Terrorism Defies Definition

by Daniel Pipes and Teri Blumenfeld
The Washington Times
October 24, 2014

Defining terrorism has practical implications because formally certifying an act of violence asterrorist has important consequences in U.S. law.

Terrorism suspects can be held longer than criminal suspects after arrest without an indictment They can be interrogated without a lawyer present. They receive longer prison sentences. “Terrorist inmates” are subject to many extra restrictions known as Special Administrative Measures, or SAMs. The “Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002” gives corporate victims of terrorism special breaks (it is currently up for renewal) and protects owners of buildings from certain lawsuits. When terrorism is invoked, families of victims, such as of the 2009 Ft. Hood attack, win extra benefits such as tax breaks, life insurance, and combat-related pay. They can even be handed a New York City skyscraper.

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Despite the legal power of this term, however, terrorism remains undefined beyond a vague sense of “a non-state actor attacking civilian targets to spread fear for some putative political goal.” One study, Political Terrorism, lists 109 definitions. American security specialist David Tucker wryly remarks that “Above the gates of hell is the warning that all that who enter should abandon hope. Less dire but to the same effect is the warning given to those who try to define terrorism.” The Israeli counterterrorism specialist Boaz Ganor jokes that “The struggle to define terrorism is sometimes as hard as the struggle against terrorism itself.”

This lack of specificity wreaks chaos, especially among police, prosecutors, politicians, press, and professors.

“Violence carried out in connection with an internationally sanctioned terrorist group” such as Al-Qaeda, Hizbullah, or Hamas has become the working police definition of terrorism. This explains such peculiar statements after an attack as, “We have not found any links to terrorism,” which absurdly implies that “lone wolves” are never terrorists.

If they are not terrorists, the police must find other explanation to account for their acts of violence. Usually, they offer up some personal problem: insanity, family tensions, a work dispute, “teen immigrant angst,” a prescription drug, or even a turbulent airplane ride. Emphasizing personal demons over ideology, they focus on an perpetrator’s (usually irrelevant) private life, ignoring his far more significant political motives.

But then, inconsistently, they do not require some connection to an international group. When Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez shot eight rounds at the White House in November 2011, the U.S. attorney asserted that “Firing an assault rifle at the White House to make a political statement is terrorism, plain and simple” – no international terrorist group needed. Similarly, after Paul Anthony Ciancia went on a shooting spree at Los Angeles International Airport in November 2013, killing a TSA officer, the indictment accused him of “substantial planning and premeditation to cause the death of a person and to commit an act of terrorism.”

This terminological irregularity breads utter confusion. The whole world calls the Boston Marathon bombings terrorism – except the Department of the Treasury, which, 1½ years on “has not determined that there has been an ‘act of terrorism’ under the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act.” The judge presiding over the terrorism trial in January 2014 of Jose Pimentel, accused of planning to set off pipe bombs in Manhattan, denied the prosecution’s request for an expert to justify a charge of terrorism. Government officials sometimes just throw up their hands: Asked in June 2013 if the U.S. government considers the Taliban a terrorist group, the State Department spokeswoman replied “Well, I’m not sure how they’re defined at this particular moment.”

The whole world, except of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, sees the Boston Marathon bombings as terrorism.

The whole world, except of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, sees the Boston Marathon bombings as terrorism.

A May 2013 shooting in New Orleans, which injured 19, was even more muddled. An FBI spokeswoman called it not terrorism but “strictly an act of street violence.” The mayor disagreed; asked if he considered it terrorism, he said “I think so,” because families “are afraid of going outside.” Challenged to disentangle this contradiction, a supervisory special agent in the FBI’s New Orleans field made matters even more opaque: “You can say this is definitely urban terrorism; it’s urban terror. But from the FBI standpoint and for what we deal with on a national level, it’s not what we consider terrorism, per se.” Got that?

The U.S. Department of State has yet to figure out whether the Taliban are or are not terrorists.

The U.S. Department of State has yet to figure out whether the Taliban are or are not terrorists.

This lack of clarity presents a significant public policy challenge. Terrorism, with all its legal and financial implications, cannot remain a vague, subjective concept but requires a precise and accurate definition, consistently applied.

Mr. Pipes (DanielPipes.org) is president of the Middle East Forum, where Teri Blumenfeld is a researcher. © 2014 All rights reserved by Daniel Pipes and Teri Blumenfeld.

Congress: Stop Subsidizing Biased Middle East Studies

by Daniel Pipes
TheBlaze.com
October 8, 2014

In return for receiving taxpayer funds for foreign regional studies, universities must agree, according to Title VI of the Higher Education Act (HAE), to conduct “public outreach” programs aimed at K-12 teachers and the general public.

Problem is, as shown in research by Campus Watch and others, the Middle East studies centers betray a relentless bias in their Outreach programs against the United States and its allies, especially Israel, while showing a willful blindness to radical Islam. Three examples:

  • Gilbert Achcar of the University of London began a lecture at the University of California, Berkeley, in October 2011 by declaring, “Don’t expect me to take a pro-Israel view. I’m an Arab.” Achcar went on to declare that “The Shoah [Holocaust] ended in 1945, but the suffering of the Palestinians is never-ending.”
  • Ilan Pappé of the University of Exeter in the U.K. spoke at UCLA in February 2012 and charged Israel with being a “settler-colonial state” that engages in “criminality” by its very existence. He also offered this apologia for Palestinian terrorism: “Peace is not the only means of bringing an end to an oppression, in this case colonization, dispossession, and ethnic cleansing.”
  • Sherman Jackson of the University of Southern California said at Harvard in November 2013 that the U.S. Constitution “can be challenged, modified or even abandoned” to conform to Islamic law, or Shariah.
 

Sherman Jackson.

To remedy this torrent of bias, critics convinced the U.S. Congress to pass reforms in 2008 requiring that government grants be made on the condition that the Outreach programs “reflect diverse perspective and a wide range of views and generate debate on world regions and international affairs.” In other words, don’t just offer the usual anti-American screeds but also something mainstream.

However, the 2008 legislation failed to provide an enforcement mechanism to hold universities accountable and so, in the end, it proved toothless.

To fix this problem, a group of ten organizations announced on September 17 an effort to cut off taxpayer support from biased, anti-American, and anti-Israel Middle East studies programs at American universities.

Those ten organizations are: the Middle East Forum, Accuracy in Academia, AMCHA Initiative, American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists, Endowment for Middle East Truth, Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, Simon Wiesenthal Center, Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations, Zionist Organization of America.

2971This initiative calls on Congress, when reauthorizing HEA (which is now underway), to take two small steps to address the problem of bias:

First, require universities receiving Title VI funds to establish grievance procedures in case programs do not in fact “reflect diverse perspective and a wide range of views.”

Second, instruct the U.S. Department of Education to establish a formal complaint-resolution process such as that already in use to enforce Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

These two steps should help. But if they do not fix the problem, Congress should defund any Title VI Middle East studies centers that flout the law, mislead the public, and undermine the country’s security.

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

Think Tanks for Sale or Rent

by Daniel Pipes
National Review Online
September 15, 2014

In a eyebrow-raising 4,000-word exposé, “Foreign Powers Buy Influence at Think Tanks” published in the New York Times on September 7, Eric Lipton, Brooke Williams and Nicholas Confessore look into the novel issue of foreign governmental financing for American think tanks.

The trio found that while the total scope “is difficult to determine … since 2011, at least 64 foreign governments, state-controlled entities or government officials have contributed to a group of 28 major United States-based research organizations.” Using the sketchy available information, they estimate “a minimum of $92 million in contributions or commitments from overseas government interests over the last four years. The total is certainly more.”

In exchange for this largesse, the research institutions in question offered their donors two main benefits: One, they pressured staff members both to “refrain from criticizing the donor governments” and “to reach conclusions friendly to the government [that had provided] financing.” And two, they have been “pushing United States government officials to adopt policies that often reflect the donors’ priorities.” The result: Overseas money has thrown doubt on the legitimacy and objectivity of think-tank research while “increasingly transforming the once-staid think-tank world into a muscular arm of foreign governments’ lobbying in Washington.”

My responses, a week later, to this bombshell of a report:

Some of this funding has been given clandestinely, with think tanks taking money under the table while benefiting from a moral image of disinterestedness. In the most prominently egregious example, the government of Qatar, as the NYT reported, “funneled hundreds of millions to Hamas-led Gaza and encouraged its rocket and tunnel assault on Israel,” also signed a four-year $14.8 million deal in 2013 to fund the Brookings Institution where Martin Indyk serves as vice president and director of the Foreign Policy Program. Indyk worked for Secretary of State John Kerry from July 2013 to June 2014 as special envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. As someone on the same payroll as is Israel’s mortal enemy, how could Indyk be expected to act in a neutral way?

Martin Indyk (right) with his former boss, Secretary of State John Kerry.

The president of Brookings, Strobe Talbott, not only did not apologize or show a shred of embarrassment that foreign governments underwrote some 12 percent of his funding, but had the temerity to respond that “think tanks should take money from foreign governments.” Deploying such self-serving buzzwords as “governance” and phrases like “the philanthropic culture is changing,” he fatuously argued that it “is entirely appropriate for us to work with [governments] when we have the capacity to contribute analysis and prescription on issues that they are dealing with in the policy realm.”

 

The Brookings Institute, founded 1916, is both the oldest American think tank and a leader ​in taking monies from foreign taxpayers.

The Times article exposed – astonishingly – the corruption of liberal establishments such as the Brookings Institution, the Center for American Progress, and the National Democratic Institute. How honest, honorable, and unexpected from a newspaper that has become the nation’s billboard for unthinking liberal bromides. Conversely, the exposé found not a penny going to conservative institutions such as the American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation, and the Hudson Institute. (If the Times continues with journalism of this caliber, I might even pay for its iPhone app!)

 

Mitchell Bard tells about the real Middle Eastern lobby working in Washington.

Similarly, concerning the Middle East, where the article mentions several countries (Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE) whose governments play this influence-and-opinion-buying game, not one of them is called Israel. This pattern emphatically verifies the thesis presented by Mitchell Bard in the subtitle his 2010 book, The Arab Lobby: The Invisible Alliance That Undermines America’s Interests in the Middle East (Harper). As Steven J. Rosen, formerly of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, notes, if “measured by level of effort, if not results, the Arab lobby is equal, or superior to, anything done by the friends of Israel.”

Finally, the Times exposé placed all think-tanks on the defensive. If white-shoe organizations like Brookings are on the take, none of us is exempt from suspicion. In this light, the organization I head (slogan: “Promoting American interests”) immediately issued a press release, “The Middle East Forum Takes No Funds from Foreign Governments,” which stated unequivocally that “we have never sought or taken funding from any foreign government, nor from any agent of a foreign government. And we never will.”

More broadly, as John B. Judis argues, “foreign funding of think tanks is corrupting our democracy.” Therefore, it’s time for all research organizations presenting themselves as providing objective analysis to take a similar pledge, or else to label clearly who bought and paid for their conclusions.

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

ISIS Is Not Islamic?

by Daniel Pipes
Sep 10, 2014
Cross-posted from National Review Online, The Corner

In a televised address this evening, President Barack Obama outlined his ideas on how to defeat the Islamic State. Along the way, he declared the organization variously known as ISIS or ISIL to be “not Islamic.”

In making this preposterous claim, Obama joins his two immediate predecessors in pronouncing on what is not Islamic. Bill Clinton called the Taliban treatment of women and children “a terrible perversion of Islam.” George W. Bush deemed that 9/11 and other acts of violence against innocents “violate the fundamental tenets of the Islamic faith.”

Word magic permits Obama to turn ISIS into a "not Islamic" organization.

Word magic permits Obama to turn ISIS into a “not Islamic” organization.

Indeed, Obama compounds his predecessors’ errors and goes further: Clinton and Bush merely described certain actions (treatment of women and children, acts of violence against innocents) as un-Islamic, but Obama has dared to declare an entire organization (and quasi-state) to be “not Islamic.”None of the three has any basis for such assertions. To state the obvious: as non-Muslims and politicians, rather than Muslims and scholars, they are in no position to declare what is Islamic and what is not. As Bernard Lewis, a leading American authority of Islam, notes: “it is surely presumptuous for those who are not Muslims to say what is orthodox and what is heretical in Islam.” (That Obama was born and raised a Muslim has no relevance here, for he left the faith and cannot pronounce on it.)

The only good thing about this idiocy? At least it’s better than the formulation by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (known as CAIR) which has the nerve to call ISIS “anti-Islamic.”

In the end, though, neither U.S. presidents nor Islamist apologists fool people. Anyone with eyes and ears realizes that ISIS, like the Taliban and Al-Qaeda before it, is 100 percent Islamic. And most Westerners, as indicated by detailed polling in Europe, do have eyes and ears. Over time, they are increasingly relying on common sense to conclude that ISIS is indeed profoundly Islamic. (September 10, 2014)

Also see:

Is CAIR Lying about a Rally for Hamas?

by Daniel Pipes
Gatestone Institute
August 22, 2014

A “Stop the Bloodshed in Gaza” rally in downtown Miami on July 20 featured aggressive Islamist chants typical of anti-Israel events. In English, the demonstrators yelled “We are Hamas!” and “We are Jihad!” (as can be seen and heard here). In Hebrew, a Hamas partisan screamed at an Israel-supporter, “Son of a bitch” and “Go to Hell!” and made an obscene arm gesture. In Arabic, the crowd chanted the infamous “Khaybar, Khaybar, oh Jew, Muhammad’s army will return” (a reference to a massacre of Jews under the auspices of Islam’s prophet in A.D. 629).

As I say, just a typical anti-Israel demonstration, and far from the worst. Typical – except that some of its sponsors desperately seek respectability.

In a July 23 report on the demonstration, investigative researcher Danielle Avel posted a scan of a glossy paper flier advertising the event, listing its seven sponsors:

American Muslim Association of North America (AMANA), Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Florida, Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), Syrian American Council of South Florida (SAC), American Muslims for Emergency & Relief (AMER), and American Muslims Foundation.




The event’s Facebook page lists a coalition of eight organizations, some of which overlap with those on the flier:

Join us & spread the word! In coordination with our coalition: Al-Awda Coalition, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP)-FL, POWIR, Broward Green Party, CAIR, National Lawyers Guild (South Florida), Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) – FAU, and Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) – FIU.



Two groups in particular, CAIR and ICNA, caught Avel’s eye because they aspire to invitations to the White House, appearances on network television and at leading universities, and other signs of public acceptance. What took place in Miami, she correctly noted, reveals their true extremism.

Six days later, on July 29, CAIR’s Florida chapter responded with a denial:

CAIR-Florida was not part of, did not plan, did not sponsor, did not participate in, and had absolutely nothing to do with the July 20 rally. If any document lists CAIR-Florida as a sponsor of the event, that listing was included without CAIR-Florida’s permission.



I doubt the veracity of this denial for several reasons.

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

Given these facts, I disbelieve CAIR’s statement.

I do believe it sponsored the vile event in Miami; that its denial of that sponsorship is false; and that the despicable words at the Miami rally revealed the true face of CAIR.

CAIR must not be validated by invitations and appearances. It should be treated as a marginal and despised group like the Ku Klux Klan or the Nation of Islam.

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

 

Also see:

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Turkish Support for ISIS

by Daniel Pipes
The Washington Times
June 18, 2014

N.B. Washington Times title: “Turkey’s support for ISIS Islamist terrorists. Aiding jihadists could put Ankara at odds with Iran”

The battle in Iraq consists of “Turkish-backed Sunni jihadis rebelling against an Iranian-backed Shi’ite-oriented central government,” I wrote in a recent article.

Some readers question that the Republic of Turkey has supported the “Islamic State in Iraq and Syria,” the main Sunni group fighting in Iraq. They point to ISIS attacks on Turkish interests, within Turkey, along itsborder with Syria, and in Mosul and a successful recent meeting of the Turkish and Iranian presidents. Good points, but they can be explained.

First, ISIS is willing to accept Turkish support even while seeing the Islamist prime minister and his countrymen as kafirs (infidels) who need to be shown true Islam.

Second, the presidential visit took place on one level while the fighting in Syria and Iraq took place on quite another; the two can occur simultaneously. Turkish-Iranian rivalry is on the rise and, as the distinguished Turkish journalist Burak Bekdil notes in the current issue of the Middle East Quarterly:

Recent years have often seen official language from the two countries about prospering bilateral trade and common anti-Israeli ideological solidarity. But mostly out of sight have been indications of rivalry, distrust, and mutual sectarian suspicion between the two Muslim countries.

Ankara may deny helping ISIS, but the evidence for this is overwhelming. “As we have the longest border with Syria,” writes Orhan Kemal Cengiz, a Turkish newspaper columnist, “Turkey’s support was vital for the jihadists in getting in and out of the country.” Indeed, the ISIS strongholds not coincidentally cluster close to Turkey’s frontiers.

Kurds, academic experts and the Syrian opposition agree that Syrians, Turks (estimated to number 3,000), and foreign fighters (especially Saudis but also a fair number of Westerners) have crossed the Turkish-Syrian border at will, often to join ISIS. What Turkish journalist Kadri Gursel calls a “two-way jihadist highway,” has no bothersome border checks and sometimes involves the active assistance of Turkish intelligence services. CNN even broadcast a video on “The secret jihadi smuggling route through Turkey.”

Actually, the Turks offered far more than an easy border crossing: they provided the bulk of ISIS’ funds, logistics, training and arms. Turkish residents near the Syrian border tell of Turkish ambulances going to Kurdish-ISIS battle zones and then evacuating ISIS casualties to Turkish hospitals. Indeed, a sensational photograph has surfaced showing ISIS commander Abu Muhammad in a hospital bed receiving treatment for battle wounds in Hatay State Hospital in April 2014.

 

Abu Muhammad of ISIS in Hatay State Hospital in April 2014, recovering from wounds received fighting in Syria.

One Turkish opposition politician estimates that Turkey has paid $800 million to ISIS for oil shipments. Another politician released information about active duty Turkish soldiers training ISIS members. Critics note that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has met three times with someone, Yasin al-Qadi, who has close ties to ISIS and has funded it.

 

The flag of Rojava, or Syria Kurdistan.

Why the Turkish support for wild-eyed extremists? Because Ankara wants to eliminate two Syrian polities, the Assad regime in Damascus and Rojava (the emerging Kurdish state) in the northeast.

Regarding the Assad regime: “Thinking that jihadists would ensure a quick fall for the Assad regime in Syria, Turkey, no matter how vehemently officials deny it, supported the jihadists,” writes Cengiz, “at first along with Western and some Arab countries and later in spite of their warnings.”

Regarding Rojava: Rojava’s leadership being aligned with the PKK, the (formerly) terrorist Kurdish group based in Turkey, the authoritative Turkish journalist Amberin Zaman has little doubt “that until recently, Turkey was allowing jihadist fighters to move unhindered across its borders” to fight the Kurds.

More broadly, as the Turkish analyst Mustafa Akyol notes, Ankara thought “anybody who fought al-Assad was a good guy and also harbored an “ideological uneasiness with accepting that Islamists can do terrible things.” This has led, he acknowledges, to “some blindness” toward violent jihadists. Indeed, ISIS is so popular in Turkey that others publicly copy its logo.

 

An Istanbul-based charity (acronym: HİSADER) has adopted the ISIS logo with the Islamic statement of faith.

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

In conclusion, Turkish leaders are finding Syria a double quagmire, what with Assad still in power and the Kurdish entity growing stronger. In reaction, they have cooperated with even the most extreme, retrograde and vicious elements, such as ISIS. But this support opened a second front in Iraq which, in turn, brings the clash of the Middle East’s two titans, Turkey and Iran, closer to realization.

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

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Also see:

ISIS Rampages, the Middle East Shakes

by Daniel Pipes
National Review Online
June 12, 2014

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

Mosul residents fleeing ISIS turned roads into parking lots.

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

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

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

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

Government of Iraq security shed their uniforms to escape ISIS.

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

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

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

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

The Southern Poverty Law Center Stands Up for Hamas

MorrisDees-310x350by :

Two years ago the Southern Poverty Law Center named me, a bar sign and a brand of gun lubricant as hate groups. It wasn’t the punch line to a joke about a Minister, a Rabbi and a Priest. Instead it was another tribute to the research skills of the country’s wealthiest, dumbest and laziest civil rights group.

Morris Dees began in the mail order business and ended up in the mail order civil rights business. Every month elderly retirees receive envelopes covered with pictures of Klansmen burning crosses. Those photos are the SPLC brand the way that the “swoosh” is for Nike and I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that Dees had already trademarked the KKK.

Their checks bulk up the Southern Poverty Law Center’s $245 million endowment, a few pennies from which are used to hire DailyKos diarists who turn out poorly researched attacks on “hate groups.” That might explain why “Casa D’Ice Signs,” the signs outside a Pennsylvania bar, continues to be listed under “Active Anti-Muslim Groups” by the SPLC despite two solid years of internet ridicule and mockery.

Left-wing cultural revolutionists have a loose definition of “hate,” but they can usually get the “groups” part right. The Southern Poverty Law Center can’t even do that.

With solid research like that, the SPLC’s latest Intelligence Report has everything you expect from an organization that lists a brand of gun lubricant as a hate group. There are random attacks on celebrities like former Homicide star Richard Belzer and former Saturday Night Live star Victoria Jackson. Belzer is deemed guilty of promoting JFK conspiracy theories and Jackson called the TV show Glee “sickening.”

It’s not exactly the KKK, and Belzer, who is Jewish, was unhappy to be implicitly associated him with the Nazis. “As a Jewish person whose grandfather represented Israel at the United Nations before it was a state and an uncle, who as a member of the Resistance, fought the Nazis in World War Two, I am deeply hurt and offended,” he wrote.

But Belzer was not the only Jewish person targeted by the SPLC in an issue exploiting the Kansas City shootings around a Jewish community center. Instead the SPLC decided to launch into a full-throated defense of Hamas supporters and attacks on Jews opposed to Hamas and its domestic front groups.

After the Kansas City shootings, the SPLC rushed to the defense of one of the left-wing bigots whose attacks on Jews had been cited by the killer. It defended Max Blumenthal against charges of bigotry when even the Forward, a left-wing paper, described Blumenthal calling for the ethnic cleansing of Israel’s Jewish population.

But the SPLC did not stop there.

Instead it attacked David Horowitz, Daniel Pipes and Robert Spencer, as well as me, for calling attention to the terrorist ties of the Muslim Students Association. It based this attack on the writings of an Islamist who had been a board member of Berkeley’s Muslim Students Association.

This was the MSA chapter which the ADL reported had distributed copies of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.Hatem Bazian, who has called for Jewish genocide, had headed this chapter. While at Berkeley, Bazian had responded to the arrest of members of his anti-Semitic SJP group for disrupting a Holocaust remembrance event by accusing Jews of controlling the university.

Read more at Front Page

Report From the Future: The Umma States of America

city-3dfuture-city-3d-model-rdfcjun4Written by: Diana West 

Imagine a curious soul or two in the not-too-distant future furtively peeling back the layers and learning the cruel truth: that their forbears willingly exchanged all of their precious liberties for tyranny rather than assess and educate and protect themselves against Islamic conquest — violent, pre-violent, smooth, explosive, financial, political, kafiyya-wrapped or Armani-suited. I think they will marvel because, as they will so very tragically know first-hand, Islam is so simple: its culture of death, its oppression of women and non-Muslims, its defilement of children, its suppression of conscience, religion and speech. They will be astonished, also very angry, over the way free men and women in 20th-21st centuries saw fit, not to embark on emergency measures to ensure energy independence from Islamic oil, block Islamic immigration, and shield financial markets and academia from sharia-compliance, but rather to erect a massive and invasive security state that robbed all citizens of their liberties as they fiddled away the Islamic threat. Mustn’t offend? Mustn’t offend? That was more important than saving the blessed beauty of our lost civlization…?! Incredulously, they will learn how “public intellectuals” invented all manner of “division” within Islam, detected endless “signs” of “evolution” to come,  supported disastrous “democracy” movements, diagnosed “moderation” ever-aborning, projecting all in a static of isms and ists that confounded and dumbfounded and confused. To be sure, it kept “public intellectuals” gainfully occupied, but it did nothing to stem the waves of conquest that made life in the West a sharia-compliant and, of course, post-Communist hell on earth. Obamacare Allahu Akbar.

What brought all this on? About a decade of self-imposed confusion on “radical Islam,”  “extremist Islam,” or, lately, “sharia-ism” when the threat is simple Islam. The simplicity eludes us in exercises that are endlessly Baroque. That’s what I take away from Andy McCarthy’s response today at NRO to a piece by Daniel Pipes.

Andy writes:

His column is about “Islamism,” which is the ideology I (among others) call “Islamic supremacism” — a.k.a “radical” or “extremist” Islam, or even “sharia-ism” in the recent coinage of my friend Joy Brighton . . . all of us, it should be conceded, grappling for the pitch-perfect term that (we hope) justifies sidestepping the gnawing question whether Islam itself inevitably breeds aggressive Muslim groups even if it is otherwise widely construed, or at least practiced, benignly. (Italics in the original.)

To me, this paragraph is deeply depressing. I think it’s the egg-shell-delicate emotionalism with which Andy and his peers (“all of us”)  are still  “grappling” with this simple, simple subject of Islam — the “pitch-perfect term,” after all. Why such angst? Why such nonsense words (“sharia-ism”)? That there are people in this world who see fit to follow the totalitarian and supremacist precepts of the Koran and the rest of the authoritative Islamic texts is not a cause for Christian or Jewish or Zoroastrian embarassment. That there are people in this world who consider Mohammed, the first jihadist who “married” a six year old, their model is not a cause for agonizing guilt among those who follow Jesus Christ, Moses, Pan or the wind.

Our era’s seemingly eternal conversation about the “ists” and “isms” that mainly Christians and Jews like to cloak Islam with continues here. 

Andy makes one more comment to note:

Our interests lie, as they always have, with promoting authentic moderate Muslims — i.e., the non-Islamists we are hoping will defeat Islamists.

I disagree. To be sure, this is the basis of US policy going back before 9/11 but, hard as we “hoped,” it hasn’t worked. Islam, its influence (dhimmitude) advance unchecked. This is also the same “strategy” on which the US has disastrously gone to war. After all, what is counterinsurgency doctrine (COIN), as implemented in Iraq and Afghanistan, but a strategy to empower “authentic moderate Muslims” to defeat the rebel-insurgent-“Islamists”? That hasnt worked, either. Indeed, COIN became the mechanism by which our armies have increasingly submitted to sharia norms, as chronicled at this website.

Our interests lie, I submit, in devising every public policy possible to protect our Constitution, our country, our identity from the depredations of Islamization. Any “authentic moderate Muslim” is welcome to help.

Can Islamism Evolve?

lightBy Andrew C. McCarthy:

Like everything Daniel Pipes writes, his column this week about the prospects of Islamism is interesting and admirably honest. If every public intellectual were as willing as Daniel to check his premises regularly and modify them when new facts call them into question, our discourse would be a lot more civil and edifying.

His column is about “Islamism,” which is the ideology I (among others) call “Islamic supremacism” — a.k.a “radical” or “extremist” Islam, or even “sharia-ism” in the recent coinage of my friend Joy Brighton . . . all of us, it should be conceded, grappling for the pitch-perfect term that (we hope) justifies sidestepping the gnawing question whether Islam itself inevitably breeds aggressive Muslim groups even if it is otherwise widely construed, or at least practiced, benignly.

Daniel has previously rejected the possibility that Islamism, which is innately dictatorial, could evolve into something that approximates pluralistic democracy. He now surveys recent developments and concludes it is conceivable — not likely, but conceivable — that Islamism could evolve and improve.

To me, the developments Daniel cites are just glimmers here and there along a mostly discouraging trajectory. I will make three points, more in reaction than in direct response to his observations.

1. Only our own lower expectations of what liberal democracy is make it possible to speculate that Islamism could become borderline democratic. While Daniel mines some hopeful signs that Islamism — or at least branches of it — could be progressing away from unyielding authoritarianism, the parallel phenomenon (which is not the subject of his column) is that Western democracy is regressing away from a culture of individual liberty protected by limited government. If it now seems conceivable that Islamism could democratize, it can only be owing to modern democracy’s accommodation of more centralized and intrusive government.

2. The only conclusion of Daniel’s that I have a real quarrel with is his assertion that

Islamism has significantly evolved over the past 13 years. As recently as 2001, its adherents were synonymous with criminals, terrorists, and revolutionaries.

I think this conflates Islamism with our perception of Islamism. Personally, I don’t believe Islamism has materially changed at all. Instead, beginning about 21 years ago with the bombing of the World Trade Center, there was a vigorous effort on the part of progressive policy-makers and thinkers — an effort that still persists — to convince the public that the only “radical” Muslims were violent jihadists (who were incongruously portrayed as both “extremist” Muslims and practitioners of a “false Islam”). All other Muslims, we were told, were “moderates,” no matter how immoderate their beliefs. There was very little public understanding of sharia — the Islamic societal framework and legal system — and of the fact that imposing its implementation is the rationale for both jihadist terror and the non-violent agitations of Islamist groups.

What has changed over the past 13 years is not Islamism. Thanks to the good work of people like Daniel — I have tried to do my share, too — the public has begun to learn that Islamists include not only terrorists but Islamic supremacists who seek to impose and inculcate sharia standards by such other means as lawfare, legislation, the classroom, the media, popular culture, etc. There is nothing new in this variegated approach; it is the same plan for ground-up revolution that Muslim Brotherhood founder Hasan al-Banna laid out nearly a century ago. There is, however, more popular awareness today that not every non-terrorist Muslim activist is a “moderate.”

Daniel recalls his observation all those years ago that many Islamists “are peaceable in appearance, but they all must be considered potential killers.” He says “these words ring archaic now,” but, to me, they simply reflect the still valid insight that terrorist and non-terrorist Islamists share objectives even if their methods differ. I don’t think there has been any real evolution just because we are in a time when many Islamists, as Daniel says, “find the ballot box a more effective means to power than the gun.”

It has always been the case that some Islamists pursue the sharia agenda by barbaric means and others by political and legal processes. The only difference today lies in the nature of their opportunities. In Muslim-majority countries such as Egypt, Islamists got the chance to obtain by popular vote what they had previously sought by terrorism — control of the government. And what happened when the Muslim Brotherhood took over? Terrorists were sprung from captivity. Islamist Egypt seamlessly became a hospitable place for jihadists to organize against Israel and the United States. Islamists — both violent and ostensibly non-violent — put their differences aside and allied against the West.

’Twas ever thus. Daniel is surely right that “some reforms of Islam are already underway” (my italics). But that hardly means Islamism is reforming in any substantial way. Indeed, the link in Daniel’s assertion about ongoing Islamic reform takes the reader to an excellent essay he wrote for Commentary last year, which portrays the reform of Islam as what is required “if Islamism is to be defeated,” not as a phenomenon happening in Islamism itself.

Read more at National Review

*********

Daniel Pipes has written a reply: Islamism’s Trajectory

Banned in the British Library

by Daniel Pipes
National Review Online
April 8, 2014

Prominent counter-jihadis like Geert Wilders, Michael Savage, and Robert Spencer have the distinction of being banned from entry into the United Kingdom – and, now, Her Majesty’s Government, in its wisdom, has also banned two websites connected to me. It’s not quite the same, admittedly, and I am working to get this ban removed, but I also wear it as a perverse badge of honor given that government’s shameful record vis-à-vis Islamism.

Say you’re in the British Library, the national depository library and a government institution, roughly equivalent to the Library of Congress in the United States or the Bibliothèque nationale in France. Say you want to read what David Brog writes about declining Evangelical support for Israel in the latest Middle East Quarterly. You type in MEForum.org and get the following result:

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

The distinction between the two sites particularly charms me. The British Library categorizes MEForum.org as “Religion, Intolerance” and DanielPipes.org as “Religion, Adult Sites, Intolerance, Blogs.” (It’s probably titles like “Arabian Sex Tourism” that won me the X-rating.) Oddly, both sites are blocked for the same reason: “Intolerance.”

Should you, however, be in the British Library and wish to develop hatred toward Jews, no problem! Here are some antisemitic sites, all accessed in the past few days:

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

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

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

And then, perhaps the worst of all:

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

There could be a technical explanation for this bizarre situation. The British Library issued a press release in December 2013, “Web filtering on the British Library’s WiFi service,” explaining that

in our public areas where there are regular visits by school children, we filter certain online content, such as pornography and gambling websites. We have recently introduced a new WiFi service. It’s early days in the implementation of this service and we are aware that the new filter has been blocking certain sites erroneously. We are actively working to resolve this issue.

Might this be the problem? I have written the library and requested that it unblock the sites. Now, let’s see if the censorship was “erroneous” or intentional.

(In contrast, the British Library has not yet excluded me from the UK union catalog of books; so, the same organization that bans my website permits my books. That makes as much sense as the rest of the British government’s policies.)

Apr. 9, 2014 update: For updates, see “No Longer Banned in the British Library!

The Worrisome Future of Special Operation Forces

by Daniel Pipes
Mar 23, 2014
Cross-posted from National Review Online, The Corner

I just had the opportunity to spend an afternoon with a Council on Foreign Relations group at the United States Special Operations Command at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida. Its commander, the famed Admiral William H. McRaven, started the briefing, followed by his staff.

I expected to learn about Navy SEALs, Army Rangers, and their air force and marine counterparts. I thought I would hear about the exploits of this 67,000-strong command operating in 84 countries, maybe even about the taking down of Osama bin Laden. But that was not to be. Instead, he and the other officers talked at length about their new mission, starting with the command’s motto, “You can’t surge trust.”

 

Cover of the SOF “operating concept” booklet, not online.

It took some time for it to sink in because of their turgid language, but here’s a key paragraph from the Operating Concept for special operations forces (SOF) that was handed out to the CFR group:

The Special Operations Forces Operating Concept captures the essence of the SOF heritage as it could be – as it should be in the year 2020 and beyond. The concept moves beyond the first decade of the 21st Century, when SOF primarily supported large-scale contingency operations by conducting counterterrorism operations to find, capture, or kill our adversaries. Although of great value to the Nation, these operations were never intended to be decisive. Operating through the Global SOF Network in support of our Geographic Combatant Commanders and Chiefs of Mission, SOF now have the opportunity to achieve strategic outcomes by working with and through interagency and foreign partners to understand and influence relevant populations.

Translated into English, this says:

Special Operations Forces used to be about capturing or killing America’s adversaries; its new mission is to shape public opinion.

Or, it the words of a bullet point in the Operating Concept, the goal is “Elevating SOF non-lethal skills to the same level of expertise as lethal skills.” As radical a shift as this is, at least I could comprehend it. Not so the following graphic, “Strategic Appreciation – 2.0,”which was projected onto a large floor for most of our briefing and which makes no sense to me:

2683Comments: (1) I came away from this briefing unsure if the special operations leadership really believes this stuff or is mouthing it to distract the public from discussing its real mission. (2) If it’s sincere, I worry about our future defense. (March 23, 2014)

The Rushdie Fatwa 25 Years Later

by Daniel Pipes
Feb 14, 2014
Cross-posted from National Review Online, The Corner

Twenty-five years ago today, Ayatollah Khomeini brought his edict down on Salman Rushdie. Iran’s revolutionary leader objected to the author’s magical-realist novel The Satanic Verses because of its insults to the Muslim prophet Muhammad and responded by calling for the execution of Rushdie and “all those involved in the publication who were aware of its contents.”

Salman Rushdie in 1989.

That Rushdie was born in India, lived in Britain, and had no significant connections to Iran made this an unprecedented act of aggression, one that resounded widely at the time and has subsequently had an enduring impact. Indeed, one could argue that the era of “creeping Shari’a” or “stealth jihad” or “lawful Islamism” began on February 14, 1989, with the issuance of that short edict.

If Rushdie, 66, is alive and well (if not exactly flourishing; his writings deteriorated after The Satanic Verses), many others lost their lives in the disturbances revolving around his book. Worse, the long-term impact of the edict has been to constrain the ability of Westerners freely to discuss Islam and topics related to it, what has come to be known as the Rushdie Rules. Long observation of this topic (including a book written in 1989), leads me to conclude that two processes are underway:

First, that the right of Westerners to discuss, criticize, and even ridicule Islam and Muslims has eroded over the years.

Second, that free speech is a minor part of the problem; at stake is something much deeper – indeed, a defining question of our time: will Westerners maintain their own historic civilization in the face of assault by Islamists, or will they cede to Islamic culture and law and submit to a form of second-class citizenship?

Most analyses of the Rushdie Rules focus exclusively on the growth of Islamism. But two other factors are even more important: Multiculturalism as practiced undercuts the will to sustain Western civilization against Islamist depredations while the Left’s making common political cause with Islamists gives the latter an entrée. In other words, the core of the problem lies not in Islam but in the West. (February 14, 2014)

Also see:

The Sick Middle East

by Daniel Pipes
The Washington Times
January 24, 2014

W.T. title: “The Middle East mightily resists efforts to prod modernization”

The recent fall of Fallujah, Iraq, to an Al-Qaeda-linked group provides an unwelcome reminder of the American resources and lives devoted in 2004 to 2007 to control the city – all that effort expended and nothing to show for it. Similarly, outlays of hundreds of billions of dollars to modernize Afghanistan did not prevent the release of 72 prisoners who have attacked Americans.

 

Al-Qaeda takes over in Fallujah, Iraq.

These two examples point to a larger conclusion: maladies run so deep in the Middle East (minus remarkable Israel) that outside powers cannot remedy them. Here’s a fast summary:

Water is running out. A dam going up on the Blue Nile in Ethiopia threatens substantially to cut Egypt’s main water supply by devastating amounts for years.Syria and Iraq suffer from water crises because the Euphrates and Tigris rivers are drying up. Growing the narcotic qat plant absorbs so much of Yemen’s limited water supplies that Sana’a may be the first modern capital city to be abandoned because of drought. Ill considered wheat-growing schemes in Saudi Arabia depleted aquifers.

On the flip side, the poorly constructed Mosul Dam in Iraq could collapse, drowning half a million immediately and leave many more stranded without electricity or food. Sewage runs rampant in Gaza. Many countries suffer from electricity black-outs, and especially in the oppressive summer heat that routinely reaches 120 degrees.

 

An artist’s rendition of the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam now under construction.

People are also running out. After experiencing a huge and disruptive youth bulge, the region’s birth rate is collapsing.Iran, for example, has undergone the steepest decline in birth rates of any country ever recorded, going from 6.6 births per woman in 1977 to 1.6 births in 2012. This has created what one analyst calls an “apocalyptic panic” that fuels Tehran’s aggression.

Poor schools, repressive governments, and archaic social mores assure abysmal rates of economic growth. Starvation haunts Egypt, Syria, Yemen, andAfghanistan.

Vast reserves of oil and gas have distorted nearly every aspect of life. Miniature medieval-like monarchies like Qatar become surreal world powers playing at war in Libya and Syria, indifferent to the lives they break, as a vast underclass of oppressed foreign workers toils away and a princess deploys the largest budget for art purchases in human history. The privileged can indulge their cruel impulses, protected by connections and money. Sex tourism to poor countries like India flourishes.

 

Al-Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani (b. 1983), sister of the emir of Qatar and chairperson of the Qatar Museums Authority, reportedly has about US$1 billion a year to spend on art.

Efforts at democracy and political participation either wither, as in Egypt, or elevate fanatics who cleverly disguise their purposes, as in Turkey. Efforts to overthrow greedy tyrants lead to yet-worse ideological tyrants (as in Iran in 1979) or to anarchy (as in Libya and Yemen). One commonly roots for both sides to lose. Rule of law remains a fata morgana.

Islamism, currently the most dynamic and threatening political ideology, is summed up by a morbid Hamasdeclaration to Israelis: “We love death more than you love life.” Polygyny, burqas, genital mutilation, and honor killing make Middle Eastern women the world’s most oppressed.

Middle Eastern life suffers from acutebiases – often official – based on religion, sect, ethnicity, tribe, skin color, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, age, citizenship, work, and disability. Slavery remains a scourge.

Conspiracy theories, political zealotry, resentment, repression, anarchy, and aggression rule the region’s politics. Modern notions of the individual remain weak in societies where primordial bonds of family, tribe, and clan remain dominant.

 

Alaa Hussein Ali (l) ruled the Republic of Kuwait for 6 days in August 1990 before the country was annexed to Iraq by Saddam Hussein (r).

The Middle East suffers from an urge to snuff out whole countries. Israel is the best known potential victim but Kuwait actually disappeared for a half year while Lebanon, Jordan, and Bahrain could be swallowed up at any time.

Middle Eastern states spend outsized amounts of their wealth on intelligences services and the military, creating redundant forces to check each other. They venture abroad to buy tank, ship, and plane baubles. They devote inordinate resources to chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons, and the platforms to deliver them. Even terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda plot to acquire WMD. Cutting-edge methods of terrorism develop in the Middle East.

Economic and political failure creates large bodies of refugees; Afghans have made up the world’s largest refugee population since the 1980s; Syrians now threaten to overtake them, sowing poverty and chaos in their lands of refuge. Desperate souls attempt to leave the region altogether for Western countries, with more than a few dying along the way. Those who make it bring their region’s maladies to such tidy countries as Sweden and Australia.

Nineteenth-century diplomats dubbed the Ottoman Empire “the Sick Man of Europe.” Now, I nominate the whole Middle East the Sick Man of the World. The region’s hatreds, extremism, violence, and despotism require many decades to remedy.

While this process perhaps takes place, the outside world is best advised not to expend blood and treasure to redeem the Middle East – a hopeless task – but on protecting itself from the region’s manifold threats, from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and harems to mega-terrorism and electromagnetic pulse.

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

Has Iran Gained a Foothold in the Arabian Peninsula?

by Daniel Pipes
January 15, 2014
Cross-posted from National Review Online, The Corner

According to a sensational report by Awad Mustafa in Defense News, a Gannett publication, not only has Tehran signed an agreement with the United Arab Emirates over three disputed islands near the Strait of Hormuz, but it has also reached a possibly even more important accord with the government of Oman. Both of these agreements have vast implications for the oil trade, the world economy, and Iranian influence.

According an unnamed “high level UAE source,” secretive talks taking place over six months led to a deal on the Greater and Lesser Tunbs finalized on Dec. 24: “For now, two of the three islands are to return to the UAE while the final agreement for Abu Musa is being ironed out. Iran will retain the sea bed rights around the three islands while the UAE will hold sovereignty over the land.”

This is big news, but yet bigger potentially is the source’s stating that “Oman will grant Iran a strategic location on Ras Musandam mountain, which is a very strategic point overlooking the whole gulf region. In return for Ras Musandam, Oman will receive free gas and oil from Iran once a pipeline is constructed within the coming two years.”

Both agreements center around the Strait of Hormuz, the world’s most important oil passageway and vulnerability.

  • The UAE deal involves the tiny but strategic islands of Abu Musa and the Greater and Lesser Tunbs near the straits, occupied by Iranian forces since 1971, just as the UAE emerged as an independent country.
  • It’s not clear what granting to the Iranians “a strategic location on Ras Musandam mountain” means but Musandam is the very tip of the Straits of Hormuz and Tehran winning access to any sort of military position there could enhance their ability to block the oil trade as well as make trouble on the peninsula.
Oman’s territory includes two non-contiguous areas, one of which is Musandam at the Straits of Hormuz.

Oman’s role in facilitating the UAE-Iran talks, says the source, was approved by Washington: “Oman was given the green light from Iran and the US to reach deals that would decrease the threat levels in the region and offset the Saudi Arabian influence in the future by any means.”

Comments:

(1) As if the Joint Plan of Action announced by the P5+1 and Tehran on Nov. 24 were not a disaster on the nuclear issue, it is also encouraging regioinal governments to appease the bellicose and ambitious Iranian regime.

(2) That the Obama administration seeks to “offset” Saudi influence with Iranian influence sounds unlikely – but given the geniuses occupying the White House these days, who knows? (January 15, 2014)