Friday, June 6, 2014

Iran: False Assumptions

by Peter Huessy

The U.S. already failed to detect nuclear programs on four other occasions: Iraq - 1991, Syria - 2009, North Korea - 2000-1 and Libya - 2005. That is quite a record.
Terrorist groups, such as Hezbollah and Hamas, regularly launch rocket attacks on Israel, but because they are not "recognized state actors" launching rocket attacks on another sovereign state, we do not put them in the same category. All terrorist groups attacking a state therefore get a free pass.
A nuclear device in the hands of such terrorist groups -- chosen precisely because they cannot be readily identified as working for, or connected to, a state -- can therefore be used in an attack with impunity, totally undermining the assumption that such weapons in the hands of Iran are "only for deterrence."
Unless we end the Iranian nuclear weapons program now, we will probably only know if a threat is "real" after it is too late.

The Iranian Supreme Leader announced last week that further negotiations on Tehran's nuclear program are ended, asserting that "jihad" will continue until America is destroyed.

Whatever the future of a nuclear "deal" with Iran, still missing are both an analysis of what specific deal is technically required to end the Iranian nuclear weapons program compared to what is now on the table, and whether the assumptions many in the West bring for an agreement to succeed hold up under scrutiny.

To answer the first problem, an analysis by Gregory Jones of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center (NPEC) explores the faults with the current proposals.

First, according to Jones, Iran can still quickly produce Highly Enriched Uranium [HEU], the stuff from which nuclear weapons are built. As Jones emphasizes, "this means Iran is already a de facto nuclear weapon state." Any agreements, therefore, must "deny Iran access to HEU either in the short or long term," as well as prevent Iran's Arak nuclear reactor from being "reconverted to be able to produce" plutonium from which nuclear bomb fuel can be made.

The Arak heavy water reactor, in Iran. (Image source: Wikimedia Commons)

Second, under the terms of the interim deal, Iran "will have an unrestricted centrifuge enrichment program," thus legitimizing Iran's desire for such a program, as well as any other country that desires nuclear weapons. Jones explains that IAEA inspections also must provide for the "timely detection" of any diversion of produced nuclear fuel.

Third, Iran should therefore have no "centrifuge enrichment capability" precisely because "commercial scale centrifuge enrichment facilities can produce HEU so quickly that these facilities are unsafeguardable as timely detection of diversion is impossible." Jones also emphasizes that just because there has not been any diversion of nuclear fuel to date, does not mean that no such diversion will ever take place in Iran in the future.

The second critical issue is whether the assumptions of those convinced an agreement with Iran is possible at all are correct. These assumptions vary but they usually fall into six categories.

1) Iran will never use a nuclear weapon, even if it has one.

2) Iran is simply trying to defend itself from a bullying United States that has a history of pushing for regime change.

3) Any use of a nuclear device would easily be detected as to the country of origin, including Iran.

4) Similarly, Iran's ballistic missiles -- designed to deliver a nuclear warhead -- are simply a deterrent needed in a bad neighborhood and their use could be readily attributed to Tehran.

5) Should Iran decide to build a nuclear warhead, US intelligence will readily detect such a move.

6) There are no real options other than "diplomacy," and if we could talk to the Soviets during the Cold War, we can certainly talk to the Iranian mullahs now.

But are these assumptions true?

On assumptions #1 and #2: Iran has repeatedly called for the destruction of Israel and a "world without" the United States. Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Iran's former President, for example, has stated that "the use of even one nuclear bomb inside Israel will destroy everything. However, it will only harm the Islamic world. It is not irrational to contemplate such an eventuality."

On assumption #3: The U.S. has made progress on nuclear forensics but does not have the ability accurately to detect the origin of a nuclear explosion. Worse, an electromagnetic pulse [EMP] bomb would not leave any nuclear debris to be analyzed.

On assumption #4: Iran's ballistic missiles can be instruments of coercion, blackmail and terror, even if never launched. Tens of thousands of Iranian-built rockets and missiles have been transferred to Hamas and Hezbollah for just that purpose.

Also, such weapons can be launched surreptitiously, masking the country of origin, for instance if launched from an ocean-going freighter. Terrorist groups, such as Hezbollah and Hamas, regularly launch rocket attacks on Israel, but because they are not "recognized state actors" launching rocket attacks on another sovereign state, we do not put them in the same category. All terrorist groups, therefore, get a free pass when attacking a state. Where is any international outcry?

On assumption #5: Detecting a nuclear weapons program is not easy: the U.S. intelligence community already failed to detect the Iraqi nuclear program in 1991; the construction of a Syrian nuclear reactor in 2009; the North Korean nuclear enrichment program in 2000-1, and the Libyan nuclear centrifuge purchases in 2005. That is quite a record.

Major elements of Iran's nuclear program were discovered by internal Iranian dissidents who shared the information with the West. Can one count on such help in the future?

And as to assumption #6: Terrorism is Iran's tool of choice. Iran's affiliated terror groups, such as Hamas and Hezbollah, attack, or threaten to attack, the U.S., U.S. "interests" and U.S. allies.

An Iranian nuclear device in the hands of such terror groups -- chosen precisely because they cannot be readily identified as working for, or connected to, a state -- can therefore be used in an attack with impunity, totally undermining the assumption that such weapons in the hands of Iran are "only for deterrence."

A rocket launched from mid-ocean has no return address. Detonated 70 miles above the eastern seaboard of the United States, a nuclear device leaves no signature.

Such an EMP attack - - its origin always unknowable -- would plunge millions of Americans into a pre-industrial stone-age, equivalent to the early 19th century, according to both former Director of Central Intelligence, Ambassador R. James Woolsey and EMP expert Peter Pry.

Unless we end the Iranian nuclear weapons program now, we will probably only know if a threat is "real" after it is too late.

Peter Huessy


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

Salafism in Germany: "Something Must Be Done Immediately"

by Soeren Kern

Counter-terrorism efforts are too focused on security-related threats rather than on prevention and combating radicalization at the earliest stages of indoctrination.
Salafist groups are recruiting and radicalizing young Muslims under the guise of doing "mission work."
Salafism is the fastest growing Islamist movement in Germany, and Salafist jihadists pose one of the greatest threats to national security, according to a new German intelligence report.

The annual report—known in German as the Verfasungsschutzbericht Niedersachsen 2013—focuses on threats to the democratic order in the northwestern German state of Lower Saxony, home to a sizeable Muslim community.

The 196-page document was prepared by the Lower Saxony branch of Germany's domestic intelligence agency, the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (BfV), and was made public by Boris Pistorius, the Interior Minister of Lower Saxony, at a special press conference held in the city of Hannover on May 25.

Despite its regional focus, the report provides a wealth of information about the rise of radical Islam in Germany as a whole.

A Salafist demonstration in Solingen, Germany on May 1, 2012, moments before it degenerated into a violent riot. (Image source: YouTube)

Most notably, the document reveals that membership in Islamic extremist groups in Germany rose to 43,185 in 2013, up from 42,550 in 2012. It also states that the number of Salafists in Germany rose to 5,500 in 2013, up from 4,500 in 2012, and 3,800 in 2011.

Although Salafists make up only a fraction of the estimated 4.3 million Muslims in Germany, authorities are increasingly concerned that most of those attracted to Salafi ideology are impressionable young Muslims who are susceptible to perpetrating terrorist acts in the name of Islam.

Salafists—who trace their roots to Saudi Arabia and glorify an idealized version of what they believe was the original Islam practiced in the 7th and 8th centuries—openly state that they want to replace democracy in Germany (and the rest of the world) with an Islamic government based on sharia law.

Salafist ideology posits that sharia law is superior to all secular laws because it comes from Allah, the only legitimate lawgiver, and thus is legally binding for all of humanity. According to the Salafist worldview, democracy is an effort to elevate the will of human beings above the will of Allah. As such, participation in the democratic process is polytheism (shirk in Arabic) and must be rejected.

The report defines Salafism as a "political ideology whose followers view Islam not only as a religion but also a legal framework that regulates all areas of life: from the state's role in organizing relations between people, to the private life of the individual." It adds:
"The absolutist nature of Salafism contradicts significant parts of the German constitutional order. Specifically, Salafism rejects the democratic principles of separation of state and religion, popular sovereignty, religious and sexual self-determination, gender equality and the fundamental right to physical integrity."
Although all Salafists share the same goals, the report says that Salafist groups in Germany range from legal organizations that "strive to obtain their goals within the legal framework of the state and categorically reject violence, to illegal groups that advocate violence to promote their aims."

Nevertheless, the interaction between "so-called political Salafists who reject violence, and so-called jihadist Salafists who advocate violence is fluid" and German authorities often find it difficult to differentiate between who is who, according to the report. It adds:
"Salafism is a dynamic heterogeneous movement with no fixed structure. Increasingly, its followers, including those in Germany, are organized in loose international networks. The central nodes of these networks are preachers and mosques.
"Salafists spread their ideology using professional methods. Their representatives are effective at public discourse. Because Salafist preachers in Germany mainly use the German language and speak in terms that appeal to young people, they exert considerable appeal and influence over youth, including converts to Islam.
"Salafist preachers spread their ideology to a large extent on the Internet. Their online offers, videos, documents and audios dominate German-language information about Islam that is available on the Internet. Individuals who want to learn about Islam therefore are, unknowingly, more likely to encounter websites that are run by Salafists. This high degree of media coverage has enabled Salafists to promote their propaganda across wide swaths of German society.
"Seminars and lectures about Islam by Salafist preachers also play an essential role in the spread of Salafist ideology in Germany. During such seminars, Salafist preachers focus primarily on young people who are not yet followers of Salafism. Such events often last for several days, and a sense of community is created through joint activities. Ideology mediated in this manner is attractive because it provides people who are searching for meaning in life with fixed rules for behavior. Such community events are also attractive because it creates the feeling that Salafists form part of Allah's preferred elite.
"Another way in which Salafist propaganda is spread across Germany is through the use of nationwide Islamic information booths. In this way, Salafists distribute brochures, leaflets and books on Salafist doctrine, as well as German-language translations of the Koran. An especially popular example of such Islamic information booths involves the Koran-distribution campaign 'READ! In the name of your Lord who has created you.' This campaign, which was launched in 2012 and continued throughout 2013, has used information booths located in pedestrian streets and bustling downtown areas to distribute copies of the Koran to passers-by. Furthermore, in the context of missionary activities, Salafists have distributed Korans in prisons, hospitals, restaurants, schools and kindergartens.
"The Koran-distribution campaign is being organized by a Salafist preachers network called Die Wahre Religion [The True Religion], which is led by the Cologne-based Salafist preacher Ibrahim Abou-Nagie, who appears regularly in connection with Salafist-aligned seminars on Islam. On his website, Abou-Nagie says he discusses the 'one true religion' with those who pass by the information booths. It is therefore to be feared that the distribution campaign is not limited to the mere passing of the Koran, but that Salafists are actively seeking out contact with young people to spread their Salafist ideas. This action is to be seen as a further component of the aggressive proselytizing and recruitment work of Salafists nationwide."
The Salafists are racking up success stories. An estimated 330 German nationals are believed to have travelled to Syria as jihadists in the hopes of overthrowing the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and replacing it with an Islamic state.

With few exceptions, German jihadists are males under the age of 25 who have been radicalized by Salafist propaganda, according to Michael Kiefer, a German Islam expert who teaches at the government-sponsored Institute for Islamic Theology at the University of Osnabrück.

In an interview with Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR), a public radio station based in Hamburg, Kiefer says that "when we look at the biographies [of the German jihadists in Syria], we often see quite normal young men who have just met the wrong people at the wrong time who have led them down this path."

Kiefer says that many of the Germans leaving for Syria are "born-again Muslims:" Muslims who are born into secular families and later became radicalized, often after having come into contact with Salafist propaganda on the Internet.

German jihadists are—overwhelmingly, according to Kiefer—young men who are disillusioned with their lives and who succumb to Salafist rhetoric that it is their duty as Muslims to fight in Syria. They are promised that if they die as martyrs, they will be catapulted into paradise, and if they live, they will return home as heroes.

Kiefer believes that German authorities are not keeping up with the Salafists because counter-terrorism efforts are too focused on security-related threats rather than on prevention and combating radicalization at the earliest stages of indoctrination.

Radicalization is usually a lengthy process that involves one or two years, Kiefer says, time during which relatives, friends, teachers and social workers could intervene. Given the fact that the number of German jihadists heading for Syria is increasing by the day, Kiefer warns that "something must be done immediately. We cannot wait any longer."

Meanwhile, the Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig on May 14 upheld the ban of a Salafist group called DawaFFM and its affiliated youth organization, "Dar al-Shabab."

The German government outlawed DawaFFM—along with two other Salafist groups, "Islamische Audios" and "An-Nusrah"—in May 2013 on charges of subverting the constitutional order. It also said the groups were recruiting and radicalizing young Muslims under the guise of doing "mission work."

The immediate trigger for the ban was DawaFFM's role in a May 2012 riot in which more than 500 Salafists attacked German police with bottles, clubs, stones and other weapons in the city of Bonn, to protest cartoons they said were "offensive."

The leader of DawaFFM, a Salafist preacher named Abdellatif Rouali, appealed the ban. But the Leipzig court ruled that the prohibition was indeed constitutional because the group "supports the armed jihad in states affected by religious disputes through the dissemination of statements, violent battle chants and prayers requesting the destruction of Americans, Jews, Christians and Shiites."

The court added that DawaFFM [Dawa is Arabic for proselytizing and FFM refers to Frankfurt am Main] "promotes radicalization, especially of young Muslims, and recruits fighters for jihad in relevant conflict states, and also for correspondingly motivated violence in Germany."

The ban is unlikely to deter Rouali. As it turns out, he has quietly opened a store called "Mekka Shop" in downtown Frankfurt that sells conservative Islamic clothing and Salafist books.

Rouali, whose sermons glorify martyrdom, helped Ibrahim Abou-Nagie, a Palestinian hate preacher, launch the "READ! A Koran in Every Home" Koran distribution campaign, which aims to place a copy of the Koran into every household in Germany.

In mid-May, undercover reporters from the newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau observed young men moving back and forth between Rouali's store and a READ! Koran information booth in the center of Frankfurt.

At least three young men from Frankfurt who have died in Syria in recent months had previously participated in "READ!" campaign booths, the paper reported.

German authorities say they are monitoring the shop to ensure it does not become the "center for Salafism" in Frankfurt.

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 on Twitter.


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Support for Israel Now Grounds For Expulsion at New York Unitarian Church

by Spyridon Mitsotakis


The Unitarian-Universalist Community Church of New York, after 10 years of cooperation with and sponsoring events of the Maoist Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP), is now concerned that their tax-exempt status may be threatened, internal Church sources say. It comes at a time when persistent RCP presence on the Church has led to a polarizing climate.
In the background is an escalating conflict between the RCP and an alliance of moderate leftists, Israel supporters and pacifist led by Robert Reiss, a church member since 1957 who grew up in the Sunday school. The Church’s pastor, Reverend Bruce Southworth, resolutely demurs from challenging the Maoists. When a congregant complained, he said of their persistent presence: “What’s wrong with that?” And, at the May Board of Trustee monthly meeting, Chairperson Lisa Gluck turned to Reiss, who was sitting in spectators section, and said: “We demand to know exactly where you stand on Israel.”

Southworth’s first act upon coming into leadership of the Church was to take down the massive American flag from the downstairs stage where it had been for as long as anyone could remember. When asked why he did this, he said “I removed the American flag from the downstairs stage because I do not believe in nationalism. I am not a nationalist.” He also began to have speakers that reflect a reversal of the Church’s long history of support for Israel and Zionism. They include:
  • CUNY Professor Leonard Jeffries, who infamously spoke of “a conspiracy, planned and plotted and programmed out of Hollywood, where people called Greenberg and Weisberg and Trigliani and whatnot … Russian Jewry had a particular control over the movies, and their financial partners, the Mafia, put together a system of destruction for Black people,” and how “rich Jews were involved in the enslavement process”.
  • New Alliance Party official Lenora Fulani, who once said that Jews “had to sell their souls to acquire Israel and are required to do the dirtiest work of capitalism—to function as mass murderers of people of color—in order to keep it.”
  • Alton Maddox, the Louis Farrakhan flack who was disbarred for his role in the Tawana Brawley hoax, who told Church goers: “Black babies are superior to white babies.”
In the early 1990s, Southworth visited F. W. de Klerk’s post-apartheid South Africa to support the African National Congress (ANC). When he returned home, the Church pacifists asked him about the ANC’s reliance on “Necklacing” — stuffing people into the center of a gasoline filled tire and burning them to death — as a means to intimidate their black opponents. Speaking at the pulpit made from wood donated by Mahatma Gandhi’s son and a yard from a pedestal with a bronze bust of Gandhi — all gifts in recognition of the prior pastors’ commitment to nonviolence — Southworth said: “I am asked my opinion of the practice of necklacing. I will not take a moral stand on that.”

While the Church has long leaned to the Left, the ideological extremism in issue today is relatively new in the Church. The previous pastor, Rev. Donald Harrington, was chairman of the anti-communist Liberal Party. Another previous pastor, Rev. John Haynes Holmes, was on the board of the ACLU when they kicked the Communists out of the organization and cast the deciding vote to expel Communist Elizabeth Gurley Flynn. One Church member said, “Harrington and Holmes would be rolling in their graves to see the Church playing footsie with the RCP.”

The Church used to have thousands of active members, but since Southworth and his allies took over, the Church has been reduced to around 200 members today. Jewish participation with the Church had once been 40%, but this participation has plummeted as radical anti-Zionism has gained influence, consonant with the RCP playbook. Those who stand opposed to these trends are threatened with censorship and possible banishment from the congregation – and have been subject to intimidation and intolerance.

Typical of RCP activities is the constant presence of Joe Urgo, one of the RCP apparatchiks who infiltrated Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) in the early 1970s and took part in the infamous 1971 Kansas City meeting in which plans to assassinate pro-War members of Congress were discussed. Urgo is one of the plants RCP puts among the congregants to steer the conversation, identify potential Party recruits, and harass those who don’t agree – including browbeating a black Gulf War veteran for not being anti-American. He openly speaks of overthrowing the U.S. Constitution and sells CDs of fugitive RCP leader Robert “Chairman Bob” Avakian to Church members.

RCP’s grip on the Church was flaunted for all to see on April 2nd, when their front group World Can’t Wait (WCW) was sponsored by the Church. The event aimed at encouraging an end to the use of Drones, including as a tool of Counterterrorism in Pakistan, and livestreamed it throughout the country. Members of RCP participated openly in the panel discussion, and the moderator was WCW chairwoman Debra Sweet, who at other venues has been seen taking a copy of Mao’s Little Red Book out of her bra and waving it aloft. Church money has also been funneled to the Marxist Center for Global Justice in Mexico, which coordinates closely with the Communist Cuban Government.

By contrast, all support for Israel — even mention of past support for the Jewish state by the Church and former attendees such as Bayard Rustin — is relentlessly suppressed by the Maoists and their Church Collaborators. And while Capitalism is a constant target of derision (Thomas Piketty’s book is being pushed at the Church), sources describe a congregational meeting on the church budget where these same loud anti-capitalists
repeatedly called for greater returns and yield from their investment portfolios. They wanted to make sure the investment advisors to the Church who managed the Church’s 11 million dollars receive the “greatest quarterly yields, and dividends be maintained.” Indeed, one of the Action for Justice – a church constituent group – members, said “I hope we are using an index fund.” This particular member is the most outspoken anti-capitalist of all these people, who often couples his declarations of anti-capitalism with his very vocal attacks on American Democracy itself.

Spyridon Mitsotakis


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Dangerous and False Palestinian “Unity”

by Prof. Efraim Inbar

new palestinian unity government
BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 250

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: As long as the military branch of Hamas remains independent, there is no Palestinian unity. Under the current accord, instead of the PA regaining lost Gaza, Hamas is gaining better access to the West Bank. The current Western stance, which supports the continuation of a fragmented Palestinian polity, makes the establishment of a stable Palestinian state more unlikely than ever. Moreover, acceptance of a growing role for Hamas is inimical to Israeli-Palestinian peaceful co-existence.

The new Palestinian “unity” government is not about the reestablishment of one Palestinian political entity that could develop into a functioning Palestinian state. Already in the early 2000s, the Palestinian Authority (PA) degenerated into a failed state as it lost monopoly over the use of power in the territory under its jurisdiction with the advent of several competing militias. Indeed, in June 2007 Hamas orchestrated a military coup that put the Gaza Strip under the control of this terrorist organization.

Despite the current “unity” discourse, the Palestinians remain as divided as before. The only true test for “unity” of a political entity is monopoly over the use of force. As long as the military branch of Hamas remains independent, there is no unity; just evidence of the “Somalization” of Palestinian politics. Islamic Jihad also remains fiercely independent in Gaza, as well as other Jihadist organizations. In fact, under the current accord, instead of the PA regaining lost Gaza, Hamas is gaining better access to the West Bank.

Unfortunately, what is happening in the Palestinian territories is part of a larger phenomenon characteristic of much of the Arab world before and after the so-called “Arab Spring.” Lebanon, Somalia Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen and even Egypt are plagued by a plethora of militias eroding the exclusive control of the central authorities. It is not clear to what extent are Palestinians able to move beyond this general Arab political malaise.

In fact, it is hard to believe that Hamas will give up control over the Gaza Strip. The de facto statehood which Hamas enjoys is good business, as it allows for the extraction of taxes and fees. In addition, it serves the extremist Hamas ideology that demands building Islamist political structures and keeping alive the military and theological struggle against the unacceptable Jewish state. Hamas has made it clear that it has not mellowed one bit on this issue. It also hopes to get a better foothold in the West Bank to fortify its role in Palestinian society. Hamas seeks to emulate the road taken by Hizballah in gaining political hegemony in Lebanon while maintaining a military force independent of the central government.

The reaction of the US and the EU to the new government –business as usual – is counterproductive and morally wrong. This approach helps the Palestinians evade facing their fundamental dilemma in state building: that there is no chance to attain statehood without achieving a monopoly over use of force. Thus the current Western stance, which allows for the continuation of a fragmented Palestinian polity, makes the establishment of a real, stable Palestinian state more unlikely than ever. Continuous economic support for a failing Palestinian order preserves its dysfunctional characteristics and does not encourage the Palestinians to make the needed difficult choices.

Moreover, recent Western reactions to Palestinian “unity” are destructive for peace-making. Acceptance of a growing role for Hamas is inimical to Israeli-Palestinian peaceful co-existence. Radical Hamas is totally opposed to such a scenario and is unlikely to give up violence against Israel. After all, the Islamists are encouraged by the trends in the Arab world – whereby political Islam seems to be gaining greater power than ever before, and where the US seems to be in constant retreat.

It is not the first time the Europeans and the Americans adopt misguided policies towards the Middle East, displaying naiveté, misunderstanding of Middle East realities, and moral failure. If the West is serious about the two-state paradigm and opposing Islamist terrorism, it must insist that Mahmoud Abbas reject cooperation with terrorist entities such as Hamas.

Such cooperation can bring only additional disasters on Palestinian society. Hamas is hardly a democratic or a modernizing force as we have seen from its short rule over Gaza. A growing Hamas input in Palestinian society means growing deficits in human rights, and in economic and educational performance. It will also increase the hatred to Jews and will fuel additional violence that is likely to trigger a tough Israeli response. This is not what the Palestinians need if they are interested in liberty, prosperity and peace.

From an Israeli point of view, the mass demonstrations in favor of “unity” and the very few Palestinian voices opposing the deal with Hamas are depressing. The Palestinian “unity” deal reinforces the negative image Israelis have of their close neighbors: that Palestinian society is addicted to violence, where the shaheed (martyr) who attempts to kill as many Jews as possible – is the role model.

Palestinian society, under the spell of a nationalist and Islamic ethos, is simply unable to bring itself to a historic compromise with the Zionist movement that would end the conflict. Unfortunately, Palestinian rejectionism has won the day whenever a concrete partition plan was on the agenda. The ascendance of Hamas in Palestinian politics through this false “unity” government, further undermines the search for peace.
BESA Center Perspectives Papers are published through the generosity of the Greg Rosshandler Family

(Photo Credit: Wikiimages/Reuters)

Prof. Efraim Inbar,  director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, is a professor of political studies at Bar-Ilan University, and a fellow at the Middle East Forum.


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Barack Obama is Really the President Richard Nixon always Wanted to be.

by Rick Moran

That quote above is not from some right wing nutcase. It's from liberal law professor Jonathan Turley, a familiar face on cable news nets and a reliable voice for liberals on a wide variety of issues.

In this exchange with Sean Hannity, Turley excoriates the administration and bemoans the concentration of power in the executive under Obama:
SEAN HANNITY: We do have co-equal branches of government, separation of powers. You teach this regularly. You agree with the president politically. For you to say we are at a tipping point constitutionally -- now, I agree with you. What does that mean considering our constitution is our rule of law and they are ignoring it?

JONATHAN TURLEY: Well, unfortunately our system is changing, and it's changing without a debate. Or even a discussion about what we're going to do in the future when we have a three branch system, a tripartite system but one branch is so dominant. What's emerging is an imperial presidency, an uber presidency as I've called it, where the president can act unilaterally. This is only the latest example of that.

What's troubling is that we have a system that has been stable precisely because these are limited and shared powers. This president has indicated that he's just not willing to comply with some of those aspects. He told Congress he would go it alone and in our system you're not allowed to go it alone.

SEAN HANNITY: If I broke the law, why do I think they would be the first people to hand kickoff me, perp walk me and send me off to jail. This is just my belief system. Paranoia or truth?

JONATHAN TURLEY: Well, I think that the biggest problem we have is that the system itself, if we have a dominant branch, simply begins to shut down in terms of the safeguards. People don't seem to understand that the separation of powers is not about the power of these branches, it's there to protect individual liberty, it's there to protect us from the concentration of power. That's what is occurring here. You know, I've said it before, Barack Obama is really the president Richard Nixon always wanted to be. You know, he's been allowed to act unilaterally in a way that we've fought for decades.
The presidency is such an ill-defined office that you almost have to depend on the occupant to limit himself in the powers he exercises. This was tradition and precedent at work for 220 years. There were exceptions - Lincoln, FDR, and Nixon come to mind as presidents who vastly expanded their own powers at the expense of Congress and the courts. But generally, there was a respect for constitutional limits on presidential activism by most chief executives.

Turley is saying that Obama believes he has no limits to his power and is making the executive the dominant branch of government. What that holds for the future is frightening to contemplate as administration lies and extra-constitutional actions threaten the very stability of government.

A Congress in the hands of Republicans would only accelerate Obama's power grabs. It may be that the courts - the Supreme Court - is the only branch of government that can check this president's appetite for control.

Rick Moran


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And the Land was Filled with Hamas

by Dr. Shaul Bartal

The technocratic government that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas declared this week represents the pinnacle of reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas. This government includes, among others, card-carrying Hamas "professionals" from the Gaza Strip. Hamas leaders announced that the establishment of the government does not change in the least its ideological commitment to the destruction of Israel and continuing to resist as spelled out in its platform of August 18, 1988. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said this specifically at a ceremony in Rafah last Saturday. Haniyeh and his ilk praised the Hamas government, which has controlled Gaza for the past eight years and led the Palestinian people in resisting the "Zionist occupation."
The new prime minister, Professor Rami Hamdallah, president of An-Najah National University in Nablus, has already taken up the reins at the Palestinian Authority. Riyad al-Maliki ‎will remain minister of foreign affairs in the unity government. Senior Hamas official Dr. Mahmoud al-Zahar said in an interview to the Hamas newspaper Al Risalah that both sides had agreed upon all the ministers in the new government -- the "technocrats." Moderate people whose national views clashed with those of Hamas were not appointed. Maliki, for example, is keeping his post as foreign minister only at the insistence of Abbas. Religious Affairs Minister Mahmoud al-Habash was fired, and his post was assigned to someone Hamas preferred.
What will be the future of resistance to Israel? This question must be examined from three main angles: security coordination between Israel and the PA; Hamas and the PA continuing to operate separate military apparatuses; and the prisoner issue. Armed Hamas members will continue to protect the Gaza Strip and keep hold of their weapons. Hamas spokesmen have said so. This means that acts of resistance, including missile attacks on Ashkelon and the surrounding area, will persist regardless of the unity government in Ramallah. Hamas military officials will be integrated into the PA's security setup while continuing their activity in the Gaza Strip -- without, of course, coordinating with Israel and in violation of agreements between Israel and the PA. Will the Palestinian unity government be responsible for missile fire from inside Gaza? The answer in no, because Hamas -- and especially the rest of organizations there -- maintain the right to oppose Israel, a right that they did not give up when the deal for the unity government was signed.
And what about the West Bank? At this stage, coordination on security is still in place, but the reconciliation with Hamas is felt on the ground. Hamas activists can once again fly their flag at rallies and marches throughout the West Bank. Social organizations that were shut down because of their support for Hamas are starting up again. A glimpse of the new era in which Hamas activity is once again legal was seen at the funeral of brothers Imad and Adel Awadallah on April 30, not far from the Muqataa (Palestinian Authority headquarters) in Ramallah. An atmosphere like this will affect coordination with Israel on security, and cause it to deteriorate gradually.
As far as the prisoner issue goes, the Palestinian Authority is still paying the salaries of every Palestinian imprisoned in Israel. Hamas and the Islamic Jihad have encountered many difficulties in transferring money to their members who are in prison in Israel. Wanting to avoid having this volatile issue handled by a Fatah or Hamas minister, a decision was taken to establish an independent prisoners' committee in the Palestine Liberation Organization that would coordinate the matter of prisoners from all the Palestinian groups. Some senior Hamas members object to this decision and are trying to change it. The fear among Hamas supporters is that whoever is in charge of the prisoners issue will gather great political power because of the Palestinian public's sensitivity to the matter. Abbas, therefore, is insisting that the question be dropped from the unity government's agenda and handled independently in the PLO. His move was seen as cunning and manipulative, removing the sting from the prisoner problem.
Hamas came to the unity government out of distress at the loss of support from the Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt and President-elect Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi's harsh steps to curb the group. The group sought a Hezbollah-style solution and integrated itself into an existing political structure. The organization has not laid down its arms or changed its ideology, but rather is taking part in government and influencing the Palestinian street. To paraphrase Genesis 6:11, the PLO has been "filled with 'hamas' [Hebrew for 'violence']."

Dr. Shaul Bartal


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Terrorist Groups Rise 58% Since 2010

by Arnold Ahlert

One of the principal narratives of the 2012 Obama re-election campaign — as in al Qaeda has been “decimated” and put on a “on the path to defeat” — has itself been decimated. According to a study released yesterday by the RAND Corporation, there has been a 58 percent increase in the number of jihadist groups over the last four years. Even more troubling, the number of jihadist fighters has doubled, and the number of worldwide attacks has tripled. The report further notes that terrorist groups operating in Yemen, Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan pose the greatest threat to the United States.
“Based on these threats, the United States cannot afford to withdraw or remain disengaged from key parts of North Africa, the Middle East and South Asia,” states Seth G. Jones, author of the study and associate director of the International Security and Defense Policy Center at RAND. “After more than a decade of war in Afghanistan and Iraq, it may be tempting for the U.S. to turn its attention elsewhere and scale back on counterterrorism efforts. But this research indicates that the struggle is far from over.”

The raw numbers are stark. The number of groups have increased from 31 to 49, the number of fighters to a high estimate of 100,000 and the number of attacks from 392 to approximately 1000.
In an article for the Wall Street Journal, Jones points out that America also faces significant threats in addition to Islamic jihadism, including the invasion of Ukraine by Russia that threatens our NATO alliance; China’s flexing of its economic, military and cyber muscles in East Asia; and the instability of North Korea. He also puts Iran and their dedicated pursuit of nuclear-weapons in this category.
Jones’s analysis pokes a giant hole in the leftist ideology that posits America’s forays into Iraq and Afghanistan caused an increase in jihadist activity. In fact it is quite the opposite. As America has retreated from the Middle East – completely from Iraq in December of 2011, combined with a highly-publicized schedule of winding down combat operations in Afghanistan at the end of this year — terrorism is surging.
According to Jones the epicenter of that surge is Syria. The ongoing civil war there has produced the largest increases in both the number of groups and the number of terrorists, and they now comprise more than half the number of groups worldwide who are al Qaeda sympathizers. “It’s become a breeding ground for jihadist activity,” he explains. He also notes there were substantial gains in North Africa in general, and Libya in particular.
The study further reveals that terrorist leadership has become more decentralized. It is
diffused among four tiers: (1) core al Qa’ida in Pakistan, led by Ayman al-Zawahiri; (2) formal affiliates that have sworn allegiance to core al Qa’ida, located in Syria, Somalia, Yemen, and North Africa; (3) a panoply of Salafi-jihadist groups that have not sworn allegiance to al Qa’ida but are committed to establishing an extremist Islamic emirate; and (4) inspired individuals and networks.
The terror groups themselves are divided into three categories. “Category one,” and the top priority for U.S. counter-terror efforts according to the author, should be groups with both the “interest and ability” to perpetrate attacks in the United States. They include al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula based in Yemen, al Qaeda’s core elements along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, homegrown jihadists such as the Boston Marathon-bombing Tsarnaev brothers, and the growing number of radicalized Americans fighting the Assad regime in Syria.
“Second category” terror groups are those incapable of mounting a domestic terrorist attack, but who remain committed to attacking U.S. and other Western targets abroad. They emanate from countries such as Somalia, Iraq, Libya and Nigeria, and include al-Shabaab and Boko Haram. “Third category” terrorist groups are those with little interest or capacity to target America or American interests overseas. Jones cites the East Turkestan Islamic Movement in China, and “numerous others with parochial interests across Africa, the Middle East and Asia.”

Different military strategies are offered for coping with each category. Groups in the first category should be subjected to “clandestine special operations, intelligence, diplomatic and other capabilities to target al Qa’ida groups and their financial, logistical and political support networks.” The U.S. should also assist local governments with training, advice and assistance in attacking terror’s root causes, which he claims range from incompetent security forces to collapsing economies. (The latter root cause is a largely specious assumption, as this list of middle class and wealthy high-level terrorist indicates).
Jones posits that groups in the second category should engender U.S. support for local governments, but no direct action on our part. For the third category, he suggests an approach that relies on counter-terror operations by allies and local governments while keeping American air, naval and rapidly deployable ground forces assets in close proximity “offshore.”
Unfortunately for an Obama administration seemingly determined to squander painfully bought gains in the Middle East, Jones offers a most inconvenient assessment of reality. “Al Qa’ida was born along the Afghanistan-Pakistan frontier in the late 1980s, and it will not disappear just because U.S. forces leave,” he insists, adding that our imminent departure from Afghanistan “will most likely be a boost for insurgent and terrorist groups dedicated to overthrowing the Kabul government, establishing an extreme Islamic emirate, and allowing al Qa’ida and other groups to establish a sanctuary.” He further warns that just as in Iraq, the withdrawal of U.S. troops “does not make the terrorism problem go away,” but has rather allowed al Qaeda and other groups “breathing space to expand their attacks and spread to neighboring countries like Syria.”
The most inconvenient reality of all? The current trends outlined in the study suggest that “the struggle against extremism is likely to be a generational one, much like the Cold War.”
In other words, no matter how desperately the American left, the isolationist factions on both sides of the political divide, and those Americans unduly influenced by the Democrats’ odious anti-war presidential campaign of 2004 want the war on terror to end, the terrorists themselves have other ideas. To believe otherwise is a fool’s errand based on the same kind of fatuous, faculty-lounge thinking engaged in by an Obama administration that precipitates such follies as the easing of sanctions on Iran, the latest announcement by the State Department that they will work with a Palestinian “unity” government that includes terrorist-designated Hamas, and the release of five high-level terrorist thugs from Guantanamo Bay.
On the last page of the report, Jones cites a poem entitled “Mujahid’s Wish.” It was published in the Spring 2013 issue of al Qaeda’s Inspire magazine, and as Jones rightly explains, reveals the mindset of those who consider the U.S. “a bitter enemy.” The last four lines are more than enough to understand what we are really up against:
Brother residing in the West, grab you (sic) chance and
Walk steadfastly towards your goal.
As for me here in Yemen, whenever I move around with
Explosives around my waist, I wish I am in America.

Arnold Ahlert


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

The Awful Truth about Obama Beginning to Dawn on his Allies

by Thomas Lifson

It’s finally happening! Libs are starting to realize that the manufactured image of Barack Obama as a brilliant, capable executive is hooey, and that they have bought into an incompetent who threatens to sink them. Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post doesn’t quite put it in those terms, of course, but you don’t have to read between the lines too closely to come up with that interpretation of his piece entitled, “Americans are starting to doubt President Obama is a good boss.”
The current scandal engulfing the VA is the latest example of competence questions surrounding this White House, but they include everything from the rollout of to the targeting of tea party groups by a Cincinnati IRS office. While none of these problems are easily tied directly to a decision Obama made (or didn't make), they have all eroded the public's faith that he knows what he's doing.
"I think there is an increasing appetite and desire for just fundamental competence and accountability," said Republican media consultant Mark McKinnon. "A steady hand on the wheel. Or even a shaky hand on the wheel. Just find the wheel."
The collapse is striking. (snip)
Obama's numbers on competence are already low enough to trouble many party strategists charged with electing (or reelecting) Democrats to the Senate and the House. In conversations over the past several weeks with these folks, it's become clear that worries over Obamacare specifically have given way to a broader concern that the combination of the pained rollout of, coupled with the problems at the VA and other motivators of the Republican base (IRS, Benghazi), could combine into a toxic "This guy (and his party) don't know what they're doing" message this fall.
Ya think?

Thomas Lifson


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Australia: East Jerusalem is not 'Occupied'

by Israel Hayom Staff

Australian Attorney-General George Brandis, speaking for Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, says, "The description of areas which are subject to negotiations in the course of the peace process by reference to historical events is unhelpful."

 Photo credit: AP
The Australian government has stopped using the term "occupied" when referring to east Jerusalem, Australian media outlets reported on Thursday.

Israel Hayom Staff


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25 Years after Tiananmen Massacre, China Desperate to Hide the Truth

by Rick Moran

It was very early in the morning of June 4, 1989 when the unmistakable sound of a large body of marching troops approached about 5,000 demonstrators left in Tiananmen Square. Most of the protestors had cleared out after they learned that hundreds of demonstrators had been killed by soldiers as they marched toward the Square..

Then, shots rang out. Demonstrators began dropping all over the Square as many soldiers fired indiscrimantly into the crowd. APC's ran over tents with hunger striking demonstrators.. A tank roared through a crowd of retreating demonstrators killing 11. Residents of Beijing - some of them parents of demonstrators - tried to retake the square only to be fired on by troops twice before they fled.

Most of the dead were killed outside of the Square when the army began it's march from the outskirts of Beijing. Horror stories abound but perhaps the worst is that of a young student trying to negotiate with the army who was shot dead where he stood.

The "official" death toll was 300. Most scholars put that number at 3-10 times that of government claims. Somewhere, in some dusty archive of the Communist party, the real toll is written down. But that information, along with most other details of the crackdown on protestors, remains hidden.

But in recent years, scholars have had access to secret papers showing that there was chaos in the Chinese government and military in the lead up to the crackdown. There was one instance of a high ranking general who refused to carry out the order to kill students.

New York Times:
In a stunning rebuke to his superiors, Maj. Gen. Xu Qinxian, leader of the mighty 38th Group Army, said the protests were a political problem and should be settled through negotiations, not force, according to new accounts of his actions from researchers who interviewed him.
“I’d rather be beheaded than be a criminal in the eyes of history,” he told Yang Jisheng, a historian.
Although General Xu was soon arrested, his defiance sent shudders through the party establishment, fueling speculation of a military revolt and heightening the leadership’s belief that the student-led protests were nothing less than a mortal threat to the Communist Party.
The new details of the general’s defiance and the tremors it set off are among a series of disclosures about the intrigue inside the Chinese military preceding the bloody crackdown in Beijing on June 3 and 4, 1989, some contained in army documents spirited out of China in recent years and others revealed in interviews with party insiders, former soldiers and other people directly involved in the events 25 years ago.
Contrary to rumors at the time, the documents show that army units did not fight one another. But they show that General Xu’s stand against the threatened use of lethal force fanned leaders’ fears that the military could be dragged into the political schisms and prompted party elders to mobilize a huge number of troops.
Even after a quarter-century, the night of bloodshed remains one of the most delicate subjects in Chinese politics, subjected to unrelenting attempts by the authorities to essentially erase it from history. Yet even now, new information is emerging that modifies the accepted understanding of that divisive event.
To head off any repeat of the protests, China has gone to extraordinary lengths to prevent people from recalling the massacre:
On the mainland, China's ruling Communist Party forbids citizens from discussing the movement. Hundreds perhaps thousands were killed on the evening of June 3 and during June 4,1989, when the same party sent army troops into central Beijing to quell protesters.
About fifty people have been detained in the past two months in a pre-anniversary crackdown that Chinese activists and human rights groups have called the most severe ever.
As usual, China's state-run media all but ignored this highly sensitive date, while the censor's trigger finger was busy Wednesday blacking out television screens showing CNN and BBC whenever the foreign broadcasters aired segments on Tiananmen.
The White House urged China to account for the victims of the June 4, 1989 crackdown, in a statement Wednesday supporting "the basic freedoms the protesters at Tiananmen Square sought." In response, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei asked the U.S. to "stop making irresponsible remarks related to issues of China's internal affairs."
At a regular briefing Wednesday, Hong said China had reached a conclusion a long time ago about the "political turmoil" in the late 1980s. With familiar phrases, he reiterated the official view that China's chosen path of "socialism with Chinese characteristics" has delivered great economic and social achievements.
At the square, and all roads leading to it, larger than normal numbers of armed police, SWAT teams, and plain-clothed security personnel screened and monitored all pedestrians wanting to visit the square, which remained open Wednesday. Some 850,000 security "volunteers", mostly seniors with red armbands, watched over Beijing's roads and alley-ways, according to the Legal Evening News.
It's hard to forget what happened that night and early morning in Tiananmen Square. To help us recall, Policy Mic has published 13 photos of the demonstrations that recall the optimism, the determination, the courage, and the terror of those days - including one of the most iconic photos of the 20th century:

China is hardly more free today than it was in 1989. The Communist party still rules with an iron fist, controlling the media, the internet, and all other forms of communication. Inequality is a far greater problem in China than it is here, with 70% of the population still living in rural villages, relatively untouched by the modern world.

Someday, there will be another Tiananmen. And at that time, the Communist party is likely to come crashing down, finally overthrown by a people too long living restlessly under its yoke.

Rick Moran


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