Saudi King Warns of Fitna

1534157424By Clare M. Lopez:

As the annual Muslim holy month of Ramadan drew to a close in late July 2014, Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud addressed a meeting of senior Saudi leadership figures and religious scholars in Jeddah. The Saudi monarch, who turned 90 on 1 August, spoke during the Eid al-Fitr celebrations to an audience of his closest supporters. While an official statement aimed at the overall international community had been read out on his behalf on Saudi state television on Friday 25 July 2014 in which he called the Israeli Operation Protective Edge in Gaza as “a war crime against humanity,” at the Jeddah meeting, Abdullah returned to a theme that apparently concerns the Saudi royals even more than Gaza these days. He called it fitna, meaning civil strife among fellow Muslims, but what he really meant was the seemingly unstoppable advance of the Islamic State (IS) that now threatens the borders of the Saudi kingdom.

Back in the 2011-2013 timeframe, the Saudis, along with the Qataris and Turks, had been among the early supporters of what was then known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), when the hard-core Salafi militia was seen as the best chance for ousting the Iranian-backed regime of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad. But after al-Qa’eda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri officially broke ties with the group in February 2013 because its Iraqi leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, refused to confine his activities to Iraq, ISIS began a savage rampage across Syria that eventually in June 2014 drove southward into Iraq as well. The speed of the ISIS advance spread shock and alarm throughout the region. Division after division of the Iraqi army, trained and equipped by the U.S., collapsed and fled, abandoning large quantities of top-of-the-line tanks, vehicles, and weapons to ISIS. On 29 June 2014, with an ever-expanding swath of territory now fallen to his forces, al-Baghdadi proclaimed the establishment of a Caliphate (The Islamic State – IS). Shariah and the so-called ‘Conditions of Umar’ (the dhimma conditions) are brutally enforced everywhere under its control, sending hundreds of thousands of Christians, Shi’ites, Yazidis, and other minorities fleeing IS’s merciless demands to “convert, pay the jizya, or die.” Atrocities not seen on such a scale for many decades include the Islamic hudud punishments of amputations, crucifixions, flogging, and stoning, plus beheadings (even of children), sexual enslavement of captured women and the wholesale slaughter of prisoners.

It was against this backdrop that King Abdullah convened some of his closest supporters for the Jeddah speech, in which he cited key Qur’anic passages to condemn in the bluntest terms the “tumult and oppression” that IS is spreading:

Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah loveth not transgressors.

And slay them wherever ye catch them, and turn them out from where they have Turned you out; for tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter; but fight them not at the Sacred Mosque, unless they (first) fight you there; but if they fight you, slay them. Such is the reward of those who suppress faith.

But if they cease, Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.

And fight them on until there is no more Tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah; but if they cease, Let there be no hostility except to those who practise oppression. (Qur’an 2:190 – 193)

Understandably shaken (and with good reason, given the thoroughly un-Islamic lifestyles enjoyed by many Saudi royals), the Saudi King directed his message at the Muslim community as a whole, but called specifically upon “Muslim leaders and scholars of the Islamic nation to carry out their duty towards Allah Almighty and stand in the face of those trying to hijack Islam and [present] it to the world as a religion of extremism, hatred and terrorism.”

Read more at Center for Security Policy

World Leaders Lambast Obama’s “Failures” in the Middle East

????????????????????????by Raymond Ibrahim:

World leaders are increasingly pointing to U.S. President Obama’s failures in the Middle East.

Some are direct and blunt.  For example, during his recent visit to Brazil, Russian President Vladimir Putin was asked by journalists about U.S. sanctions against Russia due to the Ukrainian crisis.  While naturally condemning such moves, part of his response was to accuse the Obama administration of “encouraging war between neighboring states.”  In the same context, Putin added:

American objectives have not been realized, nor have they accomplished anything, because everything has collapsed.   Afghanistan faces problems, and Iraq and Libya are falling apart.  Egypt also was going to collapse had President Sisi not taken matters in hand.  And all this demonstrates the failures of the Obama administration.

In fact, and as I have pointed out in several articles, every Muslim nation the U.S. has interfered in—whether to promote “democracy,” as in the much ballyhooed “Arab Spring,” or to defeat “terrorism” and/or eliminate “WMDs”—has seen two results: the empowerment of Islamists, followed by chaos, conflict, and constant atrocities.

Other leaders, such as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, indirectly point to the Obama administration’s failures in the Middle East.  This occurred during an interview on NBC’s Meet the Press, in the context of the Presbyterian Church of the USA’s recent decision to divest from Israel in the name of the Palestinian people.

After pointing out that “Christians are persecuted throughout the Middle East”—and nary a word of condemnation or concern from the Presbyterian Church—Netanyahu said:

You know, I would suggest to these Presbyterian organizations to fly to the Middle East, come and see Israel for the embattled democracy that it is, and then take a bus tour, go to Libya, go to Syria, go to Iraq, and see the difference.  And I would give them two pieces of advice, one is, make sure it’s an armor-plated bus, and second, don’t say that you’re Christians.

While not directly mentioning the U.S.’s role in these three nations—Netanyahu, after all, is on better terms with America than Putin—the obvious is clear: 1) the U.S. played a major role “liberating” two of these countries—Iraq and Libya—and is currently supporting the freedom fighters/terrorists trying to “liberate” Syria; and 2) in all three nations, the human rights of non-Muslims, specifically Christians, have taken a dramatic nosedive, evincing the nature of those the U.S. helped empower.

Consider Iraq today, one decade after the U.S. took down Saddam Hussein, bringing “freedom” and “democracy” to the Iraqi people: now an Islamic caliphate exists, enforcing the savageries of Sharia—from stoning women accused of adultery to crucifying others, burning churches and forcing Christians either to convert to Islam, pay “taxes” (jizya) and embrace third class status, or face the sword.

Libya, Afghanistan, and rebel-controlled areas of Syria are little better.

As Putin pointed out, the only nation still trying to hang in there is Egypt, thanks to the anti-Muslim Brotherhood revolution—which, of course, was criticized by the U.S. government, including by people like John McCain.

To recap Egypt: the Obama administration turned its back on 30-year-long U.S. ally, the secularist Mubarak, embraced the Islamist Morsi, and some of the worst Muslim persecution of Christians—the litmus test of “radicalization”—took place against the Copts during Morsi’s one year of rule, from an unprecedented attack on the most important Coptic building and seat of the pope, the St. Mark Cathedral, to a dramatic rise in the imprisonment of Christians accused of “insulting” Islam.

As for Egypt’s current president, Sisi, he too made some observations that comport with those of Putin’s (that “someone” is fueling conflict between neighboring states) and Netanyahu’s (that the region is a mess, thanks to the empowerment of Islamists).

During his televised speech in early July, Sisi warned that “religion is being used to destroy neighboring countries”—a clear reference to the empowerment of Islamists in the same failed nations highlighted by Putin and Netanyahu, namely, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Afghanistan—all the handiwork of U.S. leadership in general, Obama’s administration in particular.

Don’t Blame Bush for Al Qaeda in Iraq, Blame Obama

lk-450x337by Daniel Greenfield:

Like Birkenstocks and ironic t-shirts, blaming Bush has never gone out of style on the left. When Al Qaeda’s resurgence in Iraq became so obvious that even the media, which had been pretending that Obama’s claims about a successful withdrawal were true, could no longer ignore them, their talking points were all lined up and ready.

It was all Bush’s fault.

Defenses of the war by pivotal figures like Dick Cheney and Tony Blair only enraged them further. “Why wouldn’t they admit it was all their fault?”

But the left’s lazy talking points about Iraq, like their talking points about the economy, ignore everything that has happened since 2008.

The leading factor behind the resurgence of Al Qaeda in Iraq didn’t come from Iraq. It came from Syria.

From the “Islamic State of Iraq” under Bush to the ”Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant” under Obama, it’s all in the name. The variations of ISIS and ISIL show a regional shift toward Syria. Al Qaeda in Iraq was a vicious terrorist organization before the Arab Spring, but it was not capable of menacing Baghdad with a sizable army while crushing numerically superior forces along the way.

That didn’t happen in Iraq. It happened in Syria.

If you believe liberal supporters of Obama and opponents of the Iraq War, regime change in Iraq disastrously destabilized the region, but regime change in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Yemen and Syria didn’t.

But the theory that turned Al Qaeda into a regional monster didn’t come from Dick Cheney. It came from Obama’s Presidential Study Directive 11 which helped pave the way for the Arab Spring. The definitive speech that opened the gates of hell wasn’t Bush’s speech on Iraq, but Obama’s Cairo speech.

That speech and the policy implemented with it led to the fall of allied governments and the rise of Islamist militias aligned with Al Qaeda. The Arab Spring was a regime change operation on a much larger scale than the Iraq War. Unlike the Iraq War, it was completely unsupervised and uncontrolled.

And it favored America’s enemies from the very outset.

ISIS picked up its weapons and manpower as a consequence of the conflicts in Libya and Syria. Obama chose to fight on the side of Al Qaeda in Libya. That led to the murder of four Americans in Benghazi after Islamic militias took over major cities.

Obama chose to facilitate the smuggling of weapons to Islamic militias by Qatar and other Gulf states. The White House endorsed the weapons smuggling, but then claimed to be surprised that the weapons were going to “more antidemocratic, more hard-line, closer to an extreme version of Islam” fighters.

The White House didn’t shut down the smuggling operation. Instead a senior official claimed not to be able to control the Qataris; not to mention the Saudis, Kuwaitis and the rest of the state-sponsored terrorism gang.

After Libya many of the fighters and weapons went to Syria where different factions of Al Qaeda were battling it out with the Syrian government and each other. And some of those weapons didn’t just end up in Syria.

Read more at Front Page

Turkey, Erdogan, and the Muslim Brotherhood in Iraq

 

This photograph shows ISIL commander Abu Muhammad, April 16, 2014, allegedly receiving free treatment in Hatay State Hospital after being injured during fighting in Idlib, Syria.

This photograph shows ISIL commander Abu Muhammad, April 16, 2014, allegedly receiving free treatment in Hatay State Hospital after being injured during fighting in Idlib, Syria.

Should Iraq split into thirds (Kurdistan, a Shia division, and a Sunni division), the Iraqi Muslim Brotherhood would likely take power.

By J. Millard Burr:

A recent photograph taken 16 April 2014, which appeared in Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily, shows an injured ISIL commander Abu Muhammad “allegedly receiving free treatment,” in Turkey’s Hatay State Hospital. It was reported that commander Muhammad was injured during fighting in Idlib, Syria.

Two lawmakers from Turkey’s opposition Republican People¹s Party had the temerity to accuse the government of both “protecting and cooperating with jihadist militants of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the al-Nusra Front.” The Turkish government was quick to deny the claim.

The appearance of a wounded jihadist commander being treated in a Turkish hospital is a subtle reminder that Turkey is governed by a leading member of the Ikhwan al-Muslimun — the Muslim Brotherhood. It is also a reminder that when one scratches a Muslim Brother, a jihadist bleeds. While it is true that some Brothers, like Ikhwan ideologues Yusuf al-Qaradawi and Hasan al-Turabi, will take up the pen rather than take up arms in the movement to revive the Islamic Caliphate, both Ikhwan intellectual and soldier are equally determined. And so too are the Ikhwan’s politicians, people like Erdogan of Turkey, Ghannouchi of Tunisia and Morsi of Egypt, who are determined to re-create Islam’s Caliphate.

Members of the Ikhwan, from its founder Hasan al-Banna to Turkey’s Erdogan, have all been aware that terrorism can be a useful adjunct in the Islamist revolution. It has been used more frequently in that epoch of Arab history that dates from the Muslim world’s rejection of Arab nationalism. Following the death of Nasser (Arab nationalism’s primary sponsor), in the nineteen-seventies a plethora of jihadist branches sprang from the Ikhwan tree. Uniformly, the organizations rejected the Ikhwan’s evolutionary philosophy that had been forced on it by Nasser and then by Egypt’s powerful military caste.

The Islamist movement came to a boil with the war in Afghanistan. It festered with the American presence in the first war in Iraq, and gained strength with the war in the Balkans. In that war, Muslim Brothers Sudan’s Hassan al-Turabi and Bosnia’s Izetbegovic, together with Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his mentor Islamist politician Necmettin Erbakan (1926-2011) had played a major role. In the early 1990s, Erbakan and Erdogan served as money launderers and arms purchasers in the Islamist-backed insurgency in Bosnia, Kosovo and Albania. Their activity can be seen as a starting point in what would be a continuing Islamist effort to infiltrate the Turkish polity and dominate its future. Egyptian Muslim Brother Yusuf al-Qaradawi, from his exile in Qatar, Tunisia’s Rashid Ghannouchi, from his exile in London, and the members of the Egyptian Ikhwan at home and in exile, also played part in the Balkan war, though less directly.

Erbakan funeral

Erbakan funeral

Erdogan eulogy of Erbakan, his political (and Ikhwan) mentor, showed he remained in the thrall of such predecessors as the internationalist al-Afghani, the Ikhwan al-Muslimun founder Hassan al-Banna, the Brotherhood’s terrorist ideologue Sayid Qutb and the Afghan-Arab and Palestinian Ikhwan Abdalla Azzam. Thus, the appearance of an Islamist mujahideen in a Turkish hospital surprised few Turks who had been following developments in the wake of the so-called Arab Spring.

The genesis of the Arab Spring is found in Tunisia where the previously outlawed Ennahda party — an Ikhwan al-Muslimun institution — came to power following the overthrow of an entrenched secular (and sclerotic) government. Immediately, the jailed jihadists were released. And the former Arab-Afghan mujahideen emerged from hiding. Ironically, the capture of Tunisia’s polity should have been easy were it not for the fact that neither Ghannouchi nor his Ennahda politicians and gunmen showed any leadership.

Read more at American Center for Democracy

 J. Millard Burr is a Senior Fellow at the American Center for Democracy.

The Al Qaeda Spring Is Here

iraq1by Daniel Greenfield:

Many of us declared the Arab Spring dead and buried. But the Arab Spring really came in two phases.

The first phase was the political destabilization of formerly stable Arab countries by liberals and Islamists. The second phase was an armed conflict by Islamists to take over entire countries.

These phases overlapped in some cases and the second phase has been underway for a while already. In Libya and Syria the first phase of the Arab Spring became the second phase. When protests didn’t work, the Islamists turned to force. When elections didn’t work for them in Libya, they turned to force for a second time. The Benghazi attack was arguably a collateral effect of Islamist attempts to take over Libya after a poor election performance that same summer.

Advocates of the Arab Spring promised that political Islam would lead to an end to Islamic terrorism, but armed Jihad and political Jihad are two phases of the same Islamic struggle. Now the shift to the second phase is complete. The real beneficiaries of the Arab Spring were always going to be those who had the most guns and cared the least about dying in battle. And that was always going to be Al Qaeda.

Libya and Syria’s civil wars had a ripple effect as weapons were seized and recruits assembled. The lessons of the Afghan wars should have made it clear that the Jihadists involved in those conflicts would not simply go home and live normal lives once the fighting was concluded.

Instead they would find other wars to fight.

The War on Terror was fed by veterans of those wars. So were a dozen more minor Jihadist conflicts that don’t normally make the news. Those conflicts produced their own veterans and spread the war around.

The Arab Spring was supposed to use “moderate” political Islamists to thwart “extremist” terrorists, but that was never going to happen. There is no such thing as a moderate Islamist. There are only Islamic activists more focused on one phase of the conflict. Like the distinction between the political and armed branches of terrorist groups, these distinctions are tactical. They are not ideological.

Read more at Front page

The Mirage of Political Islam

Miguel Montaner

Miguel Montaner

America should help, not hinder, the secular democrats of the Muslim world.

By 

“You must maintain your power through consent, not coercion; you must respect the rights of minorities, and participate with a spirit of tolerance and compromise; you must place the interests of your people and the legitimate workings of the political process above your party. Without these ingredients, elections alone do not make true democracy.”

President Obama delivered these words in his Cairo speech, five years ago today, when he reached out to rehabilitate Islam and Islamic civilization in the eyes of the world — and redeem America in the eyes of the global Muslim community after the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

The Cairo speech was part of the road map based on the advice of the 2008 report “Changing Course: A New Direction for U.S. Relations With the Muslim World,” drafted by the leadership group on United States-Muslim engagement, composed of former senior government officials, both Democrat and Republican, as well as scholars (myself included), political analysts and international relations experts. All of us were concerned about the divide between America and the Muslim world, and we recommended that the new president deliver a major speech in a significant Islamic capital — Cairo, Istanbul, Jakarta or Rabat — directly addressing the Muslim world. That’s what Mr. Obama did at Cairo University on June 4, 2009.

Since then, Egypt has experienced the “Arab Spring,” followed first by the Muslim Brotherhood’s election to power, and then its downfall. If Mr. Obama’s message of 2009 had been conveyed again more forcefully to Egypt’s former president, Mohamed Morsi, before he was ousted by the army last July, the hopes of Arabs and Muslims around the world after the Cairo speech might not have been as disappointed as they are today.

Sadly, every one of the “ingredients” for democracy listed by Mr. Obama was flouted by Mr. Morsi during his tumultuous year in office. He forced the passage of the Muslim Brotherhood’s 2012 constitution, issued edicts imposing himself over the judiciary, failed to provide protections to Coptic Christians, started vendettas against journalists and activists and treated the secular opposition as enemies to be excluded from political life. In short, the Egyptian president furthered the political aims of the Muslim Brotherhood at the expense of the nation, exactly as Mr. Obama had cautioned against.

The result is that the Obama administration has found itself in an uncomfortable position. As the president remarked to the United Nations General Assembly last September, “America has been attacked by all sides of this internal conflict, simultaneously accused of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, and engineering their removal of power.”

But if the administration had been more critical of the Brotherhood’s infringements of democratic rights, it might have avoided this situation. Instead, when asked about Mr. Morsi’s fiat of November 2012 that gave his regime extraordinary powers, a State Department spokesman responded, “this is an Egyptian political process.” Mr. Obama may have said that “elections alone do not equal democracy,” but America acted as though elections in Egypt were sufficient. In the words of America’s ambassador to Egypt, Anne Patterson, “the fact is they ran in a legitimate election and won” — as if that settled the issue of the Brotherhood’s fitness for democratic rule.

Read more at New York Times

Mustapha Tlilia novelist and a research scholar at New York University, is the founder and director of the N.Y.U. Center for Dialogues: Islamic World – U.S. – the West.

The Orient Express from Mecca to the Vatican Christians in the Cross Hairs

Unprecedented: Islamists Agree to Cede Power in Tunisia

Tunisia

The decisive factor in defeating the Islamists in Tunisia was that all their opponents worked together.

BY RYAN MAURO:

The Islamists thought that their ascent to power in Tunisia and Egypt as a result of the “Arab Spring” heralded their glory days. Less than three years later, those gains have been lost. The Islamist Ennahda Party that ruled Tunisia has agreed to step down, as demanded by hordes of anti-Islamist demonstrators.

The Clarion Project has been closely following the anti-Islamist wavethat is sweeping across the region, presently in Egypt, Bangladesh, Tunisia and Turkey. Now, it has swept Ennahda from power, essentially the Muslim Brotherhood’s branch in Tunisia, the country where the Arab Spring first began.

Protests against the Ennahda in Tunisia escalated after the second assassination of a prominent secular opposition figure. While there was no proof that Ennahda carried it out, the evidence pointed to an Al-Qaeda-type Salafist hand.

But Tunisians recognize what many leaders in the West do not: That Islamists are all part of the same pattern, only shaded with different colors.

The approval rating of Ennahda had collapsed. A Pew poll published earlier this month found that Tunisia’s most disliked leader was Rashid Ghannouchi, one of the founders of the Ennahda Party. Ghannouchi garnered a disapproval rating of close to 56% (with only 34% viewing him favorably). Ennahda itself lost a quarter of its popularity.

Read more at The Clarion Project

Arab Spring End: Tunisia’s Ruling Islamists Fall

reu-tunisia-crisis_protests-450x265FPM, By Daniel Greenfield:

Despite being the wellspring of the Arab Spring, Tunisia hasn’t gotten much attention. But the counterrevolution that took down the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt really began in Tunisia.

Back in October of last year, I predicted that Egypt and Tunisia were both headed for Counterrevolutions against Islamist rule. The revolution in Egypt happened and the protests and unrest in Tunisia has been growing.

Now events are approaching the endgame.

Tunisia’s ruling Islamists rejected on Monday a plan for them to step down pending elections, deepening a confrontation with secular opponents that threatens the most promising democratic transition to have emerged from the Arab Spring.

The Islamist government that replaced Tunisia’s longtime ruler Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali had on Thursday cautiously agreed to talks on stepping down, after reading opposition protests as a sign it is time to compromise instead of digging in.

On Monday it appeared to take a step back.

“We cannot accept the threat of pressure from the streets,” said Ennahda vice president Adb el Hamid Jelassi. “There should be more guarantees.”

Stubbornness was the undoing of its affiliate in Egypt – the Muslim Brotherhood which won office through the ballot box after the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak but alienated the masses and the army by refusing to share power.

“We have said that this government would not step down concretely before the completion of the constitution,” Rafik Abd Essalem, a senior Ennahda official, told reporters.

Of course they intend to lock in the constitution first. That’s their endgame. But the Morsi constitution is already being rewritten. No reason that the Ennahda one can’t be.

UPDATE: Ennahda down.

Tunisia’s governing Islamist party has agreed to step down following negotiations with opposition parties that begin next week.

A spokesman for the main labor union said months of talks with the Islamist-led government had finally reached an agreement Saturday. Bouali Mbarki of the UGTT union said the deal calls for three weeks of negotiations to appoint an interim, non-partisan government.

The Egyptian Pyramid Scheme

ObamaP-266x350By :

Deserts are funny things. A big wide open space in which nothing moves can play tricks on the mind. Spend enough time looking at a desert and you will see things moving in it because your mind needs to believe that there is life in it. Look hard enough and you will see democracy, progress and change.

But when you close your eyes and open them again, you will see that there is only a desert. And that there only ever was a desert.

Everything else was a mirage.

Egypt has gone back to what it was before the Arab Spring. It is now once again a country ruled by the military and bureaucratic institutions that are the legacy of British colonialism. Mubarak will not return to power again, but there are plenty of other military men to squat on top of a bankrupt oligarchy that lives on foreign aid and pride.

The mirage of Tahrir Square, the fireworks, fires and social media protesters brandishing smartphones and throwing down with riot police, is fading away. There will be more riots and fires and rapes. But that false sense of history being made will never return.

The truth about the Arab Spring is that it never existed. The term was coined by Marc Lynch, a George Washington University professor, who had spent years urging engagement with Hamas and championing the role of the Muslim Brotherhood as a “firewall” against Al-Qaeda “radicalism.”

This Arab Spring had nothing to do with democracy or freedom. It was a scheme to split the Islamist ranks by turning over the Middle East to political Islamists. It was Zbigniew Brzezinski’s Green Belt strategy practiced on a grander scale than Iran. Instead of Jimmy Carter hoping that the Ayatollah Khomeini would checkmate the USSR, there was Barack Obama counting on Muslim Brotherhood election victories to make the practice of international terrorism passé.

The Arab Spring was a cheerful brand, a shiny media package, covering up an ugly truth. The optimistic implications of its name kept many from looking at the list of ingredients and finding out that the only things inside were Islamists and more Islamists.

The pyramid scheme would keep investing in new Islamist governments and they would pay us back by discrediting Al Qaeda’s campaign of terror and that, the liberal foreign policy mavens insisted, would allow us to bring an end to the War on Terror.

Read more at Front Page

 

Watching the Middle East Implode

jp-egypt1-articleLarge-450x330By :

The revolutions against dictators in the Middle East dubbed the Arab Spring have degenerated into a complex, bloody mélange of coups and counter-coups, as have happened in Egypt; vicious civil wars, like the current conflict in Syria; a resurgence of jihadists gaining footholds in Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Sinai; and a shifting and fracturing of alliances and enmities of the sort throwing Lebanon and Jordan into turmoil. Meanwhile, American foreign policy has been confused, incompetent, and feckless in insuring that the security and interests of the United States and its allies are protected.

A major reason for our foreign policy failures in the region is our inability to take into account the intricate diversity of ideological, political, and especially theological motives driving events. Just within the Islamist outfits, Sunni and Shia groups are at odds—and this isn’t to mention the many bitter divisions within Sunni and Shia groups. Add the other players in the Middle East––military dictators, secular democrats, leftover communists, and nationalists of various stripes––and the whole region seems embroiled in endlessly complex divisions and issues.

Yet a greater impediment to understanding accurately this bloody and complex region is our preconceived biases. Too often we rely on explanations that gratify our own ideological preferences and prejudices, but that function like mental stencils: they are a priori patterns we superimpose on events to create the picture we want to see, but only by concealing other events that do not fit the pattern. We indulge the most serious error of foreign policy: assuming that other peoples think like us and desire the same goods as we do, like political freedom and prosperity, at the expense of others, like religious obedience and honor.

One persistent narrative attributes the region’s disorder to Western colonialism and imperialism. The intrusion of European colonial powers into the region, the story goes, disrupted the native social and political institutions, imposing in their place racist norms and alien values that demeaned Muslims as the “other” and denigrated their culture to justify the exploitation of resources and markets. This process culminated after World War I in the dismantling of the caliphate, and the creation of Western-style nation-states that ignored the traditional ethnic and sectarian identities of the region. As a result, resentment and anger at colonial occupation and exploitation erupted in Islamist jihadism against the oppressor.

The Islamists themselves have found this narrative a convenient pretext for their violence, thus reinforcing this explanation for some Westerners. The most important jihadist theorist, the Egyptian Sayyid Qutb, wrote, “It is necessary to revive the Muslim community which is buried under the debris of the man-made traditions of several generations, and which is crushed under the weight of those false laws and customs which are not even remotely related to the Islamic teachings.”

Qutb was clearly alluding to the European colonial presence in the Middle East, and specifically to the nearly half-century of British control of Egypt. Al Qaeda, Hamas, and other jihadist groups similarly lace their communiqués with references to colonial “oppression” and neo-imperialist interference, as when Osama bin Laden scolded the U.S. in 2002 for waging war in the region “so that you can secure the profit of your greedy companies and industries.” The Arabs likewise routinely describe the creation of Israel as a particularly offensive act of colonial aggression against the lands of Islam.

Such pretexts, however, are clearly for Western consumption, exploiting the Marxist demonization of imperialism and colonialism that informs the ideology of many leftist intellectuals in Europe and America. When speaking to fellow Muslims, however, most Islamist groups ground their motives in the traditional doctrines of Islam, which call for war against the infidel and the enemies of Islam.

Read more at Front Page

Five Lessons from Egypt and the Arab Spring

koran-egypt-444x350

The Muslim world cannot use processes from more advanced societies until it accepts the social and moral premises behind them.

By :

1. Don’t Believe Anything You Hear

Egyptian liberals allied with the Muslim Brotherhood to overthrow Mubarak and challenge the military. In those heady Tahrir Square days, they ridiculed the idea that Mubarak’s overthrow would benefit the Muslim Brotherhood.

Now those same liberals have teamed up with the military to take down a Muslim Brotherhood government that they told us would never come to power. But don’t be surprised if a year from now, after the military develops too crushing a grip on power, they don’t run back to the Muslim Brotherhood and Tahrir Square repeats itself a third time with the banners and fireworks and chants about the will of the people.

And when it does happen, neither the liberals nor the Muslim Brotherhood will ever remember the time when they were deadly enemies. Instead they will pretend it never happened, the way that Egyptian liberals once pretended that the Muslim Brotherhood wasn’t part of the protests.

Middle Eastern politics is reality-selective. It’s conspiratorial and it’s based around shaky alliances between mortal enemies to achieve short term victories. That’s why the Muslim Brotherhood has done so well; it’s one of the few factions to practice long-term thinking.

Everyone else just thinks as far as winning the next battle, getting to power and then letting the unambiguous genius of their vision and the adoration of the people carry them to their destiny.

And then it all falls apart. Again.

 

2.  It’s Not Democracy, It’s Permanent Chaos

Democracy in the Middle East is just another means of political change. It’s not any different than mob action, a coup or an invasion. It’s just a way that one government replaces another.

The voting booth depends on a sense of law and order. It carries very little weight in lawless societies.

In Egypt, mass protests really are as legitimate a means of political change as the ballot box. Probably better. It’s harder to rig rallies of millions of people than it is to fake millions of votes.

The Arab Spring represented political chaos in a lawless society, not social change or cultural enlightenment.

Whoever runs Egypt will still leave it a corrupt place where family connections matter more than merit, where the poor struggle to get by, where everyone resents everyone else, where political alliances fall apart in the blink of an eye and everyone waits around for a tyrant to take matters into his hands and usher in some stability.

Read more at Front Page

 

Egyptian Blood on Obama’s Hands

172838878.jpg.CROP_.rectangle3-largeBy Daniel Greenfield:

When Obama went down to Cairo in the spring of ’09, his speech, titled “A New Beginning,” was little more than a thinly disguised call for regime change. It wasn’t so much the words that mattered as the message behind them that the Mubarak government no longer enjoyed backing from Washington, D.C.

The alliance between Egyptian liberals and Islamists that overthrew Mubarak, in a coup mediated by the military, was cheered as an expression of popular will. What it actually was, was the whistling sound of air escaping into a post-American power vacuum.

Obama’s call for regional regime change led to the fall of multiple governments allied with the United States. And democracy inevitably ratified Islamist political power as everyone knew it was bound to after Hamas’s political victories led the Bush administration to back away from further experimentation with democracy expansionism.

Like most leftist foreign policy thinkers, Obama missed the larger implications of his actions. He cut off friendly regional governments the way that Carter had abandoned the Shah, and like Carter, he quickly lost control of the outcome.

The Muslim Brotherhood, the dreamboat moderate Islamists of the leftist foreign policy set, moved far more quickly than Turkish Islamist tyrant Erdogan had because they were facing too much instability to pace themselves. The alliance between the Egyptian left and the Islamists broke down. The left joined with the very military leadership that they had been denouncing not too long ago to bring down Morsi.

Now it’s a game of chicken between the new Egyptian government and Obama.

The Muslim Brotherhood, reverting to its roots as a terrorist organization, is touching off violent rallies, shooting its own people in the back and blaming the military.

The Egyptian military is playing the long game by betting that Egyptians are tired of the endless protests that have been congealing the economy and are ready to back a crackdown by the last working institution in the country. And it’s charging Morsi with collaborating with Hamas to embarrass Obama into backing away from his support for the restoration of the Muslim Brotherhood regime.

The consistent message from the Egyptian government and its supporters is that by backing Morsi and the Brotherhood, Obama is supporting terrorism. The message is true enough, but the assumption that anyone in Washington, D.C. cares is overly optimistic.

Congress refused to stop Obama from arming Muslim Brotherhood terrorists in Syria and has done nothing to stop him from intimidating Israel into rewarding Turkish Islamist aggression with an apology for the Mavi Marmara raid. Or more recently, releasing murderous terrorists with blood on their hands.

There still hasn’t been a serious congressional investigation tying together Obama’s lies about Benghazi that led to the attack on Libya, the takeover of Benghazi by Islamist militias and the attack by the militias on the Benghazi mission that cost the lives of four Americans.

There have hardly been any hard questions asked about Obama’s Arab Spring effort to overthrow friendly governments and replace them with Islamist terrorist groups.

Any revelations about an Obama-Morsi-Hamas triangle will stop at the media wall of silence which will go on chanting in unison that democracy must be restored to Egypt as soon as possible. And that is because we have no more of an independent media than Egypt does. CNN, NBC and the New York Times may not be owned by the state the way many Egyptian media outlets are, but they act like they are.

Read more at Front Page

 

 

Tunisia assassination spells trouble for Islamist-led government, say analysts

Supporters of the Islamist Ennahda movement demonstrate as they chants slogans and hold a picture of assassinated politician Mohammed Brahmi during a demonstration in Tunis, Tunisia, Friday, July 26, 2013. (AP / Amine Landoulsi) Read more: http://www.ctvnews.ca/world/tunisia-assassination-spells-trouble-for-islamist-led-government-say-analysts-1.1384422#ixzz2aHUhNJwu

Supporters of the Islamist Ennahda movement demonstrate as they chants slogans and hold a picture of assassinated politician Mohammed Brahmi during a demonstration in Tunis, Tunisia, Friday, July 26, 2013. (AP / Amine Landoulsi)

(AP)TUNIS, Tunisia — The assassination of a second opposition politician in six months has piled the pressure on Tunisia’s troubled Islamist-led coalition government, which came to power in the wake of the Arab Spring but is struggling to right the economy and rein in extremists.

With the country brought to a virtual standstill by a general strike and the revelation that the same gun was apparently used by an al-Qaida-linked Islamist extremist cell in the two assassinations, calls grew Friday for the 18-month-old transitional government to stand down.

On Friday six opposition parties holding 42 seats announced their withdrawal from the 217-seat national assembly and called for the government, elected in the aftermath of the overthrow of the country’s long-time dictator, to be replaced by a national unity government tasked with finishing off the constitution and paving the way for fresh elections.

“We are withdrawing from the constituent assembly, which has lost its credibility, and are calling for the dissolution of a government that has failed, and tomorrow we will engage in an open sit-in in front of the assembly until it is dissolved,” the parties announced in a statement issued during a late-night press conference.

Tunisia is considered the birthplace of the Arab Spring. Its revolution inspired pro-democracy uprisings across the Middle East and set an example for political co-operation when a coalition was formed between the Islamist Ennahda Party and two secular parties.

However, a troubled economy, rising Islamist extremists and the two political slayings have tarnished the government and fueled opposition calls for its dissolution.

“The assassination of Mohammed Brahmi is a failure of the government and a failure of its security policy,” said political analyst Alaya Allani. “I think most of the political elite feel it is urgent after the assassination to dissolve the current government and replace it with a non-partisan, competent one.”

The government’s failure was driven home, said Allani, when the Interior Minister revealed in a press conference that not only was the same radical Islamist group behind the two assassinations, but that the same gun was used.

Lotfi Ben Jeddou said the gun used to shoot leftist politician Brahmi 14 times in front of his home was the same 9mm semi-automatic pistol that killed opposition politician Chokri Belaid back in February.

Brahmi’s assailant was Boubakr Hakim, a 30-year-old weapons smuggler with Islamist sympathies who was also part of the al-Qaida-linked cell that assassinated Belaid, according to Ben Jeddou.

Critics of the government have wondered why after five months Belaid’s killers had still not been brought to justice and worse that the assassinations were continuing.

The opposition has accused Ennahda of being overly tolerant of a rising radical Islamist trend in the country that has shown violent tendencies in its efforts to instil greater piety in what has long been known as one of the most secular countries in the Arab world.

The killing of Brahmi of the leftist Popular Current comes at a particularly sensitive time as Tunisia’s drawn out transition is finally reaching its end with the debate on the constitution and amid rising hopes that fresh elections will be held by the end of the year.

To pass the constitution, which is still being hotly debated in the assembly, a two-thirds majority is required.

“It’s high time to take into account what the population and different opposition groups are saying about how this government has failed to protect Tunisians,” said Kamel Labidi, an analyst and free speech activist who expressed worry that the Islamists might not compromise. “I am afraid the hardliners in the Islamist movement are not inclined generally to work with anyone to lead the country toward democracy.”

After the assassination of Belaid, anti-government protests erupted and Hamadi Jebali, the prime minister at the time suggested the formation of a government of technocrats. His own party rejected his offer and Jebali resigned.

In the wake of the latest assassination, Ennahda has remained firm once again in its insistence on remaining in power until the transition is completed and new elections held.

Read more at CTV News

 

MEMRI: Tunisian MP Rabiaa Najlaoui: Islam Preceded Islamists and Will Continue to Exist When They Are Gone:

 

Rabiaa Najlaoui: “[The draft constitution] lays the foundations for a religious state, which will permit the forbidden under the guise of religion. I ask you to stop exploiting the sentiments of the Tunisians. By God, I am ashamed to see you trying to delude the people into believing that you are speaking on behalf of Islam, that you are the protectors of Islam, and that Islam will cease to exist when you are gone.

“By God, we were Muslims before you came to power, we are Muslims even without you, and we will continue to be Muslims after you are gone. If Islam is the reason that you are clinging to power – let me tell you that you can leave and be confident that Islam is fine. Islam did not collapse when the Prophet Muhammad died, and it will not collapse when you are gone.

[...]

“I’d like to make it clear: This is the constitution of the Ennahda movement, and it was shaped according to their whims and political considerations. Articles 72 and 73 are the best proof of this. To my colleagues I say: This constitution belongs to the generations to come. I ask you not to pass on your hatred and your exclusionary conduct to the generation that we hope will carry the torch and be much better than us.

“The constitution should be drafted in keeping with the international human rights treaties to which Tunisia is a signatory. We must abide by these treaties, which must be upheld by our constitution. This constitution must respect the Code of Personal Status, rather than try to render it meaningless. We, the women of Tunisia, will not allow any infringement upon our achievements, manifest in the Code of Personal Status.

[...]

“You used to denounce and yell about your exclusion during the previous regime, but since you reached power, you have been trying to exclude your political rivals. You used to protest, demanding an independent judiciary…”

Speaker of the House: “Please, your time is up.”

Rabiaa Najlaoui: “…but when you reached power, you laid your hands on the judiciary, and have incarcerated citizens who had been exonerated by the courts. You used to claim that you were defending the Islamic religion, but when you reached power, you began to peddle in Islam, believing that Allah has guided no one but you.”

 

Interview with Erick Stakelbeck on Egypt and the Brotherhood

51pr4zxza5lWith Mohamed Morsi out and Egypt’s future unclear, Erick Stakelbeck, author of the new book The Brotherhood: America’s Next Great Enemy, talks to National Review Online’s Kathryn Jean Lopez about what the “Arab Spring” turned into and where Egypt may go from here, with a warning for the United States.

KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: Is there anything about what’s going on in Egypt right now that surprises you?

ERICK STAKELBECK: I’m a bit surprised that it took the Egyptian military a full year to finally step in and pull the plug on Morsi’s disastrous, aggressively Islamist tenure. Beginning in August 2012, when Morsi suddenly and boldly sacked Egypt’s longtime defense minister and other top generals, and continuing through that November, when Morsi seized dictatorial powers and then rammed through a nakedly sharia-driven constitution, it was obvious that he and the Brotherhood (aided by a freshly minted, Islamist-dominated parliament) were going “all in” on their dream to transform Egypt into a draconian Islamic state. In the process, they dropped their longtime strategy of stealthy gradualism and made their nefarious intentions for Egypt abundantly clear to the world.

All the while, the Egyptian military brass largely stayed silent, even as Morsi attempted to stack its ranks — and those of Egypt’s military academy — with Islamists. Why the military waited so long to turn back the MB tide is unclear. As NRO’s Andrew McCarthy has pointed out, top general Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, who was handpicked by Morsi, may himself have Islamist tendencies. But Morsi’s ham-handed, polarizing, and tactless methods of going about the Islamist project in Egypt had to be red flags for al-Sisi and other possible sympathizers in the military (as was the looming possibility of famine and starvation among segments of the Egyptian populace). The final tipping point for the military was clearly the demonstrations — the largest in human history — against Morsi and the Brothers during the first week of July.

And that brings us to the greatest surprise of all: that the Muslim Brotherhood, long the world’s most politically astute, patient, and disciplined Islamist movement, overplayed its hand so badly in Egypt and revealed its true intent so early. At the end of the day, instituting sharia was more important to Morsi and his fellow Brothers than feeding the Egyptian people or making even the slightest attempt at jumpstarting the Egyptian economy. That in itself is not surprising. This is who the Brothers are, after all: committed ideological fanatics. What is surprising is that they made it so obvious, so soon.

Read more at National Review

Read excerpts of Erick Stakelbeck’s new book, The Brotherhood: America’s Next Great Enemy, here and here.