Bergdahl-Taliban prisoner exchange ‘won’t help the peace process in any way’

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, "It won't help the peace process in any way, because we don't believe in the peace process"

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, “It won’t help the peace process in any way, because we don’t believe in the peace process”

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One of the Taliban’s top spokesmen said that the recent prisoner exchange between the US and the Taliban will do nothing to further US hopes for reconciliation in Afghanistan as the Taliban “don’t believe in the peace process.”

The exchange of US Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who reportedly went absent without leave while on duty in Paktika province in 2009, for five senior al Qaeda-linked Taliban leaders held at Guantanamo Bay took place over the weekend. The five Taliban leaders, who were deemed “high” risks to the US and its allies by Joint Task Force Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO), include two accused of war crimes by the UN.

The five freed Taliban commanders have been identified as Abdul Haq Wasiq, an intelligence official; Mullah Norullah Noori, senior military commander; Mullah Mohammad Fazl, the Taliban’s former deputy minister of defense; Mullah Khairullah Khairkhwa, the Taliban’s former governor of Herat province; and Mohammad Nabi Omari, a senior leader. JTF-GTMO had previously recommended that all five remain in custody as they posed a threat to the US. [See LWJ reports, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl exchanged for top 5 Taliban commanders at Gitmo, and Taliban says 'five senior leaders' have been 'liberated' from Guantanamo.]

The prisoner exchange took place over the course of several months of negotiations between the US and the Taliban which were brokered by the government of Qatar. The five Taliban leaders have been sent to Qatar and are banned from travel for one year.

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel had told NBC’s Meet the Press that the US is hopeful that the negotiations that led to the prisoner exchange can further reconciliation between the Taliban and the Afghan government.

“So maybe this will be a new opening that can produce an agreement,” between the Taliban and the Afghan government, Hagel said yesterday.

Within hours, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid shot down Hagel’s optimism for reconciliation.

“It won’t help the peace process in any way, because we don’t believe in the peace process,” Mujahid said.

Instead of portraying the exchange as the beginning of reconciliation, Taliban emir Mullah Mohammed Omar called the release of the five commanders a “great victory” and a “huge and vivid triumph.” The Taliban also published photos of the five released commanders as they arrived in Qatar. [See LWJ report, Mullah Omar hails release of 5 top Taliban commanders as 'great victory'.]

“This huge accomplishment brings the glad tidings of liberation of the whole country and reassures us that our aspirations are on the verge of fulfillment,” Omar said, according to a statement released yesterday at the Taliban website, Voice of Jihad.

Read more at Long War Journal

America’s Provocative Weakness

3844747002Center for Security Policy, By Frank Gaffney:

Among former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s many illuminating “rules” is his trenchant observation that “weakness is provocative.”  Indeed, the accelerating instability we see worldwide is, in no small measure, a product of the weakness being communicated at every turn by Barack Obama’s administration.  Worse yet, the steps the President is taking to weaken America further will make it vastly more difficult to contend with the aggression he has invited.

In a characteristically brilliant op.ed. article in last Saturday’s Wall Street Journal, Harvard professor Niall Ferguson warned that the United States was engaged in the defense and foreign policy equivalent of the Fed’s bid to begin weaning the economy off of its massive purchases of U.S. T-bills that is known as the “taper” and has roiled world markets and currencies. As Prof. Ferguson puts it: “We are witnessing [a fundamental shift] in the national security strategy of the U.S. – and, like the Fed’s tapering, this one also means big repercussions for the world.”

Consider but a few of examples of such repercussions:

  • China has declared much of the East and South China Seas to be its territorial waters.  The PRC’s growing military seems determined to press its claims to the Senkaku Islands to – and perhaps past – the brink of war with Japan. And the People’s Liberation Army is putting into place the means by which it can effectively checkmate what is left of the United States’ ability to project power in support of American treaty obligations to the Japanese and perhaps others in the region.
  • The Iranian mullahs now know that the U.S. and the rest of the so-called “international community” will not be prevent the realization of their decades-old nuclear ambitions. Consequently, the Iranians are brazenly: doubling down on their bet on Bashir Assad in Syria; angling for hegemony in the Persian Gulf; penetrating our hemisphere with intelligence operations, money-laundering schemes and the insertion of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and proxy forces – including the designated terrorist group, Hezbollah; and, most recently, sending warships and other vessels into the Atlantic and Caribbean.
  • Of particular concern is the emboldening of Iran arising from President Obama’s surrendering of Iraq to its tender mercies – and those of its sometime partner, sometime enemy, al Qaeda.  We will shortly find fresh evidence of how provocative is our weakness when Mr. Obama does the same with respect to the Taliban in Afghanistan – especially if, in the interim, he replenishes their leadership by releasing five of the organization’s top, battle-hardened jihadist commanders from Guantanamo Bay.
  •  Speaking of ships in our waters, a North Korean tramp steamer, the Chong Chon Gang, was intercepted in Panama last summer and discovered to have concealed in its hold surface-to-air missiles and other weaponry from Cuba.  The movement of the nuclear-capable SA-2 SAMs through Caribbean waters demonstrates Pyongyang’s inherent capability to use such ship-borne weapons as launch vehicles for a potentially devastating electromagnetic pulse (EMP)  attack on our electric grid.

President Obama’s response to this and other North Korean provocations – including highly publicized propaganda about nuclear strikes on the United States? Crickets.

Even what might be promising developments in Ukraine and Venezuela in the form of popular revolts against violent repression by their respective, anti-Western regimes may be squandered due to America’s perceived impotence and trajectory of disengagement.  This pattern will almost certainly encourage aggression by Russia in the former and by Cuba, China, Iran and narco-traffickers in the latter.

These are hardly the sorts of circumstances in which the United States should be signaling still further weakness by accelerating Team Obama’s  dismantling of our military.  Yet, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced Monday that the Army would be reduced to its smallest size since before World War II.  The Air Force would eliminate its ground-support A-10 “Warthog” jets and the Navy would tie up prematurely 11 cruisers.  And a host of cuts will reduce pay and benefits to active duty personnel and retirees.

The cumulative effect of these and previous cuts will be to risk breaking the All-Volunteer Force and the only military we have.  The absolutely predictable effect will be to make the world a more dangerous place for all of us.

This is a perfect opportunity for conservatives and the Republican Party to provide once again a Loyal Opposition to such hollowing out of our military and the Obama Doctrine it enables: Emboldening our enemies, undermining our allies and diminishing our country.

To provide this needed alternative to President Obama’s provocative weakness, however, the Right is going to have to return to its Reaganesque roots:  It must once again embrace and promote the philosophy the Gipper practiced as “peace through strength.”  The American people and our country are entitled to at least one party that stands for and will provide a responsible national security policy.

The place to start is by rebuilding our armed forces and their capacities, rather than going along with the further evisceration of the strength that dissuades, instead of inviting, aggression — and by holding accountable, at last, those responsible for the weakness that has, to date, done too much of the opposite.

John Kerry and Saudi Women Driving

John Kerry and Prince Saud al-FaisalBy :

For the Left, all cultures are equal, but some cultures are more equal than others.

For instance, in the world of the Left, the West never has a right to say what is right or wrong — when dealing with an adversary culture and regime, that is.

If it’s Israel, you can start shooting right away.

For example, when it comes to Israelis getting out of line and engaging in monstrous behavior like building houses and apartments on their own territory, they must be denounced immediately for that — and pressured relentlessly to desist from such unconscionable activity.

When Israelis have the audacity to imprison Palestinian terrorists who have massacred Israeli innocent civilians, something has to be done fast. And that’s why, on April 24, 2013, Secretary of State John Kerry and the Obama administration demanded that Israel release a number of Palestinian terrorists from its prisons — to make the Palestinian Authority happy of course. (P.S.: The P.A. was not pressured to stop its mosques, schools and media outlets from teaching that Israel has no right to exist or that Jews are descended from apes and pigs.)

If Kerry were asked what he thinks of apartheid-era South Africa, which Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has compared Israel to, one just dares to presume that he would say it was a bad thing that blacks were considered second-class citizens — which of course it was. He would, in other words, apply a universal standard of human rights on South Africa and declare that a society that marginalizes and disempowers a certain group of people based on skin color is an inferior society and must civilize itself. And that would be a legitimate position.

But for a leftist, this attitude only applies, naturally, when one is dealing with cultures and regimes that are allied to the United States. If one is dealing with an adversary culture or religion, then that culture and religion automatically get a pass for all of their  monstrosities.

Read more at Front Page

Don’t miss Josh Brewster‘s video interview with Jamie Glazov about why the Left abandons victims of Islamic terror and gender apartheid in the two-part series below:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Christianity being suppressed while Islam promoted

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by JANET LEVY:

According to information released at a May 9, 2013 press conference by the families of Navy SEALs killed in an August 2011 helicopter shoot-down in Afghanistan, “military brass prohibited any mention of a Judeo-Christian G-d” and “invited a Muslim cleric to the funeral for the fallen Navy SEAL Team VI heroes who disparaged in Arabic the memory of these servicemen by damning them as infidels to Allah.”

The accusations arose over a “ramp ceremony” held at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan as flag-draped caskets of the dead soldiers were loaded onto a plane for transport back to the United States.  The shocking words of the Muslim cleric, revealed in later translations, were spoken at a memorial service meant to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.  They were yet another example of the abject disrespect of Christians and Christianity endemic to the Muslim world.

Here at home, Christianity and Christian religious practices are also under attack, but in more subtle ways and under a misinterpretation of the principle of freedom of religion.  In the United States, that legal doctrine is cited to marginalize Christian prayer and traditions, while, at the same time, dramatically accommodating and even expanding Muslim religious practices.  Myriad examples exist.

During the recent government shutdown, Catholic priests were warned that they could be arrested for celebrating Mass, even if performed on a voluntary basis.  Under Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s direction and determination was that priests do not “contribute to the morale” and “well-being” of military personnel.”  Thus, offering of the sacraments was prohibited and the Eucharist placed under lock and key.  Curiously, no mention was made of curtailing religious freedom for Muslim service members or furloughing imams.

This prohibition against Christian religious practice is not limited to the military.  Police throughout the land also frequently come down hard against Christians.  In 2010, a group of students from the Arizona-based Wickenburg Christian Academy were ordered by a police officer to cease their quiet prayers on the steps of the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.  The officer cited a statute that prohibits demonstrations on the steps, but no official policy bars prayer at that location.

In June of 2010, David Wood and two other Christian missionaries were arrested by Dearborn, Michigan, police at the annual Arab festival for discussing Christianity on a public sidewalk outside the event. The men, who have since been acquitted, were charged with disturbing the peace and spent the night in jail.

Contrast these incidents with a massive public display of praying Muslims during the annual Muslim Day Parade in New York City. Muslims, who are protected each year during the event by Muslim NYPD officers, are free to engage in mass prayer, even prostrating themselves on the streets of midtown Manhattan. Vehicular traffic halts and participants freely harass non-Muslims who attempt to pass through the area on foot.

Meanwhile, the ACLU has been at the forefront of an extensive effort to ban Christian prayer from public schools under the “separation of church and state” provision of the First Amendment.  This is a signature issue for the “civil rights” organization.  However, for Muslim prayers, the organization reverses its interpretation and fights for student rights to engage in prayer.

Read more: Family Security Matters

 

Obama’s bread and circuses

Obama and ship of fools-thumb-470x254-3130By Caroline Glick:

Over the past week, President Barack Obama and his senior advisers have told us that the US is poised to go to war against Syria. In the next few days, the US intends to use its airpower and guided missiles to attack Syria in response to the regime’s use of chemical weapons in the outskirts of Damascus last week.

The questions that ought to have been answered before any statements were made by the likes of Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel have barely been raised in the public arena. The most important of those questions are: What US interests are at stake in Syria? How should the US go about advancing them? What does Syria’s use of chemical weapons means for the US’s position in the region? How would the planned US military action in Syria impact US deterrent strength, national interests and credibility regionally and worldwide? Syria is not an easy case. Thirty months into the war there, it is clear that the good guys, such as they are, are not in a position to win.

Syria is controlled by Iran and its war is being directed by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps and by Hezbollah. And arrayed against them are rebel forces dominated by al-Qaida.

As US Sen. Ted Cruz explained this week, “Of nine rebel groups [fighting the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad], seven of them may well have some significant ties to al-Qaida.”

With no good horse to bet on, the US and its allies have three core interests relating to the war. First, they have an interest in preventing Syria’s chemical, biological and ballistic missile arsenals from being used against them either directly by the regime, through its terror proxies or by a successor regime.

Second, the US and its allies have an interest in containing the war as much as possible to Syria itself.

Finally, the US and its allies share an interest in preventing Iran, Moscow or al-Qaida from winning the war or making any strategic gains from their involvement in the war.

For the past two-and-a-half years, Israel has been doing an exemplary job of securing the first interest. According to media reports, the IDF has conducted numerous strikes inside Syria to prevent the transfer of advanced weaponry, including missiles from Syria to Hezbollah.

Rather than assist Israel in its efforts that are also vital to US strategic interests, the US has been endangering these Israeli operations. US officials have repeatedly leaked details of Israel’s operations to the media. These leaks have provoked several senior Israeli officials to express acute concern that in providing the media with information regarding these Israeli strikes, the Obama administration is behaving as if it is interested in provoking a war between Israel and Syria. The concerns are rooted in a profound distrust of US intentions, unprecedented in the 50-year history of US-Israeli strategic relations.

Read more

 

Obama’s vanishing deterrent

99653017CSP, By Frank Gaffney:

Barack Obama appears at this writing to be poised to embroil the United States in a new war in Syria in response to the recent, murderous use of chemical weapons there.  Ill-advised as this step is, it is but a harbinger of what is to come as reckless U.S. national security policies and postures meet the hard reality of determined adversaries emboldened by our perceived weakness.

The focus at the moment is on what tactical response the President will make to punish Syrian dictator Bashar Assad for his alleged violation of Mr. Obama’s glibly declared “red-line” barring the use of such weapons of mass destruction.  There seems to be little serious thought given at the moment to what happens next:  What steps Assad and his allies, Iran and Hezbollah, may take against us, our interests and allies; what the repercussions will be of the United States further helping the Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda forces who make up the bulk of Assad’s domestic opposition; and the prospects for a far wider war as a result of the answers to both of these questions.

Even more wanting is some serious reflection about decisions taken long before Mr. Obama came to office – but that are consonant with his own, deeply flawed predilections about deterrence.  Over two decades ago, President George H.W. Bush decided he would “rid the world of chemical weapons.”  The UN Chemical Weapons Convention has had the predictable – and predicted – result that the United States has eliminated all such arms in its arsenal, leaving only bad guys like Assad with stockpiles of Sarin nerve gas and other toxic chemical weapons.

No one can say for sure whether the threat of retaliation in kind would have affected recent calculations about the use of such weapons in Syria.  What we do know is that they have been used, evidently repeatedly, in the absence of such a deterrent.

Unfortunately, President Obama seems determined to repeat this dangerous experiment with America’s nuclear forces.  He has made it national policy next to rid the world of these weapons.  And, as with our chemical stockpile, Mr. Obama seems determined to set an example in the hope that others will follow.

This policy has set in train a series of actions whose full dimensions are not generally appreciated.  All planned steps to modernize our nuclear arsenal have either been cancelled or deferred off into the future – which probably amounts to the same thing.  Consequently, we will, at best, have to rely indefinitely on a deterrent comprised of very old weapons.  Virtually all of them are many years beyond their designed service life and most are deployed aboard ground-based missiles, submarines and bombers that are also approaching or in that status.

Confidence in the safety, reliability and effectiveness of these weapons has, since Bush 41’s tenure, relied upon exotic scientific calculations bereft of actual underground nuclear tests to confirm their accuracy.  Accordingly, certifications on these scores by the directors of the nation’s national nuclear laboratories have become a function of informed guesswork, rather than empirically proven analysis.  This is not a basis for reliable deterrence.

Another symptom of the deteriorating condition of our nuclear arsenal is the fact that the Air Force has taken disciplinary action for the second time in the past few months against some of those responsible for the operations of nuclear-armed ballistic missiles.  There are surely specific grounds for these punishments.  But we are kidding ourselves if we fail to consider the devastating impact on the morale and readiness of such personnel when they are told, at least implicitly, by the Commander-in-Chief that their mission is not only unimportant; it is one he wishes to terminate as soon as practicable.

Seem far-fetched?  Recall that eliminating outright our land-based missile force is something Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel personally endorsed prior to taking office. That may be the result if the President succeeds in reducing our nuclear forces to just 1,000 deployed weapons.  As of now, it is unclear whether he intends to take that step only if the Russians agree, or will do so unilaterally if they don’t.  Another uncertainty is whether Congress will go along with such rash cuts.

What is clear is that – with no more serious debate than has been applied to the implications of becoming embroiled in another war in the Middle East, this time with a country armed with chemical weapons against which we can threaten no in-kind retaliation – the United States has been launched on a trajectory towards a minimal nuclear deterrent.

Fortunately, a group of the nation’s preeminent nuclear strategists and practitioners under the leadership of the National Institute for Public Policy has just published a powerful indictment of this misbegotten policy initiative entitled Minimum Deterrence: Examining the Evidence.  It lays bare the faulty assumptions that underpin the Obama denuclearization agenda – not least the fact that the other nuclear powers, including allthe threatening ones, are not following the president’s lead.

Some say America can no longer afford a strong and effective deterrent.  We may be about to test that proposition in Syria.  Heaven help us if we compound the error there by continuing our slide towards a minimum nuclear deterrent posture, en route to a world rid only of our nuclear weapons.

Egypt Cabinet has women, Christians; no Islamists

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This image released by the Egyptian Presidency on Tuesday, July 16, 2013 shows interim President Adly Mansour, center, with his new cabinet ministers at the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt. Egypt’s interim president has sworn in a new Cabinet, the first since the ouster of the Islamist president by the military nearly two weeks ago. The new government, sworn in Tuesday, is led by Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi, an economist, and features the promotion of Defence Minister Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who ousted Mohammed Morsi on July 3, to deputy prime minister. He also retains the defence portfolio.

CAIRO (AP) — Egypt’s interim leader swore in a Cabinet on Tuesday that included women and Christians but no Islamists as the military-backed administration moved swiftly to formalize the new political order and present a more liberal face that is markedly at odds with the deposed president and his supporters.

The changes came at a time of deep polarization and violence in Egypt, including new clashes that killed seven people as part of the continuing bloodshed that has marked the days following the armed forces coup that swept President Mohammed Morsi from office and cracked down on the Muslim Brotherhood.

Egypt’s military already wields great influence behind the scenes, and the army chief, Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who ousted Morsi on July 3, was given a promotion in the Cabinet. He became a first deputy prime minister in addition to keeping his post as defense minister.

For most of the two years since the overthrow of autocrat Hosni Mubarak, the country has been split into two camps — one led by Morsi, his Muslim Brotherhood and its Islamist allies, and another led by secular Egyptians, liberals, Christians and moderate Muslims.

The fault lines remain, except that the Islamist camp is no longer in power. It does not include members of any Islamist parties — a sign of the enduring division that follows the removal of Morsi, Egypt’s first freely elected president.

The interim president’s spokesman had earlier said posts would be offered to the Muslim Brotherhood, but the group promptly refused, saying it would not take part in the military-backed political process and would continue protests until the legitimately elected Morsi is reinstated.

“We refuse to even discuss it,” a senior official of the Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm, the Freedom and Justice party, told The Associated Press. “What is built on illegitimacy is illegal,” he said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media before the party issued a formal statement on the formation of the Cabinet.

The only Islamist party that supported Morsi’s ouster — the ultraconservative Salafi el-Nour party — was not represented and criticized the leadership as “biased,” lacking inclusion and repeating “the same mistake the last government was blamed for.”

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said he had talked with el-Sissi about 10 times in the past week.

“We have encouraged publicly and privately the leaders of Egypt, including the interim president, the interim vice president, and the prime minister in particular, to be inclusive, to bring all political parties in, to allow them to participate in the writing of the constitution and the elections,” Hagel told reporters in Florida. “That’s the only way it will work. We’ve been very clear on that.”

Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi, an economist in his 70s, leads the government of 33 other ministers. Sworn in by interim President Adly Mansour, it reflected the largely liberal, secular bent of the factions who brought millions into the streets at the end of June calling for Morsi to step down and backed el-Sissi’s removal of the president.

Women have a somewhat higher profile in the government, with three ministries — including the powerful information and health ministries. Most past governments for decades have had at most only two women.

The Cabinet also includes three Christians, including one of the three women, Environment Minister Laila Rashed Iskander. That is also a first, since successive governments had no more than one or two Christians.

Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim, appointed by Morsi, remains in his post, which oversees the police. Nabil Fahmy, who was Egypt’s ambassador to the U.S. from 1999-2008 and a nuclear disarmament expert, becomes foreign minister.

In a nod to the revolutionary youth groups that engineered the 2011 uprising and this year’s massive protests, Mansour renamed the Justice portfolio the Transitional Justice and National Reconciliation Ministry and gave it to Mohammed el-Mahdi, a career judge.

The groups have been campaigning to bring to justice those responsible for the killings of hundreds of protesters since Mubarak’s fall. Reconciliation is a longstanding demand by most political forces to end Egypt’s polarization, which often spills over into street violence.

At least three senior figures from the National Salvation Front — the main opposition group during Morsi’s year in office — were included in the government. In addition, the new deputy prime minister in charge of international cooperation, Ziad Bahaa-Eldin, is a member of the Social Democratic Party, which is part of the Salvation Front.

Mohamed ElBaradei, one of the Front’s top leaders and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, has already been installed as Mansour’s vice president.

In a first, Mansour also swore in a leading figure in Egyptian soccer as sports minister. Midfielder Taher Abu Zeidstarred in Cairo’s el-Ahly club and the national team in the 1980s. He was a member of the national squad that won the African Nations‘ Cup in 1986.

The Cabinet is to run the country during a transition period announced last week by Mansour. The plan includes the formation of panels to amend the Islamist-drafted constitution that was passed under Morsi, then elections for a new parliament and president early next year.

After the swearing-in ceremony, the Cabinet held its first meeting and set the government’s priorities as reviving the economy, bolstering public security and improving services, according to a palace statement.

Read more

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Obama frowns on Egyptian army’s alignment with Gulf regimes, coming crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood

Egyptian army on alert in El Arish, Sinai

Egyptian army on alert in El Arish, Sinai

Debka File:

After US Secretary of State John Kerry was filmed vacationing on his yacht at the peak of the Egyptian crisis, President Barack Obama released this statement early Sunday, July 7: “The US is not aligned with and is not supporting any particular Egyptian political party or group and condemns “ongoing violence across Egypt.”  Obama made these points in a telephone conference with the National Security Council from Camp David.
To further rebut US media criticism, the administration reported that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel had spoken three times with Egypt’s Defense Minister Abdel Fattah El-Sisi about the military coup which deposed Mohamed Morsi on July 3, to demand the expeditious reinstatement of civilian rule.

Nothing was said about the general’s response. The military has along denied staging a coup, insisting it only stepped in to avert civil bloodshed and a provisional government would prepare the country for early elections.
Both parties to this exchange were putting on an act. For President Obama, the Muslim Brothers’ ouster was and remains unacceptable. By denying support for any particular party or group, he was also saying he wants no truck with the generals who made it happen.
It was also evident that Gen. El-Sisi rejected Hagel’s demand.
Indeed, the army chief is determined not to let Washington interfere with his next moves, realizing that the Muslim Brotherhood’s president dismissal was but the first step in a process which must be followed up if it is not to implode in chaos.

At least another six months are needed for the rewriting of the constitution, installing a working interim administration and setting up elections for the presidency and parliament. In that time, Egypt will be on a knife’s edge.DEBKAfile’s Middle East sources report the army chief plans two steps for cutting through the tension, in the knowledge that the first, at least, will be strongly censured by Washington:
1. The Muslim Brotherhood’s top leadership was more or less decapitated when the army seized power Wednesday, July 3. Next, the generals plan to send security forces to fan out across the country for mass arrests of thousands of local activists. They will be confined in detention centers already in preparation.
By this action, Gen. El-Sisi will be treading in the footsteps of Gemal Abdul Nasser in the fifties and Anwar Sadat in the seventies. Those rulers kept thousands of Muslim Brotherhood national and field operatives in prison and under tight control for years before gradually letting them out on condition they did not run for office.
The army chief, while bracing for Washington’s condemnation, is also assured of approval by the Gulf rulers led by the Saudi royal house.
Likewise, if the US cuts off or reduces military aid to Egypt, currently running at $1.3 billion a year, the Egyptian strongman has Gulf guarantees to make up the difference.
Cairo’s post-coup military rulers are therefore squaring up for a major collision with Washington, which would also encompass their backers, the conservative pro-West Arab governments of the Persian Gulf.

At the same time, say our Middle East sources, Gen. El-Sisis is looking to the long term. He believes that his alignment with the Gulf will eventually lead to back to an understanding with the United States, although he will have to ride out the initial rift with the Obama administration.

2. The second step he plans is a crackdown on the estimated 10,000 armed Salafists, some of them working for al Qaeda, who have made Sinai their stamping ground.

Read more at Debka File

Also see: Cairo clashes kill 51 Brotherhood supporters, an officer. Army set to defend oil pipeline, Suez shipping

Obama Middle East Policy: Wrong Team, Wrong Ideas

20110417_ObamaMidEastBy Barry Rubin:

In the Middle East, to paraphrase President Barack Obama’s mentor, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, the dodo birds are coming home to roost.

At this moment, the administration’s policy team consists of CIA director John Brennan, father of the “”moderate” Islamism-and-the-Muslim Brotherhood-are-good school; the Secretary of State John Kerry who thinks he is going to make Israel-Palestinian peace in one month;  the know-nothing Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel; the chilling ideologue Samantha Powers as UN ambassador; and the dupe of the Benghazi scandal Susan Rice rewarded by being made national security adviser.

Can things get any  more Alice in Wonderland? But what’s really happening in the region.

In Egypt, the country is falling into anti-Americanism and tyranny, the United States is embarking on a new policy in Syria that one can see won’t work. What is the solution? Simply to support moderate and anti-Islamist forces while opposing Islamists and terrorists. Except if you wait too long there will be no good forces left to help anymore.

Egypt first.  The Supreme Constitutional Court, the country’s highest court, has now ruled that the January 2012 Shura Council election for the upper house of parliament was unconstitutional. The same decision was rendered for the Islamist-dominated body that wrote the new Constitution. But the chief judge said that the Constitution was not annulled.

In short, there is total confusion. Indeed, it isn’t even clear that the new election for the lower house of Parliament will be held. Egypt is in maximal mess phase. 

Meanwhile, what allegedly friendly country just sentenced the son of a U.S. cabinet official to five years in prison? Answer: Egypt, to the son of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. Crime: Supporting democracy. Four more Americans received the same sentence.

The Egyptian Islamist regime does not fear America nor does it show gratitude for President Obama’s help in its taking and consolidation of power. Offices were closed and prison sentences of up to five years—for 27 people–were meted out. Many of those charged fled the country. Among the groups closed were the International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute.

Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States was “deeply concerned” but of course the Egyptian government knew America wouldn’t do anything except keep shipping in tear gas and provided financial and political support.

After getting into power in part due to U.S. help, the Egyptian court called the promotion of democracy a form of “soft imperialism.” Get it? They get into power by a vote and then that’s the end of free elections.

Read more at PJ Media

 

Benghazi Investigation Still Very Much Ongoing

5829917074_8c9c57e0e8_zHeritage Foundation, May 29, 2013

By :

Benghazi is back in the headlines with a vengeance as investigations continue on several congressional fronts:

  • Representative Darrell Issa (R–CA) subpoenaed the State Department to deliver more email threads on the Benghazi talking points;
  • The House Government Reform and Oversight Committee threatened to subpoenaAmbassador Thomas Pickering regarding the Accountability Review Board’s inadequate investigation; and
  • The House Armed Services Committee is probing the absent military response on the night of September 11, 2012.

While many aspects of the Benghazi scandal are troubling, the lack of information on the military front is particularly serious. Getting information out of the Pentagon has been like pulling teeth. The Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in February revealed that former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Martin Dempsey had briefed President Obama at 5:00 p.m. on the day of the Benghazi terrorist attack, and unbelievably had had no communication after that.

Dempsey then informed the committee that there were no assets available that could have reached Benghazi in time to assist the American diplomats and CIA personnel under attack there — a statement that was contradicted directly by Gregory Hicks, second in command at the U.S. embassy in Libya, in highly emotional testimony. As Hicks revealed, a military support team was ready to take off from Tripoli to Benghazi on the night of the attack, but was told to stand down. By whom we don’t yet know.

Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee Buck McKeon (R–CA), has been vigilant in seeking answers and has told Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel that he is “deeply concerned” about the lack of answers, reported The Washington Examiner’s Byron York. Last week, McKeon’s committee received a briefing from Pentagon officials, the content of which unfortunately remains largely classified, as does far too much of the information relating to Benghazi. Among McKeon’s questions are:

What aircraft the U.S. had in the region that might have come to the Americans’ aid; where those planes were; whether they were armed or could have been armed; whether they would have needed refueling; the presence of un-manned aircraft, armed and unarmed; the status of various U.S. emergency response teams; and the decisions commanders at all levels made in deciding to deploy or not deploy those assets.

The congressional committees involved in the investigation are doing yeoman’s work. Their stubborn persistence will eventually unearth the truth about Benghazi. The future safety of U.S. diplomatic and military personnel serving overseas depends on it.

Must-See Video: Fort Hood Heroes (Part II)

Shoebat Foundation:

Last October, a group called Fort Hood Heroes produced an awesome video that featured survivors of Nidal Malik Hasan’s Fort Hood Jihad attack. We have been eager to see Part II ever since and it is now available.

If you haven’t seen Part I yet, click here.

Also, be sure to visit thetruthaboutforthood.com

This is Part II, entitled Broken Promises:

 

‘Israel Lobby’ Threatening Free Speech at Berkeley?

Hatem Bazian

Hatem Bazian

By :

The title of a recent panel discussion at the University of California, Berkeley was ominous: “SHHHH! Don’t Talk About Palestine: Chuck Hagel, Judith Butler, and the Israel Lobby’s Threat to Free Speech on Our Campus.” Taking place in Boalt Hall at UC Berkeley’s School of Law and sponsored by Students for Justice in Palestine, the event drew what appeared to be sixty hardcore anti-Israel activists—most in their early twenties—eager to embrace the notion that UC Berkeley is under siege by “pro-Israel advocates seek[ing] to silence debate about Palestinian human rights and divestment from Israel’s occupation.”

Although the event was billed as a discussion about the (nonexistent) efforts by the “Israel Lobby” to delay the appointment of Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense and its criticism of the political science department at Brooklyn College for co-sponsoring a recent talk on Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) by UC Berkeley rhetoric professor and anti-Israel activist Judith Butler, neither subject arose. Instead, the panel engaged in paranoid fantasies about being “silenced,” which, given that this was a well-publicized event at a prestigious law school on a campus where the Palestinian narrative is constantly promoted both inside and outside the classroom, were patently and even hilariously false.

Hatem Bazian, a senior lecturer in the departments of Near Eastern and ethnic studies, was introduced as the main speaker, one the “500 most influential Muslims in the world,” and, in a false claim, the originator of the term “Islamophobia.” While the latter is untrue, Bazian does have the dubious distinction of directing UC Berkeley’s Islamophobia Research & Documentation Project.

Announcing that, “I come first to discuss this subject as a Palestinian and a Muslim,” Bazian launched into the usual accolades surrounding the Free Speech Movement at UC Berkeley during the 1960s. Far from being a free speech advocate facing censorship, Bazian is an activist who uses his academic position to advance an anti-Israel agenda. A promoter of the BDS movement and executive director of the Holy Land Foundation-linked American Muslims for Palestine, he is infamous for having called for an “Intifada in this country!” at a San Francisco anti-war rally in 2004.

Read more at Front Page

Contact information for the office of UC-Berkeley’s chancellor, Robert J. Birgeneau:

Email: chancellor@berkeley.edu
Phone: 510-642-7464
Fax: 510-643-5499

Lee Kaplan is an investigative journalist and columnist who writes forIsracampus.org.il, Israel National News, and the Northeast Intelligence Network. He is a Fellow at the American Center for Democracy and the founder of DAFKA.org and StoptheISM.com. He wrote this article for Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum.

The Iran Lobby Buys a Friendly Face for Despotism

216_largeBy Stephen Schwartz:

The funding of a significant pro-Iran lobby that funnels money to American universities was disclosed to the wider public for the first time during the U.S. Senate’s recent confirmation battle over Chuck Hagel’s successful nomination as secretary of defense.  By far the largest grantor is the Alavi Foundation, now under federal investigation, which has given Harvard University $345,000 over nine years ending in 2011.  Other institutions in the U.S. and Canada have also benefited from Iranian largesse.

Hagel, who represented Nebraska as a Republican U.S. Senator from 1997 to 2009, has long advocated a soft line toward the brutal theocratic regime, as exemplified by his call in 2007 for “direct, unconditional and comprehensive talks with the Government of Iran.”

He has participated in at least one Middle East Studies event organized by Tehran’s tenured apologists and subsidized by the Iranian regime.  As described by Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens, Hagel addressed a March 2007 conference at Rutgers University co-sponsored by the school’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES) and the shadowy group that, as pointed out by the WSJ‘s Stephens and others, helped pay for the Rutgers AIC event: the Alavi Foundation.

He has participated in at least one Middle East Studies event organized by Tehran’s tenured apologists and subsidized by the Iranian regime.  As described by Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens, Hagel addressed a March 2007 conference at Rutgers University co-sponsored by the school’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES) and the shadowy group that, as pointed out by the WSJ‘s Stephens and others, helped pay for the Rutgers AIC event: the Alavi Foundation.

Alavi is an arm of the Tehran government that has granted substantial sums to American and Canadian universities.  Its 2010 Form 990, filed in compliance with its nonprofit status with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, listed assets of $39,082,555.  Alavi’s “Direct Charitable Activities” were limited to four, all school-related: “Farsi Schools in Various Universities and Schools,” “Information Education Centers,” “Publication and Book Distribution,” and “Interest Free Loans to Education Centers.”  Its total grant outlay for that year was $2,148,630.  The 2007 Form 990 from Alavi included a line for Rutgers, indicating that Alavi’s investment in the Rutgers CMES and, presumably, the event with AIC and Hagel, was $72,500.
Read more at American Thinker

Stephen Schwartz is executive director of the Center for Islamic Pluralism.  He wrote this article for Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum.

 

The Alliance of Civilization Jihad

unaoc5 by , February 27, 2013:

As reported here early this morning, the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations met today in Vienna to… well, to do whatever it is alliances of civilizations do.

Actually, the goal of this Alliance is quite clear, even if it is not stated explicitly: to impose the will of the United Nations on all Western countries, especially those that have not yet implemented laws against “defamation of religions” as demanded by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

We are approaching endgame in the OIC’s long march through the major international institutions of Western culture. It began with the announcement in 2005 of the ten-year plan to end Islamophobia in the West, and the establishment of the Islamophobia Observatory shortly thereafter. These were obviously not enough to meet the Ummah’s needs, so it shifted its focus to other institutions. The OSCE must have also proved disappointing, as it is not high-profile and offers no prominent global platform.

The OIC has had better success with the General Assembly of the United Nations, taking virtual control of the organization by means of the votes of its 56 member states (57 if you count “Palestine”). However, this too is insufficient from the point of view of the embryonic World Caliphate. To establish full control, a permanent seat on the Security Council is an absolute necessity. The would-be Caliph — Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who obviously aspires to an office higher than prime minister of Turkey — has made it clear that Islam must be granted such a seat.

The process now unfolding before us on the international scene mirrors the “Civilization Jihad” launched long ago by the Muslim Brotherhood in the United States. With the installation of Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense, the Ikhwan has now positioned all its American pieces on the board in preparation for the final takedown of Israel. To secure their international geopolitical position, the Brothers and the OIC need to complete their takeover of the United Nations.

Today it seems they are very close to achieving success in — what shall we call their operation?

Perhaps the “Alliance of Civilization Jihad” would be most fitting.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

Henrik Ræder Clausen and Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff were in Vienna to attend and report on today’s event, the 5th Global Forum — UN Alliance of Civilizations.

Read Elisabeth’s account at Gates of Vienna

aoclogo0

via Is The Alliance Of Civilizations A Pro Sharia Front? (libertiesalliance.org)

The 5th Global Forum of The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations takes place in Vienna today.  In our experience most UN initiatives these days have a pro-sharia twist.  The UNHRC for instance spends a lot of time criticising Israel but does not seem to adequately confront the human rights abuses elsewhere (1). Perhaps the UNHRCs work is corrupted because it gives membership to countries who are human rights abusers.  It produces UNHRC Resolution 16/18 but apparently does nothing to ensure that the member states of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) permit the religious freedom, a freedom that it purports to uphold.  In effect UNHRC Resolution 16/18 has become a pro-sharia document designed specifically to expand the reach of sharia.

We expect that the Alliance of Civilizations will be no different and will prove to be yet another mechanism to demonise sharia critics and facilitate the expansion of the zone of sharia compliance that already causes immeasurable misery around the world.  We will be watching the 5th Global Forum with great interest.

See Tundra Tabloids for updates.  Updates will also be posted below:

(1) Israel right to say ‘Enough!’ to grotesquely biased UNHRC inquiry (Haaretz)

Updates:

We are told from people on the ground at the event that the person who introduced the event suggested that they expected more harmony from this forum.  Below is a gist of what specific individuals talked about:

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Suggested that anti-Muslim sentiment was commonplace. That Muslims are being vilified instead of being embraced.  That leaders need to speak the language of tolerance.  That the three most important issues that needed to be addressed by all speakers were:

1) The impasse between Israelis and Palestinians

2) The situation in Mali

3) The situation in Syria

Prime Minister of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

Suggested that racist attacks are on the rise.  That the magnitude of the threat is threefold:

1) lack of information

2) Intolerance

3) Prejudice – he believes that we can eliminate the threat posed by prejudice.  He

mentioned that there are many good examples of people living in harmony and such societies are more successful – however he did not name any of these countries or societies.

He suggested that we witness harsh and insulting behaviour towards Muslims and that this is an unconscionable act.  Also that we need to act on prejudices and need to consider Islamophobia as a crime against humanity. He suggested that no religion would ever endorse violence, that Islam is a religion of peace and that the word ‘Islam’ means peace.

On behalf of turkey he asked whether the UN Security Council represented the whole world and he concluded that it did not. He asked whether it represented all religious groups.  He suggested that the fundamental problem is that the Alliance of Civilizations needs to establish and alliance with the Security Council.

ICLA Comment: Our prediction of that the Alliance of Civilizations is a pro-sharia front seems to be coming true based on much of what has been reported above.  The focus seems very focused on issues that are seen as important to Islamic countries.  Nothing has been said about the persecution of non-Muslims in the Islamic world.  It seems from what Mr Erdoğan was saying about the Security Council that there should be permanent Islamic representation on that body.  This perhaps is an indication that Islam has political objectives.  It must be remembered that the Security Council is not a religious assembly.

We have a further update.  It appears that human rights issues have not been raised at this event though the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights was mentioned twice.  Much has been said with regard to the Arab-Israeli conflict and the plight of the Palestinian.  There was a round of applause when Palestine’s receipt of UNESCO status was mentioned.

Outgoing High Representative of the Alliance of Civilisations, Jorge Sampaio

He emphasized that we should not be talking but doing.  He raised the issue of successes and achievements of the Alliance of Civilizations but did not mention a single one.  He suggested that we need common ground and minimum standards of behivaiour, though he never mentioned what this might mean in practice.  He spoke about his desire for a world conference hosted by the Alliance of Civilizations with goal being to address the need to go back to zero with a bold vision and measurable goals.

Incoming High Representative of the Alliance of Civilisations, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser

He referred to the prevalence of intolerance and xenophobia.  He emphasised the importance of the role of the Alliance of Civilizations to enhance international cooperation to advance a vision and ensure responsible leadership and good decision making.

ICLA Comment: It is clear that the Alliance of Civilizations is nothing more than a tool for totalitarian tyrants to impose their will on the rest of the world.  Dictatorships just want to impose their tyrannical rules on the rest of the world. When the free world says that it will not tolerate despotic rule, these dictatorships say that it is an insult to their culture. 

Obama’s ‘Friends of Hamas’?

2096850925By Frank Gaffney:

Last week, twenty-five Republican Senators wrote a former member of their caucus and the man President Obama wants to lead the Defense Department a letter demanding full disclosure of his financial dealings.  To date, Sen. Chuck Hagel has demonstrated afresh his contempt for the legislature by declining to do so.

To their credit, the Senators, including the GOP leadership and every member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, have thrown down the gauntlet.  They warned Mr. Hagel:  “Your refusal to respond to this reasonable request suggests either a lack of respect for the Senate’sresponsibility to advise and consent or that you are for some reason unwilling to allow this financial disclosure to come to light.”  The signers added:

“Until the Committee receives full and complete answers, it cannot in good faith determine wither you should be confirmed as Secretary of Defense.”

It may be that the Hagel appointment has now been effectively checkmated.  Should the nominee continue to stonewall, even Democrats – who are under immense pressure to hew to the party line, but were privately appalled by his performance during a confirmation hearing two weeks ago – get a face-saving way to disassociate themselves from this loser.

But Mr. Hagel may have, as a practical matter, no choice but to try to brazen it out.  Breitbart.com last week (http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Peace/2013/02/07/Hagel-Friends-of-Hamas-WH) quoted Senate sources as saying that among the requested documents on his sources of foreign funding is one listing “a group purportedly called ‘Friends of Hamas.’”  At this writing and absent the requested disclosure, it cannot be determined whether Chuck Hagel is literally associated with the “friends” of a designated terrorist organization.  But the mere fact that it seems entirely plausible – given the nominee’s record of hostility towards Israel and his affinity for its enemies (including Hamas’ long-time sponsor, Iran), his refusal to make the sort of disclosure expected of all Cabinet appointees should be the last straw for Senate Republicans and Democrats, alike.

Incredibly, President Obama’s candidate to lead the Central Intelligence Agency could reasonably be considered a friend of Hamas, as well.  After all, he has been among the Obama appointees to engage with a group called the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR).  This despite the fact that no fewer than four federal judges have, in connection with the 2008 federal prosecution of the Holy Land Foundation on terrorism financing charges, concurred that CAIR is a Muslim Brotherhood front.

Indeed, in the course of that prosecution, the government established that CAIR had been founded in 1993 for the purpose of providing political and fund-raising support for Hamas.  Yet, on John Brennan’s watch as counterterrorism czar for the first term of the Obama presidency, administration officials have, according to one, met “more than 100 times” with representatives of this terrorist organization’s U.S. influence operation.

Read more at Center for Security Policy