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

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Daniel Pipes has written a reply: Islamism’s Trajectory

Banned in the British Library

by Daniel Pipes
National Review Online
April 8, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And then, perhaps the worst of all:

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

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

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

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

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

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

The 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)

Can Islam Be Reformed? A Response Essay To Daniel Pipes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not Too Fast: Morsi Downfall May Yet Herald Sharia for Egypt

Egypt's Defense Minister and head of the army General Abdul-Fattah al-Sissi (Photo: © Reuters)

Egypt’s Defense Minister and head of the army General Abdul-Fattah al-Sissi (Photo: © Reuters)

By Ryan Mauro:

The overthrow of Egyptian President Morsi is the biggest blow to the Muslim Brotherhood since its founding in 1928, but we mustn’t allow our joy to make us overlook one disappointing fact: The Defense Minister is widely reported to be an Islamist and the new “constitutional declaration” declares Sunni Sharia to be the “main source of legislation.”

The military that sidelined Morsi was led by Defense Minister General Abdul-Fattah al-Sissi. It is often forgotten that Morsi choseal-Sissi to be the top military official. He replaced General Tantawi, who analysts hoped could stop the Brotherhood’s expanding grip on power.

Dr. Daniel Pipes writes that a historian discovered that al-Sissi even helped identify officers loyal to Tantawi so they could be discharged. When al-Sissi was picked, it was correctly viewed as a major Islamist victory.

Zeinab Abul Mahd, an expert on the Egyptian military and professor at American University in Cairo, said that he was “known inside the military for being a Muslim Brother in the closet.” A leading pro-military presenter on television, Tawfiq Ukasha, referred to al-Sissi as “their man” in the military. His wife dressed in the full niqab, an act of such adherence to Sharia law than many Islamist women don’t go that far.

The Muslim Brotherhood denied that al-Sissi is one of its official members, but a Brotherhood leader conceded that he is part of the “family.” The Brotherhood is an ideology. You don’t have to be a card-carrying member to be a part of it. Even Morsi wasn’t officially a member of the party after he took office, even though he was the Brotherhood’s official presidential candidate.

Read more at The Clarion Project

The Incontrovertible Dead-End of Islam Revisited

20121006_MAP003_0Islam is nothing if not a political ideology. The first time Mohammad raised his sword to forcibly convert men to Islam, and abandoned persuasion, that was the inauguration of political Islam. It has not changed since then. Force, coercion, slavery, death, and submission are the sole hallmarks of Islam.

By Edward Cline:

Excerpt:

The following is a revised and expanded version of “The Incontrovertible Dead-End of Islam,” which first appeared on October 30th, 2010. The revision and expansion are prompted by a May 13th, 2013 article by Daniel Pipes, president of the Middle East Forum, “Islam vs. Islamism,” which also appeared in the Washington Times on May 13th. His article reflects a troubling central premise of alleging a necessary distinction between Islam and “Islamists,” that is, between ordinary, non-violent Muslims and their violent, “extremist” or “radical” brethren.

Pipes opens with a reference to the Boston Marathon bombings of April 15thand the foiled attack on the Canadian rail link to the U.S.:

What motives lay behind last month’s Boston Marathon bombing and the would-be attack on a VIA Rail Canada train?

Leftists and establishmentarians variously offer imprecise and tired replies – such as “violent extremism” or anger at Western imperialism – unworthy of serious discussion. Conservatives, in contrast, engage in a lively and serious debate among themselves: some say Islam the religion provides motive, others say it’s a modern extremist variant of the religion, known as radical Islam or Islamism.

As a participant in the latter debate, here’s my argument for focusing on Islamism.

His argument proposes a false dichotomy between Islam and “Islamists,” that is, between Muslims who wage violent jihad on the West and even amongst themselves for sectarian reasons, and those who don’t.

Islam is the fourteen-century-old faith of a billion-plus believers that includes everyone from quietist Sufis to violent jihadis. Muslims achieved remarkable military, economic, and cultural success between roughly 600 and 1200 C.E. Being a Muslim then meant belonging to a winning team, a fact that broadly inspired Muslims to associate their faith with mundane success. Those memories of medieval glory remain not just alive but central to believers’ confidence in Islam and in themselves as Muslims.

Major dissonance began around 1800, when Muslims unexpectedly lost wars, markets, and cultural leadership to Western Europeans. It continues today, as Muslims bunch toward the bottom of nearly ever index of achievement. This shift has caused massive confusion and anger. What went wrong, why did God seemingly abandon His faithful? The unbearable divergence between pre-modern accomplishment and modern failure brought about trauma.

Muslims have responded to this crisis in three main ways. Secularists want Muslims to ditch the Shari’a (Islamic law) and emulate the West. Apologists also emulate the West but pretend that in doing so they are following the Shari’a. Islamists reject the West in favor of a retrograde and full application of the Shari’a.

These paragraphs astounded me. The first one glosses over the conquest of the Middle East and North Africa which necessitated forced conversion, butchery, and slavery. Remarkable military successes, indeed. But for their defeat at the Battle of Tours, the “Islamists” would have carved out a huge empire in Europe. What economic accomplishments? The period he cites spans the economically stagnant Dark Ages and early Western Medieval periods. Cultural successes? Other than a certain architectural style, translating some Aristotle and other ancient thinkers – whose works Islam subsequently rejected – I can’t recall any great symphonies, artwork, or literature Islam produced in those six hundred years.

“Major dissonance” within Islam began over who was going to be Mohammad’s official successor in the 630’s. Thus the interminable conflicts between Sunnis and Shi’ites and other splintering sects of Islam. Islam never had any “cultural leadership.”

Secularist Muslims may want Islam to ditch Sharia law but only at the risk of being deemed apostates and of their deaths. Apologist Muslims feign a hypothetical reconciliation between Sharia and Western concepts of freedom, and demand the incorporation of Sharia into Western law. “Islamists,” however, are consistent with their creed, know that it is“retrograde” and primitive, and wage jihad to achieve that end.

Raymond Ibrahim, associate director of the Middle East Forum, on October 28, 2010, however, published an article, “Offensive Jihad: The One Incontrovertible Problem with Islam,” also in the Middle East Form (October 28, 2010), which seems to be at fundamental odds with Pipes’ article. Ibrahim’s article addresses one of the fundamental problems of and with Islam, one which I have continually stressed: jihadJihad is a core tenet in what is a codified system of irrationalism that cannot be “reformed” without obliterating Islam as a distinct religious creed. Remove the belligerent jihadist commands from the Koran and Hadith to wage jihad, for example, and it would cease to be Islam, not only in Muslim minds but in non-Muslim, as well.

There would, of course, remain a host of other irrational assertions and imperatives, such as the sanctioning of wife-beating and the murder of apostates and the like, which constitute, after some astounding mental gymnastics by Islamic clerics and scholars, the byzantine and illogical underpinnings and text of Sharia law. The jihadist elements of Islam, however, are easily transmutable into a political policy, which is conquest of all non-Muslim or infidel governments and societies and their submission to Sharia. That makes it an ideological doctrine. Muslims are either obliged to wage jihad, or they are not. Mohammad and Muslim scholars say they are. End of argument, so far as Koranic interpretation goes, and that interpretation is biased towards the literal.

Reading the debates about what Islam’s mission is and the role of jihad in it and what they truly “mean,” I am always reminded of H.L. Mencken’s observation on religious zealotry: “The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false-face for the urge to rule it.” Islam is a puritanical creed that makes no allowances for either infidels or apostates or its adherents. I cannot believe that beneath the pious exterior of any person who would be seduced by Islam is not a seething, percolating envy of men who are indeed free, an envy easily and maliciously transfigured into violent jihad.

This policy is operative and underway today in Western nations with varying degrees of success, and it is making progress only by default. Islam is strong only because the West’s defenders are emasculated by multiculturalist premises and a general disinclination to condemn any religion. Aggravating the problem is an unadmitted but general fear in tolerance-obsessed pragmatists of “offending” Muslims, who might start rioting and demonstrating again, claiming discrimination, defamation, and disrespect, and etc., none of it spontaneous but clearly organized and orchestrated by so-called “radicals.”

I was initially impressed by Ibrahim’s quotation from an entry on jihad in the Encyclopedia of Islam, which is an admission that “Islam must completely be made over before the doctrine of jihad can be eliminated” – until I realized that it could just as well mean that, after a global caliphate has been established, there would be no more justification for violentjihad. Every nation would by then be conquered, recalcitrant infidels slain, enslaved, or reduced to dhimmitude, and Sharia made the law of every land.

In short, after all the killing, enslaving, and oppression, jihad would be wrong!!

But, if Islam is completely” made over” in the sense of reforming it, what would be left of Islam that virtually any other creed could not claim as its fundamental tenets, as well? And to” make over” Islam, its principal font of “kilman” or wisdom, the objectionable and barbaric Mohammad, would need to be dispensed with. He is a role model for killers and tyrants and other psychopathic individuals. Remove that one critical link of the irrational and arbitrary in Islam, and all the other links fall to the floor or dissolve into nothingness.

 
Read more: Family Security Matters

Islam Vs. Islamism: A Case for Wishful Thinkers

 

By Walid Shoebat:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He did this while he ignored his other statement:

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

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

DanielPipes

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at PJ Media

 

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

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

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

He writes:

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

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

 

Islam vs. Islamism, again

4262329508_45b1258d1b_zBy Robert Spencer:

This is a familiar controversy to longtime Jihad Watch readers; in November 2011 I published an article in National Review responding to a piece by Andy McCarthy and criticizing the Islam/Islamism distinction for obscuring the fact that doctrines of warfare and subjugation are found in Islam’s core texts.

I’ve long rejected the term “Islamist” for reasons I explained in that piece: “…the distinction is artificial and imposed from without. There are not, in other words, Islamist mosques and non-Islamist mosques, distinguishable from one another by the sign outside each, like Baptist and Methodist churches. On the contrary, ‘Islamists’ move among non-political, non-supremacist Muslims with no difficulty; no Islamic authorities are putting them out of mosques, or setting up separate institutions to distinguish themselves from the ‘Islamists.’ Mevlid Jasarevic [a jihadist in Sarajevo] could and did visit mosques in Austria, Serbia, and Bosnia without impediment before he started shooting on Friday; no one stopped him from entering because he was an ‘Islamist.'”

And so to say we must work with ordinary Muslims while eschewing collaboration with Islamists is not precisely a distinction without a difference, but a distinction that is practically imperceptible and, in many cases, in fact not there at all.

This is not to say that Islam can never be reformed. Many strange things have happened in history: events that no one 100 or 50 or sometimes even 10 years before they happened would have or could have predicted. The Berlin Wall came down in 1989, but in 1986 and 1987 there were still plenty of learned analysts all over the airwaves and in the corridors of power in Washington talking about how we were going to have to deal with the Soviet Bloc for generations to come. So I will never say that something can never happen. But we have to recognize fully and honestly the obstacles in the way of it happening so as to make a truly realistic assessment of the situation we’re in, and apply remedies that are most likely to work, as well as to accord with our own fundamental principles.

This piece by Daniel Pipes has stirred up some controversy already; Pamela Geller comments here; Andrew Bostom weighs in here; and Walid Shoebat here.

“Islam and its infidels,” by Daniel Pipes in the Washington Times, May 13:

What motives lay behind last month’s Boston Marathon bombing and the would-be attack on a Via Rail Canada train?Leftists and establishmentarians variously offer imprecise and tired replies — such as “violent extremism” or anger at Western imperialism — unworthy of serious discussion. Conservatives, in contrast, engage in a lively and serious debate among themselves: some say Islam the religion provides motive; others say it’s a modern extremist variant of the religion, known as radical Islam or Islamism.

As a participant in the latter debate, here’s my argument for focusing on Islamism.

Those arguing for Islam itself as the problem (such as Wafa Sultan and Ayaan Hirsi Ali) point to the consistency from Muhammad’s life and the contents of the Koran and Hadith to current Muslim practice. Agreeing with Geert Wilders’ film “Fitna,” they point to striking continuities between Koranic verses and jihad actions. They quote Islamic scriptures to establish the centrality of Muslim supremacism, jihad and misogyny, concluding that a moderate form of Islam is impossible. They point to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s deriding the very idea of a moderate Islam. Their killer question is “Was Muhammad a Muslim or an Islamist?” They contend that we who blame Islamism do so out of political correctness or cowardliness.

To which, we reply: Yes, certain continuities do exist, and Islamists definitely follow the Koran and Hadith literally. Moderate Muslims exist, but lack Islamists’ near-hegemonic power. Mr. Erdogan’s denial of moderate Islam points to a curious overlap between Islamism and the anti-Islam viewpoint. Muhammad was a plain Muslim, not an Islamist, for the latter concept dates back only to the 1920s. And no, we are not cowardly but offer our true analysis.

 

Not only do moderate Muslims “lack Islamists’ near-hegemonic power”; they also lack the justification in the Qur’an and Hadith that Islamic jihadists always point to in order to gain recruits among peaceful Muslims, as well as to justify their actions. And this is a key point: if Wafa Sultan and Ayaan Hirsi Ali (both, not incidentally, ex-Muslims) are right that there is a “consistency from Muhammad’s life and the contents of the Koran and Hadith to current Muslim practice,” and they most certainly are, as Daniel Pipes apparently acknowledges when he says that “certain continuities do exist, and Islamists definitely follow the Koran and Hadith literally,” then attempts to prescind from Qur’anic literalism in order to reform Islam and create a more peaceful version of the faith will always be challenged by the literalists (who are and have always been the mainstream in Islam) as heretics and apostates.

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