Experts: American Adversaries Work Together Despite Differences

Fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) / Reuters

Fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) / Reuters

BY: :

American adversaries in the Middle East continue to work together across sectarian and religious divides to harm U.S. interests and security, requiring a more nuanced response from U.S. officials to address the turmoil in the region, experts say.

The Obama administration has claimed in recent weeks that the United States and Iran—a traditional U.S. enemy since its Islamic revolution 35 years ago—have a shared interest in pushing back the advances of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS), an al Qaeda offshoot, in Iraq. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said last month that the United States and Iran have “some history here of sharing common interests,” citing early cooperation on the Afghanistan war against al Qaeda and the Taliban.

Iran, led by a Shiite government, is typically viewed as opposing hardline Sunni groups such as the Taliban and al Qaeda as part of an intra-religious dispute among Muslims.

However, Iran has a long history of harboring and supporting al Qaeda. European intelligence reports indicate that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, founder of the group al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) that eventually morphed into ISIL, operated from Iran after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. Zarqawi used protection from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to rebuild the terrorist group’s network and prepare for its expansion into Iraq.

The U.S. Treasury Department has called Iran “a critical transit point for funding to support al Qaeda’s activities in Afghanistan and Pakistan.” The department in February sanctioned three IRGC officers for allegedly providing support to the Taliban as well as to a senior member of al Qaeda who allegedly used Iran to move Sunni fighters into Syria.

“Iran has a long history of fomenting violent conflict and inflaming sectarian divides throughout the Middle East including in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq,” said the group United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) in recent press release.

“Depictions of Iran as a source of stability are therefore erroneous and short-sighted, as are assertions that increased Iranian involvement in Iraq will serve American and Iraqi interests,” UANI added.

Michael Rubin, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and a former Pentagon adviser on Iran and Iraq for the George W. Bush administration, said in an email that U.S. diplomats often only view the Middle East through “a sectarian lens.”

“Sunnis and Shi’ites show no compunction working together to screw over America, which their respective extremists consider a bigger threat,” he said. “Heck, sometimes it seems that the State Department never bothered to read the 9/11 report which suggested that the attacks might not have happened had Iran not facilitated the travel to training camps of the 9/11 hijackers.”

“Sure, at first glance, Secretary of State John Kerry may believe that the U.S. and Iran share an interest in Iraq,” he added. “But just because firefighters and arsonists share an interest in fire doesn’t mean they are on the same side.”

In Iraq, ISIL partnered last month with former Baathist generals under Saddam Hussein’s regime to seize the key northern city of Mosul. Religious extremist groups such as al Qaeda have traditionally sought to overthrow secular Middle East regimes such as Hussein’s Baathists.

Top U.S. officials have recently expressed grave concerns about the potential for foreign fighters in ISIL to commit terrorist attacks in the United States.

The secular-religious rift in the Middle East also did not stop Hussein from supporting jihadist groups when it suited the former Iraqi dictator’s interests. Hussein reportedly provided safe haven, training, and arms to these groups as long as they agreed to attack countries he wanted to pressure.

Hundreds of thousands of documents obtained in Iraq since 2003, compiled in a report by the Institute for Defense Analyses, further confirmed Hussein’s links to terrorist groups.

Read more at Free Beacon

The Land of Coup d’Etat

3349107683CSP, By Manda Zand Ervin:

Iraq is not a country that was made through history or by the unification of a group of peoples.

The facts are that the Middle East of today was mapped out and subdivided by the British intelligence office after the fall of the Ottoman Empire.

The subdivision was made on behalf of the Arabs who had proven loyal to the British Empire. Iraq was made of bits and pieces of the lands that the British could cut away to make a country for the Sunni Hashemite tribal leader Ibn Ghazi who became the first king of Iraq.

Kurdistan was a piece of Iran, as the Kurds, the ancient Medes of Iranian origin, had for thousands of years been occupied by the Ottoman Turks. The Sunni part was a section of ancient Syria and the eastern part was taken from embattled Iran as Iran’s western border was the Tigris River. All this subdivision was done for the benefit of the British Empire, disregarding the interests of the people that they threw into one border.

Iraq was created in November of 1920. It was under  British control until 1932, but as soon as it became independent the government of King Ghazi suffered an attempted coup d’ etat by one of his own military officers in 1933. The instability of the country brought about the reoccupation of Iraq by the British government in 1941 to secure their interests in the oil fields. The British ended the occupation at the request of the new king in 1947.

In 1958, another Sunni general, Abd Al Ghasem, carried out a bloody coup against the young King Faisal and took over as the president of the new Republic of Iraq but lost his life in a third coup carried out by the Baathist Hassan Al Bakr in 1968, who in turn lost his presidency and his head in 1979 to Saddam Hussein, a younger and more ruthless leader of the brutal sect of the Baath party.

Knowing the history of Iraq’s Sunnis and the coups after coups against their own during the 83 years of their rule, how can anyone, let alone Maliki, be blamed for purging the military of Sunnis and the influence of the Baath Party that continues to be a threat?

The Sunnis have been in charge of Iraq from its inception, with a wealth of oil and gas and a small population that should have had the best of everything. But they have been corrupt plunderers of the wealth in absolute dictatorships who have not even gotten along with each other, let alone with the Shias, Kurds, and or the United States.

The Baath Party founders were Pan Arabists seeking unification of Syria and Iraq. The goal is to establish the Arab Empire or Khalifat of Shaam — their name in Arabic, the Islamic government of Iraq and Shaam, the name of the region after the Islamic military took over the lands in the seventh century.

Iraqis are a mismatched nation and do not have the patriotism that a nation should have. The Kurds have been Kurds for thousands of years but Iraq has existed for only nine decades.

The Sunnis have more loyalty to their, tribes, religion, and Arabism than to a country that was created recently by the imperialists who forced them to live with people they don’t like. Unless they are the ruling power, they will refuse to cooperate.

The Shi’ites have the city of Najaf, the center of Shiaism and are connected to the Iranian Shia power. They will only die for their corner of the country and only when the Grand Ayatollah Sistani, who is Iranian, not Arab, issues the fatwa. The backing of the Iranian ruling clerics gives them enough confidence to stand on their own.

For centuries, the hierarchy of the Islamic world has been telling the people that Islam is where their loyalty should lie. Patriotism for the homeland among the Moslems, especially Arabs, is a sin. In the countries that the British intelligence created, there is no love of the homeland and therefore it is no surprise that the Iraqi soldiers fled from the scene.

It is unfortunate that the American foreign policy makers and media analysts have no knowledge of the history and culture of non-Western countries. Secretary Kerry should know the history of the land of the coup d’etat. He should know that there is no possibility of democratic coexistence in Iraq.

The responsibility for what is going on in Iraq can be traced directly back to the British government, not the United States.

Originally published at American Thinker

Second Front Opens in the Sunni-Shia War

A Syrian soldier manning a checkpoint near Damascus

A Syrian soldier manning a checkpoint near Damascus

BY JONATHAN SPYER:

The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) organization swept into the city of Mosul in western Iraq last week.  No one has any right to be surprised. ‬

ISIL has held a large swath of western Iraq since January – including the city of Fallujah.  The organization was clearly planning a larger scale offensive action into Iraq. ‬

In January it had carried out a strategic withdrawal from large swaths of Idleb and Aleppo provinces in Syria. This was intended to consolidate its lines in northern Syria, so as to move fighters out toward Iraq.  ISIL controls a contiguous bloc of territory stretching from western Iraq up through eastern and northern Syria to the Turkish border. ‬

Its “Islamic State” is already an existing, if precarious fact, no longer a mere aspiration.  So, like a state at war, it moves its forces to the front where they are most needed‬.

The rapid collapse of Nouri al-Maliki’s garrison in Mosul in the face of the ISIL assault should also come as no surprise.  These forces are hollow. ‬

Saddam Hussein maintained a huge army by coercion. Shirkers and deserters could expect to be executed. But Maliki’s army consists of poorly paid conscripts and often corrupt officers.  The Shia among them in Mosul saw no reason to fight and die for what seemed to them to be Sunni, alien territory.  Sunni officers among the garrison, meanwhile, may well have been working with ISIL itself or with one of the other Sunni Islamist or nationalist formations fighting alongside them. ‬

So what will happen now?  The pattern of developing events is already clear, and much may be learned from the experience of Syria. ‬

Bashar Assad, when rebellion broke out against him in March 2011, sought to use his huge conscript army to crush it.  But the Syrian dictator rapidly found out that his supposedly 295,000-strong army was largely a fiction.  Sunni conscripts refused to engage against the rebels, and Bashar was able to make use only of certain units composed largely of members of his own Alawi sect — units such as the Republican Guard and the 4th Armored Division. ‬

How did Assad address this problem? The answer is that he didn’t — Iran did. ‬

Realizing that their Syrian ally was facing defeat because of an absence of reliable manpower, the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps stepped in to effectively create a new, sectarian military for the Assads.  In addition, Iran introduced its various regional paramilitary proxies into the Syrian battlefield. ‬

By mid-2013, the new, sectarian infantry force trained by the Quds Force and Hizballah – named the National Defense Force – was beginning to be deployed against the Syrian rebellion.  In addition, Hizballah, and Iraqi Shia volunteers of Sadrist and other loyalties began to fill the gaps in manpower for Assad. ‬

These units turned the tide of the Syrian war.  But they have brought Assad survival, not victory.  The dictator rules over only about 40% of the territory of what was once Syria.  The rest is under the control of ISIL, the Kurds, and the Sunni Arab rebels.

Read more at Gloria Center

The Al Qaeda Spring Is Here

iraq1by Daniel Greenfield:

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

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

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

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

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

Instead they would find other wars to fight.

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

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

Read more at Front page

Allen West: Netanyahu Warned of Situation in Iraq in 2011

Truth Revolt, By Daniel Mael:

Allen West, appearing on Fox News’ On The Record, said that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned of a potential vacuum that the United States would create by pulling all troops out of Iraq. “Do not zero out your forces,” West recalled Netanyahu advising. “If you do, it will create an incredible vacuum and you don’t know what will fill that vacuum.”

West then highlighted President Obama’s “political decision” saying it was “not a strategic decision by withdrawing all of our military forces.”

*****

Obama’s plan for Iraq: Let Iran deal with it, June 13. 2014, by Allen West:

While running this morning, I pondered President Obama’s words yesterday on the situation in Iraq. First of all, let me clearly state: wanting to defeat Islamic totalitarianism does not make anyone a “warmonger.” As a matter of fact, it aligns you with a long line of historical figures such as Charles “the Hammer” Martel and the Germanic and Polish Knights who stood at the gates of Vienna. So here we are in the 21st Century and echoes of the past are reverberating.

Obama declared the war in Iraq over but what he failed to realize is that there is a greater war against Islamism and Iraq was just a singular theater of operations — and of course, the enemy always has a vote.

A lack of strategic vision created a vacuum and it is now being filled. Our options are truly non-existent. When Obama states, there will be no “boots on the ground,” then there cannot be any effective air strikes coordinated as part of a ground assault. The enemy can only move forward on a couple of road networks, so it would be easy to halt their advance. But Obama says he is considering a counter-terrorism fund instead.

I have to ask, why are we denying military support to the current government of Iraq, a nation-state which we helped to form, yet we gave Islamist forces military support in Libya — and in violation of the War Powers Act?

Could it be that in “pivoting away from the Middle East” Obama intentionally sought to enable Islamist forces in the region? He sent military and materiel support to Islamists in Libya along with supporting the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt while turning his back on combating the resurgent Islamists in Iraq — talk about confusing.

Regardless, history will detail how America turned victory into defeat on the modern battlefield against Islamic terrorism. Iran already has its al-Quds force leader in Baghdad — signs of things to come. Iraq has become a satellite state of Iran and I don’t think they’re willing to see it fall. It’s part of their regional hegemony and would give them an extension from Iran to Iraq to Syria to Lebanon. And when we flee Afghanistan, Iran will seek to extend its regional dominance to the east — of course the Iranians will have to contend with Pakistan — who already has nukes.

To the north we have Turkey and its leader Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan whose efforts certainly are supportive of Islamists.

What is playing out in the Middle East — due to Obama’s retreat– is a struggle for dominance in the Islamic world. It entails three major actors: the historical hegemony of Saudi Arabia, the last Islamic caliphate known as the Ottoman Empire, Turkey, and the pre-Islamic empire of Persia, today Iran. The major schism is indeed along the Sunni (Saudi Arabia and Turkey) versus Shia (Iran) lines of separation. However, they would all unite against the smaller and greater satins: Israel and America.

But there is also another key western ally that is caught up in the middle of this — a valuable friend, the Kurds. The Kurdish people are possibly the world’s largest ethnic group without a homeland — albeit with a definitive autonomy. Along with the Kurds they are the other historical Christian groups in the region the Assyrians (once a powerful empire under King Nebuchadnezzar) and the Chaldeans.

Kurdish resolve has already been demonstrated. As the Iraqi government fled Kirkuk, the Kurdish Army, the Peshmerga, took up positions and stemmed the Islamic terrorist attack. An airborne assault landing into Kurdish-held territory would be ideal in order to hit the enemy in the rear — but then again, we’ve been told no boots on the ground. But if I were in charge, I would get behind the Kurds and their efforts to secure their own state — something that would get Erdogan’s attention.

It seems the only real option for the U.S. will be to depend on Iran in order to save face in Iraq.

Now I know lots of folks would rather talk about the relationship between Beyonce’s sister and Jay-Z — including Obama — but somebody needs to be working on a regional strategic vision.

Also see:

ISIS Rampages, the Middle East Shakes

by Daniel Pipes
National Review Online
June 12, 2014

The jihadis’ takeover of Mosul on June 9 won them control of Iraq’s second-largest city, a major haul weapons, US$429 million in gold, an open path to conquer Tikrit, Samarra, and perhaps the capital city of Baghdad. The Iraqi Kurds have seized Kirkuk. This is the most important event in the Middle East since the Arab upheavals began in 2010. Here’s why:

Regional threat: The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a designated terror group, is in a position to overthrow the governments of Iraq and Syria and perhaps beyond, starting with Jordan. Straddling the Iraq-Syrian border, it may both erase the nearly century-old border between these two colonial creations and end their existence as unitary states, thereby overturning the Middle Eastern political order as it emerged from World War I. Rightly does the U.S. government call ISIS “a threat to the entire region.”

 

Map with towns under the control of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Unexpected strength: These developments establish that the most extreme and violent form of Islamism, as represented by Al-Qaeda and like groups, can go beyond terrorism to form guerilla militias that conquer territory and challenge governments. In this, ISIS joins the Taliban in Afghanistan, Al-Shabaab in Somalia, Al-Nusra Front in Syria, Ansar Dine in Mali, and Boko Haram in Nigeria.

 

A suicide bomber along with Al-Qaeda’s flag (“There is no deity but God, Muhammad is the prophet of God”) and “The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria” both below and in the upper right.

Muslims hate Islamism: Thanks to the ferocious reputation ISIS has established in its capital city of Raqqa, Syria, and elsewhere, an estimated quarter of Mosul’s population of almost two million has fled. The current round of ISIS brutality will newly render Islamism obnoxious to millions more Muslims.

 

Mosul residents fleeing ISIS turned roads into parking lots.

Ultimate frustration: Therefore, however much damage the Al-Qaeda-type organizations an do to property and lives, they ultimately cannot emerge victorious (meaning, a caliph applying Islamic law in its entirety and severity) because their undiluted extremism both alienates Muslims and scares non-Muslims. In the end, tactically cautious forms of Islamism (e.g., that of Fethullah Gülen in Turkey) have the greatest potential because they appeal to a broader swath of Muslims and less worry non-Muslims.

Sunnis vs. Shi’ites: ISIS military advances directly threaten Iraq’s Shi’ite dominated, pro-Iran regime. Tehran cannot allow it to go under; accordingly, Iranian forces have already helped retake Tikrit and greater Iranian involvement has been promised. This points to a replica of the ethnic lines in Syria’s civil war, with Turkish-backed Sunni jihadis rebelling against an Iranian-backed Shi’ite-oriented central government. As in Syria, this confrontation leads to a humanitarian disaster even as it turns Islamists against each other, thereby serving Western interests.

The Mosul Dam looms: In the 1980s, Saudis and other Arabs funded a poorly constructed, quickie damon the Tigris River about 35 miles northwest of Mosul. Substandard construction means it leaks and needs constant grouting and other expensive measures to avoid cataclysmic collapse. Will ISIS hotheads continue these repair works? Or might they skimp on them, thereby threatening not just Mosul but much of inhabited Iraq with catastrophic flooding?

American failure: More clearly than ever, the success of ISIS forces exposes the over-ambitious goals of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq (and, likewise, of Afghanistan), which cost the West thousands of lives and over a trillion dollars. The fancy façade of $53 billion in American-sponsored institutions, from failed hospitals to the Iraqi National Symphony, have been exposed as the fiasco they are. ISIS soldiers standing triumphant atop U.S.-supplied military equipment brings home the folly of once-high American hopes for “a stable, democratic, and prosperous Iraq.”

Government of Iraq security shed their uniforms to escape ISIS.

Republicans: Republicans unfairly blame the ISIS victories on Barack Obama: no, George W. Bush made the commitment to remake Iraq and he signed the “Status of Forces Agreement” in 2008 that terminated the American military presence in Iraq at the close of 2011. For the Republican Party to move progress in foreign policy, it must acknowledge these errors and learn from them, not avoid them by heaping blame on Obama.

Democrats: The execution of Osama bin Laden three years ago was an important symbolic step of vengeance. But it made almost no difference operationally and it’s time for Obama to stop crowing about Al-Qaeda being defeated. In fact, Al-Qaeda and its partners are more dangerous than ever, having moved on from terrorism to conquering territory. The well being of Americans and others depend on this reality being recognized and acted upon.

Western policy: This is basically a Middle Eastern problem and outside powers should aim to protect their own interests, not solve the Middle East’s crises. Tehran, not we, should fight ISIS.

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

ISIS Threatens to Invade Jordan, ‘Slaughter’ King Abdullah

Gatestone Institute, by Khaled Abu Toameh:

The recent victories in Iraq and Syria by the terrorists of ISIS — said to be an offshoot of al-Qaeda — have emboldened the group and its followers throughout the Middle East. Now the terrorists are planning to move their jihad not only to Jordan, but also to the Gaza Strip, Sinai and Lebanon.

Failure to act will result in the establishment in the Middle East of a dangerous extremist Islamic empire that will pose a threat to American and Western interests.

“The danger is getting closer to our bedrooms.” — Oraib al-Rantawi, Jordanian political analyst

Islamist terrorists in Iraq and Syria have begun creeping toward neighboring countries, sources close to the Islamic fundamentalists revealed this week.

The terrorists, who belong to The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria [ISIS -- known as DAESH in Arabic] and are said to be an offshoot of al-Qaeda, are planning to take their jihad to Jordan, Lebanon, the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula — after having already captured large parts of Syria and Iraq, the sources said.

The capture this week by ISIS of the cities of Mosul and Tikrit in Iraq has left many Arabs and Muslims in the region worried that their countries soon may be targeted by the terrorists, who seek to create a radical Islamist emirate in the Middle East.

According to the sources, ISIS leader Abu Baker al-Baghdadi recently discussed with his lieutenants the possibility of extending the group’s control beyond Syria and Iraq.

One of the ideas discussed envisages focusing ISIS’s efforts on Jordan, where Islamist movements already have a significant presence. Jordan was also chosen because it has shared borders with Iraq and Syria, making it easier for the terrorists to infiltrate the kingdom.

Jordanian political analyst Oraib al-Rantawi sounded alarm bells by noting that the ISIS threat to move its fight to the kingdom was real and imminent. “We in Jordan cannot afford the luxury of just waiting and monitoring,” he cautioned. “The danger is getting closer to our bedrooms. It has become a strategic danger; it is no longer a security threat from groups or cells. We must start thinking outside the box. The time has come to increase coordination and cooperation with the regimes in Baghdad and Damascus to contain the crawling of extremism and terrorism.”

The ISIS terrorists see Jordan’s Western-backed King Abdullah as an enemy of Islam and an infidel, and have publicly called for his execution. ISIS terrorists recently posted a video on YouTube in which they threatened to “slaughter” Abdullah, whom they denounced as a “tyrant.” Some of the terrorists who appeared in the video were Jordanian citizens who tore up their passports in front of the camera and vowed to launch suicide attacks inside the kingdom.

 

A Jordanian ISIS terrorist wearing a suicide bomb belt and holding his Jordanian passport declares his willingness to wage jihad in an ISIS video. (Image source: All Eyes on Syria YouTube video)

Security sources in Amman expressed deep concern over ISIS’s threats and plans to “invade” the kingdom. The sources said that King Abdullah has requested urgent military aid from the U.S. and other Western countries so that he could foil any attempt to turn Jordan into an Islamist-controlled state.

Marwan Shehadeh, an expert on Islamist groups, said he did not rule out the possibility that ISIS would target Jordan because it views the Arab regimes, including Jordan’s Hashemites, as “infidels” and “apostates” who should be fought.

The recent victories by ISIS terrorists in Iraq and Syria have emboldened the group and its followers throughout the Middle East. Now the terrorists are planning to move their jihad not only to Jordan, but also to the Gaza Strip, Sinai and Lebanon.

This is all happening under the watching eyes of the U.S. Administration and Western countries, who seem to be uncertain as to what needs to be done to stop the Islamist terrorists from invading neighboring countries.

ISIS is a threat not only to moderate Arabs and Muslims, but also to Israel, which the terrorists say is their ultimate destination. The U.S. and its Western allies need to wake up quickly and take the necessary measures to prevent the Islamist terrorists from achieving their goal.

Failure to act will result in the establishment in the Middle East of a dangerous extremist Islamist empire that will pose a threat to American and Western interests.

Turnaround: Is Saudi Arabia shifting course towards Iran?

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah (R) and his brother Prince Salman. Photo: REUTERS

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah (R) and his brother Prince Salman. Photo: REUTERS

By Jonathan Spyer:

A number of recent Saudi moves and official statements have led to speculation regarding a possible shift on the kingdom’s stance toward Iran.

The Saudis appear to be moving at least on a declarative level away from a position according to which Iranian ambitions are a threat to be resisted, toward an attempt to accommodate Teheran.

The speculation regarding a changed Saudi stance rests largely on three recent public events.

The first was the meeting last month between newly-minted Saudi ambassador to Teheran Rahman al-Shehri and former Iranian President Ali Akbar Rafsanjani.

Al-Shehri demonstrably kissed Rafsanjani on the forehead during the meeting. In addition to demonstrating the depth of the ambassador’s patriotism, this act was held by some commentators to portend a renewed Saudi determination to set relations with Iran on a new footing.

The second was the Saudi announcement of an invitation to Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to visit the kingdom.

The third element that many analysts have pointed to in asserting a change in the direction of Saudi policy is the recent replacement of Prince Bandar Bin Sultan from his position as head of the Saudi intelligence services.

Bandar had been associated with a pro-active Saudi policy in Syria, Lebanon, Bahrain and other points of Saudi-Iranian tension. His replacement by Mohamed Bin Nayef was seen as portending a less activist regional policy.

This was accompanied by the replacement of Deputy Defense Minister Salman Bin Sultan. Bin Sultan is the half brother of Bandar, and like him was associated with a policy of activist resistance to Iran’s regional advance.

These Saudi gestures should be placed in a context of clear US pressure to their Gulf clients to get ‘on board’ with Washington’s regional diplomacy, close to the center of which appears to be a desire to ‘flip’ Iran from foe to friend.

Read more at Jerusalem Post

Arabs: We Want Democracy – Like Israel

Gatestone Institute, by Khaled Abu Toameh:

“How many Arab leaders would be left if they went on trial of similar cases of bribery and corruption?” — Zuhear al-Karim, Arabic CNN.

“If Olmert were in Kuwait, his case would have been shelved and he would have received a senior position in government.” — Yasalam, Al-Aan.

“Law is above all and this is real democracy. Israel is the only real democracy in the Middle East.” — Saad Sayad, Arabic CNN.

The Tel Aviv District Court’s decision to send former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to six years in prison for corruption has prompted calls in the Arab world for endorsing Israel’s standards of accountability, transparency and justice.

Reacting to the sentencing of Olmert, many Arabs expressed hope that the day would come when their countries would learn from Israel that no one is above the law, even if he or she is a president or prime minister.

Sufian Abu Zayda, a leading Fatah official and former Palestinian Authority minister, praised the court verdict; he said it shows that in Israel, no one is above the law.

“This verdict provides further evidence that the judicial system in Israel is fully independent in the wake of the separation between the legislative, executive and judicial authorities, as well as total freedom of the media,” said Abu Zayda, who is considered an expert on Israeli affairs.[1]

The praise for Israel’s democratic system does not mean that Abu Zayda and other Arabs have become pro-Israel and are willing to recognize Israel’s right to exist.

But while they continue to hate Israel and seek its destruction, many Arabs do not hesitate to express their admiration for the independence of Israel’s judicial system.

Comments posted by Arabs and Muslims on the Internet this week revealed how eager they are for their countries to endorse Israeli democracy. Similar reactions were also published when an Israeli court sentenced former Israeli President Moshe Katzav to seven years in prison for sex-related offenses.

 

Soon to be reunited in prison? Israel’s former President Moshe Katzav (l) and former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (r) are pictured here during happier times.

Following are some of the comments posted on Arab media and social websites in response to the Olmert verdict:

  • Ali Al-Kadi: “We salute Judge David Rosen [who sentenced Olmert to prison]. We wish the Arabs had 22 judges like David Rosen!” [Al-Quds Al-Arabi][2]
  • Mohammed Akash: “O Muslims, look at the fairness of this judge and where you are. You must learn from our enemy, Israel. Long live the fair Israeli judicial system.”[Al-Quds Al-Arabi][3]
  • Manji Dalali: “This is one of the secrets behind Israel’s victory over the Arabs. We must learn from our Jewish Zionist enemy the principles of fair justice. “[Al-Quds Al-Arabi][4]
  • Ibrahim – Libya: “We Muslims are in great need of a decent judicial system to punish our thieves and corrupt leaders. May God help us.” [Al-Quds Al-Arabi][5]
  • Hassan Jamal: “I wish Arab countries do the same for their corrupt leaders. I wish the Arab people will do the same for their countries and get rid of corrupt officials, including presidents and kings.” [Al-Quds][6]
  • Mohammed: “Of course Islam is the best religion. But the regimes that claim to endorse Islam are practicing repression and corruption. Meanwhile, Israel is among the democratic countries and is better than all the Arab and Islamic countries when it comes to respecting its people and combating theft of resources.” [Al-Wasat News][7]
  • Adel: “This is the secret to Israel’s success; it has become a symbol of justice because it has made justice one of its major bases of power. We, on the other hand, are doing the opposite. We continue to cover up cases of corruption and do not do anything about them.” [Echorouk Online][8]
  • Abu Zeid: “I live in Israel and am familiar with its laws. In this state, no one is above the law.” [Al-Arabiya][9]
  • Sami Dirani: “Israel is the enemy of the Arabs…but it practices democracy – something the Arabs do not know. That is why Israel is stronger and more advanced than the Arabs, who are busy slaughtering each other. Some [Arabs] are dying of starvation, while others are swimming in pools of dollars.” [Al-Hayat][10]
  • Hani: “The hadith [prophet's sayings] states that we should seek education, even if it is in China. And I say to Muslims, ‘Learn justice even if it’s from Israel.’ I wish the day would come when our leaders would be brought to trial and have our money taken back from them.” [Assawsana][11]
  • Yasalam: “If Olmert were in Kuwait, his case would have been shelved and he would have received a senior position in government.” [Al-Aan][12]
  • Rahhal: “The Zionists have more justice than our thugs and so-called Muslims.” [Al-Aan][13]
  • Kabir al-Muhandiseen: “This is how states are built. This is the secret to Israel’s strength and steadfastness.” [Al-Aan][14]
  • Muhasabah: “In Israel, they hold their officials accountable and send them to prison, while we Arabs glorify the corrupt.” [Al-Aan][15]
  • Zuhear al-Karim: “How many Arab leaders would be left if they went on trial for similar cases of bribery and corruption?” [Arabic CNN][16]
  • Abdo Shehatah: “The Jews continue to prove, every day, that they have real democracy in this world.”[Arabic CNN][17]
  • Saad Sayad: “Law is above all and this is democracy. Israel is the only real democracy in the Middle East.”[Arabic CNN][18]

[1] http://samanews.com/ar/index.php?act=post&id=200106
[2] http://www.alquds.co.uk/?p=167721
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Ibid.
[6] http://www.alquds.com/news/article/view/id/503904
[7] http://www.alwasatnews.com/4266/news/read/885026/1.html
[8] http://www.echoroukonline.com/ara/articles/204210.html
[9] http://www.alarabiya.net/ar/arab-and-world/2014/05/13/-الفساد-يدخل-أولمرت-إلى-السجن-6-سنوات.html
[10] http://alhayat.com/Articles/2324750/السجن-ست-سنوات-لرئيس-الوزراء-الإسرائيلي-السابق-ايهود-أولمرت
[11] http://www.alwasatnews.com/4266/news/read/885026/1.html
[12] http://www.alaan.cc/pagedetails.asp?nid=187579&cid=46
[13] Ibid.
[14] Ibid.
[15] Ibid.
[16] http://arabic.cnn.com/middleeast/2014/05/15
[17] Ibid.
[18] Ibid.

ISRAEL-Cornerstone of the West

The United West, Published on May 16, 2014

In this micro-classroom video, The United West presents Mark Langfan’s amazing geopolitical analysis of Israel’s strategic security value to all Western countries! If you OBJECTIVELY view this demographic, geographic and cultural presentation you MUST conclude that Israel is not (as many try to make you think) the cause of INSTABILITY in the world, but indeed Israel is the cause of STABILITY in the world. The facts speak for themselves. Now, only if our American leaders would understand this information and develop policy based upon FACTS and not FANTASY.

Longtime U.S. ‘Allies’ Qatar, Kuwait Prime Terror Financiers

al-Thani and Haniyeh

The message the West is delivering is that once you’re an ally, you’re always an ally — even if you help our enemies.

BY RYAN MAURO:

David Cohen, the Treasury Department Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, has stated for the record what no other U.S. official would: Qatar and Kuwait, two supposed “allies” of the U.S., are facilitating Islamist terrorism and extremism.

Last month, Cohen spoke at a think tank and immediately turned to Qatar after discussing Iran’s state sponsorship of terrorism.

“Qatar, a longtime U.S. ally, has for many years openly financed Hamas, a group that continues to undermine regional stability. Press reports indicate that the Qatari government is also supporting extremist groups operating in Syria,” he said.

Qatar’s staunch backing of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas hasalienated its Arab neighbors that view them as terrorist organizations. The leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad traveled to Qatar to meet with Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal. Qatar appears to have helped heal the relationship between Iran and Hamas.

In August, 24 members of Congress confronted Qatar over its relationship with Hamas. The Qatari government subsidizes the spread of Islamism around the world, even in downtown Washington D.C.

The Qatari government is also guilty of helping Al Qaeda’s regional affiliates. Cohen pointed out that the Treasury Department sanctioned a terrorist in December named Abd al-Rahman bin Umayr al-Nu’aymi, who raises money in Qatar and channels it to Al Qaeda elements in Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Iraq.

He managed the movement of over $2 million every single month to Al Qaeda in Iraq at one point and delivered the terrorists’ messages to media outlets from 2003-2004. This means that Qatar, a U.S. “ally,” has the blood of American soldiers in Iraq on its hands.

Read more at Clarion Project

Arabs No Longer Take Obama Administration Seriously

by Khaled Abu Toameh:

The extension of the peace talks means only one thing: that Abbas will be able to use the new time given to him to try to extract further concessions from the U.S. and Israel, while all the time bearing in mind that Obama and Kerry are willing to do almost anything to avoid a situation where they are forced to admit that their efforts and initiatives in the Middle East have failed.

The communiqué issued by Arab heads of state at the end of their summit in Kuwait this week shows that the Arab countries do not hold the Obama Administration in high regard or even take it seriously.

The Arab leaders also proved once again that they do not care much about their own people, including the Palestinians.

The Arab leaders, at the end of their two-day meeting, announced their “total rejection of the call to consider Israel a Jewish state.”

This announcement came despite pressure from the Obama Administration on the Arab leaders to refrain from rejecting the demand.

A top Arab diplomat was quoted as saying that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry contacted Arab leaders on the eve of their 25th summit in Kuwait to “warn” them against rejecting Israel as a Jewish state.

Kerry, according to the diplomat, asked the Arab leaders completely to ignore the issue of Israel’s Jewishness and not to make any positive or negative reference to it in their final statement.

Kerry did not want the Arab heads of state to repeat the same “mistake” that the Arab League foreign ministers made on March 9, when they too issued a statement declaring their refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

The Arab leaders, however, decided to ignore Kerry’s warning and went on to endorse Palestinian Authority [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas’s refusal.

The Arab summit’s statement was published shortly before Kerry cut short a European tour to hold an emergency meeting with Abbas in Amman in a last-minute effort to salvage the peace process with Israel.

 

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry cut short a European tour to hold an emergency meeting with PA President Mahmoud Abbas in Amman, Jordan, pictured above on March 26, 2014. (Image source: U.S. Sate Department)

In light of the Arab summit’s announcement, all that is left for Kerry to do is to put heavy pressure on Abbas to agree to the extension of the peace talks after the April 29 deadline set by the U.S. Administration.

At the meeting in Amman, Kerry warned Abbas that failure to comply with his demand would result in U.S. sanctions against the PA, including suspending financial aid and closing the PLO diplomatic mission in Washington.

Emboldened by the Arab leaders’ backing, however, Abbas does not seem to take Kerry’s threats seriously, particularly in light of previous threats by the U.S. Administration that were never carried out.

In 2012, Abbas had also ignored U.S. threats and pressure by seeking UN recognition of a Palestinian state. The Obama Administration did not take any retaliatory measures against the PA or against Abbas himself.

Like most of the Arab leaders, Abbas apparently understands that the Obama Administration has been weakened to a point where it is no longer able to impose its will on any Arab leader.

The way things appear now, it is Abbas who is setting new conditions and coming up with new demands, evidently from a conviction that the Obama Administration has no choice but to succumb.

Abbas today seems to feel confident enough to set his own conditions for accepting Kerry’s demand to extend the peace talks.

Abbas has therefore now come up with a new requirement: that Israel release three senior Palestinians from Israeli prison: Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti, PFLP Secretary-General Ahmed Sa’dat and Gen. Fuad Shobaki. All three are serving lengthy prison sentences for their role in terrorist activities, including the assassination of Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze’evi.

The Palestinians also continue to accuse the Obama Administration of exerting heavy pressure on Abbas to soften his position and accept some of Israel’s demands, including the issue of Israel’s Jewishness. Some senior Palestinian officials in Ramallah have even accused Obama and Kerry of practicing “political and financial blackmail” against Abbas.

Abbas seems assured that Obama and Kerry are so desperate to avoid a collapse of the peace talks that they will be willing to accept anything he or the Arab leaders ask for.

The Arab summit stance on the issue of recognizing Israel as a Jewish state is a blow to the Obama Administration’s efforts to achieve a peace agreement between the Palestinian Authority and Israel.

There is a feeling among many Arabs and Palestinians that the Obama Administration has no clue as to what it wants from the Arab world. They point out that the Obama Administration has failed in its policies toward several Arab countries, especially Egypt, Libya and Syria.

Read more at Gatestone Institute

War & Peace in the Age of Obama

3333By :

Editor’s note: The following is the text to David Horowitz’s introduction of Caroline Glick at the Wednesday Morning Club.

To order Glick’s new book, The Israeli Solution: A One-State Plan for Peace in the Middle East, click here.

We live in surreal times. My privilege and pleasure today is to introduce a remarkable woman who has written an extraordinary book in which she argues that the only viable way to resolve the Middle East conflict is a “one-state solution.” I am going to let Caroline explain why that should be so, but in order to understand the magnitude of the task she has undertaken and the difficulties her solution would have to overcome, you first have to understand the surreal nature of the times we live in.

We are not long emerged from a fifty-year Cold War, which began when the Soviet Empire swallowed Eastern Europe and the Baltic states, and ended only when the United States undertook a vast rearmament, and applied enough pressure over enough years to bankrupt the Communist system and force its withdrawal from the occupation.

The Russian successor to that empire has just swallowed one of its lost treasures, a sovereign domain in Eastern Europe. The response of our commander in chief, Barack Obama, to the rape of Crimea has been to wag his finger in response, and explain to the Russian conqueror that the time for conquests has actually passed. We are all modern people now living in the 21st Century and we just don’t do things that way. Not surprisingly this pablum made no impression on Vladimir Putin.

In point of fact, Russia is a second-rate power and could have been easily dissuaded from this adventure or backed down without firing a shot. But because Barack Obama is such an embarrassingly weak leader and untrustworthy ally, Putin was able to laugh in his face, mass 100,000 troops on the Ukranian border and prepare to swallow Ukraine itself.

The leader of the free world today is a man who does not believe in the free world or in America’s role as its head. In the five years since a Norwegian committee gave him a Nobel Peace Prize for nothing, Obama’s policies of weakness and appeasement have made the world a far more dangerous place than it has been since the end of the Cold War, and possibly its beginning.

From his first day in office Obama has made it clear that he regards America as having wronged its adversaries, and its adversaries as having grievances that are justified. It is a view that is conveniently close to Putin’s own. As should by now be apparent, America’s president is a determined enabler of America’s enemies, and equally determined betrayer of her friends. In the five years since he took office he has lost the war in Iraq, giving up the military presence that thousands of Americans gave their lives to secure, while turning that benighted nation over to Iran; he has lost the war in Afghanistan by announcing his intention to lose it in advance and by forcing our troops to fight under rules of engagement that tied their hands and got them killed. He has lost Libya by conducting a unilateral, illegal and unauthorized aggression against an American ally, murdering its leader and turning its streets over to mobs of terrorists. In the course of these betrayals Obama has violated every principle he invoked as a senator to justify his attacks on George Bush’s war in Iraq. But then, Obama is a compulsive and brazen liar on matters both foreign and domestic.

In the Middle East, Obama has lost Egypt, its largest and most important nation. Until Obama intervened in its internal affairs and overthrew its pro-American president, Egypt had been an American ally for 40 years. In Egypt and throughout the Middle East, Obama and his secretaries Clinton and Kerry, have put American power and influence behind the Muslim Brotherhood an Islamic terrorist organization with attitudes indistinguishable from Hitler’s Nazi Party, except that it claims to take its direction from Allah.

The Muslim Brotherhood is the spawner of al-Qaeda, the creator of Hamas and the source of the global jihad against America and the West. Obama’s support for the Brotherhood has not only cost us our Egyptian ally, but it has opened the door for Putin’s imperial Russia to replace us as the Great Power influence in the region.

On top of these betrayals of America’s interests, Obama has systematically appeased our most deadly enemy in the region, the terrorist regime in Iran. In particular, he has conspired to insure that the Iranian mullahs, who have sworn to wipe America and Israel from the face of the earth, are successful in their drive to acquire nuclear weapons.

While giving aid and comfort to America’s mortal enemies, Obama has turned his back on the only democracy in the Middle East, and America’s most faithful and important ally. He has thrown his country’s enormous weight behind Islamic radicals whose goal – stated in so many words – is to obliterate the state of Israel and push the Jews who inhabit it into the sea. To finish the job that Hitler started.

Read more at Front Page

UAE, Saudis Lash Out at U.S. Gov’t and Orgs Supporting Islamists

UAE2BY RYAN MAURO:

The United Arab Emirates is protesting the State Department for its perceived support for a prosecuted jihadist, in a rare expression of diplomatic anger towards the U.S. Saudi Arabia is also demanding that Qatar shut down two U.S. organizations based in its territory for advancing the Muslim Brotherhood cause.

The UAE is angry over a  human rights report that criticizes it for preventing citizens from forming political parties. It mentions Ahmed al-Dakki, also known as Hassan al-Diqqi, who formed a party named Ummah. The term refers to the collective body of Muslims around the world.

The State Department did not mention that the UAE justified its ban on al-Dakki’s party by pointing out that he leads an Islamist fighting force in Syria. He is a regional officer for the Ummah Conference and was seen in a video asking Muslims to donate weapons, money and fighters.

Al-Dakki works with Abdul Rahman Omeir al-Naimi, another member of his political party. In December, the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned him because he’s part of the Al-Qaeda network.

He transferred at least $250,000 to Al-Shabaab (Al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Somalia) and around $600,000 to Al-Qaeda in Syria. At one point, he was transferring $2 million every single month to Al-Qaeda in Iraq. He also financed Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (its Yemen affiliate) and Asbat al-Ansar (an affiliate in Lebanon).

Read more at Clarion Project

 

Shifting Mideast Sands Reveal New Alliances

shifting.sands.middle.eastBy Jonathan Spyer:

A number of events in recent weeks cast light on the current intersecting lines of conflict in the Middle East. They reflect a region in flux, in which new bonds are being formed, and old ones torn asunder.

But amid the confusion, a new topography is emerging.

This was the month in which a long-existent split in the Sunni Arab world turned into a gaping fissure. On March 5th, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates announced that they were withdrawing their ambassadors from the Emirate of Qatar.

This decision was clearly a response to Qatar’s continued support and sponsorship of the Muslim Brotherhood movement. This movement is regarded as a subversive threat by the three Gulf states. They are worried by the Brotherhood’s capacity for internal subversion.

Qatar, by contrast, affords generous subsidies to its tiny citizen body, and has little to fear from potential internal unrest.  It continues to support the Brotherhood and to domicile key leaders of the Egyptian branch of the movement. The latter is now engaged in an insurgency against the Egyptian authorities.

Saudi patience was at an end. The removal of the ambassadors reflects this.

On March 7th, Saudi Arabia made the additional move of declaring the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization.  A Saudi researcher and former general, Dr. Anwar Eshki, was quoted on the Now Lebanon website as asserting that the decision was made with particular focus on the Egyptian Brotherhood, which is involved in “terrorist” activity.

In the same week, an Egyptian court banned all activities by the Hamas organization in Egypt, and referred to the movement as a “terrorist organization.”

The proximity of these announcements reflects the very close emergent alliance between Saudi Arabia and the de facto Sisi regime in Egypt, which is likely to become de jure following presidential elections later this year.

This alliance is the core component of an emergent dispensation in the Sunni Arab world which also includes UAE, Bahrain and Jordan, as well as the fragile West Bank Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas.

This alliance is set to emerge as the strongest element among the Sunni Arabs.

It is opposed both to the Iran-led, mainly Shia “resistance” bloc, and to what is left of the Qatar/Muslim Brotherhood alliance that just a short year ago was proclaiming itself the wave of the future in the Middle East.

The Hamas authority in Gaza has no buy into the new Saudi-Sisi bloc.  Formerly aligned with Iran, it put its bets on the Qatar/Muslim Brotherhood axis.

But this putative bloc was fatally damaged by the Sisi coup in Egypt of July 3rd, 2013, and by the departure of the Muslim Brotherhood-related Nahda party in Tunisia.

Hamas appears to be trying to find its way back to the Iranians.  Gaza’s “foreign minister” Mahmoud al Zahar and Iran’s parliament spokesman Ali Larijani both made statements this week suggesting that relations had returned to normal between Teheran and Hamas.

It is not clear what this actually means.  But Iranian funding to Hamas in Gaza was slashed following the latter’s failure to offer support to the Iranian client regime in Damascus. It is unlikely that Iran has either forgotten or forgiven.  Al-Zahar, in any case, is among those Hamas officials most closely supportive of Iran and his statements should not be taken as representing the movement as a whole.

Read more at PJ Media

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