Saturday, May 27, 2017

The Democrats’ Second Secession & America’s New Civil War - David Horowitz

by David Horowitz

How to look at the bizarre turn our political life has taken.

Senator Kamala Harris is a rising star in the Democratic Party, frequently mentioned on the short-list of contenders for the next presidential race. In a recent commencement speech at Howard University Harris issued a call to arms, urging her audience to rally behind the Democrats’ resistance to the Trump administration: “Graduates, indeed we have a fight ahead. This is a fight to define what kind of country we are, and it’s a fight to determine what country we will be.”

Ignore for a moment the impropriety of addressing a class of students as though they were Democratic Party operatives. Focus instead on the statement itself. The call “to define what kind of country we are” is an ominous agenda for America. Compared to other nations, America is absolutely unique in one regard: it is a country defined in its creation. Normally, nations have been formed on the basis of common origins, ethnicities, and languages – a modern form of tribalism. In contrast, America was created by peoples of diverse origins and ethnicities and on principles that were universal. The American union was forged in a set of founding documents that insisted on the equality of citizens – regardless of origins. The idea that creates the identity “American” is summarized in America’s official motto: e pluribus unum – out of many, one.

It took a Civil War and two hundred years of sacrifice and struggle to achieve a polity that approached this ideal. If one political faction is now able to redefine the ideal to conform to its own sectarian beliefs, the country we have known will cease to exist. But that is just what the current creed of the Democratic Party - “identity politics” - entails, and is why the current divisions in our political life seem so intractable. Identity politics is, in fact, the antithesis of the American idea. It is a reversion to tribal loyalties. It regards diverse origins – colors, ethnicities, genders and classes - as primary, and proposes a hierarchy of privilege based on them, which it justifies as a reversal of past oppressions.

It is not the proper role of an opposition party in a democracy to mount a “resistance” to a duly elected government and press for its overthrow at the very outset of its tenure. But that is precisely what the Democrats have done in the first months of the Trump administration. For the second time in its history, the Democratic Party has opted to secede from the Union and its social contract. This time there is not going to be an actual civil war because the federal government is now so powerful that whoever controls it will decide the outcome. The passions of an irreconcilable conflict are still present but they are channeled into a political confrontation over the executive power.

In launching their resistance, Democrats rejected the honeymoon normally afforded to incoming presidents. Until now this tradition has functioned as something of a sacred political rite. Campaigns are by their nature divisive, and they inevitably exaggerate the differences between factions of the electorate. The presidential honeymoon is designed to reunite the contending factions as constituents of a shared constitutional republic. It allows an incoming president to take his place as the chief executive of all the people, to have his cabinet confirmed, and to launch his agendas before the normal contentions of a democracy resume. It ratifies the peaceful transition of power and reasserts the principle that as Americans we are one.

According to the Gallup organization, the normal duration of a presidential honeymoon in recent times has been seven months. The Democrats didn’t give Trump seven seconds. While he was president-elect, they were already attacking him as a racist, a “white nationalist,” anti-immigrant, and anti-Muslim; also an anti-democratic “fascist”- a would-be dictator. His election was called illegitimate, the alleged agent of a Russian conspiracy. This meme swiftly metastasized into one of the most bizarre witch-hunts in our political history, a “red scare” without actual reds, in which Democrat after Democrat stepped forward to allege that Trump had colluded with Vladimir Putin to steal the election.

Trump did not get confirmation hearings for the team he was hoping to put in place. He got a witch-hunt instead - a series of attempted character assassinations directed at his nominees. Most outrageously, his candidate for Attorney General, Senator Jeff Sessions, was smeared as a “racist” by one Democratic senator after another beginning with Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer. Yet, Sessions’ public career reflected values that were quite the opposite. It included service as the attorney general of a deep south state, in which capacity he had prosecuted the Ku Klux Klan and desegregated the public schools. These acts reflected his actual commitment to civil rights. Schumer and his colleagues had served alongside Sessions for ten and twenty years, and knew very well that their accusations were defamatory and false. But they persisted in them anyway.

So that no one would mistake their hostile intent, the Democrats’ attacks were accompanied by calls for Trump’s impeachment, despite the fact that he had hardly been in office. These were echoed in massive street demonstrations, organized and funded by core Democratic groups, which featured chants of “Not My President,” claims by celebrity speakers that Trump’s election was “worse than being raped,” and addled wishes to “blow up the White House.” Each protest – no matter its official organizing premise - was orchestrated to underscore the identity-driven accusations that the Trump regime was anti-woman, anti-black, anti-Muslim, and anti-immigrant. Trump and his supporters were in turn anathemized as members of a hostile tribe – “white nationalists.”

Behind this Democratic rage is the conviction that the Trump administration represents a reactionary throwback to the status quo ante before Obama began “fundamentally transforming the United States of America,” as he promised on the eve of his election. The new order towards which progressives think they are marching is called “social justice.” To Democrats the hierarchy of privileges they offer groups on the basis of ethnicity, skin color, and gender is “social justice.” It defines the society they intend to create, which in their eyes is mortally threatened by the Trump regime and its conservative supporters.

During the second presidential debate, there was a seminal moment illuminating this conflict. It occurred when Trump turned to the fifty million viewers in the television audience, and said, “You have to understand, Hillary has tremendous hatred in her heart.” He was referring to Clinton’s campaign remark that her opponents belonged in “a basket of deplorables – irredeemables,” whom she went on to name: “Racists, sexists, homophobes, Islamophobes, xenophobes…” Trump, she said, had “raised them up,” and that made him “unfit” to be America’s president.

The condemnation of her political opponents is not unique to Clinton but is shared by Democrats generally. There is hardly a conservative in the country who has been in an argument with a so-called liberal who has not also been called a racist, sexist, homophobe, etc. - terms designed to drum them out of decent society. They are expressions of the hatred progressives feel towards anyone who opposes their crusade to re-define America’s identity in the interests of “social justice.”

The theory behind “identity politics” is an ideology the political left refers to as “cultural Marxism.” This is a perspective that takes Marx’s view that society is divided into warring classes, and extends it to encompass races, genders, and ethnicities. It is a vision that regards one group’s success as another group’s oppression. “Social justice” - the proposed remedy for inequality and division - punishes oppressor groups by redistributing their incomes and privileges to the “under-represented,” “marginalized” and otherwise oppressed. It is a vision that disregards the accountability of individuals and ascribes to group identities the inequalities that are allegedly unjust.

The left has created a term of art – “people of color” – to promote its collectivist views on ethnicity and race. “People of color” is not grammatical English - we do not refer to “crayons of color” or “televisions of color.” It is a French construction, reflecting the way French people speak (personnes de couleur). “People of color” is an invention of ideologues to serve an ideological purpose, which is to organize the world into the categories of cultural Marxism - into oppressors and oppressed. To understand its usage one has only to look to Mexico, a country whose illegal migrants have been one of the flashpoints of the war against the Trump administration, as Democrats have rallied to their defense.

Mexico is composed of two main ethnic groups: the descendants of the Spanish conquistadors who enslaved and slaughtered the indigenous Indians, and the descendants of the Indians. In other words, actual oppressors and actual oppressed. When members of these two groups cross into the United States, however, they both become “people of color,” therefore oppressed; therefore, deserving of special sensitivities, special allowances, special privileges – all without regard to their individual histories and merits. That is why criminal migrants from Mexico, who are here illegally, can commit felonies against Americans, including rape and murder, and become a cause for progressives and Democrats, who create “sanctuary cities” and policies to protect them. Because they are people of color and allegedly oppressed.

Maharajahs in India are also “people of color.” Islamic beheaders and crucifiers in Syria are “people of color” too. The whole world is people of color except … white people – the designated oppressors. Identity politics is both racist and totalitarian. It obliterates the individual in favor of the group. It removes the agency of individuals as subjects and turns them into objects. After this is understood, there is no longer any mystery as to why advocates of identity politics should come into existential collision with the American framework and its defenders, personified by President Trump.

The 2016 platform of the Democratic Party vows “a societal transformation” that will “end institutional and systemic racism in our society.” This is the ideology of cultural Marxism. “Institutional racism” as a systemic American problem is a political fiction. Americans outlawed “institutional racism” half a century ago with the passage of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965. Any incidence of institutional racism today is actionable in the courts – the utra-liberal courts that threw out Trump’s executive orders on extra-legal grounds because of off-the-cuff remarks he made on the campaign trail.

“Systemic racism” and “institutional racism” are anti-American mythologies that drive the Democratic Party’s political agendas. The Democratic platform and Democrats generally, regard every social disparity as prima facie evidence of racial or gender oppression, and attribute such disparities not to individual decisions and performances but to un-named “policies,” which if they actually existed would be illegal. Consider this plank in the 2016 Democratic Party platform:

Closing the Racial Wealth Gap

America’s economic inequality problem is even more pronounced when it comes to racial and ethnic disparities in wealth and income. It is unacceptable that the median wealth for African Americans and Latino Americans is roughly one-tenth that of white Americans. These disparities are also stark for American Indians and certain Asian American subgroups, and may become even more significant when considering other characteristics such as age, disability status, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
The platform then explains: “The racial wealth and income gaps are the result of policies that discriminate against people of color and constrain their ability to earn income and build assets to the same extent as other Americans.” But if such policies existed they would be illegal under the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965. The disparities, on the other hand, are realistically explained by individual details, for example the presence (or lack) of two-parent families, the degree of education, or whether (in the case of Latino Americans), English is spoken in the home. More generally, the ability to accumulate wealth is determined in large part by genes and by cultural attitudes that guide the choices families and individuals make. Otherwise Japanese Americans, who are people of color, would not be among America’s richest (and therefore most privileged) economic groups.

The same mythology characterizes the Democrats’ claims about gender disparities. The Clinton campaign presented itself as a quest for equality for women. According to candidate Clinton, women across America were being paid only 76 cents on the dollar for the same skills, job experience and work as men. But if this were so, it would also be illegal under the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act passed as long ago as 1963 by a Congress dominated by men. After the election, the New York Times published a column inspired by studies that ratified what conservatives had been saying for a generation: “The Gender Pay Gap Is Largely Because of Motherhood.” The disparity exists because child-rearing takes women out of the work force for extended periods, and also causes them to seek flex-time occupations that pay less.[1]

Similarly, the animus behind Democratic assaults on Republicans and their support for law and order as “racist” is the direct consequence of viewing all social disparities through the distorted lens of oppression politics. Thus, the “over-representation” of African-Americans in the prison system is not because of systemic racism. Police forces have been integrated for decades, along with the entire criminal justice system. African-Americans are “over-represented” in the prison population because they are “over-represented” in the commission of actual crimes. Democrats’ embrace of the Black Lives Matter movement and its efforts to cast career criminals as civil rights victims and law enforcement officials as villains is an inevitable consequence of ignoring the specific circumstances of the incidents under review, and forcing them into the melodramatic framework of “racism” and “oppression.”[2] The “social justice” future to which these attitudes lead can be seen on college campuses, the experimental laboratories of the left, which are now characterized by privileged admissions and tuition scholarships distributed on a racial basis, “safe spaces” for people of color only, and, at Harvard, segregated graduations for blacks.

Trump and his followers not only understand the fateful nature of the conflict triggered by decades of these assaults. Their campaign to “Make America Great Again” is inspired by them. In his inaugural address Trump opposed to the progressive vision and its divisive consequences the American idea – e pluribus unum. Referring to those Americans who had been economically left behind, Trump said, “We are one nation and their pain is our pain. Their dreams are our dreams and their success will be our success. We share one heart, one home, and one glorious destiny. The oath of office, I take today, is an oath of allegiance to all Americans.” Trump then elaborated on the idea that Americans are united as equal citizens: “Through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other. When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice.” And finally: “It’s time to remember that old wisdom our soldiers will never forget, that whether we are black, or brown, or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots. We all enjoy the same glorious freedoms, and we all salute the same, great American flag. And whether a child is born in the urban sprawl of Detroit or the windswept plains of Nebraska, they look up at the at the same night sky, they fill their heart with the same dreams and they are infused with the breath of life by the same almighty Creator.”

In spirit, this echoed the address by the last man to have war declared on his presidency by an opposition party even as entered the office. “In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war,” Lincoln said in his first inaugural. “You have no oath registered in Heaven to destroy the government, while I shall have the most solemn one to ‘preserve, protect and defend’ it…. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battle-field, and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearthstone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

[2] For ample statistical support for this, see Heather MacDonald, Are Cops Racist? 2016.

David Horowitz the author of Big Agenda: President Trump's Plan to Save America, now in its tenth week on The New York Times’ best-seller list.
Horowitz was one of the founders of the New Left in the 1960s and an editor of its largest magazine, Ramparts. He is the author, with Peter Collier, of three best selling dynastic biographies: The Rockefellers: An American Dynasty (1976); The Kennedys: An American Dream (1984); and The Fords: An American Epic (1987). Looking back in anger at their days in the New Left, he and Collier wrote Destructive Generation (1989), a chronicle of their second thoughts about the 60s that has been compared to Whittaker Chambers’ Witness and other classic works documenting a break from totalitarianism. Horowitz examined this subject more closely in Radical Son (1996), a memoir tracing his odyssey from “red-diaper baby” to conservative activist that George Gilder described as “the first great autobiography of his generation.”


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Trump, terror - and Jerusalem - Dr. Mordechai Kedar

by Dr. Mordechai Kedar

Two main points in Trump's words upset a large number of  Arab spokespeople.

Much has been written about US President Donald Trump's visit to Saudi Arabia, the Palestinian Authority and Israel, but all of it from the points of view of Israeli and American pundits. This article, in contrast, will center on the Arab - and particularly, the Palestinian Arab -  views on his visit.

Two main points in Trump's words upset a large number of  Arab spokespeople. The first was said on his Riyadh stop, to tens of Arab and Islamic heads of state, chief among them Saudi Arabia's monarch, Suleman ben Abd Al-Aziz.  Trump's speech centered on the Muslim world's obligation - more accurately, the Muslim rulers' obligation - to fight terror, meaning terror aimed at the United States, the West and, except for a few instances, against the Muslim rulers themselves. In his speech, Trump named four organizations: ISIS, al Qaeda, Hezbollah and Hamas. It is important to note that by the American government's own definition, in a ruling hailing from the George W. Bush administration, Hamas is a bona fide terrorist organization.

To some of those at the conference, especially the Emir of Qatar, including Hamas in the list of terror organizations poses a serious problem, because, after all, Qatar is the main provider of funds to Hamas.  Several years ago, Qatar donated half a billion dollars to develop infrastracture - roads, schools and hospitals - in Gaza, but it is common knowledge that a good part of that sum went to build terrorist infrastructure, including underground attack tunnels leading into Israel, new weapons and better missiles. Hamas' leaders have made their homes in Qatar and operate openly from there. My heart tells me that the Qatari Emir moved restlessly in his upholstered easychair when Trump included Hamas in his list of terror organizations, but he did not utter a word in response, nor did any of the other leaders of the Muslim world who were present.

The rulers' thunderous silence infuriated many Palestinian Arabs, principally Hamas spokesmen, who grabbed every available microphone to declare that Hamas is not a terror organization but a national liberation organization that fights the "occupation" and has established a functioning political entity. Gazan men, women and children demonstrated, protesting Trump's words, but in the Palestinian Authority, Chairman Abbas' spokesmen remained quiet for the most part, silently blessing Trump's words which they see as a hit below the belt for their Hamas arch-enemies in the Palestinian arena. Off camera, they surely smiled at each other in enjoyment. The rest of the Arab world is divided down the lines separating Hamas supporters, who protested its inclusion in the list of terror organizations, and those in the opposition to Hamas who remained silent or quietly approving.

Hamas is not the only subject causing ill feeling between Qatar and the US. Possibly more important is the issue of Qatar's cooperation with Iran. In his Riyadh speech, Trump stressed the negative role played by Iran in the various Middle East conflicts, in Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, in spreading terror all over the world and in causing unrest in the Muslim world. Two countries, Qatar and Iran, share ownership of the Persian Gulf underground gas deposits, which explains why the Qatari Emir is very careful not to upset Iran's rulers. On the other hand, Qatar is home to the largest and most important US airfield in the Gulf, so there may be a limit to the amount of pressure Trump can wield on Qatar's connections with Iran.

The second point unites all the players, because it is a matter of consensus. Trump said that Jerusalem is a holy city, that there is no other city in the world that is as beautiful and magnificent, that has such tradition.  He affirmed that the ties of the Jewish people to the Holy Land are ancient and eternal, they existed thousands of years ago, including the period of King David's reign - and he prayed at the Western Wall. Although, like his predecessors, he did not declare Jerusalem the capital of the state of Israel and did not move the US embassy to the city, the Arab world hears what he didn't say as well.

For example, the sentence saying that the Jewish people's ties to the Holy Land existed thousands of years ago are seen as Trump's recognition of the fact that the Jewish people were in the land of Israel before Islam's appearance there 1400 years ago. This sentence pulls the rug out from under the Palestinian Arab lie that claims that they are descendants of the ancient Jebusites and preceded the Jews in Israel, a lie that the Arab countries use in order to refute the Jewish claims that the Land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people.
Even MK Ahmed Tibi, who knows Israeli politics better than many Jewis do, said in a videoed interview that eastern Jerusalem (the Temple Mount included) has to be  the capital of a Palestinian state and that without Jerusalem as its capital, there will be no Palestinian state. And I ask: What  is Tibi's demand, shared by so many Arabs and Muslims, based on? When was Jerusalem capital of an Arab or Islamic state? When did any Arab Caliph, monarch, Emir, or Sultan rule from Jerusalem? When was there a Palestinian state with its capital in Jerusalem? The answers are clear to everyone, and Tibi's words lack any historical basis.

Trump did not mention the idea of a Palestinian state,  not in Riyadh, not in Jerusalem and not in the Palestinian Authority. This omission has great significance, especially when seen against the background of its centrality in the previous president's 2009 speech in Cairo. The message in Trump's omission is that he does not see the establishment of such a state as imperative, that he is open to other ideas and is leaving the subject for the most part for negotiations between the two parties involved.

This obviously does not please Mahmoud Abbas, the PLO and its administration, but it does raise a smile on Hamas' face, only not on camera. They are pleased to see Abbas has failed in his attempt to convince Trump to support publicly the establishment of a Palestinian state, while they - Hamas - have succeeded in doing so. They established a state in Gaza ten years ago despite Israel and no one in the world, including Israel with its strong IDF, will succeed in eliminating it.

Yet with all due honor to Trump's speeches, they have to be put into proportion. He, of course, expressed his opinionד, but he did not write the speeches, others did, and his commitment to standing behind those words for a long period is not that high. What counts is what is going to happen in the future, what will be said to his special Middle East envoy, Jason Greenblatt, the counsel he will  give Trump. These things happen behind the scenes, far from the media, and they are the really important and reliable ones.

Sent to Arutz Sheva, translated by Rochel Sylvetsky

Dr. Mordechai Kedar is a senior lecturer in the Department of Arabic at Bar-Ilan University. He served in IDF Military Intelligence for 25 years, specializing in Arab political discourse, Arab mass media, Islamic groups and the Syrian domestic arena. Thoroughly familiar with Arab media in real time, he is frequently interviewed on the various news programs in Israel.


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Syria Has Effectively Ceased to Exist - Jonathan Spyer

by Jonathan Spyer

The representative of the Syrian security forces asked if the armed men were Russians. When told that they were, he replied that in that case, there was nothing the Syrian authorities could do.

On my last night in Damascus, some younger members of the Ministry of Information-sponsored delegation in which I was taking part decided to have a drink. It was late April, and the bars and restaurants were doing good business in the cool and breezy evenings. An inebriated Russian journalist, accompanied by a uniformed Russian soldier entered the bar opposite our hotel in the Old City where my colleagues were sitting. Words were exchanged. An altercation began.

At a certain point, the Russian journalist produced a pistol and aimed it at the forehead of one of the delegation's participants. He then entered our hotel, and threatened one of the employees there, all with his uniformed colleague silently accompanying him.

How the incident ended says much about who truly holds power in regime-controlled areas of Syria today. After the two Russians had departed, the delegation's participants sought to contact the authorities and report the incident. The representative of the Syrian security forces asked if the armed men were Russians. When told that they were, he replied that in that case, there was nothing the Syrian authorities could do.

The survival of the Assad regime is now assured, but the regime has become something of a façade.

Six years into the Syrian war, the survival of President Bashar al-Assad's regime is assured — but it has become something of a façade, and lacks a strategy for reuniting the country. The sometimes sharply differing interests of Russia and Iran from above, and the local concerns of a myriad array of pro-regime irregular militias from below, are the decisive factors — not the decisions of the country's nominal rulers. This impacts the calculus of the "regime" side in the war, in determining its strategy in the conflict.

Just take a look at how the war has developed since late last year, when things seemed to be going well for the regime. The rebellion had been driven out of its last finger-holds in eastern Aleppo city, seemingly paving the way for the eventual defeat of the insurgency. But five months later, while the general direction of the war has been against the rebels, they appear still far from collapse. Idlib province, areas of Latakia, Hama, northern Aleppo, and large swathes of the south remain in rebel hands.

While the general direction of the war has been against the rebels, they still appear far from collapse.

The rebels in the south received a boost this week when a coalition airstrike targeted forces loyal to Assad that were advancing on a base used by U.S. and British Special Forces. If the United States and its partners are willing to use force to defend allied groups in the area, it is hard to envision how the regime can hope to reestablish its rule there.

Further east, the war against the Islamic State is being prosecuted by a powerful, U.S.-backed, Kurdish-led force called the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). This force will shortly embark on the conquest of Raqqa, the last remaining city fully controlled by the retreating Islamic State.

In other words, the rumors of the death of the rebellion have been greatly overstated. And some of its component parts apparently possess considerable vigor and strength. Does the Assad regime have a strategy for the reunification of the country, or has Syria's fragmentation now become an unavoidable reality?

In 10 days of meetings with mid-level and senior officials of the Assad regime in Syria, I sought an answer to this question. What I found was a considerable gap between the intentions of the regime and its practical abilities to bring these desires about.

Reconciliation Affairs Minister Ali Haidar, a businesslike and well-briefed official, is a central figure in the government's attempts to increase the territory under its control. "Reconciliation" is the process whereby the regime and its allies offer rebels and their supporters "safe passage" to rebel-controlled Idlib or Jarabulus, in return for the ceding of the besieged area to government forces. In some areas, rebels and their supporters have not been forced to leave,but may stay as long as they accept the authority of the regime. The latest such "reconciliation" agreement saw the transfer of rebels and their supporters from the towns of Zabadani and Madaya in the western Damascus suburbs to rebel-controlled Idleb.

Syrian Reconciliation Affairs Minister Ali Haidar

The Ministry of Reconciliation Affairs, Haider says, could form the basis for a "comprehensive political resolution" of the Syrian conflict. More than 100 towns and villages have now "achieved reconciliation," Haidar told our delegation, and 3 million Syrians have been included in the reconciliation process, constituting "40 percent of Syrians affected by the war." The regime's notion appears to be that the gradual and incremental continuation of these agreements will eventually whittle the rebellion down to nothing.

What Haidar failed to mention, however, was that this latest agreement was achieved with the mediation of Qatar, a strong supporter of the rebels. And the various agreements so far have served more to demarcate regime and rebel territory and create more cohesive enclaves, rather than to substantially further increase the territory held by the regime. The term "reconciliation" is a misnomer, of course. The regime is interested in the surrender of the rebels, not rapprochement with them. But given the balance of forces and the slow progress, there seems a gap between objective and method. In light of this, I ask Haidar: What is the regime's strategy for victory and the reunification of the country?

What needs to happen, the minister suggests, is an end to foreign interference. "We ask foreign powers to stop supporting the terrorist organizations," he said.

"Terrorists," of course, is the regime's description of choice for rebel forces. But if foreign supporters of the insurgency decline to withdraw their support, as currently appears to be happening, how can the regime coerce them into doing so? Haidar did not appear to have any answers.

I got no further with Mohammed Tourjman, Assad's fluent and glib information minister. Tourjman is an articulate presenter of the narrative the regime likes to share with its supporters.

Syria today is de facto divided into no less than seven identifiable enclaves.

"There is a plan to divide Syria into cantons," he told us. "[T]o keep us weak, to benefit the Zionist entity."

If this is the plan, it seems in an advanced state of execution. Syria today is de facto divided into no less than seven identifiable enclaves – the regime, three separate areas of rebel control, two Kurdish cantons and the Islamic State area. What is the government's strategy to reverse it, I ask? "We have absolute faith that this is a temporary situation," the minister replied. "[T]he major reason for this faith is that the Syrian people start to understand the conspiracy against them."

In other words, there is no strategy at all, but the kind of conspiracy theories that no self-respecting Baathist should be without. No evidence exists of any such worked out plan, nor do any of the major forces engaged in Syria support the country's break up. Indeed all of them – regime, rebels, ISIS and even the Kurds, along with their backers, are emphatically in favor of the continued unity of the country, albeit under totally different systems of government. The current de facto division is a result of the inability of any force to prevail over all the others, not of design.

In private conversation with officials who prefer not to be named, however, I found more candid responses. A serving general of the armed forces, puffing on an enormous cigar in his office, noted carefully that "any decision to conclude the war cannot come without the involvement of 'official Syria'" — meaning the regime.

This measured reply delineates the actual situation well. The regime cannot now be militarily defeated, a significant success for its diplomacy and arms. But neither has it any clear road to victory. I asked one Information Ministry official about the future of eastern Syria, given the growing strength of the U.S.-backed SDF in the region. His response summed up the underlying reality of the regime's current position: "We don't know."

Decisions made by Assad and those around him will not be the decisive factor in determining Syria's future.

The reason for the regime's lack of knowledge is that decisions made by Assad and those around him will not be the decisive factor in determining Syria's future. As the fighting in east Aleppo showed, the government side only makes real progress when the Russians commit to ensuring its victory. So the crucial question is of Russian, not Syrian, intentions — and Moscow may well have already achieved most of what it came to Syria to achieve. It has ensured the safety of its bases in Latakia province and the survival of its regime allies, demonstrated the efficacy of Russian arms, and guaranteed there can be no diplomatic process to settle the war without Moscow's involvement.

These are significant accomplishments. But it is also the case that a further Russian commitment to finishing off the rebellion could result in the unpleasant situation in which a cash-strapped Russia finds itself saddled with the responsibility for the reconstruction of a ruined Syria on the basis of "you broke it — you own it."

It appears that Moscow is aiming to freeze the Syrian conflict more or less in place.

The diplomacy emerging from Astana appears to suggest that Moscow is aiming to freeze the Syrian conflict more or less in place, followed by an ongoing political process. The formation of the four "de-escalation zones" looks set to leave the rebellion in control of large swathes of the country, while the upcoming assault on Raqqa by the SDF and the increasingly open U.S. commitment to this force raises the possibility of a U.S.-backed entity emerging east of the Euphrates.

All this raises the question of whether the diplomatic thinking on Syria is lagging behind the emerging reality. With the regime and rebels now effectively reduced to client status and no great desire on the part of the patrons to commit to absolute victory for their proxies, the diplomacy on the Syrian war should presumably begin to shift toward arrangements acknowledging the fragmentation of the country. Such arrangements would be built more or less around the status quo that will pertain after the destruction of the ISIS holding in eastern Syria. That is, the regime enclave in the west, the Sunni Arab rebels in the north west and south west, a Turkish-ensured rebel enclave in the north, the SDF/Kurds in the north east and some arrangement involving both the SDF and western-backed Arab rebels in the south east.

In the meantime, the Russians will continue to do as they wish by day and night in Damascus, the gap between regime rhetoric and reality will remain as gaping as ever, the rebels and the Kurds will continue to march in tune with their own patrons' wishes, and the stark fact will continue to remain unsaid: namely, that the state still known as Syria has effectively ceased to exist.

Jonathan Spyer, a fellow at the Middle East Forum, is director of the Rubin Center for Research in International Affairs and author of The Transforming Fire: The Rise of the Israel-Islamist Conflict (Continuum, 2011).

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Manchester Bomber Repeatedly Reported to Authorities over Five Year Period - Donna Rachel Edmunds

by Donna Rachel Edmunds

The police and security services missed at least five opportunities over five years to stop Salman Abedi from carrying out his deadly terror attack, it has emerged.

Following the deadly attack at the Manchester Arena by Abedi on Tuesday night, which claimed 22 lives, questions are being raised as to why the British authorities did little to follow up on repeated reports from friends and community members that Abedi was radicalised and had expressed support for suicide bombing.

The reports date back five years, when two youth workers are said to have phoned an anti-terrorism hotline to report concerns over Adebi’s “extreme views” whilst he was completing his last year at school, the BBC has reported.

Two of Abedi’s friends were also so concerned about his behaviour that they separately phoned the hotline, five years ago, and again in 2016.

“They had been worried that ‘he was supporting terrorism’ and had expressed the view that ‘being a suicide bomber was ok’,” a source told the BBC.

Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of the Ramadhan Foundation, told The Telegraph that community members also reported Abedi to the authorities two years ago “because he thought he was involved in extremism and terrorism”.

“People in the community expressed concerns about the way this man was behaving and reported it in the right way using the right channels,” Shafiq said.

“They did not hear anything since.”

Akram Ramadan, 49, a member of the south Manchester Libyan community where Abedi lived, said that Abedi had been banned from Didsbury Mosque after he confronted an imam who had delivered a sermon opposing extremism.

Didsbury Mosque has confirmed that, following the incident, it contacted the Home Office’s Prevent anti-radicalisation programme to flag Abedi as a possible extremist.

Mr. Ramadan said he believed that that report led to Abedi being placed on a watch list, yet he was allowed to travel to Libya and Syria repeatedly, before returning to Manchester to carry out his deadly plot.

Last night Home Secretary Amber Rudd admitted that Abedi had been known to the British security services, whilst U.S. intelligence has confirmed he was also known to them.

France’s interior minister has said Abedi had “proven” links with Islamic State, and that both French and British intelligence had information that he had been to Syria.

But Frank Gardner, the BBC’s security correspondent, told Radio 4’s Today the opportunities were missed because the threat is so widespread.

“This comes down to numbers,” Gardner said. “If they told us how many people had these extreme views just across the UK we wouldn’t sleep at night. It’s in the thousands.

“They haven’t got the ‘watchers’ – they haven’t got the capability to follow all of those people, so they have to go where they think the danger is the most imminent and the most serious.”

A security source told Sky News: “MI5 are working on 500 active investigations involving some 3,000 subjects of interest at any one time. Abedi was one of a larger pool of former subjects of interest whose risk remained subject to review by MI5 and its partners.”

“Where former subjects of interest show known risks of re-engaging in terrorism, MI5 can consider reopening the investigation. This process relies on inevitable difficult judgements based on partial information,” the statement added.

Eight arrests have now been made in connection to the plot, but police have admitted that with each arrest and new location discovered, the web of involvement widens. Just over 36 hours in, the investigation is already being described as “vast”.

Donna Rachel Edmunds


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After Coptic massacre, Trump gives Egypt courage to blow out terrorist hellholes in Libya - Monica Showalter

by Monica Showalter

It might not have happened had President Trump not only offered Sisi the support he deserved

After the Palm Sunday massacre of Coptic Christians worshipping in Egypt, President Trump tweeted that he was confident that Egypt's President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi would 'handle the terror attack properly.'

He was right - Sisi did the right thing, blowing out terrorist hideouts in eastern Libya this week, following a second horrific terror attack against Egypt's Coptic Christians on a bus, killing 28 innocents. Egypt's military pilots not only blew the hell out of Derna, a frontier camp that shelters terrorists, and then released film footage of the act and the damage to celebrate the victory.

It sends a message. It creates a new fear for terrorists who have up unitil now gotten away with it. It tells the losers the game is over.
We will not hesitate to protect our people from the evil," [Sisi] said in a televised speech on Friday.
This is how it's done.

It might not have happened had President Trump not only offered Sisi the support he deserved, he framed the issue in the only terms that spoke the truth.
"Terrorists are engaged in a war against civilization," Trump said in a statement issued by the White House. "This merciless slaughter of Christians in Egypt tears at our hearts and grieves our souls.
"Wherever innocent blood is spilled, a wound is inflicted upon humanity.
"But this attack also steels our resolve to bring nations together for the righteous purpose of crushing the evil organizations of terror – and exposing their depraved, twisted, and thuggish ideology.
"America also makes clear to its friends, allies, and partners that the treasured and historic Christian communities of the Middle East must be defended and protected," President Trump said. "The bloodletting of Christians must end, and all who aid their killers must be punished."
Sisi himself said that Trump's support gave him courage, and RT News reports that those close to the matter say the U.S. probably provided intelligence on which targets to bomb.
I direct my appeal to President Trump: I trust you, your word and your ability to make fighting global terror your primary task,” [Sisi] said.
It's an appropriate response, and may be the beginnings of victory in the war on terror. What we are seeing here is resolve and willpower. The Sisi-Trump alliance may just take out a significant part of the terrorists' game plan. The U.S. [and Egypt] finally want to win.

Monica Showalter


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UK: Welcome Mat for Jihadists - Khadija Khan

by Khadija Khan

It seems -- that British politicians have simply put the whole nation in a loop of feed, kill, repeat

  • The Sharia Council of Britain determines the fate of women by undermining the laws of the land.
  • British politicians seem have become intoxicated by the propaganda of those who prefer to term any action to limit Islamic extremism or terrorism "Islamophobia."
  • These human rights abuses are linked to the Islamic ideology, the end product of which often shows itself as violence against homosexuals, non-Muslims and other marginalized communities. It appears that most of these jihadists were radicalized through local mosques and madrassas.
England, which once was a jewel of both East and West, today symbolizes the degeneration of Europe, the continent which has turned its back on the threat Islamist terrorists are posing. England has increased its terror threat level from "severe" to "critical"; counter-terror measures include employing the British army in key public locations as well as stepped-up counter-intelligence, and raids against suspected terrorists.

It seems, however, that British politicians have simply put the whole nation in a loop of feed, kill, repeat; meanwhile acting as if they haven't a clue as to what has stricken the lovely country.

Prime Minister Theresa May, in her public statement after the blast, stated:
"We struggle to comprehend the warped and twisted mind that sees a room packed with young children not as a scene to cherish but as an opportunity for carnage.... But we can continue to resolve to thwart such attacks in future. To take on and defeat the ideology that often fuels this violence."
May was careful to avoid naming the ideology.

Ironically, the terror spree caught the United Kingdom in the midst of its election season. Nonetheless, neither the Tories nor the Labour Party are offering any solid plans to counter the menace. It seems these politicians have decided to sleep on the issue, while leaving their poor citizens at the mercy of terrorists, protected only by the brave law enforcement personnel who are also targets.

British politicians seem have become intoxicated by the propaganda of those who prefer to term any action to limit Islamic extremism or terrorism "Islamophobia." When the government decides to look the other way, it allows many malpractices to flourish under the skin of British Muslim communities, among whom any action to protect the country would be stigmatized by apologists as "Islamophobic."

The Sharia Council of Britain, for example, as the scandal of halala divorce recently highlighted, determines the fate of women by undermining the laws of the land. Other forms of exploitation by Islamists in Britain include forced marriage; intimidation of moderate Muslims by extremist imams such as Anjem Choudary and Mizanur Rahman; mosque-sanctioned domestic violence; gender segregation, Islamic dress code in schools, and female genital mutilation (FGM).

All these human rights abuses are linked to the Islamic ideology, the end product of which often shows itself as violence against homosexuals, non-Muslims and other marginalized communities.

Labour Party chief Jeremy Corbyn, reacting to the Manchester terror attack, did not even address any root cause, nor does his election platform contain a strong policy regarding "Prevent", Britain's anti-terror program.

Corbyn is, in fact, an open critic of Prevent; he instead suggested expanding Britain's Prevent strategy to all communities, so that Muslims would not think that it only referred to them.

The Prevent strategy, Corbyn said, is "often counter-productive" and appears to cast suspicion on all Muslims. In fairness, he did add that extremism and racism must also be dealt with.

It is revealing that, instead of offering a concrete counter-terror policy, Corbyn seems to be confusing the issue of racism with the issue of the terror attacks that have taken dozens of lives in 2017 alone.

Conservative peer, Baroness Warsi is also one of those who does not seem to be fond of Britain's counter terror policy; she demanded a "pause" to the Prevent program "for an independent review".

"I think Prevent in its current form has huge problems," she said; "I think it's broken, I think the brand is toxic."

The British government used a similar program, the Prevention of Terrorism Act, until 2000, to dismantle Irish terrorist organizations.

Warsi, who served in Prime Minister David Cameroon's Cabinet, is known for defending a hardline Dewsbury madrassah, claiming that though the faith school "might have produced bombers, it also produced the first Muslim cabinet minister [Warsi]".

Baroness Warsi. (Photo by Miles Willis/Getty Images)

Extremist mosques and madrassahs in Dewsbury and in surroundings of Manchester are notorious for spreading communal hatred and terror across the board.

Manchester seems to have a problem. The Guardian reported in February 2017 that at least 16 convicted or dead terrorists have lived within 2.5 miles of the Manchester home of Ronald Fiddler, aka Jamal al-Harith, an ex-Guantanamo prisoner who blew himself up while fighting for ISIS in Syria earlier this year.

Hundreds of Britons have joined ISIS and other terrorist organizations in Syria and Iraq to date. The BBC reported in February that of the 850 or so British citizens who fall into this category, some 200 were killed fighting in the Middle East; the rest returned to Britain, potentially to resume terrorist activity at home.

It appears that most of these jihadists were radicalized through local mosques and madrassas.

Thanks to the handicapped Prevent strategy, we have, to date, not seen any inquiry or action against the environment or people that might have contributed to or supported this radicalization.

Khalid Masood, the perpetrator of the Westminster attack on March 22, did not go abroad to hone his terrorism skills; he served as a representative of the Luton Islamic Centre mosque -- one institution among many that have eluded the government's Prevent program, due to the pressure from so-called "moderate" Muslims such as Warsi.

Above all, politicians need to realize that failure on the government's part to protect the public from Islamist radicals actually endangers the Muslim community as a whole. A general sense of insecurity in the Muslim community and lack of trust in law-enforcement only creates vigilantes.

It is therefore more crucial than ever for British Muslims and their influential representatives to join forces with the authorities to root out terrorism through sound counter-terror policies, instead of focusing only on short-term measures such as raising the terror threat level, deploying forces and trying to intimidate everyone into complicity by unjustly complaining about "Islamophobia".
Khadija Khan is a Pakistani journalist and commentator currently in Germany.

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France: Macron, President of the Elites and Islamists - Guy Millière

by Guy Millière

A deliberate side-effect of Macron's policies will be population change. Macron wants Islam to have more room in France

  • French President Emmanuel Macron can only be described as close to the business world if one understands how things work in France. The French economy is a mixed system where it is almost impossible to succeed financially without having close relations with political leaders who can grant favors and subsidies, and either authorize, prohibit or facilitate contracts or hinder them. Macron is not supposed to bring any new impetus to business, but to ensure and consolidate the power of those who placed him where he is.
  • A deliberate side-effect of Macron's policies will be population change. Macron wants Islam to have more room in France. Like many European leaders, Emmanuel Macron seems convinced that the remedy for the demographic deficit and the aging of ethnic European populations is more immigration.
  • The French branch of the Muslim Brotherhood published an official communiqué, saying: "Muslims think that the new President of the Republic will allow the reconciliation of France with itself and will allow us to go farther, together."
Emmanuel Macron -- whose victory in the French presidential election on May 7, 2017 was declared decisive -- was presented as a centrist, a newcomer in politics with strong ties to the business world, and a man who could bring a new impetus to a stagnant country.

The reality, however, is quite different.

His victory was actually not "decisive". Although he received a high percentage of the votes cast (66%), the number of voters who cast a blank ballot or decided to abstain was the highest ever in a French presidential election.

Although his opponent, Marine Le Pen, tried to dissociate herself from the anti-Semitism of her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, she was treated as a walking horror by almost all politicians and journalists during the entire campaign. That she nevertheless drew 34% of the votes was a sign of the depth of the anger and frustration that has been engulfing the French people. More than half of those who chose Macron were apparently voting against Marine Le Pen, rather than for Macron.

Macron, who won by default, suffers from a deep lack of legitimacy. He was elected because he was the last man standing, and because the moderate right's candidate, François Fillon, was sabotaged by a demolition operation carried out by the media and by a political use of justice. Significantly, the legal prosecution of Fillon stopped immediately after he was defeated.

Macron is not a centrist: he was discreetly supported throughout the campaign by most of the Socialist Party's leaders and by the outgoing Socialist President, François Hollande. The day after the election, during a V-E Day ceremony, Hollande could not hide his joy. A few days later, on May 14, when he handed the office of the president over to Macron, Hollande said that what was happening was not an "alternative" but a "continuity". All Macron's team-members were socialists or leftists. Macron's leading political strategist, Ismael Emelien, had worked for the campaign that led to the election of Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela.

Macron's entire program is socialist. Proposals for additional public expenditures abound. "Climate change" is defined as "the key issue for the future of the world". The proposed changes to the Labor Code and the tax system are largely cosmetic and seem intended more to give an illusion of change than to bring about real change. While Macron does not reject a market economy, he thinks that it must be placed at the service of "social justice", and that the government's role is to "guide", to "protect", "to help" -- not to guarantee freedom to choose. Significantly, the economists who participated in the elaboration of Macron's program are those who had drawn up Hollande's economic program in 2012.

Even if he is young, Macron is not a newcomer to politics and does not embody renewal. He not only worked with Hollande for five years, but those who shaped his political ascent have long careers behind them: Jacques Attali was President François Mitterand's adviser in the 1980s ; Alain Minc worked with all French Presidents since Valery Giscard d'Estaing was elected in 1974, and Jean-Pierre Jouyet was the cabinet director for Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin in the late 1990s. Just after the election, three documentaries were broadcast on French television explaining in detail how Macron's campaign was organized. Macron is the pure product of what analysts described as the "French nomenklatura" -- an arrogant élite, composed of senior officials, political power-holders and the businessmen working in close collaboration with them.

Macron can only be described as close to the business world if one understands how things work in France. The French economy is a mixed system where it is almost impossible to succeed financially without having close relations with political leaders who can grant favors and subsidies, and either authorize, prohibit or facilitate contracts or hinder them.

During the years he spent at Hollande's side, Macron helped various French businessmen. They thanked him by massively contributing to his campaign. It would be surprising if they do not expect a "return on investment". The operation that allowed Macron's election could be described in business language as a takeover. Almost all French private media outlets belong to those who supported Macron and were part of the takeover.

Macron is not supposed to bring any new impetus to business, but to ensure and consolidate the power of those who placed him where he is. Their goal is to create a large, single, center-left, technocratic political party that will crush the old political parties and that will be installed in a position of hegemony. The party's slogan, "En Marche!" ("On the Move!"), was established to go forward in that direction; the old political parties have been almost destroyed. The official Socialist Party is dying. The main center-right party, The Republicans, is in disarray. One of its leaders, Edouard Philippe, was appointed Macron's Prime Minister. Another, Bruno Le Maire, is now Finance and Economy minister: he will have to apply quite a different policy from those defined by his original party. The rightist National Front and the radical left will be treated as receptacles of anger: everything will be done so that they stay marginalized.

Another goal is to entrust ever more power to the technocratic unaccountable, untransparent and undemocratic institutions of the European Union: it is a goal Emmanuel Macron never stopped emphasizing. On May 7, as soon as the election result was known, the leaders of the European Union showed their enthusiasm. The president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, spoke of "a signal of hope for Europe". On May 15, immediately after the inauguration, Macron went to Berlin, met German Chancellor Angela Merkel and said that he hoped for a rapid "strengthening of the Union". Macron says he wants the creation of an EU Ministry of Finance, whose decisions would have binding force for all member states.

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel chat in Berlin on May 15, 2017. (Photo by Michele Tantussi/Getty Images)

A deliberate side-effect of Macron's policies will be population change. Like many European leaders, Emmanuel Macron seems convinced that the remedy for the demographic deficit and the aging of ethnic European populations is more immigration. On September 6, 2015, he stated that "immigration is an opportunity for all of us". On February 12, 2017, he said, "I will propose to the Algerian government the creation of a Franco-Algerian Bureau of Youth, to encourage mobility between the two shores of the Mediterranean". A few weeks later, he declared that "the duty of Europe is to offer asylum to all those who seek its protection" and that "France must take its fair share of refugees".

Almost all refugees arriving in France are Muslims. France already has the greatest percentage of Muslims in Europe. Macron wants Islam to have more room in France. His position concerning other religions is not known. His position on Islam is clear:
"Today, Muslims of France are poorly treated ... Tomorrow, a new structure will make it possible to relaunch the work sites of the Muslim religion in France: the construction and the improvement of worthy places of worship will take place where their presence is necessary, and the training of imams of France will be organized."
The French branch of the Muslim Brotherhood congratulated Macron on on his victory. It published an official communiqué saying: "Muslims think that the new President of the Republic will allow the reconciliation of France with itself and will allow us to go farther, together."

Macron's prime minister, Edouard Philippe, has close ties with the Muslim Brotherhood and favored their installation in the city of which he is the mayor, Le Havre. Richard Ferrand -- a Socialist MP, the secretary-general of En Marche! since its inception, and now Minister for the Cohesion of Territories -- has been financially contributing to the anti-Israel BDS movement and to "pro-Palestinian" organizations for years. Gerard Collomb, the Socialist Mayor of Lyon, and now Interior Minister, financed the French Institute of Muslim Civilization that will open its doors in December 2017.

In a recent article, Yves Mamou noted that Macron is not "an open promoter of Islamism in France" and could be defined as a "useful idiot."

In another recent article, Bruce Bawer wondered how the French could have chosen Emmanuel Macron. His answer was that "the mainstream media have played a role". Evidently, also, "some people do not want to know the truth," even when the truth is in front of their eyes.
"Some people are accustomed to the idea that there are people above them in the hierarchy whose job is to think about, and take care of the big things while they, the citizens, the mice, take care of their own little lives".
A majority of the French did not choose Macron but apparently accept that there are people above them. Those who do not accept this fact so easily are many, but in minority, and they are likely to become a smaller minority. Macron is counting on their resignation. It is not certain, however, that the millions of people who voted for Marine Le Pen, despite her extremely problematic closeness to Russia and the harsh campaign against her, or those who voted for the leftist candidates, will so easily give up. It is also not certain -- thanks to willful blindness and appeasement -- that Islamists will mellow, or that jihadist attacks will stop.

Macron said he was "dismayed" over Manchester Arena terror attack. He added that he was "filled with dread". He did not express the necessity of confronting the danger. The French have every reason to be nervous.

Guy Millière, a professor at the University of Paris, is the author of 27 books on France and Europe.


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