h/t Vlad Tepes
h/t Vlad Tepes
Ezra Levant reports for TheRebel.media:
Dr. Daniel Pipes of the Middle East Forum says that there’s a coherent strategy underpinning the apparent chaos we’re witnessing around the world, especially in the Middle East.
Pipes explains that the situation makes sense if viewed through the lens of an “Obama doctrine”: “Snarl at your friends, smile at your enemies.”
Part of it is incompetence on the President’s part, says Pipes, but much of what’s happening is the direct result of Obama’s anti-American ideology — and even his personal psychology.
This thought-provoking, in-depth interview covers a lot of ground: the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS, Israel, Iran, Saudi Arabia and much more.
by Daniel Pipes
The Washington Times
March 9, 2015
Prominent non-Muslim political figures have embarrassed themselves by denying the self-evident connection of Islam to the Islamic State (ISIS) and to Islamist violence in Paris and Copenhagen, even claiming these are contrary to Islam. What do they hope to achieve through these falsehoods and what is their significance?
First, a sampling of the double talk:
President Barack Obama tells the world that ISIS “is not Islamic” because its “actions represent no faith, least of all the Muslim faith.” He holds “we are not at war with Islam [but] with people who have perverted Islam.”
Prime Minister David Cameron and U.S. President Barack Obama agree that violence perverts Islam.
Secretary of State John Kerry echoes him: ISIS consists of “coldblooded killers masquerading as a religious movement” who promote a “hateful ideology has nothing do with Islam.” His spokesperson, Jen Psaki, goes further: the terrorists “are enemies of Islam.”
Jeh Johnson, the U.S. secretary of Homeland Security, assents: “ISIL is [not] Islamic.” My favorite:Howard Dean, the former Democrat governor of Vermont, says of the Charlie Hebdo attackers, “They’re about as Muslim as I am.”
Howard Dean, former governor of Vermont, has declared himself a Muslim?
Europeans speak identically: David Cameron, the Conservative British prime minister, portrays ISISas “extremists who want to abuse Islam” and who “pervert the Islamic faith.” He calls Islam “a religion of peace” and dismisses ISIS members as not Muslims, but “monsters.” His immigration minister, James Brokenshire, argues that terrorism and extremism “have nothing to do with Islam.”
On the Labour side, former British prime minister Tony Blair finds ISIS ideology to be “based in a complete perversion of the proper faith of Islam,” while a former home secretary, Jack Straw, denounces “the medieval barbarity of ISIS and its ilk” which he deems “completely contrary to Islam.”
Across the channel, French president François Hollande insists that the Charlie Hebdo and Hyper Cacher criminals “have nothing to do with the Muslim faith.” His prime minister, Manuel Valls, concurs: “Islam has nothing to do with ISIS.”
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte echoes the same theme: “ISIS is a terrorist organization which misuses Islam.” Daniel Cohn-Bendit, a left-wing German politician, calls the Paris murderers fascists, not Muslims. From Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agrees: “Extremism and Islam are completely different things.”
This is not a new view: for example, prior U.S. presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush also aired their insights about what is and is not Islam, though less assertively.
Summarizing these statements, which come straight out of the Islamist playbook: Islam is purely a religion of peace, so violence and barbarism categorically have nothing to do with it; indeed, these “masquerade” and “pervert” Islam. By implication, more Islam is needed to solve these “monstrous” and “barbaric” problems.
But, of course, this interpretation neglects the scriptures of Islam and the history of Muslims, steeped in the assumption of superiority toward non-Muslims and the righteous violence of jihad. Ironically, ignoring the Islamic impulse means foregoing the best tool to defeat jihadism: for, if the problem results not from an interpretation of Islam, but from random evil and irrational impulses, how can one possibly counter it? Only acknowledging the legacy of Islamic imperialism opens ways to re-interpret the faith’s scriptures in modern, moderate, and good-neighborly ways.
Why, then, do powerful politicians make ignorant and counterproductive arguments, ones they surely know to be false, especially as violent Islamism spreads (think of Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab, and the Taliban)? Cowardice and multiculturalism play a role, to be sure, but two other reasons have more importance:
First, they want not to offend Muslims, who they fear are more prone to violence if they perceive non-Muslims pursuing a “war on Islam.” Second, they worry that focusing on Muslims means fundamental changes to the secular order, while denying an Islamic element permits avoid troubling issues. For example, it permits airplane security to look for passengers’ weapons rather than engage in Israeli-style interrogations.
According to non-Muslim politicians these Taliban members have nothing to do with Islam.
My prediction: Denial will continue unless violence increases. In retrospect, the 3,000 victims of 9/11 did not shake non-Muslim complacency. The nearly 30,000 fatalities from Islamist terrorism since then also have not altered the official line. Perhaps 300,000 dead will cast aside worries about Islamist sensibilities and a reluctance to make profound social changes, replacing these with a determination to fight a radical utopian ideology; three million dead will surely suffice.
Without such casualties, however, politicians will likely continue with denial because it’s easier that way. I regret this – but prefer denial to the alternative.
Mr. Pipes (DanielPipes.org, @DanielPipes) is president of the Middle East Forum. © 2015 by Daniel Pipes. All rights reserved.
March 9, 2015 addendum: For many more details on the cases cited here, see my weblog entry “Islam vs. History” at DanielPipes.org.
by Daniel Pipes
The Washington Times
February 26, 2015
Population shifts resulting from Syria’s four-year long civil war have profoundly changed Syria and its three Arabic-speaking neighbors: Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan. (Turkey and Israel have changed too, but less so.) Ironically, amid tragedy and horror, as populations adapt to the brutal imperatives of modern nationalism, all four countries are becoming a bit more stable. That’s because the fighting has pushed peoples to move from ethnic minority status to ethnic majority status, encouraging like to live with like.
Before looking at each country, some background:
First, along with the Balkans, the Middle East contains the most complex and unsettled ethnic, religious, linguistic, and national mix in the world. It’s a place where cross-border alliances deeply complicate local politics. If the Balkans set off World War I, the Middle East might well spark World War III.
Second, historic tensions between the two main Muslim sects, Sunni and Shi’i, had largely subsided before Ayatollah Khomeini’s rise to power in 1979. Driven by Tehran’s aggression, they have since flared anew.
The brutal 8-year war, 1980-88 between Iran and Iraq did much to exacerbate Sunni-Shi’i hostility.
Third, the imperialist European powers nearly ignored the identity of the peoples living in the Middle East as they defined most of the region’s borders. Instead, they focused on rivers, ports, and other resources that served their economic interests. Today’s jumble of somewhat randomly-defined countries (e.g., Jordan) is the result.
Finally, Kurds were the major losers a century ago; lacking intellectuals to make their case, they found themselves divided among four different states and persecuted in them all. Today, they are organized for independence.
Returning to Syria and its Arab neighbors (and drawing on Pinhas Inbari’s “Demographic Upheaval: How the Syrian War is Reshaping the Region“):
Syria and Iraq have undergone strikingly similar developments. After the demise of monstrous dictators in 2000 and 2003, each has broken into the same three ethnic units – Shi’i Arab, Sunni Arab, and Kurd. Tehran dominates both Shi’i-oriented regimes, while several Sunni-majority states (Turkey, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar) back the Sunni rebels. The Kurds have withdrawn from the Arab civil wars to build their own autonomous areas. Once-ambitious dictatorships barely sustain functioning foreign policies. Also, the century-old boundary separating Syria and Iraq has largely vanished.
Syria: The part of Syria still ruled by Bashar al-Assad is becoming more Shi’i. An estimated half of the pre-war Syrian population of 22 million has been driven from its homes; of them, the 3 million refugees, mostly Sunni, who fled the country are unlikely to return both because of the continuing civil war and the Assad regime’s revocation of their citizenship. The regime appears also to have intentionally reduced its control over the area near the border with Jordan to encourage Sunnis to flee Syria. In another ploy to increase the Shi’i population, reports indicate it has welcomed and re-settled about 500,000 Iraqi Shi’is, conferring Syrian citizenship on some.
Bashar al-Assad must have been a better ophthalmologist than dictator.
Iraq: The Syrian civil war provided the Islamic State (or ISIS/ISIL) with an opportunity to move into Iraq, seizing such cities as Fallujah and Mosul, leading to an exodus of non-Sunnis (especially Shi’is and Yazidis), and remaking Iraq along ethnic lines. Given the country’s intermingled population, especially in the Baghdad area, it will be years – perhaps decades – before the sides sort themselves out. But the process appears inexorable.
Lebanon: Sunnis are growing more powerful, beating back the Iranian influence. The million new Sunni refugees from Syria now constitute 20 percent of the country’s population, roughly doubling the Sunni community. Also, Hizbullah, the dominant Shi’i organization in Lebanon, is neglecting its own constituency and losing influence domestically by fighting on behalf of the Assad regime in Syria.
Hizbullah militiamen in Syria reduces the group’s influence in its home country, Lebanon.
Jordan: The recent influx of Syrian refugees follows an earlier wave of approximately one million Iraqi refugees. Together, the two groups have lowered the percentage of Palestinians in Jordan to the point that the latter probably no longer constitute a majority of the country’s population, a shift with major political implications. For one, it reduces the potential Palestinian threat to the Hashemite monarchy; for another, it undermines the Jordan-is-Palestine argument championed by some Israelis.
In brief, Iraq and Syria are devolving into their constituent religious and ethnic parts, Lebanon is becoming more Sunni, and Jordan less Palestinian. However gruesome the human cost of the Syrian civil war, its long-term impact potentially renders the Middle East a less combustible place, one less likely to trigger World War III.
An ambitious 81-page document, Fear, Inc. 2.0: The Islamophobia Network’s Efforts to Manufacture Hate in America, just appeared from the Center for American Progress, a liberal Democratic organization. Unlike its first iteration, in which a group with a $40-million annual budget and deep ties to big business had the nerve to claim that seven much smaller institutions were overpowering the country through their financial clout, this one looks at what the alleged “Islamophobia network” actually does.
The report, written by Matthew Duss, Yasmine Taeb, Ken Gude, and Ken Sofer, makes for interesting reading. Its premise is that critics of Islamism (1) are really anti-Islamic and (2) have single-handedly distorted a the fundamental American value, namely a “basic respect for the rights of minority groups throughout the country.” According to the CAP study, “the views of anti-Muslim actors stand in stark contrast to the values of most Americans.”
By dint of hard work, however, “a well-funded, well-organized fringe movement can push discriminatory policies against a segment of American society by intentionally spreading lies while taking advantage of moments of public anxiety and fear.” This effort “takes many shapes and forms”: a general climate, cynical political efforts, and institutional policies. Despite some setbacks, continues the CAP narrative, the network’s efforts “continue to erode America’s core values of religious pluralism, civil rights, and social inclusion.”
Those fingered as part of this network (I am one) should be perversely proud of our accomplishment: Just a handful of lying individuals manage to subvert a core American value – and all this with what CAP itself estimated to be less than $5 million a year!
Another way of putting it: the United States hosts about as many Buddhists and Hindus combined as it does Muslims. Yet, when did Buddhists or Hindus try to change the existing order or engage in violence on behalf of their faiths? Who ever hears about them? Who fears them?But there is a more convincing reason why Americans fear Islam and Muslims. The news is filled almost daily and even several times daily with bulletins from one Islamist front or another. I hardly need rehearse the repertoire; just turn to the day’s headlines. ISIS and theCharlie Hebdo-like massacre most dominate the news, but Islamists are all the time winning unfavorable attention for themselves by making aggressive cultural demands (say, wearing a face-covering burqa in the courtroom), pushing the superiority of Islam (don’t dare say a negative word about Muhammad), or apologizing for some repulsive practice (such as honor killings or female genital mutilation).
Maybe it’s Islamists who are prompting powerful and spontaneous responses through their threatening behavior. Maybe we critics are not “intentionally spreading lies” but honestly interpreting Islamist aggression and supremacism. Maybe CAP and its ilk should blame the fear of Islam less on we critics and more on the Islamists themselves. (February 13, 2015)
Comments by Steven Emerson on Fox News have prompted a heated debate over whether predominantly Muslim “no-go” zones exist in Europe. On Jan. 11, Emerson said they “exist throughout Europe … they’re places where the governments like France, Britain, Sweden, Germany don’t exercise any sovereignty. .. you basically have zones where Shariah courts were set up, where Muslim density is very intense, where the police don’t go in, and where it’s basically a separate country almost, a country within a country.”
Although Emerson, whom I admire for his moral courage and investigative skills, immediately apologized for his “terrible error” of saying that cities like Birmingham, England, “are totally Muslim where non-Muslims just simply don’t go,” he did not address the larger question of whether no-go zones, in fact, do “exist throughout Europe” and are places where governments “don’t exercise any sovereignty.”
Is he right about this?
In a 2006 weblog entry, I called Muslim enclaves in Europe no-go zones as a non-euphemistic equivalent for the French phrase Zones Urbaines Sensibles, or Sensitive Urban Zones. No-go zones subsequently became standard in English to describe Muslim-majority areas in West Europe.
After spending time in the banlieues (suburbs) of Paris in January 2013, as well as in their counterparts in Athens, Berlin, Brussels, Copenhagen, Malmö, and Stockholm, however, I have had second thoughts. I found that those areas “are not full-fledged no-go zones” — meaning places where the government had lost control of territory. No war lords dominate; Shari’a is not the law of the land. I expressed regret back then for having used the term no-go zones.
So, what are these places? A unique and as-yet un-named mix.
On the one hand, West European states can intervene anywhere and at any time in their sovereign territory. As the shoot-out in Verviers and the subsequent raids in Belgium suggest, their overwhelming advantage in force – including military, intelligence, and police – means they have not ceded control.
On the other hand, governments often choose not to impose their will on Muslim-majority areas, allowing them considerable autonomy, including in some cases the Shariah courts that Emerson mentioned. Alcohol and pork are effectively banned in these districts, polygamy and burqas commonplace, police enter only warily and in force, and Muslims get away with offences illegal for the rest of population.
The Rotherham, England, child sex scandal offers a powerful example. An official inquiry found that for sixteen years, 1997-2013, a ring of Muslim men sexually exploited – through abduction, rape, gang rape, trafficking, prostitution, torture – at least 1,400 non-Muslim girls as young as 11. The police received voluminous complaints from the girls’ parents but did nothing; they could have acted, but chose not to.
According to the inquiry, “the Police gave no priority to CSE [child sexual exploitation], regarding many child victims with contempt and failing to act on their abuse as a crime.” Even more alarming, in some cases, “fathers tracked down their daughters and tried to remove them from houses where they were being abused, only to be arrested themselves when police were called to the scene.” Worse, the girls “were arrested for offences such as breach of the peace or being drunk and disorderly, with no action taken against the perpetrators of rape and sexual assault against children.”
Another example, also British, was the so-called Operation Trojan Horse that flourished from 2007 until 2014, in which (again, according to an official inquiry), a group of school functionaries developed “a strategy to take over a number of schools in Birmingham and run them on strict Islamic principles.”
What does one call Rotherham and Birmingham? They are not no-go zones, neither in terms of geography or sovereignty. This is where we – Emerson, others (such as Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal), and I stumbled. The English language lacks a readily-available term for this. And for good reason: I know of no historical parallel, in which a majority population accepts the customs and even the criminality of a poorer and weaker immigrant community. The world has never seen anything comparable to the contemporary West’s blend of achievement, timidity, and guilt, of hugely superior power matched by a deep reluctance to use it.
Instead of no-go zones, I propose semi-autonomous sectors, a term that emphasizes their indistinct and non-geographic nature – thus permitting a more accurate discussion of what is, arguably, West Europe’s most acute problem.
Mr. Pipes (DanielPipes.org, @DanielPipes) is president of the Middle East Forum. © 2015 by Daniel Pipes. All rights reserved.
Below are the video and transcript to the panel discussion “The War on Israel and the Middle East,” which took place at the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s 20th Anniversary Restoration Weekend. The event was held Nov. 13th-16th at the Breakers Resort in Palm Beach, Florida.
Daniel Pipes: I’d like to make three geostrategic points in my few minutes, and I apologize in advance for having to leave, but the plane schedule is as it is. The first point is that — and this has been said before, I’d like to reiterate it — that Iran is a far greater threat than ISIS, and we are making an extraordinary mistake in joining with the Iranians against ISIS. Need one point out that ISIS has perhaps $5 million a day in oil revenue and 15,000 troops and, granted, a dynamism, but that Iran is a powerful state of 75 million people, an oil revenue in the hundreds of millions of dollars, billions of dollars, and an army of hundreds of thousands and, of course, a terror network and is building up their weapons? I would predict to you, ladies and gentleman, that ISIS, which appeared so suddenly, will disappear suddenly as well because it has so many enemies, it is so overextended, it is trying to do so much at the same time that it is going to collapse before very long and it is going to disappear as a state whereas Iran is going to be a longer lasting entity.
Let me also predict that the real importance of ISIS, Islamic state, ISIL, Daesh, call it what you will, lies not in this sizeable state that now exists between Bagdad and Turkey but rather in the resurrection of the idea of the caliphate. The last executive caliph with power was in the 940s — 940s, not 1940s — a long, long time ago. Yes, the institution of the caliphate continued until 1924, but it was meaningless. It was just a title. The actual caliphate, executive caliphate, disappeared over a millennium ago and then suddenly, this man who calls himself Caliphate Ibrahim resurrected it on June 29, 2014, and this has sent a frisson of excitement through the Muslim world, and this has created the notion of a feasible caliphate once again after having been gone for a millennium, and this is important. I can well imagine other groups taking up this same standard and demanding that they be accepted as the caliphate. I can further imagine that states such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia and even Iran in its own Shiite way taking up the claim of caliphate and so this turns Islamist politics into an even more radical direction than it has been in the past and therefore is a very negative development, but that is an idea, and the notion that the U.S. government should be working with Iran against ISIS is madness, just simple madness.
Iran is the ultimate enemy, which is my second point. Iran is of course the ultimate enemy today. The acquisition by Iranian leadership of nuclear weapons will not only change the Middle East but will change the world. Other tyrants have had nuclear weapons — think of Stalin and Mao — but there’s something different about this group of tyrants in that they’re thinking about the end of days. They’re apocalyptically minded. They have ideas that, were they to deploy nuclear weapons, they would bring forward the days of the Mahdi, the Dajjal, and the other sequence events leading to the day of resurrection, so they are even more dangerous. Now, I could have a nice seminar extending for hours on whether they actually would deploy nuclear weapons or not, but I don’t want to find out, and I suspect you don’t either. It is absolutely imperative that they be stopped from doing that and that would not be easy because the Iranian leadership, like the North Korean leadership, is absolutely determined to get nuclear weapons and will pay whatever price is necessary. In North Korea it was mass starvation. In Iran, it will be economic deprivation and other problems, but they’re going to go ahead and while computer viruses and targeted assassinations and bombings, which have been taking place, will certainly slow things down, they cannot stop it. The only way to stop it is through use of force against the Iranian nuclear installations.
So, that I think is all pretty clear, but I’m going to go beyond that and say that when the happy day comes that the Islamic Revolution of Iran is overthrown — and that is a prospect that is real; we saw one run up toward it in June 2009 and it was suppressed, but it wasn’t eliminated and there will be further attempts — and it is certain that one of these days, the Islamic Republic will collapse. When that happens, I suggest to you, the Iranian people who are sick of this ideological state will become quite friendly. Posts show that the overwhelming majority of Iranians hate their government and hate the Islam that their government is purveying. I think that Iranians will be good friends when that day comes.
In contrast, I think our great problem in the Middle East will be Turkey. Turkey, which is also a very substantial state of some 80 million people and which is in an important strategic location, has a real economy, an educated population. Turkey has approached Islamism – well, the Turkish leadership has approached Islamism — in a far more intelligent way than the Iranians. I call Khomeini, “Islamism 1.0,” and Erdogan, “Islamism 2.0.” Khomeini used revolution and violence and so forth and his successor rules despotically, but Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the dominant figure of Turkish politics, is a far more clever figure who has won I think nine elections in 13 years of various sorts, parliamentary, referendum, residential, has tripled the size of the economy and is a figure of enormous importance and popularity in the country. He has a very strong base. This is a not a despotism. Now, granted, over time, he’s becoming increasingly authoritarian, autocratic, unpleasant, decisive, but he has won his place democratically, and he will last and his regime will last much longer than Khomeini’s, and I believe as one looks at 10-20 years in the future, it will be Turkey, not Iran, that will be our great problem and that we should be preparing for that today.
Read more with Ken Timmerman, Daniel Greenfield and Caroline Glick
By Daniel Pipes
National Review Online
November 28, 2014
We who follow the Islamist movement fell off our collective chair on Nov. 15 when the news came that the United Arab Emirates’ ministerial cabinet had listed the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) as one of 83 proscribed terrorist organizations, up there with the Taliban, Al-Qaeda, and ISIS.
This came as a surprise because the UAE authorities themselves have a record of promoting Islamism; because CAIR has a history of raising funds in the UAE; and because the UAE embassy in Washington had previously praised CAIR.
On reflection, however, the listing makes sense for, in recent years, the Islamist movement hasgravely fractured. Sunnis fight Shi’is; advocates of violence struggle against those working within the system; modernizers do battle against those trying to return to the seventh century; and monarchists confront republicans.
This last divide concerns us here. After decades of working closely with the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and its related institutions, the Persian Gulf monarchies (with the single, striking exception of Qatar) have come to see the MB complex of institutions as a threat to their existence. The Saudi, Emirati, Kuwaiti, and Bahraini rulers now view politicians like Mohamed Morsi of Egypt as their enemies, as they do Hamas and its progeny – including CAIR.
While the Gulf monarchs have not become any less Islamist, they have acquired a clear-eyed appreciation of the harm that MB-related groups can do.
Having explained why the UAE listed CAIR on its terror manifest, we must pose a second question: Is the listing warranted? Can a Washington-based organization with ties to the Obama White House, the U.S. Congress, leading media outlets, and prestigious universities truly be an instigator of terrorism?
CAIR can rightly be so characterized. True, it does not set off bombs but, as the UAE’s foreign minister explains, “Our threshold is quite low. … We cannot accept incitement or funding.” Indeed, CAIR incites, funds, and does much more vis-à-vis terrorism:
Apologizes for terrorist groups: Challenged repeatedly to denounce Hamas and Hezbollah as terrorist groups, CAIR denounces the acts of violence but not their sponsors.
Is connected to Hamas: Hamas, designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. and many other governments, indirectly created CAIR and the two groups remain tight. Examples: in 1994, CAIR head Nihad Awad publicly declared his support for Hamas; and the Holy Land Foundation (HLF), a Hamas front group, contributed $5,000 to CAIR; in turn, CAIR exploited the 9/11 attacks to raise money for HLF; and, this past August, demonstrators at a CAIR-sponsored rally in Floridaproclaimed “We are Hamas!”
The Holy Land Foundation, a Hamas front group, made an early $5,000 donation to CAIR to help establish it.
Settled a lawsuit: CAIR initiated a libel lawsuit in 2004 over five statements by a group called Anti-CAIR. But two years later, CAIR settled the suit with prejudice (meaning that it cannot be reopened), implicitly acknowledging the accuracy of Anti-CAIR’s assertions, which included:
|For two years, 2004-06, CAIR sued Anti-CAIR, eventually to settle with prejudice.|
Includes individuals accused of terrorism: At least seven board members or staff at CAIR have been arrested, denied entry to the US, or were indicted on or pled guilty to or were convicted of terrorist charges: Siraj Wahhaj, Bassem Khafagi, Randall (“Ismail”) Royer, Ghassan Elashi, Rabih Haddad, Muthanna Al-Hanooti, and Nabil Sadoun.
Is in trouble with the law: Federal prosecutors in 2007 named CAIR (along with two other Islamic organizations) as “unindicted co-conspirators and/or joint venturers” in a criminal conspiracy to support Hamas financially. In 2008, the FBI ended contacts with CAIR because of concern with its continuing terrorist ties.
On learning of the UAE listing, CAIR called it “shocking and bizarre,” then got to work to have the Department of State protest and undo the ruling. Nothing loath, department spokesperson Jeff Rathke noted that the U.S. government, which “does not consider these organizations to be terrorist organizations,” has asked for more information about the UAE decision. The UAE minister of state for Foreign affairs replied that if organizations can show that their “approach has changed,” they are eligible to appeal “to have their names eliminated from the list.”
Pressure from the Obama administration might reverse the UAE listing. Even so, this will not undo its lasting damage. For the first time, an Islamist government has exposed the malign, terroristic quality of CAIR – a stigma CAIR can never escape.
Mr. Pipes (DanielPipes.org) is president of the Middle East Forum. © 2014 by Daniel Pipes. All rights reserved.
The major divide within the Counterjihad movement is between those who believe in the “Moderate Muslim”, and those who don’t.
Nine years ago, in the early days of this blog, whenever the topic of the Moderate Muslim came up I used to say, “The jury is still out on whether he exists or not.” And the jury was out as far as I was concerned — I had only just begun observing the Great Jihad, and was still gathering evidence.
Well, that was 2005, and this is 2014. I’ve collected enough data now. The jury’s in: The Moderate Muslim does not exist.
Mind you, in a strict ontological sense he does exist. You can find a few moderate Muslims here and there. Sincere, well-meaning, decent people who adhere only lightly to the Koranic basis of their religion, and wish to mold it into something humane and modern. Men like Tarek Fatah and Zuhdi Jasser. Women like Irshad Manji. You can’t help but like them (some of them, anyway), and their stance in the face of death threats from their less moderate co-religionists can be admirable.
But they are few in number. None of them leads a large broad-based following. There is no Moderate Muslim with devoted disciples crowding around him trying to touch the hem of his garment. None of them stands on a podium in front of thousands of cheering supporters. They work for (or found) modestly-funded think-tanks and appear from time to time on TV, eloquently presenting their polite, humane point of view.
The rest of the supposed moderates — people like Tariq Ramadan and Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf — are really just skilled taqiyya artists for the Muslim Brotherhood, suave persuasive fellows with golden tongues — sometimes several of them apiece. In truth they are no more moderate than Yusuf al-Qaradawi, but simply adept obfuscators whose job it is to anesthetize the cultural elites in Western countries so that they never feel the Islamic stiletto sliding between their ribs.
The rest of 21st-century Islam — Sunni or Shiite or Sufi, Asian or Middle Eastern or African or European — is a seething mass of superstitious backwardness, trapped in an Evolutionarily Stable Strategy* that requires rapine, slaughter, mass destruction, and world domination.
I bring all of this up because of the question and answer session that followed Geert Wilders’ speech in Denmark yesterday.
Daniel Pipes is perhaps the most prominent proponent of the Moderate Muslim. Or, to be more exact, a Moderate Islam. In his disagreement with Geert Wilders, he asserted that in the last forty years Islam has changed — for the worse, unfortunately — and it’s possible that it may change again. Why, asked Dr. Pipes, should we write off the possibility that Islam may change for the better? That Islamic scholars may reinterpret the core foundational texts of Islam in such a way that their religion could be led into a humane modernity?
Daniel Pipes might thus be styled a Moderate Counterjihadist, while Geert Wilders and Lars Hedegaard — not to mention a large chunk of the Danes in the audience, and myself — are the Hotheads. We find the desperate search for the Moderate Muslim to be a faintly ludicrous enterprise.
Even if the longed-for change were to arrive someday, what purpose does it serve to dwell on that faint possibility? Should we modify our policies towards Islam as it exists and is widely practiced now? Would we be well advised to pause and wait for Moderate Islam to somehow, against all odds, appear and revolutionize the Muslim world?
Dr. Pipes acknowledges that we must fight “Islamism”; in that he completely agrees with Messrs. Hedegaard and Wilders. So what practical change of policy would he propose, given his belief that Islam may someday change for the better?
If Islam were to undergo such a change, it would have to occur entirely within Islam itself, with no input from the infidel world. Any interference by non-Muslims in Islamic theological exegesis could only arouse anger and resistance, and might further harden the traditional ijtihad codified a millennium ago.
Therefore hoping for Moderate Islam can produce no useful, practical results for us. None whatsoever.
And to persist in focusing on the Moderate Muslim might even be dangerous. The vain hope of discovering large numbers of Moderates might well attenuate the grim, determined response which will soon become absolutely necessary — in fact, it is already past due — to deal with the nasty realities of our time.
Fortunately, the wind is blowing in the direction of the Hotheads. Thanks to the antics of ISIS and the “lone wolves” of Western jihad, more and more people are latching onto what Geert Wilders says and nodding their heads in agreement.
And, strangely enough, Geert Wilders found himself in the novel position of being a “moderate” compared to one of the Danes in the audience, who told Mr. Wilders that he didn’t go far enough.
The time of the Hotheads is fast approaching.
Below is a video of the speech delivered by Daniel Pipes last Sunday in Copenhagen on the 10th Anniversary of Theo Van Gogh’s Assassination.
by Daniel Pipes
National Review Online
September 15, 2014
In a eyebrow-raising 4,000-word exposé, “Foreign Powers Buy Influence at Think Tanks” published in the New York Times on September 7, Eric Lipton, Brooke Williams and Nicholas Confessore look into the novel issue of foreign governmental financing for American think tanks.
The trio found that while the total scope “is difficult to determine … since 2011, at least 64 foreign governments, state-controlled entities or government officials have contributed to a group of 28 major United States-based research organizations.” Using the sketchy available information, they estimate “a minimum of $92 million in contributions or commitments from overseas government interests over the last four years. The total is certainly more.”
In exchange for this largesse, the research institutions in question offered their donors two main benefits: One, they pressured staff members both to “refrain from criticizing the donor governments” and “to reach conclusions friendly to the government [that had provided] financing.” And two, they have been “pushing United States government officials to adopt policies that often reflect the donors’ priorities.” The result: Overseas money has thrown doubt on the legitimacy and objectivity of think-tank research while “increasingly transforming the once-staid think-tank world into a muscular arm of foreign governments’ lobbying in Washington.”
My responses, a week later, to this bombshell of a report:
Some of this funding has been given clandestinely, with think tanks taking money under the table while benefiting from a moral image of disinterestedness. In the most prominently egregious example, the government of Qatar, as the NYT reported, “funneled hundreds of millions to Hamas-led Gaza and encouraged its rocket and tunnel assault on Israel,” also signed a four-year $14.8 million deal in 2013 to fund the Brookings Institution where Martin Indyk serves as vice president and director of the Foreign Policy Program. Indyk worked for Secretary of State John Kerry from July 2013 to June 2014 as special envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. As someone on the same payroll as is Israel’s mortal enemy, how could Indyk be expected to act in a neutral way?
|Martin Indyk (right) with his former boss, Secretary of State John Kerry.|
The president of Brookings, Strobe Talbott, not only did not apologize or show a shred of embarrassment that foreign governments underwrote some 12 percent of his funding, but had the temerity to respond that “think tanks should take money from foreign governments.” Deploying such self-serving buzzwords as “governance” and phrases like “the philanthropic culture is changing,” he fatuously argued that it “is entirely appropriate for us to work with [governments] when we have the capacity to contribute analysis and prescription on issues that they are dealing with in the policy realm.”
The Brookings Institute, founded 1916, is both the oldest American think tank and a leader in taking monies from foreign taxpayers.
The Times article exposed – astonishingly – the corruption of liberal establishments such as the Brookings Institution, the Center for American Progress, and the National Democratic Institute. How honest, honorable, and unexpected from a newspaper that has become the nation’s billboard for unthinking liberal bromides. Conversely, the exposé found not a penny going to conservative institutions such as the American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation, and the Hudson Institute. (If the Times continues with journalism of this caliber, I might even pay for its iPhone app!)
Mitchell Bard tells about the real Middle Eastern lobby working in Washington.
Similarly, concerning the Middle East, where the article mentions several countries (Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE) whose governments play this influence-and-opinion-buying game, not one of them is called Israel. This pattern emphatically verifies the thesis presented by Mitchell Bard in the subtitle his 2010 book, The Arab Lobby: The Invisible Alliance That Undermines America’s Interests in the Middle East (Harper). As Steven J. Rosen, formerly of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, notes, if “measured by level of effort, if not results, the Arab lobby is equal, or superior to, anything done by the friends of Israel.”
Finally, the Times exposé placed all think-tanks on the defensive. If white-shoe organizations like Brookings are on the take, none of us is exempt from suspicion. In this light, the organization I head (slogan: “Promoting American interests”) immediately issued a press release, “The Middle East Forum Takes No Funds from Foreign Governments,” which stated unequivocally that “we have never sought or taken funding from any foreign government, nor from any agent of a foreign government. And we never will.”
More broadly, as John B. Judis argues, “foreign funding of think tanks is corrupting our democracy.” Therefore, it’s time for all research organizations presenting themselves as providing objective analysis to take a similar pledge, or else to label clearly who bought and paid for their conclusions.
Mr. Pipes (DanielPipes.org) is president of the Middle East Forum. © 2014 by Daniel Pipes. All rights reserved.
A “Stop the Bloodshed in Gaza” rally in downtown Miami on July 20 featured aggressive Islamist chants typical of anti-Israel events. In English, the demonstrators yelled “We are Hamas!” and “We are Jihad!” (as can be seen and heard here). In Hebrew, a Hamas partisan screamed at an Israel-supporter, “Son of a bitch” and “Go to Hell!” and made an obscene arm gesture. In Arabic, the crowd chanted the infamous “Khaybar, Khaybar, oh Jew, Muhammad’s army will return” (a reference to a massacre of Jews under the auspices of Islam’s prophet in A.D. 629).
As I say, just a typical anti-Israel demonstration, and far from the worst. Typical – except that some of its sponsors desperately seek respectability.
In a July 23 report on the demonstration, investigative researcher Danielle Avel posted a scan of a glossy paper flier advertising the event, listing its seven sponsors:
American Muslim Association of North America (AMANA), Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Florida, Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), Syrian American Council of South Florida (SAC), American Muslims for Emergency & Relief (AMER), and American Muslims Foundation.
The event’s Facebook page lists a coalition of eight organizations, some of which overlap with those on the flier:
Join us & spread the word! In coordination with our coalition: Al-Awda Coalition, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP)-FL, POWIR, Broward Green Party, CAIR, National Lawyers Guild (South Florida), Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) – FAU, and Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) – FIU.
Two groups in particular, CAIR and ICNA, caught Avel’s eye because they aspire to invitations to the White House, appearances on network television and at leading universities, and other signs of public acceptance. What took place in Miami, she correctly noted, reveals their true extremism.
Six days later, on July 29, CAIR’s Florida chapter responded with a denial:
CAIR-Florida was not part of, did not plan, did not sponsor, did not participate in, and had absolutely nothing to do with the July 20 rally. If any document lists CAIR-Florida as a sponsor of the event, that listing was included without CAIR-Florida’s permission.
I doubt the veracity of this denial for several reasons.
Given these facts, I disbelieve CAIR’s statement.
I do believe it sponsored the vile event in Miami; that its denial of that sponsorship is false; and that the despicable words at the Miami rally revealed the true face of CAIR.
CAIR must not be validated by invitations and appearances. It should be treated as a marginal and despised group like the Ku Klux Klan or the Nation of Islam.
Daniel Pipes (DanielPipes.org) is president of the Middle East Forum. © 2014 by Daniel Pipes. All rights reserved.
N.B. Washington Times title: “Turkey’s support for ISIS Islamist terrorists. Aiding jihadists could put Ankara at odds with Iran”
The battle in Iraq consists of “Turkish-backed Sunni jihadis rebelling against an Iranian-backed Shi’ite-oriented central government,” I wrote in a recent article.
Some readers question that the Republic of Turkey has supported the “Islamic State in Iraq and Syria,” the main Sunni group fighting in Iraq. They point to ISIS attacks on Turkish interests, within Turkey, along itsborder with Syria, and in Mosul and a successful recent meeting of the Turkish and Iranian presidents. Good points, but they can be explained.
First, ISIS is willing to accept Turkish support even while seeing the Islamist prime minister and his countrymen as kafirs (infidels) who need to be shown true Islam.
Second, the presidential visit took place on one level while the fighting in Syria and Iraq took place on quite another; the two can occur simultaneously. Turkish-Iranian rivalry is on the rise and, as the distinguished Turkish journalist Burak Bekdil notes in the current issue of the Middle East Quarterly:
Recent years have often seen official language from the two countries about prospering bilateral trade and common anti-Israeli ideological solidarity. But mostly out of sight have been indications of rivalry, distrust, and mutual sectarian suspicion between the two Muslim countries.
Ankara may deny helping ISIS, but the evidence for this is overwhelming. “As we have the longest border with Syria,” writes Orhan Kemal Cengiz, a Turkish newspaper columnist, “Turkey’s support was vital for the jihadists in getting in and out of the country.” Indeed, the ISIS strongholds not coincidentally cluster close to Turkey’s frontiers.
Kurds, academic experts and the Syrian opposition agree that Syrians, Turks (estimated to number 3,000), and foreign fighters (especially Saudis but also a fair number of Westerners) have crossed the Turkish-Syrian border at will, often to join ISIS. What Turkish journalist Kadri Gursel calls a “two-way jihadist highway,” has no bothersome border checks and sometimes involves the active assistance of Turkish intelligence services. CNN even broadcast a video on “The secret jihadi smuggling route through Turkey.”
Actually, the Turks offered far more than an easy border crossing: they provided the bulk of ISIS’ funds, logistics, training and arms. Turkish residents near the Syrian border tell of Turkish ambulances going to Kurdish-ISIS battle zones and then evacuating ISIS casualties to Turkish hospitals. Indeed, a sensational photograph has surfaced showing ISIS commander Abu Muhammad in a hospital bed receiving treatment for battle wounds in Hatay State Hospital in April 2014.
Abu Muhammad of ISIS in Hatay State Hospital in April 2014, recovering from wounds received fighting in Syria.
One Turkish opposition politician estimates that Turkey has paid $800 million to ISIS for oil shipments. Another politician released information about active duty Turkish soldiers training ISIS members. Critics note that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has met three times with someone, Yasin al-Qadi, who has close ties to ISIS and has funded it.
The flag of Rojava, or Syria Kurdistan.
Why the Turkish support for wild-eyed extremists? Because Ankara wants to eliminate two Syrian polities, the Assad regime in Damascus and Rojava (the emerging Kurdish state) in the northeast.
Regarding the Assad regime: “Thinking that jihadists would ensure a quick fall for the Assad regime in Syria, Turkey, no matter how vehemently officials deny it, supported the jihadists,” writes Cengiz, “at first along with Western and some Arab countries and later in spite of their warnings.”
Regarding Rojava: Rojava’s leadership being aligned with the PKK, the (formerly) terrorist Kurdish group based in Turkey, the authoritative Turkish journalist Amberin Zaman has little doubt “that until recently, Turkey was allowing jihadist fighters to move unhindered across its borders” to fight the Kurds.
More broadly, as the Turkish analyst Mustafa Akyol notes, Ankara thought “anybody who fought al-Assad was a good guy and also harbored an “ideological uneasiness with accepting that Islamists can do terrible things.” This has led, he acknowledges, to “some blindness” toward violent jihadists. Indeed, ISIS is so popular in Turkey that others publicly copy its logo.
An Istanbul-based charity (acronym: HİSADER) has adopted the ISIS logo with the Islamic statement of faith.
In conclusion, Turkish leaders are finding Syria a double quagmire, what with Assad still in power and the Kurdish entity growing stronger. In reaction, they have cooperated with even the most extreme, retrograde and vicious elements, such as ISIS. But this support opened a second front in Iraq which, in turn, brings the clash of the Middle East’s two titans, Turkey and Iran, closer to realization.
Mr. Pipes (DanielPipes.org) is president of the Middle East Forum. © 2014 by Daniel Pipes. All rights reserved.
Like everything Daniel Pipes writes, his column this week about the prospects of Islamism is interesting and admirably honest. If every public intellectual were as willing as Daniel to check his premises regularly and modify them when new facts call them into question, our discourse would be a lot more civil and edifying.
His column is about “Islamism,” which is the ideology I (among others) call “Islamic supremacism” — a.k.a “radical” or “extremist” Islam, or even “sharia-ism” in the recent coinage of my friend Joy Brighton . . . all of us, it should be conceded, grappling for the pitch-perfect term that (we hope) justifies sidestepping the gnawing question whether Islam itself inevitably breeds aggressive Muslim groups even if it is otherwise widely construed, or at least practiced, benignly.
Daniel has previously rejected the possibility that Islamism, which is innately dictatorial, could evolve into something that approximates pluralistic democracy. He now surveys recent developments and concludes it is conceivable — not likely, but conceivable — that Islamism could evolve and improve.
To me, the developments Daniel cites are just glimmers here and there along a mostly discouraging trajectory. I will make three points, more in reaction than in direct response to his observations.
1. Only our own lower expectations of what liberal democracy is make it possible to speculate that Islamism could become borderline democratic. While Daniel mines some hopeful signs that Islamism — or at least branches of it — could be progressing away from unyielding authoritarianism, the parallel phenomenon (which is not the subject of his column) is that Western democracy is regressing away from a culture of individual liberty protected by limited government. If it now seems conceivable that Islamism could democratize, it can only be owing to modern democracy’s accommodation of more centralized and intrusive government.
2. The only conclusion of Daniel’s that I have a real quarrel with is his assertion that
Islamism has significantly evolved over the past 13 years. As recently as 2001, its adherents were synonymous with criminals, terrorists, and revolutionaries.
I think this conflates Islamism with our perception of Islamism. Personally, I don’t believe Islamism has materially changed at all. Instead, beginning about 21 years ago with the bombing of the World Trade Center, there was a vigorous effort on the part of progressive policy-makers and thinkers — an effort that still persists — to convince the public that the only “radical” Muslims were violent jihadists (who were incongruously portrayed as both “extremist” Muslims and practitioners of a “false Islam”). All other Muslims, we were told, were “moderates,” no matter how immoderate their beliefs. There was very little public understanding of sharia — the Islamic societal framework and legal system — and of the fact that imposing its implementation is the rationale for both jihadist terror and the non-violent agitations of Islamist groups.
What has changed over the past 13 years is not Islamism. Thanks to the good work of people like Daniel — I have tried to do my share, too — the public has begun to learn that Islamists include not only terrorists but Islamic supremacists who seek to impose and inculcate sharia standards by such other means as lawfare, legislation, the classroom, the media, popular culture, etc. There is nothing new in this variegated approach; it is the same plan for ground-up revolution that Muslim Brotherhood founder Hasan al-Banna laid out nearly a century ago. There is, however, more popular awareness today that not every non-terrorist Muslim activist is a “moderate.”
Daniel recalls his observation all those years ago that many Islamists “are peaceable in appearance, but they all must be considered potential killers.” He says “these words ring archaic now,” but, to me, they simply reflect the still valid insight that terrorist and non-terrorist Islamists share objectives even if their methods differ. I don’t think there has been any real evolution just because we are in a time when many Islamists, as Daniel says, “find the ballot box a more effective means to power than the gun.”
It has always been the case that some Islamists pursue the sharia agenda by barbaric means and others by political and legal processes. The only difference today lies in the nature of their opportunities. In Muslim-majority countries such as Egypt, Islamists got the chance to obtain by popular vote what they had previously sought by terrorism — control of the government. And what happened when the Muslim Brotherhood took over? Terrorists were sprung from captivity. Islamist Egypt seamlessly became a hospitable place for jihadists to organize against Israel and the United States. Islamists — both violent and ostensibly non-violent — put their differences aside and allied against the West.
’Twas ever thus. Daniel is surely right that “some reforms of Islam are already underway” (my italics). But that hardly means Islamism is reforming in any substantial way. Indeed, the link in Daniel’s assertion about ongoing Islamic reform takes the reader to an excellent essay he wrote for Commentary last year, which portrays the reform of Islam as what is required “if Islamism is to be defeated,” not as a phenomenon happening in Islamism itself.
Read more at National Review
Daniel Pipes has written a reply: Islamism’s Trajectory
Prominent counter-jihadis like Geert Wilders, Michael Savage, and Robert Spencer have the distinction of being banned from entry into the United Kingdom – and, now, Her Majesty’s Government, in its wisdom, has also banned two websites connected to me. It’s not quite the same, admittedly, and I am working to get this ban removed, but I also wear it as a perverse badge of honor given that government’s shameful record vis-à-vis Islamism.
Say you’re in the British Library, the national depository library and a government institution, roughly equivalent to the Library of Congress in the United States or the Bibliothèque nationale in France. Say you want to read what David Brog writes about declining Evangelical support for Israel in the latest Middle East Quarterly. You type in MEForum.org and get the following result:
The distinction between the two sites particularly charms me. The British Library categorizes MEForum.org as “Religion, Intolerance” and DanielPipes.org as “Religion, Adult Sites, Intolerance, Blogs.” (It’s probably titles like “Arabian Sex Tourism” that won me the X-rating.) Oddly, both sites are blocked for the same reason: “Intolerance.”
Should you, however, be in the British Library and wish to develop hatred toward Jews, no problem! Here are some antisemitic sites, all accessed in the past few days:
Then, if you need firing up to go murder people on jihad, the British Library makes rich pickings available to you:
And then, perhaps the worst of all:
There could be a technical explanation for this bizarre situation. The British Library issued a press release in December 2013, “Web filtering on the British Library’s WiFi service,” explaining that
in our public areas where there are regular visits by school children, we filter certain online content, such as pornography and gambling websites. We have recently introduced a new WiFi service. It’s early days in the implementation of this service and we are aware that the new filter has been blocking certain sites erroneously. We are actively working to resolve this issue.
Might this be the problem? I have written the library and requested that it unblock the sites. Now, let’s see if the censorship was “erroneous” or intentional.
(In contrast, the British Library has not yet excluded me from the UK union catalog of books; so, the same organization that bans my website permits my books. That makes as much sense as the rest of the British government’s policies.)
Apr. 9, 2014 update: For updates, see “No Longer Banned in the British Library!“
by Daniel Pipes
The Washington Times
January 24, 2014
W.T. title: “The Middle East mightily resists efforts to prod modernization”
The recent fall of Fallujah, Iraq, to an Al-Qaeda-linked group provides an unwelcome reminder of the American resources and lives devoted in 2004 to 2007 to control the city – all that effort expended and nothing to show for it. Similarly, outlays of hundreds of billions of dollars to modernize Afghanistan did not prevent the release of 72 prisoners who have attacked Americans.
Al-Qaeda takes over in Fallujah, Iraq.
These two examples point to a larger conclusion: maladies run so deep in the Middle East (minus remarkable Israel) that outside powers cannot remedy them. Here’s a fast summary:
Water is running out. A dam going up on the Blue Nile in Ethiopia threatens substantially to cut Egypt’s main water supply by devastating amounts for years.Syria and Iraq suffer from water crises because the Euphrates and Tigris rivers are drying up. Growing the narcotic qat plant absorbs so much of Yemen’s limited water supplies that Sana’a may be the first modern capital city to be abandoned because of drought. Ill considered wheat-growing schemes in Saudi Arabia depleted aquifers.
On the flip side, the poorly constructed Mosul Dam in Iraq could collapse, drowning half a million immediately and leave many more stranded without electricity or food. Sewage runs rampant in Gaza. Many countries suffer from electricity black-outs, and especially in the oppressive summer heat that routinely reaches 120 degrees.
An artist’s rendition of the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam now under construction.
People are also running out. After experiencing a huge and disruptive youth bulge, the region’s birth rate is collapsing.Iran, for example, has undergone the steepest decline in birth rates of any country ever recorded, going from 6.6 births per woman in 1977 to 1.6 births in 2012. This has created what one analyst calls an “apocalyptic panic” that fuels Tehran’s aggression.
Poor schools, repressive governments, and archaic social mores assure abysmal rates of economic growth. Starvation haunts Egypt, Syria, Yemen, andAfghanistan.
Vast reserves of oil and gas have distorted nearly every aspect of life. Miniature medieval-like monarchies like Qatar become surreal world powers playing at war in Libya and Syria, indifferent to the lives they break, as a vast underclass of oppressed foreign workers toils away and a princess deploys the largest budget for art purchases in human history. The privileged can indulge their cruel impulses, protected by connections and money. Sex tourism to poor countries like India flourishes.
Al-Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani (b. 1983), sister of the emir of Qatar and chairperson of the Qatar Museums Authority, reportedly has about US$1 billion a year to spend on art.
Efforts at democracy and political participation either wither, as in Egypt, or elevate fanatics who cleverly disguise their purposes, as in Turkey. Efforts to overthrow greedy tyrants lead to yet-worse ideological tyrants (as in Iran in 1979) or to anarchy (as in Libya and Yemen). One commonly roots for both sides to lose. Rule of law remains a fata morgana.
Islamism, currently the most dynamic and threatening political ideology, is summed up by a morbid Hamasdeclaration to Israelis: “We love death more than you love life.” Polygyny, burqas, genital mutilation, and honor killing make Middle Eastern women the world’s most oppressed.
Middle Eastern life suffers from acutebiases – often official – based on religion, sect, ethnicity, tribe, skin color, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, age, citizenship, work, and disability. Slavery remains a scourge.
Conspiracy theories, political zealotry, resentment, repression, anarchy, and aggression rule the region’s politics. Modern notions of the individual remain weak in societies where primordial bonds of family, tribe, and clan remain dominant.
Alaa Hussein Ali (l) ruled the Republic of Kuwait for 6 days in August 1990 before the country was annexed to Iraq by Saddam Hussein (r).
The Middle East suffers from an urge to snuff out whole countries. Israel is the best known potential victim but Kuwait actually disappeared for a half year while Lebanon, Jordan, and Bahrain could be swallowed up at any time.
Middle Eastern states spend outsized amounts of their wealth on intelligences services and the military, creating redundant forces to check each other. They venture abroad to buy tank, ship, and plane baubles. They devote inordinate resources to chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons, and the platforms to deliver them. Even terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda plot to acquire WMD. Cutting-edge methods of terrorism develop in the Middle East.
Economic and political failure creates large bodies of refugees; Afghans have made up the world’s largest refugee population since the 1980s; Syrians now threaten to overtake them, sowing poverty and chaos in their lands of refuge. Desperate souls attempt to leave the region altogether for Western countries, with more than a few dying along the way. Those who make it bring their region’s maladies to such tidy countries as Sweden and Australia.
Nineteenth-century diplomats dubbed the Ottoman Empire “the Sick Man of Europe.” Now, I nominate the whole Middle East the Sick Man of the World. The region’s hatreds, extremism, violence, and despotism require many decades to remedy.
While this process perhaps takes place, the outside world is best advised not to expend blood and treasure to redeem the Middle East – a hopeless task – but on protecting itself from the region’s manifold threats, from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and harems to mega-terrorism and electromagnetic pulse.