Saturday, January 18, 2014

Temple Mount Desecration: 'The Public Needs to Know'

by Tova Dvorin

Temple Mount drilling by the Waqf
Temple Mount drilling by the Waqf
YouTube/Yehuda Glick
The public needs to know the truth about antiquities on the Temple Mount, according to one official involved in the Jewish site's preservation. 

Attorney Yisrael Kaspi, a member of the Committee to Prevent Temple Mount Desecration, stated to Arutz Sheva Saturday night that the full report regarding the Waqf's desecration of antiquities on the Mount needs to be revealed to the public. 

"We're livid [that the report remains unpublished]," Kaspi declared. "[This is] harsh and severe - we unequivocally demand that this report be revealed in full to the public."

"The head of the Shin Bet and the Mossad said - contrary to the Prime Minister  - that nothing justifies the imposition of secrecy," he continued.

Kaspi's comments refer to the contents of a secret report by the State Comptroller regarding the enforcement, or lack thereof, of the law at the Temple Mount.

The report was not made public in Israel because of concerns that doing so would result in violence. However, The Jewish Voice, a New York-based Jewish website got its hands on the report and published it in December.

The report reveals some disturbing truths about the methods taken by the Waqf to remove any ties that the Jewish people have to the Temple Mount and how Israeli institutions cooperated with these actions.

Among other revelations, the report shows that the Jerusalem Municipality, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) and other law enforcement officials do not operate on the Temple Mount. Only the police operates on the Temple Mount, but it avoids confrontation with the Waqf in order to maintain its good relations with it.

The Waqf is the Jordanian-run Islamic trust which administers the Temple Mount. It has been accused on numerous occasions of mounting a concerted campaign to "Islamize" the site by destroying ancient Jewish artifacts.

Kaspi said the confidential report strongly criticizes the policies of former Attorney General Menachem Mazuz, who prevented legal authorities from acting on the Temple Mount.

"The report paints a picture of incompetence, negligence and indifference of all government officials related to the most important archaeological site in the state of Israel," Kaspi fired. "The IAA, and the Israeli police, the Jerusalem Municipality - none of them have dealt effectively with the problem. Attorney General Menachem Mazuz abandoned the place at the mercy of the Muslim Waqf and stopped the ability of law enforcement agencies to address the issue."

Kaspi claims that Mazuz lied when he stated that he was unaware of the issue. 

"We know the police approached him and so did the IAA; we also reported the destruction and vandalism [on the Mount]," Kaspi stated. "Today there is some improvement, but there are still serious problems - the Waqf continues to destroy all archaeological finds on the Mount as a matter of policy." 

Kaspi's remarks follow news earlier this month that the Waqf has been illegally drilling on Judaism's holiest site, as revealed through telling video footage. 

In addition to frequent vandalism, the Temple Mount is frequently closed to Jewish visitors and is often the site of anti-Jewish discrimination. Jews are prevented from praying or performing any other religious rituals, while Muslim visitors pray freely. 

Muslim anger over the site has escalated since MKs have announced efforts to equalize prayer rights at the site, through legislation which would allow full religious freedom.

Tova Dvorin


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

Hizballah Preparing for War with Israel

by IPT News

Hizballah continues to entrench itself in the Syrian civil war, while facing a string of radical Sunni bombing attacks in their Lebanese strongholds. The terrorist organization is also facing renewed international backlash regarding its alleged role in the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.

These challenges contribute to the group's deterioration in popularity within Lebanon and across the Arab world. Despite these pressing and overlapping challenges, Hizballah continues to enhance its presence along the Israeli border, the Times of Israel reports. Its activity in bordering villages can be seen by Israel Defense Forces (IDF), in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 passed in conclusion of the 2006 war between Hizballah and Israel.

For instance, they have watched a "TV crew" arrive in the area but not act accordingly and witnessed three "shepherds" unsuccessfully move around with only 15-20 sheep. These facades are meant to cover Hizballah fighters attempting to re-establish bases in border villages.

While hundreds of Hizballah fighters are killed in Syria, the organization still has more than a third of its capacity prepared for another round of war with Israel. There are massive excavations underway in Shi'ite towns in southern Lebanon, hosting tens of thousands of rockets aimed at the Jewish state. Bulldozers and other engineering equipment are working overtime in these villages, building shelters inside villagers' homes in order to convince them to remain during the next conflict.

The IDF believes that Hizballah intends to confront Israel in built-up civilian areas as opposed to the more open fields in 2006. By building bases of operations amongst civilians, while targeting Israeli civilians, the terrorist organization is in effect committing a double war crime. These recent developments further emphasize that the group remains committed to Israel's destruction in spite of the other challenges it faces.

IPT News


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

Records Prove MB Delegates Skipped Airport Inspections

by Steven Emerson, IPT News

Newly released records confirm a 2012 Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) report that the State Department cleared the way for a visiting delegation of Muslim Brotherhood officials to enter the country without undergoing routine inspection by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents.
The April 2012 visit came before the Muslim Brotherhood's candidate was elected Egypt's president, although the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) had won a plurality of seats in parliamentary elections. The expedited entry is known as a "port courtesy" normally reserved for high-ranking visiting government officials and dignitaries.

The records, marked "sensitive but unclassified," were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. They offer few details. The State Department released a one-page document labeled "Compiled References to MB Delegation Arrival and Departure" containing four separate communications between March 30 and April 16, 2012 about the Brotherhood delegation. It is not clear who wrote them or who received them.

"In the coming days, we're going to write down a list of procedures for dealing with MB visits to the United States," an April 16, 2012 entry says.

A March 30 communication offers help dealing with "FJP Delegation and POE [port of entry] Courtesies: Please let the desk know over the weekend if you'd like our help submitting to DHS the 'Special Alerts,' which are used to request that travelers not be pulled into secondary [inspection] upon arrival at a point of entry."

But one member of the Brotherhood delegation, which met with U.S. academic and senior government officials, had been linked to a child pornography investigation in the United States years earlier. Under normal circumstances, he likely would have been subjected to extra scrutiny.

The records released do not address that issue. They do, however, report that "The MB/FJP delegation's scheduler reported that their arrival at JFK on Saturday went very smoothly."

And the official in question, Abdul Mawgoud Dardery, traveled separately and was escorted through security checks in Minneapolis and New York's John F. Kennedy Airport "In response to a request from the MB ... We did not hear anything further from the MB so we assume to departure went smoothly," the records show.

In addition, the Muslim Brotherhood has open connections with Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist group which was created to be the Brotherhood's Palestinian jihadist wing. That fact would have made a secondary inspection for the delegation a natural, if not for the State Department's instructions.

A U.S. official familiar with immigration procedures told the IPT in 2012 that the exemption for the Brotherhood delegation was "extraordinary."

The Brotherhood quickly alienated Egyptian masses, who took to the streets in historic numbers demanding the removal of President Mohamed Morsi. Egypt's army forced Morsi from office after one year and arrested him in early July.

The records' release comes as the IPT has exclusively reported that at least two Syrian clerics have obtained visas to come to the United States for fundraising tours. For instance, Sheik Mohammad Rateb al-Nabulsi is in the middle of an 11-city tour across America co-sponsored by the Syrian American Council (SAC) and the Wylie, Texas-based Shaam Relief. He apparently obtained a visa despite his written edicts which cast all Jews as legitimate suicide bombing targets in Israel and his saying, "Homosexuality leads to the destruction of the homosexual. That's why homosexuality carries the death penalty."

Last spring, Sheik Osama al-Rifai raised $3.6 million during fundraisers in the United States. He later endorsed the Islamic Front, a coalition of groups fighting Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. Some of the Front's members have al-Qaida ties.

"Every single one of you who give any kind of effort to help his brothers in Syria is a jihadist for Allah," al-Rifai told an audience in Dallas. "Every single one of you who spread the word to raise the awareness among the others about what's happening in Syria is a jihadist for Allah."

The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in Egypt in 1928 with the goal of establishing a worldwide Islamic state. Just weeks before the delegation visited the United States, a Brotherhood spokesman said that goal remained at the forefront of the group's ambitions.

"Concerning the Islamic caliphate, this is our dream, and we hope to achieve it, even after centuries," Mahmoud Ghuzlan said in a February 2012 interview. "It is the right of the Brotherhood that this is one of the pillars of its strategy. We are not concerned about the renaissance of the group only. Rather our first goal is the renaissance of Egypt, then the Arab world and then the Islamic world. This will come gradually."

Steven Emerson, IPT News


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

The Two-State Solution is Dead

by Ted Belman

The Two-State Solution is dead. All that remains is for the U.S. to declare it so.

Palestinians leaders and Israeli leaders have made it clear.

In a speech on Jan 10/14, Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas made it crystal clear that he would never abandon the "right of return", would never recognize Israel as a Jewish state and would never make a deal unless East Jerusalem was given to the Palestinians as their capital, all of which cross Israel's red lines.

Upon Israel's release of the third batch of murderers in December and in response to the leaders of the PA celebrating them as heroes, PM Netanyahu said:
"Murderers are not heroes. [..] This is no way to educate toward peace. This is no way to make peace. Peace can be achieved only when the education toward incitement and toward the destruction of Israel is stopped. There will be peace only if our security and settlement interests are ensured. Peace will be established only if we could defend ourselves, by ourselves, against any threat."
No doubt that Kerry is now looking for an exit strategy from his doomed efforts to force Israel to make concessions.

If not the Two-State Solution, then what?

William Galston, writing in The New Republic on June 2011, said: "Benjamin Netanyahu offers no viable alternative to the status quo, and the opposition offers no viable alternative to Netanyahu. [..] The majority of Israelis actually seem comfortable to the point of complacency with today's de facto truce and limited Palestinian autonomy." 

He was right. Netanyahu, Yaalon, and many Israelis, though they prefer the Two State Solution on their terms, in its absence, are quite comfortable with maintaining the status quo.

But not everyone embraces the status quo. They fear Israel's further isolation and delegitimization. They are clamoring to be proactive rather than passive or defensive.

They all want to annex Judea and Samaria (West Bank) but differ on what to do with the Arabs that live there.

Deputy Minister of Transportation, MK Tzipi Hotovely recently

"The goal is for Judea and Samaria to be under Israeli sovereignty. It is ours and it was acquired legally in a bloody, defensive war. We must now implement the vision of the Greater Land of Israel and begin to apply sovereignty in all of the territory. This is the vision reflecting belief in the holy precept that the Land of Israel is ours and we have no right to revoke this precept. It is fidelity to the ideology of the Right and the religious public, which believes that this is our land."
"We must begin a gradual process of 25 years under the heading of 'annexation-naturalization'."
‎" We must bear in mind that this is a hostile entity and it is impossible to ‎turn them into citizens overnight."
Caroline Glick recently published her latest book, The Israeli Solution: A One State Plan for Peace in the Middle East arguing that whereas in Israel, the conversation has begun about alternatives to the 'Two-State' model, no such conversation is taking place in America. Instead American policy beginning with Nixon was and is to appease the PLO, now PA, at Israel's expense.
"The only thing that should interest us is that Judea and Samaria is Israel," she says and notes that even though providing the Palestinians with permanent residency and the right to apply for citizenship is not a perfect solution and will damage Israel on certain levels, "it is absolutely clear that it is better than establishing a Palestinian state. Such a state would be the ruin of Israel."
Prof. Martin Sherman, while totally supporting the annexation of Judea and Samaria, warns Glick and Hotovely, to "look before you leap" for reasons he makes clear. He is adamantly against offering citizenship.
"Topping the list of bad ideas is the notion that, given the proven infeasibility of the two-state paradigm, Israel should extend its sovereignty over the entire area of Judea-Samaria and offer "immediate permanent residency to all its [Arab] Palestinian residents, as well as the right to apply for citizenship." This is an approach so fraught with manifest disaster that it pains me that someone of the caliber of Caroline B. Glick, for whom I have the utmost regard and with whom I am seldom in disagreement, has chosen to advocate it.
"An almost childlike naiveté is required to entertain the belief that Israel could sustain itself as a Jewish nation-state with a massive Muslim minority of almost 40% -- as the societal havoc that far smaller proportions have wrought in Europe indicate."
Instead, he argues for a "humanitarian solution" which envisages voluntary Arab emigration induced by generous compensation.

Glick rejects this and the Jordan Option as "irrelevant ideas that no one will accept, especially the Palestinians themselves."

But were Sherman's idea be adopted by the U.S. and the EU, the conflict would be fully and finally solved in a decade.

Kerry for his part has resorted to threatening Israel with dire consequences should she not capitulate. In a November interview in Israel he said: "If we do not resolve the issues between Palestinians and Israelis, if we do not find a way to find peace, there will be an increasing isolation of Israel, there will be an increasing campaign of delegitimization of Israel that's been taking place on an international basis," In fact, governmental sources report that Kerry is behind the European boycott threats on Israeli products and companies operating in Judea, Samaria, eastern Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights.

At the Saban Conference in November, he said "Force cannot defeat or defuse the demographic time bomb."

While the left, the EU and the USA continue to threaten Israel with claims that Israel is losing the demographic war, the opposite is the truth. retired ambassador Yoram Ettinger has been studying the demographics of Israel for a decade and has often
written that the demographic trend supports Israel now in the foreseeable future. According to him, Jews outnumber Arabs from the river to the sea, excluding Gaza, by a 2:1 majority and the numbers will only get better.

But the Two-State Solution carries with it a real demographic bomb. If a Palestinian state was created, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan would demand that the descendants of the original refugees now living in their countries, numbering now over 4 million, be returned to Palestine. If the PA gives up the "right of return", and most of these "refugees" were to return to Palestine, both Palestine and Israel would be greatly destabilized. So much so, as to require no return to Palestine either.

Glick advises:
"I brief the members of the House of Representatives and the Senate several times every year. Each time I present this plan on Capitol Hill, the response borders on euphoria. In the United States, just as in Israel, there are millions of people who understand that the 'Two-State' solution is a disaster. They are just waiting for someone to tell them that they can abandon it. My book gives them, and the Israeli public as well, the alternative that they are waiting for."
Let's hope they adopt it.

Ted Belman


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

Has Iran Gained a Foothold in the Arabian Peninsula?

by Daniel Pipes

According to a sensational report by Awad Mustafa in DefenseNews, a Gannett publication, not only has Tehran signed an agreement with the United Arab Emirates over three disputed islands near the Strait of Hormuz, but it has also reached a possibly even more important accord with the government of Oman. Both of these agreements have vast implications for the oil trade, the world economy, and Iranian influence.

According [to] an unnamed "high level UAE source," secretive talks taking place over six months led to a deal on the Greater and Lesser Tunbs finalized on Dec. 24: "For now, two of the three islands are to return to the UAE while the final agreement for Abu Musa is being ironed out. Iran will retain the sea bed rights around the three islands while the UAE will hold sovereignty over the land."

This is big news, but yet bigger potentially is the source's stating that "Oman will grant Iran a strategic location on Ras Musandam mountain, which is a very strategic point overlooking the whole gulf region. In return for Ras Musandam, Oman will receive free gas and oil from Iran once a pipeline is constructed within the coming two years."

Both agreements center around the Strait of Hormuz, the world's most important oil passageway and vulnerability.
  • The UAE deal involves the tiny but strategic islands of Abu Musa and the Greater and Lesser Tunbs near the straits, occupied by Iranian forces since 1971, just as the UAE emerged as an independent country.
  • It's not clear what granting to the Iranians "a strategic location on Ras Musandam mountain" means but Musandam is the very tip of the Straits of Hormuz and Tehran winning access to any sort of military position there could enhance their ability to block the oil trade as well as make trouble on the peninsula.

Oman's territory includes two non-contiguous areas, one of which is Musandam at the Straits of Hormuz.

Oman's role in facilitating the UAE-Iran talks, says the source, was approved by Washington: "Oman was given the green light from Iran and the US to reach deals that would decrease the threat levels in the region and offset the Saudi Arabian influence in the future by any means."

(1) As if the Joint Plan of Action announced by the P5+1 and Tehran on Nov. 24 were not a disaster on the nuclear issue, it is also encouraging regional governments to appease the bellicose and ambitious Iranian regime.
(2) That the Obama administration seeks to "offset" Saudi influence with Iranian influence sounds unlikely – but given the geniuses occupying the White House these days, who knows? (January 15, 2014)

Daniel Pipes


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

European Court Undermining British Sovereignty

by Soeren Kern

The new president of the ECHR, Judge Dean Spielmann, threatened in June 2013 that if Britain did not adhere to European human rights laws, it could face being ejected from the European Union altogether.
Britain's Lord Judge told the BBC that Judge Spielmann was claiming too much power for a body of unelected judges whose rulings could not be challenged. "This is a court which is not answerable to anybody," he said. "My own view is: stop here."
"The process by which democracies decline is...subtle... What happens is that they are slowly drained of what makes them democratic, by a process of internal decay and mounting indifference...." — Supreme Court Justice Lord Sumption

An ever-expanding list of controversial rulings issued by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) are fueling accusations that unelected judges at the pan-European court are usurping the judicial sovereignty of individual European nation states.

The Strasbourg-based ECHR enforces the European Convention on Human Rights and its jurisdiction is compulsory and binding for all 47 member states of the Council of Europe.

The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France. (Image source: CherryX/WikiMedia Commons)
The latest imbroglio stems from the ECHR's concerted effort to prohibit British courts from sentencing violent criminals to life terms in prison without parole.

According to English law, all convicted murderers must be sentenced to life imprisonment (this requirement has been enshrined in English law ever since the death penalty was abolished in 1965). Nevertheless, in most cases, prisoners are eligible for parole after a fixed minimum period set by the judge.

However, in cases involving exceptionally violent criminals, judges may impose so-called whole-life sentences, meaning the prisoner will never be eligible for release. There are currently 49 criminals serving whole-life terms in the prison system of England and Wales.

But the ECHR—in a landmark case called Vinter vs. the United Kingdom—ruled in July 2013 that life sentences without any prospect of release or review amount to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and thus are a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The ECHR ordered the British government—which cannot appeal the decision—to inform the Council of Europe (the enforcer of ECHR judgments) within six months as to how it would apply the ruling to the whole-life sentences given to three convicted killers—Jeremy Bamber, Douglas Vinter and Peter Moore—whose human rights have allegedly been breached.

In a formal note sent to the Council of Europe on January 8, 2014, British Justice Minister Chris Grayling was defiant, stating that inmates sentenced to whole-life terms in Britain would not obtain the right to a review, according to The Guardian. Grayling said the British Supreme Court should be the final arbiter of British law, not the ECHR.

Only a few days earlier, British Prime Minister David Cameron had indicated he was considering changes to sentencing rules that would replace whole-life jail terms with U.S. styles of sentences, if necessary lasting hundreds of years for multiple counts of murder, for instance, in a bid both to satisfy, and at the same time to sidestep, the ECHR, according to The Telegraph. Long sentences are sometimes imposed in the United States as an alternative to the death penalty.

"What I believe is very clear," Cameron said. "There are some people who commit such dreadful crimes that they should be sentenced to prison and life should mean life, and whatever the European Court has said we must put in place arrangements to make sure that should continue."

But Cameron's legal advisors said that while lengthy sentences had the appearance of being tough, they would still have to be accompanied by an automatic review, potentially allowing murderers who would otherwise have stayed in jail to be released. Thus Britain would "surrender" to the ECHR because "life would no longer necessarily mean life," according to conservative politicians interviewed by The Daily Mail.

Curbing the influence of the ECHR and other pan-European institutions is sure to become a key element of the Conservative Party's electoral platform ahead of general elections set for May 2015. Many Britons are opposed to the continued erosion of British national sovereignty by non-elected bureaucrats in Brussels.

The dispute over "human rights" for violent criminals is part of a much larger EU effort to create what Grayling describes as a "European justice system," one that would subordinate the legal systems of European nation states to the whims of European bureaucrats.

For example, the new president of the ECHR, Judge Dean Spielmann, threatened in June 2013 that if Britain did not adhere to European human rights laws, it could face being ejected from the European Union altogether.

In an interview with BBC Radio 4's Today program on December 28 (listen to the five-minute interview here), Lord Judge—he was the Chief Justice of England and Wales from 2008 to 2013—warned that allowing the ECHR to set laws on social matters could pose a threat to parliamentary sovereignty.

Lord Judge told the BBC that Judge Spielmann was claiming too much power for a body of unelected judges whose rulings could not be challenged. "This is a court which is not answerable to anybody," he said.

Lord Judge said the ECHR was overstepping its authority in attempting to dictate rather than to influence the social legislation of EU member states. He urged the British government to rally support across Europe to rein in the court.

"His [Judge Spielmann's] view means that the court in Europe is entitled to tell every country in Europe how it should organize itself," he said. "He refers to it [the European Convention on Human Rights] as a living instrument. Of course the Convention isn't a dead instrument, but it means that legislation can be made by judges on all sorts of societal issues—binding legislation—and if that's the position there is a very serious problem with sovereignty."

"It's not a UK problem, the sovereignty issue affects every single country in Europe," Lord Judge added. "It is time for us to recognize that it is a very important time. My own view is: stop here."

"The issue that is in play here is not the Convention, it is sovereignty … The most fundamental principle of our unwritten constitution is parliamentary sovereignty. Our elected representatives have ultimate sovereignty not only over our own unelected judges but in my view over the unelected judges of any other jurisdiction, including Europe, unless we choose to give them sovereignty."

Lord Judge has previously suggested that the Human Rights Act of 1988—which codifies the protections in the European Convention on Human Rights into British law—should be amended to make clear that British courts are not inferior to European judges in Strasbourg.

In a wide-ranging speech to the Constitution Unit at University College London on December 4, Lord Judge said the ECHR "is not superior to our supreme court" in London, and that parliamentary sovereignty should not be exported to "a foreign court."

"My profound concern about the long-term impact of these issues on our constitutional affairs is the democratic deficit ... in our constitutional arrangements parliament is sovereign."

"It would make sense for the [Human Rights Act] to be amended, to express that the obligation to take account of the decisions of the Strasbourg court did not mean that our supreme court was required to follow or apply those decisions, and that in this jurisdiction the supreme court is, at the very least, a court of equal standing with the Strasbourg court."

"Are we … prepared to contemplate the gradual emergence of a court with the equivalent jurisdiction throughout Europe of that enjoyed by the Supreme Court in the United States of America?"

"My personal belief is that sovereignty on these issues should not be exported, and we should beware of the danger of even an indirect importation of the slightest obligation on parliament to comply with the orders and directions of any court, let alone a foreign court."

One week earlier, Lord Justice Laws—the longest-serving court of appeals judge in the UK— called on British courts to stop deferring to Strasbourg on every issue. In his Hamlyn Lecture at Inner Temple Hall in central London on November 27, Laws said: "I have, in common with others, come to think that this approach [of treating Strasbourg decisions as authoritative] represents an important wrong turning in our law."

Laws said the UK Supreme Court has accorded "overriding force to the notion that only Strasbourg's rulings on the convention are 'definitive' or 'authoritative.' Why should this be so?"

The week before that, Supreme Court Justice Lord Sumption criticized the ECHR for exceeding its legitimate powers and thereby undermining the democratic process. In a speech entitled "The Limits of Law," delivered at the 27th Sultan Azlan Shah Lecture in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on November 20, Sumption said the Strasbourg court "has become the international flag-bearer for judge-made fundamental law extending well beyond the text which it is charged with applying. It has over many years declared itself entitled to treat the [European Convention on Human Rights] as what it calls a 'living instrument.'"

Sumption highlighted one example of the ECHR's "creative" role in reinterpreting the Convention "so as to reflect its own view of what rights are required in a modern democracy." This approach has "transformed the Convention from the safeguard against despotism which was intended by its draftsmen, into a template for many aspects of the domestic legal order." It has "involved the recognition of a large number of new rights which are not expressly to be found" in the language of the treaty.
"The text of Article 8 protects private and family life, the privacy of the home and of personal correspondence. This perfectly straightforward provision was originally devised as a protection against the surveillance state by totalitarian governments. But in the hands of the Strasbourg court it has been extended to cover the legal status of illegitimate children, immigration and deportation, extradition, aspects of criminal sentencing, abortion, homosexuality, assisted suicide, child abduction, the law of landlord and tenant, and a great deal else besides. None of these extensions are warranted by the express language of the Convention, nor in most cases are they necessary implications."
Sumption added:
"The process by which democracies decline is ... subtle ... What happens is that they are slowly drained of what makes them democratic, by a gradual process of internal decay and mounting indifference, until one suddenly notices that they have become something different, like the republican constitutions of Athens or Rome or the Italian city-states of the Renaissance."
These concerns were echoed by the Deputy President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, Lady Hale. In her Warwick Law Lecture delivered on November 28, she expressed concern that "the current problem facing both Strasbourg and the member states [of the EU] is whether there are any limits to how far the [European Convention on Human Rights] can be developed."

Meanwhile, the ECHR is pressing Britain to offer prisoners the right to vote. In a legal battle dating back to 2004 (Hirst vs. the United Kingdom and more recently Scoppola vs. Italy), the Strasbourg court has repeatedly ruled that a blanket ban on prisoner voting is incompatible with European law.

David Cameron said in November 2010 that the prospect of giving murderers the right to vote makes him feel "physically ill," but that he has no choice but to comply with the ECHR's ruling that the UK's 140-year-old blanket ban on letting sentenced prisoners vote is illegal.

Separately, the European Commission—the administrative arm of the European Union—published a series of five documents in October 2013 that seek to impose yet another set of human rights in Britain.

The move to enforce the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights—which brings together in a single document all of the 54 fundamental rights protected in the EU—comes despite the fact that the Labour Government opted out of the Charter when it signed the Lisbon Treaty (aka the European Constitution) in 2007.

EU officials have discussed "enhancing the scope" of the Charter, which includes a number of rights which are not listed in other declarations such as the "right to marry and found a family," as well as guarantees of "housing assistance," "fair working conditions," and the right to "collective bargaining."

In an interview with The Times, Justice Minister Grayling said: "This country never wanted a Charter of Fundamental Rights and the idea we would sign up to changes that meant it took over our domestic laws is absurd. The European Commission should stop trying to create a European justice system and should let member states get on with solving the real challenges we all face."

Adding to the confusion, a British high court judge recently said he believed that even though Britain had signed a special protocol as part of the Lisbon Treaty which was to ensure that the EU Charter of Rights would not be enforceable in Britain, the EU law had unintentionally been incorporated into British law anyway due to years of European interference in the lawmaking functions of the British Parliament.

"It would seem that the much wider charter of rights is now part of our domestic law," Justice Nicholas Mostyn ruled on November 7 in (AB vs. Home Secretary). "Moreover, that much wider charter of rights would remain part of our domestic law even if the Human Rights Act were repealed."

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 and Twitter.

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

The Iraqi Shiite Challenge to Tehran's Mullahs

by Nathaniel Rabkin

Nearly two million Shiite pilgrims passed from Iran to Iraq between March 2009 and February 2010 through the Mehran land border crossing.[1] Thousands more entered Iraq through other land border crossings or by air travel. These pilgrims came from countries the world over to visit the tombs of the Shiite imams in Najaf, Karbala, and Baghdad. By way of comparison, 1.6 million Muslims traveled to Saudi Arabia for the 2009 hajj (an additional 700,000 Muslims from within Saudi Arabia also participated)[2] while some 700,000 religious pilgrims visited Christian and Jewish holy sites in Israel in the same year.[3] Clearly, the pilgrimage to Iraq is a major religious phenomenon.

The tomb of Imam Ali in Najaf, Iraq, is one of the holiest shrines for Shiite pilgrims. Millions of Iranians flock to it and other sites across the border annually, and control over what the pilgrims see and hear has become a major issue for the ruling theocrats in Tehran.

Iranians are the largest group of foreign pilgrims to Iraq, and the Iranian government has shown great interest in promoting the trip. American journalists and policy analysts frequently describe the pilgrimage as a tool of political and economic influence, but Iran's policy seems to be dictated more by domestic concerns than by regional ambitions. Pilgrimage to Iraq is an important religious rite for Iranian Shiites, and the government prizes the prestige attending its sponsorship.

The post-2003 revival of the pilgrimage has also contributed to the growing clout of Iraqi-based Shiite religious leaders, first and foremost Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, whose political independence and growing popularity among Iranian Shiites present a serious challenge to the legitimacy of Iran's state-sponsored religious establishment. The Iranian authorities are aware of this threat, but their efforts to counter it have so far been hampered by political and religious sensitivities. In the years to come, the political impact of the pilgrimage to Iraq may do much to shape the future of both countries as well as that of the Shiite world.

Islamic Iran and Revival of the Pilgrimage

Journeying to the tombs of imams in Iraq's shrine cities is a time-honored Shiite practice that has recently emerged from a long hiatus. For most of the twentieth century, a variety of political circumstances kept the holy sites of Iraq out of reach for most Shiites.

Iranian governments have had a long history of involvement with Iraq's Shiite shrines. Successive Shiite dynasties in Iran donated extensively to them, helping to build the architectural structures themselves as well as related infrastructure.[4] Then as now, promoting the pilgrimage was a way for Iranian rulers to portray themselves as upholders of Shiite Islam—the country's official religion since the sixteenth century.

The pilgrimage was disrupted for most of the twentieth century by feuding regimes in Tehran and Baghdad, which gives its recent revival special significance. Following World War I, Reza Shah Pahlavi rose to power in Iran and sought to modernize the country by promoting secular nationalism. He also endeavored to uproot customs seen as backward or superstitious, which to his mind included the pilgrimage to ancient tombs in neighboring Iraq. Reza Shah's government instituted a series of measures that drastically cut the number of pilgrims and kept it low for decades.[5] After his son Mohammed Reza Pahlavi was overthrown and replaced by the Islamic Republic in 1979, a new obstacle to the pilgrimage arose in the form of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, who invaded Iran, ending bilateral religious ties and instituting harsh measures against Iraqi Shiites, including tight pilgrimage restrictions.

Saddam's toppling in 2003 paved the way for a restoration of the pilgrimage tradition to Iraq. The return of Iranian pilgrims was a long-awaited event, rich with political and religious symbolism. For the Iranian government, which made the liberation of Karbala a propaganda motif during the Iran-Iraq war, the revived pilgrimage represented the triumph of Shiite Islam over secular, Westernizing rulers. Organizing and promoting the travel of Iranian pilgrims to Iraq is a way for Tehran to celebrate what it portrays as an Islamic victory. At the same time, promoting the pilgrimage also continues a centuries old tradition of Iranian state patronage of Iraq's Shiite shrines.

A mere nine months after Saddam's fall, visitors to Najaf in December 2003 noticed a strong presence of foreign pilgrims, most of them Iranian.[6] After an initial period of chaotic, ad-hoc pilgrimage, Tehran decided to assume a key role in promoting it and arranging pilgrims' affairs. In April 2005, just three months after Iraq's first post-Saddam elections, Iranian and Iraqi diplomats signed an agreement allowing 1,500 Iranian pilgrims to enter Iraq daily.[7] By 2009, the quota for Iranian pilgrims had reached 5,000 a day[8] and was further increased to 6,000 a day in 2011.[9]

Tehran quickly took measures to organize and control the activities of Iranian pilgrims inside Iraq. July 2005 saw the formation of the quasi-governmental All-Iran Central Company of Pilgrimage Service Providers (Sharekat Markazi-ye Dafater-e Khadamat-e Zeyarati-e Sarasar-e Iran, SHAMSA) to provide Iranian pilgrims with packaged tours and to negotiate deals with Iraqi businesses to provide lodging, transportation, and security. Although SHAMSA is registered as a private corporation, all of its business dealings in Iraq and Iran are submitted for approval to an Iranian government body called the Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization (Sazeman-e Hajj va Zeyarat).[10] This agency also sets the prices SHAMSA charges for its package tours and oversees the application process for tourists and guides.[11]

Some American observers have suggested that the Iranian government is using its control over the journey to exert economic and political influence ("soft power") inside Iraq.[12] Many Iraqis share this opinion[13] although the belief seems to be based more on deep-seated suspicions than on hard evidence. Locals in Karbala believed rumors that Iranians were buying up real estate in the city as part of a planned takeover, allegedly using local front men to circumvent Iraqi laws that restrict the purchase of real estate by foreigners.[14] One Iraqi journalist even described the sale of Iranian-style women's clothing in Karbala's markets as evidence of growing Iranian hegemony.[15] Whatever influence Tehran is thought to have obtained through the pilgrimage would seem to be counter-balanced by the paranoid fears and resentments the Iranian presence has provoked among Iraqis.

Gaining influence in Iraq, however, does not seem to be a high priority for the architects of Iran's pilgrimage policy. An examination of SHAMSA's record suggests the quasi-governmental tour company is dedicated to ensuring a comfortable stay for Iranian pilgrims even when this requires taking measures that displease Iraqi hosts. SHAMSA has provoked resentment among Iraqi businessmen through its monopolistic practices, which include forcing Iraqi hotel owners to offer special low rates to its tour groups.[16] In 2009, SHAMSA opened a number of central kitchens in Karbala where meals are cooked by Iranian staff and delivered twice daily to the pilgrims' hotels, depriving Iraqi restaurants of Iranian pilgrims' business. When asked about these kitchens by an Iraqi journalist, a SHAMSA representative explained that Iranians needed specially prepared meals because Iraqi restaurants "are not careful when it comes to standards of hygiene."[17]

The pilgrimage brings millions of Iranians to Iraq every year, but the Iranian government makes little effort to use its citizens as goodwill ambassadors or agents of influence. SHAMSA's security department advises pilgrims to avoid discussing politics with Iraqis and warns them not to accept any gifts of food, drink, or perfume offered to them by locals. These instructions explicitly include nudhour, pilgrim offerings, which are a long-standing custom in the folk religion of southern Iraq.[18] Bread, sweets, tea, and even cigarettes are proffered as part of the nudhour vow intended to secure specific divine blessings, such as finding a spouse or recovering from an illness. (The term is also used to describe other types of vow-offerings, including cash donations made for the upkeep of the shrines.)[19] Refusing gifts from strangers may be a sensible precaution for Iranian pilgrims but may easily offend well-meaning Iraqi donors. Despite this, SHAMSA's security procedures prevail, which would seem to reflect Tehran's indifference to using the pilgrimage to win friends and influence in Iraq.

On the other hand, the pilgrimage is an important tool in the arena of domestic political propaganda. By promoting the pilgrimage to Iraq, the Iranian government expresses its ideological commitment to fostering Shiite religious practice among Iran's citizens. Publicly demonstrating this commitment bolsters its oft-questioned domestic legitimacy. Equally important, Tehran's role in sponsoring the pilgrimage gives it some measure of control over how Iranian Shiites experience Iraq's shrines: All SHAMSA tour groups are accompanied by government-selected spiritual guides, who are vetted for political awareness and loyalty to the Islamic regime.

Mostafa Khaksar Qahroudi, head of the Iranian Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization, which oversees SHAMSA, explained the regime's interest in the pilgrimage with surprising candor during a 2008 meeting with SHAMSA's board of directors: "Given the Islamic character of the Islamic Republican system, the people have certain expectations … the services provided to the pilgrim must be better than those given to a regular traveler or tourist."[20] Qahrudi went on to describe government sponsorship of the pilgrimage as necessary for Iran's political stability:
The philosophy behind the Islamic Republican regime is faith-based, and the regime cannot appear apathetic [to the pilgrimage] … The only way to preserve the regime is to keep the people on a spiritual path. How else could we keep the people going along with the regime?[21]
This high regard assigned to the pilgrimage's domestic political impact by Iranian officials may explain their apparent neglect of its potential as an avenue for influence over neighboring Iraq.

This can also be seen in the manner in which the Iranian state oversees the trip at the highest levels of the government. On paper, the Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization is a branch of Iran's Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance;[22] in practice, Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamene'i maintains a permanent liaison to the agency and exercises veto power over all its decisions.[23] The supreme leader's liaison office also selects and trains Shiite clerics who accompany every SHAMSA tour group as spiritual guides. Among other conditions, candidates for the guide position must pass a test of their "political knowledge" and must demonstrate their obedience to the principle of "absolute clerical political rule."[24]

The influence of Najaf-based Shiite cleric Ayatollah Ali Sistani over Iranian Shiites is a most troubling problem for the mullahs in Tehran. Sistani's political independence and growing popularity among Iranian Shiites is viewed as a serious challenge to the legitimacy of Iran's state-sponsored religious establishment.
In April 2009, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ordered a number of administrative changes in the Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization but reversed course after receiving a public rebuke from Khamene'i, who called the president's move "inappropriate."[25] The public disagreement between Iran's two most powerful public figures indicates that deep political sensitivities surround the pilgrimage to Iraq.

Iraqi Shiism's "Quietist" Influence

Despite the attention given to these matters by the office of the supreme leader, the government's efforts to co-opt the pilgrimage face serious competition from a rival force: an independent, Iraqi-based Shiite religious leadership that refuses to recognize the religious authority of Tehran's rulers but which is increasingly popular inside Iran. Rather than strengthening Iranian influence over Iraqi affairs, the pilgrimage seems to be enhancing the popularity of Iraq-based religious leaders inside Iran. This popularity will likely be a source of concern for the Iranian government in the years to come.

The most influential of these leaders is Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani. Though born in Iran, the 83-year-old Sistani has spent most of his life in Iraq, studying and teaching in the shrine city of Najaf. Sistani enjoys an undisputed position as the most respected Shiite religious leader in Iraq, his popularity due in large part to his reputation for independence and integrity. His steadfast support for elections played a critical role in Iraq's post-Saddam democratic transition, but at the same time, he has been careful to avoid association with any political faction. Unlike many Iranian religious leaders, Sistani receives no government stipend.

Sistani's popularity extends into Iran where it has deepened in recent years, partly due to the pilgrimage. The Iranian-American scholar Mehdi Khalaji cites estimates that "nearly 80 percent of Shiite worshippers" in Iran "follow Ayatollah Ali Sistani" as their spiritual leader.[26] This is echoed by Johns Hopkins' Vali Nasr who attributes Sistani's rising popularity to two factors: the influence of pilgrims returning from Iraq, and widespread cynicism toward Tehran's corrupt religious establishment.[27] Since the 1979 Islamic revolution, the Iranian mullahs have transformed themselves from humble scholars into an elite that controls the country's political and economic life.[28] Sistani's popularity reflects a genuine hunger in Iran for an independent religious leadership untainted by connections and corruption.

While Sistani holds no formal political office, his authority over Iraq's Shiite shrines is recognized by the Baghdad government and is formalized by law 19 (the awkwardly named "Administration of the Holy Shrines and the Noble Shiite Pilgrimage Sites Law"). Passed by the Iraqi parliament in 2005, it directs the minister of Islamic endowments to appoint directors for each of Iraq's shrines from among "qualified individuals of integrity who possess a good reputation and who have been approved by the supreme religious authority (marja)—being the religious scholar from among the scholars of Najaf whose authority is accepted by the majority of Shiites in Iraq."[29]

The custodians appointed by Ayatollah Sistani maintain tight control over the pilgrimage observances in Iraq's shrine cities. For example, before the January 2012 Arbaeen pilgrimage commemorating the martyrdom of Muhammad's grandson Hussein bin Ali, the management of the Imam Hussein shrine in Karbala issued a very detailed set of instructions covering matters of safety, hygiene, and security, as well as ritual guidelines.[30] The governor of Karbala province also affirmed the exclusive authority of Sistani's followers to regulate and administer pilgrims' activities in and around the holy place.[31]

Sistani's disciples are thus provided with a platform to deliver their religious message, which eschews the fiery political rhetoric favored by Tehran's religious establishment. These views are disseminated through traditional Friday sermons at the shrines and, since the fall of Saddam Hussein, through modern media outlets as well. Every month, the Imam Ali shrine at Najaf issues a glossy Arabic magazine called al-Wilaya.[32] The Kazimiyah shrine in Baghdad publishes no fewer than three magazines[33] while the Imam Hussein shrine in Karbala has its own satellite TV channel, which began broadcasting in 2009.[34]

The religious discourse promoted by Sistani's acolytes is devotional, not political. Their publications extol traditional religious values of piety, learning, and self-improvement while eschewing the politicized rhetoric of Iran's state-sponsored religious institutions. One searches these publications in vain for references to America as "the global arrogance" or to political opponents as "spreaders of corruption on earth." There is no talk of Western or "Zionist" conspiracies against Islam. The sermons given at the shrines during Friday prayers reflect this same pietistic outlook. When the preachers discuss politics, they do so in very general terms, calling for national unity and speaking about the Iraqi people's desire for development. They refrain from endorsing specific political parties, from issuing fiery condemnations of the United States, or from discussing the politics of neighboring Iran.
At the same time, while the Shiite scholars of Najaf do not share the Iranian government's radical ideology, neither Sistani nor any other Iraqi ayatollah calls for a revolution in Iran. Even at the height of Iran's 2009 election crisis, Sistani and the other Iraq-based ayatollahs kept silent, refusing to endorse either the protesters or the government, carefully avoid meddling in neighboring politics.

The position of Iraq's Shiite religious establishment reflects the traditional "quietist" school of Shiite thought, in which religious leaders can offer advice on political matters but do not take sides in the struggle for power. Adopting this approach, Sistani's followers in Iran can accept Khamene'i as a medieval-style king or sultan, deserving of obedience inasmuch as he maintains order and defends the country from external threats but devoid of religious authority.[35] While Sistani's followers are not active supporters of the Iranian opposition, the existence of a popular and revered religious leadership outside of state control presents a serious challenge to Tehran's theocratic government.

The Looming Confrontation

The ideology underlying Iran's Islamic Republic holds that religion and politics are inseparable. Iran's rulers insist that opposing the regime is the same as opposing Islam. To drive this point home, the Iranian government puts its domestic enemies on trial not for treason but for the crime of "waging war against God" (moharebeh).[36] To make these claims convincing, the Islamic Republic needs more than the passive acquiescence of religious leaders; it needs their active endorsement of the regime's claims. This, however, is something that neither Sistani nor any of Iraq's Shiite religious leaders have been willing to give.

In the aftermath of the 2009 post-election crackdown, a number of religious leaders inside Iran began voicing their displeasure with Khamene'i's policies. The regime responded by attacking these clerics' houses and offices, censoring their Internet sites, and in the case of the prominent cleric Ayatollah Yusof Sanei, having a pro-regime religious body deny his religious credentials.[37] But the unintended consequences of this crackdown may only add to Iraq's prestige as a more independent and more legitimate center of Shiite Islam. The refusal of Iraqi clerics to endorse political repression in Iran may also serve to embolden religious opponents of Tehran's current regime.

In the coming years, Iran's ruling elite will likely take measures designed to either co-opt or subvert the Shiite religious leadership based in Iraq's shrine cities. A hint of what these measures might look like was provided recently when Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi-Shahroudi, the former head of Iran's judiciary and a close ally of Khamene'i, opened an office in Najaf. It was rumored that Shahroudi, who was born in Iraq in 1949 to parents of Iranian descent, would soon return to Iraq to serve as a counterweight to Sistani.[38] These rumors received negative coverage in Iraqi news media,[39] and Shahrudi's office denied he was planning to move back to Iraq. Meanwhile, Iran's semi-official Fars News Agency blamed the Shahrudi controversy on "Zionist-Wahhabi media in Iraq and the region," which it said were "trying to create divisions between Iraqi and Iranian Shiites."[40]

Iraq's premier Nuri al-Maliki (l) meets with Mahmud Shahrudi in Iran, April 2012. Shahroudi, the former head of Iran's judiciary and Khamene'i's close ally, opened an office in Najaf, Iraq, in 2011. It was rumored that Shahroudi was there to serve as a counterweight to Ali Sistani's influence.

The Shahrudi affair has apparently affected political relations between the two countries. During a visit to Iran in April 2013, Iraqi prime minister Nuri al-Maliki was photographed meeting with Shahrudi. During the same visit, Maliki also met with Iran's deputy president Mohammed Reza Rahimi, who welcomed him by wishing for a "perfect union" between Iran and Iraq.[41] The crudeness of this messaging provoked criticism in Iraq, forcing Maliki's allies to issue clarifications.[42] At the same time, emphasizing close political ties with Iraq may be a way for Tehran to distract the Iranian public's attention from the intra-Shiite rivalry, providing another example of how domestic religious concerns shape Iranian policy.

With its efforts to promote Ayatollah Shahrudi stalled, Iran may instead focus on co-opting or undermining the Najaf hawzah (religious academy), Iraq's most important religious institution. The hawzah is a loosely organized academy, which operates through time-honored but unwritten guidelines. There are no professional administrators, written exams, or formal budgets; the academy operates through private donations and personal relationships between teacher and student. This decentralized system has insulated it from political influences for centuries, but there are those who argue that the academy should be reformed and modernized. Any formalization of the hawzah system could make it more open to political influence, especially from Iran's Islamic Republic, a fact which has not gone unnoted by Iraqi observers.[43]

Ayatollah Sistani is presently the most respected figure in the Najaf hawzah, his position the result of his personal reputation, not any formal process. He and other Najaf-based scholars oversee large charitable and educational projects, paid for by private fundraising but which could be vulnerable to competition and co-option from Iran. Already, Khamene'i's office distributes stipends to students at the Najaf hawzah, supplementing but also competing with stipends offered by Sistani and other Iraqis.[44]

Sistani is currently in his eighties. When he dies, Iran may use its influence to back a particular candidate to succeed him or to prevent the emergence of any clear successor. However, such efforts will likely face determined opposition from Iraqi Shiites and from the many Iranian Shiites who now look to Iraq for religious guidance.

If the Iranian government fails to co-opt or undermine Iraq's religious leadership, it may try instead to exert tighter control over the pilgrimage itself as a means of blocking any destabilizing religious influence from Iraq. Iranian authorities already ban non-SHAMSA pilgrims from crossing into Iraq by land, ostensibly for security reasons, although pilgrims who reject the official group tours can still book flights into Iraq.[45] Iran's minister of culture and Islamic guidance, Mohammed Hosseini, recently encouraged prospective pilgrims to join official group tours, which he described as "materially and spiritually more suitable" to their needs.[46]

Future crackdowns on independent pilgrims or measures to tighten further political control of SHAMSA tours may provide indications of growing distress within the Iranian government about the pilgrimage's potentially subversive political influence. However, Tehran will have to act with caution. The adoption of repressive measures against Shiite pilgrims could be another nail in the coffin of the Islamic Republic's domestic legitimacy.


The reemergence of Iraq as a Shiite religious center requires a reevaluation of the Iran-Iraq relationship. Tehran may exercise numerous forms of influence over its smaller, weaker, and poorer neighbor, but when it comes to religious affairs, the influence seems to be running mostly in the opposite direction. In the coming years, Iranian authorities may be forced to devote their attention to counteracting Iraqi religious influence inside their country. The pilgrimage is a major avenue for this influence, which makes control of the pilgrimage a vital interest for the government in Tehran.

The contest between Iran's theocracy and Iraq's Shiite religious scholars is asymmetrical and highly volatile. Tehran enjoys vast economic and political resources and has a record of cunning and ruthless responses to perceived threats. Ayatollah Sistani and the Najaf hawzah have none of these advantages, but they do have a strong and growing base of popular support inside Iran. Neither side seems eager for a direct confrontation, which would have dangerous and unpredictable consequences for all involved.

It is too early to tell how this contest will end. Perhaps Tehran will neutralize Iraq's independent religious establishment, buying the Islamic Republic a renewed lease on life until the next crisis comes along. Alternatively, the rebirth of Najaf as a world center of Shiism may deprive Iran's present rulers of their religious pretensions, paving the way for the end to the regime's Islamist system. But with close to two million Iranian pilgrims visiting Iraq each year, an amicable divorce between these two rival interpretations of Shiism seems unlikely.

Until one side or the other prevails, the religious dimension will play an important role in Iranian-Iraqi relations. Observers of these affairs should pay close attention to the pilgrimage, which may in fact be the single most important bilateral tie between the two countries. For policymakers, the pilgrimage is an important reminder that, even with all eyes turned on Iran, events in Iraq may continue to play a pivotal role in the region's future.
Nathaniel Rabkin is the managing editor of Inside Iraqi Politics and a graduate student in Middle East history at the University of Haifa.
[1] Hajj News website, Tehran, Mar. 15, 2011. [2] "The number of pilgrims for the Years from 1416H. (1995G.) to 1431H. (2010G)," Central Department of Statistics and Information, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh, accessed Aug. 27. 2013. [3] Tourism in Israel: 1990-2009, Israel Central Bureau of Statistics, Jerusalem, 2011, pp. 1-3. [4] Encyclopaedia of Islam, 2nd. edition (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1960-2005), s.v. 'Atabat. [5] Yitzhak Nakash, The Shi'is of Iraq (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003), pp. 170-1. [6] The Washington Post, Dec. 10, 2003. [7] Asharq al-Awsat (London), Apr. 17, 2005. [8] Ibid., Oct. 12, 2009. [9] Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, Arabic World Service, June 16, 2011. [10] Sharekat-e Markazi-ye Dafater-e Khadamat-e Sarasar-e Iran website, accessed June 25, 2012. [11] Ibid. [12] The New York Times, May 30, 2009; Marissa Cochrane-Sullivan, "Iran's Soft Power in Iraq," Iran Tracker, American Enterprise Institute, Washington, D.C., Aug. 4, 2009. [13] The National (Abu Dhabi), June 1, 2009. [14] Niqash (Berlin), Nov. 15, 2011; al-Sumaria TV News (Baghdad), Apr. 19, 2011. [15] Niqash, June 30, 2011. [16] Asharq al-Awsat, Oct. 12, 2009; al-Mada (Baghdad), Jan. 23, 2011. [17] Niqash, Nov. 15, 2011. [18] Zeyarat (Tehran), no.1, Oct./Nov. 2008 (Abanmah 1387 Anno Persico), p. 22. [19] Salman Hadi Toameh, Karbala Fiad-Dhakira (Baghdad: publisher unknown, 1988), pp. 241-52. [20] Zeyarat, Oct./Nov. 2008, p. 22. [21] Ibid. [22] Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance website, accessed Sept. 3, 2013. [23] Fars News Agency (Tehran), Jan. 23, 2012. [24] Be'ese-ye Magham-e Moazzam-e Rahbari, Moavenat-e Omur-e Ruhaniyun, Sept. 3, 2013. [25] The New York Times, May 4, 2009. [26] Mehdi Khalaji, The Last Marja (Washington, D.C.: Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 2006), p. 7. [27] Vali Nasr, The Shia Revival (New York: W.W. Norton, 2007), p. 221. [28] Asghar Schirazi, The Constitution of Iran (London: I.B. Tauris, 1997), pp. 150-5. [29] Law 19,art. 4, Iraq Local Governance Law Library, 2005. [30] Ta'alimat Khassah lil-Mawakib Fi Dhikra Ziyarat al-Arbain al-Khalida, Imam Hussein shrine, Karbala, Jan. 2, 2012. [31] Imam Hussein shrine website, Jan. 20, 2011. [32] Imam Ali shrine website, accessed May 16, 2012. [33] Kazimiya shrine website, accessed May 16, 2012. [34] Karbala TV, accessed June 25, 2012. [35] Mehdi Khalaji, "The Iranian Clergy's Silence," Current Trends in Islamist Ideology, July 12, 2010. [36] The New York Times, Feb. 1, 2010; "Iran: Stop Imminent Execution of Kurdish Dissident," Human Rights Watch, Washington, D.C., June 29, 2010; Radio Free Europe, Aug. 19, 2010. [37] The Christian Science Monitor (Boston), June 1, 2010; on religious opposition in Iran, see, also, Said Amir Arjomand, "The Iranian Revolution in the New Era," Current Trends in Islamist Ideology, Aug. 3, 2010. [38] Asharq al-Awsat, Nov. 26, 2011. [39] Al-Sumaria TV news, Nov. 16, 2011; Niqash, June 28, 2012. [40] Fars News Agency, Dec. 18, 2011. [41] Al-Sumaria TV News, Apr. 24, 2012. [42] Ibid., Apr. 24, 2012; al-Arab (Doha), Apr. 26, 2012. [43] Khaled Hantoush, "Hawzat an-Najaf: Nadhra Min ad-Dakhil," Masarat (Baghdad), v. 6, no. 15, pp. 101-16. [44] Khalaji, The Last Marja, p. 32. [45] Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA, Tehran), reprinted on the Tehran branch website of the Haj and Pilgrimage Organization, May 11, 2013, accessed Oct.19, 2012. [46] Fars News Agency, Mar. 4, 2013.

Nathaniel Rabkin is the managing editor of Inside Iraqi Politics and a graduate student in Middle East history at the University of Haifa.


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