Philos Project, by Andrew Harrod, March 17, 2015:

Iran is now the rising power of the Middle East.

That’s what Hudson Institute scholar Michael Doran had to say on a February 20 panel commemorating a decade since the 2005 assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. While Sunni atrocities at the hands of ISIS have captured the world’s attention, Doran and his fellow panelists argued that the Iranian-led Shiite alliance now expanding in the region is actually a far greater threat.

Doran’s colleague Lee Smith opened the panel by noting that Hariri’s Hezbollah “murderers still walk free” while the Obama administration cooperates with the Hezbollah’s patron, the Islamic Republic of Iran.  He noted that Persian Iran currently dominates four Arab capitals in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen. Obama’s heavy focus on countering Sunni extremism “left the door open” to Iranian regional domination, Doran observed.

How is Iran making such tremendous gains? Doran described Iran’s “winning formula” of projecting its revolutionary power around the region through its Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), an organization that specializes in a mix of special operations, intelligence gathering, and aid distribution.  While the United States had difficulty channeling America’s “awesome power” during the 2006 Iraq war surge, the IRGC has successfully mounted similar operations all around the region. Doran pointed out that the Iranians “are just smarter than we are” in the Middle East, and are more willing “to kick you in the groin.” Meanwhile, Lebanese journalist Hussain Abdul Hussain recalled that the United States has “always been willing to bail” on allies, especially in his country.

What is the IRGC doing exactly? Foundation for the Defense of Democracies analyst Tony Badran explained that Iran’s export of revolution entails not so much the creation of a wider Islamic republic but the creation of a “militia movement…parallel to the state.”  This movement becomes an interlocutor with the outside world while also infiltrating existing state institutions. Take Hezbollah for example. Mythology notwithstanding, Hezbollah now effectively controls the Lebanese armed forces, once dominated by the country’s Christian population, and ensures that only an Iran-based policy will succeed in the country. The real power in Lebanon, Doran concurred, lies in militias like Hezbollah.

Badran explained how Iran wields Hezbollah, the “crown jewel” of the IRGC, as an “expeditionary force” around the region. Hussain elaborated that in this “Iranian era,” when states are collapsing everywhere, Syria’s dictator Bashir al-Assad has become an “Iranian viceroy” who is “totally dependent” upon Hezbollah.  Doran noted that the security sector in Iraq is now totally under the thumb of the Iranians, making that country’s elected officials almost irrelevant.

But Iran’s growing influence doesn’t stop at the borders of the Middle East. Doran also analyzed how Iranian influence prevented Obama from pursuing regime change in Syria despite consistent urgings from his National Security Council (NSC).  Overthrowing Assad could prompt Iranian-backed Shiite militias in Iraq to turn from fighting ISIS to fighting the Americans.  Iran might also cancel its nuclear nonproliferation agreement with the United States. Thus, it is Iranian red lines, not American ones, that are dictating America’s activity (or non-activity) in Syria.

The view from Israel is a complex one. Badran noted that Israeli policymakers are divided over whether ISIS or the Iranian coalition is the greater threat in Syria.  Therefore, the Israelis have refrained from attempting to shift Syria’s internal power balance. But if the Israelis did ultimately move against Assad, Doran felt “almost certain” that they would find themselves at loggerheads with the Obama administration.

Doran saw “only one choice” of American policy towards Iran — opposition and not accommodation — but worried about finding regional allies who would prove up to the task.  Who would stand against Iran? ISIS?  Talking about confronting Iran, Badran said, means “you really are talking about Israel” since the Gulf States are still too weak and disorganized to be taken seriously.

All hope is not lost, however. Doran emphasized that Americans “are a great power,” even though “we may not feel like it.” At any rate, we’re a “hell of a lot stronger” than Iran. Hussain considered “far-fetched” the prospect of two million Alawites under Assad in Syria and one million Shiites in Lebanon, only one-third the population, controlling these two countries as minorities.  Hezbollah, Badran observed, is “very small” with only about 5,000 fighters, 1,000 of whom are now dead after fighting in Syria.

Hussain considered the 2006 Iraq surge a “brilliant model” that could be applicable to Lebanon and Syria.  Aided by the US, Sunni tribes in these countries, as well as Shiite tribes in Lebanon opposed to Hezbollah, could confront Iranian alliance together. In the meantime, Hussain found Obama’s NSC so incompetent that he advocated abolishing it.

The Hudson Institute panel demonstrated once again that the West has many foes and few friends in the Middle East.  While the  Sunni jihadists of ISIS transfix the world with decapitations, an even more powerful Iranian-led Shiite alliance endangers the delicate balance of the region.  Trying to counter both of these threats at the same time presents numerous dilemmas, and inexperienced outsiders must beware the Middle East’s shifting political sands.

Also see:

America is Losing the War Against Sunni Jihadists and Empowering The Shia Caliphate

isis-640x480Breitbartby DR. SEBASTIAN GORKA, March 13, 2015:

With its support of the Baghdad government and the wrong rebels in Syria, the US Administration is doing the unthinkable: strengthening the spread of Tehran’s control in the Middle East and at the same time also helping the Sunni extremists to grow in power.

The American strategy against Global Jihad is having the opposite effect of that intended. And even key government officials are beginning to openly admit the failure of our policies.

The Director of National Intelligence, retired General James Clapper, recently testified that the terrorist threat is worse than at any other time in history and Major General Michael Nagata, responsible for planning our response to the civil war in Syria, has stated that the Islamic State is now more dangerous than Al Qaeda.

Seemingly just to prove the broader point about the global appeal of Jihad against the “infidel,” ISIS has just accepted the African terrorist group Boko Haram’s pledge of allegiance, meaning that the Sunni Caliphate established last year in Mosul by Abu Bakr al Baghdadi now officially covers any territory that Boko Haram controls in Nigeria.

The spread of ISIS influence is not just about territorial control, it is about the staggering success of its international call to holy war, with an estimated 19,000 westerners having left their homes to wage jihad. The visual below, based upon a British think-tank’s unclassified research, shows just how international a recruitment wave this is, with almost every country on the map sending recruits to fight in just Syria alone.


Given all the evidence, even the most influential liberal commentators and pundits have admitted the failure of the Obama strategy against “Violent Extremism.” Writing recently in the New York Times, Thomas Friedman stated: “When you don’t call things by their real name, you always get in trouble. And this administration, so fearful of being accused of Islamophobia, is refusing to make any link to radical Islam” and added that as a nation “We’ve entered the theater of the absurd.” The left wing Atlantic magazine even dedicated 11,000 words to an article proving the Islamic roots of ISIS and the religious justification for its violence.

Fourteen years after the September 11th attacks and half way through President Obama’s second term, how can we explain a failure so egregious that even the pillars of the liberal left are finally prepared to call it out? The key mistakes upon which the current strategy is built are:

  • The White House’s belief in the ability to “degrade and destroy” ISIS through air power alone
  • The belief that Iran can be leveraged as an ally against ISIS
  • Gambling on Islamic rebels such as the Free Syrian Army as a way to remove President Assad of Syria, and mostly important:
  • The belief that ideology is irrelevant to the enemy we face and that this war can be won solely through military means or local proxies.

Each one of these premises is flawed and is undermining US national interests as well as the safety and stability of our regional allies.

Firstly, in the history of modern military air power, since the first hand grenade was thrown out of a biplane over a century ago, the number of insurgencies like ISIS that have been defeated by airstrikes alone is zero. Insurgents are defined by their capability to hold ground. This is what separates a rag-tag terrorist group from a real threat like the Islamic State. As a result, their control of territory by ground forces can only be countered by other ground forces contesting the same space and eventually destroying or pushing them out. This is not a call for the deployment of US troops, but for the recognition of the fact that only a ground response– for example, made up of Iraqi, Kurdish, Jordanian and Egyptian units– can defeat ISIS. (According to my sources even Ben Rhodes, the Deputy National Security Adviser, has admitted that US airstrikes are not working because we do not have the intelligence on the ground to know what to hit.) Any such response on the ground will not happen without US leadership and support, and in this President Sisi of Egypt will play the pivotal role even if the Obama Administration doesn’t like the former General. Without Egypt’s military might, the Islamic State will continue to grow and threaten the US even more than it already does.

By bringing Iran into our plans against ISIS, we are in fact strengthening a rival brand of Jihad. The war today in Syria and Iraq is not about the corruption of the former Maliki government in Baghdad or the human rights record of President Assad of Syria. It is about whose version of Islam will dominate the region. One only has to read or listen to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s sermon from the Grand Mosque Mosul in which he declared the Islamic State. The speech is about reestablishing the theocratic empire of Islam – the Caliphate – under Sunni control. ISIS even posted their real intent on social media:

Iran, on the other hand, also believes in the need to re-establish the Caliphate, but under its control as a Shia empire, and the wars in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, must be understood as the re-ignition of a 1,400 year old argument about who should control Islam. In fact, that is how the Sunni and Shia division of Islam occurred after the death of Mohammad, and those are the stakes for Tehran. The fact that the mullahs now control five regional capitals– Tehran, Baghdad, Beirut, Damascus, and now Sanaa– means that despite ISIS’s growth, the Shia extremists are winning. The White House’s belief that Tehran is an altruistic foe of Sunni jihadists like ISIS is driven by shortsightedness and a lack of understanding of the historic battle that is in play, and will simply strengthen the Shia proto-Caliphate, eventually even to include Tehran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons should the nascent deal the President is pushing come to fruition.

By contrast, in Syria, since 2011, the administration has been driven by its pathological hatred of Assad and the belief that, despite his enjoying the support of both Beijing and Moscow, Assad can be removed through the support of indigenous rebels such as the Free Syria Army. Speaking to the few true moderates that have organizational capability in theater, the sad truth is that we have chosen the wrong rebels. The more organized and loudest rebel groups are not the moderates but the true jihadists, some of whom have in fact formally allied themselves with ISIS. (This is not just a failure of the White House, but also the Republicans in Congress, especially Senator John McCain, who has the uncanny knack of supporting those who would kill us after they have killed all the Shia in the region).

Most disturbing of all is the Administrations willful dismissal of the real center of gravity in this war: the ideology of Global Jihadism. With its constant refrain that “upstream causes” such as poverty and lack of education are the real reason for terrorist violence, the White House displays a total ignorance of the groups we face today, from Al Qaeda to ISIS, from the Fort Hood shooter to the Tsarnaev brothers who killed and maimed hundreds at the Boston bombing.

As political correctness has been forced onto the practice of national security in general and counterterrorism specifically, we see absurd conclusions being drawn and fantastical policies being implemented. The recent international summit on “Combating Violent Extremism” hosted by the President and the White House assiduously preached repeatedly that religion has nothing to do with ISIS or Al Qaeda and concluded with this visual that all we need is more community outreach:

White House Summit

Of course, if poverty and lack of education were the drivers of terrorist violence, then half of the population of India would be terrorists. But they aren’t. Why? Because terrorist violence does not happen in a vacuum. It requires a spark, a narrative that acts as the justification to violence and the catalyst to mobilize people to do horrific acts against their fellow man. That ideology can be secular – for example, the communist terrorism of the Weather Underground led by Bernadine Dohrn and Bill Ayers – or religious, such as ISIS. How else, for example, can one understand why the Islamic state would behead the 21 Coptic Christians whose murder they filmed on the shores of Libya, but instead burn alive the Jordanian pilot Lieutenant Mu’ath al-Kaseasbeh? These decisions were not random.

For the jihadists of ISIS, the Copts are kuffar, infidels, and as the Koran teaches, the infidel must be “smitten on the neck” (e.g. Koran Ch. 47 V. 4). However, Lt. Kaseasbeh was a Muslim, a Jordanian Sunni, who in taking arms up against the Caliphate made himself an “apostate” and as a result he had to be killed not as an infidel but as one who committed the sin of leaving Islam and therefore, he was to be treated as if he were in hell, i.e. burnt alive. Religion is therefore so important to this war that it even defines the way in which the terrorists will kill you should you be captured.

Today, the Global Jihad has two brands. It is a war of the “Sunni Coke” versus the “Shia Pepsi” which also targets the local minorities caught in the middle, most especially the ancient Christians of the region.(Incredibly, the Parliament of the European Union seems to understand the threat better than the White House based upon the resolution it just issued against ISIS.) The powers that be have allowed politics and ideology to distort and pervert the practice of national security to such an extent that, incredibly, we are not only helping the Sunni Jihadists, but also the Shia extremists of Iran. Whichever side wins the war for the crown of the Caliph is irrelevant, since once their immediate foe is vanquished we, the infidel West, will be their next target.

Sebastian Gorka Ph.D. is the Major General Matthew C. Horner Chair of Military Theory at the Marine Corps University. You can see his briefing from the Global Counterterrorism Summit on Why ISIS is Much More Dangerous than Al Qaeda here and follow him on Twitter at: @SebGorka.

Will America Put ‘Boots on the Ground’ to Retake Mosul from ISIS?



Breitbartby JOHN HAYWARD, Feb. 9 2015:

According to comments from a U.S. Central Command official toCNN, a major ground offensive to dislodge ISIS from Mosul could be coming in April, and American ground forces could be part of it.

This ground force would supposedly be small, assisting the Iraqi army in a primarily advisory role. At present, the Pentagon is evaluating the strength of the Islamic State’s defenses to determine if American troops will need to accompany the Iraqis into battle.

Much depends on whether the ISIS offensive into Iraq has truly stalled out, due to logistical problems, casualties, and a slowdown in the number of foreign fighters imported by the Islamic state as reinforcements. Most encouragingly, the official quoted by CNN claimed ISIS members were “protecting their families by sending them out of Mosul,” suggesting that they know an offensive is coming and doubt their ability to hold the crucial Iraqi city. It was also considered a promising development that ISIS gave up on pouring resources into a battle for the Kurdish city of Kobani, which suffered through months of see-saw battles.

The air campaign around Mosul is focused on cutting off its ISIS occupiers from supplies and reinforcements. Kurdish peshmerga units recently seized three important bridgeheads on the west bank of the Tigris River to the north of the city, which should help isolate the ISIS units inside Mosul when the big Iraqi push to recapture the city begins.

The Islamic State has been characteristically horrible in its treatment of the conquered city. Over the past couple weeks, they have been on a rampage against religious sites they find disagreeable, using construction equipment to level buildings after looting them of relics and books. At least one mosque that did not measure up to ISIS standards was destroyed.

As Fox News explains, one of the things that sets off the ISIS terrorists is the presence of mausoleums on mosque grounds, which they consider “heresy” because the “Faithful” might end up offering prayers to the dead, instead of directing all prayers to Allah. Although, the Islamic State has been certified 100 percent Islam-free by the Obama administration.

ISIS has also set about conscripting the youth of Mosul into its army, ordering families with more than one son to surrender one of their boys for military service to fulfill their “sacred obligation to defend Islam against the infidels,” as one resident told NBC News. NBC also relayed claims from the vice president of Iraq that a network of underground resistance fighters in Mosul has been conducting attacks against ISIS.

It will be necessary to soften up Mosul as much as possible for the invasion because, as the Washington Post observes, Iraqi military units have relatively little experience at brutal house-to-house urban combat, and it would be politically difficult for the Iraqi government to send either Kurdish forces or Iran-backed Shiite militia units into the city. U.S. air support would have to be more precisely targeted in an urban battleground, which is why some number of American boots will almost certainly be on the ground when the battle for Mosul begins.

You Can’t Understand ISIS If You Don’t Know the History of Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia

n-WAHHABISM-large570By Alastair Crooke, Fmr. MI-6 agent; Author, ‘Resistance: The Essence of Islamic Revolution’:

BEIRUT — The dramatic arrival of Da’ish (ISIS) on the stage of Iraq has shocked many in the West. Many have been perplexed — and horrified — by its violence and its evident magnetism for Sunni youth. But more than this, they find Saudi Arabia’s ambivalence in the face of this manifestation both troubling and inexplicable, wondering, “Don’t the Saudis understand that ISIS threatens them, too?”

It appears — even now — that Saudi Arabia’s ruling elite is divided. Some applaud that ISIS is fighting Iranian Shiite “fire” with Sunni “fire”; that a new Sunni state is taking shape at the very heart of what they regard as a historical Sunni patrimony; and they are drawn by Da’ish’s strict Salafist ideology.

Other Saudis are more fearful, and recall the history of the revolt against Abd-al Aziz by the Wahhabist Ikhwan (Disclaimer: this Ikhwan has nothing to do with the Muslim Brotherhood Ikhwan — please note, all further references hereafter are to the Wahhabist Ikhwan, and not to the Muslim Brotherhood Ikhwan), but which nearly imploded Wahhabism and the al-Saud in the late 1920s.

Many Saudis are deeply disturbed by the radical doctrines of Da’ish (ISIS) — and are beginning to question some aspects of Saudi Arabia’s direction and discourse.


Saudi Arabia’s internal discord and tensions over ISIS can only be understood by grasping the inherent (and persisting) duality that lies at the core of the Kingdom’s doctrinal makeup and its historical origins.

One dominant strand to the Saudi identity pertains directly to Muhammad ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhab (the founder of Wahhabism), and the use to which his radical, exclusionist puritanism was put by Ibn Saud. (The latter was then no more than a minor leader — amongst many — of continually sparring and raiding Bedouin tribes in the baking and desperately poor deserts of the Nejd.)

The second strand to this perplexing duality, relates precisely to King Abd-al Aziz’s subsequent shift towards statehood in the 1920s: his curbing of Ikhwani violence (in order to have diplomatic standing as a nation-state with Britain and America); his institutionalization of the original Wahhabist impulse — and the subsequent seizing of the opportunely surging petrodollar spigot in the 1970s, to channel the volatile Ikhwani current away from home towards export — by diffusing a cultural revolution, rather than violent revolution throughout the Muslim world.

But this “cultural revolution” was no docile reformism. It was a revolution based on Abd al-Wahhab’s Jacobin-like hatred for the putrescence and deviationism that he perceived all about him — hence his call to purge Islam of all its heresies and idolatries.

Read more at The Huffington Post


Muslim anti-Semitism is only decades old, Obama claims

2014-01-17T162147Z_1_CBREA0G19GH00_RTROPTP_4_USA-EDUCATION-e1390000075233The Quran’s words created and maintain Islamic anti-Semitism, which is so ubiquitous that even sects of Sunni and Shia Muslims who are trying to kill each other agree that Jews are to blame for their fighting –  Andrew Bostom

By Neil Munro:

Experts are scoffing at President Barack Obama’s apparent belief that widespread Muslim hatred of Jews is only decades old.

“Obama reveals that he has no idea, or doesn’t want to give the impression that he has any idea, about the reality of Islamic anti-Semitism,” said Robert Spencer, the author of many books on Islamic ideas and director of Jihad Watch.

“Anti-Semitism is hard-wired into Islam,” from its origins before 700, said Andrew Bostom, author of three books about Islam, including “The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism,” which lists centuries of anti-Semitic hatred, murders, pogroms and apartheid-like discrimination.

Intellectuals, politicians and diplomats are loath to admit the centrality of anti-Semitism in Islamic beliefs, because it fuels conflict with Israel and the West and it can’t be fixed by Westerners, Bostom said. ”You’re dealing with an intractable situation, and people hate intractable situations,” he said, adding “diplomats are the worst.”

In an interview with The New Yorker magazine, Obama described the Muslim hatred of Israel as byproduct of recent fights, not as a consequence of Islam’s doctrinal objection to any Jewish government.

“With respect to Israel, the interests of Israel in stability and security are actually very closely aligned with the interests of the Sunni states,” Obama said.

The “Sunni states” are nations populated by Arabs who believe in the mainstream Sunni version of Islam. In contrast, Iran advocates the Shia version of Islam, which is endorsed by roughly 10 percent of Muslims.

“What’s preventing them from entering into even an informal alliance [against Shia-run Iran] with at least normalized diplomatic relations is not that their interests are profoundly in conflict but the Palestinian issue, as well as a long history of anti-Semitism that’s developed over the course of decades there, and anti-Arab sentiment that’s increased inside of Israel based on seeing [Jewish] buses being blown up,” Obama said.

“If you can start unwinding some of that, that creates a new equilibrium,” he said.

“The Palestinian issue,” is the refusal by Muslims to recognize the right of Jews to have a Jewish government in the historically Jewish homeland around Jerusalem.

However, the refusal to recognize Israel is entwined with Islamic anti-Semitism, which Obama claimed “has developed over the course of decades there.”

Obama’s “course of decades” comment “ignores the numerous anti-Semitic teachings of the Quran and other Islamic texts — most notably the Quran’s designation of the Jews as the worst enemies of the believers,” Spencer said.

For example, Spencer cited the fifth chapter of the Quran, which declares that “If [Jews] believed in Allah and the Prophet and that which is revealed unto him, they would not choose them for their friends. But many of them are of evil conduct. Thou wilt find the most vehement of mankind in hostility to those who believe (to be) the Jews and the idolaters.”

Read more at Daily Caller


Andrew Bostom makes the case that Islamic anti-Semitism and the ideological motivation for jihad began with the Quran:

I was privileged to join Clare Lopez, Mark Langfan, and Dr. Walid Phares for this panel presentation jointly sponsored by The Endowment for Middle East Truth and the Center for Security Policy

Using photos, text, and clips, the video depicts how jihadism, and canonical Islamic antisemitism motivate the relentless effort to destroy the State of Israel from a shared Sunni-Shiite perspective. Featured, prominently, is an end of times messianic theme re-activated with fervor in Islam, for at least a century now, since the advent of the modern Zionist movement. Uniquely Shiite “infidel impurity” (so-called “najis”) regulations and their impact are also explored in the context of centuries of Iranian Shiite theocratic rule.

These motifs are illustrated, from the Sunni perspective by:

  • The founder of the Palestinian Arab Muslim jihadist movement, ex-Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin el-Husseini, via his 1937 proclamation seeking to galvanize the global Muslim umma (or community) for a jihad to annihilate Palestinian Jewry, a decade before modern Israel came into existence. El-Husseini’s proclamation, which some deemed a “fatwa,” hinged upon Koran 5:82, which declares that the Jew’s harbor inveterate hatred toward Muslims, and the apocalyptic canonical tradition of Islam’s prophet Muhammad that maintains the messianic age will be ushered in by the annihilation of the Jews.
  • A repetition of this end of times canonical tradition of Jew-annihilation, 75 years later, by the current Palestinian Authority Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Muhammad Hussein, during a January 9, 2012 sermon
  • A May 10, 2013 sermon at Sunni Islam’s Vatican equivalent, Al-Azhar University, and its mosque, by Muhammad Al-Mahdi, a senior scholar and head of the Sharia Association at  Al-Azhar, invoking both Koran 5:82 and the same end of times canonical tradition of Jew-annihilation
  • An October 25, 2013 interview by Sunni Islam’s Papal equivalent, Al-Azhar Grand Imam Ahmed al-Tayeb, also invoking Koran 5:82

Doctrinal Shiite jihadism, and Islamic antisemitism in Iran, including the unique (and dehumanizing) impurity regulations, since the nation became a Shiite theocracy during the Safavid era (i.e., at the beginning of the 16thcentury), were characterized next, past as prologue to our era, and the current Rouhani Presidency. This material—the remainder and bulk of the presentation—includes:

  • A concise formulation of jihad by the jurist al-Amili (d. 1621)
  • Description of the “najis” impurity regulations by the Ayatollah Khomeini of his era, al-Majisi (d. 1699), from Majlisi’s treatise,“Lightning Bolts Against the Jews” 
  • The chronic, ugly consequences of those regulations over centuries for Jews, in particular, captured by the first hand account of French observer Claude Anet, from 1905
  • Ayatollah Khomeini’s statements on jihad, Jews and Jew-annihilation, martyrdom, and takiya, i.e., sacralized Islamic dissimulation, 1942-1989
  • Statements sanctioning Israel’s destruction by alleged “moderate” Iranian Presidents Khatami, Rafsanjani, and Rouhani
  • The disturbing views on “infidel impurity” and Jew-annihilation by much ballyhooed “Green Movement” inspiration, the late Ayatollah Ali Montazeri
  • A clear and forthright encapsulation of the Iranian regimes’ ideology vis a vis Israel—again riveting on Koran 5:82, and Islamic messianism—by current Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s representative in the Iranian Martyr Foundation, Mohammad Hassan Rahimian
  • The poignant, experientially wise observations of Iranian Jewish exile, Farideh Goldin, born (1953) and raised in the Shiraz Iran Jewish ghetto


Why Sunnis Fear Shiites

missile_2By  Hillel Fradkin & Lewis Libby:

The recent Arab revolts in the Middle East and the concomitant “Islamic Awakening” have not merely shaken up the order of an already violent and unstable region. They have reanimated the bloodiest and longest-running dispute in Muslim politics: which branch of Islam, Sunni or Shia, is to rule the Muslim polity. This rivalry dates back some 1,300 years to the death of Muhammad, and while it has occasionally been set aside for reasons of expedience, it has never been resolved. The continuing conflagrations following the mislabeled Arab Spring, increasingly shaped by this ancient Sunni–Shia tension, are set to rage on indefinitely. Affairs in the Middle East are accelerating back to the old normal: a state of hot holy war.

The seemingly internal conflict in Syria has become the war’s central front. Sunni and Shia alike have been drawn into the conflict as the Syrian tragedy has unfolded. Inspired by the revolts in Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt, in March 2011 Syrians—a predominantly Sunni population—mounted initially peaceful protests against the rule of the Shia-offshoot Alawite regime headed by Bashar al-Assad. Secure in his support from the extremist Iranian regime, Assad responded with great brutality. His opponents responded in kind, fueled by money and arms from their Sunni patrons in the Gulf Arab states and by Sunni Islamists from both the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaeda. They fear what they have taken to calling, with alarm, the “Shia crescent.” The term connotes a swath of Iranian Shiite influence across the Arab world and, via Syria, to the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. Syria functions as Iran’s direct operational link to its terrorist arm Hezbollah and to the Shiite plurality in Lebanon. It borders Iraq, whose Shiite majority may be radicalized, and Turkey, whose Sunni leadership can be monitored and checked.

As the Syrian revolt proceeded, sectarian elements came to the fore. The momentum frequently shifted back and forth between the Iranian-backed Assad and the Sunni rebels. But this past spring, when Assad’s fortunes waned, Iran doubled down. It arranged for Shiite Hezbollah and Iraqi Shiite “volunteers” to join the fray directly and massively, tipping the battle for Syria into Shiite hands. Iran is now winning what one Iranian officer has described as “an epic battle for Shiite Islam.”

As this has gone on, the willful retraction of American influence in the region has fanned both Iranian ambitions and Sunni fears. The Middle East is well versed in the posturings and weaknesses of foreign sovereigns. In Shiite and Sunni eyes alike, President Barack Obama’s proposed deals relating to Syrian chemical weapons and Iran’s nuclear program translate into large gains for radical Shiism.

It is tempting, naturally, for Americans to stay out of a fight between two holy armies who oppose the United States and its allies. To put it very mildly, neither radical Shiite nor radical Sunni groups share our values or serve our interests. Still, as a practical matter, this does not mean that one of our enemies is not a more potent threat than the other. Of all the distasteful regimes in the region, only Iran’s has defined itself from its foundation as our mortal enemy and acted accordingly ever since. Moreover, Iran’s capacity to pursue hostile action toward America is currently growing. Thus, Iran presents the more serious threat to our well-being. If it emerges the victor in the fight for the future of political Islam and regional dominance, American interests will probably be endangered to an extent not seen since the Cold War. This is especially true if an Iranian victory is coupled with the regime’s attainment of a nuclear weapon. Not only will America’s ally Israel be under constant threat of annihilation, but American influence in the Middle East will be made hostage to credible Iranian policy blackmail. And yet, given the current status of the Sunni–Shia conflict, this is where we’re headed. “Iran grows more powerful day by day,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani recently gloated. It’s hard to disagree.

There are several reasons for thinking that radical Shiism, as manifested in the Iranian regime, might continue to dominate and ultimately win this holy war. First, the Shiite camp enjoys the advantage of the more-or-less unitary leadership of Iran. Perhaps in time internal Iranian opposition could challenge the regime in Tehran, but for now the ayatollahs seem to have stifled any such efforts. Outside Iran, some Shiite clerics in Iraq reject the Khomeinist doctrine of the “Rule of the Jurisprudent,” but this “quietist” school of Shiism is not interested in governing its Persian neighbors and, in any case, is frequently undermined by other clerics working in Iraq on Iran’s behalf. So the concentrated center of Shiite power remains in Iran and is, moreover, strengthened by the support of outside non-Muslim powers—principally Russia and China.

By contrast, the Sunni camp is profoundly divided, and therefore weak. This weakness is manifest in the split among the Sunni Islamist forces fighting Assad in Syria. The result is increasingly frequent military fights between sides, to say nothing of the ongoing fights with more secular Sunni militias.

Beyond Syria, things are scarcely more cohesive for Sunnis. The Sunni nations of Arabia and the Gulf lack the size and reach of Iran. They have provided money and arms to the Sunni rebels fighting Assad, but as they themselves support different Islamist groups inside Syria, they’ve also contributed to the infighting. What’s more, the broader conflicts among these countries have derailed joint efforts.

The unsettled condition of Sunni-majority Egypt, the world’s largest Arab country, has had a demoralizing and divisive effect as well. While ousted Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi had suggested that Egypt might provide greater support for the Syrian opposition, that proposal proved so unpopular it might very well have been a contributing factor in his removal by the Egyptian military. The new regime has made clear that it wants no part of the Syrian civil war.

Read more at Commentary Magazine


Iraqi Shiite Militia Leader Watheq Al-Battat: I Would Support Iran in a War against Iraq


Saudis Bristle at Obama’s Outreach to Iran

by Daniel Pipes
The Washington Times
December 3, 2013

The “Joint Plan of Action” signed with Iran by the so-called P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the U.K., and the U.S.) on Nov. 24 in Geneva caused Shiite Arabs to celebrate, Sunni Arabs to worry, and Saudis to panic. The Saudi response will have far-reaching and unpredictable consequences.


Jubilant crowds welcomed the Iranian negotiator home from Geneva.

As Iran’s chief negotiator, Mohammad Javad Zarif, brought home a deal worth about US$23 billion to Iran, Arab Shiites fell into step with Tehran. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of Iraq expressed his “full support for this step.” President Bashar al-Assad of Syria welcomed the agreement as “the best path for securing peace and stability.” Parliamentary Speaker Nabih Berriof Lebanon called it the “deal of the century.” And Hezbollah considered the agreement a “great victory for Iran.”


Syria’s Assad, here scratched out, praised the Geneva deal.

Among Sunni Arabic-speakers, in contrast, responses ranged from politely supportive to displeased to alarmed. Perhaps most enthusiastic was the Egyptian governmental newspaper Al-Ahram, which called the deal “historic.” Most states stayed mum. Saudis expressed the most worry. Yes, the government cabinet officially stated that “If there is goodwill, then this agreement could be an initial step toward reaching a comprehensive solution to Iran’s nuclear program,” but note the skepticism conveyed in the first four words.

If that was the mildest response, perhaps the most unbuttoned comment came from Alwaleed bin Talal, a Saudi prince who occasionally sends up trial balloons for the royal family: He called Iran “a huge threat” and noted that, historically speaking, “The Persian empire was always against the Muslim Arab empire, especially against the Sunnis. The threat is from Persia, not from Israel,” a ground-breaking and memorable public statement.


Saudi prince Alwaleed bin Talal on his airplane throne, sitting under the logo of his company.

Alwaleed then detailed how the Iranians are “in Bahrain, they are in Iraq, they are in Syria, they are with Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas, which is Sunni, in Gaza.” As this listing suggests, Saudis are fixated on the danger of being surrounded by Iran’s agents and are more scared by the non-nuclear implications of the joint plan than the nuclear ones. Gregory Gause of the University of Vermont sees Saudis worrying that the accord opens the way “without any obstacles” for Iran to achieve regional dominance. (This contrasts with the Israeli and Western position, which focuses on the nuclear danger.)

Abdullah al-Askar, foreign affairs committee chairman of the kingdom’s appointed Shura Council, elaborates: he worries “about giving Iran more space or a freer hand in the region. The government of Iran, month after month, has proven that it has an ugly agenda in the region, and in this regard no one in the region will sleep and assume things are going smoothly. … The people of the region … know that Iran will interfere in the politics of many countries.”

Saudi media reiterated this line of analysis. Al-Watan, a government newspaper, warned that the Iran regime, “which sends its tentacles into other regional countries, or tries to do so by all means necessary,” will not be fettered by the accord. Another daily, Al-Sharq, editorialized about the fear that “Iran made concessions in the nuclear dossier in return for more freedom of action in the region.”

Some analysts, especially in the smaller Persian Gulf states, went further. Jaber Mohammad, a Bahraini analyst, predicted that “Iran and the West will now reach an accord on how to divide their influence in the Gulf.” The Qatari government-owned Al-Quds Al-Arabi worried about “a U.S.-Iran alliance with Russian backing.” Rumors of Obama wanting to visit Tehran only confirm these suspicions.

The Saudi ambassador in London, Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz, drew the most overt public conclusion, threatening that “We are not going to sit idly by and receive a threat there and not think seriously how we can best defend our country and our region.” To put it mildly, this is not how Saudi diplomats normally speak about fellow Muslims.

What does this unwonted rhetoric amount to? Iranian bellicosity and the Obama administration’spro-Iran policies have combined to end many decades of Saudi strategic reliance on Washington and to begin thinking how to protect themselves. This matters, because as Alwaleed rightly boasts, his country is leader of the Arabs, enjoying the most international, regional, cultural, and religious clout. The results of this new-found assertiveness – fighting against fellow Islamists, allying tacitly with Israel, perhaps acquiring Pakistani-made nuclear weapons, and even reaching out to Tehran – marks yet another consequence of Barack Obama’s imploding foreign policy.

Mr. Pipes ( is president of the Middle East Forum. © 2013 by Daniel Pipes. All rights reserved.



Iran & Syria Accuse Israel in Beirut Suicide Bombings

Lebanon-Bombing-AP-414x350By Joseph Klein:

Two back-to-back suicide bombings on November 19th in the vicinity of the embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Beirut, Lebanon killed at least 23 people and wounded more than 140. Iranian cultural attaché, Ebrahim Ansari, reportedly died from his wounds. An al-Qaida-linked Sunni group known as the Abdullah Azzam Brigades claimed responsibility for the attack. It threatened more attacks unless Iran withdraws its forces from Syria where Iran and its proxy Hezbollah have been providing military support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

The Iranian embassy appears to have been the main target of the attacks. One blast occurred near the main entrance of the Iranian embassy. The other went off in front of the Iranian ambassador’s residence.

The United Nations Security Council issued a press statement strongly condemning the terrorist attacks, reaffirming its view “that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security, and that any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation, wherever, whenever and by whomsoever committed.”

Iran and Syria were quick to point the finger at Israel as bearing the primary responsibility for the suicide bombings. They both believe that Israel has taken sides with Sunni Arab states against the Shiites in the proxy war raging in Syria and extending into Lebanon. Iran and Hezbollah are Shiite. Assad’s Alawite sect derives from Shiite Islam. The jihadist rebels, along with their state sponsors Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Gulf nations, are Sunnis.

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah previewed the theme of Israeli complicity with the Sunnis against the Shiites last week: “It is regrettable that (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu is the spokesman for some Arab countries. These countries reject any political solution that would stop the bloodbath and destruction in Syria. They also strongly oppose any accord between Iran and the countries of the world,” alluding to Israel’s and Saudi Arabia’s strong opposition to a nuclear deal they see as unduly favorable to Iran.

The suicide bombings in the vicinity of the Iranian embassy fit into this same Israeli-Sunni anti-Shiite conspiracy theory. As explained in a November 19, 2013Foreign Policy article, the Syrian government, Iran and Hezbollah all see Israel’s guiding hand “behind the scenes” while the Gulf petrol-funded Sunni terrorists do the dirty work.

Read more at Front Page


Iraq: A US-Midwived Iranian Client State

Followers of Iraqi Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada Sadr carry an image of him and chant slogans against the U.S. and sectarianism during a protest in Kut, 100 miles southeast of Baghdad on March 16, 2013.

Followers of Iraqi Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada Sadr carry an image of him and chant slogans against the U.S. and sectarianism during a protest in Kut, 100 miles southeast of Baghdad on March 16, 2013.

by Andrew Bostom:

Back in February, 2004, I described with great uneasiness the refusal of “moderate” Ayatollah Sistani (an Iraqi denizen, but one who never relinquished his Iranian citizenship) to meet with U.S. Civilian Administrator in Iraq, Ambassador L. Paul Bremer.  At the time I suggested that al-Sistani’s spurning of Ambassador Bremer may well have reflected the odious and Sharia supremacist Shiite doctrine of  “najas-based”  regulations—the physical and spiritual debasing of the non-Muslim infidel for their alleged “uncleanliness” of body and mind. I ended with this foreboding observation:

For Ambassador Bremer to remain willfully oblivious to the deeply entrenched Shi’ite dogma of najas, or worse, ignoring and tacitly accepting its discriminatory effects, bodes poorly for American efforts to help Iraqis create a modern democratic and ecumenical society. The “culturally authentic” but brutally oppressive Shi’ite theocracy of neighboring Iran demonstrates clearly the corrosive impact of najas dogma in a contemporary Muslim society.

In a series of essays at The American Thinker, beginning in March of 2006 (herehere, and here), I warned of a policy failure that by virtue of its willful blindness to totalitarian Islam, was abetting Sharia supremacism, in general, and simultaneously, Iranian Sharia-based hegemonic aspirations, with regard to Iraq. By September 13, 2006,  commenting on then President Bush II’s absurdly ebullient, making the world safe for Sharia assessment of the “accomplishments” in Iraq, I made this gloomy prognostication citing the same misplaced optimism expressed in 1935 by the British Arabist S.A. Morrison. Despite great expense of British blood and treasure, more than a decade of military occupation, and even after the Assyrian massacres (by Arab and Kurdish Muslims) of 1933-34, shortly after Britain’s withdrawal, Morrison wrote, (in “Religious Liberty in Iraq”, Moslem World, 1935, p. 128):

Iraq is moving steadily forward towards the modern conception of the State, with a single judicial and administrative system, unaffected by considerations of religion or nationality. The Millet system [i.e., dhimmitude—not reflected by this euphemism] still survives, but its scope is definitely limited. Even the Assyrian tragedy of 1933 does not shake our faith in the essential progress that has been made. The Government is endeavoring to carry out faithfully the undertakings it has given, even when these run directly counter to the long—cherished provisions of the Shari’a Law. But it is not easy; it cannot be easy in the very nature of the case, for the common people quickly to adjust their minds to the new legal situation, and to eradicate from their outlook the results covering many centuries of a system which implies the superiority of Islam over the non—Moslem minority groups. The legal guarantees of liberty and equality represent the goal towards which the country is moving, rather than the expression of the present thoughts and wishes of the population. The movement, however, is in the right direction, and it may yet prove possible for Islam to disentangle religious faith from political status and privilege.

I concluded with these disquieting observations (circa September, 2006), regarding unintended, if predictable Iranian empowerment, in particular:

Over seven decades later, the goals of true “liberty and equality” for Iraq remain just as elusive after yet another Western power has committed great blood and treasure toward that end. More ominously, Iraq’s newly empowered Shi’ites and their leaders appear to have forged an unholy alliance with Iran which is more likely to promote Sharia despotism, than liberal democracy. [emphasis added]

Now The Los Angeles Times (hat tip Jihad Watch) is formally acknowledging what I began warning about in 2004, and maintained was well underway by 2006. In a March 28, 2013 analysis with the eponymous title, “Ten years after Iraq war began, Iran reaps the gains,” reporter Ned Parker proffers these summary conclusions:

American military forces are long gone, and Iraqi officials say Washington’s political influence in Baghdad is now virtually nonexistent. Hussein is dead. But Iran has become an indispensable broker among Baghdad’s new Shiite elite, and its influence continues to grow.

Parker cites these two pathognomonic examples of the abject US policy failure in Iraq—which has clearly empowered Iran—the second despite ongoing, feckless American pursuit of our ostensibly “vital role” in mollifying “tensions” between Iraq’s sectarian Shiite and Sunni factions, and the inexorable spillover effect of this Shiite-Sunni animosity into the Syrian civil war:

The signs are evident in the prominence of pro-Iran militias on the streets, at public celebrations and in the faces of some of those now in the halls of power, men such as Abu Mehdi Mohandis, an Iraqi with a long history of anti-American activity and deep ties to Iran. During the occupation, U.S. officials accused Mohandis of arranging a supply of Iranian-made bombs to be used against U.S. troops. But now Iraqi officials say Mohandis speaks for Iran here, and Prime Minister Nouri Maliki recently entrusted him with a sensitive domestic political mission.

American officials say they remain vital players in Iraq and have worked to defuse tension between Maliki and his foes. During a visit to Baghdad on Sunday, however, Secretary of State John F. Kerry was unable to persuade Maliki to stop Iranian flights crossing Iraqi airspace to Syria. The U.S. charges that Iranian weapons shipments are key to propping up Syrian President Bashar Assad; Maliki says there is no proof that Tehran is sending anything besides humanitarian aid. Kerry’s visit was the first by a U.S. Cabinet official in more than a year.

Andrew G. Bostom is the author of The Legacy of Jihad (Prometheus, 2005) and The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism ” (Prometheus, November, 2008)


Obama’s Ongoing Betrayal of America’s Sacrifices in Iraq

Baghdad-car-bomb-010-450x270By :

On Oct. 5, a suicide bombing just outside a graveyard in Baghdad killed 51 people, many of them Shi’ite pilgrims on their way to a shrine. The attack, commonplace in today’s Iraq, is symptomatic of a nation once again on the brink of civil war. The media largely ignore these ongoing horrors, and for very obvious reasons: it is becoming more evident by the day that the disintegration of Iraq may have been preventable were it not for President Obama’s politically-motivated premature withdrawal of American troops in December 2011, against the advice of military advisors. Now, al-Qaeda in Iraq is surging and slaughtering civilians dozens at a time, while the enormous sacrifices of thousands of American soldiers have been made into a mockery.

In July, more than 1,000 Iraqis were killed by bombs and gunfire, marking the deadliest month since violence between Sunni and Shi’ite sects reached its apex between 2006 and 2008. Kenneth Katzman, an analyst of Middle Eastern affairs for the Congressional Research Service, illuminated the fundamental problem. “The growing Sunni rebellion in Iraq has fueled the resurgence [of al-Qaeda in Iraq], as has the fact that the U.S. isn’t there providing intelligence, backstopping the Iraqi security forces or continuing to train and keep up their skill levels,” he explained.

The U.S. isn’t there because Obama failed to negotiate a new Status of Forces Agreement with Iraq’s nascent government. Obama claimed Iraqi intransigence was to blame for the failure, because they wouldn’t grant U.S. troops legal immunity if they were breaking Iraqi law. Yet as Max Boot explained in a 2011 Wall Street Journal article, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and other government officials had expressed the same reservation in 2008, when there were far more American troops in the country. Nevertheless, President Bush was able to secure an agreement.

Boot explains the contrast. “Quite simply it was a matter of will: President Bush really wanted to get a deal done, whereas Mr. Obama did not,” he wrote. “Mr. Bush spoke weekly with Mr. Maliki by video teleconference. Mr. Obama had not spoken with Mr. Maliki for months before calling him in late October to announce the end of negotiations. Mr. Obama and his senior aides did not even bother to meet with Iraqi officials at the United Nations General Assembly in September.”

Boot further notes that Obama’s constant bragging about ending the war, which culminated in his decision to keep only 5000 troops in Iraq (as opposed to the 20,000 initially requested by military commanders or even the 10,000 that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Adm. Mike Mullen judged to be the absolute minimum to maintain security) convinced Iraqis they would be left to fend for themselves.

Once our troops withdrew, Maliki moved to consolidate power. Crackdowns were undertaken again Sunni and Kurdish leaders, and other opposition forces. Those crackdowns reached a critical point on April 23, when government forces killed dozens of Sunni protesters in the city of al-Hawijah. The protesters were demonstrating against government policies, including Maliki’s increasing alignment with Iran. A week later, former Iraqi Ambassador Ryan Crocker characterized the crackdown as a turning point, noting that Sunni and Shi’ite leaders who had previously opted to solve their differences without violence were no longer inclined to do so. “Now Sunni Arab sheikhs who had been urging restraint are calling for war,” he wrote. “Some reports say that the tribes are gathering former insurgents and preparing to fight.” In April, 712 Iraqis were killed, a figure that represented the highest number of monthly casualties since 2008.

It hasn’t been that low ever since.

On July 21, a major prison break in Abu Ghraib, west of Baghdad, freed as many as 800 terrorists, including senior members of al-Qaeda. Suicide bombers drove explosives-laden vehicles to the gates of the prison and blasted their way into the compound. “The prison break was a major blow, suggesting not only that [al-Qaeda in Iraq] has enough manpower, but it also has the ability to train, plan, move around undetected and use weaponry,” Katzman explained. “It is a very serious example of how it now has much more freedom of action than they did when the U.S. was militarily present in Iraq.”

Read more at Front Page


Islam Needs an Intervention

addicted_to_terrorism_billboard_at_night_9-22-13-2 (1)

Bad luck for Iran’s new President Rouhani.  He arrives in New York just after the carnage in  Kenya and Pakistan.

Of course these mass murdering terror attacks were perpetrated by Sunnis, not Iranian Shiites, but most of the American public doesn’t know the difference.  And those of us who do are only reminded these killings are just the latest in a long and sadly predictable history of such events, Sunni and Shiite, during which, according to one website, a staggering 21269 deadly attacks have been undertaken by Islamic terrorists since  September 11, 2001. (To give you an idea of how many deaths this comes to, the Mumbai mass killing of 2008 in which 164 died is only one of this over twenty-one thousand, as are the 2004 Atocha Station bombings in which 191 died. And 68 and 78 died, so far, in the Kenya and Pakistan attacks, also part of the over twenty-one thousand.)

So Barack Obama should be aware, if he is in the mood to appease an Islamic regime with multiple terrorist tentacles, that it might not be the best week for such an action. Too bad, Rouhani. (Or let’s hope it’s “Too bad, Rouhani,” whose “moderate” track record fits right in with the 21269 deadly attacks above, although his pre-dates 9/11.

Indeed, like a badly failing family member — an alcoholic or a drug addict — what Islam desperately needs now is not nuclear appeasement or CAIR-style “tolerance” but an intervention.

To say that something is decidedly wrong in the Islamic world is a monumental understatement. And Muslim societies make almost no serious effort to correct themselves, ricocheting back and forth between military totalitarianism and religious totalitarianism while — like that family heroin addict — blaming everyone but themselves for their fate.

They are indeed in deep need of an intervention. The question is how to do it.

Of course, just by raising that question you are accused of Islamophobia, an absurd almost self-contradictory term, which always applies better to those using it. They are the ones who are phobic about Islam because they are the ones who are fearful (actually terrified) of what Islamic people will do if told the truth.  So they come up with those equally absurd lies, like defining the crime of a soldier who murders his fellows while shouting “Allahu Akhbar” as “workplace violence.”

This real Islamophobia has been the pathetic stance of our government and military since 9/11, made worse by the delusions of Barack Obama.  Of course it has failed.  How could it possibly succeed when it is fundamentally dishonest?

Meanwhile, another large sector of our society wants us to throw up our hands at the whole thing — let these madmen destroy each other.  I am sympathetic — how could I not be?  We have already lost so much in treasure, human and material.

But I will remind those people — and myself — that in our tradition we are our brother’s keeper.  And that is one of the most important values, if not the key value, that gave us this great country.

Furthermore, such a violent ideology left unchecked could destroy the world. It already infects over a billion Muslims, with painfully rare, though highly laudable, exceptions.  (The depressing truth is that I met almost all of them in my job at PJM. Where are the rest? Why is it there is no really organized attempt within Islam for any kind of serious reform — only the most momentary lip service after a terror attack?)

So back to the question of how to stage this intervention.  This is extremely difficult, but I am going to take a flyer with some suggestions. I invite all to respond.  (And, yes, I know, rounding up all the Muslims in the world for an intervention like your Cousin Phil is a tad inconvenient, but think metaphorically.)

1. Most importantly, start being honest.  Say that Islam itself is the cause of all this atrocious violence and must be corrected, must have a fundamental reformation of the religion. Keep talking about the reformation — keep demanding it of them — all the time.  Why have you not joined the modern world?  Why do you oppress women? Urge them to reform and never stop.  No more euphemisms about “religion of peace” or “work place violence.”  If you kill for Allah, you are evil, immoral and sick.  You don’t kill for anybody’s God.

Read more at PJ Media


Shiites: Syria War Will Ignite End Times

hizrally2-reutersby :

A Lebanese reporter for the Al-Monitor Middle East news service explains that Iran and Hezbollah view the Syrian civil war not only in a strategic context, but in a prophetic one. In their belief, the radical Sunnis will conquer Syria for a short period of time and then Iranian forces will intervene on their way to destroying Israel.

The unnamed reporter points out that Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah is, like Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, “known for being a strong believer” in the Shiite prophecy that Iran will lead an End Times war against Islam’s enemies. At that time, the Mahdi will “reappear” and defeat the infidel.

According to the author, Iran and Hezbollah rely upon a book of prophecies called Al-Jafr to guide them. It was passed down to Jafar al-Sadiq, for whom the Jafari school of Shiite jurisprudence is named after. Teachers of this book say that the Syrian leader will be killed in a civil war during the End Times.

A Sunni leader will take over Syria and persecute Shiites, Allawites and Christians. The persecution will continue until an Iranian army invades Syria via Iraq, killing this Sunni leader on the way to capturing Jerusalem. Once Jerusalem is taken, the Mahdi will appear. Interestingly, in a modern context, this means that Hezbollah is fighting to preserve the regime of a man (Bashar Assad) that they believe will be killed.

Keep in mind, the Jafari school of jurisprudence is mainstream Shiite doctrine. There’s bound to be disagreement over the interpretation of prophecy, but these are not the beliefs of an isolated cult. In July 2010, a senior Iranian cleric said that Khamenei told his inner circle that he had met with the Mahdi, who promised to “reappear” during his lifetime.

A very similar eschatological viewpoint is articulated in a 2011 documentary produced by the office of then-President Ahmadinejad. The film, titled The Coming is Upon Us, does not predict a Syrian civil war but shares many of the same details articulated by the Al-Monitor reporter in Lebanon.

A critical point of convergence between the two sources is about Saudi Arabia’s role in prophecy. Both agree that the death of Saudi King Abdullah will be a major trigger. In fact, this event is so central to the Iranian film that it opens up with the statement, “Whoever guarantees the death of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, I will guarantee the imminent reappearance of Mahdi.”

Read more at Front Page

Why Israelis See Shi’ite Axis as a Greater Threat Than Syrian Jihadis

by Yaakov Lappin:

The Alawis of Syria and the (In)Advisability of US Intervention There


I’ve had the pleasure of introducing Timothy R. Furnish, PhD, as a guest blogger here before. Today he offers us his timely commentary on factors which should influence US decision-making regarding Syria. Here I would invite you to note especially his comments on the religious factors involved, which he characterizes as “the most salient issue at hand” and details in the long paragraph which begins “Finally…”

– Charles Cameron

Ottoman Asia (partial map, 1893)

Ottoman Asia (partial map, 1893)

As Gandalf advised in The Fellowship of the Ring: “Do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. Even the very Wise cannot see all ends.”

Reprehending Ignorance about Syria

American intervention in Syria, most likely in the form of air- or cruise missile-strikes against select targets, now seems a certainty, considering that not just the Obama Administration but a whole host of politicians and commentators — ranging across the political spectrum, from Bill O’Reilly to Senator John McCain and to “The New York Times” editorial board — stridently supports military action. The reasons adduced are primarily these:

1) The usage of chemical weapons is an atrocity and violation of international law and must be punished accordingly
2) Syria being Iran’s “pawn,” any strike at the Damascus regime is tantamount to one at the Islamic Republic and, thus, ipso facto a good thing
3) al-Asad is a Hitleresque “monster” — no further discussion required
4) President Obama’s credibility is at stake, his having previously deemed usage of chemical weapons to be an uncrossable “red line” that would trigger retaliation.

Those opposed to the US attacking the al-Asad regime invoke, rather, points such as:

1) Realpolitick-wise, the US has no national security interest in Syria
2) Any action that degrades the al-Asad regime actually helps the jihadist elements of the Syrian opposition, especially the al-Qa`ida-affiliated, pro-caliphate Jabhat al-Nusra li-Ahl al-Sham min Mujahidin al-Sham fi Sahat al-Jihad (“The Front of Support to the Family of Syria from the Holy Warriors of Syria in the Battlefields of Jihad”). As LTC Ralph Peters put it on “The O’Reilly Factor” (8.27.13), “do we really want to help the jihadists who perpetrated 9/11?”
3) US bombing — even if attempted “surgically” — will result in collateral damage to Syrian civilians and motivate Syria and its allies (especially Iran and Hizbullah) to activate terrorist cells against Americans, certainly in the larger Middle East, probably in Europe and possibly even in the US homeland.

Three major areas of ignorance are manifested in these two Manichaean positions (albeit moreso in the pro-bombing camp).

First, it is not (yet) certain that it was indeed the al-Asad regime that employed chemical weapons. According to a source with whom I am in contact — a former intelligence operative who worked in Syria for a number of years — it is quite possible that Jabhat al-Nusra, or one of the other jihadist opposition groups (Syrian Islamic Front, Ahrar al-Sham, Ansar al-Islam, Ahfad al-Rasul, etc.) pilfered a government chemical weapons stockpile and wielded the lethal bounty in a false flag operation. It is also possible that such jihadist groups were supplied chemical weapons directly by Iran or by North Korea.

Second, it is simply not the case in modern times that use of chemical or nerve agents automatically provokes the international community’s wrath. Libya used such weapons in Chad in 1986, and (more infamously) Saddam Husayn did likewise against Iraqi Kurds in 1987. Neither of those events engendered US or NATO retaliation. Furthermore, Syria is not a signatory to the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention prohibiting utilization of chemical or nerve agents; and Damascus signed the similar 1925 Geneva Protocol when it was under the French Mandate—thus having no choice in the matter. This in no wise lessens the horror of chemical weapons, but an American administration headed by a self-styled former law professor would do well to get its international legal ducks in a row before launching the first cruise missile.

Finally, and most importantly, neither the pro- nor anti-bombing faction seems aware of the most salient issue at hand: that the ruling regime is composed of Alawis, a heretical Shi`i offshoot sect the adherents of which have long been condemned as murtaddun, “apostates,” in Sunni Islam — first by the (in)famous Sunni cleric Ibn Taymiyah in his early-14th c. AD fatwas, then again just last year by the al-Qa`ida cleric Abd Allah Khalid al-Adm, who said “don’t consult with anyone before killing Alawites.” Alawis have existed for about a millennium, mostly in the mountains of coastal Lebanon and Syria, and have always been persecuted by Sunni rulers, going back to the first days of Ottoman Turkish control of the Levant in the 16th century. Under the French Mandate, post-World War I, and afterwards they insinuated themselves into the military and intelligence service such that, eventually, one of their own, Hafiz al-Asad, took control in 1970. Spurned by Sunni Arab countries, the elder al-Asad cleverly got his Alawi sect officially declared Shi`i by the influential Lebanese Twelver Shi`i cleric Musa al-Sadr (before the latter disappeared in Libya in 1976); and when the ayatollahs took control of Iran in 1979, Damascus and Tehran began, if not a beautiful, certainly a mutually beneficial, friendship — which has existed ever since. Hafiz and his son Bashar al-Asad both ruled largely as secularists — due to their sectarian affiliation, and to their official ideology of Arab socialism, articulated as the Ba`ath Party. (So to be fair to Hillary Clinton — who, in March 2011, referred to Bashar al-Asad as a “reformer” — he was much more modernizing and tolerant than many Sunni leaders of the region, if only out of political necessity.) That meant that the 10% of the Syrian population that is Christian largely supported the leader of the strange Islamic sect (also comprising about 10% of Syrians) over against the 3/4 of the population that is Sunni, fearing what a Muslim Brotherhood/Salafi takoever would portend for them. Such fears have skyrocketed since the “Arab Spring” came to Syria over two years ago — especially as groups like Jabhat al-Nusra and its ilk have trumpeted their hatred of Alawis and their burning desire for a Sunni caliphate that would relegate Christians (and Jews) to their historical, second-class dhimmi status. Thus, it is not totally beyond comprehension why a beleaguered, religiously-heterodox regime might feel it necessary to deploy, and perhaps even use, chemical weapons — as a means of staving off probable extermination at the hands of jihadists.

Read more

 HayasofyamecroppedjpegDr Timothy Furnish has served as an Arabic linguist with the 101st Airborne and as an Army chaplain, holds a PhD in Islamic history from Ohio State, is the author of Holiest Wars: Islamic Mahdis, Their Jihads, and Osama bin Laden (2005), and blogs at MahdiWatch. His extended piece for the History News NetworkThe Ideology Behind the Boston Marathon Bombing, recently received “top billing” in Zen’s Recommended Reading of April 24th.

The Shi’ite crescent holds its ground

835_largeby Yaakov Lappin:

Developments in Syria are unfolding quickly, as the country’s civil war takes new twists and turns every week, and the impact of the conflict on the Middle East (and beyond) is growing.

After two years of fighting and at least 80,000 casualties, it is possible to conclude that the Syrian civil war has degenerated into a long-term, regional, sectarian Sunni-Shi’ite conflict which has crossed into neighboring Lebanon and Iraq and threatens to spill over into Turkey, Jordan and Israel. No resolution to this feud is in sight.

Inside Syria, Syrian President Basher Assad’s Allawite regime defied the predictions of many observers and held firm against the Sunni rebels seeking his overthrow.

In fact, Assad has begun to make gains against the rebels.

This is possible due to the growing presence of highly trained Shi’ite Hizballah battalions that, under Iranian orders, have mobilized from their bases in Lebanon and crossed into Syria to offer vital battlefield assistance to the Syrian regime’s strained army.

This situation has sparked outrage across the Sunni world, and prompted Sunni religious and political figures to issue call for jihad against Hizballah, on behalf of the beleaguered Syrian rebels.

Assad hails from Syria’s Allawite minority, and the Allawite sect is an offshoot of Shia Islam, the center of which is Iran.

For Iran, Assad remains its only state ally and strategic partner in the Middle East. Syria’s strategic value for Iran is paramount, especially at a time when the region is awash with Sunni Islamist elements who view Iran and its Shi’ite satellites as threats and heretics.

Hizballah’s deep involvement in Syria is stretching sectarian tensions in neighboring Lebanon to breaking point. Non-Shi’ite Lebanese leaders are openly describingHizballah as a foreign Iranian entity. Such direct, public criticism was rare before the outbreak of the Syrian civil war, and indicates the collapse of Hizballah’s credibility and image among Sunnis.

In retaliation, Syrian rebels have begun firing rockets from Syria at Shi’te areas in northern Lebanon that are Hizballah strongholds.

Additionally, Lebanese Sunni gunmen fired rockets at Hizballah’s Dahiya district in south Beirut.

The northern Lebanese city of Tripoli is racked with gun battles between Sunni militias and armed Allawite elements loyal to Assad. The potential for a further spillover of Syria’s civil war into Lebanon has risen.

Saudi Arabia and Qatar continue to fund and arm the rebels, while Turkey is providing them with territory to establish safe bases outside of the fighting zones in Syria.

Turkey and Qatar are keeping supply lines open to the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated rebels in Syria, while Saudi Arabia is providing support for the Salafi-jihadi fighters there.

Israel wants to avoid being dragged into the volatile events developing north of its borders.

From a strategic perspective, because of its role as a backbone in the Tehran-Damascus-Hizballah axis, the Syrian regime poses a far greater threat to Israel than the Sunni rebels.

The Sunni Islamist elements fighting against Assad are lightly armed and poorly organized. The more radical rebel elements could create limited security problems, which the Israel Defense Forces should be able to contain.

Assad’s fall would weaken Iran, Israel’s foremost foe, and damage Hizballah, the largest terror entity in the Middle East, which has 80,000 rockets and missiles pointed at Israeli civilians. Hence, from an Israeli perspective, the threats stemming from Assad’s survival outweigh those posed by extremist groups among Sunni rebels, like Jabhat Al-Nusra.

Either way, the turmoil in Syria has made it more likely that pinpoint security incidents will end up setting off larger confrontations that could drag Israel into the picture.

One such threat is the transit of Iranian and Syrian weapons to Hizballah, a development Israel has made clear it would not accept.

Israel Observes as Sunnis Rage

Iran is supplying Syria with weapons and military advisers from its Revolutionary Guards Corps to help Assad gain victories over the rebels.

For the time being, Iran has successfully safeguarded its ‘Shi’ite crescent,’ a continuous chain of territories under its influence.

The crescent begins in Iran, stretches over Iraq (which has a majority Shi’ite population, an Iran-friendly government, and pro-Iranian militias), and passes through Syria. It ends on Israel’s border, in southern Lebanon, where Hizballah maintains a heavily armed Iran-sponsored state-within-a-state among the Shi’ite population there.

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