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

lk-450x337by Daniel Greenfield:

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

It was all Bush’s fault.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at Front Page

The Al Qaeda Spring Is Here

iraq1by Daniel Greenfield:

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

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

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

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

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

Instead they would find other wars to fight.

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

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

Read more at Front page

The Mirage of Political Islam

Miguel Montaner

Miguel Montaner

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

By 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at New York Times

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

Robert Spencer Defines the War Against Jihad

976_largeby Andrew E. Harrod:

“America is at war; and has been since at least September 11, 2001, but no one is really sure who with,” Robert Spencer writes in his recently released Arab Winter Comes to America: The Truth about the War We’re In. Thankfully, Spencer’s important book makes a significant contribution in clarifying this catastrophic confusion.

That “Islam is a fundamentally peaceful religion” no different from…other faiths” in multicultural ecumenism, Spencer observes, forms a Western policy “cornerstone” and “cherished dogma of today’s political correct elites.” Yet President George W. Bush’s claim before Congress on Sept. 20, 2001, that al-Qaida terrorists “practice a fringe form of Islamic extremism” does not “become any truer for being oft repeated.”

“[U]unlike other modern faiths, Islam is a political religion” whose “comprehensiveness is often a matter for boasting among Islamic apologists” in comparison to “Christianity’s vague set of moral precepts,” Spencer writes. Such detail includes a “denial of basic rights…integral” to Islamic law despite attempted Muslim portrayals of sharia as “so amorphous as to defy characterization.” Islam’s death penalty for apostasy, for example, gives it something in common with cults, making leaving in one piece difficult.

Sharia interpretations “more compatible with Western pluralism and liberal democracy…have never gained any significant traction among Muslims.” However undesirable, centuries-old Islamic orthodoxy invariably and unsurprisingly has controlling legal authority.

“Jihad” in particular, “behind all the obfuscation and denial, is in fact primarily an Islamic doctrine of warfare,” drawn from the Qur’an’s “open-ended license to wage war against and plunder non-Muslims.” Despite various references to righteousness (e. g. Sura 5:8), the “Qur’an doesn’t teach that all are equal in dignity.” Rather, Islamic conversion can mean rejecting “nation and people as infidel” in favor of a “new loyalty instead to the supranational Islamic umma.”

Spencer offers plenty of examples, including Fort Hood terrorist Major Nidal Hasanhad a “broad tradition within Islamic teaching” justifying his killings with “numerous proponents.” Although “not the only understanding of Islam…even the larger number of Muslims who do not adhere to it have failed to work in any effective way to rein it in.” Accordingly, “Al Qaeda and other groups like it make recruits among peaceful Muslims” as “exponents of true and authentic Islam.” Unfortunately, faith fundamentals in Islam do not necessarily favor freedom over sectarian force.

Indeed, Muslim groups have no programs demonstrating “how the true Islam eschews violence against and hatred of unbelievers,” Spencer criticizes. Similarly, “over twelve years” after 9/11, no “sincere and effective effort within mosques to expose and report those who hold to the beliefs that led to those attacks” has developed. Groups like the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) “are ready with the condemnations after arrests and explosions, but why wait passively?” Muslim communities must “demonstrate (not just enunciate) their opposition to jihad terror Islamic supremacism,” Spencer demands. Any silent Muslim majority in an oft-proclaimed “religion of peace” must preemptively speak out, both for its own credibility’s sake and for the wider community’s security.

A “Jihad against Talking about Jihad” by Muslim groups and others, meanwhile, brands as an “irrational hatred of Muslims and Islam” any “resistance to jihad” in attempts at “demoralization and marginalization.” Objective discussion of Islam’s less savory aspects has become the “third rail of American public discourse.” Here “tuxedoed barbarians” like the writer Reza Aslan, an Islamic Republic of Iran apologist, play a role, along with leading officials like President Barack Obama, who pledged in his June 4, 2009, Cairo address “to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam.” Obama “didn’t explain where in the Constitution he had found this awesome new responsibility,” Spencer says.

Read more at IPT

Continuing to Low-ball Jihadis in Syria Will Come Back to Bite Us

 

Syrian rebels rest during clashes with the nation's military troops in Aleppo, Syria, on Nov. 15, 2012. (Associated Press)

Syrian rebels rest during clashes with the nation’s military troops in Aleppo, Syria, on Nov. 15, 2012. (Associated Press)

By Kyle Shideler:

The mainstream media and the Obama Administration continue to minimize the extent of jihadi influence in Syria, even while ostensibly reporting on the threat possessed by battle-hardened foreign fighters returning from the civil war there.

In his column, “A nightmare group in Syria could target the U.S.”, David Ignatius cites U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, where Clapper caps the number of extremists operating in Syria at “26,000.”

The Administration has held steady at 26,000 “extremists” (an ill-defined largely meaningless term), even as Syria-watchers have put the number of self-described jihadists and those seeking to establish an Islamic state, or implement shariah, much higher.  As far back as September of last year, reports indicated that “nearly half” of the Syrian opposition are “Islamist” in disposition.

And there are some who would whittle down the 26,000 “extremists”  even lower if they could get away with it.  In January, in the Council on Foreign Relation’s online magazine Foreign Affairs, in an article subtitled, “An Al Qaeda-linked Group Worth Befriending” Michael Doran, William McCants, and Clint Watts made the case for working with Ahr Al-Sham, an Islamist militia at the time led by the now deceased Al Qaeda member Khalid Al-Suri. Ahr Al-Sham is a dominant part of the Islamic Front faction and routinely fights alongside the Al Nusra Front. The Islamic Front was cited as a partner worth working with by the head of the Syrian Emergency Task Force Mouaz Moustafa. Links have been reported between the SETF and the Global Muslim Brotherhood. Because of the reportedly close links between SETF and the State Department, it’s not surprising that the U.S. did in fact attempt to reach out to the Islamic Front, only to be rebuffed.

This tendency to define jihadists and ties to terrorism downward will come back to bite us.

Combine the Obama Administration decision to loosened rules to permit those who have engaged in “limited material support” for terrorism into the country, with revelations by Sen. Chuck Grassley of a DHS “Hands off” list for those with known terrorism ties, and the ever present tendency to define threats down to the lowest possible common denominator, and we have a recipe for disaster.

However the Syrian civil war ends, it is not  hard to imagine that we may see lining up on our borders asylum seekers confidently informing Immigration agents, “Oh, no, I’m not an extremist. I provided limited material support for the AL-Qaeda-linked group that even the State Department wanted to befriend.”

How the Arab Spring Unleashed Al Qaeda

jihg-450x304

The Arab Spring did to the Middle East what WWI did to Russia and Eastern Europe. Al Qaeda, like the Bolsheviks, plans to pick up the pieces. The new Soviet Union may be an Islamic state that stretches across the Middle East while the Salafi preachers and thugs terrorizing Europe play the role of Communist infiltrators in the West. And another world war may be here before we even know it.

By Daniel Greenfield:

Open up a national newspaper and flip to the stories about the Middle East. The daily toll of bombings and shootings, starving refugees and demolished cities have little resemblance to the cheerful stories about the transformation of the Middle East that were running during the boom days of the Arab Spring.

There isn’t much mention of the Arab Spring anymore. The same media outlets that were predicting that the Middle East was about to turn into Europe have fallen silent. They are eager to forget their own lies.

But it was the Arab Spring that unleashed this horror. The Arab Spring was not an outburst of popular democratic sentiment. It was a power struggle of a clearly sectarian nature. It was the rise of Sunni Islam under the black and white Salafist flags.

Obama and his people favored takeovers by “moderate” Salafi groups that appeared to accept Western ideas such as democracy and modernization. The “moderate” Salafis however worked closely with their “immoderate” Salafi cousins playing a game of Good Salafi and Bad Salafi with America.

The “moderate” Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt opened the door for Al Qaeda in the Sinai. Its Syrian branch, along with other “moderate” Salafist militias in the Free Syrian Army, fought alongside the Al-Nusra Front which was then Al Qaeda in Syria.

The takeovers led to civil war in Egypt and Syria and escalated a sectarian regional conflict between Sunnis and Shiites. The biggest beneficiary of the Arab Spring was Al Qaeda in Iraq.

Al Qaeda in Iraq had defined itself by the killing of Shiites. Its murder of Americans took second place to its fanatical hatred of Shiites. Its killing sprees had alienated other Muslims at a time when America was seen as the central enemy. But the Arab Spring had made the Islamic terrorist group relevant again.

Iraq’s government tilted toward its Shiite roots as the Arab Spring split the region down the middle creating no room for middle ground. Peace in Iraq had depended on locking Al Qaeda out with a political alliance between Sunnis and Shiites. Bush had made that alliance temporarily work. Obama, who had repeatedly denounced the Iraq Surge, washed his hands of it as quickly as he could.

The Arab Spring helped kill what was left of that alliance as Sunni-Shiite civil wars moved the arc of history in the direction that had been carved out by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi during the Iraq War. Al Qaeda in Iraq was no longer seen as a bunch of homicidal lunatics. They had become visionaries.

The media had chosen to wipe Al Qaeda in Iraq out of the headlines after Obama’s victory. The withdrawal cemented the silence.

When Obama claimed that he needed to fight Al Qaeda in Afghanistan where it was hardly a presence, instead of in Iraq where it was still a menace; they didn’t ask many questions. Buried in the news stories were reports that Obama knew that Al Qaeda had ceased to be a major player in Afghanistan.

If Obama had been a Republican, there is no doubt that those stories would have turned into a major issue and the issue into a narrative about a president who lied about a war.

But Obama was a Democrat and those stories and the stories about Al Qaeda in Iraq escalating its attacks remained no more than background noise. Iraq was yesterday’s news. Tomorrow’s news was the Cairo speech and the Arab Spring. Terrorism was over. The tyrants were falling. A new wave of change was coming. And the region would never be the same.

Change did indeed come.

The Arab Spring split the region more sharply than ever across Shiite and Sunni lines. Syria became the fault line in the bloody end of the Arab Spring. And Al Qaeda made its biggest power play yet.

Mali showed that Afghanistan was yesterday’s news. Al Qaeda franchises no longer needed to rely on a Taliban to carve out a territory for their training camps. They could become their own Taliban and seize an entire country.

It took the French to stop them in Mali after the disastrous Libyan War; the most destructive effort at implementing the Arab Spring. But the question is who will stop Al Qaeda in Syria?

The various branches of Al Qaeda and their allies may win in Syria. And Syria is not Afghanistan. It has huge stockpiles of advanced weapons, dwarfing the Gaddafi stockpiles that have already caused a great deal of damage, not to mention the chemical and biological weapons that it will likely hold on to despite the brokered disarmament deal. Syria even had an infant nuclear program.

Al Qaeda in Iraq, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, now envisions a vast territory under its rule. It is surging in Syria and Iraq and has reached into Lebanon to strike at Hezbollah. There is little to mourn about Sunni and Shiite terrorist groups killing each other, but it would be wishful thinking to imagine that a vastly expanded Al Qaeda with access to advanced weaponry and cities full of manpower will not eventually direct that weaponry at the United States.

Read  more at Front Page

 

Egypt Buries the Brotherhood

Protest against President Mohamed Morsi in Cairo, Egyptby :

It’s not unusual for the United States and a Muslim country to be on the opposite sides of the War on Terror. It is unusual for a Muslim country to take a stand against terrorism while the United States backs the right of a terrorist group to burn churches, torture opposition members and maintain control of a country with its own nuclear program.

But that’s the strange situation in what Egypt’s public prosecutor has declared “the biggest case of conspiracy in the country’s history.”

The media assumes that the charges accusing Muslim Brotherhood leaders of conspiring with Hamas and Hezbollah, passing state secrets to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and plotting to help foreign terrorists kill Egyptian soldiers is a show being put on for Western audiences. They couldn’t be more wrong.

This isn’t about winning international PR points. It’s about destroying the credibility of the Brotherhood in the eyes of Egyptians and burying it along with what’s left of the Arab Spring in the waters of the Nile.

Obama assumed that cuts to military aid would force Egypt to restore the Muslim Brotherhood to power. He was wrong and the latest round of criminal charges show just how wrong he was.

The charges that the Muslim Brotherhood conspired with Hamas and Hezbollah to unleash a wave of terror against Egypt go to the heart of this struggle between the Egyptian nationalism of the military and the Islamic transnationalism of the Muslim Brotherhood. They paint the Muslim Brotherhood as not merely corrupt or abusive, the way that many tyrannies are, but as a foreign subversive element.

These aren’t merely criminal charges. They are accusations of treason.

There are two narratives of the Arab Spring. In one of them, the people rose up against the tyrants.  In the other an international conspiracy of Western and Muslim countries collaborated with the Muslim Brotherhood to take over Arab countries.

To destroy the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the state has to do more than accuse Morsi of abuses of power; it has to show that he and his organization were illegitimate because they were Un-Egyptian.

That will prove that the differences between Mubarak and Morsi aren’t incidental. Mubarak may have been thuggish and corrupt, but he was an Egyptian patriot. Morsi will be charged with being an Iranian traitor who conspired to take away the Sinai and turn it over to the terrorist proxies of a Shiite state.

Read more at Front Page

 

Esman: Women are “Biggest Losers” in Arab Spring

Swiss Member of Parliament Oskar Freysinger has had Enough of Islam: “It Gnaws at the Pillars of our System of Laws”

 oskar-freysingerBy :

Oskar Freysinger, a member of the Swiss Parliament, gave a passionate speech filled with truth that no politician in Washington, DC has yet to give from the floor of Congress.

“Europe is an idea,” Freysinger said, “a cultural landscape, an intellectual space shaped by history. Europe is the cradle of the modern constitutional democracy, the treasure-house of opinion and expression….or at least it used to be that, until recently.”

He says this history of Europe has been put into jeopardy by the “political elite bend(ing) their necks before a certain religious dogma which is completely alien to our intellectual history, our values and rule of law.”

Obviously, Freysinger was speaking about nothing more than Islam. To this assertion, he received thunderous applause.

“This dogma is gnawing away at the pillars of our system of laws, wherever it is granted the space to do so,” he continued. “This dogma demands total obedience from its followers.”

So what does Mr. Freysinger say about such people with those “values”?
Read more at Freedom Outpost

Georgetown University’s One-Way Street of Christian-Muslim Understanding

Georgetown_University_-381Juicy Ecumenism, December 4, 2013, by  (@AEHarrod)

The “more strongly you are committed to your faith,” emerging church leader Brian McLaren stated at Georgetown University on November 21, 2013, the “more tolerant and compassionate you are.”  McLaren’s equivalency among all faiths fit perfectly into the conference “Muslim-Christian Relations in the 21st Century:  Challenges & Opportunities,” a day-long, one-sided presentation of Islam as a pacific faith unjustly maligned by Christians and others.

Presented by Georgetown’s Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding (ACMCU) on the occasion of its 20th anniversary, the conference has already produced considerable controversy.  The keynote address by popular British religion writer Karen Armstrong, for example, unconvincingly argued that Al Qaeda’s September 11, 2001, attacks resulted from Muslim grievances inflicted by the West in general and the British Empire in particular.  Outside of the conference’s estimated 100 attendees at Georgetown’s Copley Hall, Armstrong’s arguments have met with universal revulsion, if comments upon my previously published analysis are any indication (see here and here, for example).

A panel moderated by Islam scholar Natana J. DeLong-Bas, meanwhile, preceded Armstrong.  As a moderator, DeLong-Bas did not have much too say, which was probably just as well, as research has revealed her to the unsuspecting at the conference and elsewhere as an Islamism apologist and 9/11 truther.  Among other things, she has doubted the role of Osama bin Laden in 9/11 and has praised the “democracy” efforts of Hamas.

Armstrong and DeLong-Bas were perhaps predictable given the tone set at the conference’s morning introduction by ACMCU’s director, the frequent Islamism apologist and internationally renowned Islam scholar John Esposito.  Along with the “Arab Spring” becoming “potentially the Arab Winter” and “Sunni-Shia sectarianism,” Armstrong’s fellow United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) High Level Group member Esposito identified the “rise of Islamophobia” as a global issue facing Islam.  McLaren likewise during the conference’s final panel spoke of Islam substituting for Communism after the Cold War’s end had for many Americans “take[n] away their enemy” and identity “crutch.”

Participants on “The Arab Uprisings, Islamic Movements & the Future of Democracy” panel, meanwhile, seemed mystified by any threat perception within Islam.  Emad Shahin, for example, judged concerns about Islam’s compatibility with democracy a “useless question.”  According to Shahin, anyone, not just the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), could have “made mistakes” ruling Egypt following the downfall of its dictator Hosni Mubarak.  Opponents of deposed Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi from the MB “should have respected the process” and the Arab Spring’s “people power.”

Shahin’s fellow panelist, the late addition Radwan Masmoudi from the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID), also decried the “myth that Islam and democracy are not compatible.”  As CSID’s president, Masmoudi claimed that his organization had produced hundreds of papers demonstrating that Islamic faith and freedom could coexist, a claim Masmoudi saw borne out in the Arab Spring.  “We are going to succeed” with an Islam-democracy combination, Masmoudi confidently predicted.

Like Shahin, Masmoudi considered it “not fair” to judge Egypt’s MB rule a failure in light of the “long process to build democracy” cut short after fewer than two years.  While Masmoudi assessed post-Saddam Hussein Iraq as a “mess,” he nonetheless considered Middle East democracy promotion under George W. Bush to have been “great.”  “Foreign intervention” in Tunisia and Egypt, meanwhile, from Western countries “afraid of democracy” had repeated America’s historic “mistake” of supporting Middle East dictators, “one of the main reasons for extremism.”  By contrast, “good relations with the Arab and Muslim world demands democracy.”

Fears of countries like Egypt emulating Iran’s theocratic dictatorship received little consideration from Masmoudi.  United States Secretary of State John Kerry’s determination that Egypt’s “Muslim Brotherhood stole democracy” baffled Masmoudi.  He correspondingly criticized a supposed American “green light” for the Egyptian military’s July 2013 ouster of Morsi, even though most evidence indicates that President Barak Obama opposed Morsi’s removal.

Rather than question any “faith in the people” in majority-Muslim societies, Masmoudi saw recurring elections as the means of controlling any Muslim political malfeasance.  Thereby Masmoudi discussed “Islamism” as a “most misunderstood word,” for, according to him, variants of Islamism existed, not all of which were malignant.  As a practical matter, Masmoudi considered impossible the political exclusion of Islamists, estimated by him at about 30-40% of Arab Spring country populations.

Contrasting with this positive presentation of Islam, leftist evangelical Richard Cizek offered comments critical of American evangelicals while sharing the stage with Armstrong.  Once the National Association of Evangelicals’ (NAE) top staffer as Vice President for Governmental affairs, Cizek left NAE in 2008 after his support for same-sex civil unions as well as climate change theories and the recently elected Obama caused uproar in evangelical circles.  Now heading the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good with funding from leftwing atheist billionaire George Soros, Cizek at Copley Hall criticized evangelical “subcultural bubbles.”  Here prevailed a “black helicopters” view of the United Nations and complaints about an “alleged intrusion” upon religious freedom by the Obama Administration’s contraception mandate.

With respect to evangelical relations with Islam, Cizek had several complaints.  Christian Zionism, for example, supported the “theft of Palestinian land.”  Cizek also critically cited a figure according to which 60% of evangelicals rejected the assertion that Western civilization had a significant Islamic heritage.

Cizek also noted his meeting with fellow evangelical James Dobson at the National Cathedral following 9/11.  In contrast to Dobson’s understanding of 9/11 as jihadist aggression, Cizek, like Armstrong, seemed to express understanding for Al Qaeda’s motives.  Cizek referenced American military personnel stationed on Saudi Arabian soil at the time of 9/11 and an Arab-Israeli conflict having claimed 4 million dead and wounded, according to Cizek.

Yet most estimates of Arab and Jewish casualties since fighting began during Zionist settlement of the British Palestine Mandate are far lower.  One accounting lists 115,000 dead and 102,000 wounded among civilians and soldiers.  In a ranking of conflicts with over 10,000 fatalities since 1950, the Arab-Israeli conflict occupies 49th place.  Cizek also did not explain why the defensive deployment of American forces to Saudi Arabia is any less justified than similar American deployments around the world.

Appearing with Masmoudi and Shahin, Georgetown professor Yvonne Haddad offered the one indication during the conference that all was not well with Islam.  Haddad described a “panic” among the Middle East’s Christians as a “vanishing minority” who resented Muslim-majority domination expressed in terms for non-Muslim monotheists like “dhimmis.”  In Syria there were “targeted killing of Christians,” something Haddad ascribed to rebel anger at Christian unwillingness to fight the Bashar Assad regime and not general Islamist persecution of non-Muslims.  “Bush’s Spring” overthrowing Saddam Hussein in Iraq had also unleashed Islamist furies and Christian flight.

Yet Haddad’s assessments of Arab Christians’ friends and foes were surprising.  Discussing transient Western interventions in the Middle East going back to the Crusades that had always ultimately weakened Christian communities there, Haddad asserted that Arab Christians did not want outside rescuers.  Denominational disputes with Western evangelists had also antagonized Arab Christians in the past.

Israel is also no friend of Christians in Haddad’s view.  One evangelical group’s online map of Christian persecution in the Middle East received her criticism for omitting Israel.  Yet Israel is for Haddad a country that places Arab Christians and Muslims in “concentration camps,” an increasingly popular slander of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories.  Christian Arab population statistics tell a different story, however, as indicated by me in a question to Haddad.  In contrast to the Christian exodus from the Middle East noted by her, Christians in Israel have grown in number from 34,000 in 1949 to 125,000 in 2011.  Jordanian rule over East Jerusalem from 1949 to 1967, meanwhile, saw the Christians there decline from 25,000 to fewer than 13,000.

Appearing on DeLong-Bas’ morning panel, South Africa’s ambassador to the United States, Ebrahim Rasool, had called upon his audience “to embrace shared space” in an “exciting world of multiculturalism.”  In such a world the existence of a “mosque in Cape Town” reciprocally demanded the allowance of a “church in Saudi Arabia.”  This new paradigm also involved a “move away from competitive faith to cooperative faith” amidst a “declining carcass” of believers in an increasingly secularized world.

Interfaith harmony invocations, though, rang hollow at this morally inverted conference.  While Islamism’s uniformly aggressive and authoritarian aspects went unexamined, conference panelists attributed prejudice and persecution almost exclusively to Christians and Jews.  Yet concerns about Muslim-majority societies in the Arab Spring and elsewhere undergoing something other than Rasool’s described “surge for freedom” are hardly “useless,” pace Shahin.  Nor does religious devotion always have a direct relationship with human decency, as Esposito’s reference to Sunni-Shia sectarianism indicates contrary to McLaren’s assertion.

Peace among peoples can only result from considered respect for principles such as human equality, something requiring rigorous intellectual inquiry and not the ACMCU’s Islamophile illusions.  Rasool’s claim, for example, that Muslims have “no monopoly” upon a “fundamentalist-extremist mindset” given Israeli “fundamentalism” and Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher’s “economic fundamentalism” deserves closer scrutiny.  Rasool’s assertion with respect to Jews in the Third Reich and 1948 Israeli War for Independence Palestinian refugees that “we all carry the burdens of victimhood” is also suspect.  Such examination necessary for Christian-Muslim or any other understanding, however, is unlikely ever to occur at Georgetown’s ACMCU.

 

Andrew E. Harrod, PhD, JD, Esq. is the author of over 100 articles online and in print concerning various political, religious, and international relations topics. 

Islamists Take Nose Dive in 2013 Issue of “Muslim 500″

Muslim 500

The Islamist ascent in the first wave of the Arab Spring triggered a movement against the Muslim Brotherhood in the second wave.

BY RYAN MAURO:

The second wave of the Arab Spring defined the Muslim world in 2013. The Islamist ascent in the first wave triggered a movement against the Muslim Brotherhood in the second wave. The power shift’s importance is apparent in the rankings in this year’s issue ofThe Muslim 500, an annual publication compiled by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre in Amman, Jordan which ranks the most influential Muslims worldwide.

Last year, seven of the top 10 Muslims ranked by the publication were Islamists, with Saudi King Abdullah and Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan topping the list. This year, the number has fallen to four. Overall, this year’s tally is very negative for the Muslim Brotherhood and very positive for Muslim leaders less hostile to the West.

The opening of the issue includes a blistering critique of the Brotherhood by Professor S. Abdallah Schleifer, a prominent Middle East expert. Notably, he talks about a backlash against the Islamists.

“So if a Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt stood in the beginning of 2013 as the highest expression of the tide of Islamism, it is also possible that the overthrow of that government … may be a sign that this Islamist tidal wave is beginning to recede,” Professor Schleifer writes.

The Muslim 500 identifies three ideological camps in the Muslim world:

The first and largest one is “Traditional Islam” or “Orthodox Islam” and is based on scholarly consensus. The publication says that this represents 96% of the Muslim world and (supposedly) is not politicized. All of the Islamic schools of jurisprudence are included in this category.

This camp includes Islamists like the Saudi King and non-Islamists like the Jordanian King.

The second camp is “Islamic Fundamentalism, ” which is highly politicized and explicitly anti-Western. The fundamentalists describe themselves as “reformers” and are very aggressive. The Muslim Brotherhood, Salafists/Wahhabists and Revolutionary Shiites are included in this category.

The publication says this camp represents 3% of the Muslim world.

The third and smallest camp is “Islamic Modernism.” Adherents consider themselves to be “reformers” but want Islam to become more pro-Western and “progressive.”

In the words of The Muslim 500, “this subdivision contextualized Islamic ideology for the times—emphasizing the need for religion to evolve with Western advances.” It says:

“They thus called for a complete overhaul of Islam, including—or rather, in particular—Islamic law (sharia) and doctrine (aqida). Islamic modernism remains popularly an object of derision and ridicule, and is scorned by traditional Muslims and fundamentalists alike.”

According to the publication, this camp only represents 1% of the Muslim world. The most influential modernist is Queen Abdullah of Jordan. She took 32nd place, whereas last year she was in 37th.

The second most influential modernist is Professor Dr. M. Din Syamsuddin, the chairman of the Muhammadiyya organization in Indonesia. The organization has 35 million members. He is in 33rdplace. He was in 39th last year.

It could be argued that the Indonesian organization Nahdlatul Ulamafalls into this category. Its leader, KH Said Aqil Siradj, is now ranked as the 15th most influential Muslim. He came in 19th last year.

This year’s most influential Muslim is Dr. Sheikh Ahmed Muhammad al-Tayeb, the Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar University in Egypt. He is a traditionalist opponent of the Muslim Brotherhood who endorsed the Egyptian military’s overthrow of President Morsi.

Read more at Clarion Project

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

Egypt Ranked Worst Arab Country for Women

women in egypt

The rights of Egyptian women post-Arab Spring have so deteriorated that they are even worse than in Saudi Arabia.

By Clarion Project:

The Arab Spring in Egypt has significantly worsened women’s rights in Egypt, according to recent research published by the Thomas Reuters Foundation.

Egypt ranked last place – even behind Saudi Arabia –in a polling of 22 Arab countries’ treatment of women. Contributing factors to the ranking included the overwhelming abundance of sexual violence and harassment of Egyptian women, which has skyrocketed since the revolution that overthrew the Mubarak government.

In addition, since the revolution, there has been a significant drop in women representatives in the Egyptian parliament, down from 12 percent representation during the Mubarak era (due to legal quotas) to the current 2 percent since the Islamists takeover.  Other discriminatory policies as well as a significant increase in human trafficking contributed to the ranking.

In addition, according to figures provided by UNICEF, 27.2 million women in Egypt are victims of female genital mutilation, the largest number of women who have been mutilated in any single country in the world.

Publication of the research comes at a particularly inauspicious time for Egypt. Representatives of the country are scheduled to appear this Thursday before a UN human rights body in Geneva, the first time since the 2011 revolution. UN committee members are expected to grill Egypt’s representatives on how the revolution has made the lives of women worse in the country.

Read more

 

We Can Bankrupt the Global Jihad

BANKRUPT-THIRD-JIHADCitizen Warrior:

After the “Arab Spring,” Saudi Arabia gave its citizens a raise. Saudis citizens don’t pay income taxes. Most of them don’t even work. The Saudi government pays them, and to avoid the fate of the leaders in Egypt, Libya and elsewhere, the Saudis increased their citizens’ pay and pensions. They committed future funds to these payoffs.

This has presented the counterjihad movement an opportunity to strike a decisive blow into the heart of the global jihad.

Jihadist projects are funded largely through Saudi Arabia and Iran, two OPEC nations. The Taliban is a Saudi oil-money project, for example. So is the Muslim Brotherhood and the OIC. Hezbollah is an Iranian oil-money project.

OPEC is a cartel formed of primarily Islamic countries. OPEC was founded for the purpose of raising world oil prices. Jihadist activities around the world have been on the rise because jihadist funding has been on the rise. The source of that funding is oil profits, which have been on the rise.

What keeps the whole thing functioning is oil’s monopoly over the most important commodity on earth — transportation fuel.

In the 1980’s, because the rising cost of oil, many new programs were started to create a freer fuel market. Brazil launched its ambitious ethanol program, many new ethanol distilleries were built in America, Roberta Nichols created a massive methanol experiment in California, etc. But in the mid-80’s, OPEC flooded the world market with oil in order to drop world oil prices, which made all of these potentially-competitive fuels no longer competitive on price, which crashed Brazil’s program, put half the U.S. ethanol facilities into bankruptcy, and prompted California to abandon its methanol experiment.

It was a classic monopolist move. It’s the oldest trick in the monopolist’s book: Drop your price to send the competition into bankruptcy.

Once their competitors were sufficiently crippled, OPEC started raising the world oil price again.

But competing fuels have recently begun to reappear. Brazil permanently changed to flex fuel vehicles (rather than ethanol-only vehicles) for example, which has protected them from OPEC’s manipulations (when oil prices drop, drivers buy gasoline; when oil prices rise, drivers buy ethanol). Brazil’s economy is booming.

In the United States there is a growing clamor to use methanol as a fuel, ideally in flex fuel vehicles. Methanol can be made inexpensively from America’s abundant natural gas, and can be sold for half the cost of gasoline without any subsidies. If it was available as a fuel, people would buy methanol because it would save them a lot of money. But right now, it is not available as a fuel in the U.S. One bill now in Congress is trying to change that.

So let’s say the bill passes into law and methanol becomes available, and people start using methanol for fuel. Gasoline would have to drop in price to compete, or it wouldn’t sell. Everything would be wonderful. But…

Wouldn’t OPEC just drop the world price of oil to crush this new competitor?

This is where things have changed in an important way. This is our new opportunity. Saudi Arabia controls what OPEC does. The Saudis are sitting on the easiest oil to produce in the world, and therefore theirs is the cheapest oil to produce. Because of this, they dictate what the rest of the OPEC nations will do. But if methanol becomes a fuel in America, Saudi Arabia (and the global jihad movement) will be between a rock and a hard place — and it could be the end of both OPEC and the third jihad.

Read more 

Unprecedented: Islamists Agree to Cede Power in Tunisia

Tunisia

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

BY RYAN MAURO:

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at The Clarion Project