Friday, July 4, 2014

The Lost Spring: U.S. Policy in the Middle East

by Walid Phares

The decision had already been made a year ago that a deal would be cut with the Iranian regime. If one has a deal, one is not going to enter into a war with the allies of the Ayatollah, such as Syria. That would kill the deal.
These advisors and the pro-Iranian lobby in Washington are not made up only of Iranians. They are made of financial interest groups. For all these years there has been the idea that if we cut a deal with the Iranian regime, they will stabilize Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.
When the Iranians moved in to Syria, Hezbollah moved in. When both moved in, Al-Qaeda moved in. That was the end of civil demonstrations.
The current Middle East policy tracks are in the papers of the academics who are advising the administration. All one has to do is go to the libraries and read what the advisors have been writing for so many decades and then deduce the current policy.
We were in Iraq. By looking at a map, one can understand that by being in Iraq, the U.S. served as a wall, disconnecting Iran from going into Syria.

As soon as the Soviet Union collapsed, the West in general, and America in particular were targeted by the jihadist movements. Some consisted of Al‑Qaeda and the Taliban, and others consisted of a different type of jihadism: the Iranian regime.

At the time of the USSR's collapse, the American public knew about Iranian and Hezbollah threats. There had been attacks on American targets since the early 1980s -- such as those in Beirut, Lebanon, and the Khobar Towers, Saudi Arabia -- by America's Iranian "allies."

What Americans did not know much about, however, were jihadist Salafi movements – even after two declarations of war by Osama bin Laden: the first in 1996, and again in 1998. If Bin Laden's first declaration of war was not clear, his second statement was -- a 29‑minute‑long speech in Arabic, publicized on Al Jazeera.

The next day I thought, "Surely the President of the United States is going to rush to Congress and say, 'We are at war with Al‑Qaeda.'" But it did not happen that way. What did happen was that the New York Times, on page 7,000, said there was a Saudi dissident who declared war against America. The newspaper had its own explanation: "He is a Saudi dissident. He is frustrated with the Arabian royal family. He is a reformer, and he is really not happy with us backing that regime."

That was also the explanation given at the time by the Middle East Studies community in American universities. American scholars looked upon the jihadists who came back from Afghanistan as frustrated, disenfranchised, and then they criticized -- themselves.

What we have as foreign policy today, in blaming America for everything,was actually the stance of academia in the 1990s.

Classroom to Newsroom

It was stunning to see, coming to this country, that members of the U.S. academia were not informing their students about reality, especially about who these jihadist movements are and their goals. When, in 1998, bin Laden finally declared a war against Jews, Christians, crusaders, infidels, and Americans, the reaction in the mainstream media was... almost no reaction.

But people in the media are produced where? In the classroom. They graduate, then go from the classroom -- to the newsroom. Graduates then also find their way into -- the courtroom. This pattern reveals why we also have judges who do not understand how to distinguish jihadists from non‑jihadists. The problem, however, does not end in the classroom or the newsroom or the courtroom. It eventually ends up in the war room.

This was a war of ideas and our entire elite had been misinformed, miseducated and misled on the forthcoming terror.

Minorities Rise in the Middle East

The 1990s also bore witness to the rise of civil society in the Middle East. People saw the collapse of the Soviet Union and understood the liberation of Eastern and Central Europe. In the late 1990s, I began to look at websites and deal with NGOs. In Beirut, I had a magazine, Mashrek International. [Mashrek means "The East."] That magazine, founded in 1982, focused on the struggle of these minorities.

The first type of civil society that arose basically consisted of marginalized minorities who were bringing to light the issues facing ethnic and religious minorities in the Middle East. [1] There was a world of minorities moving -- pushing back against both oppressive regimes and against jihadi regimes.

While examining these ethnic and religious minorities, we found other segments of society that were also frustrated and suppressed, such as women in the Middle East and the youth.

What had made these minorities more visible was technology.

On the eve of 9/11 -- the end of the 1990s and into the next decade -- the internet had become available to more and more people, so more writings about these changes were becoming available, along with the ideas of the people writing them.

Immediately after the attacks of 2001, the few who were working on this problem were called upon by members of Congress to "come up with answers."

Looking for Moderates

Most will remember that after 9/11 there were many questions. One was, "Where are the moderates?" Others included, "Where are the anti‑jihadists? Why don't they express themselves?" My argument at the time was that we needed to "meet them halfway." That experiment had been tried in Sudan and Lebanon, when I had worked with the administration on UN Resolution 1559, passed by the Security Council, to ask the Syrians to withdraw from Lebanon. But by 2010, a lot had changed in the Middle East. Civil societies had reached a level of intolerance regarding their suppression.

By early 2010, civil societies -- youth and minorities and all of those who are anti‑jihadist in the region -- saw several developments which, ironically, prepared them for both the good news and the bad news that came from the Arab Spring. First, when the U.S. brought down the Taliban and Saddam Hussein (we can have a long discussion if this move was "good" or "bad," move, but that is irrelevant here), and its military was able to maintain a status quo -- meaning that we were not militarily defeated in Iraq or Afghanistan, although we would eventually assure defeat by withdrawing from both -- the real question became: "What do we leave behind us? Who do we leave behind us? Who will replace us and continue confronting the terror forces?"

When the Taliban was removed, not everything in Afghanistan turned rosy.

We do not have a democracy in Afghanistan. But in the eyes of many other people in the Middle East, instead of the Taliban, there is now a parliament where women are allowed. To us, this change is not significant. But to those in these societies, that change is most significant.

In Iraq, instead of having one political party, that of Saddam Hussein, we have now a parliament where people choose among multiple political parties, maybe even throwing shoes at each other. Iraq has changed, and is changing.

Two Revolutions Before the "Spring"

Two more events were going to convince many youths in the region that they needed to act. One was the Cedar Revolution in Lebanon in 2005, when from 1.5 to 1.8 million people took to the streets of Beirut. They were nonviolent; they were from diverse communities; they included many women; they represented many languages. But there was one desired outcome: To get the Syrians out of Lebanon.

This revolution became known there as the Texting Revolution, after the mobile phone text messages that allowed one million people to come together.

The Cedar Revolution may not have been successful -- Hezbollah continues to control Lebanon. But four years later, in Iran, came the Green Revolution. Another two million people took to the streets. The numbers were revealing: 60% of those who demonstrated were under the age of 20. The regime understands what that means. The future was rising up. These were not senior citizens demonstrating, nor the allies of the Shah. These were people who were born two regimes after the Shah. One‑third of those under-20-demonstrators were girls and women, at least in the first few days of the revolution. Of course, when the Iranian Revolutionary Guard took to the streets against them, they fled.

That revolution was known as the Twitter revolution. Without the means, there can be no mobilization. Ideas may be present and strong, but the means and the networking were crucial.

First Waves of the Upheaval

In mid-2010, I wrote a book, The Coming Revolution. When we spoke to, the publisher, he said, "Are you sure? This is a very daring title." I said, "Yes, the revolution is coming. I don't how it is coming or when it is coming. But it is coming." You could read the chat rooms, follow what the Egyptians, the Tunisians, the Lebanese, and the Iranians were talking about. They were actually waiting for an opportunity. I thought, perhaps, the revolution might begin in Algeria with the Berbers. One could see that there was a thin wave of civil society that would rise up. It might not be effective, it might not win -- and in the West, especially in America, we have a microwave mentality: it has to be quick, it has to be successful, or it will not be on TV.

There are some rebellions -- efforts at revolution -- that will come and that will not be successful, but even those open the path for a massive change. In Egypt, the Copts would be the trigger. It was, in fact, a Coptic student demonstration in Cairo after a blast against a church that came first. This bold move encouraged the non‑Christian youth in Egypt to begin their own demonstrations. It also triggered a Facebook page highlighting the response in Egypt. In three days, the page got 85,000 "Likes." From those 85,000 Likes, thousands took to Tahrir Square.

When the first waves of revolution hit Tahrir Square, or Tunisia, or Libya, or Syria, there was a moment in which the United States -- if it had had the right leadership or a leadership that wanted to act, or at least a leadership that did not want to partner with the other side -- could have aided the cause of freedom tremendously. If we had sided with civil society, it might have stood a chance.

In 2011, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, and Syria -- and Yemen to a point -- were all experiencing revolutions or civil wars. Tunisia changed quickly, but in Egypt, the first 80,000‑100,000 people were in Tahrir Square and they did not leave. That had never happened before.

In Washington and around the United States and the West, many were arguing, "We should stick with Mubarak." My closest friends were telling me, "It's too risky to abandon Mubarak." My view, however, was if the Islamists are the ones who are rising, yes, of course, we will stay with Mubarak, but if members of the civil society are rising, then we had better immediately link up with them so that if we let go of Mubarak, they are not overwhelmed later by the Islamists.

Washington's Wrong Choices

Unfortunately, the administration did just the opposite. So, when those youths took to the streets and the international community said, "Okay, it is acceptable," the Muslim Brotherhood, who were watching, simply waited -- and actually said on Al Jazeera, "We did not go until we made sure that Tahrir Square is protected, that Mubarak is not going to launch his army."

This made sense: the Muslim Brotherhood had a long history of being suppressed by Mubarak. The administration was basically siding with the Muslim Brotherhood. We were watching those demonstrators growing in the tens of thousands. The narrative coming from the White House was, 'We are going to wait and see how this is going to settle down.'"

It was only when members of the Muslim Brotherhood moved from the edges into Tahrir Square and secured themselves as part of this demonstration that the statements changed in the White House and the State Department, and they finally said, "Mubarak, you leave."

The entire administration may not even have known what was happening, but those who are in charge of the Egypt situation or the State Department's Egypt Desk knew exactly what they were doing. They wanted to secure the future leadership of Egypt after Mubarak as one made up mostly of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The same scenario occurred in Libya and Syria, where the situation turned immediately into civil wars -- again because of miscalculations or false calculations from the administration.

In Libya, in the early weeks, secular ex‑Gaddafi bureaucrats, judges, former diplomats, and military men -- and students --rose up against Gaddafi. With them, on their side, were also jihadi Islamist militias, some of whom were actually released by Saif al‑Islam, Gaddafi's son.

In Washington, both the administration and, unfortunately, some members of Congress said, "Well, these are the rebels, so this whole party must be 'the rebels.'" The U.S. did not distinguish, within the rebels, who were the potential partners we needed to work with,and who were the jihadi Salafists.

In Libya, we beat Gaddafi's forces so quickly that the only organized force on the ground was that of the Salafist jihadists. They seized the eastern part of Libya and parts of Tripoli, and that, strengthened by even more forces averse to U.S. interests, is where Libya is today.

Syria's Drama

In Syria, the early waves of revolution that we saw on TV were made of demonstrators from Daraa in the south, to Aleppo and Damascus. So, between March 2011 and January of 2012, we really had a popular uprising. This was a golden opportunity to do something about Syria.

There are sometimes windows of opportunity that if missed, force you to wait for another. The opportunity was there simply because we were in Iraq. By looking at a map, one can understand that by being in Iraq, the U.S. served as a wall, disconnecting Iran from going into Syria. So as long as we and our allies were in Iraq, the Iranian regime was not yet able to connect strategically with the Assad regime.

Also, Hezbollah was not yet heavily inside Syria for the first six to seven months. Al‑Qaeda had not yet penetrated deep into Syria. A better policy would have been to use situation -- even if we might have had to stretch our presence in Iraq a few more months -- to leave Iraq with an ally force and Syria with a non‑Assad regime. Instead, we had to stick with the schedule -- the very political schedule -- of leaving Iraq on December 31 at midnight, regardless of what might happen later.

The Iranians, of course, could and would wait for us to leave. What were they going to do on January first and second and third? Start connecting strategically with the Syrian regime. When the Iranians moved in, Hezbollah moved in. When both moved in, Al‑Qaeda moved in. When everybody was in, that was the end of the civil demonstrations.

Those events take us to 2012, the midst of a presidential campaign: "We do not do foreign interventions." Nobody wants to risk anything unless it will be completely successful in three days and then they can take the credit through to November.

This scenario did not happen. In 2013, once the elections were over, everything in Syria had changed. The map had changed: Iran was in Syria. A short while ago, there was a statement by the head of the al Quds force, the Iranian central force, and the President of Iran, saying, "We cannot leave Syria. We cannot let Assad go."

Hezbollah is also now deeply entrenched in Syria, and Al‑Qaeda has seized, probably, about 40% of Syria's opposition. The Russians -- now even more than before -- have put in their veto, and the Chinese have as well.

Remember when the administration was considering striking Syria for using chemical weapons? That was the final test. We urged Assad, and then we threatened Assad not to cross the red line. He crossed the red line. We ordered our battleships to go -- and then we stopped and asked the Russians to take the problem to the United Nations.

What was behind that, as far as I learned, was that the administration asked the U.S. military and the national security group of analysts, "What is going to happen if we engage or if we strike against the chemical weapons system?" The reports came in: "There is no such thing, in this configuration of forces, as a limited strike." A limited strike in Vietnam did not work, right? We had a 20‑year war against three Communist nations: North Vietnam, China, and Russia. A limited strike in Syria in 2013 or 2014 could mean possible retaliation by four regimes: the Assad regime, Hezbollah, Iraq's Maliki regime, and Iran.

The message was: "President Obama, if you want to do a military strike in Syria, you will be fighting four regimes." In 2011, the U.S. was encircling Assad; he was almost gone. But as soon as the U.S. lifted that option into an agreement with the Assad regime -- which gave Assad every green light he needed to continue his warfare and has actually aggrandized Al‑Qaeda further -- ten or fifteen days later, Washington announced that it had an "interim deal" with Iran.

When the president was considering striking Syria for using chemical weapons, what did he do? He sent that decision to Congress. Since when does a president send his decisions on national security and defense to Congress? But when he cut a deal with the Iranian regime -- after 31 years of the standing U.S. policy, Republican and Democrat alike, of isolating of that regime -- he did not send it for review in Congress.

It seems now, however, that the reason the administration did not strike Syria is not just that it meant engaging those four regimes.

The decision had already been made, a year ago, in the discussions with the Iranian regime, that a deal would be cut with the Iranian regime. If one has a deal to be declared with the Ayatollahs, one is not going to enter a war with the allies of the Ayatollahs. That would kill the deal.

The Administration's Two Tracks

It seems now that the administration, since 2009, had two tracks for its Middle East policy. Track number one, from Morocco to Gaza, would be to partner with the Muslim Brotherhood. On what grounds? Because the academic elite and the advisors for the administration have convinced senior decision makers that the Muslim Brotherhood is a force for "change." This is how the administration sees the Brotherhood. The people of Egypt see the Brotherhood as Fascists, as neo‑Nazis, but to the elite here -- the academic elite -- which, by the way has been generously funded by the Brotherhood, or at least inspired by the petro‑dollars coming under the office of the Brotherhood -- it makes sense that the Brotherhood is a force we can count on. The Brotherhood will secure all of this space, and then civilized business can be done with them, and then they will be secured as a loyal wing.

The other track would run from Beirut to Syria to Iraq to Iran -- if the behavior of the Iranian leadership can be successfully changed.

That these were the current Middle East politics tracks is based on information not hard to find. It is in the papers of the academics who are advising the administration. It is simple to go to the libraries and read what the advisors have been writing for so many decades and then deduce what the current policy is.

These advisors and the pro‑Iranian lobby in Washington are not made only of Iranians, as some of my colleagues believe. They are made of financial interest groups who have been waiting to do business with Iran because for all these years, there has been the idea that if we cut a deal with the Iranian regime, the Iranian regime will stabilize Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. Thus the grand design becomes apparent.

And where were the first indicators of that grand design? Look at the 2008 Obama campaign and read what the contributing intellectuals were saying about the Middle East. And then in June of 2009, the president went to Cairo and delivered his speech. Actually, one of the speechwriters went to Egypt and bragged that she was part of the writing of this speech -- and that she has been an advisor in the White House and close to the Muslim Brotherhood. The speech was designed to tell the Muslim Brotherhood that the United States will eventually be changing its policy and that there will be a new day.

All these words were in the speech. The speech was designed not just for the Muslim world, but for the Muslim Brotherhood, whose representatives the White House invited to sit in the front row.

President Obama waves to the crowd attending his June 2009 speech in Cairo. The White House invited Muslim Brotherhood representatives to sit in the front row. (Image source: The White House)

There was also a letter, sent in early June to the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei of Iran, in which was expressed an intention to engage in dialogue. There is nothing secret about this policy. From the early stages of the administration, there was an approach to partner with the Muslim Brotherhood, even before it came to power, and to unfreeze the relationship with the Iranians.

The Arab Spring seems to have come as a surprise to the administration, although many of my colleagues are now saying the administration was behind the Arab Spring. The Arab Spring caused the administration to scramble in choosing which partners they were going to be working with in North Africa and, of course, later on, in Iran.

The administration did not predict the Arab Spring. When it happened, the U.S. corrected its own policy to meet the partners it really wanted to work and cut a deal with. Now, one of the administration's policies, the partnership with the Muslim Brotherhood, is essentially being dismantled -- not by us, but by the Egyptian people.

Egypt's Real Revolution

On June 30th, 2013, 33 million Egyptians rose up. Many in Washington, especially in the administration, immediately called the change of regime in Egypt a "coup." If 33 million demonstrators are a coup, we have to change political science. No, it was not a coup; it was a revolution. Egypt's General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi or Field Marshal Tantawi or any leader without 33 million people on the streets would have never conducted any change, would never have dared tell Mr. Morsi, "stay at home." They would have been removed immediately; the United States would have called them rebels, and they would have been taken to The Hague. Even before the revolution, there had been a petition signed by 22 million people in Egypt.

In the Middle East studies field, academics have been saying, "But Morsi was elected." Well, Benito Mussolini was elected and Adolf Hitler was elected. Half of the voters for Morsi were simply protest voters against the other candidate, who was a relic from the previous regime. Actually, the number of voters for Morsi was about six million. But 22.5 million signed a petition. That is a recall. If I were Morsi, I would have resigned or asked my government to resign. That is what is done in liberal democracies. Think France. If there is an election in France, and the president loses the majority, what happens? The government changes.

But that is not the whole story in Egypt. Early this year there was a referendum. In international law, the last referendum is the last reflection of what people want. 22.5 million showed up for the referendum and rejected the proposed Muslim Brotherhood constitution. This referendum was what opened the path for presidential elections and parliamentary elections. This is the path Egypt is taking.

Tunisia's Struggle

In Tunisia, the Ennahda party, the Islamist sister-party of the Muslim Brotherhood, was smarter. Its leaders understood what happened in Egypt. The opposition in Tunisia is even stronger. They are also secular. Women in the opposition are strong women. The labor unions are strong. Tunisia is a bit more advanced than Egypt.

It seems that the Ennahda government got advice from Europe and from the U.S. to make concessions, to allow changes, to have a national unity cabinet, and to go again for elections. That saved their skin. Those are smart Islamists. Ennahda did not reform. Ennahda conducted a tactical withdrawal. My recommendation in dealing with Islamists has been that the measure by which you know the Islamists have transformed themselves into something else -- Muslim Conservative, Muslim Democrat, etc. -- is that they declare, within their own party, that they have changed, just as when the Communist Parties declared that they were now Social Democrats. We do not usually believe them, but at least they make these declarations.

Nothing of this sort has happened in Tunisia. And in Syria, every day, it is still just going from bad to worse.


Today the region is still witnessing a race between the Islamist forces and the secularists, moderates and liberals.

The Muslim Brotherhood has been struggling to maintain its influence in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, as well as within the Syrian opposition in Jordan and in Iraq.

In the Levant, the Iranian Khomeinists have the upper hand in Tehran, and, through the Baghdad government, in Damascus and in Beirut. In the other camp, a diverse web of NGOs, secularists, women, and minorities are struggling to advance pluralism and democracy.

This race has been affected and will continue to be impacted by Western and U.S. policies and preferences. If Washington continues to give advantage to the Islamists, the Islamists will resist reform, and civil societies will have hard time implementing change toward progress.

But if the U.S. and its Western allies lend their support to civil societies, the culture of reform could take root in the region.

It is my projection that civil societies and secularists will eventually shift the balance of power towards their ideals, but it may be generational. As we see in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, the secularists are pushing forward. In the Iranian-dominated Middle East, opposition is also growing against the Ayatollahs. So far it has been a lost Spring, but this is only one season. Another is coming soon, and we need to be prepared for it.

[1] These groups included Muslim ethnic minorities, such as Kurds and Berbers; Christian minorities, such as the Copts of Egypt, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Southern Sudanese; and, in Sudan, black Africans -- both Christian and Muslim minorities. In Iran, where 37% of the population is non-Persian, but includes the Kurds and Azeri, student movements were already in place.

Walid Phares, born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon, is a professor and lecturer in the U.S., and the author of six books, the most recent of which is: The Lost Spring: U.S. Policy in the Middle East and Catastrophes to Avoid.


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

White House Double Standards on Youth Death Outrage

by Ari Lieberman


On June 12, three unsuspecting Israeli teens, one of whom had U.S. citizenship, were kidnapped and cold-bloodedly murdered minutes later by two Arabs affiliated with the Hamas terrorist organization. Eighteen days later, their lifeless bodies were found partly buried in a field in southern Judea.

Three days after the kidnapping, Secretary of State John Kerry belatedly condemned the criminal action and referred to it as a “despicable terrorist act.” The Secretary however, qualified his statement and was careful not to point fingers and lay blame at any specific entity though it was abundantly clear that Hamas was culpable.

The White House’s response to the abduction was even more deplorable. There simply was none. Despite strong bipartisan congressional condemnation of the kidnapping, the President maintained his cold silence on the issue as if to convey his disdain for the Jewish State. The President’s posture stands in marked contrast to his reaction to the abduction of Nigerian school girls by the Boko Haram terrorist group when he expressed instant outrage.

As if to add insult to injury, the White House issued an immediate condemnation of the killing of an Arab youth, 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khdeir, in Jerusalem on July 2, calling it “heinous” while Kerry announced that, “There are no words to convey adequately our condolences to the Palestinian people.”

The obvious disparity and manner in which Obama chose to address the two incidents speaks volumes about the visceral dislike this President maintains for Israel. As Israel’s closest ally, one would have expected an immediate condemnation of the snatching of three teens and expression of sympathy and solidarity. Instead, Israel was treated to vacillation from the Secretary of State and stone-cold silence from the White House. It took Obama eighteen long days to break his silence on the matter and even then, the White House statement was accompanied by calls for “restraint” as if the issuance of a condemnation was an afterthought.

What is even more astounding is the fact that the motive for the killing of the Arab teen is uncertain and there is speculation that his murder may have been carried out by his own kinsmen. Israeli police are still investigating but there is some indication that the teen’s alleged sexual orientation may have been the motive for his killing by disapproving Muslims. A senior Israeli police official noted that the police are well acquainted with the teen’s family and would not discount the possibility that he was kidnapped and murdered by rival Arab clans, an all-too often occurrence in the Arab world.

Both theories – Arab murder where sexuality is the underlying factor or inter-Arab clan killing – are certainly equally if not more plausible than the so-called “revenge killing” theory, which posits that the killing was carried out in retaliation for the abduction and murder of the three Israeli youths. Arab clan killing is an everyday occurrence in the Mideast and there’s perhaps nothing that drives an Islamist crazier than the mere mention of homosexuality, except perhaps for the presence of Jews or “Crusaders” in “Muslim lands.”

“President” Abbas, the unelected Palestinian strongman, wishing to steal the narrative and deflect attention away from the murderous nature of his regime, immediately blamed “Israeli settlers” for the atrocity despite the fact that there is not a shred of evidence to support such a convoluted theory.

But to Abbas and his White House cronies, facts are irrelevant. Evidence is irrelevant. Investigations which point to a motive harmful to the Palestinian narrative are irrelevant.

Abbas’s reaction to the killing of Abu Khdeir is nothing if not predictable. His goal is to lie, cheat and obfuscate in an attempt to stoke the flames of hate and confuse an uninformed and naive Western audience. But the White House’s immediate condemnation, without adequately assessing the facts, represents the epitome of irresponsibility. It bolsters Abbas and leads to excited Arab street violence. A cynic would say that this is precisely what the White House desires. In fact, one need not be a cynic to draw this conclusion.

The administration’s underhanded attempts to foment unrest among West Bank Palestinians are not without precedent. In March 2010, the administration’s public condemnation and rebuke of Prime Minister Netanyahu over land development in consensus areas was the impetus behind scattered protests among Palestinians in East Jerusalem and other areas administered by Israel. Then again in November 2013, Kerry warned of Israel’s impending isolation and the prospect of Arab violence and unrest in Judea and Samaria if the “peace talks” failed and repeated those absurd assertions in the hope that those harmful statements against a loyal ally would materialize into a self-fulfilling prophecy. Indeed, following Kerry’s comments, a firebomb was lobbed by Arabs at a car carrying civilian passengers resulting in injury to its occupants.

The Palestinian on the street takes his que from the Palestinian leadership who in turn, take their que from the prevailing winds of Washington, which are invariably hostile to Israel these days. The disparate treatment and manner in which the administration handled – or rather mishandled – the kidnapping-murder of three innocent kids, simply because they were Jews and the alacrity of the administration’s condemnation of an Arab youth killed under mysterious and yet to be determined circumstances, speaks volumes about President Obama’s nefarious agenda when it comes to Israel, the Mideast’s only stable, vibrant and thriving democracy.

Ari Lieberman


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

Saudi Arabia Sends 30,000 Troops to Iraqi Border

by Ari Soffer

Fears of spreading instability as Saudi king orders military to take 'all necessary measures' against 'terrorists' from Iraq.

ISIS fighters parade in Raqqa, Syria
ISIS fighters parade in Raqqa, Syria
Saudi Arabia has deployed some 30,000 troops to its border with Iraq, after Iraqi forces abandoned their posts on their side of the border, according to reports.

The deployment comes as Saudi-owned news channel Al Arabiya aired an interview with an Iraqi border police officer, in which he testified that his forces had been given unexplained orders to abandon their posts, despite there not being any present danger to them. The officer expressed confusion as to why the orders had been ordered.

The gulf state's sizable deployment is yet another alarming sign that the rapid disintegration of the Iraqi state and accompanying sectarian warfare - spurred on by a Sunni rebellion led by the radical Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), which recently declared an "Islamic State" or "Caliphate" - is threatening to spread beyond that country.

ISIS has already taken over vast swathes of territory in Syria, amid the bloody civil war there, and Jordan has already deployed forces to its border with Iraq following threats by ISIS members to attack the Hashemite regime.

Israeli officials have also expressed their concern over potential threats to national security posed by ISIS's rapid expansion through Syria and Iraq, while Iran has reportedly sent an unspecified number of its own forces to Iraq to help Shia militias and government forces fight Sunni rebels.

And in Lebanon, an ISIS-linked faction recently claimed responsibility for a bombing in the capital Beirut, and pledged further attacks to in the future.

Saudi leader King Abdullah has ordered "all necessary measures" to his country's borders from "terrorist threats", according to state news agency SPA.

Ari Soffer


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

Iran Remains a Danger to the World

by Ronn Torossian

With the July 20 “deadline” for a nuclear agreement between Iran and the rest of the world, the world must remain strong on the dangers which Iran poses.  Despite the weakness of certain world leaders, Iran remains a vast danger.

Some important statements to remember:
  •  “Today the world has become a much more dangerous place because the most dangerous regime in the world has taken a significant step toward attaining the most dangerous weapon in the world.” Benjamin Netanyahu
  • “Iran continues to aggressively expand its nuclear program, and funnel troops and weapons into Syria.” David Meyers
  • Iran is Russia’s strategic ally, not ours. As a matter of fact, Iran is the exact opposite of a strategic ally to the United States of America. It has pledged itself to our destruction.” Christine O’Donnell
  • “Regime brutality against the majority Sunni population of Syria and intervention by foreign Shia forces (Iranian and Hezbollah) have attracted a far larger and more dangerous group of jihadis than ever existed in Afghanistan, one whose threat to European and American allies and interests keeps growing.” Elliott Abrams
  • “I would not negotiate with Iran, they are not our friends, they’ll try to use this as leverage to have a nuclear weapon.” John Barrasso
  • “The military intelligence sources I know look at the ISIL as a crucial threat to the whole region, including Israel, with its success encouraging jihadist and al-Qaida groups, including those facing us on the Syrian border.” Moshe Maoz
  •  “If there is one message that needs to be put out today, it is not to let Iran, on the sidelines of this conflict in Iraq, have nuclear weapons capability because sooner or later – and it’s sooner rather than later – they’ll have atomic bombs.” Binyamin Netanyahu
  • “Make no mistake, a nuclear Iran will make the world a more dangerous place.” Ted Poe
  • “We’re another step closer to a nuclear-1914 scenario in the Middle East or elsewhere. If we cannot say ‘no’ to Iran — a country, by the way, that’s repeatedly violated the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, international nuclear inspections and U.N. Security Council resolutions — then good luck getting countries who haven’t broken any rules, including some of America’s allies and partners, to refrain from getting enrichment and reprocessing or, perhaps eventually, nuclear weapons.” Robert Zarate
  • “If Iran acquires a nuclear weapon, the risk is unacceptable that that weapon will be detonated over the skies of Tel Aviv or New York or Los Angeles. And the result could be hundreds of thousands of lives lost.” Ted Cruz
  • “I see ISIS as a direct threat to the United States, they have the capacity, and I believe they have the intent. They have stated in, in terms of their opposition and the whole Western world.” John Barrasso
  • “Given the unfortunate results of these most recent negotiations, it is difficult to place much faith in such rosy scenarios — especially as the existential threat represented by a nuclear-armed Iran makes North Korea pale by comparison.” Ted Cruz
  • “It is the mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to erase Israel from the map of the region.” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
  • “I have thought many times that Iran isn’t merely the most dangerous terrorist nation on earth — it is the most dangerous nation on earth, period.” John G. Weldon
  • “The president’s view of the Iranians, I’m completely off-script with him there. That was so disappointing. The world is literally about to blow up and our president did not really paint a fair picture of the threats.” Sen. Lindsey Graham
  • “The United States must stand up and protect itself and its allies. Iran is already a threat to global world order and peace. It antagonizes Israel, trains terrorists, and wreaks havoc throughout the Middle East.” Ted Poe
  • “The theocracy that runs Iran is the equivalent of having al-Qaeda in charge of a country.” Rick Santorum
  • “Iran has a number of demands — reducing sanctions, getting the U.N. to back off nuclear inspections, ending democracy promotion efforts, minimizing Israel’s efforts to contain Iran-funded Hezbollah, and so forth.” Christine O’Donnell
  • “The prospect of Iran acquiring nuclear weapon capacity is the gravest national security threat we face, yet it appears that this ‘deal’ does not require Iran to dismantle even a single centrifuge or turn over even a single pound of enriched uranium.” Daniel Halper
  • “[If Iran acquires] nuclear weapons, I think we could have Armageddon.” Senator John McCain
  •  “If President Obama continues his failed policy, Iran will build a nuclear weapon, expand its support for international terror and continue to support the murder of innocent people in Syria, Israel, Europe and the United States.” David Meyers
  • “We’re now allowing Iran to keep all of its building blocks for a nuclear weapon because it promised to suspend its nuclear program for 6 months. Why are we trusting the word of a country with a history of terrorist-financing and an agenda to destroy Israel?” Ted Poe
  • “Unfortunately, even after a devastating conventional attack by Israel, Iran, potentially, could continue to remain the most dangerous nation on the planet — but not because of its copious history of murderous terrorist activities and trouble-making around the world ever since the Islamic revolution of 1979. It is because of what its leaders believe — in an ultimate sense — and what they expect to finally accomplish.” John G. Weldon
A nuclear Iran must be stopped.

Ronn Torossian is one of America’s most prolific and respected public relations experts. Torossian is the Founder, President and CEO of 5W Public Relations, one of the 25 largest independent American PR firms, which was named PR Agency of the Year by the American Business Awards.


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UK: Fundamentalist Fun and Games

by Samuel Westrop

Sahib Bleher and his Islamic Party of Britain [IPB], like many, seem happy to contradict themselves publicly -- possibly in the hope that where there is contradiction, there is uncertainty; and where there is uncertainty, there is room for fundamentalists to claim victimization at the hands of their supposedly "Islamophobic" critics, while at the same time reassuring their Islamist supporters that their dogma has not been cut back.

Most extremists probably do not, understandably, like to be accused of extremism. They might even find that in the eyes of the public simply denying the allegation is enough to offset all evidence to the contrary.

Denials, even if not necessarily sincere, can be successful, perhaps because so many people have been persuaded to regard religious extremists as victims of prejudice -- a view they rightly do not ascribe to political activists, such as members of neo-Nazi organizations.

Sahib Bleher, a spokesperson for the Islamic Party of Britain [IPB], for instance, claims that, "never and nowhere did the Islamic Party of Britain advocate the killing of homosexuals." The IPB's website, however, explicitly states that "Islam condemns and outlaws homosexuality. As far as Islamic law is concerned, the rules are that the state does not interfere in the privacy of people's homes, but it would need to safeguard public decency by preventing any public advocacy for homosexuality. Such activity would come under the heading of public incitement. The death penalty ... only applies to a public display of lewdness witnessed by several people."

This policy is also archived on Bleher's own website.

Further references to homosexuality found within the IPB's publications include mention of the "organized homosexual movement," in which homosexuals are compared to "thieves, murderers and adulterers" and described as "spiritually sick."

In addition, Bleher claims that the IPB does not wish "to transform Britain into an Islamic state." Again, the IPB's own publications demonstrate otherwise. In a piece published 1997, the IPB discusses how to turn Britain into an Islamic state, and laments "Muslim communities in the West ... neglect[ing] the political and the economic dimensions of Islam, reducing Islam to a merely cultural expression."

The Islamic Party of Britain is denying these allegations, despite the evidence still available on their website, possibly because they wish to gain the approval of the general public by portraying themselves as victims of a "witch-hunt."

It even appears that the current leader of the IPB, David Moses Pidcock, has in fact successfully requested Google to remove certain information about him from the results of its European search engine -- a request made possible because of a recent data protection ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union.

The Islamic Party of Britain is certainly not the only extremist group to use such methods. Leaders of the East London Mosque, for instance, recently tried to claim that their refusal to allow Muhammad ibn Adam Al-Kawthari to speak on their premises in February 2014 was an illustration of their uncompromising stand against extremism.

Al-Kawthari is a Deobandi preacher who calls for the stoning of adulterers, claims it is permissible for a husband to rape his wife, and tells Muslims to push Christians and Jews out of the way while walking in the street.

Although the Mosque claimed to have banned Al Kawthari from speaking, a note published on Al-Kawthari's Facebook page tells a different story. Al-Kawthari quotes a communication from the East London Mosque; it states: "The ELM has not banned Mufti Muhammad Ibn Adam Al-Kawthari. We have no issues with matters, as clearly defined in Islamic jurisprudence raised by the Mufti."

Al Kawthari added: "ELM management have assured me that some miscommunication may have taken place, and that they will do a press release very soon stating that I am not banned from speaking at their venue."

No such press release, however, has ever been sent out.

Muhammad ibn Adam Al-Kawthari calls for the stoning of adulterers, claims it is permissible for a husband to rape his wife, and tells Muslims to push Christians and Jews out of the way while walking in the street. (Image source: YouTube video screenshot)

Moreover, just a few months later, in May 2014, after publicly distancing themselves from Al-Kawthari and privately reassuring him of their support, representatives of the East London Mosque hosted a "six-week evening course" with Imam Fadel Soliman, an extremist Egyptian preacher who has called for the killing of American soldiers in Iraq. Soliman also claims that the punishment for "fornication" is "100 lashes" and supports the amputation of thieves' hands.

There are countless other examples of such goings-on. Imam Abdul Qayyum, for instance, the Chief Imam of the East London Mosque, has been accused of signing the Istanbul Declaration, which advocates attacks on British troops and Jewish communities across the world.

Qayyum is also part of the Joseph Interfaith Foundation, an inter-religious dialogue group the trustees of which recently included the British peer, Lord Ahmed, who, in 2012, while a trustee, was suspended from the Labour Party and has since resigned. He had claimed on Pakistani television that he was only jailed for dangerous driving in 2008 because of pressure on the courts from "Jews" who, he said, "own newspapers and TV channels."

Both Qayyum and the head of the Joseph Interfaith Foundation, Mehri Niknam, claim that Qayyum is not a signatory to the Istanbul Declaration -- even though his name clearly appears on the original Arabic document.

This hollow denial, in the face of evidence indicating otherwise, nevertheless appeared good enough for Mehri Niknam to dismiss the accusations as trumped up, and it has evidently been good enough for publicly-funded umbrella bodies such as the Inter Faith Network for the United Kingdom, of which Niknam's Joseph Interfaith Foundation is a leading member body.

Sahib Bleher and his Islamic Party of Britain, like many, seem happy to contradict themselves publicly -- possibly in the hope that where there is contradiction, there is uncertainty; and where there is uncertainty, there is room for fundamentalists to claim victimization at the hands of their allegedly "Islamophobic" critics, while at the same time reassuring their Islamist supporters that their dogma has not been cut back.

Samuel Westrop


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A Wash Post Blood Libel against Israel

by Leo Rennert

Over the centuries, Jews have been targeted with inciteful falsehoods that nurtured outbreaks of virulent anti-Semitism and pogroms.  Jews often have been pictured as bloody killers of innocent Gentiles.  Such libels have become all too familiar, including most recently in the pages of the Washington Post.

The latest example can be found in the July 2 edition, in an article by Jerusalem correspondent Ruth Eglash about the funerals of three Israeli teens kidnapped and murdered by two suspected Hamas fanatics (“Israelis gather to lay 3 slain teens to rest,” page A9).

In a foul attempt to inject equivalence of guilt between Israelis and Palestinians, Eglash writes in her third paragraph that “Israeli forces have arrested nearly 400 alleged terror operatives and killed at least five Palestinians during a more than two-week search” for the teens.

The clear impression is that on the lethal scorecard of spilled blood, it’s 3 Israelis and at least 5 Palestinians.

There isn’t a word to distinguish the grisly circumstances of three Jewish innocents from the brutal Palestinians who died during stone-throwing attacks and other violent tactics against Israelis.

All Eglash tells readers is that Israeli forces “killed at least five Palestinians.”  Were Israeli forces provoked or not?  Were they involved in life-threatening situations?  Or were they just trigger-happy for no good reason?  Eglash won’t tell us.  But she certainly opens the way for readers to think the worst of Israeli forces.  Especially since Eglash put them on a par with the Palestinian killers of the three Israeli teens.

The New York Times, also not sparing in its all too frequent use of anti-Israel poison pills, at least in this instance provides a modicum of context and circumstances that led to the killing of several Palestinians.

In its July 2 edition, Times correspondents Jodi Rudoren and Said Ghazali report that Israeli soldiers “killed six Palestinians who confronted them, the latest a wanted man who threw a grenade as they approached” (“A trail of Clues Leading to Victims and Heartbreak,” page A4).

The Times still may be downplaying the lethal ferocity of Palestinians tangling with Israeli security forces – as it euphemistically waters down the extent of Palestinian violence to merely “confronted them.”  But at least readers are informed that Israelis aren’t just shooting down Palestinians with no reason or provocation whatever, as Eglash does in the Post.  There is no mention by Eglash, for example, that one of the dead Palestinians was on a wanted terrorist list and resorted to throwing a grenade at Israeli troops.

All in all, another example of the Post’s ultra-critical coverage of Israelis and its much softer and apologetic coverage of Palestinians.

Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers.


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Funding 'Moderate' Syrian Opposition: the Wrong Choice

by Alex VanNess

The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), a Syrian opposition group that broke away from al-Qaeda and has seized large areas of Iraq and northern Syria, has announced a new caliphate and formally declared the creation of an Islamic state in the territory under its control.

Last week, the Obama administration sought Congress's authorization to train and equip Syrian rebels to the sum of $500 million dollars. This would also mean that the United States would knowingly be sending funds to al Qaeda and its affiliates.

The administration claims that the funds will only go to vetted "moderate" opposition fighters who are fighting both Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the radical extremists of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS).

So, in other words, the administration that was caught completely by surprise with ISIS's rise, believes that they are capable of determining who is and who isn't a "moderate" Syrian rebel.  Are they going to be required to undergo background checks, or at a minimum fill out a detailed questionnaire that they are not affiliated with al-Qaeda?

The only group the U.S. has backed so far was the Free Syrian Army (FSA), through training and the distribution of a limited amount of small arms and ammunition. However, while the FSA is not technically al-Qaeda, it consisted primarily of Islamists, including those with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and ISIS. Many FSA fighters have defected to groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra, an organization that has links to al-Qaeda. Recently, al-Nusra in Syria has sworn loyalty to ISIS.

The Obama administration is under the mistaken impression that there are secular Syrian rebels. All of the rebel groups infuse Shariah law into the territories they control. As ISIS racks up military successes, they have also engaged in an extensive social media campaigns to recruit new jihadi's.  ISIS has even engaged in cat memes as a way to recruit members.  Countless recruits are joining the jihadist ranks of ISIS from around the world.

Many of the 'moderate' FSA fighters, which the U.S. has funded, have defected to al-Qaeda affiliates. With the active and growing social media recruitment by ISIS, there is no telling who will be fighting America tomorrow. 

Meanwhile in Washington, D.C., residents who seek to possess a firearm must register with the police, undergo a National Crime Information Center (NCIC) background check, provide photographs, and submit to fingerprinting.

Will Syrian rebels undergo the extensive and stringent background checks that D.C. residents undergo? 

It is unlikely the administration will be able to determine who the moderates are in Syria, if there are any. Additionally, even if the administration were able to find 'moderate' forces, what type of standards will be set up to screen them?  How can they be sure they won't defect to al-Qaeda and ISIS with their new American military gear?

It would be a tragic error to assume that funding and equipment for Syrian rebels will not fall into the hands of defectors seeking to join extremist groups.

Even with extensive background check, we are still unable to stop criminals from getting weapons here in America. By providing arms to Syrian rebels, weapons are guaranteed to go to Islamists who swear allegiance to al-Qaeda and ISISs, effectively making it easier to get an American-made weapon as a member of al-Qaeda, than as a U.S. citizen living in Washington, DC.

Alex VanNess is the Manager of Public Information for the Center for Security Policy. Prior to coming to the Center, Mr. VanNess worked as an Intern for Congressman Doug Lamborn and then later as a member of staff for Congressman Tom McClintock of California. Alex holds a degree in Political Science from Wayne State University in Detroit, and has pursued the study of Jewish Law and Philosophy at ShorYoshuv Rabbinical College in New York.


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