were used against Hezbollah, which itself has not hesitated to use the same "weapon" against its rivals.

In Lebanon people talk about the "Syrianization" of the country. Al-Qaida-inspired groups like the Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant are calling to bring Syria's fighting into Lebanon and employ the terror tactics used in Syria.

With Hezbollah's involvement in Syria's fighting going on as long as it has, it was only a matter of time before the rebels in Syria decided to enact revenge on the group and its supporters in Lebanon. It is likely that the terror attacks in Lebanon will continue. Most Lebanese want to avoid their neighboring country's violence seeping into their own. But radical Lebanese Sunni Islamist groups have their own agendas, and want to get Lebanon involved to be able to conquer Syria and Lebanon and spread their influence. This is one of the reasons why they tried to attack Israel in the past, in hopes of dragging it into a conflict with Hezbollah.

In the shadow of the Syrian civil war Lebanon has begun itself to slip into the Sunni-Shiite battle. Some Lebanese Shiites have dared to question Nasrallah's decision to drag them into Syria's fighting. In Tehran too, a different tune is being sung, and it is possible that breakthroughs in the nuclear talks will lead Iran to re-evaluate the merits of being bogged down in the Syrian-Lebanese mud. Until then suicide bombers will continue to detonate at Iranian and Shiite sites in Lebanon.

Eyal Zisser


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Foreign Policy Establishment Strikes Back

by Clifford D. May

"Any agreement that does not recognize the rights of the Iranian people and does not respect these rights, has no chance," Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said last week.

Zarif was not talking about freedom of speech, assembly and religion -- among the many human and civil rights his regime has denied the people of Iran for more than 30 years. No, he was talking about a "right" that does not exist: his regime's "right" to enrich uranium.

Derisive laughter would have been an appropriate reaction. Instead, many leading lights of the foreign policy establishment have been adamant that the Obama administration not do or say anything that might upset Iran's rulers and, what's more, that it provide economic relief as a "confidence-building" measure.

What do these progressive commentators think Iran should offer in return? Not much: not a halt to uranium enrichment or the construction of a plutonium facility at Arak; not dismantling of centrifuges or other infrastructure of nuclear weapons production; not export of existing uranium stockpiles; not serious additional compliance and verification measures -- despite past Iranian deceptions. And they vehemently oppose a new sanctions bill that passed in the U.S. House of Representatives -- with strong bipartisan support -- and is now stalled in the Senate.

An informed and lively discussion of these issues could be edifying. But those who favor the U.S. having more negotiating leverage, not less, are not being debated -- they are being denounced. "Warmonger" is just one of the terms being hurled.

Leslie Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, has been gentler. He labels those calling for tradeoffs rather than giveaways "naysayers" with "neither history nor current reality on their side."

There is "not a chance," he asserts, that Tehran will abandon its "right" to enrich uranium. Even if we suppose he's correct, why shouldn't that be a topic of negotiations? Why give it away in advance and for nothing?

For reasons I can't fathom, Gelb also believes the discussions now underway could produce a grand bargain, a "deal that would lead to the Mideast equivalent of ending the Cold War with the Soviet Union." A little history that's not on his side: President Ronald Reagan's strategy -- memorably summarized as "we win, they lose" -- was to accelerate the arms race, thereby putting heavy economic pressure on the Russians, and to demand the demolition of the Berlin Wall -- which many foreign policy sophisticates at the time saw "not a chance" of happening.

Gelb adds: "While I don't like the clerical dictators in Tehran one bit, I can understand how they might feel threatened by Israel and the West." Think about that: Iran's rulers call Israel a "cancer" that "should be cut off." Iranian President Hasan Rouhani -- incessantly described in the major media as a "moderate" -- says, "We need to express 'Death to America' with action." But it is they who feel "understandably" threatened?

An editorialin The New York Times last week struck similar themes. Additional economic pressure, The Times opined, would be "unlikely to force Iran to abandon an enterprise in which it has invested billions of dollars and a great deal of national pride."

Just so we're clear: That enterprise is the development of a nuclear weapons capability that Iran's rulers intend to use to (1) establish hegemony in the Middle East, (2) protect the terrorists they sponsor abroad, and (3) entrench their despotic rule at home. U.S. President Barack Obama has long called that "unacceptable."

It has become common in the West to regard diplomacy and war as alternatives. That perception was implicit in remarks made last week by State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki. She urged members of the Senate not to pass the new sanctions bill because to do so would be to vote "against diplomacy. … I think the consequences of not moving forward with a diplomatic path is potentially aggression, potentially conflict, potentially war."

A little more history: Zhou Enlai, the 20th century Chinese Communist revolutionary, said: "All diplomacy is a continuation of war by other means." A little current reality: Iran's rulers, self-declared 21st century Islamist revolutionaries, hold the same view.

Pulitzer Prize-winning Times columnist Thomas Friedman has been reassuring his readers that Iran is prepared to accept "curbson its nuclear program" and "roll backits nuclear program." To arrive at that conclusion requires ignoring not only what leading nonproliferation expertsare saying, but also what Iranian officials themselves have been saying. To take just one example: "Negotiations do not require concessions," Iranian parliamentarian Ali Motahari said recently. "Rather, negotiations are a tool for us to receive concessions."

Friedman goes on to impugn the motives of those concerned that Iran is about to defeat America at the negotiating table -- just as North Koreahas done. "Never have I seen Israel and America's core Arab allies working more in concert to stymie a major foreign policy initiative of a sitting U.S. president, and never have I seen more lawmakers -- Democrats and Republicans -- more willing to take Israel's side against their own president's," he writes. "I'm certain this comes less from any careful consideration of the facts and more from a growing tendency by many American lawmakers to do whatever the Israel lobby asks them to do in order to garner Jewish votes and campaign donations." Really? He's certain these "many American lawmakers" lack both intelligence and integrity?

Washington Post columnist David Ignatius also believes it has become possible to have "an American rapprochement" with Iran -- or at least that it would be if not for Israeli and Saudi efforts to "scuttle" progress. He accuses the French of gumming up the works as well -- not because they sincerely believe that the Iranian offer in Geneva earlier this month was a "sucker's deal," but out of greed -- to position themselves "as the West's prime weapons supplier to the Saudis…"

A modest proposal: Secretary of State John Kerry should use this quarrel to his advantage. He should say to Iran's negotiators: "Look, I'm a reasonable guy. But it's not just up to me or even President Obama. There's also Congress -- those guys are cynical. And in the U.S., we have to put up with the warmongers and naysayers. We don't have your … freedom of maneuver. So help me help you: Verifiably halt and dismantle your military-nuclear program -- the one you insist you don't need, don't want, and doesn't exist. Suspend all enrichment and reprocessing -- as you are required to do under international law, including multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions. Then we'll work with you to revive Iran's ailing economy. And all those warmongers and naysayers -- we'll prove them wrong!"

Clifford D. May is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a policy institute focusing on national security.


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

Afghan President Wants to Defer Signing of US Deal

by Asharq Al-Awsat

Karzai urges support for security deal with US but says he does not trust the Americans 
Afghan President Hamid Karzai (C) greets on his arrival to address the Afghan loya Jirga, a meeting of around 2,500 Afghan tribal elders and leaders, on the first day of the four-day long loya jirga in Kabul on November 21, 2013. (AFP PHOTO/Massoud HOSSAINI)
Afghan President Hamid Karzai (C) greets on his arrival to address the Afghan Loya Jirga in Kabul on November 21, 2013. (AFP PHOTO/Massoud HOSSAINI)

The Afghan president urged tribal elders on Thursday to support a security deal with the United States that would keep thousands of American troops in the war for another decade.

In a surprising about-face, however, Hamid Karzai said he didn’t trust the Americans and would defer the signing ceremony to his successor in next year’s presidential elections. That would give more time to test US intentions, he said.

In a last-minute bid to bolster support, President Barack Obama sent a letter promising that the US will continue to respect “Afghan sovereignty” and promised that the US military will not conduct raids on Afghan homes except under “extraordinary circumstances,” involving urgent risks to US nationals. The statement referred to compromises made in the draft text of the agreement.

Obama also said “we look forward to concluding this agreement promptly” in the letter.

Karzai’s statement came in his inaugural speech to the Loya Jirga, a consultative council of elders and other dignitaries who hold the power to force changes or entirely derail the pact. He also read Obama’s letter.

The United States has said it will pull all its forces out Afghanistan without a deal, as it did when Iraq also failed to sign a similar agreement. That would leave the nearly 350,000 Afghan security forces vulnerable as Western military leaders widely acknowledge government troops are not yet ready to take on the Taliban alone despite a strong showing this summer.

Senior US military officials say Afghan forces still need at least three to four years of training and mentoring to face a resilient Taliban insurgency that shows no sign of abating or compromising despite US-backed peace talks.

America’s allies have also said they will not remain without an American presence, which would jeopardize more than $8 billion annually to fund the Afghan security forces and help with Afghanistan’s development after 2014.

A signed accord will also mean that about 8,000 US troops could stay in Afghanistan for an additional 10 years, which is the duration of the bilateral security agreement. Although their main role will be to train and assist, a small number of US forces will continue to hunt Al-Qaida members.

America invaded Afghanistan shortly after the 2001 terrorist attacks against the United States to go after Al-Qaida, which was being sheltered in Afghanistan by the Taliban. But the longest and costliest war in US history has proven deeply unpopular at home and among America’s allies.

Karzai said the deal would pave the way for 10,000 to 15,000 US troops to stay in the country after the NATO combat mission concludes at the end of 2014 and give the United States nine bases around the country that it can use.

US officials have not yet disclosed the number of US troops they want to keep in Afghanistan after 2014. US officials have said the US and NATO could keep between 8,000 and 12,000 troops there. Of those, the US is expected to provide no more than 8,000.

Karzai’s suggestion to push the signing of the Bilateral Security Agreement until after the April 5 elections could be a deal breaker since the US wants an agreement as soon as possible to allow for preparations to maintain a military presence after 2014, when the majority of foreign combat forces will have left Afghanistan. The US had wanted a deal signed by the end of October.

“If you accept it and Parliament passes it, the agreement should be signed when the election is conducted, properly and with dignity,” Karzai said toward the end of a more than hour-long speech.

It was unclear if the mercurial Karzai would indeed wait for the elections or sign the agreement if approved by the Loya Jirga and the parliament. He could also be waiting for the Jirga to ask him to sign it.

Karzai has in the past made inflammatory remarks only to then change his mind. He signed a strategic partnership with Obama last year despite criticizing the United States for its military actions in Afghanistan, including night raids against Afghan homes and airstrikes that resulted in civilian casualties.

His reticence to sign could also be attributed to his awareness that previous leaders of his country historically have been punished if seen as selling out to foreign interests.

Government officials and the president’s office were not immediately available to comment on the unforeseen development, which came just a day after US Secretary of State John Kerry said he and Karzai had agreed on the language of the pact.

US Embassy spokesman Robert Hilton said he could not comment because it is an ongoing diplomatic discussion.

The Loya Jirga will hold a series of closed-door meetings until Sunday, when it makes its suggestions on the security deal to Karzai. Its decisions are influential but not binding, and the deal must still be approved by the Afghan parliament, which could ask for more changes.

On the US side, only Obama’s administration needs to approve the agreement, but it could reject changes made by Afghan officials. If it does, that leaves open the option for the US to pull all troops out of Afghanistan. The same could happen if the deal is not signed in a timely manner.

Such was the case in Iraq, when the US and Iraq couldn’t agree on terms of a security arrangement. Sectarian violence has plagued Iraq since, and some fear Afghanistan could follow that path without a continued US presence if Afghan forces cannot defend the country themselves.

According to a draft agreement posted on the website of Karzai’s office, the agreement gives the US legal jurisdiction over troops and Defense Department civilians, while contractors would be subject to the Afghan judicial process. Deep divisions in Afghanistan over legal immunity for American soldiers and contractors as well as night raids had threatened to scuttle diplomatic efforts.

Asharq Al-Awsat


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European Anti-Semitism and the Fear of Muslims

by Timon Dias

When European history teachers omit the Holocaust from their curriculum, they do not do this because they hate their Jewish students more than their Muslim students. They omit it because they are afraid of their Muslim students. They might also believe they do it to be "nice," but then how come this same "niceness" is not afforded to the Jews?
In the "Stockholm Syndrome," now seen, ironically, in Sweden, victims start bonding with their abusers in the wish that if they share the same values as their abusers, their abusers might stop abusing them. "We must be open and tolerant toward Islam and Muslims because when we become a minority, they will be so toward us." — Jens Orback, former Swedish government minister.

The European Union [EU] is singling out Israel for sanctions. Not only are the officials at the EU failing to boycott other regions that legally count as occupied territories, but they are actively aiding at least one clearly occupying power, Turkey, in the Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus: in 2006, the EU approved a $259 million aid package for the Turkish Cypriot community there. In addition to that double-standard, the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Catherine Ashton, has revealed noticeable prejudice on multiple occasions, the latest example being when she felt compelled to compare the Toulouse massacre to "what's happening in Gaza," any similarities to which would objectively be hard to come by.

Is there, then, an EU tendency to be anti-Semitic? As Thomas Friedman once wrote "Criticizing Israel is not anti-Semitic, and saying so is vile. But singling out Israel for opprobrium and international sanction out of all proportion to any other party in the Middle East is anti-Semitic, and not saying so is dishonest."

Jens Orback (center), a former Swedish government minister, famously said: "We must be open and tolerant toward Islam and Muslims because when we become a minority, they will be so toward us." (Image source: Swedish Social Democratic Party/Anders Löwdin)

Recently, a shocking development was reported on in Belgium by Peter Martino, in which elementary schools are using government approved anti-Semitic textbooks for their history classes. That report recalled a Belgian girl in 2008, who wore a small star of David around her neck, and told the author she had just been refused entry to a bus in Belgium by a bus driver who said that, as a Muslim, he could not allow her to enter the bus. In the 21st century, in Western Europe, a girl was turned away from a public bus because she was a Jew.

What still stings me is that I did not take her seriously; what she said, however, has proven anything but far fetched. A 2011 study by Mark Elchardus, relates that one out of every two Muslim students in Brussels -- half -- are anti-Semitic. A recent study roughly replicated the same results for the Belgian cities of Ghent and Antwerp. Conversely, Belgium is also the country that is allowing Abou Jahjah, founder of the Arab-European League, a known anti-Semite and Hezbollah affiliate, accused of instigating riots and forming a private militia, to return to Belgium after having left it for Lebanon in 2006 to "fight off the foreign invasion" alongside Hezbollah. A country in which officials teach schoolchildren that the Holocaust was similar to "what's happening in Gaza"; that accepts the return of a man who was part of a foreign hostile fighting force and says he "felt a sense of victory" on 9/11, is indeed likely to become a country where a girl is refused entry on a bus because she is Jewish.
How is this dynamic to be explained? Besides the latent or active anti-Semitism that might drive EU leaders in their unequally-applied conduct toward Israel -- as opposed to other nations such as Turkey that are committing the same alleged offense -- another explanation is worth exploring.

The author Ali Salim recently began a popular article with: "We Muslims make the mistake of thinking Europeans really care about us, especially the Palestinians. We are wrong. Europeans simply hate the Jews more than they hate and fear us."

Although possible, it might also be worth to consider, an alternative explanation: that many Europeans fear Muslims more than they fear Jews, and therefore give in to anti-Semitic tendencies. When European history teachers, for example, omit the Holocaust from their curriculum in order not to offend Muslim students, they do not do that because they hate their Jewish students more than they hate their Muslim students. They do it because they are terrified of their Muslim students.

They might also believe they do it to be "nice," but then how come this same "niceness" is not afforded to the Jews?

Although European anti-Semitism predates Muslim immigration to Western Europe, the recent rise in post World War II anti-Semitism there coincides with parts of European Muslim populations' becoming more numerous, vocal, assertive and sometimes aggressive. The fear of this onrush might sometimes be expressed in an unconscious, unaware way, displaced, or covered over, as some sort of morally superior solidarity.

In Sweden, for instance, about a month ago, a tragic and disgusting incident took place. A pregnant Muslim woman was physically assaulted, verbally abused and her headscarf was torn off. This act should be condemned in the harshest of terms. But instead, many Swedes established the 'Hijab Outcry' movement, in which countless ordinary citizens and prominent figures took pictures of themselves wearing a Hijab to show their "solidarity" with the victim -- an action that could be applauded, except when one considers that the same people organize no such actions whatsoever in solidarity with the numerous Swedish girls who have been raped and abused by Muslim men. Then the "Outcry" becomes a different story altogether.

"Sweden now has the second-highest number of rapes in the world, after South Africa, which at 53.2 per 100,000 is six times higher than the United States," Daniel Greenfield writes. "Statistics (see sexual violence) now suggest that one out of every four Swedish women will be raped. In 2003, Sweden's rape statistics were higher than average at 9.24, but in 2005 they shot up to 36.8 and by 2008 were up to 53.2. Now they are possibly even higher as Muslim immigrants continue forming a larger percentage of the population. With Muslims represented in as many as 77% of the rape cases and a major increase in rape cases paralleling a major increase in Muslim immigration, the wages of Muslim immigration are proving to be a sexual assault epidemic by a misogynistic ideology."
With the Swedish "Hijab Outrcy," for instance, one might look past this appearance of moral superiority, and see that show of solidarity for what it possibly really is: fear.

Psychology teaches us that when we have feelings that we worry might be viewed as socially unacceptable or potentially damaging to us in some way, we find ways to defend ourselves from the discomfort of too much anxiety; these ways are known as defense mechanisms, responses that are involuntary emotional counterweights to try to offset the feelings that make us uncomfortable. These responses can appear if, for example, a mother does not, deep down, want to love or take care of the child to which she has given birth – an unacceptable thought. She might then try to override those feelings by acting in precisely the opposite fashion, perhaps smothering the child in overprotectiveness, possibly in the hope that the pretending might jump-start her lack of feeling into love, or might at least appear to others as love. Or a man who is sexually attracted to other men might try to cover up these wishes, if they frighten him, by engaging in overtly promiscuous relationships with women, and might even harshly condemn homosexual men, in an effort to push his wishes away. In the "Stockholm Syndrome," victims start bonding with their abusers in the wish that if they share the same values as their abusers, their abusers might stop abusing them.

As the American psychologist Calvin S. Hall wrote, about one of the leading defense mechanisms, "reaction formation," "Reactive love protests too much; it is overdone, extravagant, showy, and affected. It is counterfeit, and [...] usually easily detected. Another feature of a reaction formation is its compulsiveness. A person who is defending himself against anxiety cannot deviate from expressing the opposite of what he really feels. His love, for instance, is not flexible. It cannot adapt itself to changing circumstances as genuine emotions do; rather it must be constantly on display as if any failure to exhibit it would cause the contrary feeling to come to the surface." (A Primer of Freudian Psychology, New York 1954).

The affection and solidarity that many progressive Swedes demonstrate regarding their Muslim population shows similarities to this stance: Swedes have reason to fear the aggressive elements among their Muslim population: many Muslims have created de facto enclaves in large cities, such as Malmö; and, if their demands are not met, do not shy away from using brute force.

The mainstream segments of Swedish society on the other hand, have weakened themselves by allowing a doctrine of political correctness to take hold of their institutions to such an extent that, ironically, a Somali born female journalist, critical of Somali immigrant culture in Sweden, recently decided that Mogadishu was a safer place for her than Sweden.

The carnage caused to Swedish society by vast elements of its Muslim population, however, has apparently failed to change Swedish attitudes. The Swedes' solidarity in the face of pervasive gang-rapes and other abuses looks indeed "overdone, extravagant and showy;" what is really an ordeal has become transformed instead into a sort of online Instagram or Facebook contest of who can show the most solidarity.

This might lead one to conclude that Swedish anti-Semitism might be propelled by the Swedes' fear of their Muslim population, whom they fear far more than their Jewish population, who are not numerous, aggressive or hostile. Without even being aware if it, unconsciously, many Swedes, as in the "Stockholm Syndrome," may be trying to get themselves into the good books of those whom they fear by displaying a kinship and closeness in racist tendencies against a group that both they -- and the people they fear -- also already dislike: Jews.

A former Swedish government minister, Jens Orback, may well have unveiled the country's sentiment nearly a decade ago with his comment on live radio: "We must be open and tolerant towards Islam and Muslims because when we become a minority, they will be so towards us" – defeatism in its purest form, soaked in fear.

"A nation which can prefer disgrace to danger is prepared for a master, and deserves one," Alexander Hamilton said. If Europe prefers the disgrace of looking the other way while Islamists, through demography and proselytizing, are becoming de facto sovereigns in many enclaves all over Europe, Europeans have a choice: either to give in even further to anti-Semitic tendencies to be in the "good books" of those they fear and eventually live on our knees, or to stand up against the proponents of an openly theocratic and expansionist ideology. The heirs of the civilization that brought down so many threats, and that has accomplished so much, should be more than able to make this choice.

Timon Dias, based in the Netherlands, is completing a graduate program in Clinical Psychology.


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Decoding Khamenei’s “Heroic Flexibility”

by Michael Rubin

Much of the Obama administration’s optimism with regard to its belief that Iran is sincere in its desire to reach a nuclear accord is based on the twin pillars that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei supposedly opposes nuclear weapons and backs President Hassan Rouhani’s diplomatic initiative. Alas, in both cases, President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry’s hope appears to be based upon wishful thinking if not outright falsehood.

Khamenei’s nuclear fatwa appears not to exist. While Iranian officials will cite it from time to time, it is not published among Khamenei’s collections of fatwas, and citations of it are inconsistent as to its date of issue, its text, and its message.

The notion that Khamenei’s call for “heroic flexibility” equates with either endorsement of a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear question also misreads Khamenei. As translated over at American Enterprise Institute’s “Iran Tracker,” Khamenei shows that what he meant by that term and the conclusions drawn by Obama and Kerry are two very separate things:

“Some interpreted ‘heroic flexibility’ as letting go of the system’s principles and ideals. Some enemies on this basis claimed the retreat of the Islamic system from principles while these claims are contrary to reality and are an incorrect understanding… Heroic flexibility means an artful maneuver and utilizing various methods to achieve the various goals and ideals of the Islamic system.”

Kayhan, a newspaper whose editor Khamenei appoints and which serves as his voice piece, already belittled the confidence-building upon which Kerry and lead negotiator Wendy Sherman base their diplomacy.

Kerry may believe that a preliminary agreement with Iran will provide breathing space to reach a far broader and more permanent nuclear deal. A doctor who ignores most of a patient’s symptoms in order to give him a clean bill of health will eventually find himself sued for malpractice. Likewise, a professor who seeks to prove his thesis by ignoring all evidence which might contradict it should eventually find himself or herself pilloried before a tenure board. Yet, it seems, when diplomats do the equivalent, they believe they and the country whose security for which they fight will be immune from the consequences of their actions.

Michael Rubin


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U.S. Foreign Policy in ‘Whirlfall’

by Jerome Vitenberg


A quarter of a century has elapsed since the Iron Curtain fell, heralding the collapse of the Soviet empire that had perverted human rights, trampled economic freedoms and subjugated its citizens utterly.  The implosion of USSR brought an end to the decades-old Cold War that had been the dominant framework of international relations since the end of World War II.

The disintegration of the communist world meant victory for the liberal democracies.  It yielded an “American Moment,” the brief window in which the United States was unchallenged in its global hegemony.

But victory also left the West disoriented within a new landscape no longer defined by the bipolar battle between the free world and the Warsaw Pact. Without clearly identifiable villains, the West lost its compass.

Quickly, global militant fundamentalist organizations, fueled by an ideological hatred of the West, attacked it at large and in its heart. America took up arms in response, but the legitimacy of its wars would soon be challenged by the growing number of casualties and concerns over its invasions of foreign territory, while domestic resistance to the spiraling cost of these campaigns, along with tactical and strategic mistakes, stymied their rapid and decisive conclusion.

Appalling flaws in communicating the rationale for and the justice of the Western military enterprises significantly weakened the effectiveness of the operations as a loose coalition of anti-Western forces and opponents to American foreign interventions used every channel at their disposal to delegitimize Washington. The conflicts’ narratives were turned on their head: The theme of “War for Freedom” against aggressive Fundamentalists became the object of ridicule and was eclipsed by images of innocent civilians resisting the oppressive Western armies invading their lands.

Elected on a wave of popular discontent with both the economy and America’s overseas adventures, President Obama initiated a strategy of reconciliation with the country’s enemies, focusing on Arab states and the Muslim world. Pledged to reduce the US footprint in foreign conflicts, the President of the United States adopted a policy of appeasement based on the precept that “it is better to be loved than to be feared.”

This policy, which is hastening the voluntary disintegration of the Western sphere of influence, is creating a vacuum into which old and new powers moved with incredible alacrity, led by realpolitik statesmen with scant regard to Western sensibilities, undeterred from using force to attain their goals. In the Middle East, in Africa, and in Asia, state actors such as Russia and China, as well as fundamentalist and terrorist groups such as the Taliban or Al-Shabaab, have moved in. Even in parts of South America – America’s “back yard” – the United States is being left behind.

Yet, as gentle and as troubling as the President’s approach towards the West’s adversaries has become, it is increasingly tougher with America’s allies, striking a blow to their interests. All over the world, dismayed friends of the United States have been required to bow to their opponents and to relinquish national security principles they consider fundamental to their survival. Decreeing that his approach would transform anti-American wolves into lambs, the leader of the free world is treating loyal allies as vassals, not only abandoning them to the maelstrom unleashed by his retreat, but handcuffing them by his policy of appeasement. Kept in containment, they remain as wounded soldiers abandoned on the battlefield.

Current US policy may be summarized by a new term, “Whirlfall” – a kind of “perfect storm” formed by the whirlpool generated by the United States’ declining global presence that is reinforced by the windfall that America’s global rivals are reaping from US-imposed policy restrictions on its allies.

Sooner or later, confrontations will start between those rival new great powers, in their quest for strategic interests and natural resources. Unhampered by scruples, they will be free to wreak war, death and misery in the arenas vacated by America – until, inevitably, they become strong enough and confident enough to raise a frontal challenge to the democratic West itself.

Then, with freedom, liberalism, democracy and its pursuit of happiness under threat, America will have no option but to respond.  It will have to fight to reestablish its security perimeter and reassert its interests – but from a position of self-imposed weakness with its associated additional cost in lives and resources.

But to whom will Washington be able to turn for help? Sucked into the raging whirlpool, America’s allies will be hamstrung in their attempts to sustain themselves as their rivals nibble at every piece of the cake left to them.  Not only will they have little strength to join in a reassertion of Western interests – they will be wary of placing their trust again in their unreliable former ally.

By the time Washington wakes up, the “whirlfall” will be at America’s door.  But how many of its allies will answer the call when the West needs them most?

Jérôme Vitenberg is a political analyst with a special interest in international affairs. He has taught political science and International relations for the London School of Economics through the University of London’s International Programs at DEI College, Greece.


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