Friday, March 7, 2014

Mordechai Kedar: Mursi vs the Brotherhood and the Shifting Balance of Power

By Mordechai Kedar

Since the days of al-Tahrir Square in January 2011 all Egyptians agree that today democracy is the name of the political game in their country because for many long years of the regime of the officers –since July 1952 – it was dependent on the mercy of a dark and cruel military regime.  One of the proofs that democracy has settled into Egypt is the freedom enjoyed by the media:  journalists, broadcasters and owners. The right of the press to express and publish publicly anything that they want is protected.

However, reality is much more complicated than slogans. In the days of Mubarak’s dictatorship the Egyptian media enjoyed a considerable degree of freedom, and the foreign media could operate fairly freely in the country even if they did not sing songs of praise to Mubarak and were critical of him and the governmental system. Even the al-Jazeera channel in Arabic usually enjoyed the ability to operate freely in the media sphere despite the fact that its agenda was to promote Muslim Brotherhood matters at the expense of the Arab leaders. Only rarely would Mubarak close down al-Jazeera broadcasts and prevent its journalists from operating inside Egypt, and even this was for short periods of a few days.

The freedom that al-Jazeera enjoyed allowed it to incite the Egyptian public against Mubarak slowly over a long period of time, and there is a reasonable basis for the claim that the entire Arab Spring is the result of al-Jazeera’s constant incitement against the Arab rulers in this channel since it started broadcasting toward the end of 1996. It is true that social networks such as Facebook and Twitter played an important role in allowing Egyptians to organize demonstrations, but we must bear in mind that these sites had an instrumental but not essential role. They were the tool that allowed the public to organize the demonstrations while the local media – newspapers, radio and television – were closed to them and did not publicize the subject, time or place of the demonstrations. Al-Jazeera not only publicized the demonstrations, it also covered them live so Mubarak’s opponents had the opportunity to say whatever they wished against him for hours on end.

After the president of Tunisia fled, demonstrations against Mubarak broke out in Egypt on the 25th of January, 2011, and he was dismissed on the 11th of February. The military managed the state. On June 30th, 2012, Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood was elected president, granting al-Jazeera its greatest achievement: they overthrew a sitting president and put a president from the Muslim Brotherhood in his place. One year afterward, on the 30th of June, 2013, huge demonstrations against Mursi broke out, and the military exploited them in order to get rid of Mursi on the 3rd of July, 2013. The Emir of Qatar – the spiritual father of al-Jazeera – knew ahead of time about the plan to overthrow Mursi and resigned one week beforehand, on the 25th of June, 2013. He could not bear the shame of failure.

Abd al-Fateh al-Sisi, the Egyptian minister of defense, became the most powerful person in the country. Mubarak II, but much more popular, for one reason: all of the Egyptians who don’t want Muslim Brotherhood rule cling to him like a drowning person to a plank of wood.  He is putting Mursi on trial and accusing him of severe crimes, including the murder of demonstrators, and he intends to run for president in the elections that will be held soon. But how can Sisi succeed as president when al-Jazeera is breathing down his neck and spreading terrible propaganda against him? Sisi has taken the necessary steps from his point of view and during the second half of 2013 arrested approximately 20 al-Jazeera people who operate in Egypt accusing them of spreading false information. He confiscated the Egyptian branch’s photographic equipment and closed down its offices.

Qatar, the country that al-Jazeera belongs to, moved Heaven and Earth in order to have the journalists released from the Egyptian jail. It managed to enlist the aid of journalistic organizations, UN officials such as the human rights representative Navi Pillay, British minister William Hague, and even members of American Congress to help the channel’s journalists, but Sisi paid them no heed. He wasn’t about to take a lesson in democracy from anyone, because in his opinion freedom of the press is not a license to spread lies, and he would teach al-Jazeera how far it can go in taking down presidents. Saudi Arabia – which never allowed the al-Jazeera people to work in its territory – gives Sisi monetary support, but he can behave this way toward Qatar.

Meanwhile al-Jazeera continues to relate to what happened in Egypt in July as if it was an illegitimate and illegal military coup, and it seems that as long as the channel continues to regard Sisi’s rule as illegitimate he will continue to hold the al-Jazeera people within the walls of the prison. Their release depends on Qatar’s change of policy towards the Muslim Brotherhood, and this is in the hands of Tamim, the new Emir of Qatar. Even now, both sides are entrenched in their positions and the al-Jazeera people continue to pay the price of the cultural battle between the Muslim Brotherhood and its opponents.

Hamas is also part of the picture

What is the connection between the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Hamas? There are common principles and ideology and some personal, organizational and financial connections, not much more than that. The goal of the Hamas movement is the liberation of Palestine – including Tel Aviv and Haifa – and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt works toward the liberation of the Egyptian people from the secular military elite that took over their lives beginning July of 1952. Both movements share an apocalyptic vision of one great Islamic state that will encompass all the Muslims in the world, as well as perhaps the imposition of Islam on all of humanity who have not yet seen the light.

Besides this there is not much in common between the two movements, and I do not believe many of the stories that have been told of Hamas in recent years. For example – that Hamas and Hizb’Allah operatives were the ones who broke into Mubarak’s prisons in January of 2011 and freed the detainees, including Mohamed Mursi, who is currently being tried for escaping the prison. I do not believe that the Hamas movement has organized the explosions and car bombs in Egypt recently, despite the fact that Sisi’s police repeat the claim that the Hamas people have joined up with the Muslim Brotherhood in order to take over Egypt once again.

There are reports about several explosives engineers who have gained their expertise within the framework of Hamas, Islamic Jihad or other groups in Gaza who found their way to Sinai before Sisi ruined the tunnels, and taught the craft to their colleagues in Sinai and in Egypt, but I do not believe that Hamas, as an organization, had or has a policy to bring down Sisi’s regime in Egypt, because the heads of Hamas know well the price they would pay – personally and as an organization – if Egypt found out. The tunnels and the taxes that are imposed on smuggled goods, weapons, ammunition, fuel, food, cash, the Rafah Crossing and the logistical rear in Sinai – all of this would go down the drain if they took concrete steps against the military, the police the security forces or the governmental institutions in Egypt. They have too much to lose and too little to gain from the battle against a state such as Egypt with a regime such as Sisi’s, which began in the beginning of July, 2013.

However, the Egyptian regime needs an external enemy in order to explain its limited success during the past eight months: the economy is stagnant, terror in Sinai is flourishing (take, for instance, the Korean tourist bus), tourism is not returning, the Americans are angry, the Ethiopians are taking over the waters of the Nile and Israel – a state that has a peace agreement with Egypt - cannot be blamed for the Egyptian troubles. So who can be blamed? Fortunately, there is the Muslim Brotherhood and the Muslim Brotherhood’s brothers, meaning Hamas.

And since we are already blaming them, why not confiscate their property? The impoverished Egyptian knows that the Palestinians receive support from UNRWA and the per capita income in Gaza is much higher than the per capita income in Egypt, so nothing would happen to the Palestinians if they shared their wealth with the Egyptians. This is why Sisi is sure that confiscation of Hamas property in Egypt will be welcomed by the Egyptian public, which objects to the Brotherhood, and his image will thus be improved as the elections for presidency approach. This is why Hamas must pay the price of Sisi’s rise in popularity among the Egyptian public.

The problem is that if Egypt behaves very harshly with Hamas and fights an all-out battle with it, the movement– as a movement – might retaliate using the terror techniques that it knows so well how to use, and may even turn to Iran to rescue it from Egyptian pressure. And if the Egyptian pressure on Hamas is accompanied by Israeli pressure, the Iranians would be even more eager to go back to equipping Hamas again with the best of Iranian weaponry that has been undergoing a series of tests and experiments on the Syrian citizens lately. This will not help either Egypt or Israel.

Ukraine is here

The Arabic media is following the events in Ukraine with much concern. Putin is again teaching Obama a lesson and charges ahead like a bull without limits or boundaries. He doesn’t care at all about Europe, and Obama the pacifist doesn’t even move the tip of the last remaining hair on Putin’s head. The Arabic media see and present in live broadcast what we in Israel have understood for a long time: the West is nothing but a paper tiger, the United States has lost its power and the coalition led by Russia is taking over the world. And who is a member of this coalition? Iran.

The West has given up the economic sanctions that it had imposed upon Iran in the past, mainly in order to stand in line to sign business deals with the oil and gas superpower. The West averts its eyes so as not to see the Iranian military nuclear project that progresses secretly and with Russian support. The West isn’t interested in the fate of tens of millions of Iranians groaning under the dark dictatorship, yearning for freedom, because what drives the West is its own interests and money, not ideology, because if ideology was what motivated the West, it would not have allowed the Russians to trample over Ukraine and occupy parts of it.

After the Ukrainian story calms down, the Arab politicians, lead by Sisi, will stand in line to get to Putin, to congratulate him on his achievements and take inspiration from him about the way they should lead their peoples. The days of the Soviet Union are returning to Russia, and the officers’ regime has returned to Egypt: the organizational grandson of Gamal Abd al-Nasser and the ideological son of Mubarak will be elected soon as president. The media will be silent and dreams of democracy will remain theoretical. The invasion of Russia into Ukraine (2014) reconstructs the reality of the Soviet invasion of Hungary (1956), the Soviet conquest of Czechoslovakia (1968) and Afghanistan (1979).

The important question for our purposes is whether the Ukrainian invasion will strengthen Russia as the invasion of Hungary and Czechoslovakia did or perhaps lead to the collapse of the Russian dream, as happened after the failure in Afghanistan. One way or another, the Arab world is watching the events in Ukraine with great concern, because the balance of power that will consolidate in the global arena will have an influence – and apparently a negative influence – on our area, which Iran is threatening with a very strong friend in the Kremlin. Netanyahu can speak and issue warnings in conferences such as AIPAC to his heart’s content, and Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah can tremble over his entire body, but the balance of global power is totally tilting toward the Russian-Iranian coalition, and this is what dictates the agenda of the Americans and the Europeans in the Middle East.


Dr. Kedar is available for lectures

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

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

Additional articles by Dr. Kedar

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

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











Salubrius: Why People Think that the Jewish Settlements in Judea and Samaria are Illegal and Why They Really Aren't

by Salubrius

Following WWII a large number of small territories became decolonized and became states. This added a large number of very small states to the UN. With one state, one vote, (no matter what the size of the state) these additions permitted the Afro-Asian and Soviet blocs to dominate the vote in the UN General Assembly. But the UNGA only recommended – it was not intended to be a world legislature. If all parties in dispute agreed, they could sign a treaty. That would be International Law.

Russia had turned against Israel because it saw Israel as a barrier to its domination of the oil of the Middle East, and, as a consequence to hegemony over Western Europe. It tried to exploit the Arab hatred of the Balfour Declaration, the Palestine Mandate and the existence of Israel. It was able to enact in the UN a resolution promoting the "inalienable rights of the Palestinian People" without any examination of whether there was a Palestinian People or what their rights were and then was able to form a UN "Committee for the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People’. The committee commenced writing a report entitled Origin and Evolution of the Palestine Problem relying on work of an Arab Lawyer named Henry Cattan who had been a member of the Arab Higher Committee. That committee had been led by Haj Amir al Husseini the grand mufti of Jerusalem. Husseini had been a friend of Adolph Hitler. He told the Germans that if they wanted to reward him for his help, they could, when they prevailed in WW2, give him permission to liquidate all the Jews in Palestine.

Cattan had also represented the Arabs in the 1947 UNSCOP hearings. His work, and that of his friend W.T. Mallison was relied on in the first part of Origin and Evolution etc. covering 1917 to 1947. In 1979 his friend Mallison, who had written the foreword of Cattan's book "
The Palestine Problem", at the request of the UN Committee, wrote a legal opinion based on the Major Resolutions of the UN General Assembly. It concluded that the Jews were, under international law, engaged in illegal occupation of Judea, Samaria, East Jerusalem and Gaza. However their opinion was not based on genuine International Law as the Resolutions of the General Assembly are mere recommendations. They can only become International Law if the recommendations are accepted by all parties and all parties sign a treaty incorporating the recommendations. This wasn't done with the Partition Resolution. Nonetheless, Mallison's opinion was published in pamphlet form by the Committee and it received wide publicity. An Australian lawyer named Julius Stone, widely acclaimed as an authority on international law, was so outraged by the gross distortion of international law that he published a criticism of it entitled: Israel Palestine: Assault on the Law of Nations.
He showed that the Resolutions the opinion were based on were not International Law but mere recommendations that died at birth when the Partition Resolution, No. 181 of 1947 died at birth because it was rejected by the Arabs. Stone also showed that it was pretty far fetched to believe that any group claiming to be a people could empower the UN to redraw the boundaries of a sovereign state. He showed that the Jewish People already had sovereignty based on the San Remo Resolution and the Palestine Mandate. Long before the time the natural law on the selfdetermination of a people had been adopted as international law, the British Policy to recognize Jewish political self-determination in Palestine had evolved into international law. It became law first at San Remo, and then as the Palestine Mandate, a treaty approved by 53 states. That was to give the Jews initially an equitable interest in the political rights to Palestine. It gave them the right to close settlement on the land, but placed the rights in trust until the Jews were able to muster a majority, by immigration from the diaspora. When the Jews were in the majority, and could carry out the obligations of sovereignty, the political rights, carrying with them the right of establishing a Jewish Government, would vest in World Jewry. You can find the details of all of this in an opinion I have prepared entitled Claims of the Jewish and Arab People to the Right of Self-Determination in Palestine. Archived

First, treaties, and second, long standing practices accepted by most states are the stuff of international Law. Mallison tried to cram into the second category the partition of Palestine even though states barely approved the Partition Resolution with the aid of the Russian bloc and soon thereafter Russia had turned against the Partition. After WW2 the rights of a people to self-determination that had been only natural law, became adopted as international law in the 1970s.

However in each instance, the lawyers inserted in this legislation the legal code words "sovereign equality" that meant that the territorial integrity of each sovereign state must be preserved. That caution was ignored in Mallison’s opinion coming out of the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. So when the Palestinian People assert their inalienable rights to selfdetermination, they will find doing so will interfere with the rights of territorial integrity of a preexisting state, the Jewish People’s state and that right is paramount. Russia also pushed the view that Jewish settlements were outlawed by the 4th
Geneva Convention that
prohibited states from deporting or transferring people. But it wanted to apply this theory to people who weren’t being transferred – they had decided themselves they wanted to move and it would violate their human rights to prevent them. And in any event the land designated to be kept clear was land under a "belligerent occupation" that had had a legitimate sovereign, not just any land under a Military Occupation. And the land had been liberated by Israel in 1967 in a defensive war was from an illegal occupier, Jordan, who had gained it in an aggressive war in1948. Israel’s occupation was not a "belligerent occupation". In 1967 it still owned the political rights to all Palestine west of the Jordan. Jordan was not a legitimate sovereign over territories on the west bank of the Jordan River and wasn’t recognized as such even by the members of the Arab League.

Russia is now cooking on the front burners and will
likely come up with still another reason that the land belongs to the Arabs or anyone but the Jews. Just look at the stories they are cooking up in the Ukraine.

Salubrius (Wallace Brand)


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

Islamic Jihad and the Doctrine of Abrogation

by Raymond Ibrahim


While other scriptures contain contradictions, the Koran is the only holy book whose commentators have evolved a doctrine to account for the very visible shifts which occur from one injunction to another. No careful reader will remain unaware of the many contradictory verses in the Koran, most specifically the way in which peaceful and tolerant verses lie almost side by side with violent and intolerant ones. The ulema were initially baffled as to which verses to codify into the Shari’a worldview—the one that states there is no coercion in religion (2:256), or the ones that command believers to fight all non-Muslims till they either convert, or at least submit, to Islam (8:39, 9:5, 9:29). To get out of this quandary, the commentators developed the doctrine of abrogation, which essentially maintains that verses revealed later in Muhammad’s career take precedence over earlier ones whenever there is a discrepancy. In order to document which verses abrogated which, a religious science devoted to the chronology of the Koran’s verses evolved (known as an-Nasikh wa’l Mansukh, the abrogater and the abrogated).

But why the contradiction in the first place? The standard view is that in the early years of Islam, since Muhammad and his community were far outnumbered by their infidel competitors while living next to them in Mecca, a message of peace and coexistence was in order. However, after the Muslims migrated to Medina in 622 and grew in military strength, verses inciting them to go on the offensive were slowly “revealed”—in principle, sent down from God—always commensurate with Islam’s growing capabilities. In juridical texts, these are categorized in stages: passivity vis-á-vis aggression; permission to fight back against aggressors; commands to fight aggressors; commands to fight all non-Muslims, whether the latter begin aggressions or not.[1] Growing Muslim might is the only variable that explains this progressive change in policy.

Other scholars put a gloss on this by arguing that over a twenty-two year period, the Koran was revealed piecemeal, from passive and spiritual verses to legal prescriptions and injunctions to spread the faith through jihad and conquest, simply to acclimate early Muslim converts to the duties of Islam, lest they be discouraged at the outset by the dramatic obligations that would appear in later verses.[2] Verses revealed towards the end of Muhammad’s career—such as, “Warfare is prescribed for you though you hate it”[3]—would have been out of place when warfare was actually out of the question.
However interpreted, the standard view on Koranic abrogation concerning war and peace verses is that when Muslims are weak and in a minority position, they should preach and behave according to the ethos of the Meccan verses (peace and tolerance); when strong, however, they should go on the offensive on the basis of what is commanded in the Medinan verses (war and conquest). The vicissitudes of Islamic history are a testimony to this dichotomy, best captured by the popular Muslim notion, based on a hadith, that, if possible, jihad should be performed by the hand (force), if not, then by the tongue (through preaching); and, if that is not possible, then with the heart or one’s intentions.[4]
That Islam legitimizes deceit during war is, of course, not all that astonishing; after all, as the Elizabethan writer John Lyly put it, “All’s fair in love and war.”[5] Other non-Muslim philosophers and strategists—such as Sun Tzu, Machiavelli, and Thomas Hobbes—justified deceit in warfare. Deception of the enemy during war is only common sense. The crucial difference in Islam, however, is that war against the infidel is a perpetual affair—until, in the words of the Koran, “all chaos ceases, and all religion belongs to God.”[6] In his entry on jihad from the Encyclopaedia of Islam, Emile Tyan states: “The duty of the jihad exists as long as the universal domination of Islam has not been attained. Peace with non-Muslim nations is, therefore, a provisional state of affairs only; the chance of circumstances alone can justify it temporarily.”[7]
Moreover, going back to the doctrine of abrogation, Muslim scholars such as Ibn Salama (d. 1020) agree that Koran 9:5, known as ayat as-sayf or the sword verse, has abrogated some 124 of the more peaceful Meccan verses, including “every other verse in the Koran, which commands or implies anything less than a total offensive against the nonbelievers.”[8] In fact, all four schools of Sunni jurisprudence agree that “jihad is when Muslims wage war on infidels, after having called on them to embrace Islam or at least pay tribute [jizya] and live in submission, and the infidels refuse.”[9]

Obligatory jihad is best expressed by Islam’s dichotomized worldview that pits the realm of Islam against the realm of war. The first, dar al-Islam, is the “realm of submission,” the world where Shari’a governs; the second, dar al-Harb (the realm of war), is the non-Islamic world. A struggle continues until the realm of Islam subsumes the non-Islamic world—a perpetual affair that continues to the present day. The renowned Muslim historian and philosopher Ibn Khaldun (d. 1406) clearly articulates this division:
In the Muslim community, jihad is a religious duty because of the universalism of the Muslim mission and the obligation to convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force. The other religious groups did not have a universal mission, and the jihad was not a religious duty for them, save only for purposes of defense. But Islam is under obligation to gain power over other nations.[10]
[1] Ibn Qayyim, Tafsir, in Abd al-’Aziz bin Nasir al-Jalil, At-Tarbiya al-Jihadiya fi Daw’ al-Kitab wa ‘s-Sunna (Riyahd: n.p., 2003), pp. 36-43.
[2] Mukaram, At-Taqiyya fi ’l-Islam, p. 20.
[3] Koran 2: 216.
[4] Yahya bin Sharaf ad-Din an-Nawawi, 
An-Nawawi’s Forty Hadiths, p. 16, accessed Aug. 1, 2009.
[5] John Lyly, Euphues: The Anatomy of Wit (London, 1578), p. 236.
[6] Koran 8:39.
[7] Emile Tyan, The Encyclopedia of Islam (Leiden: Brill, 1960), vol. 2, s.v. “Djihad,” pp. 538-40.
[8] David Bukay, “
Peace or Jihad? Abrogation in Islam,” Middle East Quarterly, Fall 2007, pp. 3-11, f.n. 58; David S. Powers, “The Exegetical Genre nasikh al-Qur’an wa-mansukhuhu,” in Approaches to the History of the Interpretation of the Qur’an, Andrew Rippin, ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988), pp. 130-1.
[9] Jalil, At-Tarbiya al-Jihadiya fi Daw’ al-Kitab wa ‘ s-Sunna, p. 7.
[10] Ibn Khaldun, The Muqadimmah. An Introduction to History, Franz Rosenthal, trans. (New York: Pantheon, 1958), vol. 1, p. 473.

Raymond Ibrahim


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

Jonathan Spyer: The End of the 'Wrong Side of History'

by Jonathan Spyer

President Barack Obama, in criticizing Russian leader Vladimir Putin's conquest of the Crimean Peninsula, described Putin as standing "on the wrong side of history." This curious and arresting phrase has become a frequent cliché among western liberals.

It is testimony to their self-confidence, and to their belief that they have accurately read the deeper currents and inevitable direction of human affairs. These, in the view of the president and his supporters, point inexorably toward greater cooperation between peoples; a decline in attachment to particularist ethnic, national or religious histories; and a decline in the use of force to settle disputes between states.

The unspoken assumption behind all this, of course, is that being on the right side of history also means accepting the unmatched dominance of the U.S. in global affairs, and in turn the unchallengeable domination of the U.S. by people supporting the particular progressive world view of the president and his supporters.

That is, Obama and his supporters use the word "history" to refer to themselves.

The problem with all this is that in the last five years, many players on the world stage have learned that if "history" and "Obama" are synonyms, being on the wrong side of Obama is a not particularly uncomfortable or worrying place to be. So the threat of it has rather less impact than the president might hope or assume.

This is not a marginal point. Rather, it is the key factor defining the direction of strategic affairs globally, and in the Middle East in particular.

Let's examine the record:

In the Middle East, declining respect for being on the wrong side of the United States is the single factor which underlies the direction of events in the key conflict zones of the region.

In Egypt, the current de facto administration of General Abd al Fattah al-Sisi came into being on July 3, 2013, as a result of a military coup against a U.S.-supported Muslim Brotherhood government. Sisi as of now appears to command immense popularity among the Egyptian population.

He has paid no apparent price for directly challenging the will of the U.S. administration. He is likely to win the Egyptian presidency this year and to set in motion another long period of de facto military rule in Egypt. He is also in the process of reviving Cairo's relations with Russia.

In Syria, an anti-American dictatorship is holding its ground, despite ostensible U.S. support for its overthrow, and despite the dictator Assad's responsibility for the deaths of over 140,000 of his countrymen over the last three years. Iranian and Russian aid to the Assad regime have proved decisive. Bashar Assad was smart enough to stick with allies who would stick by him.

In Iran, the regime has stage-managed the emergence of a supposed "moderate" president. The true powers in that country, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and the Revolutionary Guard Corps, have as a result obtained sanctions relief. This in turn is enabling them to continue to develop their missile program and uranium enrichment capacity undisturbed. They are also proceeding apace with their program of regional outreach, and are currently aligned with the dominant forces in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

But even among the supposed allies of the U.S. in the region, it has become apparent that defying the will of the patron carries no particular price. The Saudis united with their Gulf allies to crush an Obama-supported uprising against the emir of Bahrain in 2011.

More recently, the Saudis have pursued their own policy of arms supply to Islamist and jihadi rebels in northern Syria. In February, it became clear that the kingdom intends to supply Chinese-made shoulder fired anti-aircraft systems to rebel elements in Syria. This is in direct contravention of U.S. wishes.

Washington evidently (and justifiably) fears that such systems could end up being used against western targets. The Saudis are going ahead anyway.

So what do General Sisi, Bashar Assad, the Iranian mullahs, the Saudi monarchy and of course Vladimir Putin all have in common? They are all on the wrong side of "history" (i.e., the wrong side of the U.S. administration and its supporters). And they have all come to the conclusion that this doesn't matter, and they will experience little difficulty in pursuing their wishes regardless.

Which brings us to the latest interactions between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It appears that the administration believes that even if no-one else much listens anymore, surely the small state of Israel can be frightened and bullied into getting on the right side of "history." Hence the thinly veiled threat in Obama's recent interview with Jeffrey Goldberg, according to which failure to reach an accord with the Palestinian Authority will lead to Israel's facing international isolation and the closing of the "window" for a peace deal.

All this is quite surreal, of course, given the very obvious insurmountable gaps between the sides, because of the PA's insistence on the "right of return," rejection of mutual recognition between the sides and rejection of defensible borders for Israel. These stances lie behind the PA's rejection of Secretary Kerry's framework for continued negotiations.

But the U.S. administration should also understand that Israeli determination to act in their country's own self-defined interests is no less deeply rooted than that of the other players on the global stage noted above.

Israelis remember that they buried 1,100 of their own citizens in the period 2000-2005 because of a mis-reading of history and the consequent placing of trust in an enemy committed to their demise. They will be unlikely to rush to repeat the experiment. The waving of the bogeyman of increasing isolation will not induce them to do so.

As for inducements to get on the right side of "history" – the president might note that all the players noted above, Israel included, are operating on similar lines. These involve the protection and assertion of clearly defined national interests, the use of force where deemed necessary, the judicious backing of allies and the effort to deter enemies.

Those who operate along those lines most effectively will get to write the history, in which they will portray themselves as the natural and inevitable victors. Those who fail to do so will find that efforts to equate their own preferences with the natural tide of human events will be a subject for the increasing derision of their peers, and probably also of history.

Jonathan Spyer is a senior research fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, and a fellow at the Middle East Forum.


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

Obama Budget Guts Joint Missile Defense Research with Israel

by Thomas Lifson

The Obama budget sent to Capitol Hill contains drastic cuts of up to two thirds to a joint missile defense program undertaken with Israel. This news coincides with news that Israel has intercepted a shipment of advanced surface-to-surface missiles from Iran, bound for Hamas terrorists in Gaza – precisely the sort of threat that the missile defense research is designed to counter.

Adam Kredo writes in the Washington Free Beacon:
Joint U.S.-Israeli missile defense programs would be reduced by nearly $200 million under President Barack Obama’s fiscal year 2015 budget proposal, prompting concern from lawmakers who have fought to keep the critical defense programs fully funded.
Israeli Cooperative Programs—which include the Arrow II, Arrow III, and David’s Sling missile defense systems—are slated to receive $96.8 million under Obama’s newly released budget proposal, a reduction of nearly $200 million from the previous year’s finalized levels.
Note that this program is not designed exclusively to protect Israel. The US can also apply it, and as Israeli PM Netanyahu noted recently, Iran already has missiles capable of hitting Israel, so its continued missile research is aimed at targeting the United States and Europe. Israel is quite literally the front line of the civilized world’s defense against Islamic jihad, but the ultimate aim of a global caliphate applying Sharia law universally necessarily targets the United States.

While the United States is the ultimate target, Israel is the immediate object is genocidal intent. This is not an abstract goal, by any means. Saad Abedine and Michael Schwartz of CNN write:
The Israel Defense Forces said Wednesday it intercepted an Iranian shipment of "advanced" weapons bound for "terrorist organizations" operating in Gaza.
The Israeli navy stopped a Panamanian-flagged civilian cargo ship and boarded the vessel, the IDF said.
The weapons found were identified as Syrian-manufactured surface-to-surface rockets, IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said.
It was an Iranian shipment headed for Gaza, the IDF said, citing intelligence. (snip)
The boarding took place in international waters about 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) off the coast of Eilat, Israel, between Sudan and Eritrea in the Red Sea, Lerner said.
Asked why Iran didn't try to send its own missiles to Gaza, the IDF spokesman said Tehran was doing everything possible to cover up its role in the shipment of weapons.
"The IDF will continue to operate against the Iranian attempts to arm regional terrorist organizations, who intend to continuously ignite our borders," Lerner said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the weapons shipment was organized by Iran.
"At a time when it is talking to the major powers, Iran smiles and says all sorts of nice things, the same Iran is sending deadly weapons to terrorist organizations and is doing so via a ramified network of secret operations in order to send rockets, missiles and other deadly weapons that will be used to harm innocent citizens," Netanyahu said in a statement.
Iran and Hamas are denying responsibility and claiming it is (as always) a Zionist plot.

Given the magnitude of social welfare spending expansion in Obama's budget, the relatively small amounts being cut from the military budget to pay for a sliver of the new spending make the epxression"false economy" an understatement. The goal seems to be more one of undermining Israel than saving money.

Hat tip: Cliff Thier

Thomas Lifson


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Intercepted Missiles were 'Game Changers'

by Aharon Lapidot

The hidden threat in the M-302 missiles intercepted by our forces on board the Klos-C ship is buried in their characteristics: These are precise, far-range missiles that have a range of 100 kilometers (60 miles) and in some models, 200 kilometers (120 miles), that carry a serious explosives payload of over 150 kilos (330 pounds). The weapons were manufactured in Syria and smuggled through Iran toward Gaza.
If they were launched from Gaza, where they were originally headed -- most residential areas in Israel, from the coastal city of Hadera in the north to substantial chunks of the Negev in the south, comprising millions of Israeli citizens, would be in their range.
Because of their large warheads, the missiles would cause greater substantial damage than the rockets currently being fired at Israel. This may not be a game changer, but it is not an exaggeration to call them strategic weapons compared to the ones Hamas and other jihadist organizations in Gaza currently have. Incidentally, a few missiles of this kind were already fired at Israel by Hezbollah during the 2006 Second Lebanon War.
Another problem Israel faces in dealing with these missiles is the fact that our interception systems -- like David's Sling -- is still under development and has yet to become operational.
With our three layers of protection against ballistic missiles operating in Israel, the M-302 missiles are too fast and have too long a range for the Iron Dome anti-missile defense system -- and too short a range for the Arrow missile defense system. They work in the exact middle range where the David's Sling system is supposed to operate.

Aharon Lapidot


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A Cop-Killer Advocate Goes Down in Flames in the Senate

by Arnold Ahlert

Senate Judiciary Committee Holds Hearing On Judicial Nominations

In a major defeat for the Obama administration, the Senate voted 52 to 47 to block the confirmation of Debo Adegbile, President Obama’s nominee to head the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department. Every Republican Senator opposed the effort, and they were joined by eight Democrats, including Sens. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Chris Coons of Delaware, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, and John Walsh of Montana. Nevada’s Harry Reid joined his seven colleagues, but only to preserve his ability to reconsider the nomination late if necessary. Though the vote was close, the blocking of Adegbile’s nomination strikes a significant blow to the Obama administration’s attempt to further radicalize the already out-of-control Department of Justice. 

Under Adegbile’s leadership and supervision, the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund (LDF) undertook an unconscionable effort to politicize the murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. Faulkner was murdered on December 9, 1981 by Wesley Cook, a former Black Panther more familiarly known as “Mumia Abu-Jamal.” Abu-Jamal was also a supporter of “MOVE” a racist-anarchist group that encouraged violence against police officers. When Faulkner tried to arrest Abu-Jamal’s brother during a traffic stop, Abu-Jamal ran across the street and shot Faulkner in the back. Faulker turned and fired one shot, hitting Abu-Jamal in the chest before falling to the ground. Abu-Jamal then proceeded to shoot Faulkner four more times at close range, including once directly in the face. The murderer was still at the scene when officers arrived seconds later. The murder weapon, a .38 caliber revolver that records showed Abu-Jamal had purchased months earlier, was found at the scene.

Abu-Jamal was convicted in light of a mountain of evidence. Several eyewitness were on the scene, including Abu-Jamal’s brother, who has never testified to his innocence. Two hospital workers did testify, telling the court that Abu-Jamal told them, “I shot the motherf***er, and I hope the motherf***er dies.” 

On July 2, 1982, a racially-mixed jury unanimously convicted Abu-Jamal. They sentenced him to death the next day after deliberating for just two hours. After hearing Abu-Jamal’s appeals, that verdict was upheld by Supreme Court of Pennsylvania on March 6, 1989.

The subsequent campaign to release Abu-Jamal, which Adegbile was a part of, was nothing less than an attempt by radical leftists to pervert and abuse the legal system to help get one of their fellow revolutionaries back on the street.

In 2009, the NAACP’s LDF, directed by Adegbile, began advocating for Abu-Jamal. A series of rallies and protests, accompanied by a media campaign, were put together to promote the idea that Abu-Jamal was a political prisoner. In 2011, the LDF took him on as a client. An LDF press release disseminated the same year contended that “Abu-Jamal is widely viewed as a symbol of the racial injustices of the death penalty.” It further noted that “Mumia Abu-Jamal’s conviction and death sentence are relics of a time and place that was notorious for police abuse and racial discrimination.” LDF lawyers even ginned up protests and rallies in France, where, in 2006, the city of St.-Denis had named a street after the cop-killer. That move was condemned in the House of Representatives by a vote of 368-to-31 with 8 voting present. (All 31 dissenting votes were cast by Democrats).

The LDF continued to press its campaign, characterizing Abu-Jamal as a victim of racism. Adegbile pursued that tack in several courts of law, where his arguments were ultimately rejected. One of the contentions Adegbile made during that time was contained in an amicus brief he and other LDF lawyers filed with the Supreme Court in 2009. It asserted that Abu-Jamal’s conviction was invalid because of racial discrimination in jury selection. Yet there were two black Americans on the jury, and Abu-Jamal himself took part in the selection process. There would have been a third black juror, but Abu-Jamal instructed his lawyer to strike him.

Former Justice Department civil rights lawyer J. Christian Adams succinctly summed up Adegbile’s tenure of leadership at the LDF. “When he ran the unit at the Legal Defense Fund, they took positions far outside of the mainstream of the law, far outside existing jurisprudence as it relates to race, and really advanced a fringe agenda,” he explained.

Nonetheless, far too many Democrats have circled the wagon on Adegbile, defending this egregious nomination. Democrats barred Daniel Faulkner’s widow Maureen from speaking before the committee. Before the vote, however, Pennsylvania Republican Senator Pat Toomey read from a letter from Faulkner to Senate lawmakers. “Today, as my husband lies 33 years in his grave, his killer has become a wealthy celebrity,” she wrote. “Old wounds have once again been ripped open, and additional insult is brought upon our law enforcement community in this country by President Obama’s nomination of Debo Adegbile.”

Maureen Faulkner’s pleas aside, President Obama railed against rejection of Adegbile, calling the vote a “travesty.” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) accused the GOP of racism, despite the slew of Democrats who rose to oppose the obscene nomination, which was also opposed by the National Fraternal Order of Police, the National Association of Police Organizations, and Democratic Philadelphia Prosecutor Seth Williams. 
The defeat was even more stinging because Adegbile only needed the support of 51 senators to advance his nomination to a final vote. That’s because Harry Reid and his fellow Democrats invoked the “nuclear option” last November, reducing the threshold for a filibuster from 60 votes to 51, specifically to ease the approval of executive and judicial nominees. Vice President Joe Biden attended the session in case he was needed to break a tie, but he was rendered superfluous when seven Democrats defected. Tellingly, Adegbile’s rejection was the first one under the new rules — rules that Democrats have exploited to ram through more than 40 other nominees, including several who would have been rejected under the old threshold.

For the moment, the American people have been spared the appointment of another radical, race-obsessed leftist to a Justice Department already poisoned by corruption and fringe ideology.

Adegbile’s career of legal abuse, extremism and attacks on civil rights make him unfit for any position of authority in the department. And despite both Reid and Obama’s contentions, his defeat would have been impossible without a handful of Democrats defecting from their radicalized brethren and deciding that having a cop-killer’s advocate running the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ was a bridge too far. It was.

Arnold Ahlert


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Jordanian MP: The Killer Of Seven Israeli Schoolgirls At Naharayim Is A Hero


On February 25, 2014, during a debate in the Jordanian Parliament's House of Representatives, several MPs, headed by Ali Al-Sanid, called for the release from prison of Ahmad Daqamseh, who is serving a life sentence for the March 12, 1997 murder of seven Israeli schoolgirls at the Island of Peace in Naharayim (Al-Baqoura) on the Israel-Jordan border.[1] In his statements, Al-Sanid, who has been working for several years to obtain Daqamseh's release, called Daqamseh a hero and said that his actions had "reflect[ed] the desires and conscience of the Jordanians." A week later, on March 2, Al-Sanid's praise of Daqamseh was published as an article in his regular column in the Jordanian Al-Dustour daily.[2]

Ahmad Daqamseh, Source:, January 5, 2014.

Ali Al-Sanid. Source:, March 2, 2014. 

Over the past few years, several parliamentary memoranda have been submitted to the Jordanian government petitioning for Daqamseh's release, and rallies and demonstrations calling for his release are sometimes held in the Hashemite Kingdom. To date, these demands have not been met.

Following is a translation of excerpts from Al-Sanid's statement in the parliamentary debate:[3]

"Allow me to speak of a rare man, peerless among men; of a knight who, mounted on glory, acted marvelously for his national cause; of a prisoner who was a source of concern for his jailors and whose name is linked to the suffering of his nation. This man swore by Allah – and, later, by blood and by bullets of lead, like the martyrs – that Palestine is Arab, that it will remain as long as the Arabs remain, that history will have its reckoning... and that we live in the hope for his release and draw from him [our] principles and positions.

"[This man swore] that the history of the Arab-Zionist conflict over the sacred homeland would continue – the homeland stolen by those who steal countries from their good residents, whose blood has flowed like rivers for 100 years. Some [of these residents] were killed, others wounded, still others driven out – and some had their land occupied. This conflict is destined to continue until the rights are restored to [this land's true] owners.

"My brothers, I speak of the Jordanian soldier who opened fire at a time of peace, [thus] reflecting the desires and conscience of the Jordanians, and their resistance to an agreement of humiliation [i.e., the Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty] unparalleled in history. [This agreement] came at the expense of the people, the land, the identity, and the historic rights of the [Islamic] nation. It opened the door for the Zionists and undermined the rights of the Arabs.

"I became friendly with this prisoner, Ahmed Daqamseh, in prison.[4] I have come to know him up close; I have sensed his nationalist spirit, and I have seen the religious motives that he expressed [in the incident] at Al-Baqoura. This man deserves to be free, deserves to be released from the injustice done him so that he can return to his family and his home, to his children, whom he left when they were little and who are now nearly 20 years old.

"[In the past,] the [Jordanian] House of Representatives submitted a parliamentary memorandum signed by the vast majority of its members, 110 of them, demanding that he be released after spending 15 years of his life in prison, suffering behind high walls, bars, and iron doors, with sickness in his eyes.[5] He has not been included in the King's pardons, and [his punishment] has become a standard, in the eyes of the Zionists, of the severity of punishment that Arabs should mete out in similar cases.

"This hero, who expressed the sentiments and the just cause of the Jordanians, remains a hostage in prison, a mark of shame on the Jordanian governments [over the years], putting us at a disadvantage vis-à-vis [our] sworn enemy, which does not flinch at uprooting an Arab people from its land, scattering it throughout the diaspora as refugees, and appropriating its land. [This enemy] commits all acts of murder, terrorism, and barbaric torture of the sons of [this Arab people]including women, children, and the elderly, without even the most minimal consideration for the sanctity of their blood and for their right to life.

"This situation makes it imperative that the present government heed the voice of the people, represented by its members of parliament. [This voice] calls for the immediate release of the hero, Jordanian soldier Ahmad Al-Daqamseh, [in order] to put an end to his suffering. Otherwise, this government will be challenging the consensus of the Jordanian people..."

[1], February 25, 2014. The parliamentary debate was in protest against the Israeli Knesset's planned debate on  Israeli sovereignty over the Temple Mount, proposed by several Knesset members. A total of 47 Jordanian MPs tabled a legislative bill that called to abrogate the Jordanian-Israeli peace treaty, and the next day most of them voted in favor of expelling the Israeli ambassador from Jordan., February 26, 2014.

[2] Al-Dustour (Jordan), March 2, 2014.

[3], February 25, 2014.

[4] Al-Sanid served a one-year prison sentence for slander.

[5] The reference is to an April 2013 petition.



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