web analytics
April 16, 2014 / 16 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘islamists’

Erdogan Praised at White House as He Subverts US Interests

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

“So fragile was the structure of their reality that a single unsubsumed consciousness, a solitary ripple in their little pond was enough to roil the waters into a frothing, burbling foam.” —Norman Spinrad, The Void Captain’s Tale (1985)

Consider five factors that had no effect on the very warm reception given by President Barack Obama to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan:

–While the U.S. government has pressured Erdogan not to visit the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, Erdogan announced in the White House Rose Garden that he would do so. An alleged U.S. ally says publicly in front of Obama while being hosted by him that he is going to defy the United States.

This is not some routine matter. With previous presidents, if an ally was going to do something like that he would say nothing at the time and then months later would subvert U.S. policy. Or better yet the foreign leader would not do so. To announce defiance in such a way is a serious sign of how little respect Middle East leaders have for Obama—and U.S. policy nowadays—and how little Obama will do about it.

–Equally bad is the fact that Erdogan directly promised Obama that he would conciliate with Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cooperated because Obama asked him to do so. That’s what U.S. allies do. But immediately Erdogan showed he would pay no attention to the agreement he made.

His negotiators subverted it in several ways, including the demands for ridiculously large amounts of money, the delay in the promised return of the Turkish ambassador to Israel, the continuation of legal action against Israeli officials involved in the Mavi Marmara affair, when Israeli soldiers were attacked by Turkish terrorists demanding to sail to Gaza to deliver equipment to Hamas.

So a second time Erdogan betrayed Obama and make the president look foolish (that is, if anyone in the mass media pointed it out). Again, there was no U.S. criticism of the move or apparent pressure to make Erdogan keep his promise.

There are three other ways that Erdogan has subverted U.S. interests with minimal costs. In fact, the Obama Administration has usually furthered this behavior.

–Some small U.S. diplomatic protests were made about the growing internal repression in Turkey and human rights’ violations there. Increasingly, the country lives under a reign of intimidation even as the Western media mostly ignores this situation. Since the United States keeps praising him, Erdogan can demoralize his opponents, who cannot hope for foreign help, even as he carries on a policy of spreading anti-Americanism in Turkey.

The political power of the Turkish armed forces–the traditional guarantor of the republic and stability in the country was dismantled by Erdogan with U.S. approval. The Turkish media was subverted with only an occasional American squeal of complaint. Now he’s destroying the independent judicial system, the last barrier to his assault on democratic rule. The U.S. embassy in Turkey consistently warned about what has been happening; the White House ignored this information.

–With the Obama Administration’s permission, the Turkish government violates the sanctions against Iran with ever-larger trade and major bilateral cooperation projects. Erdogan’s consistent defenses of Iran’s policies (though the two countries are at odds over Syria) have been forgiven and forgotten by the White House.

–Finally, in many ways the Turkish government has been taking the lead on setting U.S. policy toward Syria. It was Erdogan who largely determined that the official opposition exile leadership would be dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, a path followed by Obama. (I can’t prove it but I’ll bet that Turkey’s regime promised Obama that if he would declare support for the rebels verbally and let them be armed by Qatar and Saudi Arabia then Assad would easily fall. I’d also bet that Erdogan assured Obama that if the president helped the rebels a moderate government would emerge in Syria.)

Meanwhile, Obama has praised Erdogan unstintingly. Obama thinks Erdogan is the very model of a “moderate Islamist” and since Obama’s strategy is to support such people in much of the Arab world, Erdogan has been his guide to the region, though this has meant supporting the radical Islamists of the Muslim Brotherhood. What is especially ironic is that Obama believed that Erdogan’s goals were essentially the same as those of the United States while Erdogan was in fact following a profoundly anti-American policy designed to bring hostile Islamist governments to power. Remember this is no longer the old Western-oriented Turkey of previous decades but a radical–if concealed–Islamist regime.

Who’s More Dangerous: Sunni or Shia Islamists?

Monday, May 20th, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

There is a passionate, but somewhat academic debate, over the following issue: Which is the greater threat, the Sunni Muslim Islamists (Egypt, Tunisia, Gaza Strip, and perhaps soon to be Syria) or the Shia Muslim Islamists (Iran, Lebanon, at the moment still Syria)?

I would say the answer would be the Iran-led Shia bloc. But two reservations: the margin isn’t that big and it also depends on the specific place and situation.

To begin with, Iran is still the greatest strategic threat in the region. It is moving as fast as it can toward nuclear weapons and it is still the main sponsor of terrorism. At the moment, it is still, too, the most likely state that would initiate an anti-Western war, though that possibility is smaller than often believed. It has lots of money.

What has gone largely unnoticed is that it is almost the middle of 2013 and the Obama Administration has barely begun negotiations with Iran that will probably drag on without success for a year or more. In addition, after Iran’s June elections, which will presumably pick a radical who is less obviously extremist than current President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the U.S. government and mass media will probably proclaim a new era of Iranian moderation.

Iran is also the main backer of Islamist revolution in Bahrain (where it has failed); Lebanon (where its Hizballah clients are the strongest force); and Syria (where its regime ally is in serious trouble).

One final point is that Tehran is having some success in drawing the Iraqi (Shia) government into its orbit. Baghdad is certainly cooperating with Iran on defending the Syrian regime, though one should not exaggerate how much Iraq is in Iran’s pocket. At any rate, nobody would want the Iraqi regime to be overthrown by the al Qaeda terrorist opposition.

So a strong case can be made that Iran is the greatest threat in the region.

On the other hand, however, a Great Wall of Sunnism has been built to prevent the extension of Iranian influence except for Lebanon. The Sunni bloc contains few Shia Muslims. The Muslim Brotherhood, the even more radical Salafists, and other Sunni Muslims (Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates, for example) have said that the Shias are a worse threat than Israel.

Perhaps the fear of Iran provides some common cause with the West. But this is also a scary proposition since the Obama Administration’s promotion of Sunni Islamism (Egypt, Tunisia, Syria, and even Turkey) could use this point as an excuse. Perhaps America could be said to be building a united front against Iran, but at what price? Turning over much of the Arab world to repressive, anti-American, and anti-Semitic Sunni Islamism as Christians flee?

There is also another weakness of Sunni Islamism, however, that also makes it seem relatively less threatening. In contrast to Iran, the Sunni Islamists do not have a wealthy patron comparable to Iran. They can depend on money from Qatar and to some extent from Libya, but they have fewer resources. Sometimes the Saudis will help Sunni Islamists, but only if they tone down their warlike and anti-Western actions. There is no big banker for Sunni Islamist destabilization of the Middle East.

Equally, they do not have a reliable source of arms, in contrast to the Shia who have Iran and also at times Russia. True, in Syria the Sunni rebels have U.S. backing to get weaponry and arms from Libya and elsewhere paid for by Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Yet Syria is an exceptional case. The Saudis are not going to finance the Muslim Brotherhood and its ambitions. Bahrain has declared Shia Hizballah to be a terrorist group even while the European Union refuses to do so.

So arguably one could say that the Shia Islamists and Iran are a bigger danger. But a second danger is a U.S. or Western policy to promote Sunni Islamism as a way to counter the Shia, a strategy that has intensified regional dangers and the suffering of Arab peoples. Then, too, there’s the fact that al Qaeda is a Sunni Islamist organization, and the al Qaeda forces are getting stronger in Syria.

One would have to be very foolish to want to see Sunni Islamism make further gains, to overthrow the monarchies in Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, or Bahrain, as well as the Algerian regime. One would also have to be foolish–but here the Obama Administration is so–to want to see Muslim Brotherhood regimes succeed in Egypt, Tunisia, the Gaza Strip, and Syria.

Why Russia Supports Iran

Sunday, May 19th, 2013

Recently, PM Netanyahu traveled to the Kremlin to try to talk Russian President Vladimir Putin out of sending advanced weapons, including the S-300 air defense system, to Syria.

Although I wasn’t there, my guess was that Netanyahu said something like, “don’t do this, because if you do we will have to bomb them.” In particular, the S-300 would make it much harder for Israel to interdict arms transfers to Hizballah, or prevent possible chemical attacks against Israel by Syrian rebels or Hizballah, if they should get control of some of Assad’s arsenal.

According to American officials, Netanyahu’s arguments were not successful:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s last-minute trip to Russia on Tuesday apparently did not change the Russians’ intentions to also deliver the advanced S-300 anti-aircraft missile system to Syria. According to the [Wall St.] Journal, U.S. officials believe that Russia is moving more quickly than previously thought to deliver S-300 surface-to-air defense systems to Syria. U.S. officials told the paper that the S-300 system, which is capable of shooting down guided missiles and could make it more risky for any warplanes to enter Syrian airspace, could leave Russia for Syrian port of Tartus by the end of May.

Together, the S-300 anti-aircraft and anti-missile system, and the Yakhont anti-ship system, would pose a formidable threat to any outside intervention in Syria, based on the international Libya model. The anti-ship missiles would be a serious threat to the Israeli navy, as well as the facilities above Israel’s newfound underwater gas reserves. The S-300 could threaten Israeli military and civilian aircraft flying Israeli airspace, and not just over Lebanese and Syrian airspace.

Providing weapons like this to the unstable Syrian regime (or even a stable one) is remarkably irresponsible; but then, this is Putin. My guess is that Putin countered with threats of his own if Israel interferes with Russian actions.

Dore Gold explains which weapons Israel considers “game changers” that it cannot permit to fall into the hands of Hizballah:

a. Chemical weapons.

b. Iranian surface-to-surface missiles equipped with heavy warheads, like the Fateh 110, which has a highly destructive 600 kg. warhead as compared to the 30 kg. warhead on Hizballah’s Katyusha rockets that it launched against Israel in the Second Lebanon War in 2006.

c. Long-range anti-aircraft missiles, like the Russian-manufactured SA-17, which can limit the freedom of action of the Israeli Air Force if deployed by Hizballah in southern Lebanon. The SA-17 uses a mobile launcher. Israeli diplomacy has been especially concerned with the Russian sale of even more robust S-300 anti-aircraft missiles by Russia to Syria, though there are no indications that Hizballah is a potential recipient of this system.

d. Long-range anti-ship missiles, like the Russian supersonic Yakhont cruise missile, that has a range of 300 km. and can strike at Israeli offshore gas rigs in the Eastern Mediterranean. Russia recently sent a shipment of the missiles which will be added to an initial inventory of 72 missiles received first in 2011.

If Iran manages to prop up Assad at the price of turning Syria into a wholly-owned satrapy, then I’m not sure that it would be much better than if Hizballah itself had the weapons, from an Israeli point of view. Israel’s deterrence will be markedly weakened if the decision to use such weapons is taken out of the hands of a semi-autonomous Syrian regime and placed in Iran.

What motivates the Russians?

I think they have decided correctly that control of the Muslim Middle East hangs in the balance, with the main players in the struggle being Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood and other Sunni elements, and Turkey. I think they have decided that the “strong horse” is Iran and the Shiites. In addition, Russia faces challenges from Sunni Islamists within Russia itself and in Muslim states bordering it.

Russia has also always been unhappy with a Western-aligned nuclear power like Israel so close by. In fact some historians have suggested that the Soviets provoked Syria and Egypt to make war on Israel in 1967 in order to justify a strike on Israel’s nuclear facility in Dimona. Israel is also shaping up to be a future rival to Russian domination of the natural gas supply to Europe. An Iranian victory — and incidentally the end of the Jewish state — would be just fine for them.

Ugly? You bet. The forces opposing the Iran-Russia axis include the hostile and economically devastated Egypt, the super-extreme Sunni Salafists (some allied with al-Qaeda), the neo-Ottoman Islamist Turkish regime, Saudi Arabia — and the United States, which may or may not still be a formidable military power, but certainly does not appear to have the resolve to confront Iran, not to mention Russia.

But Israel has survived, even thrived, against similar odds before.

Visit Fresno Zionism.

Ex-Jordanian Spy: Abdullah is Anti-Israel

Sunday, May 19th, 2013

Ouni Abed Botrous Hadaddeen is a former senior level Jordanian agent who is Christian. He defected from Jordan because he objected to the Jordanian monarchy’s practice of assassinating Jordanian citizens who have protested against the current regime. Ouni was born to the tribe of Hadadeen, which is supportive of the Hashemite dynasty that has traditionally filled significant positions within the Jordanian government and armed services.

Ouni Abed Botrous Hadaddeen with King Abdullah II of Jordan.

While he worked as a senior level Jordanian intelligence “collaborator” (spy), Ouni was ordered by the Jordanian government to confront anti-government protests and to lead counter protests in support of the Jordanian monarchy. In addition, he was told to write articles within the Arab media in support of the Jordanian government to prevent Jordan’s power base from collapsing, as was the case in Egypt during the “Arab Spring.” Hadaddeen claims that supporting the current Jordanian regime is not in the best interest of Israel and has accused Jordan’s King Abdullah of manipulating the Jordanian people to have negative views and even hatred of Israel.

The Hadaddeen family.

Hadaddeen is presently a political refugee in Norway, while his family remains within Jordan. He claims that the Jordanian government has constantly threatened to rape and murder his wife and three young daughters. When asked if the threats were credible, Ouni said that rape is a systematic tool used by the Jordanian intelligence and the fact that he is Christian, rather than from a Muslim tribe, makes the regime less concerned about repercussions. Despite the threats, Hadaddeen continues to be an outspoken advocate against the Jordanian monarchy, out of the belief that at this point only public exposure will help his family.

There is evidence to back up Ouni’s claim that the Jordanian regime is fomenting hatred for Israel among the Jordanian people. The Jordanian educational system, instead of teaching the country’s youth to peacefully co-exist with Israel, educates youngsters that Palestine was stolen by the Jews. A report published by Anti-Semitism and Xenophobia Today, states that in Jordanian school textbooks, “references to Zionists as agents of imperialism and proponents of expansionists’ schemes […] occur.” Many of the anti-Israel textbooks that are presently used within Palestinian schools were originally Jordanian textbooks.

However, according to Hadaddeen, it seems that the Jordanian regime doesn’t merely publish anti-Israel textbooks. “One of the main foundations of King Abdullah’s regime is establishing hatred for Israel under the table,” Hadaddeen reports. He says that:

During the protests, [Abdullah] would tell Jordanian intelligence operatives, with me only being one of them, to sneak into protests and chant anti-Israeli slogans, both to distract the attention of people from the king and to give the impression that if he falls, Israel will be next.

Furthermore, a year and a half ago, the Jordanian intelligence establishment organized a massive march to the Israeli border, where Jordanians were told to “cross the border into Palestine.” But when Jordanians began to attempt to cross the borders, Jordanian intelligence officials attacked the protesters. Hadaddeen said this was a ploy in order to convince the Israelis that it was in their best interest to keep the Jordanian king in power.

Ouni’s wife with King Abdullah II.

Hadaddeen said that after the Israeli diplomatic mission was evacuated, as a result of this march, Jordanian intelligence officers went into the streets and proclaimed, “Haha, the Israeli chickens have left.” Hadaddeen compares the Jordanian king to Yasser Arafat, claiming that they are both double-faced. Just as Arafat told westerners he was dedicated to peace yet called for shahids among his own people, the Jordanian king portrays himself as the lone front against the Islamists, while getting his intelligence people to organize Islamist, anti-Israel and pro-regime protests, as the secular opposition, opposed to terror, is persecuted.

Unlike the situation in Egypt during the Arab Spring, the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan was and is on the same side as the regime. As Zaki Bani Rushied –leader of the Islamic Action Front Party—the Brotherhood’s political arm—informed the media, “The people of Jordan have chosen to reform the regime; people can choose to topple the regime or reform it, and here in Jordan we have chosen to reform the regime.”

Indeed, Hadaddeen asserts that in Jordan the Muslim Brotherhood is a “tool used by the king himself.” He said that the Jordanian king is “using the Muslim Brotherhood to terrorize Israel. He would meet them, and this is documented by media, and one day after they would start massive protests against Israel. It is not even a secret.”

Hadaddeen made the claim that in Jordan not a single Muslim Brotherhood member is in jail, and their members drive brand new German cars, in a country where such things are considered an extreme luxury. Hadaddeen described the cooperation between the Jordanian monarchy and members of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood, claiming that the Jordanian monarchy has supported the Muslim Brotherhood for decades.

Hadaddeen decided to abandon the Jordanian monarchy mainly because of the killings that have taken place “under the radar,” that have gone unreported in mainstream media. He claims that “they have been doing a lot of killing.” A Jordanian named Khairi Jameel, who was mildly injured while protesting against the Jordanian government, apparently was murdered by Jordanian intelligence upon boarding an ambulance.

Hadaddeen is certain that the regime attempted to make an example out of him. “I was there that day leading the pro-monarch counter-protests, and we were told by our intelligence officer someone was going to get killed that day. I saw Khary Jameel boarding the ambulance alive with a minor injury, pronounced dead hours later.” Hadaddeen believes that since that he is a Christian, he has dispelled the Jordanian government’s “facade to the western media” that all opposition members are Islamists.

Visit United with Israel.

The Land without Muslims

Sunday, May 19th, 2013

There are countries in the world, mainly in Europe, that are presently undergoing significant cultural transformations as a result of Muslim immigration. France, Germany, Belgium and Holland are interesting examples of cases where immigration from Muslim countries, together with the Muslims’ high fertility rate, effects every area of life.

It is interesting to know that there is a country in the world whose official and public approach to the Muslim matter is totally different. This country is Japan. This country keeps a very low profile on all levels regarding the Muslim matter: On the diplomatic level, senior political figures from Islamic countries almost never visit Japan, and Japanese leaders rarely visit Muslim countries. The relations with Muslim countries are based on concerns such as oil and gas, which Japan imports from some Muslim countries. The official policy of Japan is not to give citizenship to Muslims who come to Japan, and even permits for permanent residency are given sparingly to Muslims.

Japan forbids exhorting people to adopt the religion of Islam (Dawah), and any Muslim who actively encourages conversion to Islam is seen as proselytizing to a foreign and undesirable culture. Few academic institutions teach the Arabic language. It is very difficult to import books of the Qur’an to Japan, and Muslims who come to Japan, are usually employees of foreign companies. In Japan there are very few mosques. The official policy of the Japanese authorities is to make every effort not to allow entry to Muslims, even if they are physicians, engineers and managers sent by foreign companies that are active in the region. Japanese society expects Muslim men to pray at home.

Japanese companies seeking foreign workers specifically note that they are not interested in Muslim workers. And any Muslim who does manage to enter Japan will find it very difficult  to rent an apartment. Anywhere a Muslim lives, the neighbors become uneasy. Japan forbids the establishment of Islamic organizations, so setting up Islamic institutions such as mosques and schools is almost impossible. In Tokyo there is only one imam.

In contrast with what is happening in Europe, very few Japanese are drawn to Islam. If a Japanese woman marries a Muslim, she will be considered an outcast by her social and familial environment. There is no application of Shari’a law in Japan. There is some food in Japan that is halal, kosher according to Islamic law, but it is not easy to find it in the supermarket.

The Japanese approach to Muslims is also evidenced by the numbers: in Japan there are 127 million residents, but only ten thousand Muslims, less than one hundredth of a percent. The number of Japanese who have converted is thought to be few. In Japan there are a few tens of thousands of foreign workers who are Muslim, mainly from Pakistan, who have managed to enter Japan as workers with construction companies. However, because of the negative attitude towards Islam they keep a low profile.

There are several reasons for this situation:

First, the Japanese tend to lump all Muslims together as fundamentalists who are unwilling to give up their traditional point of view and adopt modern ways of thinking and behavior. In Japan, Islam is perceived as a strange religion, that any intelligent person should avoid.

Second, most Japanese have no religion, but behaviors connected with the Shinto religion along with elements of Buddhism are integrated into national customs . In Japan, religion is connected to the nationalist concept, and prejudices exist towards foreigners whether they are Chinese, Korean, Malaysian or Indonesian, and Westerners don’t escape this phenomenon either. There are those who call this a “developed sense of nationalism” and there are those who call this “racism”. It seems that neither of these is wrong.

And Third, the Japanese dismiss the concept of monotheism and faith in an abstract god,  because their world concept is apparently connected to the material, not to faith and emotions. It seems that they group Judaism together with Islam. Christianity exists in Japan and is not regarded negatively, apparently because the image of Jesus perceived in Japan is like the images of Buddha and Shinto.

The most interesting thing in Japan’s approach to Islam is the fact that the Japanese do not feel the need to apologize to Muslims for the negative way in which they relate to Islam. They make a clear distinction between their economic interest in resources of oil and gas from Muslim countries, which behooves Japan to maintain good relations with these countries on the one hand, and on the other hand, the Japanese nationalist viewpoints, which see Islam as something that is suitable for others, not for Japan, and therefore the Muslims must remain outside.

We Should Have Heeded the Warning Signs of Islamist Antisemitism

Friday, May 17th, 2013

With the rise of Islamist regimes following the Arab Awakening, we are seeing an increase in religious repression across the Middle East. That repression was predictable had we only read the tea leaves of Islamist antisemitism.

Islamism is an all-encompassing political, religious, societal, and cultural philosophy which believes that all citizens derive their rights not individually from God but from their national leader’s interpretation of Islam enacted on behalf of God. Islamists, in effect, reject the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and instead enact the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights, which enshrines, among other supremacist Islamist doctrines, blasphemy and apostasy laws. Egypt’s ruling party, the Muslim Brotherhood, put this on full display during their recent public rejection of the UN Charter on Women as being “anti-Islam.”

We have for too long tacitly accepted the synergy between Islamism and antisemitism. Had we heeded the warning signs, we could have at least been prepared to confront head-on the ascendancy of Islamists across the region. We would have understood that we first need to empower our natural allies on the ground—liberals and anti-Islamists. The Obama Administration abandoned our friends of the Green Revolution in Iran in 2009 and now, again, in Egypt in 2011. Throughout history, antisemitism has long been the “canary in the coal mine” for threats against all people, all faiths, and liberty.

The demonization of Jews is not just another symptom from the radical fringe of militant Islamist groups. It runs much deeper across Islamist thought, and is in fact pathognomonic (distinctive of a disease) of a far more pervasive societal and tribal fascism also mirrored in the Arab secular left. Arab national socialist movements like the Baathists of Syria and Iraq, or the NDP of Egypt, share with Islamists a common dominant strain of antisemitic conspiracy theories and Jew-hatred.

Beneath Islamist antisemitism is a more dangerous pan-national global supremacism that exploits all minorities, whether Jewish, Christian, or atheist, or minorities from within the faith like the Shi’a, Ahmediyya, Isma’ilis, or dissenting Sunnis. Islamist run media like Al Jazeera provide the vehicle to plant conspiracy theories in the fertile minds of susceptible Muslims. Our challenge in the United States is to either help their antagonists, non-Islamist reformers, domestically transform that soil through alternative media—or we can sit back and watch the Islamists in Egypt (the Muslim Brotherhood), Tunisia (Ennahda), Saudi Arabia (Wahhabis), Iran (Khomeinists) or Pakistan (Deobandis) fertilize and till the hate-filled soil into an even greater imminent threat.

Make no mistake—the departure of Arab fascist dictators in the Arab awakening was a long overdue step forward. But we cannot expect dysfunctional tribal societies with rampant anti-Semitism, a dominant victim mentality, high illiteracy rates, and a deep seeded hate of western democracy to resemble genuine democracies. Already, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is buckling down on free speech and blasphemy against Islam in a systematic fashion far worse than even under the authoritarian regime of Hosni Mubarak.

While Islamist movements are frighteningly popular, with support recently peaking at 35 to 40 percent of the Egyptian population, they are still not a majority movement. However, the antisemitic hate in Egypt is a majority sentiment. Islamists were able to come to power by finding common cause with otherwise divided secularists around the language of hatred of the West and of Jews.

A poll conducted in 2006 by the Pew Global Attitudes Survey revealed that “anti-Jewish sentiment” is endemic in the Middle East across faith groups. “In Lebanon, all Muslims and 99% of Christians say they have a very unfavorable view of Jews. Similarly, 99% of Jordanians, large majorities of Moroccans, Indonesians, Pakistanis and six-in-ten Turks also view Jews unfavorably.” This is a cultural byproduct of what is messaged in many Muslim news media, textbooks, literature, sermons, and entertainment. Turkey’s Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan recently referred to Zionism as a “crime against humanity.” Meanwhile, Egypt’s Brotherhood finally allowed a documentary on the disappearance of the “Jews of Egypt” to be shown, after long being held up by government censors.

In 2006, Pew reported that Muslims in Europe also hold a far more unfavorable opinion of Jews than the general population. In Britain, 47 percent of Muslims held an unfavorable view of Jews versus 7 percent of the general public. In France, 28 percent of Muslims held an unfavorable view of Jews versus 13 percent of the general population.

The Demise of the Anti-Israel Card

Monday, May 13th, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

For decades in the Middle East the most reliable political tool often seemed to be the Israel card, the idea that by condemning Israel, blaming it for the Arab world’s problems, and claiming that those who were insufficiently militant on the issue were traitors.

But the Israel card doesn’t work anymore, at least not in the way it used to do so. True, the rise of revolutionary Islamism has focused more hatred against Israel. Yet at the same time—and this analogy is imperfect—it is less of a single-issue movement. As revolutionary Islamists seek to destroy their rivals (nationalist, moderates, and each other) and fundamentally transform their own societies, they are kept pretty busy.

Jibril Rajoub, a senior Fatah official and supposed moderate, may insist that Israel is the main enemy of the Arabs and Muslims, but the Arabs and Muslims aren’t paying much attention. The Palestinian Authority which his group runs–and which rules only on the West Bank [Judea and Samaria -.ed]–has no Middle Eastern patron at all.

The Sunni-Shia conflict is deepening, with clashes already taking place in Bahrain, Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and above all Syria. Indeed, the Syrian civil war is a full-scale contest between the two blocks. Even Muslim Brotherhood think-tanks have said that the Shia, and especially Iran, are more dangerous threats than is Israel.

The chance that these two blocs would cooperate against Israel is close to zero. It was different a few years ago.

Before the “Arab Spring,” Iran seemed set to become the region’s Muslim superpower. If Tehran obtained nuclear weapons (sometimes referred to as the “Islamic bomb”) it was expected to wield growing influence throughout the Arab world.

Today, however, that situation has reversed itself. Sunni Arabs, whether they are Islamists or anti-Islamists, openly hate and fear Iran. A nuclear weapon in Tehran’s hands would not increase its strategic or political influence. Iran faces a Sunni wall against its ambitions and it is almost without Arab allies.

As for Hizballah, Iran’s sole reliable ally, it is not able to attack Israel from southern Lebanon. Thousands of its soldiers are tied up in Syria to keep an arms’ supply open, help the Bashar al-Assad regime win, and protect Shia villagers. It also faces growing opposition from Sunni Muslims, financed by the Saudis and stirred up by hatred over Hizballah’s actions in Syria, within Lebanon itself. Plus the fact that the Lebanese don’t want to be victimized by Hizballah going to war with Israel given the damage suffered in the late round in 2006.

And what of the Syrian regime itself? For decades it held Syria together in large part by portraying itself as the most courageous, militant force rejecting peace with Israel and striving to wipe that country off the map. As late as three or four years ago, President Bashar al-Assad’s strong support for Hizballah, opposition to the “peace process,” and championing of Sunni terrorists in Iraq was enough to hold the country together. Yet the seeds of Sunni Islamism he planted in Syria because it supported him at the time have now blown up in his face. His anti-Israel credentials don’t matter anymore in mobilizing support for his continued rule.

This disintegration and the multiplication of issues and enemies is not, of course, due only to the Sunni-Shia issue. There has also been a sharp revival of Arab identity against the Turks and Persians. The region’s history of such ethnic clashes has been revived. If the Syrian civil war ends in a rebel victory, the winners will soon turn against their Turkish patrons. Indeed, while the trade between the two countries is still growing, the Syria issue has driven a deep rift between Turkey and Iran, who are supporting opposite sides.

Even Muslim Brotherhood Egypt and Muslim Brotherhood Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, have fallen out, albeit perhaps temporarily. The Egyptian government is unhappy that Hamas has not cracked down enough on the Salafists in Gaza and the Sinai who want to attack it.

In addition, Egypt—busy with internal transformation, domestic conflicts, and economic problems, wants Hamas to keep things quiet on its border with Egypt. Israeli officials describe current security cooperation with the Egyptian government, or at least the intelligence services and military, as being quite good. Disputes between Muslim Brotherhood groups and even more radical Salafists are creating problems in Egypt and Syria.

Support the Syrian Rebels?

Sunday, May 12th, 2013

Washington Post article today, “Assad forces gaining ground in Syria” by Liz Sly, argues that recent events suggest that the Assad regime is not just surviving but has gone on the offensive. Drawing on local analysts, she finds that in the civil war, “there is little doubt that the pendulum is now swinging in favor of Assad … bolstered by a new strategy, the support of Iran and Russia and the assistance of fighters with Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement.”

If this in fact be the case, then, Western governments should respond by helping the rebels to prevent Assad from crushing them.

This advice is consistent with my argument (in an article titled “Support Assad” published just a month ago, when Assad appeared to be going down) that the West should prevent either side in the civil war from emerging victorious by “helping whichever side is losing, so as to prolong their conflict.”

This policy recommendation of “helping whichever side is losing” sounds odd, I admit, but it is strategic.

Originally published at DanielPipes.org and The National Review, Online, May 11, 2013.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/the-lions-den-daniel-pipes/support-the-syrian-rebels/2013/05/12/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: