Friday, December 12, 2014

An Arab Prince Denounces Islamism - Daniel Pipes

by Daniel Pipes

In a remarkable but thus-far unnoticed address on Dec. 5, Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, the crown prince of Bahrain (an island kingdom in the Persian Gulf and home to the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet), candidly analyzed the Islamist enemy and suggested important ways to fight it.

Bahrain's Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa on Dec. 5, discussing the enemy's identity.

He has much to teach Westerners (starting with his hapless UK counterpart, Crown Prince Charles), if only we would listen. Yes, some Western leaders speak about confronting the Islamist ideology, but the majority avoids this issue by resorting to euphemism, obfuscation, and cowardice. Most frustrating are those leaders (like Tony Blair) who deliver powerful speeches without follow-through.

Tony Blair gave fine speeches on Islamism as British prime minister but did not followed up on them.

Prince Salman, 45 and widely acknowledged to be the Bahraini royal family's principal reformer, opens his remarks by addressing the inaccuracy of the phrase, "War on Terror." The time has come, he says "for us to get rid of" a term that dates back to 9/11. "It is a bit misleading, it is not the entirety and the totality of our conflict" but merely a "tool" and a tactic.

He goes on in flawless English to place the current conflict in historical context: "If I think back in the last century, we faced a very different foe. We faced communism and we faced it together. But when we faced communism we understood it as an ideology. Terrorism is not an ideology."

He notes that "we are not only fighting terrorists, we are fighting theocrats." As Salman uses this term, theocrats are men "placed at the top of a religious ideology who [have] the power by religious edict to strip someone … of their hereafter – and use [religious power] for political gains." They are also tyrants, isolationists, and misogynists who will need to be fought "for a very long time." He scorns them for being "very much like the seventeenth century" and having "no place in our modern twenty-first" century.

He urges us "to discard the term 'War on Terror' and focus instead on the real threat, which is the rise of these evil theocracies"; to this end, he proposes to replace "War on Terror" with his formulation: a "War on Theocrats." This concept, he hopes, will make it possible to "start to put together the military, social, and political – and maybe even economic – policies in a holistic manner to counter this, as we did with communism." In perhaps the outstanding line of the speech, he states that "it is the ideology itself that must be combatted. It must be named, it must be shamed, it must be contained, and eventually it must be defeated."

So far, perfect. But Salman avoids the bitter reality that the "twisted" and "barbaric" ideology he describes is specifically Islamic and the theocrats are all Muslim: "this war that we are engaged in cannot be against Islam, … Christianity, … Judaism, … Buddhism." So, when naming this ideology, Salman dithers and generalizes. He proffers an inept neologism ("theo-crism"), then harkens back to World War II for "fascist theocracy." He implicitly rejects "Islamism," saying he does not want a "debate about certain political parties, whether they're Islamist or not."

I submit that Islamism is precisely the term he seeks for the enemy ideology; and we are engaged in a "War on Islamism." Salman understands the problem well –the transformation of Islam into a totalitarian ideology. But he seeks refuge in the pretense that Christianity, Judaism, and Buddhism all share this affliction. Better that he – and other forthright Muslims – accept the ineluctable reality that Islam alone contains a totalitarian temptation.

On the positive side, Salman's remarks fit into a growing trend among Muslim politicians directly to confront the Islamist danger. Two recent examples:
  • In an important conceptual breakthrough, the nearby United Arab Emirates government has placed the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and many other non-violent groups on its terrorism list on the grounds that they engage in incitement, funding, and the other precursors of terrorism.
  • The government of Egypt issued an INTERPOL arrest bulletin for Yusuf al-Qaradawi, 88, the hugely influential spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, for "incitement and assistance to commit intentional murder, helping … prisoners to escape, arson, vandalism and theft."

The Egyptian government put out an arrest warrant for the Muslim Brotherhood's deep thinker, Yusuf al-Qaradawi.

This new tendency has great importance. As I often say, radical Islam is the problem and moderate Islam is the solution. Now, we may add another influential leader, indeed a crown prince, to the ranks of those Muslims who wish to find a solution. 

Daniel Pipes ( is president of the Middle East Forum. © 2014 by Daniel Pipes. All rights reserved.


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

E-mails Reveal Obama’s Morality Police Are Targeting Lawful Businesses - Selwyn Duke

by Selwyn Duke

Internal FDIC documents confirm that Operation Choke Point is an extraordinary abuse of government power. In the most egregious cases, federal bureaucrats injected personal moral judgments into the regulatory process. Such practices are totally inconsistent with basic principles of good government, transparency and the rule of law.

It’s an example, in essence, of legislating from the bureaucratic cubicle. A House committee has discovered e-mails showing that officials at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation schemed to destroy lawful businesses they found morally objectionable.

The vehicle through which this is done is Operation Choke Point; this is an Obama administration effort ostensibly designed to “choke off” access to the U.S. financial system to illegal operations, but it’s also being applied to those certain ideologues personally dislike. Its primary target is the short-term lending industry, but its other victims include entities such as firearms and ammunition merchants, home-based charities, coin dealers, and purveyors of pharmaceutical drugs — lawful enterprises all.

The e-mails were revealed by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee (HOGRC), which released a 20-page investigative report on Monday explaining how the FDIC worked hand-in-glove with the Department of Justice to implement Operation Choke Point. The Daily Signal’s Kelsey Harkness provides some details:

Emails unearthed by investigators show regulatory officials scheming to influence banks’ decisions on who to do business with by labeling certain industries “reputational risks,” ensuring banks “get the message” about the businesses the regulators don’t like, and pressuring banks to cut credit or close those accounts, effectively driving enterprises out of business.
The House panel’s investigation, led by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, cites confidential briefing documents that show senior Justice Department officials informing Attorney General Eric Holder that, as a consequence of Operation Choke Point, banks are “exiting” lines of business deemed “high risk’” by regulators.
“It’s appalling that our government is working around the law to vindictively attack businesses they find objectionable,” Issa, chairman of the Oversight Committee, said in a press release.

Reflective of this is an e-mail Thomas Dujenski, FDIC’s Atlanta regional director, sent to Mark Pearce, director of the Division of Depositor and Consumer Protection. Dujenski wrote, “I have never said this to you (but I am sincerely passionate about this) ... but I literally cannot stand pay day lending.... I had extensive involvement with this group of lenders and was instrumental in drafting guidance on stopping abuses.”

Dujenski also injected his own moral judgment into the matter, calling pay-day lenders “fundamentally wrong.”

Addressing this mentality, Congressman Issa wrote in a press release:

Internal FDIC documents confirm that Operation Choke Point is an extraordinary abuse of government power. In the most egregious cases, federal bureaucrats injected personal moral judgments into the regulatory process. Such practices are totally inconsistent with basic principles of good government, transparency and the rule of law.

No doubt. If a given business is so immoral and destructive that prohibiting it via government action is warranted, it is a judgment for the people to make through their elected representatives — and on the state level, where such action is constitutional. This has been done before; child pornography and dangerous recreational drugs are two examples. But it’s not the place of bureaucrats to do an end run around the people and, in essence, legislate by way of bureaucratic fiat. This subordinates the will of 320 million to that of a small cabal of unelected puppeteers.

Targeting the Second Amendment

Of particular concern to many is the use to Operation Choke Point to destroy firearms dealers. Gun control has become increasingly unpopular in recent decades, making anti-Second Amendment legislation politically untenable. Its proponents have consequently turned to tactics beyond the ballot box, such as using the judicial system and suing firearms manufacturers and, now, using the bureaucratic system to regulate its retailers into oblivion. As the Blaze wrote of the HOGRC’s findings:

In the case of gun dealers, Issa’s committee found that the FDIC in some cases reached “memorandums of understanding” with banks that explicitly prohibited them from dealing with these companies.
“MOUs between supervised banks and FDIC Regional Offices, as well as bank policies submitted pursuant to FDIC Consent Orders, variously ‘prohibit’ payment processing for firearms merchants, characterize loans to firearms dealers as ‘undesirable,’ and generally subject firearms and ammunitions merchants to significantly higher due diligence standards,” it said.

And this scheming has already squeezed businesses. The Daily Signal’s Harkness presented a prime example back in August:

With no explanation, Brian Brookman last month lost the bank account for his pawn shop.
He had no idea why. Brookman says his store in Grand Haven, Mich., never had been in trouble with federal or state officials. And being in the pawn industry, he was required by law to get a city license every year.
“If there was ever a problem, they wouldn’t renew my license,” Brookman, a former police officer and Army veteran, told The Daily Signal.
After researching his case on the Internet, Brookman says he concluded that his banker, JP Morgan Chase, closed the account because two of his business activities — dealing in vintage coins and selling firearms — were labeled “high risk” by federal bureaucrats as part of an Obama administration initiative called Operation Choke Point.

Harkness also provided three other examples of choked businesses (quotations are hers):

• Secure Account Services, LLC, Lake Havasu City, Ariz. — “has been on the verge of collapse twice in the past year” because of Operation Choke Hold.

• Cash Express, Las Vegas, Nev. — owner and cancer survivor Sandra Perry “couldn’t find a local bank to serve her business” and “future regulation leaves the viability of her business in limbo.”

• Powderhorn Outfitters, Hyannis, Mass. — proprietor Mark Cohen “says his bank manager of more than 20 years told him: ‘I’m very sorry to say this — I’m very embarrassed — but the bank won’t lend you money because you sell guns.’”

Perhaps now it’s clear why one congressman called Operation Choke Hold “more dangerous” than the IRS scandal. That official is Representative Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.), who earlier this year filed a bill that seeks, as he wrote in a press release, “to put an end to government attempts to shut down entire portions of the private sector based on what it deems to be morally unacceptable.” “I believe this activity is probably more dangerous and more disastrous than that of the IRS scandal because this is running people out of business for no reason and it’s harming livelihoods, incomes [and] families,” he told the Daily Signal in a November interview.

Yet even this may understate the danger. If the precedent that bureaucrats may apply their own values and whims in determining who should be allowed to engage in commerce is accepted, would it really end with firearms and coin dealers or short-term lenders? What’s to stop future morality police from targeting those selling books and other items relating to Christianity or other politically incorrect products? What’s to prevent imperious bureaucrats from targeting any group finding itself on the wrong side of political fashions?

Some may say this is far-fetched, that our Constitution forbids it. But note that DOJ and FDIC bureaucrats are already acting extra-constitutionally. And once this practice is accepted, the only thing limiting how far they’ll go are personal biases and the political winds.

Selwyn Duke


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

Arab Culture & the Arab-Israeli Conflict - Mordechai Nissan

by Mordechai Nissan

It is Arab culture in particular, atavistic and organic, encased in the old binding from its historical origin, which must be addressed in order to better explore the intractability of the long Arab-Israeli rivalry

acThe multi-faceted essence of the Arab-Israeli conflict and Israeli-Palestinian war is territorial, political, ideological, and religious – a convulsive confrontation between the mutually exclusive claims of Judaism and Islam.

But a fifth dimension of the conflict is culture – popular culture – embodied in a code of identity that differentiates one human community from another.

Culture is not negotiable or alterable: it is the texture of the life people live, and the local rhythm of things they know from their earliest memories. It is an inbred code of behavior and, as for all peoples, precedes and precludes morality, thought, and judgment.

The reason why the cultural component of the conflict is ignored stems from the fact that in order to appreciate a culture, you basically have to know it from the inside; and outsiders, non-Arabs, are ignorant of Arab culture, and haughtily assume that it has no value.

Add to this obstacle the fact that a native always behaves differently when he is with a foreigner than with a fellow-native. Surface-like conversations between people from different cultures can reveal very little. To call the Arabs rhetorically flexible is a kind way to infer their masterful command of deception.

It is Arab culture in particular, atavistic and organic, encased in the old binding from its historical origin, which must be addressed in order to better explore the intractability of the long Arab-Israeli rivalry

1) Arab culture is a family-clan-national social reality. An Arab owes absolute and blind loyalty to the group of his birth. He belongs to family and village, as a Bedouin belongs to his tribe. You can’t change your tribe, and you don’t change your family; and no other social framework demands more adhesion than blood relations. It follows from this premise that the Arab mistrusts outsiders. For the Arabs, the Israelis are the ‘others’, suspected of manipulation and treachery, and a permanent adversary and enemy, as taught in the Arabic Koran.

2) For the Arabs, language reflects culture in a way that prevents it being a vehicle for direct and clear communication. Words are used to impress, deflect intentions, disarm interlocutors, confuse listeners, and offer promises never to be fulfilled. The cultural subtext in discussions and negotiations with Arabs is often garnished in polite commitments and even written agreements. But there is little conviction to adhere to the summary accord because the culture code calls for gingerly saying what the other wants to hear; then agreeing to an appointment never to be kept, or promising a phone call that will never come. The Israelis were enthused that the Palestinians moved toward peace in the Oslo Accord, but it was followed by blood and murder, not reconciliation and brotherhood.

3) For the Arabs, the past defines the present because history is the anchor for all aspects of identity and aspirations. There is a mythological fascination with ancestors – as for the contemporary Salifiyya movement – combined with an axiomatic belief that sees the future as necessarily emerging from and even repeating the glorious Arab past. This contributes to an iron-will and patience until victory is assured. For the Arabs — Israel beware — never forget any perceived ill act against them. The early Islamic days of conquest and caliphate will be renewed, even if the shift in power takes forever.

4) Arab self-consciousness, spared any identity crisis, provides a psychological foundation for imposing the collective will upon others. To be a Muslim and an Arab, as Allah’s chosen people, launches the Arab on a path of self-justification, whose flip-side is to blame the non-Arabs for all Arab misfortunes and failures. Israel is always excoriated for crimes of aggression and violence. The composed Arab never doubts that justice is on his side: he can do no wrong. Thus, all the Arab-Israeli wars since 1948 are blamed on Israel. Considering that self-criticism is an ancient Jewish practice, Arab self-justification creates an imbalanced ethical equation that demoralizes the Jews while radicalizing the Arabs. In short, the Arabs seek victory, not peace.

5) Islamic truth claims, as in Koranic deviations from Biblical narratives, do not require proof or evidence, or even common sense validity. The Arabs are not perturbed by the lack of facts; their discourse is internal and self-enclosed, as reality is in their mind and not in the external objective world. The Arab mind-set inhabits a world of entrenched fantasy or diabolical conspiracy theories. Note the revelatory comment by Anwar Sadat that ‘all life is play-acting’. He was one to know. In 1993 Arafat demonstrated his theatrical adeptness at the Oslo signing ceremony at the White House.


It is essential to unlock the Arab culture code, and cease viewing the Middle East through a Western prism that leads only to delusion, disdain, and a host of ill-consequences and dashed hopes.

Dr. Mordechai Nisan writes and lectures on Israel and the Middle East. His most recent book Only Israel West of the River is available at and


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

State Department stonewalling AP on release of Hillary records - Thomas Lifson

by Thomas Lifson

The State Department denied the AP's requests, and rejected the AP's subsequent appeals, to release the records sought quickly under a provision in the law reserved for journalists requesting federal records about especially newsworthy topics.

The Associated Press is going public with its frustration over the State Department’s failure to release public records of Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state.  Stephen Braun of the AP writes:
The State Department has failed to turn over government documents covering Hillary Rodham Clinton's tenure as secretary of state that The Associated Press and others requested under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act ahead of her presumptive presidential campaign. They include one request AP made four years ago and others pending for more than one year.
The agency already has missed deadlines it set for itself to turn over the material.
The State Department denied the AP's requests, and rejected the AP's subsequent appeals, to release the records sought quickly under a provision in the law reserved for journalists requesting federal records about especially newsworthy topics.
I guess the status of Mrs. Clinton as the presumptive Democrat nominee for president doesn’t qualify her activities as “newsworthy” in the eyes of the striped pants brigade.  The AP is not the only group complaining of secrecy by what are laughably sometimes called our “public servants” at State.
 On Wednesday, the conservative political advocacy group Citizens United sued the State Department for failing to disclose flight records showing who accompanied Clinton on overseas trips.
Citizens United, which in 2009 mounted a legal battle that led to the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning campaign finance limits, said the department unlawfully was withholding the records it sought nearly five months ago.
Once again, the “most transparent administration in history” is doing everything it can to cover its tracks.  We are expected to vote on Hillary Clinton’s candidacy based on not on the facts of her stewardship of American diplomacy, but on dreck like this:

Thomas Lifson


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

Iran and US Fighting On Same Side Rattles Israeli Defense Officials - Yaakov Lappin

by Yaakov Lappin

As this covert, high-stakes struggle continues to rage against the background of Iran's creeping nuclear program, a growing number of Israeli defense officials are expressing concern that the Obama administration may be willing to cooperate with Iran and its radical Shi'ite allies in the war against the Islamic State.

Confirmation that Iran has joined the air campaign against Islamic State (IS) terrorists in Syria won muted praise from U.S. officials last week. And that development has increased anxiety among Israeli defense officials that budding cooperation between Tehran and Washington will lead to dangerous comprises about Iran's nuclear program and inadequate action confronting the Islamic Republic's global terrorist network.

The biggest threat from that network lies just over Israel's northern border in Lebanon.

On Sunday, according to international media reports, Israeli Air Force jets bombed targets in and around Damascus. The strikes likely targeted advanced weapons that were destined for Hizballah depots in southern Lebanon, often hidden in apartment buildings in Shi'ite villages.

With more than 100,000 rockets and missiles, Hizballah has the largest arsenal of any terrorist organization in the world, and its heavy involvement in the Syrian civil war on behalf of dictator Bashar al-Assad's regime is giving it plenty of experience in ground warfare.

Israel did not confirm any involvement in the recent air strikes, but it is deeply involved in a covert war against an international Iranian-led weapons smuggling network that is designed to provide Hizballah and other radical terror entities around the Middle East with an array of sophisticated arms.

This network is run by Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps' Quds Force, which oversees the smuggling of powerful weapons to Hizballah in Lebanon, often via Syria. The Iranian network also attempts to send arms to Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza, to radical Shi'ite militias in Iraq that fight the Islamic State, and to Shi'ite Houthi rebels that have taken over Yemen's capital.

Iran's Quds Force and Hizballah, both backers of the Assad regime, have set up terrorism sleeper cells around the Middle East and beyond, according to Israeli intelligence assessments. Some of these cells are routinely activated and ordered to strike Israeli and Jewish targets.

Israeli intelligence agencies quietly work to stop the planned attacks, any one of which, if successful, could spark a wider regional conflict.

Meanwhile, Tehran continues to pursue a nuclear program and develop ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

According to international media reports, Israel targeted shipments of Hizballah-bound weapons in Syria five times in 2013, and once in Lebanon in 2014. This has led Hizballah to retaliate by planting two bombs on the Israeli-Lebanese border.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon appeared to hint at Israel's role in the latest Syria strikes, by saying that "those who seek to arm Israel's enemies will know that we can reach anywhere, at any time, and through any means to thwart their plans."

As this covert, high-stakes struggle continues to rage against the background of Iran's creeping nuclear program, a growing number of Israeli defense officials are expressing concern that the Obama administration may be willing to cooperate with Iran and its radical Shi'ite allies in the war against the Islamic State.

The officials stress the flourishing defense ties between Israel and the U.S., which are absolutely vital for Israeli security, and express gratitude for continuous American defense assistance.

However, some have become highly critical of the way the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State sees Iran as a de facto member.

Israeli defense officials wonder out loud whether the West, led by the U.S., is falling into a dangerous trap, by teaming up with the radical Shi'ite axis in the Middle East.

To be sure, no one within the Israeli defense establishment doubts the need to tackle the Sunni Islamic State. Israel is quietly providing any assistance necessary to the anti-ISIL coalition.

Yet it is the prospect of tactical cooperation between the U.S. and Iran against IS, and the danger that the cooperation could lead to Western concessions to Iran over its nuclear program that haunts some.

The failure by Washington to take tangible steps against Iran's global terrorism network is also a source of concern. This network is growing in Syria, along with Iran's presence there, and over the past 12 months, all of the cross-border terror attacks launched from Syria into northern Israel have been the work of elements linked to either Hezbollah or Iran, one senior military official has said.

These worries seem to be bolstered by comments like those recently made by Secretary of State John Kerry, who welcomed Iranian air strikes on Islamic State positions in Iraq, describing them as "positive."

Unlike the Islamic State, the Shi'ite radical axis enjoys state sponsorship from an Islamic Republic that is three to six months away from nuclear weapons.

This situation makes it a more urgent problem for global security, and would seem to justify a stance that views both radical Sunnis and radical Shi'ites as threats to international peace.

Driven by an extremist religious-ideological doctrine, the Iranian-led axis views moderate Sunni governments which partner with the West – like Egypt and Jordan – as enemies, seeks to push American influence out of the Middle East, and promotes the idea of Iranian hegemony as a first step to establishing eventual Iranian global dominance.

Iran views itself as the authentic Islamic caliphate, and seeks to export its influence as far as possible. Eventually, it would like to fuel conflict across the region through its proxies under a nuclear umbrella.

"The success of the Iranian revolution influences to this day the ambition for an Islamic caliphate," Ya'alon said this month, in an attempt to illustrate the imminent danger posed by Iran's role in the world.
Disappointment in Israel has been expressed over what one official said was the West's "support" for radical Shi'ites, and its willingness to ignore Iranian threats.

Israeli officials, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have expressed concern about the U.S. agreeing to a "bad deal" with Iran over its nuclear program since talks started. Thus far, those fears have not yet been realized.

The Tel Aviv-based Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center published a report last week that explicitly warned about Iranian-American cooperation against IS, which it said could occur at Israel's expense.

"Despite Iran's basic hostility towards the United States, and despite Iran's subversion of American interests in the Middle East, it might collaborate with the United States against ISIS and the global jihad in Syria and Iraq, the common enemy," the report said. "Such collaboration might occur at Israel's expense and harm its vital interests (for example, Iran's concessions on the nuclear issue). In addition, collaborating against ISIS might increase Iranian influence in Syria and Iraq, and might also strengthen Hizballah's status in Lebanon, possibly strengthening the Iranian-led radical camp in the Middle East."

The report is another signal of concerns in Jerusalem that Washington's war on IS could lead it to make concessions to Tehran on a nuclear program.

Such an outcome would entrench and legitimize Iran's position as a state on the threshold of nuclear arms possession, an outcome that, in Jerusalem's eyes, would jeopardize both regional and international security to an unacceptable degree.

Yaakov Lappin is the Jerusalem Post's military and national security affairs correspondent, and author of The Virtual Caliphate (Potomac Books), which proposes that jihadis on the internet have established a virtual Islamist state.


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

Will Sweden Soon Reverse Recognition of Palestine as a State? - Peter Martino

by Peter Martino

As many Swedes have grown sick and tired of a political elite giving in to Islamic demands, it is generally expected that the anti-immigration party, the Sweden Democrats, will do well in the next elections.
It takes some time before voters realize what is going on, but in the end, they invariably do.

Last week, after having been in office for exactly two months and one day, Sweden's government collapsed. Apart from the Palestinians, hardly anyone will regret the fall of Prime Minister Stefan Löfven's government. The only thing Löfven's cabinet will be remembered for is its slamming of Israel by recognizing the Palestinian state.

Following last September's general elections, Mr. Löfven, a Social-Democrat, formed a minority government of the Social-Democrats and the Greens. Immediately after its formation, the Red-Green minority coalition recognized "Palestine."

During the past decades, the arrival of thousands of radical Islamic immigrants has led to a rise of anti-Semitism in Sweden. The immigrants, having acquired Swedish citizenship, are catered to by Sweden's leftist parties. Prominent Social-Democrats denounce Zionism as racism and declare that ISIS is being trained by the Mossad. Mr. Löfven's Green Minister for Urban Development has even advocated the "liberation of Jerusalem" from Israel.

Once it had recognized "Palestine" as a state, the Löfven government turned to the urgent matter of Sweden's 2015 budget. Unable to reach an agreement on the budget, the government collapsed and announced new general elections for next March. As many Swedes have grown sick and tired of a political elite giving in to Islamic demands, it is generally expected that the country's anti-immigration party, the Sweden Democrats [SD], will do very well in the next elections.

The Sweden Democrats are one of Sweden's youngest parties. They entered Parliament for the first time in 2010 with 5.7% of the vote. Last September, SD became Sweden's third party with 12.9% of the vote. The SD want to stop immigration and turn the tide of Islamization. Although the party was founded in 1988 by neo-Nazis, it was taken over at the beginning of this century by a group of Conservative students. In 2005, the then 26-year old Jimmy Åkesson became party leader. Mr. Åkesson reformed the party and ousted everyone with racist, fascist or neo-Nazi sympathies. Under his charismatic leadership, the SD have continuously gained in the polls.

The public face of the Sweden Democrats is charismatic party leader Jimmy Åkesson (right).

The party might well end up after the elections as the kingmaker of Swedish politics -- a party whose support will be needed by both the Left and the Right if they want to be able to form a government. As the leftist parties will in all likelihood not be prepared to team up with a party that aims to restrict immigration, Sweden's next government will probably be a Conservative minority coalition with SD support. In return for its support, the SD could demand tougher immigration policies and perhaps also the reversal of the recognition of Palestine as a state.

There are, however, a few problems that could cause trouble for the Sweden Democrats. The past nine years have taken their toll on the party's young leader. Mr. Åkesson, suffering from burnout, fell ill after last September's general elections and has not yet fully recovered. No one knows when he will resume his functions. Unfortunately, as is the situation with similar parties elsewhere, Mr. Åkesson is the only SD politician who is known across the country. He is the face of SD in the same way that the indomitable Nigel Farage is the face of the United Kingdom Independence Party [UKIP] in Britain.

The other SD politicians tend to be rather parochial. One of the few exceptions is Kent Ekeroth, a member of the Swedish Parliament and the SD politician responsible for the party's foreign contacts. Ekeroth is Jewish, and a staunch defender of Israel and an opponent of the recognition of Palestine. Last summer, however, when Mr. Ekeroth had the opportunity to hire a renowned European Conservative, with many international contacts on both sides of the Atlantic, as an advisor for the SD group in the European Parliament, mediocre elements thwarted the effort.

Another looming danger is that some within the party might be tempted to soften the party line in order to become "more acceptable" to the traditional parties on the right -- as happened within the Danish People's Party [DF] in Denmark. This anti-immigration party used to be extremely critical of Islam. The DF became the power broker in Denmark, and supported a number of conservative minority governments. The establishment parties on the right, however, never allowed the DF to become a full member of any government coalition. There are indications that the new party leadership has embarked on a policy aiming to direct the party towards the center.

In the European Parliament, the Danish People's Party used to be part of an international alliance with Britain's UKIP. Last June, it left the group around UKIP to join an alliance around the British Conservative Party. This alliance, led by the British Member of the European Parliament Syed Kamall, favors the admission of Turkey to the European Union -- a policy that the DF have so far vehemently opposed. The group is even affiliated with the Islamic AK Party of Turkey. As group leader Syed Kamall, a Muslim, said: "the Danish People's Party is on a political journey."

Unfortunately, political parties sometimes seem to take their electorate for granted, embarking on "political journeys" that their voters do not want. It takes some time before voters realize what is going on, but in the end, they invariably do.

Peter Martino


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

An Ominous Omnibus - Matthew Vadum

by Matthew Vadum

“Importantly, the bill does nothing to block President Obama’s unilateral, unlawful actions which include granting quasi-legal status, work permits and Social Security numbers to those who are in the country illegally,” said Heritage Action for America spokesman Dan Holler.

boehner-mcconnellA mammoth spending bill aimed at preventing a repeat of the last government shutdown is coming under heavy fire from conservative groups for green-lighting President Obama’s executive immigration amnesty and continuing to fund Obamacare.

Republicans in Congress are inexplicably rushing through a catch-all $1 trillion-plus spending bill to prevent the government from running out of money at midnight tonight. The measure, which would keep the government funded through the end of the federal fiscal year (Sept. 30, 2015), is being called a cromnibus, which is a portmanteau of CR, as in continuing resolution, and omnibus, as in omnibus legislation.

The measure contains hundreds of policy provisions including a new prohibition on the legalization of marijuana in the District of Columbia and new funding to combat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the Ebola virus in West Africa. It would continue funding two wildly unpopular Obama initiatives, Obamacare and President Obama’s extra-legal immigration amnesty. The Department of Homeland Security would be funded only for a few months, allowing lawmakers to delay a fight over amnesty until springtime.

“Importantly, the bill does nothing to block President Obama’s unilateral, unlawful actions which include granting quasi-legal status, work permits and Social Security numbers to those who are in the country illegally,” said Heritage Action for America spokesman Dan Holler.

“I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised that it’s taken the Republicans all of 35 days to drop that ball in spectacularly disappointing fashion,” Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of Tea Party Patriots said in a statement. “Make no mistake, this bill DOES fund Obama’s executive amnesty, and so much more.”

The measure makes sure that illegal aliens benefiting from Obama’s amnesty receive Social Security benefits and spends almost $1 billion to help illegals integrate into communities across the country. It also blows apart the budgetary ceilings agreed upon by House Budget Committee Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) and Senate Budget Committee chairman Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.).

There is, of course, no reason for Republicans to pass in a frenzied rush an all-encompassing bill funding almost all of the federal government. They could easily draft a stopgap spending bill to carry them over to January when Republicans will control both chambers of Congress and have greater bargaining power in negotiations with President Obama.

But conservative critics say House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have ulterior motives. Using the boogeyman of an impending government shutdown to keep lawmakers in line, the GOP leadership has been generating a false sense of urgency in order to get the omnibus legislation through. Boehner and McConnell, they say, have no intention of repealing Obamacare, so they are kicking the can into 2015.

Most elected Republicans still seem blissfully unaware that the the last shutdown in October 2013 was an unmitigated public relations success for Republicans even though it might not have felt that way at the time. Setting aside the relentless media propaganda that falsely painted the shutdown as a massive Democratic tactical victory, the episode sent the unmistakable message that GOPers were champions of freedom of choice in health care.

The shutdown boosted GOP public approval numbers all the way through the election this month, helped to revive the fight against Obamacare as millions of Americans were having their health insurance policies abruptly canceled, and helped to set the stage for the Republicans’ historic trouncing of the Democrats in congressional elections. The shutdown was an extended, cost-free infomercial for the GOP that reminded Americans that Republicans were on their side on an issue that mattered to them. In other words, it derailed what had seemed like an unstoppable leftist narrative that the always-unpopular Obamacare was a done deal and that resistance to it was futile.

Those gun-shy Republicans who oppose a government shutdown at all costs are never quite able to explain why, if the shutdown was so bad for the GOP, Republicans are now on the march. On Nov. 4 the GOP flipped control of the 100-seat U.S. Senate, winning 54 seats. The House GOP increased its majority, winning at least 246 out of 435 seats.

Opposition to the spending measure has grown steadily since the bill was unveiled Tuesday night but Republican leadership in the House says it is confident it can get the bill passed.

Meanwhile, 10 grassroots conservative groups have signed a letter demanding that Boehner and McConnell be removed from their posts for collaborating with the president on amnestying 5 million illegal aliens.

William Gheen, president of Americans for Legal Immigration, said the pending bill betrays the values held by more than 70 percent of the people who cast ballots in the congressional elections last month.

“They’re mocking the public, and it’s a huge deception. We can’t allow that deception to prevail. What we need right now is, we need the phones ringing off the hook,” said Gheen. “Word in D.C. is Boehner is hell-bent on getting his plan through to help Obama with the budget, and American citizens out there now have less than 48 hours to respond and take action to change that.”

“Christmas has come early for the big spenders in Congress who have been experiencing long-term withdrawal from the earmark ban,” said Andy Roth, vice president of government affairs at the Club for Growth (a group that did not sign the letter). “This 1,603-page bill provides a ‘fix’ for these jonesing politicians who carry water for their special interest buddies.”

A final vote on the spending legislation could come today.

Members of organized labor have come out against the bill. Teamsters Union president Jimmy Hoffa Jr. railed against the measure because it “will slash the pensions of thousands of retirees who worked years for a pension that they thought would provide them financial security in their retirement years. That promise is now busted.”

“To add insult to injury, this Omnibus bill compromises highway safety by rolling back Hours-of-Service regulations, allowing truck drivers to work more than 80 hours per week – twice the normal 40-hour work week,” Hoffa added.

Yesterday House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi expressed reservations about the measure. “Once more, Republicans are working to stack the deck for the special interests against everyone else,” Pelosi said. She continued:
Buried in the more than 1,600 pages of the omnibus package Republicans posted in the dead of night are provisions to put hard-working taxpayers back on the hook for Wall Street’s riskiest behavior. This provision, allowing big banks to gamble with money insured by the FDIC, opens the door to another taxpayer-funded bailout of big banks – forcing middle class families to bear the burden of Wall Street’s mistakes.
Even Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), normally a hyper-partisan member of the Democratic leadership, now opposes the bill. He is opposed to the proposed increases in caps for individual donors in elections that was slipped into the omnibus legislation.

Some of the more extreme left-wing members of Congress such as Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) are opposed to the omnibus for their own ideological reasons.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), currently the fringe-left favorite for the 2016 presidential nod, called the bill “the worst of government for the rich and powerful.”

The measure would ease some restrictions on derivatives trading which Warren says would help Wall Street and big banks. On the Senate floor she offered a self-serving version of history, saying the bill “would let derivatives traders on Wall Street gamble with taxpayer money and get bailed out by the government when their risky bets threaten to blow up our financial system.”

“These are the same banks that nearly broke the economy in 2008 and destroyed millions of jobs,” she said, ignoring the role that meddlesome regulations and left-wing public policies played in inflating the mortgage bubble that deflated around that time.

Matthew Vadum is an award-winning investigative reporter and the author of the book, "Subversion Inc.: How Obama’s ACORN Red Shirts Are Still Terrorizing and Ripping Off American Taxpayers."


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

Russia: A Pipeline against the Islamist Threat - Michael Curtis

by Michael Curtis

The problem for Russia is that an average price of $105 a barrel of oil is necessary for Russia to have a balanced budget, and the present price is below $70.  Nearly half of the Russian government budget comes from taxes on the energy sector.

Is it possible that Russian President Vladimir Putin is a closet Zionist?  We know that in the past he has taken a strong stand against anti-Semitism.  In his presidential address in the Hall of the Kremlin on December 4, 2014, Putin called the Crimea Peninsula, where the Russian Orthodox Church was established, and where Grand Prince Vladimir was baptized, sacred to Russia.  He referred to Christianity as a powerful spiritual unifying force, the basis of a united Russian nation.  Therefore, Crimea and Sevastopol have invaluable sacral importance for Russia, as the Temple Mount in Jerusalem has for Jews.

Of course, Putin has other non-spiritual reasons for annexing, or engaging in the “historical reunification” of, Crimea and Sevastopol with Russia after the referendum in Crimea in March 2014 expressed a desire to join Russia.  In his presidential address, Putin reminded his listeners of the crucial role that Russia, the former Soviet Union, had played in defeating Nazi Germany in World War II, or what the Russians call the Great Patriotic War.  He also criticized any policy of containment and the imposition of sanctions by the U.S. and the West, which he believes are restraining Russia.  For Putin, the annexation of Crimea was only an excuse for Western sanctions in order to curb Russian progress.

Putin’s present argument, expressed on December 6, 2014 to French President François Hollande, who was greeted by Putin at the Moscow Vnukovo-2 airport, is that he wants to resolve the conflict with Ukraine, to help observe the September 5 ceasefire arrangements between Ukraine and the pro-Russian separatists, and to maintain a distance from those separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Russia remains an enigma.  To believe Dostoevsky, Russians are a people engaged in shared suffering.  Perhaps this is so, but it is not evident, even though Russia is troubled by economic problems: the drop in oil, the fall in the value of the ruble, inflation, and the lack of credit from the West, and terrorists in Chechnya.  Yet entering Moscow, as this visitor did recently, is an astonishing experience.  Moscow, an immense city with at least a 12-million-strong population, is not a particularly beautiful city, but it is not a grim, forbidding one.

The American mass media is full of the dire effect of sanctions on Russia.  It is true that Moscow is not typical of the country.  Nevertheless, it is startling to confront streams of many of the 4 million cars in this city of gridlock and monumental traffic jams in the wide boulevards.  To avoid this hassle, one can take the Moscow metro, with its 195 stations and trains, usually crowded, coming every few minutes.  It is a city of entrepreneurs – 11,000 registered restaurants of all kinds, American-style coffee with 70 branches of Starbucks, and shops and boutiques from Gucci to Cartier and Louis Vuitton.

Nevertheless, it is clear that Russia faces a double-problem: the rapid decline in the world price of oil and the effect of sanctions imposed by the U.S. and the European Union in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Russia is still producing crude oil at about record level, 10.6 million barrels a day.  By comparison, Saudi Arabia produces 9.6 million barrels a day.  But Saudi Arabia persuaded its OPEC fellow members on November 27, 2014 to maintain production targets of 30 million barrels a day in spite of the drop in oil prices.  This is in fact a direct challenge to higher-cost producers – not only to Russia, but also to Iran, which depends on oil exports for more than 40 percent of its revenue, and to U.S. shale oil producers, using horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, to which Saudi Arabia might lose part of its market share.

The problem for Russia is that an average price of $105 a barrel of oil is necessary for Russia to have a balanced budget, and the present price is below $70.  Nearly half of the Russian government budget comes from taxes on the energy sector.

Because of present tension, Russia plans to give up its planned natural gas pipeline through Europe.  Putin said the South Stream pipeline under the Black Sea to Bulgaria would be canceled and an alternative route through Turkey substituted.  Putin blamed the EU for decision to drop South Stream, but the EU rejected the charge, arguing that pipelines must be built in line with EU legislation.

The EU has wanted to reduce its dependence on Russian oil, but countries in southeast Europe are vulnerable.  In any case, a recent study by the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies suggests that it will not be possible for European countries to reduce significantly their dependence on Russian gas.

Russia is handicapped because sanctions have restricted access to international financing and capital markets for energy businesses.  Therefore, it seeks closer relations with China.  The ruble has dropped to a new low, as have crude oil prices.

Putin is trying to move away from the market in U.S. dollars and so is boosting the ruble and the yuan.  Much of the Russian economy depends on loans from Western banks.  The total external debt of Russian banks and companies is about $660 billion, mostly in short-term loans, which need refinancing.  Sanctions are affecting the granting of credit.  Putin has called for spending cuts and control over expenditures of state companies to support economic growth.

After the deal in May 2014 worth $400 billion, Russia made another deal to supply China with natural gas for 30 years.  This involves an additional 30 billion cubic meters of gas a year, in addition to the 38 billion bcm a year agreed to in May.  Putin’s objective is to increase the percentage of trade with Asia-Pacific countries to 40 percent of the total.

Sanctions are having an impact because, among other things, they restrict access to international financing for Russian energy companies, especially new resources such as shale oil and offshore arctic crude.  As a consequence, Russia will lack the advanced form of oil recovery known as hydro-fracking, a technique used primarily in the U.S. 

Sanctions has also meant that American companies are withdrawing from joint endeavors.  Exxon-Mobil has ended 9 of its 10 production projects with Rosneft in the Arctic, western Siberia, and the Black Sea shelf.  Shell no longer is involved in exploring the Bazhenov shale formation, and so Gazprom Neft goes it alone.

Russia under Pupin is authoritarian, ambitious, and nationalist, with state-controlled news media and efficient propaganda methods that help explain his 80-percent approval rating in Russia.  Non-Russian admirers and political supporters have included Steven Seagal and Gérard Depardieu.  But also critical views of Putin, as expressed in The Moscow Times, are available.

The immediate question arises: are the U.S. and EU using the Ukraine situation to limit and weaken Russia?  Whether Putin is right or wrong on this issue, Russia should be more closely associated with the West for an important reason.  The Islamist threat to the world is more important than the issue of Ukraine.

Putin had ended the war in Chechnya after taking power in 2000, and he now faces violence from Islamist militants in Grozny, the capital of Chechnya.  Russia also faces threats from Chechen fighters in Syria because of its support for Syrian president Assad.  Putin is aware that Muslims both from Chechnya and Dagestan, another republic, have gone to Syria to fight Assad.

Putin and other Russian political authorities have been more consistently understanding of the Islamist threat than has the Obama administration and certainly some of the mainstream Western Christian churches.  Russia has made known its concern about the persecution of religious minorities in northern Iraq by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.  The Duma of the Russian Federation on November 14, 2014 adopted a document indicating the terrorist activity in those two countries.  It called on the international community to act against that terrorism.

The lending by the British Museum of one of the Elgin Marbles, the headless statue of a Greek river god, to be unveiled in the Hermitage in St. Petersburg on December 12, 2014 is perhaps only a symbolic gesture.  But it is a sign that Russia and the West are equally interested in the preservation of Western civilization.

Michael Curtis


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

Turkey "Improves" Education - Burak Bekdil

by Burak Bekdil

Members of Turkey's National Education Council last week did not discuss Turkey's extremely poor PISA rankings, or improving the curriculum in mathematics and science. Instead, a pro-government teachers' union proposed making religion a required course in pre-school.
Turkey's response to the European Court of Human Rights, which vehemently told Ankara to scrap all compulsory religious education, was to introduce Islamic teaching to six-year-olds.
Another casualty was the "human rights and democracy" classes that Turkish fourth-grade students must take.

Systematic Islamist indoctrination in Turkey is becoming less stealthy.

Education is the new battlefield. Turkey's government is pushing to advance its declared policy goal of "raising devout (Muslim) generations."

In 2012, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development [OECD] released the findings of its prestigious education report, the "Program for International Student Assessment" [PISA], which experts view as the world's most comprehensive education survey. PISA assesses the extent to which 15-year-old pupils from 65 OECD member nations have acquired key knowledge and skills in mathematics, reading, science and problem-solving (the PISA survey covers 510,000 students worldwide.)

In their overall performance, Turkish pupils ranked poorly: 44th out of 65 countries. Ironically, Turkey and six other predominantly Muslim member nations of the OECD all ranked in the bottom slice of the ranking: the United Arab Emirates, 48th; Malaysia, 52nd; Tunisia, 60th; Jordan 61st; Qatar, 63rd; and Indonesia, 64th.

Turkish universities did not perform any better. The acclaimed Quacquarelli Symonds [QS], a higher education surveyor, ranked only three Turkish universities in the world's top 500 universities list. According to the findings of QS, only nine Turkish universities (out of 175 Turkish universities) were listed among the world's 800 best universities -- and the best ones appear in the modest 430-460 bracket.

Such alarming data did not prompt Turkish leaders to reform the education system. For them, education simply meant ideological indoctrination.

When scientific research told them that there was something seriously wrong with education in Turkey, the government amended laws and regulations to allow the Islamic headscarf on campus; then paved the way for fifth-grade students to attend the religious "imam" schools. In 2001, Turkey had 71,000 students enrolled in the imam schools. Now, there are 670,000.

Turkey's President (then Prime Minister) Recep Tayyip Erdogan participates in a celebration marking the 100th anniversary of the religious "Imam Hatip" school system, January 2014. (Image source: Türkiye Gazetesi)

It even surfaced at the beginning of the semester in September that the Education Ministry had enrolled a few Jewish and Christian students at imam schools. A ministry official later said that this was a "technical error." If newspapers had not unveiled the scandal, Turkey would be the world's first country to have Jewish and Christian imam students.

Last year, the Turkish government made it compulsory for students at fourth grade and higher to take up "religion" classes. In religion classes, the Turkish curriculum almost exclusively teaches the virtues of Sunni Islam, but Alevi or non-Muslim students also must attend these classes.

After an appeal by an Alevi family, the European Court of Human Rights [ECHR] recently concluded that the Turkish education system was "still inadequately equipped to ensure respect for parents' convictions" and violated the "right to education." Europe's top court ruled: "Turkey has to remedy the situation without delay, in particular by introducing a system whereby pupils could be exempted from religion and ethics classes without their parents having to disclose their own religious or philosophical convictions."

Such was the general set-up when Turkey's National Education Council met last week to debate a better education system and make recommendations to the government. At the meeting, the Council's members did not discuss Turkey's extremely poor PISA rankings. Nor did they discuss improving the curriculum in mathematics and science.

Instead, a pro-government teachers' union proposed making religion a required course at pre-school. The union demanded that Turkish children aged three to six should be taught Islam. Fortunately, that proposal did not win a go-ahead from the Council but religion (read: Sunni Islam) classes were made compulsory for first, second and third grade students (aged six to eight). Turkey's response to the ECHR, which vehemently told Ankara to scrap all compulsory religious education, was to introduce Islamic teachings to six-year-olds.

The Council agreed to recommend that the government scrap "alcoholic beverages service and cocktail preparation" courses at the vocational tourism management schools. The Council ruled that young students should not get acquainted, even for schooling purposes, with alcohol. A new generation of professional Turkish bartenders at five-star hotels will emerge and offer their customers nice non-alcoholic cocktails.

Another casualty was the "human rights and democracy" classes that Turkish fourth-grade students must take. That is not a useful subject, the Council members apparently think.

A controversial recommendation was to make Ottoman Turkish a required course at all Turkish schools. After hot debate, the Council recommended to make the Ottoman language a required course at imam schools and an elective course at other schools.

Ataturk, founder of modern Turkey, abolished the Ottoman language and script in 1928 because only a few Turks, apart from the Ottoman royals and bureaucrats, could speak, read or write that language, a bizarre blend of Turkish with Arabic and Persian. Eighty-six years later, neo-Ottoman Turks wish to revive it in a futile bid: No one knows how many Turks can today speak and teach Ottoman Turkish; but everyone knows there are not more than a few.

This is Turkey's return from modern schooling to the times of Ottoman madrassa.

Burak Bekdil, based in Ankara, is a Turkish columnist for the Hürriyet Daily and a Fellow at the Middle East Forum.

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