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April 26, 2015 / 7 Iyar, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Tunisia’

The Secret Document that Set Obama’s Mideast Policy

Monday, March 18th, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

“We have to confront violent extremism in all of its forms.… America is not — and never will be — at war with Islam. We will, however, relentlessly confront violent extremists who pose a grave threat to our security — because we reject the same thing that people of all faiths reject: the killing of innocent men, women, and children. And it is my first duty as president to protect the American people.” –President Barack Obama, Cairo, June 2009.

“The United States is now experiencing the beginning of its end, and is heading towards its demise….Resistance is the only solution. [Today the United States] is withdrawing from Iraq, defeated and wounded, and it is also on the verge of withdrawing from Afghanistan. [All] its warplanes, missiles and modern military technology were defeated by the will of the peoples, as long as [these peoples] insisted on resistance.” –Muslim Brotherhood leader Muhammad al-Badi, Cairo, September 2010.

WHAT DID THE PRESIDENT know and when did he know it? That’s a question made classical by the Watergate scandal. Now it is possible to trace precisely what Obama knew and when he knew it. And it proves that the installment of the Muslim Brotherhood into power was a conscious and deliberate strategy of the Obama Administration developed before the “Arab Spring” began.

In February 2011 the New York Times ran an extremely complimentary article on President Obama by Mark Landler, who some observers say is the biggest apologist for Obama on the newspaper. That’s quite an achievement. Landler praised Obama for having tremendous foresight, in effect, predicting the “Arab Spring.”

According to Landler,

President Obama ordered his advisers last August [2010] to produce a secret report on unrest in the Arab world, which concluded that without sweeping political changes, countries from Bahrain to Yemen were ripe for popular revolt, administration officials said Wednesday.

Which advisors? The then counter-terrorism advisor and now designated CIA chief, John Brennan? National Security Council senior staffer Samantha Power? If it was done by Obama’s own staff, rather than State and Defense staff, it’s likely that these people or at least one of them was the key author.

So should U.S. policy help allies avoid such sweeping change by standing firm or by helping them make adjustments? No, explained the report, it should get on the side of history and wield a broom to do the sweeping.

Lander’s article continued:

Mr. Obama’s order, known as a Presidential Study Directive, identified likely flashpoints, most notably Egypt, and solicited proposals for how the administration could push for political change in countries with autocratic rulers who are also valuable allies of the United States, [emphasis added] these officials said.

The 18-page classified report, they said, grapples with a problem that has bedeviled the White House’s approach toward Egypt and other countries in recent days: how to balance American strategic interests and the desire to avert broader instability against the democratic demands of the protesters.

As I noted, the article was quite explicitly complimentary (and that’s an understatement) about how Obama knew what was likely to happen and was well prepared for it.

But that’s precisely the problem. It wasn’t trying to deal with change but was pushing for it; it wasn’t asserting U.S. interests, but balancing them off against other factors. In the process, U.S. interests were forgotten.

If Landler was right then Obama did have a sense of what was going to happen and prepared for it. It cannot be said that he was caught unawares. This view would suggest, then, that he thought American strategic interests could be protected and broader instability avoided by overthrowing U.S. allies as fast as possible and by showing the oppositions that he was on their side. Presumably the paper pointed out the strength of Islamist forces and the Muslim Brotherhood factor and then discounted any dangers from this quarter.

One could have imagined how other U.S. governments would have dealt with this situation: by helping friendly governments retain control, encourage them to make reforms, and if they fall, work  to ensure the triumph of moderate, pro-democratic forces that would be able to prevent the formation of radical Islamist dictatorships.

Such an approach would have been easy and in line with historic U.S. policy. We have every reason to believe that the State Department and the Defense Department favored such an approach.

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.

With Obama’s Friends, Who Needs Enemies?

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013
President Barack Obama and Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.

President Barack Obama and Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

A developing story out of Turkey perfectly parallels the article I wrote recently about how Pakistan continues to get massive U.S. aid despite failure to cooperate much of the time on anti-terrorist activity, the involvement of some government officials in concealing Osama bin Ladin, and its imprisoning a Pakistani who helped get bin Ladin.

In Tunisia and Libya, governments fail to help against those responsible for the murder of four U.S. officials in Benghazi. In Turkey, now the government—despite President Obama praising it lavishly, exempting it from economic sanctions on Iran, and saying its prime minister is his hero and role model—has refused to help catch a leading architect of the September 11 attacks. And it is not comforting that the U.S. government has begun training radical Islamists to fight more effectively and kill people better.

Sulaiman Abu Gaith was taken into custody, based on a CIA tip, in Ankara after arriving in Turkey from Iran. (Although the U.S. government is clearly aware that Iran is giving refuge to many al-Qaida leaders it has not pressed or publicized the point.)

Turkey merely deported him to Jordan on grounds that he had arrived travelling on a false passport. The rationale for not turning over Abu Gaith was that he had not committed any crime within Turkey. Jordan then extradited him to the United States where the capture was extolled as a victory but the refusal of Turkey to help was ignored in official terms.

Note that we are not talking about here merely Hamas or Hizballah but al-Qaida, a group that Egypt, Turkey, and Libya, have no interest in helping because they are Islamist clients. The only rationale for helping al-Qaida is either that these regimes want to hurt the United States or they are more afraid of al-Qaida than of the United States. Or, perhaps, they know that the Obama Administration will let them have their cake and eat it too, in other words there will be no cost for refusing to cooperate with Washington against its enemy.

Secretary of State John Kerry, on his visit to Turkey, did condemn Prime Minister Erdogan’s recent outburst of hatred comparing Israel and Zionism to Nazism.

Also on the positive side is that the Obama Administration has helped persuade the Egyptian regime to cut off the flow of weapons to the Gaza Strip. Many of the weapons sent across in previous months were advanced U.S. equipment given to the Libyan Islamist rebels.

But this act of Kerry’s is just a false front on U.S. policy. Erdogan and his government, party, and the media that it controls has been slandering and inciting to violence against Israelis and often Jews for years. Only because this specific statement was featured in the U.S. media did Kerry speak. No doubt, the issue will soon be forgotten as Erdogan goes on to make scores of other slightly less blatant statements along the same lines. Will U.S. policy toward Turkey change because of Erdogan’s anti-Semitic remarks plus his economic and diplomatic assistance of Iran, promotion of an Islamist regime in Syria, backing for Hamas and Hizballah, and other anti-American actions? Absolutely not.

If the United States cannot depend on its new “allies,” despite the supposed popularity of Obama and its policies in those places, then how can they be said to be allies at all? And why is the United States giving them so much money and diplomatic support?

What happens when Islamist terrorists who have been armed, trained, and/or diplomatically helped by the Obama Administration kill Americans? Oh, wait! That’s already the true secret of what happened in Benghazi.

Originally published at Rubin Reports, under the title, “With Friends Like Obama-Backed Islamists, Who Needs Enemies?”

Arab Moderation Murdered in Tunisia

Monday, February 11th, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph in the world is that good men do nothing.” –Edmund Burke

And if the good men are murdered by the forces of political evil than they certainly cannot do anything. Hence, the outcome is assured.

Thus, the “Arab Spring” has just been murdered with bullets and hijacked amid bloodstains. Here is the list of countries in the Middle East area currently ruled by Islamists: Egypt, the Gaza Strip, Iran, Lebanon, and Turkey. Syria will probably join them soon. Qatar has a pro-Islamist policy. Morocco technically has an Islamist government though the king neutralizes it in practice. Saudi Arabia is ruled by a strict Islamic regime but opposes the revolutionary Islamists though its money often spreads their doctrines elsewhere. Everyone is being forced into Sunni or Shia Islamist camps, backing radical forces in other countries so that their religious allegiance can conquer.

In this situation, only in Tunisia could the non-Islamists win fairly conducted elections. But an election isn’t fair if one side uses violence to ensure its victory and its ability to transform the country into a social-political dictatorship afterward.

I know that whenever I write an article on Tunisia it will have fewer readers than other topics. That’s understandable from the standpoint that Tunisia is a small country with little international impact and limited U.S. interests.

Yet Tunisia was the country where the “Arab Spring” began. And Tunisia is going to be the place where the Middle Eastern equivalent of the Spanish Civil War will be fought. In other words, it is the only place where moderate and “secularist” forces are going to fight and the only country where the moderates have a majority of the population–though not a majority of the guns–behind them.

Given that bellwether factor, they have just suffered a massive defeat which is simultaneously a major victory for the Islamist forces.

Briefly, what people who believe the Arabic-speaking world is heading toward democracy don’t understand is that they have helped unleash forces quite willing to engage in violence and that will not stop until they’ve achieve a total triumph. It’s sort of like Pandora who opened the box to unleash its spiritual whirlwinds and said, “This ought to be interesting!”

That’s why the assassination of Choukri Belaid is so important. He was leader of the Democratic Patriot party and a leader of the Popular Front opposition coalition. While the story will be obscure in the West it is devastating for Tunisia, the Arab liberals, and the future of the region. Belaid was the single most outspoken and determined anti-Islamist leader in the country, and indeed the most important openly anti-Islamist politician in the entire Arabic-speaking world. He wasn’t the only moderate politician in Tunisia but he was the main one who rejected Islamist rule and warned against Islamist intentions.

And how did the Islamist-dominated coalition react? The moment the leading opposition figure—the man around whom an anti-Islamist coalition might have been built following the next elections–was murdered, it called for new elections.

Get it? The Brotherhood’s moderate coalition partners didn’t want elections now. And if you eliminate the tough moderate, those remaining may be more pliable about caving in. It was quite conceivable that the non-Islamists would get a majority in the next elections–as they did in the previous one. But a majority divided among four parties isn’t enough. Last time, the moderate parties got 60 percent but their disunity allowed the largest single party, the Brotherhood, to take control of the government coalition with only 40 percent of the vote.

But a man like Belaid might have forged a moderate coalition government that would keep the Brotherhood out of power. In other words, though he led only the fourth largest party, Belaid was the key to forcing the Brotherhood out of power by convincing the four moderate parties to work together against the Islamist threat. His elimination isn’t just a crime, but a political strategy.

As I predicted a few days ago, destroying the left is going to be the Islamists’ priority and Tunisia is the only country where the political left poses a danger to them. Elsewhere it is too weak, confined to isolated individuals and publications.

Two Years Later, Arab Spring’s Success Dubious

Tuesday, December 25th, 2012
It is now two years since the rude jolt that sent several Arab leaders hurtling to the hard ground of the reality that they themselves have had no small part in creating. Dozens of years of dictatorship, criminal neglect, political corruption, cronyism and nepotism, have turned the Arab world into a barrel of extremely explosive gun powder.  The Arab satellite media, especially Al Jazeera, the jihad channel of the Muslim Brotherhood, has been flooding the area with high octane gas fumes by broadcasting unrestrained propaganda against the Arab dictators – “the rulers of the 99 percent below zero” in their words – led by Mubarak, Asad, Qadhaffi and Saddam Hussein.
This channel served as the pyromaniac who carried the burning torch from one arena to another, from Tunisia to Egypt, from Libya to Yemen, from Bahrain to Syria as its spokesmen, headed by  the Emir of Qatar asked: “Who will be next?” The masses, addicted to this channel since the end of 1996, did what was expected of them by the people of the channel, chiefly the Emir of Qatar, Hamed bin Khalifa al-Thani, who built up tremendous power for himself by means of the  reckless satellite channel, which exerts control over the hungry, neglected, oppressed and wretched masses.
It is not within the scope of this article to give a detailed review of the last two years in each one of the states involved in the upheaval, but we shall mark the end point to which each of them arrived.
Tunisia – The Opening Shot
In December 2010, in the peripheral town of Sidi Bou Said, a young, unemployed man by the name of Muhammad bou Azizi immolated himself, and the flames ignited the fumes wafting around the Arab barrel of gun powder. The demonstrations caused president Zine al-Abadine bin Ali to flee the country, but not before he and his wife stole a ton and a half of gold from the central bank.
In elections held in 2011, the Islamic party, which had been banned until then, won first place. However, since it did not win a majority of seats in the parliament, it had to form a coalition with a secular party headed by Munsaf al-Marzouki, a liberal intellectual, who fought for years for human rights in Tunisia and lived in exile until 2011 because of his criticism of President bin Ali. The leader of the Islamic stream, Rashid al-Ghanoushi, offered  the secular al-Marzouki to serve as president of Tunisia, which made it easier for the secular sectors of society to accept the legitimacy of the new regime, even though the Islamic party was predominant.
From this point of view, the change in Tunisia is a source of inspiration, especially in light of the fact that it is the first experiment to create a democratic political system  after long years of the autocratic rule of presidents Bourugiba and bin Ali. The hopes of the citizens of Tunisia skyrocketed.
But the relative stability in the political arena did not bring about meaningful change in the life of the individual, especially in his economic situation. There are many reasons for this: the corrupt governmental system, large parts of which remain from the days of bin Ali and continued to conduct itself according to the practice of “a friend brings a friend”; the infrastructures are still in the same miserable state that they were in during bin Ali’s time; The investors do not rush to invest in initiatives in Tunisia that might create sources of livelihood; the economic crisis in Europe prevents significant growth  of production. The Tunisian citizen now understands that his political hopes, which were fulfilled well, did not translate into a significant improvement in his economic situation.
Another issue that did not undergo a meaningful change is the social stratification in Tunisia. The Tunisian population is polarized between the urban elite and the marginal layers that live in the agricultural suburbs and the desert, the greater part of whom live within a tribal framework. The city is much more open, secular and liberal than the periphery, which remain closed, religious and traditional.
The ethnic issue also has a negative influence on the sense of unity in Tunisia, because in addition to the Arabs who live there, there are also Berbers and Africans, who suffer from a negative image. This situation exists regardless of the regime and the change resulting from the removal of bin Ali has had no influence on the social stratification in Tunisia.
As a result of the economic difficulties, Tunisia has witnessed a series of protest demonstrations against the regime in recent months, mainly in the periphery. Things have even reached the point where President al-Mourzuki, who came last week to the town of Sidi Bou Said – the focal point from where the upheaval that eventually encompassed the Arab world began – in order to participate in a ceremony in memory of Muhammad Bou Azizi, was forced to retreat from the place because of the rocks that were rained down upon him, and because of the cries and curses that were hurled at him. He wanted democracy and got it right in his face, and the people wanted democracy but have now understood that it is not a money-printing machine.
There is not an optimistic forecast for Tunisia: the economic situation in the world in general and in Europe in particular is not expected to improve dramatically in the near future; the administration will not change its imbedded habits of corruption, and social stratification will continue to have a negative influence on opportunities for the country, especially for the youth who live in the social and economic periphery. The resentment that results from these flaws has a negative influence on political stability and the lack of stability may have a negative influence on investments and consequently on the economic situation as well.
For the Tunisian masses who support the Islamic movement it has become clear that the movement was no magic wand that can solve the country’s problems, and it is not clear if there is anything at all to the slogan “Islam is the Solution”, which was the watchword of the party.
Egypt – A Complicated Tangle
On the 25th of January, it will be two years since the beginning of the upheaval in Egypt. There are  are many significant accomplishments of the revolution: Mubarak, the corrupt dictator sits in the defendant’s cage, the heads of his government have been removed – some of them to prison – in disgrace, the Muslim Brotherhood has won the office of presidency and half of the seats of parliament, the military “has been put in its place” by an Islamic president, and even the president of the United States receives the regime of the Muslim Brotherhood as a fait accompli.
However, the situation in Egypt is complicated and complex on a number of levels:  the free youth of the revolution, the liberals, the secular, the educated and the unemployed, who with their bodies removed Mubarak and paid for the demonstrations against him in blood, have discovered that their revolution has been stolen from them. In their worst nightmares they did not foresee that the civil revolution would become an Islamic revolution. Women in casual shirts and jeans who demonstrated two years ago in Tahrir (“liberation”) Square did not expect that as a result of the revolution, representatives of the Salafist party, those who believe that “the best hijab for a woman is her house,” would occupy a quarter of the seats of parliament.
But the political disappointments – as great as they are – are much, much less disheartening than the economic ones. In Egypt too, most of the administration of the previous regime has remained in place, and it is filled with layers of hidden unemployment, excess employees, cumbersome bureaucracy, and nepotism. The chance that it will bring the country to a state of development and prosperity are no greater than in the days of Mubarak.
Tourism, which, in the days of Mubarak granted livelihood to millions of Egyptians, has disappeared and with it, this important source of livelihood for many Egyptians. These people today live far below the poverty line, which, in Egypt, is quite low to begin with. Foreign investors have refrained for the past two years from investing in Egypt, because the security situation is not stable and it is not clear to them if they will see any profit at all from their investment, which might go down the drain.
The lack of investments has a negative influence on the creation of new sources of employment for the masses of Egyptians who enter  the work force every year, to establish a family and to support it. The many unemployed university graduates who come up against the severe employment reality, cause an explosive social situation; the average age of  marriage is rising and has passed the 30 mark, establishing a family (“opening a home”) has become an impossible economic task for most of the youth and this is enough to launch them into the streets to let off the steam that has accumulated against the symbols of the regime, institutions of the state and police stations.
The constitution, which was recently approved, grants many authorities to the president at the expense of the other institutions, mainly the parliament, and it starts to smell like a dictatorship. Many – even among the religious sectors of society – ask if this is what the Muslim Brotherhood has come to power for.
The activity of parliament, which was elected about a year ago, was frozen by an edict of the court, and it doesn’t seem that the president is rushing to renew the activity of the parliament. He does not want to be called upon to answer embarrassing questions that might be addressed to him from parliament, which has authority  because it was chosen by democratic and fair elections. Morsi is not interested in a parliament that will pass budgetary laws that are not consistent with his opinion, and in general – the combination of a president with a clear cultural, social and political agenda and a parliament which is polarized within by various contradictory trends, is not a prescription for political stability, but rather for a dead end, with the two sides stuck in an embrace where each side sticks a knife into the other.
Two years after the upheaval in Egypt and this country seems like a rickety wagon with several formidable and powerful horses pulling it at full speed, but in different directions: the president, the constitutional committee, the members of parliament, the military, the government, which is always temporary, the secular street, the religious street, the Salafis and supporters of Mubarak.
The forecast for the future is not rosy, because the constitutional-governmental knot has a bad influence on the economy, which is collapsing in the first place, and the struggle for the cultural image of Egypt slips too many times into violence that causes more violence from the police and raises the ire of the public to levels reminiscent of the rage that accompanied the struggle against Mubarak.
In retrospect it could be that among the Muslim Brotherhood there are those who feel that it was a mistake on their part to try to drive the rickety Egyptian cart, because there is no chance to come to any positive goal, and they – despite inheriting a very difficult situation form Mubarak and Tantawi – will be identified with the failure.
Syria – The Next Massacre
For 21 months, since March of 2011, observers of the events have the sense that the collapse of Asad is near, and with his collapse the state will be broken up into homogeneous units: Kurds in the northeast of the country, Alawites in the west, Druze in the south, Bedouins in the East, Damascenes in the center and residents of Aleppo in the North. The idea that an autonomous Alawite unit might be established comes from information that the regime is streaming heavy weapons, ammunition and heavy equipment into the area of the mountains of Ansariyya in the West of the country, the traditional dwelling place of the Alawites, so that they will be able to defend themselves against the Muslims’ attack on the mountain and its inhabitants.
In recent days, information has begun to surface that units belonging to the Free Syrian Army are attacking the mountains of Ansariyya, and that tens of Alawite villages have been abandoned out of fear of Muslim knives that are filled with hatred for the Alawites and because of the Muslims’  strong desire to avenge upon them the deeds of slaughter that the regime has carried out against the citizens of Syria for the past two years, and also in previous periods, such as the period between 1976 and 1982, when the Muslim Brotherhood first arose, that ended in the slaughter of thousands of men, women and children in the city of Hama in February of 1982.
If this information is indeed correct and Asad’s opposition is indeed taking control of Ansariyya, this might be the physical end of the Alawaites and the end of their dream to control even themselves. The blood that will be spilled when the Muslims slaughter them will be much more than was spilled until today and it is not clear how much the world will feel compelled to help this group when push comes to shove and knives are at their throats.
What does this say about the future of Syria? It seems that Syria is sinking in a swamp of blood, fire and tears, as it is torn into pieces by hundreds of militias, some of which have cultural and religious orientation identical to that of bin Laden and al-Qaeda. This development might be very problematic for Israel because neighbors like these do not bode well and if heavy weapons or weapons of mass destruction fall into their hands, Israel might find itself  in the near future coping with threats that it is not used to.
Libya – Tribal Wars
In this country, stricken by tribalism, a coalition of tribes together with massive  NATO support succeeded to remove Qadhaffi, but since he was eliminated by his opposition more than a year ago, Libya has become an arena for battles between tribes over economic and governmental interests  and for territory and influence. Eastern tribal headquarters – Cyrenaica – are fighting against the tribes of the West – Tripolotania, and the southern tribes are enemies of all the others.
Libyan society is polarized also on an ethnic basis, around the Arab-Berber split that has economic and governmental implications as well. The prediction is that as long as Libya continues to be one state it will continue to be an arena for tribal struggles. Why? Because – that’s the natural situation between tribes, and especially those that live in the Sahara, who for hundreds of years and more, have developed strong and dangerous “atsabiyya” (tribal rivalry) , mainly towards “the other” (anyone who is different from him). The fact that weapons are widespread in the Libyan desert means that the violence inherent to the culture of the region, is turning the matter into something particularly deadly.
Qatar – Hypocrisy At its Worst
The upheaval in the Arab world is the result of a basically terrible situation created by the regimes, an atmosphere of enmity toward the regimes created by the Al Jazeera channel and the huge fire that Muhammad bou Azizi ignited. During the past two years, the principality of Qatar has been, and still is involved up to its neck in funding the chaos and sending various types of support to Libya and Syria, and the Al Jazeera channel, which is the operative agent, ignites the problem in Arab countries by calling for democracy, human rights and freedom of expression in these countries.
But Qatar itself cannot stand up to Al Jazeera’s standards when it comes to democracy: in the beginning of this December, the Qatari court sent a 36-year old poet by the name of Muhammad ben al-Dhiab  al-Ajami to prison for life, because while he praised the revolutions in the Arab world, he also criticized the Emir of Qatar. Al-Ajami went even further and called for revolution in Qatar, even though he knew that the punishment for this is death.
If the Emir of Qatar does not pardon al-Ajami, he will be inviting sharp criticism from anyone who has a mouth and a tongue in the Arab world, but he will pay no heed to the criticism and will continue to encourage the Muslim Brotherhood to take control of the rest of the countries of the Arab world, while shutting mouths in his own back yard.
A General Picture
Two years after the beginning of the upheaval in the Arab world, the  picture does not arouse too much optimism. The rulers of still more countries are standing on shaky ground, and the wave may reach them too.
Israel again appears as an island of stability and sanity in a roiling and stormy sea, where rickety boats are about to sink along with their inhabitants. May Allah save the Arab peoples.

Originally published at Middle East and Terrorism. Translated from Hebrew by Sally Zahav.

Kidnapping Plot Against Tunisian Jewish Community Reportedly Foiled

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

A network plotting to kidnap and ransom members of a southern Tunisia town’s Jewish community was broken up by the country’s national guard, a Tunisian newspaper reported.

The network was started by a police officer who was formerly responsible for protecting the Jewish community, according to the report  in Al Hacad, a Tunisian weekly. The officer was reportedly recruiting young Tunisians to take part in a kidnapping operation that aimed to force Tunisian Jews to leave the country. He had a car registered in Libya as well as firearms stockpiled.

A Jewish resident of the southern Tunisian town of Zarzis told JTA that extra security measures had been taken up by the national guard in the Jewish neighborhood, where about 100 Jews live.

“I was wondering why we had a new army truck stationed about 40 meters from our synagogue for the past week, and then I read about this,” he said.

The police officer reportedly was known for being involved in an Islamic extremist group and was plotting to carry out a kidnapping operation on a Friday evening when local Jews spend Shabbat on the beach.

After the plot was foiled, all those behind it were arrested. The case has been referred to the Court of First Instance in Tunis.

While relations between Muslims and Jews in Zarzis have been relatively calm in recent years, there have been past incidents where the Jewish community was the target of violence.  In 1982 the synagogue in Zarzis was torched, and Torah scrolls were destroyed in the blaze. The arson attack was considered a response to the Sabra and Shatila massacre in Lebanon.

The Trouble with Tunisian Values

Sunday, September 2nd, 2012

Like millions of people around the world, Jamel Gharbi marked the end of summer by taking his family to the beach. Gharbi, a French Socialist regional councilor, had taken his wife and 12 year old daughter back to the Tunisian city where he had been born and had lived until the 1970s before moving to France.

The tide of the Arab Spring had washed over Tunisia and left Gharbi’s homeland a very different place. Furious Salafi Islamists attacked them for wearing shorts, offending Islamic values. When Gharbi tried to defend his family, he barely escaped with his life.

Bertrand Delanoe, the Socialist mayor of Paris, condemned the attack as the work of an “extremist minority” in contradiction to “Tunisian values.” “The Tunisian people I know,” he said, “are committed to tolerance, democracy, pluralism and human rights.”

Secretary-General Jean-Francois Cope, of the French conservative UMP opposition, agreed that the Tunisian people were not to blame. The perpetrators, he said, only “pretend to be animated by religious convictions,” and dubbed them fanatics and extremists who “do not represent the people of Tunisia.”

The peculiar phenomenon of Bertrand Delanoe and Jean-Francois Cope telling the Tunisian people what their values are is not limited to Gallic shores. As the tides follow the moon, Muslim terrorist attacks are followed by Western leaders asserting that the terrorists do not represent Islam and its tolerant values.

When Faisal Shahzad, the Times Square Bomber, appeared for sentencing, he declared, “If I am given a thousand lives, I will sacrifice them all for the sake of Allah, fighting this cause, defending our lands, making the word of Allah supreme over any religion or system.”

Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum told Faisal Shahzad that he needed to “spend some of the time in prison thinking carefully about whether the Koran wants you to kill lots of people.” The trouble was that Faisal Shahzad had already decided what his religion had to say about killing lots of people. Similarly the Tunisian people had already decided what their values are.

The Arab Spring began in Tunisia when a male vendor shamed at being struck by a female police officer set himself on fire. It ended with the election of an Islamist party and murderous violence at the sight of a 12-year-old girl wearing shorts.

The Islamist Al-Nahda Party won a landslide victory in 2011 with more votes than every major party combined. It was the only party to cross the one-million vote mark and its popularity is undeniable. Tunisian values, which may not be pluralistic or democratic after all, are the secret to its success.

In an Al-Jazeera poll, nearly half of Tunisians identified strongly with Islamism, while less than 20 percent identified with either Arab nationalism or liberalism. Numbers like these have made the outcome of the Arab Spring inevitable, along with the accompanying attacks on 12-year-old girls and expat Socialists.

The Al-Nahda Party, described with the obligatory “moderate” soubriquet in news articles, has proposed blasphemy laws that come with harsh prison sentences, and one of its constitutional articles defines women as inferior to men. Al-Nahda’s view of women can be gleaned from Rachid Ghannouchi, the intellectual leader of the movement, who praised the mothers of suicide bombers as “a new model of woman.”

Democracy is the truest test of a nation’s values. The Secretary-General of the UMP may be convinced of the moderate values of the Tunisian people, but the Secretary-General of Al-Nahda, Hamadi Jebali, was equally convinced that Al-Nahda’s victory was a harbinger of the Sixth Caliphate.

The values of the Tunisian people turned Hamadi Jebali from a prisoner into the leader of the dominant Tunisian political party and from there into the Prime Minister of Tunisia. The Arab Spring’s democratic elections have been the acid test of whether Tunisian values and Egyptian values are truly those of “Tolerance, democracy, pluralism and human rights.” And the verdict is in.

It took official protests from French leaders for the new Tunisian Islamist government to condemn the attack on Jamel Gharbi. The actual attackers are still not in custody, and the inaction of the police is becoming routine in a country where Islamist thugs dispensing vigilante Sharia justice are swiftly becoming the law.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/the-trouble-with-tunisian-values/2012/09/02/

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