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Posts Tagged ‘Libya’

Common Sense on the Syria Mess

Monday, April 29th, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

“I know what the world thinks of us, we are Communists, and of course I have said very clearly that we are not Communists; very clearly.” –Fidel Castro, 1959

U.S. policy toward Syria has changed but it is too late. A senior State Department official said at the meeting just concluded of opposition groups: “We have to help the moderates, people like [Chief of Staff of the Free Syrian Army] Salim Idris….”

This is what I proposed two years ago but I have to admit that I almost never saw anyone else who suggested that the strategy should be to help the non-Islamists with money, weapons and diplomatic support.

Unlike Castro, the Islamists in Syria never lied about their goals and ideologies. Now the Islamists are far more powerful and well-armed than anyone else, courtesy of U.S. policy. Oh and there’s one more problem. Many or most of the Free Syrian Army’s troops, that is the supposed non- or anti-Islamist alternative, are also Muslim Brotherhood supporters.

So what’s there to do with revolutionary Islamists controlling Syria and sooner or later, though it might take a couple of years, taking over the whole country or at least gaining recognition as the legitimate government of Syria while the regime holds out in the northwest of the country?

That’s okay, says the main line of U.S. policy. We don’t care if they are America-hating fanatics who want to impose Sharia, suppress or even massacre Christians, and commit genocide against Jews. Just as long as they aren’t affiliated with al Qaeda.

Beyond this, there’s mostly wishful thinking. Compare these statements by a Turkish diplomat and a Saudi newspaper:

“Once Assad is gone, al Qaeda won’t stay long in Syria.”

“We know that there are radical forces like [al Qaeda] but do not overestimate them.”

But it seems impossible to get the mainstream debate to recognize the fact that the problem is not merely al Qaeda but other radical Salafists and another Muslim Brotherhood government.

What kind of situation would another Egypt bring about in the Middle East?

What will happen within Syria which historically is a far more radical entity (for historical, political culture, and geopolitical reasons) than Egypt? What will be the fate of all those modern-oriented women, liberals, Alawites, Christians, Druze, and Kurds?

Going beyond the largely worthless current debate on Syria let’s look ahead into the seemingly inevitable future. We can reasonably assume that the Assad regime might last another year or two but it will either retreat to the Alawite areas by then or have fallen totally. There is by the way another possibility. Rebels make advances in Damascus, then use the opportunity to announce the establishment of a provisional government there. The United States and other countries then recognize it–despite Assad’s continuing hold on much of the country–as the legitimate government of Syria.

Whatever happens, there will be a Muslim Brotherhood regime in Syria and Obama will support it. The Salafis will not rule but they will kill people, intimidate non- or anti-Islamist forces, and probably be the main force in various local areas of the country.

Many conservatives and Republicans favor more intervention which means in practice working even harder to install an Islamist regime in Syria. That’s a terrible idea. With few exceptions they never seem to grasp the point about supporting the non-Islamist forces and not just the Syrian rebels in general as if they were glorious freedom fighters.

A few other people favor supporting the Assad dictatorship to keep the Islamists out of power. (Note: These were suggested prior to reports about the regime’s use of chemical weapons). This is another terrible idea. Aside for morality and the impossibility of saving Assad, no Western country is going to adopt such a policy. Whatever its past, the Assad regime had in effect become an Islamist regime, a Shia Islamist regime, and its fall will weaken Iran and Hizballah.

The problem, of course, is that its fall will also strengthen the Sunni Islamists. According to estimates by my colleague, Dr. Jonathan Spyer:

Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al Qaeda, has about 6,000 fighters. The Syrian Islamic Front (dominated by Ahrar al-Sham) has about 13,000 fighters. And, the Syrian Islamic Liberation Front, which seems close to the Muslim Brotherhood, (including the Farouq Brigade of Homs; Suqour al-Sham of Idleb, and Tawhid Brigade of Aleppo) has about 40,000 fighters.

The Dictator’s Lesson: ‘Nuke up Fast’

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

If you like what is happening with North Korea at the moment, you will love what happens when Iran goes nuclear.

In case anyone is in any doubt, it is always worth remembering that North Korea is a basket-case of a country – probably in the most abysmal situation of any country on earth (not forgetting the Middle East). Its people intermittently starve by the millions, and all of them lack even the most basic of amenities.

As Shin Dong-hyuk and a few other unbelievably fortunate escapees have attested, concentration camps (for once the term is not inaccurate) are maintained across the country. And even those fortunate enough not to be in them are cut off from the outside world by a regime which has the unique selling point of being the world’s only Stalinist monarchy. The authorities have no ability to provide the most basic services to the majority of its population; and after years of sanctions, can do almost nothing either internally or externally to alter the situation it finds itself in. Yet here it is, dictating the news agendas of the world.

And why? For two straightforward reasons. First, because it has a new leader of whom everyone is ignorant. No one – no other government, intelligence agency or foreign office – is entirely sure of his intentions. We do know that he spent some time at a school in Switzerland and has a fondness for basketball. But apart from that and a few other tiny details, there is almost nothing known about him. It was the same with his father and indeed his grandfather. We knew what type of sushi the current Kim’s father liked, and we knew he was a fan of Hollywood movies, but aside from such ephemera we had almost no idea of the type of man he was or the type of things he thought. Now his son – the third generation of the family to reign – is even more of a mystery. So there, undoubtedly, is the first problem.

But the second reason is even far more straightforward: North Korea is now in the Nuclear Club. No one is quite sure how rudimentary are the devices that they have set off (including the third such test just this February). But nevertheless they have managed it. Assisted by any number of rogue states, networks and cartels, the most isolated regime on earth has finally got into the only club that matters. And why? Why would a regime allow its people to suffer the most biting sanctions, the most appalling privations and itself to suffer the most complete international isolation – just for the possession of this one type of weaponry?

It is because the regime in Pyongyang knows something that everybody now knows but which those countries already in the Nuclear Club are increasingly unwilling to admit: the very clear lesson of the fate of Libya’s Colonel Qaddafi.

Qaddafi, you will remember, committed what is a clear, cardinal, school-boy error for dictators. In 2003, concerned by the U.S./U.K. and allied invasion of Iraq and toppling of Saddam Hussein for his WMD program, Qaddafi suddenly volunteered up – to the U.S. and U.K. it should be remembered, not the U.N. – his somewhat more-advanced-than-anybody-had-realized WMD program. Having seen Saddam Hussein fall for less, Qaddafi decided it was more trouble than it was worth in those days to continue going down that route.

But what a difference a decade makes. For apart from anything else, Qaddafi himself is now history. Having given up his WMD program, he then made the terrible error, once a rebellion against his rule began, of beginning to massacre his own people . And so – for humanitarian reasons – NATO intervened and toppled Qaddafi. And the last anyone saw of Qaddafi, he was being assaulted by a mob, beaten, having a knife put in every conceivable part of his body and then shot.

If you were a Kim or a Mullah, what lesson would you take from that? Personally, putting my dictator hat on I would take one lesson: “nuke up fast.” And certainly, on no account should you disarm. Disarmed despots are soon-to-be-dead despots. It is a lesson the North Koreans have taken on board with understandable eagerness and with – to date – considerable success. After all, for all the latest round of bellicose rhetoric against South Korea, there is no U.S. or NATO or any other kind of talk of, for instance, regime-change in North Korea. The system there may be – against stiff competition – the worst human rights violator in the world. Yet nobody is talking about toppling Kim. They are elementary nuclear, after all.

Raping Women in the Name of Islam

Sunday, April 7th, 2013

Originally published at the Gatestone Institute.

While jihadis in Syria are importing girls from Tunisia to satisfy their sexual needs, their colleagues in Libya are kidnapping and raping women.

Last week, the father of two British women of Pakistani origin said that his daughters were gang raped in front of him by Muslim fundamentalists in Libya’s eastern city of Benghazi.

The father, Awadh al-Barassai, said on his Facebook page that the women were part of a humanitarian convoy that was heading to the Gaza Strip.

He said that the women were raped in front of him after being kidnapped by Muslim extremists. He condemned the crime as a “horrible act.”

According to reports in the Arab media, the two women were gang raped in accordance with a fatwa [Islamic religious decree] issued by Jordanian Salafi Sheikh Yasser Ajlouni.

Ajlouni’s fatwa allows the jihadis to have sexual intercourse with women who fall captive during war.

The women who were raped in Libya obviously had not been aware of the fatwa.

That they were part of a human convoy headed to help Muslims in the Gaza Strip did not prevent Libya’s jihadis from perpetrating their crime.

The “pro-Palestinian” groups in charge of the convoy must feel a bit embarrassed about this crime. That is perhaps why they have been trying to hide the case from the eyes of Muslims and the international community.

What happened to the two women in Libya is a big disgrace not only to Islam, but to all those who sympathize with fundamentalists and terrorists, including the “scholars” and “sheikhs” who authorize such crimes.

Moderate Muslims who fail to strongly condemn the Muslim terrorists and rapists also bear responsibility for the crimes that are being committed in the name of Islam.

The gang rape in Libya will also cause tremendous damage to the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip. As of now, families of “pro-Palestinian” activists around the world will have to think ten times before sending their daughters on humanitarian aid convoys.

Originally published at the Gatestone Institute.

‘Activists’ Hoping to Help Breach Gaza Blockade, Raped in Benghazi

Saturday, March 30th, 2013

Three female British nationals who had been attempting to take part in yet another effort to breach the Israeli blockade of Gaza were brutally gang raped when, blocked from leaving the Libyan border, they were abducted and assaulted.  Early reports are that the men who abducted and attacked the women are Libyan soldiers.

The women were part of a ten vehicle convoy which had been wending its way through southern Europe and northern Africa towards Egypt, allegedly seeking to bring in “humanitarian” aid to Gaza.  Typically these efforts to break the legal blockade of Gaza carry little of real value, any of which can be brought in through other points of entry.

This vehicular convoy was organized by the Turkish nongovernmental organization IHH, which describes itself as a humanitarian relief organization, but which terrorism experts consider a “a radical Islamist group masquerading as a humanitarian agency.”

According to terrorism financing expert Jonathan Schanzer, the IHH belongs to a Saudi-based umbrella organization known to finance terrorism called the Union of Good.  Schanzer wrote that “the Union is chaired by Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi, who is known best for his religious ruling that encourages suicide attacks against Israeli civilians.”  Qardawi is alleged to have personally transferred millions of dollars to the Union in an effort to provide financial support to Hamas.

The IHH, of course, is the same “humanitarian” agency that had organized the Gaza Freedom Flotilla in late May, 2010.  During that effort Israeli naval forces repeatedly informed those on board the ships that they had to turn back and all goods could be distributed if they docked at the Israeli port of Ashdod. When the flotilla ships refused to turn back, Israeli naval commandos boarded the ship, where they were brutally attacked. The Israelis eventually opened fire, leading to the death of 9 aboard the ship, and injury to many more, including to the Israeli soldiers.

The “aid” convoy of approximately ten trucks left Britain on February 25, but had been detained for many days along the Libyan-Egyptian border.  Egyptian border guards refused to allow them to cross into that country. The convoy was named the “Mavi Marmara” after the ship on which the Israeli and Turkish nationals had been injured during the 2010 confrontation.

The British nationals, frustrated by the long wait at the Egyptian border, went to Benghazi, hoping to make arrangements to fly back to Britain.  It was in Benghazi that the five were abducted, and the three women, two of whom are sisters and who were accompanied by their father, were sexually assaulted.  The father was present and witnessed the horrific assaults on his daughters.

The IHH allegedly mediated for the release of the captives, and they were released to the Turkish Consulate in Libya, where they are currently reported as safe and waiting to return to the UK.

The Libyan Deputy Prime Minister, Awadh al-Barassi, said he had been to visit the women who had been assaulted and their family was “in a very bad psychological state.”

“Sadly [the perpetrators] belong to army, but they don’t reflect the ethics of Libya army,” Mr al-Barassi said in an interview with the national Libya al-Hurra television channel.

French Philosopher Barred from Libya Visit Because He is Jewish

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

The French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy, who supported France’s military intervention in Libya, was barred from visiting there because he is Jewish.

Levy, a celebrity in France, was supposed to join former French president Nicolas Sarkozy on a visit that began on Tuesday in Tripoli, according to a report on the news website Rue89.

The website reported that Levy had to stay behind at the insistence of municipal bosses in Tripoli. Speaking on condition of anonymity, one city official told Rue89: “We did not invite him and we’ll close the door in his face if he comes. If the prime minister invited him, he can stay with the prime minister.”

An unnamed spokesperson for the city of Tripoli is quoted as telling Rue89 that the fact that Levy is Jewish could have exposed the municipality to attacks by Islamist militia.

Levy was a vocal supporter for French military intervention in Libya against Muammar Qaddafi and in favor of the rebel forces whose revolution led to the rise to power of Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan. The news website said Zeidan personally invited Levy in January.

A spokesperson from Zeidan’s office confirmed to Rue89 that the municipality asked Levy to not attend the visit.

The website quoted an unnamed source described as “close to Levy” as saying Sarkozy wanted to cancel his visit after Levy’s dis-invitation, but Levy persuaded him to go as “their friends in Libya are in a delicate situation because they need to watch out for the Islamists.”

IDF Intelligence Chief: Terror Organizations on the Rise

Friday, March 15th, 2013

Head of the Military Intelligence Directorate Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi spoke at the 13th annual Herzliya Conference on Thursday, where he delivered a comprehensive review of the strategic changes currently shaping the Middle East and the threats that such changes pose to Israel’s national security. THE IRANIAN THREAT

Maj. Gen. Kochavi related to the Iranian nuclear program, and was explicit in describing the great threat that Iran poses to the security of the State of Israel, describing it as Israel’s “primary threat”.

“We estimate that they will continue to advance their nuclear program,” he said, explaining that “Iran does not see a high chance of a military attack by the international community on [their] nuclear facilities.”

Maj. Gen. Kochavi said that the Iranian government is in possession of the necessary infrastructure to procure nuclear weapons. “Right now [Iran] has ten thousand spinning centrifuges and another five thousand have been installed,” he said, adding that “should the [President of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad] decide to move forward towards a bomb, they already have enough material for five or six bombs.”

Despite the progress of Iran’s nuclear program, Maj. Gen. Kochavi said, the international community still has the power to stop them. “The [international] pressure on Iran is intensifying and the economic sanctions are influencing Iran in the most significant way,” he said, adding that such sanctions will become an ever-more influential factor in the decision making in Iran. CHANGING MIDDLE EAST

The intelligence chief stated the IDF’s Intelligence Directorate has identified three central pillars around which the most significant changes influencing the region revolve: the economic situation, social upheaval and Islamization.

“The social upheaval is here to stay,” Maj. Gen. Kochavi said, referring to the massive political and social changes that have occurred throughout the Middle East in recent years. “It will continue to seethe and bubble and remain the central determining factor in the Middle East,” he said.

He explained that the social upheaval has removed many of the Middle East’s traditional power structures from authority, leaving room for radical Islam to take over. “[The upheaval] is becoming more violent every day, and it is creating a vacuum which is being filled with Islamist and Jihadist political factions,” he warned.

The Head of Military Intelligence said that while political turmoil abounds, governance has vanished and borders are being breached, leaving Israel surrounded by increasingly lawless areas. The lack of control, he says, is leading to the unfettered passage of weapons and munitions. “For the first time in decades Israel has four active borders which could open up from terror attacks,” Maj. Gen. Kochavi said. THE RISE OF TERROR IN SYRIA

Maj. Gen. Kochavi related to the sustained political turmoil in Syria, saying that there too radical Islamism has risen up to fill the void left by political instability. “For some of the [new terror] organizations, Israel is not the focus, but the moment they accomplish their Plan A – the fall of Assad, for instance – they will turn their energy towards Israel,” he said.

Elaborating on the situation in Syria, Maj. Gen. Kochavi said that “it is necessary to think of Syria not as a complete state, but as Assad’s state and the rebels’ state – which includes two thirds of Syria’s populated area.” He added that there are rebel enclaves camped all along the border in the Golan Heights from where they lead the day to day fighting.

“11 of 17 crossings [from Syria into the demilitarized UNDOF zone] are in the hands of the rebels, which enables the passage of refugees, weapons and even Jihadist elements,” Maj. Gen. Kochavi said.

The Head of Military Intelligence went on to say that Hezbollah, a traditional ally of Assad, is concerned that should he lose power, Iran may lose free passage through Syria to arm the Lebanese terror organization – a concern which has caused them to become involved in the conflict.

“Assad is intensifying cooperation with Hezbollah and Iran, which maintain a presence in Syria, and are the primary supports of his regime,” Maj. Gen. Kochavi said. “The damage of Syria’s demise would be very grave for them. Iran would lose its only Arab ally which borders Israel and thus lose the capability to open fire on Israel from Syria,” Maj. Gen. Kochavi said.

Obama is a Disaster, but Israel Must Applaud Him

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

On the eve of President Obama’s first visit to Israel as chief executive, I just returned from briefing a high-ranking official of a certain country about the Middle East. We kept coming back to a vital theme: the incredibly shrinking power of the United States. Try to explain American behavior to neutral, open-minded third parties for whom U.S. policy activities have become just plain bizarre.

As I recently wroteterrorists, including the murderers of four American officials in Benghazi, are literally laughing at the United States and its inability or unwillingness to do anything effective to defend its interests.

This item in a recent CBS News report particularly caught my eye:

U.S. officials [in December 2012] lamented the lack of cooperation with the governments of Tunisia, Libya and Egypt in their ongoing investigation into the [Benghazi] attack, saying most of the suspects remain free. Let’s review:

In Tunisia, the U.S. government supported not only the overthrow of a regime allied to itself but also elections that led to a Muslim Brotherhood-dominated government. (The U.S. should have intervened behind the scenes to get the four non-Islamist – secular, if you wish – parties to work together, run their campaigns successfully, and win. They got 60 percent of the vote but lost the election).

In Libya, the U.S. government installed the current regime, which is basically an American client regime, by military (NATO, technically) force and pumped in support yet feared to send in a rescue mission to Benghazi. Obama should have called the Libyan leader on the evening of September 11, 2012, and said, “We’re on our way and expect your cooperation.” And the only reason for not doing that would have been knowing the Libyan government could rescue the Americans, which it was unable to do or even to try doing. The Libyan government has now said it would not cooperate in further investigation of the Lockerbie airplane bombing by Libyan intelligence under the previous regime.

In Egypt, the U.S. government was cheerleading for the Muslim Brotherhood as early as Obama’s Cairo speech and backed it all through the revolution. There was the alternative of backing the military to get rid of Husni Mubarak and then make reforms. And there was the alternative of backing the disorganized, under-financed moderates and helping them to unite, get money, and be effective. But Obama did neither and his administration for all practical purposes endorsed the Muslim Brotherhood.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was even booed by the moderates when she visited Egypt! And now the main, moderate coalition says it will boycott her successor, John Kerry’s visit.

And now we see that these three governments won’t even cooperate in getting terrorists responsible for murdering Americans.

Remember that Tunisia and Egypt, even if they are Islamist-ruled, have no direct interest in helping these Libyan terrorists—the Muslim Brotherhood doesn’t like al-Qaida, which it correctly views as both a rival and a group willing to attack its own regimes—but won’t help the United States due to anti-Americanism, a generalized Islamic solidarity, and knowledge that they can stick their finger in America’s eye and taunt, “What are you going to do about it?”

How the mighty have fallen! But what’s most amazing is that this isn’t a process of murder but of suicide, it is voluntary. Is it reversible? Nobody knows but it isn’t going to be reversed in the next four years.

You have to understand, I tell the diplomat, that there’s been for all practical purposes a profound–albeit possibly temporary–transformation in the governance of the United States. Regarding foreign policy, all the old rules don’t apply—credibility; punishing enemies and rewarding friends; deterrence; don’t leave your men behind to die; don’t appoint a muddle-headed fool to be secretary of defense. In each case there is a nicely crafted rationalization for going against centuries of diplomatic and security practices. But so what? It’s still wrong.

Obama is busy in apologizing for real or imagined past U.S. bullying, proving he only believes in multilateral action, showing his respect for local customs, and trying to demonstrate to those who hate it that America is their buddy in order to win them over.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/rubin-reports/obama-is-a-disaster-but-israel-must-applaud-him/2013/03/05/

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