Is CAIR a Terror Group?

UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan explains why his government considers CAIR to be terrorist.

UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan explains why his government considers CAIR to be terrorist.

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:

  • “CAIR is a terrorist supporting front organization that is partially funded by terrorists”;
  • “CAIR … is supported by terrorist supporting individuals, groups and countries”;
  • “CAIR has proven links to, and was founded by, Islamic terrorists”; and
  • “CAIR actively supports terrorists and terrorist supporting groups and nations.”
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.

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Also  see:

 

The Hotheads vs. the Moderates

Gates of Vienna, by Baron Bodissey:

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.

Think Tanks for Sale or Rent

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.

Is CAIR Lying about a Rally for Hamas?

by Daniel Pipes
Gatestone Institute
August 22, 2014

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.

  • CAIR’s mendacity is so widespread that I have an entire bibliography of my writings exposing the reasons not to trust it.
  • The flier, of which I have a copy, twice states that Sofian Zakkout organized the rally. Zakkout is so close to CAIR, he’s effectively a staff volunteer: he coordinates with it, is quoted by it, seeks helpfrom it, and is listed as a contact by it. (For more on Zakkout, see Avel’s exposé.) A year earlier, he listed CAIR’s Florida branch on another rally flier. It beggars the imagination that he would list CAIR without authorization.
  • The Facebook page still lists CAIR as a sponsor, two weeks after CAIR’s statement of denial.
  • Perhaps CAIR seeks to conceal the truth through semantics. Both the national organization (on the Facebook page) and the Florida chapter (on the flier) are listed as sponsors. The July 29 statement only denies permission from the latter, not the former. It is more than credible that CAIR nationalgave its permission to be listed as a sponsor while CAIR’s Florida chapter did not.

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.

 

Also see:

1053

Turkish Support for ISIS

by Daniel Pipes
The Washington Times
June 18, 2014

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 the face of this support, the online newspaper Al-Monitor calls on Turkey to close its border to ISIS while Rojava threatened Ankara with “dire consequences” unless Turkish aid ceases.

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.

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Also see:

Can Islamism Evolve?

lightBy Andrew C. McCarthy:

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

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Daniel Pipes has written a reply: Islamism’s Trajectory

Banned in the British Library

by Daniel Pipes
National Review Online
April 8, 2014

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:

Or perhaps you wish to learn why I distinguish between Islam and Islamism, or why I worry about Islamist aggression in Britain, so you type in DanielPipes.org only to find this:

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:

  • Exposing the Holocaust Hoax Archive: the name tells it all
  • Gilad Atzmon: the personal website of a toxically antisemitic Jew
  • Jew Knowledge: contains learned inquiries into Jewish control of Hollywood, Jewish connections to 9/11, and the like
  • Muslim Public Affairs Committee, UK: an antisemitic jihadi group
  • The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion: the “warrant for genocide” is available in multiple versions

Then, if you need firing up to go murder people on jihad, the British Library makes rich pickings available to you:

  • Al Muntada: runs some of the worst hate preachers in Europe and stands accused in Nigeria of funding Boko Haram
  • Anjem Choudary: possibly the most extreme of British Islamists, he praised the perpetrators of the 9/11 and 7/7 attacks
  • FiSyria: promotes the Sunni jihad against the Assad regime in Syria
  • Friends of Al-Aqsa: a pro-Hamas British group
  • Hizb ut-Tahrir: an international movement seeking to replace existing countries with a global caliphate
  • Islamic Education and Research Academy: a Qatari-funded Salafi group that includes a number of openly pro-terror operatives. Its trustees openly incite hatred against Jews, women, et al.
  • Muslimah’s Renaissance: an anti-Semitic, anti-Shia group
  • Al-Qassam: the military wing of Hamas, widely categorized as a terrorist organization
  • Palestinian Forum of Britain: a Hamas front
  • Palestine Return Centre: another Hamas front
  • Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine: deemed a terrorist group by both the European Union and the U.S. government

And then, perhaps the worst of all:

  • Tawhed: al-Qaeda’s Arabic-language ideological website which promotes writings by Osama Bin Laden and Ayman az-Zawahiri

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!

The Sick Middle East

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.

Mr. Pipes (DanielPipes.org) is president of the Middle East Forum. © 2014 by Daniel Pipes. All rights reserved.

Saudis Bristle at Obama’s Outreach to Iran

by Daniel Pipes
The Washington Times
December 3, 2013

The “Joint Plan of Action” signed with Iran by the so-called P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the U.K., and the U.S.) on Nov. 24 in Geneva caused Shiite Arabs to celebrate, Sunni Arabs to worry, and Saudis to panic. The Saudi response will have far-reaching and unpredictable consequences.

 

Jubilant crowds welcomed the Iranian negotiator home from Geneva.

As Iran’s chief negotiator, Mohammad Javad Zarif, brought home a deal worth about US$23 billion to Iran, Arab Shiites fell into step with Tehran. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of Iraq expressed his “full support for this step.” President Bashar al-Assad of Syria welcomed the agreement as “the best path for securing peace and stability.” Parliamentary Speaker Nabih Berriof Lebanon called it the “deal of the century.” And Hezbollah considered the agreement a “great victory for Iran.”

 

Syria’s Assad, here scratched out, praised the Geneva deal.

Among Sunni Arabic-speakers, in contrast, responses ranged from politely supportive to displeased to alarmed. Perhaps most enthusiastic was the Egyptian governmental newspaper Al-Ahram, which called the deal “historic.” Most states stayed mum. Saudis expressed the most worry. Yes, the government cabinet officially stated that “If there is goodwill, then this agreement could be an initial step toward reaching a comprehensive solution to Iran’s nuclear program,” but note the skepticism conveyed in the first four words.

If that was the mildest response, perhaps the most unbuttoned comment came from Alwaleed bin Talal, a Saudi prince who occasionally sends up trial balloons for the royal family: He called Iran “a huge threat” and noted that, historically speaking, “The Persian empire was always against the Muslim Arab empire, especially against the Sunnis. The threat is from Persia, not from Israel,” a ground-breaking and memorable public statement.

 

Saudi prince Alwaleed bin Talal on his airplane throne, sitting under the logo of his company.

Alwaleed then detailed how the Iranians are “in Bahrain, they are in Iraq, they are in Syria, they are with Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas, which is Sunni, in Gaza.” As this listing suggests, Saudis are fixated on the danger of being surrounded by Iran’s agents and are more scared by the non-nuclear implications of the joint plan than the nuclear ones. Gregory Gause of the University of Vermont sees Saudis worrying that the accord opens the way “without any obstacles” for Iran to achieve regional dominance. (This contrasts with the Israeli and Western position, which focuses on the nuclear danger.)

Abdullah al-Askar, foreign affairs committee chairman of the kingdom’s appointed Shura Council, elaborates: he worries “about giving Iran more space or a freer hand in the region. The government of Iran, month after month, has proven that it has an ugly agenda in the region, and in this regard no one in the region will sleep and assume things are going smoothly. … The people of the region … know that Iran will interfere in the politics of many countries.”

Saudi media reiterated this line of analysis. Al-Watan, a government newspaper, warned that the Iran regime, “which sends its tentacles into other regional countries, or tries to do so by all means necessary,” will not be fettered by the accord. Another daily, Al-Sharq, editorialized about the fear that “Iran made concessions in the nuclear dossier in return for more freedom of action in the region.”

Some analysts, especially in the smaller Persian Gulf states, went further. Jaber Mohammad, a Bahraini analyst, predicted that “Iran and the West will now reach an accord on how to divide their influence in the Gulf.” The Qatari government-owned Al-Quds Al-Arabi worried about “a U.S.-Iran alliance with Russian backing.” Rumors of Obama wanting to visit Tehran only confirm these suspicions.

The Saudi ambassador in London, Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz, drew the most overt public conclusion, threatening that “We are not going to sit idly by and receive a threat there and not think seriously how we can best defend our country and our region.” To put it mildly, this is not how Saudi diplomats normally speak about fellow Muslims.

What does this unwonted rhetoric amount to? Iranian bellicosity and the Obama administration’spro-Iran policies have combined to end many decades of Saudi strategic reliance on Washington and to begin thinking how to protect themselves. This matters, because as Alwaleed rightly boasts, his country is leader of the Arabs, enjoying the most international, regional, cultural, and religious clout. The results of this new-found assertiveness – fighting against fellow Islamists, allying tacitly with Israel, perhaps acquiring Pakistani-made nuclear weapons, and even reaching out to Tehran – marks yet another consequence of Barack Obama’s imploding foreign policy.

Mr. Pipes (DanielPipes.org) is president of the Middle East Forum. © 2013 by Daniel Pipes. All rights reserved.

 

 

Can Islam Be Reformed? A Response Essay To Daniel Pipes

reform of islamBy Nikolaas de Jong, July 10, 2013:

In a past article, I already discussed some issues of Islamic civilization which we are apt to neglect in our analysis of the current situation in the Middle East. Obviously, the potential force of democracy to conquer once primitive countries has been greatly overestimated; nobody will disagree anymore on that count. However, the explanations for this failure of democracy vary a lot, and quite independent of the political alignment of the commentators: it appears that all shades of opinion are quite confused by what is happening in countries recently “liberated” by the Arab Spring. The main reason for this confusion, as I stated before, is that most people in the west do not understand the wider civilizational questions involved: first, can we equate any popular uprising with an ideologically inspired revolution, but second, and most importantly, can revolutions in the Islamic world ever resemble those in the West and why are we so sure that the Islamic pattern of history must correspond to the earlier Western? The first point has been conceded by many observers, albeit implicitly and not in wider historical context, since today the dominant opinion is that these countries were not “ripe” for democracy and that popular rule does not necessarily imply democracy as we understand it in the west. The second point requires more insight, and is not even addressed by most commentators or journalists, although in fact to pose the question of essential differences in culture is not at all new; indeed, it only implies further investigation of the popular thesis Samuel Huntington developed about the “clash of civilizations”. But since western nations have lived in peace for over sixty years now, and we tend to believe that the whole world potentially is a prosperous and peaceful place like the western nation states, the concept of wholly different civilizations has become quite incomprehensible to most opinion makers. Nevertheless, we shall see it is essential to understand the ordeal the Muslim world is currently going through.

A few days ago Daniel Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum, wrote an article, “Can Islam be reformed?”. As a good neoconservative, Pipes believes that Islamic culture will ultimately be able to adapt to western standards and that a reformed, reinterpreted version of Islam will emerge from the contacts with western democratic influences. In his article, he expressly  shows Islamic civilization in a very un-civilizational light: the issues in Islamic history are made to appear a variation on what happened in the history of other cultures, namely an endless sequence of wars and political upheavals, according to the classical pattern of rise and fall: the extremism that plagues the Islamic world is in fact a reaction to the decline of Islam since its golden age, and will wither away once a democratic, economically successful alternative has been offered; in this sense, the Islamist movement is not unlike communism and fascism, both ideologies cashing in on political and economic hardship. Moreover, Islam is not all that different from Judaism and Christianity: both religions have in the past embraced views we would now find unacceptable: Islam can adapt to modernity like other religions have. Pipes concedes that Islam today poses many problems and not all of its tenets are very humane, but he believes that Islam could be, as it were, absorbed by the west. In his most recent commentary on the military coup in Egypt, he reiterated his view that Islamism is just an extremist political fraction vying for influence among the electorate, and that the majority of the population are moderate Muslims desperately in search of answers to the crisis of modernity.

It is surprising that a man who is so knowledgeable on Islamic and Arab history, really thinks the Islamic world could be reformed. This is especially surprising, since in fact democracy and rule of law have hardly taken root in the rest of the non-western countries, and it remains to be seen whether the experiment will be viable in the long run, especially as western values are receding in the West itself at least since the first world war. Western self-confidence is at an historical low, so the first question is: why is there anything necessary about Muslims taking over western values and political institutions? I argued earlier that Islamic culture itself is not heading for a particularly happy future, but neither is the west, and if Islam does not take over Europe, it will still probably remain the same ossified theocratic system it has always been in the Muslim world itself. Besides, Pipes’ constant reference to the Islamic golden age, as if it were some shining example of human achievement and a tolerant, open-minded era, is disturbing to say the least: by now we should know that the power of Islam in this period was only brought about by brute military conquest, that its famous cultural achievements were largely the work of Christian and Jewish dhimmis, and that the Islamic world controlled so many material and cultural resources simply because it had invaded the lands of other cultures and withheld the benefits of trade from the Christian world. And of course, Pipes does not mention that this was not a “golden age” at all for many people, such as religious minorities, Hindus, and women. The reason it was called a “golden age” by Muslims is because it was a golden age for the Islamic conception of life, but not for humanity. So, on closer scrutiny, it becomes clear that Islam was always rigorous and it has not known any more humane periods or ups and downs like other civilizations, except in the military sense. The proper question that would invalidate Pipes’ designation of Islamism as a totalitarian doctrine on the pattern of fascism and communism, is: would the average Muslim throughout history have considered the deeds and beliefs of today’s Islamists and Islamic terrorists unjustified? Does the average Muslim today even see anything inherently inhumane or un-Islamic in the deeds of terrorists? I think Pipes knows the answer to these questions as well as most of us do.

Pipes warns us for adopting an excessively “essentialist” view of Islam, which means relying solely on Islamic scripture and doctrine in explaining Islamic history and the actions of Muslims; however, it seems Pipes should watch out not to adopt the absurdly empiricist view that is also held by many political correct pundits, and which implies that the deeds of Muslims only have general “human” motives, and religion is simply a justification of these universal motives. It is all very well that Pipes himself can provide his own moderate interpretation of Islam and sees history in the light of this interpretation, but in the end it is the Muslims who decide how to interpret their religion, not western academics. As Bill Warner put it, we can only understand the actions of Muslims and Islamic history by first understanding Islam and what it actually is, not the other way around. Otherwise we would just be fooling ourselves and evading the main question.

Read more at The Brussels Journal (H/T Andrew Bostom)

Nikolaas de Jong is a Flemish history student with a critical view on current affairs, history and culture. He is inspired by Ayn Rand, Ludwig von Mises, Raymond Aron and Jean-François Revel. He is specifically interested in islam and Russian history. He is a member of the political party Liberty GB. This article appeared July 10, 2013 in the Brussels Journal. The Brussels Journal is published by the Society for the Advancement of Freedom in Europe (SAFE), a Swiss non-profit organisation. http://www.think-israel.org/dejong.islamreformable.html

PIPES: A common culture for refugees

Syrian refugees at the Beirut airport on the way to Germany.

Syrian refugees at the Beirut airport on the way to Germany.

By Daniel Pipes:

The lull in the chemical weapons crisis offers a chance to divert attention to the huge flow of refugees leaving Syria and rethink some misguided assumptions about their future.

About one-tenth of Syria’s 22 million residents have fled across an international border, mostly to neighboring LebanonJordan and Turkey. Unable to cope, their governments are restricting entry, prompting international concern about the Syrians’ plight. The United Nations High Commissioner for RefugeesAntonio Guterres, suggests that his agency (as the Guardian paraphrases him) “look to resettle tens of thousands of Syrian refugees in countries better able to afford to host them,” recalling the post-2003 Iraqi-resettlement program when 100,000 Iraqis resettled in the West. Others also look instinctively to the West for a solution. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, for example, has called on Western states “to do more” for Syrian refugees.

The appeal has been heard: Canada has offered to take 1,300 Syrian refugees; the United States, 2,000. Italy has received 4,600 Syrian refugees by sea. Germany has offered to take (and has begun receiving) 5,000. Sweden has offered asylum to the 15,000 Syrians already in that country. Local groups are preparing for a substantial influx throughout the West.

However, these numbers pale beside a population numbering in the millions, meaning that the West alone cannot solve the Syrian refugee problem. Further, many in Western countries (especially European ones, such as The Netherlands and Switzerland) have wearied of taking in Muslim peoples who do not assimilate but instead seek to replace Western mores with Shariah, the Islamic law code. Both German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron have deemed multiculturalism, with its insistence on the equal value of all civilizations, a failure. Worse, fascist movements such as the Golden Dawn in Greece are growing.

Many more Muslim refugees are likely on their way. In addition to Syrians, these include Bangladeshis, Pakistanis, Afghans, Iranians, Iraqis, Lebanese, Palestinians, Egyptians, Somalis and Algerians. Other nationals — for example, Yemenis and Tunisians — might soon join their ranks.

Happily, a solution lies at hand.

To place Syrians in “countries better able to afford to host them,” as Mr. Guterres delicately puts it, one need simply divert attention from the Christian-majority West toward the vast, empty expanses of the fabulously wealthy kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as well as the smaller but, in some cases, even richer states of KuwaitBahrainQatar and the United Arab Emirates. For starters, these countries (which I will call Arabia) are much more convenient to repatriate to Syria from than, say, New Zealand. Living there also means not enduring frozen climes as in Sweden or learning difficult languages spoken by few, such as Danish.

More importantly, Muslims of Arabia share deep religious ties with their Syrian brothers and sisters, so settling there avoids the strains of life in the West.

Read more at Washington Times

 

Scoring the Syria Deal: Putin, Assad, and Iran gain; Obama, Turkey, and Israel lose ground

by Daniel Pipes
National Review Online
September 17, 2013

Diplomacy has never witnessed anything like the dizzying and erratic sequence of events relating to Syria that began on Wednesday, Aug. 21 and ended 3½ weeks later, on Saturday, Sept. 14. Who won, who lost? It’s too soon for a definite answer, but Bashar al-Assad is in the driver’s seat, suggesting that he, Putin, and the mullahs will gain while Obama, Erdoğan, and Israel will lose.

 

A pleased pair: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov celebrate reaching an agreement.

To start, a sketch of recent events:

Aug. 21: A chemical attack took place against civilians in Ghouta, near Damascus, presumably carried out by Syria’s Assad regime.

Aug. 28: Barack Obama indicated an intent to use force against the Assad regime to punish it for the chemical attack.

Aug. 31: Obama retreated and asked Congress for authorization to use force, something he did not have to do.

Over the next week, in an unexpected development, popular and congressional opposition to a strike grew to the point that it became clear that Obama would not get the authorization he sought.

Sept. 9: Secretary of State John Kerry promised an “unbelievably small” attack and off-handedly commented that international control of Syrian chemicals could obviate the need for an attack. The Russians picked up on and ran with the latter remark.

Sept. 10: Obama rescinded the threat to attack the Syrian government and withdrew his request from Congress.

Sept. 14: The U.S. and Russia governments signed the “Framework for Elimination of Syrian Chemical Weapons” to “ensure the destruction of the Syrian chemical weapons program (CW) in the soonest and safest manner.”

 

 

Logo of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, founded in 1997.

Let’s start by assessing choices facing the two main actors in this drama:

Bashar al-Assad: The framework permits him to make the key decisions that drive the process, subject to the influence of his patrons (Moscow and Tehran) and his advisers (the Assad clan). He has two options, to comply or not to comply with the US-Russian framework and the demands of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which regulates the chemical-weapons treaty Syria has promised to join. As a tactically incompetent leader, his actions are difficult to predict but I expect him not to comply because: (1) He needs these weapons to preserve his regime. (2) The civil war underway in Syria facilitates thwarting the OPCW. (3) Obama’s record suggests he won’t strike in retaliation. (4) Saddam Hussein set an appealing precedent, whereby Iraqi “cat and mouse” games slowed down and obstructed a similar regimen to destroy weapons of mass destruction in the 1990s.

 

Pope Francis called for a global day of fasting and prayer for Syria.

Barack Obama: Already in a corner because of his “red line” threat of August 2012, the U.S.-Russian agreement is a double-or-nothing gambit that places the American president at the mercy of his Syrian counterpart. If Assad complies, Obama becomes a foreign-policy genius for ridding Syria of chemical weapons without a shot. But if, as is far more likely, Assad does not comply, Obama must attack the regime to preserve his credibility, regardless of how much this runs contrary to the wishes of his leftist base and congressional opinion, the United Nations, the pope, et al., and even if it strengthens the jihadis in Syria and embroils the United States in an unwanted long-term military operation. I expect Obama will attack but without causing real damage to his own popularity or the Assad regime.

 

In short, I predict Assad will not comply and Obama will symbolically attack. Assuming this scenario, it means for the major actors:

  • Bashar al-Assad: He crows about surviving an American onslaught and is the stronger to this.
  • Barack Obama: His foreign policy credibility sinks and that of the United States with him, especially vis-à-vis the Iranian nuclear buildup, at least until 2017.
  • Vladimir Putin: Whether Assad complies or not, whether Obama attacks or not, the Russian president can’t lose. Rather, he has become eligible for the Nobel Peace Prize. He is the big winner.
  • Iran: Tehran gains, confident that its own nuclear infrastructure is safe from an American strike, unless Obama tears the Assad regime to bits.
  • Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: The reverse: the Turkish president, as leader of the international war party, he loses unless Obama seriously attacks Assad.
  • Israel: Along with Obama, Israel gains if Assad complies. But it loses if Assad does not, as is likely.

We end with two ironies: The U.S.-Russian agreement does not solve the crisis, but delays and deepens it. Obama’s almost nonchalant “red line” statement of a year ago was the obscure mistake that could precipitate the great foreign-policy fiasco of his presidency.

 

Also see:

Axis of the Chemical Weapons Convention by Claudia Rosett

What Turkey’s Riots Mean

by Daniel Pipes
The Washington Times
June 19, 2013

Rebellion has shaken Turkey since May 31: Is it comparable to the Arab upheavals that overthrew four rulers since 2011, to Iran’s Green Movement of 2009 that led to an apparent reformer being elected president last week, or perhaps to Occupy Wall Street, which had negligible consequences?

 

The government of Istanbul told mothers to “bring their children home” but instead they joined the protests in Taksim Square.

The unrest marks a deeply important development with permanent implications. Turkey has become a more open and liberal country, one in which leaders face democratic constraints as never before. But how much it changes the role of Islam in Turkey depends primarily on the economy.

China-like material growth has been the main achievement of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the party he heads, the AKP. Personal income has more than doubled in the decade that he has been in power, changing the face of the country. As a visitor to Turkey since 1972, I have seen the impact of this growth in almost every area of life, from what people eat to their sense of Turkish identity.

That impressive growth explains the AKP’s increased share of the national vote in its three elections, from 34 percent in 2002 to 46 percent in 2007 to a shade under 50 percent in 2011. It also explains how, after 90 years of the military serving as the ultimate political power, the party was able to bring the armed forces to heel.

At the same time, two vulnerabilities have become more evident, especially since the June 2011 elections, jeopardizing Erdoğan’s continued domination of the government.

Dependence on foreign credit. To sustain consumer spending, Turkish banks have borrowed heavily abroad, and especially from supportive Sunni Muslim sources. The resulting current account deficit creates so great a need for credit that the private sector alone needs to borrow US$221 billion in 2013, or nearly 30 percent of the country’s $775 billion GDP. Should the money stop flowing into Turkey, the party (pun intended) is over, possibly leading the stock market to collapse, the currency to plunge, and the economic miracle to come to a screeching halt.

 

Erdoğan instructs parents, “I am watching you. You will make at least three children.”

Erdoğan’s sultan-like understanding of his democratic mandate. The prime minister sees his election – and especially the one in 2011, when the AKP won half the popular vote – as a carte blanche to do whatever he pleases until the next vote. He indulges his personal emotions (recall his confrontation with Shimon Peres in 2009), meddles in the tiniest matters (his deciding the use of a city park prompted the current turmoil), social engineers (telling married couples to bear three or more children), involves Turkey in an unpopular foreign adventure (Syria), and demonizes the half of the electorate that did not vote for him (calling them beer-guzzlers who copulate in a mosque). This attitude has won the fervent support of his once-downtrodden constituency, but also has wrought the fury of the growing numbers of Turks who resent his authoritarianism, as well as the criticism of Europe leaders. German Chancellor Angela Merkel pronounced herself “appalled” by the recent police crackdown.

These two weaknesses point to the importance of the economy for the future of Erdoğan, the AKP, and the country. Should Turkey’s finances weather the demonstrations, the Islamist program that lies at the heart of the AKP’s platform will continue to advance, if more cautiously. Perhaps Erdoğan himself will remain leader, becoming the country’s president with newly enhanced powers next year; or perhaps his party will tire of him and – as happened to Margaret Thatcher in 1990 – push him aside in favor of someone who can carry out the same program without provoking so much hostility.

 

After two weeks of demonstrations, the Istanbul stock exchange lost nearly 10 percent of its value.

But if “hot money” flees Turkey, if foreign investors go elsewhere, and if Persian Gulf patrons cool on the AKP, then the demonstrations could end AKP rule and rupture the drive toward Islamism and the application of Islamic law. Infighting within the party, especially between Erdoğan and President Abdullah Gül, or within the Islamist movement, especially between the AKP and Fethullah Gülen‘s powerful movement, could weaken the Islamists. More profoundly, the many non-Islamist voters who voted for the AKP’s sound economic stewardship might abandon the party.

Payroll employment is down by 5 percent. Real consumer spending in first quarter 2013 fell by 2 percent over 2012. Since the demonstrations started, the Istanbul stock market is down 10 percent and interest rates are up about 50 percent. To assess the future of Islamism in Turkey, watch these and other economic indicators.

Mr. Pipes (DanielPipes.org) is president of the Middle East Forum. © 2013 by Daniel Pipes. All rights reserved.

Islam Vs. Islamism: A Case for Wishful Thinkers

 

By Walid Shoebat:

“Our killer question is ‘How do you propose to defeat Islamism?’ Those who make all Islam their enemy not only succumb to a simplistic and essentialist illusion but they lack any mechanism to defeat it.”

This is what historian and Middle East analyst Daniel Pipes asks [1] in his recent Washington Times article.

To support his argument, Pipes makes an unsubstantiated claim [2] that a majority of Muslims are moderate and that Islamism is only,

supported by 10-15 percent [2] of Muslims…

So how and why did he come up with such numbers? Pipes uses different studies and surveys about which he himself confesses [2]: “These ambiguous and contradictorypercentages lead to no clear, specific count of Islamists.” Why then use such statistics? It is only to serve the major argument he made in my first paragraph.

And there are more “confessions.” Pipes writes: “Out of a quantitative mish-mash, I suggested just three days after 9/11 [3] that some 10-15 percent of Muslims are determined Islamists.” This is in itself contradictory and is even absolutely nonsense mathematically as he clearly admits. To further support this conservative number, Pipes adds:

 Indonesian survey and election results led R. William Liddle and Saiful Mujani [4] in 2003 to conclude that the number of Islamists “is no more than 15 percent of the total Indonesian Muslim population.”

He did this while he ignored his other statement:

In contrast, a 2008 survey of 8,000 Indonesian Muslims by Roy Morgan Research [5] found 40 percent of Indonesians favoring hadd criminal punishments (such as cutting off the hands of thieves) and 52 percent favoring some form of Islamic legal code.

So here we have 52% of Indonesians are extremists, not 15%.

DanielPipes

Yet even that doesn’t determine the correct percentages to separate Muslims from Islamists. To say that “views on 9/11″ or “supporting Hadd” (Islamic punishment) is the yardstick to measure the percentages is also absurd and mathematically false. What if a Muslim doesn’t support 9/11 or Hadd but supports the idea that it takes two women in a court of law to equal the testimony of a man? Will Pipes count him as a moderate Muslim or an extremist Islamist? If he chooses “moderate,” then Pakistan got it right. No matter what Pipes chooses, it debunks all his unsubstantiated claims about moderate Islam.

What if a Muslim couldn’t care less about Sharia, jihad, and 9/11, yet he kills his sister for marrying a Jew? Is he a “Muslim” or is he an “Islamist”?

And what if we even use terrorism as a yardstick as Pipes prefers; in Saudi Arabia and across the Muslim world, you have many who do not support al-Qaeda. Are these then counted as moderates? In Pipes’ view the answer is “yes.” But this is false. Last week I had an exchange with Sheikh Faisal Al-Harbi, who chastised me on such issues,stating that his clan (Al-Harbi) would not support terrorism. Indeed, on his clan’s official website [7] they denounce al-Qaeda, adding:

Jihad for the sake of Allah is to go to war with the infidels and the polytheists to remove these and enforce Unitarianism. That is after inviting them to Islam and they reject the invitation (Da’wa). This Jihad is then organized and supervised by the Imam.

That cannot be placed in the moderate Islam camp. In light of this and my other arguments, Pipes’ percentages are escalating dramatically.

The true number for Islamists is 100%. Here, let me add more beef to my claim. What if a Muslim denounces today’s jihad, sharia, Islamic state and all? Is he then moderate?

Read more at PJ Media

 

The Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Watch weighs in on the debate:

As made clear in our FAQ, the Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Watch was created as part of an ongoing effort to track and an analyze the activities of the Global Muslim Brotherhood that we define as “global network of individuals and organizations that developed as Muslim Brotherhood members dispersed to other countries while fleeing the periodic crackdowns on the organization in Egypt.” The GMBDW considers the Muslim Brotherhood, in all its manifestations, to be both the wellspring as well the most important ongoing influence on Islamism in the world today. Therefore, in line with what Dr. Pipes has written, we want to reassert that the GMBDW also makes the distinction between Islam the religion and Islamism which we would characterize as even a greater threat to Muslim-majority nations than it is in the West.

That said, the GMBDW does take issue with one passage in Dr. Pipe’s otherwise salutary article.

He writes:

Those who make all Islam their enemy not only succumb to a simplistic and essentialist illusion but they lack any mechanism to defeat it. We who focus on Islamism see World War II and the Cold War as models for subduing the third totalitarianism. We understand that radical Islam is the problem and moderate Islam is the solution. We work with anti-Islamist Muslims to vanquish a common scourge. We will triumph over this new variant of barbarism so that a modern form of Islam can emerge.

We are not convinced that that World War II and/or the Cold War are appropriate models for taking on modern Islamism as we do not believe that Islamism can productively be analyzed in these terms. Therefore, those that adopt such models run the risk of advocating inappropriate strategies for taking on the problem. Further elaboration of this theme involves a degree of complexity and will have to wait for future analysis.

 

Education by Murder in Boston

by Daniel Pipes:

What will be the long-term impact of the Apr. 15-19 Boston Marathon attack and the ensuing action-movie-style chase, killing a total of four and wounding 265?

2234Let’s start with what its impact will not be. It will not bring American opinion together; if the “United We Stand” slogan lasted brief months after 9/11, consensus after Boston will be even more elusive. The violence will not lead to Israeli-like security measures in the United States. Nor will it lead to a greater preparedness to handle deadly sudden jihad syndrome violence. It will not end the dispute over the motives behind indiscriminate Muslim violence against non-Muslims. And it certainly will not help resolve current debates over immigration or guns.

What it will do is very important: it will prompt some Westerners to conclude that Islamism is a threat to their way of life. Indeed, every act of Muslim aggression against non-Muslims, be it violent or cultural, recruits more activists to the anti-jihad cause, more voters to insurgent parties, more demonstrators to anti-immigrant street efforts, and more donors to anti-Islamist causes.

Education by murder is the name I gave this process in 2002; we who live in democracies learn best about Islamism when blood flows in the streets. Muslims began with an enormous stock of good will because the Western DNA includes sympathy for foreigners, minorities, the poor, and people of color. Islamists then dissipate this good will by engaging in atrocities or displaying supremacist attitudes. High profile terrorism in the West – 9/11, Bali, Madrid, Beslan, London – moves opinion more than anything else.

I know because I went through this process first hand. Sitting in a restaurant in Switzerland in 1990, Bat Ye’or sketched out for me her fears concerning Islamist ambitions in Europe but I thought she was alarmist. Steven Emerson called me in 1994 to tell me about the Council on American-Islamic Relations but I initially gave CAIR the benefit of the doubt. Like others, I needed time to wake to the full extent of the Islamist threat in the West.

Westerners are indeed waking up to this threat. One can get a vivid sense of trends by looking at developments in Europe, which on the topics of immigration, Islam, Muslims, Islamism, and Shari’a (Islamic law) is ahead of North America and Australia by about twenty years. One sign of change is the growth of political parties focused on these issues, including the U.K. Independence Party, the National Front in France, the People’s Party in Switzerland, Geert Wilder’s Party for Freedom in the Netherlands, the Progress Party in Norway, and the Swedish Democrats. In a much-noted recent by-election, UKIP came in second, increasing its share of the vote from 4 percent to 28 percent, thereby creating a crisis in the Conservative party.

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