Saturday, August 25, 2018

We'll Find out about Brennan" - Lloyd Billingsley

by Lloyd Billingsley

What did the ex-CIA boss know about Obama's 1981 Pakistan trip - and the attempt to cover it up in 2008?

John Brennan became head of the Central Intelligence agency in 2013 and after leaving in 2017 he retained his security clearance, which President Trump recently revoked. Brennan is threatening a lawsuit, a prospect that delights the president’s lead lawyer.
“I’d volunteer to do that case for the president,” Rudy Giuliani told Fox News. “I’d love to have Brennan under oath for I don’t know how many days, two or three days? We’ll find out about Brennan.” As the former New York mayor is doubtless aware, there is plenty to find out.  Consider, for example, Brennan’s role in the famous passport case.
Back in 2008, State Department contractors “unnecessarily reviewed” the passport file of Illinois Senator Barack Obama. The breach came without the knowledge of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who called the senator to apologize. “I myself would be very disturbed if I learned somebody had looked into my passport file,” Rice told reporters.
According to the State Department, two of the contract employees were fired for the security breach and a third was disciplined but remained on the job. The department did not reveal the identities of the employees nor what they might have been looking for in the presidential candidate’s passport file. On the other hand, some information did emerge.
“The CEO of a company whose employee is accused of improperly looking at the passport files of presidential candidates is a consultant to the Barack Obama campaign,” CNN reported on March 22, 2008. “John O. Brennan, president and CEO of the Analysis Corp., advises the Illinois Democrat on foreign policy and intelligence issues,” CNN reported. “Brennan briefed the media on behalf of the campaign this month. The executive is a former senior CIA official and former interim director of the National Counterterrorism Center.”
Brennan also “contributed $2,300 to the Obama campaign in January” but State Department officials told CNN, “We ethically awarded contracts. Political affiliation is not one of the factors that we check.” According to CNN, the two fired employees worked for the Stanley Inc. firm. John Brennan’s Analysis Corp. employee was only disciplined and remained on the job.
The State Department inspector general conducted polygraph tests “to find out whether there was any political motive” but no results have come to light. Some speculated that the intruder was digging up dirt, but the objective was more likely a coverup.
In April, 2008, after the story became public, candidate Obama told a San Francisco crowd that during his college years he took a trip to Pakistan. This came as a surprise to reporters, and the candidate’s two autobiographies, Dreams from My Father (1995) and The Audacity of Hope (2006),  made no mention of any trip to Pakistan.
What the college student did there is not exactly clear, and some in the region found it disturbing. “Why did he keep mum on his visit to Pakistan till this question was raised?” wondered India’s former counterterrorist chief Bahukutumbi Raman. “Has he disclosed all the details regarding his Pakistan visit? Was it as innocuous as made out by him – to respond to the invitation of a Pakistani friend or was there something more to it?”
The passport file breach could have been related to this long unmentioned visit, and as Pam Geller notes there is more to the story. Lt. Quarles Harris Jr., a witness cooperating with federal authorities investigating the passport breach, was found dead, “shot in the head in his car, in front of his church.” According to the Washington Times, which first reported the passport breach story, “city police do not know whether his death was a direct result of his cooperation with federal investigators.”
Maybe John Brennan knows. After all, it was Brennan’s employee who accessed the passport file of the presidential candidate Brennan supported. So in a deposition over the security clearance, Rudy Giuliani could “find out” about that, and other episodes before Brennan took over the CIA. 
Back in 1976, when the USSR was persecuting dissidents and exporting violence around the world, college student John Brennan voted for Gus Hall. This slobbering Stalinist was the presidential candidate of the Communist Party USA, a party founded and financed by Soviet Russia. The CPUSA was also the party of the beloved “Frank” in Dreams from My Father, the African American Frank Marshall Davis (1905-1987), who for decades defended the white Communist dictatorship of Soviet Russia.
As Commies and The Rosenberg File author Ronald Radosh notes, former Clinton National Security Adviser Anthony Lake failed to become CIA director partly because he thought Alger Hiss might be innocent. As Radosh noted of Brennan, “in a sane world, he would have been turned down.” 
If the Gus Hall voter sues to get his clearance back we could learn a great deal about John Brennan. Maybe he knows what his former boss was up to on that trip to Pakistan he tried to hide. Maybe Brennan can explain why Frank disappeared from the audio version of Dreams from My Father and makes no appearance in The Audacity of Hope. Still a lot to “find out” about POTUS 44, formerly known as Barry Soetoro.

Lloyd Billingsley is the author of the new crime book, Lethal Injections: Elizabeth Tracy Mae Wettlaufer, Canada’s Serial Killer Nurse, and the recently updated Barack ‘em Up: A Literary Investigation.


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Palestinian fury as Trump admin cuts $200 million in aid - Thomas Lifson

by Thomas Lifson

The times, they are a’ changing, and it’s about time.

The Palestinian Authority and Hamas have suspended talks with the U.S. in the wake of the opening of our Jerusalem embassy, but money still talks.  The Trump administration has just used a funding cut as a way of telling them that their old strategy isn't working anymore.  Both governing bodies.  But rest assured: they are getting the message.  The Palestinian Authority has to stop payments to families of suicide bombers and other jihadists who lose their lives attacking Israelis.  Hamas, the terror organization that runs Gaza, is also being told to stop mass attempts to enter Israel for purposes of terror.
Matthew Lee of the Associated Press reports:
The Trump administration has decided to cut more than $200 million in bilateral aid to the Palestinians, following a review of the funding for projects in the West Bank and Gaza, the State Department said Friday.
The department notified Congress of the decision in a brief, three-paragraph notice sent first to lawmakers and then to reporters.  It said the administration will redirect the money to "high priority projects elsewhere." ...
"At the direction of President Trump, we have undertaken a review of U.S. assistance to the Palestinian Authority and in the West Bank and Gaza to ensure these funds are spent in accordance with U.S. national interests and provide value to the U.S. taxpayer," the department said.  "As a result of that review, at the direction of the president, we will redirect more than $200 million ... originally planned for programs in the West Bank and Gaza."
"This decision takes into account the challenges the international community faces in providing assistance in Gaza, where Hamas control endangers the lives of Gaza's citizens and degrades an already dire humanitarian and economic situation," the notice said, without providing additional details.
In addition to this reduction in gifts from the American taxpayers to Palestinian entities intent on destroying Israel, the Trump administration has frozen $65 million in aid to the U.N. Relief and Works Administration (UNRWA), an agency shot through with corruption.
The usual sources of outrage are outraged that the sponsorship of terror and dedication to destruction of Israel do not merit gifts from America.
J Street, which the New York Times laughably describes as " a liberal Jewish organization that advocates better relations between Israel and the Palestinians," called the cuts a "moral outrage."
"This is just the latest move by this administration to cruelly punish Palestinian civilians and marginalize and undercut Palestinian leadership," the organization said.
Reuters reports:
U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy, a Democrat, criticized the Trump administration's decision.
"Inhabitants of Gaza are already suffering severe hardships under the tyranny of Hamas and border restrictions imposed by Israel.  It is the Palestinian people, virtual prisoners in an increasingly volatile conflict, who will most directly suffer the consequences of this callous and ill-advised attempt to respond to Israel's security concerns."

The Islamic University of Gaza (credit: Mo7aisen).
All of this comes as a prelude to the unveiling of the Middle East Peace Plan being put together by Jared Kushner, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and others. I strongly suspect that this plan will call for both Palestinian entities to accept Israel’s right to exist (something Crown prince MbS already did, changing that kingdom’s stance since the founding of Israel) or face very unpleasant consequences. Removal of parts of the aid security blanket that has nurtured the world’s first hereditary group of “refugees” is only a first step.
The times, they are a’ changing, and it’s about time. Acceptance of Israel legitimacy and integration into its thriving economy would improve the lives of Palestinians more than any aid budget possibly could.

Thomas Lifson


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In New Mexico, Terrorists sign themselves out of Pretrial Detention - Matthew Vadum

by Matthew Vadum

The creepy no-cash-bail movement frees a Muslim terrorist cell.

A potentially catastrophic soft-on-crime reform enacted in New Mexico and now threatening to spread to other states has outraged national security advocates by allowing the alleged leaders of a Muslim terrorist training compound to be granted bail by a Democrat judge.
Excessive bail requirements have long been forbidden by the Eighth Amendment (1791) to the U.S. Constitution. But the no-cash-bail movement that made the recent release of these Islamic militants possible is a subset of the treacherous anti-incarceration movement that’s been sweeping the nation. Changes to New Mexico’s bail laws were approved by voters in 2016. Similar changes are being considering in New Jersey and California. San Francisco already lets accused rapists and kidnappers out on bail.
In a nutshell, leftists like Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), joined by more than a few conservatives and Republicans such as Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, is arguing that the very idea of bail itself is unfair because poor defendants are going to have more trouble raising cash to get released from jail pending trial than wealthier defendants. Whether or not they are actually guilty of the crimes they are charged with, keeping poor people in pretrial detention is somehow unjust, left-wingers claim. Among the notable leftist groups backing this attack on the institution of bail are the ACLU, the ACORN successor group known as Texas Organizing Project, Color of Change, and Black Lives Matter.
Here is a quick recap of what just happened in New Mexico.                                                                                                  
Siraj Ibn Wahhaj Jr. of Clayton County, Ga., was arrested after authorities found 11 hungry, filthy children living in squalid conditions in Taos County in a remote part of New Mexico near the Colorado state line. Wahhaj, who has been charged with felony child abuse, had reportedly been training the children to commit school shootings. The remains of a three-year-old disabled boy, since identified as Wahhaj’s son, were discovered on the property which was filled with weapons. Five defendants were arrested but then granted bail, over the objections of prosecutors.
New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez (R) said she "strongly disagreed" with the court’s decision to free the defendants.
"You have a person who is training kids to shoot up schools, they have a compound that is like a third-world country," said State Republican Party Chairman Ryan Cangiolosi. "There's a child's body on the compound — I believe that allowing them to be released is absurd."
Each of the five defendants –Wahhaj, Lucan Allen Morten, Hujrah Wahhaj, Jany Leveille, and Subhannah Wahhaj— has been charged with 11 counts of child abuse. Siraj Ibn Wahhaj Jr. has also been charged with being a fugitive from justice. Morton is charged with harboring a fugitive.
Wahhaj is the son of an influential Democrat-connected jihadist imam who shares his name. The elder Wahhaj, who is deeply involved in Democratic Party politics and is tied to international terrorism, was close to the “Blind Sheikh,” Omar Abdel Rahman, who was convicted of orchestrating the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993 that left seven people (including an unborn baby) dead. Rahman died in prison last year.
Much to the prosecutors’ chagrin, the state’s request to deny bail to the five terrorists who ought never to see the light of day again was shot down by Sarah C. Backus, a Democrat who is a judge in the Eighth Judicial District of New Mexico. Backus was reelected in 2014 for a term that expires at the end of 2020.
Citing a voter-approved state law she claimed left her no choice but to order the release of the jihadist quintet, Backus set bail at a mere $20,000 per defendant with no up-front deposit, along with a requirement that they be placed under house arrest and wear an electronic monitoring device. They face a financial penalty if they violate the terms of their bail. (Read the bail order here.)
Evidence that a child died at the terrorist training compound and that 11 children were abused there by Muslim fanatics apparently had no effect on Backus who rejected claim after claim presented by prosecutors.
"All this information is troubling and unusual but it is not clear and convincing evidence of dangerousness," the judge determined.
"The state alleges that there was a big plan afoot but the state hasn't shown to my satisfaction and by clear and convincing evidence what that plan was," Backus ruled, adding that none of the defendants has a criminal record.
Judge Backus also played cute, ignoring the role that Muslims played in the terrorist attacks of 9/11 that left 3,000 dead and thousands more injured, as well as the steady stream of Muslim terrorist attacks and attempted attacks in the U.S. that have followed in the years since.
It was as if Backus was attempting to preemptively immunize herself against possible claims at her next ACLU cocktail party that she was an anti-Muslim bigot.
In her bail order she included this baffling digression:
“The defendants are apparently of the Muslim faith. Siraj ibn Wahhaj made a trip to Saudi Arabia last year. (The State admitted that observant Muslims by their faith are required to visit Mecca once in their lifetimes.) The Court was asked by the State to make a finding of dangerousness and a finding that no conditions of release could insure the safety of the community. The State apparently expected the Court to take the individuals' faith into account in making such a determination. The Court has never been asked to take any other person's faith into account in making a determination of dangerousness. The Court is not aware of any law that allows the Court to take a person’s faith into consideration in making a dangerousness determination.”
After siding with the Islamists, Backus has faced death threats. Her supporters defend her by pointing to the 2016 voter-approved amendment to the state constitution governing the pretrial detention and release of people charged with crimes.
Before the so-called bail reform was enacted, bail could only be refused to a defendant facing a capital felony, one with two or more felony convictions in the state, or one accused of a felony involving the use of a deadly weapon if the defendant had a felony conviction in New Mexico.
The amendment, according to an official legislative analysis, allowed:
“bail to be denied for a defendant who has been charged with a felony if the prosecutor can prove to a judge that the defendant poses a threat to the public. The proposed amendment would also provide that a defendant who is not a danger to the community or a flight risk cannot be denied bail solely because of the defendant's financial inability to post a money or property bond.”
In other words, the change in the law gave poor people a kind of get-out-of-jail-free card. Even obviously dangerous poor people like Wahhaj and his four fellow soldiers of Allah can’t be kept behind bars while awaiting trial in New Mexico.
New Mexico offered this startling, dishonest rationalization for the new approach to bail:
New Mexico, like the federal government and an increasing number of states in recent years, has been changing old dysfunctional practices to better protect public safety and improve the fairness of its pretrial justice system.  Every jurisdiction that has seriously studied the problem has concluded that meaningful reforms in the way we distinguish between arrestees we hold in jail pretrial and those we allow to remain free until their guilt is determined at trial can be accomplished only by moving from a money-based system to an evidence-of-risk-based system of release and detention.
Of course the old time-honored system of bail doesn’t ignore evidence at all and isn’t actually “money-based.” It merely provides an incentive in the form of potential financial penalties to defendants thinking of absconding before trial. Only a Marxist convinced of the fundamental unfairness of markets would call such an evidence-centered system money-based.
Which must be why Bernie Sanders supports misguided so-called reforms like those in New Mexico that are keeping scary Muslim militants like Siraj Ibn Wahhaj Jr. on the streets.
Matthew Vadum, senior vice president at the investigative think tank Capital Research Center, is an award-winning investigative reporter and author of the book, "Subversion Inc.: How Obama’s ACORN Red Shirts Are Still Terrorizing and Ripping Off American Taxpayers."


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UCLA is a Disgrace - Shiri Moshe

by Shiri Moshe

University to host student conference that advocates ‘destruction’ of Jewish self-determination.

[Update: It appears that UCLA is unsure about hosting this conference in November.]
Reprinted from The Algemeiner.​
National Students for Justice in Palestine announced on Sunday that it will host its eighth annual conference at the University of California, Los Angeles, drawing concerns from some members of the school’s pro-Israel community.
The event, based on the theme of “resistance in the face of adversity,” will take place from November 16-18.
In a note explaining the conference’s goals, National SJP and its chapter at UCLA defined Zionism — a diverse national liberation movement that supports the Jewish people’s right to self-determination in their historic homeland — as “ethnic cleansing, destruction, mass expulsion, apartheid, and death.”
Prominent Jewish groups like the World Jewish Congress and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations — whose umbrella includes the nation’s principal bodies of Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox Judaism — have in the past described Zionism as “a longstanding and sincerely held religious belief central to the Jewish religion.”
The conference will seek to remind students “that Zionism is not an insurmountable force,” the organizers explained. “The reason we can have hope is that Zionism is a human ideology and a set of laws that have been challenged and can be destroyed.”
Participants will need to “work on reframing Zionism” as a concrete force “that can be broken down and dismantled,” particularly through local campaigns with “clear targets.”
Workshops at the event will enable students to pick up the skills necessary for coalition building, fundraising, and combating “normalization” — often defined as interactions between Palestinians and Israelis (and/or their supporters) that may include the legitimization of Zionism, even in the context of Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation work.
The conference will also help build “regional momentum” in the West Coast, as well as examine how successful divestment resolutions targeting Israel have recently been implemented in the UC system, in order to serve as a model for other SJP chapters.
These resolutions, a hallmark of SJP’s work on campus, are part of the broader boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel and its supporters. The Palestinian-led movement describes itself as an effort “to isolate Israel academically, culturally, economically and militarily,” in order to force the country to comply with international law. Critics accuse it of aiming to dismantle the Jewish state, a goal accepted by BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti, who has in the past rejected the notion that Jewish people have a right to self-determination by claiming that they are not a nation.
Several studies have suggested that anti-Zionist activity like BDS is a contributing factor in the rise of antisemitism on US college campuses, with the head of UCLA’s Students Supporting Israel (SSI) group accusing SJP of using “racist and hateful tactics” while forcefully disrupting its “Indigenous Peoples Unite” event this past May.
Aided by members of the off-campus Revolutionary Communist Party, the protesters tore down Armenian and Israeli flags, threw SSI materials onto the ground, and used bullhorns to chant slogans calling for the establishment of a Palestinian state in place of Israel, including, “we want 48, we don’t want two states,” and “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”
The incident — which was condemned by UCLA officials, and is currently being reviewed by a Los Angeles city prosecutor — was a “personal attack” on Jewish students and “their identities, their freedoms, and their safeties,” Hirmand Daniel Sarafian, president of SSI at UCLA, told The Algemeiner. “SJP acted violently to remind Jewish, pro-Israel students, and their partners that they are a violent organization on our campus [that denies freedom of speech], as in other parts of the country.”
“By bringing its national conference to our campus, SJP not only ignores the victims of the ‘Indigenous Peoples Unite’ disruption, it acts to further humiliate them,” he said.
Sarafian described Zionism as a movement for the return of “an ancient and indigenous people” to their homeland “after millennia of colonization and imperialism by foreign occupying forces.”
“Today, decades after the Jewish people have returned to their home to establish an indigenous and democratic state, its people have faced the same anti-Semitism and Zionophobia employed in the ideologies of the land’s colonizers,” he asserted. “SJP and other groups actively seek the advancement of such hateful ideologies, and as evidenced by May 17th, have used violent and harmful means to do so.”
He urged the university to “continue with a thorough investigation into SJP,” and “take the correct measures to ensure the [safety] of all Jewish and Zionist students.”
Asaf Romirowsky, executive director of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, pointed out that SJP is a subsidiary of American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), which he said has “direct ties” to the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas.
AMP and several of its affiliates are accused in an ongoing lawsuit of serving as the “successors and alter egos” of a Hamas-support network that in 2004 was found liable for the death of American teenager David Boim at a bus stop near Jerusalem in 1996.
Hatem Bazian — chairman of AMP and co-founder of SJP, who works as a lecturer at UC Berkeley — dismissed the lawsuit as “frivolous” when it was first introduced last year.
“They are using the Islamophobic environment we are in to try to tarnish and defame an organisation that is in good standing, and has been working diligently to provide a perspective on the Palestine cause to the American public,” he told Reuters.
Romirowsky indicated that these alleged ties should encourage UCLA “to be much more concerned about the sources of the money [for the conference] and what they are allowing to come in to their institution.”
A spokesperson for the school told The Algemeiner that it “is bound by the First Amendment, which protects everyone’s right to express their ideas, even those that are controversial or unpopular.”
He noted that a student conduct process was launched after SJP’s disruption of the SSI event, and that the administration “remains committed to protecting all of our students, regardless of their religious or ethnic identities or political beliefs.”
“Today we are proud that UCLA has many intellectual and cultural links to Jewish and Israeli institutions,” the spokesperson added. “Many UCLA schools, departments, and institutes have active student and faculty exchange programs with Israel and we have study abroad programs at the Hebrew University, the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and the Technion.”
Yet Romirowsky cautioned that the SJP conference, which “calls for the destruction of another people,” remains “problematic in a variety of ways.”
The rhetoric advanced by SJP includes “the demonization of Israel, and of Jews and Israelis at large,” and “is predominantly also anti-Western and anti-American,” he said. “None of this is helpful for any kind of reconciliation or discussion of a two-state solution.”
While National SJP does not explicitly endorse a specific solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it does require all of the 200 chapters it claims nationwide to accept its “points of unity,” which are identical to those supported by the BDS campaign. They include a call for the “right of return” of Palestinians displaced by the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and their roughly five million descendants to Israel, which Jerusalem says would effectively turn the country into a Palestinian-majority state.
National SJP and SJP at UCLA did not immediately respond to The Algemeiner‘s request for comment.
National SJP’s last conference took place in October at the University of Houston, months after several students at the school were accused of sharing “disturbing” social media posts relating to Jews and Israel. During its 2016 conference at George Mason University, the group sold apparel with the image of a rifle-bearing Leila Khaled — a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a blacklisted terrorist organization responsible for multiple suicide bombings and other massacres — alongside the caption, “Resistance is not terrorism.”
Other conferences have been hosted at San Diego State University, Tufts University, Stanford University, the University of Michigan, and Columbia University.

Shiri Moshe is the senior campus correspondent for The Algemeiner. She formerly worked as an associate editor at The Tower. She holds a BA degree in English and International Studies from Nova Southeastern University.​


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Macron's Partition of France? - Yves Mamou

by Yves Mamou

The tradition in France ever since the 1905 secularism law -- one accepted by all religions except Islam -- is that religion may not to impose its rules on secular society. Now it is France that must adapt to Islam.

  • The first legislative rider abolished the obligation of religious associations to declare themselves as lobbying groups -- a measure that clearly opens the way for entities such as the Muslim Brotherhood to lobby Members of Parliament without leaving a trace.
  • Is it, however, the business of the secular State of France to organize Muslims and train "republican" imams?
  • The tradition in France ever since the 1905 secularism law -- one accepted by all religions except Islam -- is that religion may not to impose its rules on secular society. Now it is France that must adapt to Islam.
  • The big question is: Who will be heading and managing this new framework? Will it be the Muslim Brotherhood, the most powerful organization, which controls more than 2,000 mosques in France? Or a young guard of Muslim technocrats close to the president but with no ties to mosques, imams and the organized Muslim community in general?
In a confessional book, "A President Shouldn't Say That...", published in 2016, a few months before the 2017 French presidential election, France's then President François Hollande admitted that France has "a problem with Islam. No one doubts it," he wrote. He wrote as well that France has a problem with veiled women in public and with mass immigration. Then he added: "How can one avoid a partition? Because that is still what is happening: a partition".

The "partition" about which Hollande was talking was the partition of France -- one part for Muslims and another for non-Muslims.

Hollande's successor, President Emmanuel Macron, elected to office in 2017, appears to think that this risk of partition is actually the solution. Looking at what he has said and done since his election, one can say that the division of the country is in progress. Officially, of course, Macron continues to be the guardian of the Constitution, which embodies national unity. But step by step, a strategy of the partition of France appears to be at work.

The first step of this partition process was, it seems, to create a new adversary. For Macron, the adversary was not radical Islam, which some see as having murdered hundreds of people in France in recent years, but radical secularism, which has never murdered anybody. In December 2017, for instance, a few months after his election, Macron organized a meeting with the representatives of six religions (Catholic, Protestant, Eastern Orthodox, Muslim, Jewish and Buddhist) at the presidential Elysée Palace. At this meeting, Macron reportedly "critically questioned the radicalization of secularism." Not much filtered out of this meeting beyond that little quote -- presumably on purpose. In October 2016, before his election, Macron had denounced the defenders of "a spiteful vision of secularism." After his election, however, the presidential creed has never varied. According to it, political Islam is a not the problem; the resistance to it is.

In this strategy -- to isolate secularism and build it up as the new adversary -- Macron needed allies. He found one easily in the guise of the Catholic Church, which has suffered in France since a law in 1905 broke the link between Church and state. In April 2018, Macron accepted an invitation from the Conference of Bishops of France, and, in the sumptuous decor of the College of the Bernardins, in front of more than 400 Catholic personages, the President of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron, delivered an erudite and lyrical speech, empty of any proposition apart from an allusion to "repair the damaged link" between the Church and the state. After the speech, the 400 Catholic officials jumped to their feet and gave him a standing ovation.

In June 2018, Macron revitalized his vision by visiting Pope Francis in the Vatican and accepting from him the inherited title of Honorary Canon of the Basilica of St. John Lateran. Macron also reaffirmed his willingness "to deepen our relations of friendship and trust with the Holy See".

With this powerful Catholic ally in his pocket, Macron could launch the second stage of what seems his partition strategy: To launch a process of empowering the Muslims in France by entrusting them with the keys of "urban policy," the synonym for France's integration and assimilation policy. In the last 30 years, the French state has poured 48 billion euros into renewal projects in the poor suburbs that house millions of immigrants -- including millions of first-, second- and third-generation Muslim immigrants. The new buildings, new roads and new public transit vehicles, however, seem to have produced the opposite of the desired effect: recurrent riots, attacks on schools and police precincts, drug dealing on almost every corner, a proliferation of Salafist mosques and more than 1,700 jihadists gone to join ISIS.

In May 2018, Macron skillfully rejected the recommendation of the Borloo Report to pour another 48 billion euros over another 30 years, a policy that has already failed. Instead of continuing to buy a (shaky) social peace with billions of taxpayers' money, Macron did better: he created the "Presidential Council of the City", a political structure, composed mostly of Muslim notables (two third of the total members of the Council) and representatives of organizations working in the suburbs. Today, this body is in charge of monitoring the urban policy. There are no more billions, but there is a "Muslim advisory committee" to redirect the money from the old policy. Two agencies are involved in financing the renovation of neighborhoods in "sensitive urban areas": ANRU (National Agency for Urban Renewal) and ACSÉ (Agency for Social Cohesion and Equal Opportunities). Both of these agencies will soon be replaced by the Office of the Commissioner General for Territorial Equality. The budget devoted to the urban policy, described in the draft budget, law amounts to 429 million euros for 2018.

The idea of entrusting the keys of the Muslim suburbs to Islamic organizations is not new. It was first formulated by State Counselor Thierry Tuot in a famous report, "The Great Nation: For an Inclusive society", presented in 2013 to then-Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault. The main proposal in the report was to transfer urban policy to Islamic organizations, with the role of the State being reduced merely to subsidize them.

To complete this scheme of empowering political Islam in France, two legislative riders were voted in the "Law for a State in the Service of a Trusting Society", at the end of June 2018. The first legislative rider abolished the obligation of religious associations from declaring themselves as lobbying groups. This measure clearly opens the way for entities such as the Muslim Brotherhood movement to lobby Members of Parliament without leaving a trace. The second legislative rider -- in contravention of the secularism law of 1905 -- authorized all religious organizations to act as private actors in the real estate market. According to the Comité Laïcité République (Committee for Secularism of the Republic, CLR), this legislative rider would deprive a municipality or a region of the ability to appropriate land or buildings sold by a church or a mosque. "Thus, the code of town planning and the law of 1905 would be modified for this purpose" said CLR. In other words, private funding for creeds is allowed.

The third stage of partition is a work in progress. It concerns the tentative plan to build an "Islam of France" -- disconnected from the old "Islam in France." In other words, the Grand Mosque of Paris may no longer be considered as if it is the equivalent of the Algerian Embassy. "As soon as this autumn, we will give to Islam a framework and rules to be sure this religion will be exercised in a manner consistent with the laws of the Republic", Macron said. It was a surprising declaration because the tradition in France since the 1905 law -- and a tradition accepted by all religions except Islam -- is that religion may not to impose its rules on secular society. Now it seems that France has to adapt to Islam.

The Grand Mosque of Paris. (Image source: LPLT/Wikimedia Commons)

What will happen in September? The government seems to be thinking of doing whatAustria did: cutting the financial ties between French Muslim communities and their countries of origin (e.g. Turkey, Algeria, Morocco); creating a tax on the halal business (which makes more than 6 billion euros annually), and then using these new tax revenues to train "republican" imams in France.

The government also appears to intend to create a kind of national agency to organize pilgrimages to Mecca. Estimated at more than 250 million euros, the business of pilgrimages is trusteed by about 40 Muslim travel agencies approved by the Ministry of Hajj of Saudi Arabia to receive their quotas of visas. Many Muslim travel agencies are rumored to operate illegally and charge exorbitant prices for bad service. So, Macron is supposed to reform and give the system an appearance of "normalcy". These are the "framework" and "laws" Macron is talking about.

The big question is: Who will be heading and managing this framework? The Muslim Brotherhood, the most powerful organization, which controls more than 2,000 mosques in France? Or a young guard of Muslim technocrats close to president but with no ties to mosques, imams and the organized Muslim community in general? We will soon know. Additionally, rumors are spreading that Tareq Oubrou, an imam in Bordeaux, and known to be a prominent figure of Muslim Brotherhood, could become "Grand Imam of France".

Is it, however, the business of the secular State of France to organize Muslims and train "republican" imams? No, not even slightly. Is it a problem that two-thirds of the imams serving in France are not fluent in French? Can Islamist imams be trained the "republican" way? Yes, but for what result? The imam of Brest, in Brittany, became famous because he was filmed explaining to children that music could transform a listener into a pig or a monkey, and he filmed himself drinking camel urine; it is written in a Hadith that camel urine is good as medicine. In 2017, the same imam of Brest was graduated, "referent-secularity" – meaning, an Islamist informed about what is secularism but with no obligation to respect it -- from the University of Rennes in Brittany.

Back in 1627, Cardinal de Richelieu, the prime minister of King Louis XIII, stormed the city of la Rochelle in southwest France to bring back the Protestants to the bosom of France. Now, in 2018, Macron is providing aid to French Muslims to bring back the Muslims to the bosom of France.

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Yves Mamou, author and journalist, based in France, worked for two decades as a journalist for Le Monde. His next book, "Le Grand abandon, les élites françaises et l'islamisme," (The Great Abandonment, French Elites and Islamism) is to be published in October, 2018.


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Trump's Fake Allies in the Gulf - Burak Bekdil

by Burak Bekdil

It is clearly time for Washington to rethink its theoretical but fake alliance with Qatar, a tiny Gulf sheikhdom that is trying to neutralize U.S. efforts to sanction Turkey

  • Ahmed Charai, in an article for The National Interest, has forcefully reminded the world that: "As Qatar faces international pressure to stop harboring senior [Muslim] Brotherhood figures, there are clear indications that it will facilitate their migration to Turkey. So among the urgent challenges for the U.S. allies to address is the question of how to weaken this budding alliance."
  • Charai has a point. There is a "more-mature-than-emerging" anti-U.S. alliance among U.S.'s presumed Middle East allies
  • What should matter to Washington in this Turkish soap opera is the fact that Turkey is getting support, in its confrontation with the U.S., from "like-minded" countries: Russia, China and Qatar. It is clearly time for Washington to rethink its theoretical but fake alliance with Qatar, a tiny Gulf sheikhdom that is trying to neutralize U.S. efforts to sanction Turkey -- another theoretical ally that is more like-minded with Russia than with the West.
In theory, the oil-rich sheikhdom of Qatar is an ally of the United States. The peninsula hosts more than 10,000 U.S. military personnel and approximately 72 F-15 fighter jets at its Al Udeid military base. In this turbulent part of the world, alliances, like enmities, can be treacherous. In March, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the US House of Representatives was already looking at four alternatives that could become the military headquarters when the Al Udeid contract with Qatar will expire in 2023. After "closely observing its [Qatar's] financial and banking system due to fears of support for terrorist organisations and individuals associated with them," Washington apparently decided it had to rethink Al Udeid and its Qatari "allies."

Pictured: An F-117 and F-15s prepare to launch from the U.S. Air Force base at Al Udeid, Qatar. (Image source: USAF/Wikimedia Commons)

Enter Turkey. The Qataris, not knowing that their grandchildren would one day be the best strategic allies of their Ottoman colonialists' grandchildren, fought the Ottomans to gain their independence in 1915, thereby ending the 44-year-long Ottoman rule in the peninsula. Independence had come at last. It lasted for about a year, until 1916, when Qatar became a British protectorate until 1971. Today, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's Turkey is Qatar's best ally. This alliance is structured on common ideology featuring pro-Hamas, pro-Muslim Brotherhood Islamism.

Ahmed Charai, in an article for The National Interest, has forcefully reminded the world that:
"As Qatar faces international pressure to stop harboring senior [Muslim] Brotherhood figures, there are clear indications that it will facilitate their migration to Turkey. So among the urgent challenges for the U.S. allies to address is the question of how to weaken this budding alliance."
Charai has a point. There is a "more-mature-than-emerging" anti-U.S. alliance among U.S.'s presumed Middle East allies.

The Qataris nevertheless seem not to want to disturb Washington's sweet sleep. According to O'Dwyer's, in June, Qatar signed a $12 million contract with Blueprint Advisors, "a firm that has close ties with president Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani." Under the deal, in an apparent lobbying effort, Blueprint Advisors "will assist Qatar's attorney general Ali Al-Marri to keep American decision-makers informed of his country's anti-terrorism and pro-peace policies."

When in 2017 four Arab countries -- Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain -- imposed a blockade on Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorism and fostering ties with their rival, Iran, Erdoğan rushed to the aid of his Qatari friends. In a show of solidarity, Turkey sent cargo ships and hundreds of planes loaded with food to break the blockade. Turkey also deployed more troops at its military base in Qatar.

A year later, Turkey is being sanctioned by the U.S. and Qatar has rushed to its aid.
Turkey's troubles with its NATO ally has a multitude of reasons: divergences over the future of Syria; Turkey's decision to buy and deploy the Russian-made S-400 anti-aircraft and anti-missile system on its soil, a first for a NATO member state; U.S. sanctions on two Turkish government ministers due to Turkey's refusal to free Andrew Brunson, an American evangelical Christian pastor living in Turkey and facing bogus charges of terrorism and espionage; a U.S. congressional decision to block delivery of arms systems to Turkey, including the F-35 stealth fighter; potential U.S. sanctions on a Turkish state bank; and President Donald Trump's decision to double tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum, which prompted retaliatory Turkish actions against U.S.-made goods, and prompting President Erdoğan's call for a national boycott on U.S. electronics, including Apple devices.
This diplomatic crisis between the U.S and Turkey comes at a time when the Turkish economy seems vulnerable, unable to endure the combination of economic and political warfare with a superpower.

Turkey's 12-month current account deficit was $57.4 billion in June, representing a record high of approximately 6% of the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The annual interest rate on 10-year government bonds hovers around 21%. "Debt piled up elsewhere in the economy, too", according to Foreign Policy. "[T]he government, banks, factories, restauranteurs, and homeowners all binged on cheap credit from abroad—to the tune of $460 billion, more than half of Turkey's GDP."

On August 21, 2017, the U.S. dollar closed at 3.49 liras on the foreign currency markets. Exactly a year later, the dollar was being traded at 6.06 liras. The Turkish lira's value fellby almost a third against the dollar in the first three weeks of August alone.

On August 17, two international ratings agencies, Moody's and S&P, pushed Turkey's debt rating deeper into junk territory, now on par with Argentina and Greece. "The absence of an orthodox monetary policy response to the lira's fall, and the rhetoric of the Turkish authorities have increased the difficulty of restoring economic stability and sustainability," said Fitch, a third ratings agency, which had downgraded Turkey in July.
Erdoğan accused the U.S. of waging "economic war" against his nation. He warned that Turkey would "start looking for new friends and allies" if Washington did not give up the "misguided notion that our relationship can be asymmetrical."

Three "new friends" gave signs of solidarity with Turkey, a part-time NATO ally. Russia declared that "it will decrease its holdings of US assets in retaliation against crippling tariffs imposed by US President Mr Trump on Russia and Turkey."

Then Beijing came into the picture:
"China offered moral support to Turkey on Friday as Ankara reeled from a currency crisis and U.S. sanctions, saying it believed the country could overcome its 'temporary' economic difficulties, in Beijing's first comment on the issue."
Finally, Erdoğan's Gulf allies in Doha, Qatar, rushed to Ankara in a show of solidarity full of greenbacks. After meeting with Erdoğan in Ankara, Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani pledged $15 billion in direct investment to help Turkey get through the crunch. In similar efforts to provide Turkey's ailing economy with a lifeline, the central banks of Qatar and Turkey signed a currency swap agreement, a deal that aims to enhance bilateral cooperation between the two banks through setting a "two-way currency exchange line."
The markets, however, have not been impressed. Ahmet Doğan, founder of Sigma Insight, an Ankara-based think tank, was quoted in the August 18-24 print edition of The Economist as saying: "That's too small an amount to stabilize Turkey's currency, markets and economy." The lira kept falling after the Qatari help was announced. As The Economist put it: "... promises of investment from allies like Qatar will provide dollars but not credibility."

What should matter to Washington in this Turkish soap opera is the fact that Turkey is getting support, in its confrontation with the U.S., from "like-minded" countries. Russia, it appears, would like cracks as large as possible inside the NATO bloc. Qatar, an ideological partner for Turkey, is united around anti-Semitic, Islamist sentiments so powerful that, based on the idea of a "common enemy" and despite its Sunni supremacism, it has allied itself with Shiite Iran.

It is clearly time for Washington to rethink its theoretical but fake alliance with Qatar, a tiny Gulf sheikhdom that is trying to neutralize U.S. efforts to sanction Turkey -- another theoretical ally that is more like-minded with Russia than with the West.

Burak Bekdil, one of Turkey's leading journalists, was recently fired from the country's most noted newspaper after 29 years, for writing in Gatestone what is taking place in Turkey. He is a Fellow at the Middle East Forum.


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