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October 13, 2015 / 30 Tishri, 5776
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Arab World’

Obama Has Remorse for Morsi

Wednesday, June 17th, 2015

President Barack Obama is “deeply troubled” over yesterday’s death sentence to former Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi, who led the Muslim Brotherhood’s violent rebellion against Hosni Mubarak and then wears thrown out of office for the same crimes as his predecessor.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said:

We are deeply troubled by the politically motivated sentences that have been handed down against former president Morsi and several others by an Egyptian court today. The United States has repeatedly raised concerns about the detention and sentencing of a variety of political figures in Egypt. We are concerned that proceedings have been conducted in a way that is not only contrary to universal values but also damaging to stability that all Egyptians deserve.

The death sentence actually was a confirmation of the same ruling previously delivered by an Egyptian court, which re-affirmed it Tuesday after its approval by the Grand Mufti. Morsi will appeal the ruling.

Morsi was convicted for murder and kidnapping during a massive jailbreak he helped organize in the uprising against Hosni Mubarak in 2011. He also was sentenced on Tuesday to 25 years in jail, which is considered “life” in the Egyptian courts, for espionage.

Mubarak was a ruthless autocrat who maintained stability with the usual Middle East Arab anti-democratic rule.

The Arab Spring protest movement, which was encouraged by President Obama, swept through Egypt, forced Mubarak out of office and was followed by American-backed elections that were democratic, but only by Egypt’s standards

The Muslim Brotherhood, which had been outlawed under the Mubarak regime, swept into power and was welcomed by Obama, whose office said at the time:

The United States will continue to support Egypt’s transition to democracy and stand by the Egyptian people as they fulfill the promise of their revolution He [Obama] emphasized his interest in working together with President-elect Morsi, on the basis of mutual respect, to advance the many shared interests between Egypt and the United States.

After it became clear that Morsi was Mubarak by a different name, only worse, and after his regime murdered, tortured and imprisoned thousands of protesters, Obama stated:

When I took a position that it was time for Egypt to transition [away from Hosni Mubarak in 2011], it was based on the fact that Egypt had not had democratic government for decades, if ever. And that’s what the people were calling for.

So why is Obama so troubled over the death sentence to Morsi and not death sentences for Palestinian Authority Arabs who sell land to Jews, or drug dealers and even those convicted for blasphemy and who are executed in Saudi Arabia?

And if he is so concerned that the death sentence was politically motivated, how about alleged spies for Israel who are hanged by Iran?

Or could it be that President Obama doesn’t want history to record that a man whom he once supported was sentenced to death for murder and terror?

Obama also has supported Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi who has turned out to be another version of Mubarak.

But it does not matter so long as the United States has declared there is democracy in Egypt.

Arabs Charge Obama With Turning His Back on Iraqi Prime Minister [video]

Friday, June 12th, 2015

The White House has vehemently denied charges that President Barack Obama literally turned his back on Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi at the G7 summitt in Germany this week.

GulfNews.com posted a video showing Abadi sitting down on a bench where President Obama was talking with two other leaders. Obama’s back was turned to Abadi. The President continued to talk as if the newcomer didn’t exist, but it obviously was not intentional since the Iraqi leader approached the bench in the middle of the conservation.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that anyone looking at the scene and concluding that Obama  was snubbing Abadi is “telegraphing some insecurities that date back to junior high.”

Earnest obviously is right, as the video below shows, but the Arab reaction makes it clear that despite its being  sensitive, ego-centric and arrogant, it also interprets every word and body language of President Obama as a slur against Arabs.

When Obama “reached out Muslims” in Cairo in 2009, he did not realize whom he was dealing with.

And he still doesn’t.

Just ask Iran.

UN Castigates Saudis for Bombing Houthis and Their Human Shields After 24-Hour Warning

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015

We’ve seen this movie before.

A recent exchange between UN representatives in Yemen and Saudi Arabian officials sounded just like the ones that take place between the UN and Israel over Hamas in Gaza.

On Sunday, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen Johannes Van Der Klauuw said he was “deeply concerned” by the Saudi-led coalition strikes on northern Yemen. The UN warned that the “indiscriminate bombing of populated areas a violation of international law.”

The UN claims the airstrikes have killed at least 1,400 people and more than half of them were civilians.

Saudi’s military spokesperson, Brigadier General Ahmed Asiri, responded to the UN criticism, saying Iranian-backed Houthi rebels are using hospitals and schools to store weapons, which is why they have been targeted by airstrikes.

On Sunday, the Saudis reportedly also targeted the home of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh in Sanaa, Yemen’s capital. Saleh is unharmed, according to a BBC report.

The Saudis have declared the northern province of Saada, located on the Saudi border, a “military zone”, and on Friday dropped leaflets warning local civilians to get out before the attacks began.

On Saturday, the Sunni coalition said it has conducted 130 airstrikes in 24-hours against Houthi targets in Saada.

Van Der Klauuw warned that the “indiscriminate bombing of populated areas, with or without prior warning, is in contravention of international humanitarian law. Many civilians are effectively trapped in Saada as they are unable to access transport because of the fuel shortage. The target of an entire governorate will put the countless civilians at risk.”

International law of warfare, as understood by the UN, seems to face an inescapable dilemma.

It calls on both sides to not put civilians in harms way. But when one side purposely does, it doesn’t allows the other side any reasonable means of defense or attack against the initial international law-breakers.

So instead we’re left with laughably ineffectual and meaningless statements such as Van der Klaauw’s suggestion, “all parties must avoid using populated areas as launching grounds for attacks.”

From experience, we all know statements like that really stop Iran’s clients and proxies from using their human shields as they attack their enemies.

It’s about time the international laws of war be updated to reflect how the bad guys are actually fighting.

A five-day, Saudi-initiated, humanitarian truce is set to begin today.

It all sounds so familiar.

Israel Counter-Terror Bureau Nixes Travel to Tunisia

Sunday, May 3rd, 2015

Israel’s National Counter-Terrorism Bureau is warning citizens to avoid visiting Tunisia, especially during the upcoming holiday of Lag B’Omer.

A warning published in the travel advisory guide issued by the Prime Minister’s Office was designation as a Level 2 alert. The advisory said there was a “concrete and high threat” that terrorist groups are planning attacks against Jewish and Israeli attacks in Tunisia.

“The recommendation is to avoid visiting Tunisia” at this time, the warning said.

But Tunisia’s Interior Ministry issued a statement countering the warning and denying that any danger existed.

It’s a high-stakes issue for Tunisia, which is still struggling to restore the bountiful tourism industry it once enjoyed.

The country’s Jasmine Revolution overthrew the government and launched the region-wide Arab Spring four years ago, sweeping away the regimes of at least three other Arab nations and destroying the stability of the Middle East. Along with it went the economies, manufacturing bases and tourism industries in many, including Tunisia, where it all started.

There is a custom to make a pilgrimage on the Jewish holiday of Lag B’Omer – coming up this Thursday – to visit the ancient synagogue on the Tunisian island of Djerba, home to a centuries-old Jewish community.

The El Ghriba Synagogue is one of the oldest synagogues in the Arab world. It is believed that kohanim (priests) from Jerusalem’s Holy Temple fled to the island during the period of the Roman occupation of the holy city. They allegedly brought with them a door from the Second Temple, as it was being destroyed by the Romans, and embedded it within a wall of the new synagogue they built on Djerba Island.

Until the Arab Spring, thousands of Jews from around the world came to Tunisia each year to celebrate Lag B’Omer on the island of Djerba. Most abandoned the practice in deference to security.

Saudi Website Blames US for 9/11

Thursday, September 12th, 2013


Al-Sakinah, a website by run the Saudi Arabian government, posted an article marking the 12th anniversary of the September 11 attacks which claimed that the U.S. “played a central role in transforming terror into a global [phenomenon],” according to the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

“This strategy allows [the U.S.] to redraw the map of the Arab countries… and to sow religious and sectarian war that enables it to control the future of the peoples and their states,” the article stated.

Around the world, jihadi extremists used the anniversary to praise the 9/11 attacks on social media and other online forums. “Manhattan, a fragment of hell, the stronghold of usury, was vaporized… the blood spilled, flesh was blown all over… [when] the arrogance [of the Americans] collapsed and retreated,” one poem read, according to MEMRI.

“Osama the lion… His position is firmly situated in a paradise,” one Facebook poster wrote next to a photo of the burning World Trade Center.

The Truth About Syria

Monday, August 26th, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

If you are interested in reading more about Syria, you’re welcome to read my book The Truth About Syria online or download it for free.


“It is my pleasure to meet with you in the new Middle East,” said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in a speech to the Syrian Journalists’ Union on August 15, 2006.1 But Bashar’s new Middle East was neither the one hoped for by many since Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s 1991 defeat in Kuwait nor expected when Bashar himself ascended the throne in 2000. Actually, it was not even new at all but rather a reversion, often in remarkable detail, to the Middle East of the 1950s through the 1980s. The Arab world, now accompanied by Iran, was re-embracing an era that was an unmitigated disaster for itself and extolling ideas and strategies which had repeatedly led it to catastrophe.

No Arab state had more to do with this important and tragic turnabout than does Syria, this development’s main architect and beneficiary. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and other Arab states wanted quiet; Iraq needed peace to rebuild itself. Even Libyan dictator Muammar Qadhafi, pressed by sanctions and scared by his Iraqi counterpart Saddam’s fate, was on his good behavior. Only Syria remained as a source of instability and radicalism.

Thus, a small state with a modest economy became the fulcrum on which the Middle East shifted and which, in turn, shook the globe. Indeed, Bashar’s version of the new Middle East may well persist for an entire generation. Does this make Bashar a fool or a genius? That cannot be determined directly. What can be said is that his policy is good for the regime, simultaneously brilliant and disastrous for Syria, and just plain disastrous for many others.

To understand Syria’s special feature, it is best to heed the all-important insight of a Lebanese-American scholar, Fouad Ajami: “Syria’s main asset, in contrast to Egypt’s preeminence and Saudi wealth, is its capacity for mischief.”

In the final analysis, the aforementioned mischief was in the service of regime maintenance, the all-encompassing cause and goal of the Syrian government’s behavior. Demagoguery, not the delivery of material benefits, is the basis of its power.

Why have those who govern Syria followed such a pattern for more than six decades under almost a dozen different regimes? The answer: Precisely because the country is a weak one in many respects. Aside from lacking Egypt’s power and Saudi Arabia’s money, it also falls short on internal coherence due to its diverse population and minority-dominated regime. In Iraq, Saddam Hussein used repression, ideology, and foreign adventures to hold together a system dominated by Sunni Arab Muslims who were only one-fifth of the population. In Syria, even more intense measures were needed to sustain an Alawite regime that rules based on a community only half as large proportionately.

To survive, then, the regime needs transcendent slogans and passionate external conflicts that help make its problems disappear. Arabism and, in more recent years, Islamism, are its solution. In this light, Syria’s rulers can claim to be not a rather inept, corrupt dictatorship but the rightful leaders of all Arabs and the champions of all Muslims. Their battle cries are very effectively used to justify oppression at home and aggression abroad. No other country in the world throws around the word “imperialism” more in describing foreign adversaries, and yet no other state on the globe follows a more classical imperialist policy.

In broad terms, this approach is followed by most, if not all, Arab governments, but Syria offers the purest example of the system. As for the consequences, two basic principles are useful to keep in mind:

1. It often seemed as if the worse Syria behaved, the better its regime does. Syrian leaders do not accept the Western view that moderation, compromise, an open economy, and peace are always better. When Syria acts radical, up to a point of course, it maximizes its main asset—causing trouble—which cancels out all its other weaknesses. As a dictatorship, militancy provided an excuse for tight controls and domestic popularity through its demagoguery.

2. Success for the regime and state means disaster for the people, society, and economy. The regime prospers by keeping Syrians believing that the battle against America and Israel, not freedom and prosperity, should be their top priority. External threats are used to justify internal repression. The state’s control over the economy means lower living standards for most while simultaneously preserving a rich ruling elite with lots of money to give to its supporters.

Palestinians Accuse Peace Negotiators of Treason

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

Originally published at the Gatestone Institute.

At the request of the Palestinian Authority leadership, the first round of peace talks with Israel, which was launched in Jerusalem on August 14, was held away from the media spotlight.

The Palestinian Authority leadership requested that no journalist or photographer be permitted to cover the meeting between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators.

Even the location of the peace talks was kept a secret, again at the request of the Palestinian Authority leadership.

The Palestinian Authority’s request for secrecy in the peace talks does not stem from its desire to secure the success of the negotiations.

It is not as if the Palestinian Authority is saying: We care so much about the peace talks that we prefer to avoid media coverage in order to make sure that the peace process succeeds.

The main reason the Palestinian Authority does not want the media to cover the peace talks is related to its fear of the reactions of Palestinians and the Arab world.

Mahmoud Abbas is already facing widespread opposition among Palestinians to his controversial decision — which was taken under heavy pressure from US Secretary of State John Kerry — to return to the negotiating table with Israel.

When the heads of the Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams, Tzipi Livni and Saeb Erekat, met in Washington earlier this month to announce the launching of the peace talks, many Palestinians and Arabs seized the opportunity to ridicule Erekat and accuse the Palestinian Authority leadership of treason.

A photo of Erekat and Livni standing together in Washington has since been exploited by Facebook and Twitter activists to hurl insults and profanity at the chief Palestinian negotiator.

Palestinian sources in Ramallah said that Erekat felt so offended by the insults and obscene language directed against him that he decided that there was no need for “photo op” with Livni or any other Israeli.

Both Abbas and Erekat are fully aware of the growing opposition among Palestinians and Arabs to the resumption of the peace talks with Israel under the terms of the US Administration.

That is why the two men do not want to be seen sitting in a room with any Israeli representative. They know that any photo of Erekat and Livni shaking hands or sitting together would provide their enemies with additional ammunition.

Those who think that the opposition to the peace talks is coming only from Hamas and other radical groups are either ignorant or turning a blind eye to the reality.

When Abbas agreed to resume the peace talks with Israel, he went against the recommendation of the PLO leadership, whose members rejected Kerry’s attempts to force the Palestinian Authority president to abandon two of his pre-conditions — namely, that Israel accept the pre-1967 lines as the basis for negotiations and freeze all construction in settlements and east Jerusalem neighborhoods.

Last week, the PLO officials once again reminded Abbas of their opposition to the peace talks.

During an August 15 meeting in Ramallah, several PLO leaders told Abbas that they remained opposed “in principle” to the idea of resuming peace talks with Israel under the current circumstances.

The only Palestinian official who has come out in public to voice support for Abbas’s move is the powerless Prime Minister, Rami Hamdallah.

Abbas and Erekat know that Hamdallah’s public endorsement of the peace talks does not carry any weight. After all, Hamdallah is an unelected public servant with no grassroots support or political base.

To further complicate matters for Abbas and Erekat, several Palestinian factions are now in the process of forming a “national alliance” the main goal of which is to thwart any deal between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. This rejectionist front will consist of various PLO and other factions and organizations and could create many problems for the Palestinian Authority.

But there is another reason why the Palestinian Authority leadership does not want media coverage of the peace talks. For many years, the Palestinian Authority has been supporting boycott campaigns against Israel, as well as organizations combating “normalization” with Israelis.

If Palestinian children are condemned for playing football with Israelis, why should it be acceptable for Erekat to be talking with Livni?

Palestinian Authority leaders can only blame themselves for the growing opposition to the peace talks with Israel. Palestinian leaders have simply not prepared their people for peace. These leaders have, instead, delegitimized Israel to a point where it has become a “crime” for any Palestinian to be photographed talking to, or negotiating with, any Israeli.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/khaled-abu-toameh/palestinians-accuse-peace-negotiators-of-treason/2013/08/21/

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