Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Why the Israeli-Palestinian Agreement Is Absurd

It makes sense that the Israel-Palestinian agreement is being made with Obama and Kerry in charge. The deal offers a kind of neo-mandate, with an American presence entrenched in the Jordan Valley for the next 10 years.  That's no joke.

Let's look at a different but parallel "pacification" effort and see what happened there. The Afghanistan peace talks with Taliban have gone absolutely dreadfully, and President Karzai is very dissatisfied. The results are–not surprisingly–unsatisfactory.

Let's consider casualties in that case and a couple of others.

As of the end of 2013, roughly 3,000 Western troops have been killed in Afghanistan. Western forces will retreat with their tails between their legs and will probably abandon the government to horrible massacres and long wars following a Taliban victory.

Since the start of the ongoing civil war in Syria, there have been about 200,000 casualties–mostly civilians. A truly staggering number.

The population of the West Bank is about 3.1 million; if losses will be proportional to those in neighboring nations, the cost of American soldier's lives would be high.

So, if the Obama/Kerry peace deal does go through, what would the risks be?
  • Dozens of Israeli civilians would be at risk of being killed by cross-border Palestinian-Arab and Islamist terrorist attacks, even if the settlements did not exist.
  • And of course, how fast would U.S. troops respond to such attacks?
  • Might there be an intifada in Jordan, a neighboring country with a Palestinian majority and a very strong Muslim Brotherhood opposition?
  • Remember too that the peace treaty would be incomplete, unable to involve the Hamas-led Gaza Strip. And incomplete peace treaties cannot stand.
In the Gaza Strip, there are more than 1.6 million people under the rule of Hamas. This government will do everything it can to sabotage the peace process. And U.S. help to the PA will be presented as collaboration with the infidels. There is no possibility of their participation in this agreement. That means that even in the best of circumstances, even if the PA is at peace with Israel, Hamas will be in an ongoing war with Israel.

So what great advantage is peace with the West Bank and war with Gaza?

It is predictable that Hamas will attempt to carry out cross-border raids and fire missiles at Israel. What is the U.S. position on that? Is the United States at war with Hamas? CIA director John Brennan, the architect of Obama ideology, publically–but not officially–has said that he wants to make peace with Hamas.

Is the PA going to cooperate with Hamas or at least radical segments of the PA? Remember during the Second Intifada, from 2000 to 2005, Fatah did cooperate with Hamas.

Moreover, if Fatah were to change its policy, it might get support from countries such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and so on. Turkey, for example–which is now a conduit for the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, Salafists, and al-Qa'ida obtaining arms–knows that most of its policy with the Arabs will be dependent on its degree of support to the Palestinians, including cooperation if there is a Palestinian state. The fact is that Turkey has pinned its hopes on Turkish influence in the Arab world, and to associate with aggressive support of Palestine would be key to its popularity. What if aid from Turkey and these other countries prepares Palestine to fight?

What is the United States, an ally with Israel, going to do if Palestine is created by its own agreement but wages a war of terrorism against Israel?

By the way, let's remember that Mahmoud Abbas will probably be replaced in the next few years. It is very hard to predict whom he will be replaced by, but the most popular candidate is a serious hardliner.
Shaykh Abd al-Muhsin al-Mutairi stated, "Oh servants of Allah, how saddening and very painful it is to see many Muslim youths glued to TV screens at cafes or at home, passionately watching entertainment shows, like the Football World Cup, in despicable subjugation to the abominations of the other nations–as if we were not a nation with a brilliant history and a lofty civilization."

And guess who they blame?

"The Jews were successful in preoccupying the Muslim youth–except those protected by Allah–with the most inane matters, distracting them from important things…"

It is important to understand that millions of people believe this–thoroughly and completely–and can be motivated by these kinds of arguments to the point of killing or supporting terrorism. This is reality; even if it is not unanimous, it is a major motive. If you don't understand that a majority of people in the Arab-Islamic world believe this, you cannot understand this is the majority view. Certainly Obama and Kerry do not understand this.

So, what are the potential issues that stem from this mindset?
  • Any Muslim killed by a Christian American soldier will be a reason for revenge. This is to engage in a blood feud. Even if a terrorist band has captured a kindergarten and shot children, there will be sympathy in the streets among Arabs and Muslims. If Palestinians are killed by Americans, there will be retaliation.
  •  A terrorist attack at a Kansas airport, Boston, or Fort Hood would be viewed as justification for causalities in Palestine.
  • Remember that the prospects for Arab terrorist movements are much better than Afghan ones, because they have many weapon suppliers–including Libya, Lebanon, al-Qa'ida, Syria, and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
  • Also, in comparison with populated Afghan villages, Palestinians are concentrated in villages and small towns. Let us consider the American patrol knocking down doors in Jordan Valley towns.
In short, an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement is not going to be a picnic. Hamas and likely Fatah as well will attempt to kill Americans and commit terrorism. Forget Iranian nuclear weapons; this will be a war of AK-47s and rockets from Gaza. Does Obama Care?

This is definitely a war in which America will get bogged down, or the United States may stay a few years and leave. Just look at the situation in Afghanistan–either this agreement will never be implemented or it will be a disaster.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

RubinReports/GLORIA Needs Your Support: Make a Tax Deductible Donation Before the End of the Year

Directed by Professor Barry Rubin, the GLORIA Center produces up-to-date, insightful analysis and reporting on modern Middle East affairs, for a variety of audiences. We focus on the key subjects of the day--Israel-Palestinian issues, Iran, Syria, Egypt, and other crucial areas of the region. Through our use of primary sources and collecting information on the ground, we provide accurate analysis in order to influence the state of the region.  Professor Rubin is an acknowledged, veteran and prolific analyst of the politics of the Middle East.  Senior Research Fellow Dr. Jonathan Spyer has visited Syria several times during the course of the civil war, witnessing developments first-hand. GLORIA is one of the most dynamic, versatile and active Mid-East think-tanks in the world today.

Some highlights of GLORIA’s work in 2013 and the coming year:
  • Free Books: 13 full-text books have been made available online, including on the Israel-Palestinian conflict, Syria, U.S. policy, Jewish assimilation, and more.
  • Islamic Political and Social Movements: Edited by Barry Rubin and published by Routledge (2013), this truly ground-breaking and timely work collects for the first time in one reference work the latest scholarship on a previously-neglected aspect of the Muslim political and social experience, and will be invaluable to researchers and students across a wide range of disciplines.
  • Nazis, Islamists and the Making of the Modern Middle East: Forthcoming in February 2014 (Yale University Press) by Barry Rubin and Wolfgang G. Schwanitz, the book focuses on the unique and lasting political alliance forged among Third Reich leaders, Arab nationalists, and Muslim religious authorities during the 1930s and 1940s.
  • Silent Revolution: How the Left Rose to Political Power and Cultural Dominance: Forthcoming in April 2014 (Harper Collins), by Barry Rubin, this thorough history exposes the radicalism that masquerades as liberalism today and charts the movement's unchecked rise to cultural and political power.
  • Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA): Our quarterly journal features articles on developments in the region, including U.S. policy, radical movements, minorities, and a recent special issue on Syria.  MERIA is the most widely read journal of its type in the world, with a circulation of over 25,000.
  • Turkish Studies: Turkey is a country whose importance is rapidly growing in international affairs. It is playing an increasingly critical role in Europe, the Middle East, and the Caucasus. Given Turkey’s significance and the great interest in studying its history, politics, and foreign policy, the Turkish Studies quarterly journal presents a forum for scholarly discussion on these topics and more.

For further information about the GLORIA Center or to pledge your support, please write info@gloria-center.org

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Syria’s Dictatorship Anniversary: Sympathy (?) for the Two Devils

Incidentally, Syria's Ba'th dictatorship is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. The best Syrian analyst I can think of, a very honest guy, is Ammar Abdulhamid. I recently read an article he wrote and was struck by how sad the situation in Syria is. He wrote:

Re-legitimating the Assad regime today, after all it had done, will green light genocidal ventures elsewhere in the world. If world leaders are standing helpless in the face of one genocide today, what will they, I wonder, when they are faced with a dozen? The world witnessed similar conditions during the Cold War for sure, but this is supposed to be the post-Cold War Era, the Era of Never Again and R2P, an era where social media is creating deep links between average citizens and realities on the ground everywhere in the world. Allowing for a return of Cold-War-like realities and developments, or, to be more specific, allowing for the start of Cold War II, is a major step backward. It's a major setback, a major failure, and it will come with a hefty price tag for all.

In other words, he is predicting terrible continued bloodshed in Syria, and the even more depressing probability of more genocide, since the international community is powerless to help. The likelihood is that Syria will become an Iranian colony.

Yet there is a big hole in Abdulhamid's analysis; that of the fate of moderate Syrians, because for a moderate Syrian, the flip of the coin leads to an unavoidable outcome; heads they lose, tails they lose.

If the regime side wins, there will be a massacre of Sunni Muslims. If the Syrian rebels win, there will be a massacre of Alawites and Christians. Either way, there will be mass murder. This is horrible.

Let me make it plain. There will be mass murder, even genocide in Syria. There is no escape; one group will most certainly be at the mercy of another. Syrian rebels have made it clear they will enforce Shari'a.

I was in Syria once, and the regime soldiers ushered me out politely. In fact, I was riding in a taxi there at the moment Richard Nixon resigned. I remember a moderate Syrian Politician asking me, "Will I see democracy in Syria during my lifetime?"

I stood with my mouth agape, unable to reply. Seeing my jaw drop, he shrugged sadly and said, "Oh well, maybe in my children's lifetime."

Many of the Syrian rebels have in fact defected to al-Qa'ida. So much for the "moderates" that the American taxpayers support and arm.

Roughly 40% of the Syrian territory is held by the regime; approximately 40% by the rebels; and about 20% by the Kurds. An estimated 70% of the population is controlled by the regime.

So dangerous and serious is the situation that I must in good conscience make a statement: The United States and the West are working on a solution that will probably end up being a genocidal situation in Syria. Ammar is correct, but either side winning the war will lead to more bloodshed.

Tens of thousands of children have been killed, only the prelude to tens of thousands more. An estimated 200,000 people have been killed thus far.

Obama Administration Iran Deal Cannot Work

How do we know that the Obama administration Iran deal cannot work? Let me count the ways.

The only countries that have played it right are Canada; Egypt, which is now going to receive American weapons; and Iran itself, which will continue to profit from oil sales while making strategic promises it won't keep. This is not about Iranian nuclear weapons. It is about the entire region.
Why have Canada, Egypt, and Iran gotten it right? In large part, Canada has ignored the proposed deal, because it doesn't trust Iran to deliver on any of its promises nor does it believe Iran will change its policy if sanctions end. Iran is not going to change its policy, and Egypt is wisely and cleverly acting in its national interests.

These three countries have simply followed what international diplomacy should be about–the pursuit of national interests, and humanitarian interests when possible. Canada was right, because it was suspicious of radical Islamists, who would push hard to try to get everything and give nothing in return. That it is not a profitable arrangement.

As for Iran, this is precisely about money and defense, not nuclear weapons. Iran wants to get the largest possible amount of money–say 20 billion dollars–but not abandon nuclear weapons completely, knowing Israel cannot attack it.

And Egypt is using its strategic leverage. The military government is in power, and the regime will not allow revolutionary Islamists to attack freely, especially after the last two years' experience.

For example, revolutionary Islamists do not make concessions. That is not the way they bargain. Islamist Iran will never stop seeking nuclear weapons; it will be patient about it. The real danger to the Iranian regime is economic collapse from sanctions, and the potential gain would be for Iran to achieve its true ambitions–mainly, a Shi'a bloc made of Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq; and the destruction of Israel, which won't work.

Egypt played it tough and will probably be the only Arab state that has gained anything. Nevertheless, the Egyptians have so lost confidence with the United States that they just signed a 2 million dollar agreement to buy weapons from Russia. This takes the world back almost 60 years, to 1955, when Egypt was a Soviet client and was buying all its arms from the Soviet Union. Egypt then managed to obtain Russian arms deals for money and yet a U.S. arms deal for free!

Why has Canada gained? Because when the arms deal with Iran collapses, Canada will not be holding the bag.

These are not the only problems with the deal. For example, look at the Israel-Palestinian Authority question. They cannot make a deal without Gaza's involvement. And yet nobody–including the United States and Russia–is going to force Gaza to be included in the peace agreement.

In fact, even the PA will not recognize Israel as a Jewish State, its only precondition.

In an interview, Palestinian leader Farouq Qaddoumi commented:
“… we were enthusiastic supporters of Germany.”

"This was common among the Palestinians, especially since our enemy was Zionism, and we saw that Zionism was hostile to Germany, and vice versa.”

Qaddoumi is honest, at least in mentioning this fact, especially to a news station and when WWII is still referred to as a great patriotic war. At the same time, a main representative of the Muslim Brotherhood in Europe denies that it too was a partner in this alliance, while Iran's leader refers to Israel as "Nazi."

I can imagine that the West could agree to Asad staying on in Syria, but I could never agree that the PA will recognize Israel as a Jewish State. It would never do that, even if it were to get a state immediately, because its goal is in fact a state from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean.

Iran wants to lead a Shi'a bloc consisting of Hizballah, Syria, and–if possible–Iraq. The West supposedly thinks that the deal will be to retain Asad. Yet Syrian rebels, supported by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, view this as a betrayal. They will not make a deal that officially keeps Asad in power in Syria.

Also, Iran is now backing the Sunni Hamas, which the Egyptians are suspicious of and view as a threat. Former Muslim Brother hood Muhammad Morsi has just been indicted for getting support from Hamas, Hizballah, Iran.

Meanwhile, Turkey thinks it will be able to play up to Iran because of economic deals between the two. How will Iran be challenged when Turkey is running Syria's civil war against the Iranian bloc?

Even according to U.S. intelligence (stated foreign policy), Iranian commandos just raided an Iraqi compound in Ashraf that was housing an Iranian dissident group, the Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK), kidnapping seven members and killing over fifty.

Does Iran think it can include armed anti-Iranian (Kurdish) dissidents (the PKK) and Syrian dissidents in its bloc? That might put a crimp on billions of dollars in bilateral trade. By the way, the United States had already supposedly promised Iraq that the MEK would be protected, another source of accusations of "cowboy" behavior.

A U.S. official commenting on the Ashraf attack noted, “Iraqi soldiers didn't get in the way of what was happening at Ashraf."

I hate to say it, but it is almost as if the Obama administration just wants to keep the supposed "deal" alive until after the 2014 elections. It wants to be able to say, "Do you see what a great diplomatic triumph we achieved in the Middle East, resolving all problems?" only then to let the deal collapse. This is of course the reason President Obama said there is only a 50-50 chance with the Iran deal. Usually, the president and secretary of state do not talk about the certainty of deals before they are much closer to being completed.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

When the Immovable Force Meets Jello: The Syrian Civil War

"Remember the war against Franco?
That’s the kind where each of us belongs.
Though he may have won all the battles,
We had all the good songs!"

"The Folk Song Army," Tom Lehrer

The United States is depending on a partner that denies to the UN that Syria even carried out a chemical attack (See: "Russia: Aug 21 Syria Chemical Attack Was ‘Staged’"). The Asad regime, which has ruled Syria since 1963 (happy 50th anniversary!), has the backing of Iran and Russia.

What do you think is going to happen? These two countries are going to back them up. That means that the United States ultimately won't be able to do anything to the Asad regime. If Syria's regime is backed by these two powers that the United States does not want to challenge, it cannot touch them. And that means if the United States does not want to counter them, Asad's regime will win (except the Kurds, who are actually becoming extremely competent fighters).

If the Syrian regime–which has Iranian, Hizballah, and Russian supporters–wins the civil war, it will have another card. There are seven rebel forces. They include Salafists, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic Front, and al-Qa'ida. Six of these rebel forces are Islamists.  The other is the FSA, the group that up until now the United States has preferred.

Now, who are the moderates? Answer: First, the moderates are backed by the United States, and Europe can be presented as the hope of infidels, or at least Arab nationalists (former Ba'thists).

Many of their leaders are former members of the professional Syrian army. You would think that is a good thing, since they are professional soldiers, but they are the people who were oppressing the Sunnis for many decades. And the fact that they are backed by the West is now an additional disadvantage for the moderates, and they are representing an ideology that they hate. "Infidel nationalists" plus "Western stooges"–this does not put them at an advantage.

The fact that the Kurds keep winning their battles gives them a chance, but if I were a betting man, I would not place the odds of the Syrian rebels so high–at least not the Kurds.

Why not? Because the United States is concluding that the "moderates" are not going to be influential. So the United States will even side with "hardline Islamists." Clearly the Obama administration had no trouble working with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, until the Egyptians decided they were going to back the military regime to stop it. In Syria, however, there is no military regime that would be acceptable to the Sunni bloc. As for al-Qa'ida, they are going to have to steal weapons for themselves.

So far there are 2 million Syrian refugees and an estimated 200,000 people have been killed. Basically, this will be a Western defeat and a human tragedy.  Out of approximately one million Syrian Christians, only about 100,000 now remain.

At an academic conference, an Israeli professor was standing next to an Egyptian academic, and proudly said (to show tolerance), "You know my institute is called the Begin-Sadat Institute."

The Egyptian says, "Why Begin?"

In the Middle East the "you give an inch and they take 2 miles" principal works for everything. Poor Syria.
Dedicated to Staff Sgt. Major Shlomi Cohen, Killed on the Lebanese Border, December 16, 2013.

The War Among the Jews

In the spring of 2000, I was friendly with a nice man, the father of my son's friend. He was apolitical really, but his father had been a very high official of the Zionist-Marxist party (MAPAM). He had regularly voted for MAPAM or the Communist Party. By coincidence, we once ended up sitting next to each other on a flight.

I thought it would be interesting to discuss politics, which I had never done with him. After all, the Camp David meeting had failed (Yasir Arafat had refused the two-state solution and Israeli intelligence had recordings that he would never do it), and the violent second intifada was launched by Arafat with a Fatah-Hamas alliance of terrorism.

Anyway, to my surprise this soft-spoken real estate agent started screaming:

"Only [Ariel] Sharon!  Only Sharon can save the country!"

That year I heard that a lot. Sometimes, as the British philosopher Samuel Johnson said, "When a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully." That's the difference with direct engagement with an issue.

A great number of Middle Eastern Arabs and Muslims (perhaps 85%) who think about this issue at all want to destroy Israel–far more than the Germans who wanted to kill the Jews even in 1932! And that is an undeniable fact.

The second fact is that most American public opinion, serious Christians, and absolutely shocked congressional Democrats (and Republicans) who don't feel comfortable with Obama and Kerry's policy are the main supporters of Israel. It will be interesting to see if and when the Democrats have to choose between Israel and real dangers to Israel.

The third factor was that such a large number of pro-Obama and radical or even anti-Israel cadre are Jews–an incredible proportion, to be honest. It is surprising but also not really so surprising. It must be confronted; and it need not be answered by more words but by political movements and by pressure.

Why are Jews so far to the left in general? Historically, it is no mystery. The Jews in the nineteenth century were modernists, supporters of change and development, because, after all, traditional society did not really have a place for them.

Second of all, the Democratic Party made a serious effort to get immigrant and other urban ethnic votes.

Third, the New Deal was very good for Jews and was strongly supported by them; many government agencies were first staffed by Jews at that time. Also many academics, journalists, and other service professions and trade unions were working government-created jobs.

Fourth, of course, was the fight against fascism led by the Democratic Party in that era. You would think that the Democratic view is out of date, but of course it is not, for example, because of cultural trends. It is just unfashionable to be Republican, whereas Liberal Democratic politics are associated with all that is smart, good, and stylish.

It is equally important to keep in mind that Jews are very sensitive to racial and religious discrimination. So why is antisemitism that is connected to popular liberal politics so easily overlooked, exploited by the modern left into minority can do no wrong?

Let's look at Reverend Wright. Despite the fact that Reverend Wright was obviously involved in potent antisemitism, saying in a 2011 speech in Baltimore, “The state of Israel is an illegal, genocidal… place,” then continuing to state that “To equate Judaism with the state of Israel is to equate Christianity with [rapper] Flavor Flav.” These comments, however, were forgiven because of his connection to Obama's campaign: crime, never punishment.

Today, there is a very bizarre division among Jews in the United States. There is a serious lack of Jewish causes among leftist Zionists. Namely, activists are either pro-Israel and traditional liberals or moderates, or they are leftists that belong more to the extreme left wing–which is unfortunately disproportionately common. I should think the historical far-left communist experience should be sufficient to scare Jews (remember the oppression of Soviet Jewry). The fact is that the academics, journalists, and public advocates who are involved are more often than not Jewish. I actually fear reading the bylines and quotes in publications, because I know that Jewish names are so often attached to "progressivism." Yet why is this?

Some causes may be obvious. Both fascists and extreme nationalists have of course been hostile to Jews, even for example as far back as the Dreyfus affair. Yet you would think that Jews were knowledgeable about history. Naturally, Jews are sympathetic toward minorities and more sensitive toward racism. And yet why do Jews automatically think that the state is their friend? The state has often been helpful but has also often been the enemy. Still, many Jews are directed to professions and high-level academic achievement, which tends to focus on statist-finance involvement.

Actually there is no question that there is still antisemitic bias in the U.S., most often seen among the left with their lack of sympathy for Jewish causes and dishonesty in dealing with Israel policy, often in anti-Israel bias. Israel is by far the country that others are the most unfairly biased toward–higher than any bias against Muslims. Yet this is not recognized by Jews, because it makes radicals look better. And, of course, if this is a real bias than the fact that some Muslims want genocide is not taken seriously, especially in university classes.

Let's look at the facts. FBI statistics report that in 2012, 62.4% of hate crimes in the United States were against Jews, who make up about 2-3 percent of the U.S. population. Close to two-thirds of the 1,340 religious hate crimes were thus anti-Jewish.  In other words, the chance of Jews being persecuted for their religion is about 40 times as likely.

Muslims were the number-two targeted group victimized on a religious bias, with 11.6% of hate crimes being anti-Islamic. Although the statistics available on Islam are not detailed, Muslims make up roughly 1 percent of the population (the last Pew Report, in 2010, estimated the Muslim population in the United States at 2.9 million, but the number has grown).

In other words, Jews–who are not easily identified except for the 10 percent of which are Orthodox–are about 40 times more likely to be victims.  Of course only claims that are reported to the FBI are published. Incidentally, the intermarriage rate of Jews is also now over 70%.

The question then is: Is anybody going to wake up to this or not? Are Jews going to realize that the two-state solution is only desirable if it really brings full peace? And if peace were achieved, would Middle Eastern Arabs no longer want to try to wipe out Jews and Israel? If so, the Jewish Democratic vote will change drastically. But have no doubt that many public officials, journalists, and especially academics will as a priority or out of ignorance place Jews and Israelis in jeopardy.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

MERIA Journal, Volume 17, Number 3 (Fall 2013)


The synagogue in the town of Veghel, Netherlands. The community in Veghel was a small mediene community, which reached its height around 1900. In the years following the community shrank to some 30 members, and was eventually completely destroyed during the Holocaust.
This article discusses increasing anti-Jewish hatred in the Netherlands, in particular due to the growing Muslim immigrant population there. Though the Dutch government has been traditionally friendly to Israel and there has been proportionately less antisemitism there compared to in other European countries, shocking slanders appear about Israel in the mainstream Dutch media and there has also been an academic boycott of Israel. In addition, Dutch politicians … [Read more...]


Women taking part in a pro-democracy sit in in Sitra, Bahrain (June 2011).
This article evaluates Arab public opinion with the “Arab Opinion Index” by the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies (ACRPS) in Doha, Qatar. The Index covers 12 Arab countries with 85 percent of the population of the entire Arab world. The data was weighted by UNDP population figures in order to arrive at conclusions about the totality of opinions in the Arab states. There is indeed overwhelming support for democracy and change in the region, but, at … [Read more...]


Kurds showing their support for the PYD in Afrin, Syria during the conflict, August 2012.
This article examines the current political landscape of the Kurdish region in Syria, the role the Kurds have played in the ongoing Syrian civil war, and intra-Kurdish relations. For many years, the Kurds in Syria were subjected to discrimination at the hands of the Ba’th regime and were stripped of their basic rights.[1] During the 1960s and 1970s, some Syrian Kurds were deprived of citizenship, leaving them with no legal status in the country.[2] Although … [Read more...]


Photo of a Jama’at Jund al-Sham fighter holding a flag of the group
This article examines the rise of the al-Qa’ida-aligned group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) since its announcement in April 2013 until September 2013. It focuses in particular on its military operations and its relations with other rebel groups. The article concludes by examining what the future holds for ISIS on the whole.   INTRODUCTION: THE IDEOLOGY   The group under consideration in this paper--like al-Qa’ida … [Read more...]


An FSA fighter engaged in a shootout in Aleppo, Syria (November 2012).
Syria today is divided de facto into three identifiable entities. These three entities are: first, the Asad regime itself, which has survived all attempts to divide it from within.  The second area is the zone controlled by the rebels.  In this area there is no central authority.  Rather, the territory is divided up into areas controlled by a variety of militias.  The third area consists of majority-Kurdish northeast Syria.  This area is under the control …[Read more...]


Coat of Arms of Morocco
Contrary to other Arab countries, Morocco has not experienced an “Arab Spring.” Those who wish to see systemic change have not been able to get a degree of popular support and mobilization similar to that which brought an end to the dictatorships of Ben Ali in Tunisia, al-Qaddafi in Libya or Mubarak in Egypt. The regime has attributed their failure to the special link between the Moroccan monarchy and its people. However, this article argues that it was the … [Read more...]

Lying About Israel

About 10-20 slanders (at least) are issued against Israel each day. They are frequently complete fabrications and from academia, media, or accusations mostly made up out of whole cloth. Lying is either simply reported irresponsibly or with participation in the "big lie." Institutions and personal careers are benefitted by such moves.

Last month, a former Canadian ambassador–who seems to have been earning a living completely on the misrepresentation of Israel–made a horrifying announcement. He announced that an Israeli Jewish civil rights lawyer had been attacked by settlers in the West Bank. But actually, the lawyer has said that this isn't true. In fact, he had rocks thrown at him by Palestinians.

After a terrorist in Israel murdered a soldier by knifing him while he was sleeping on a bus, the New York Times photograph only showed the terrorist's family. The newspaper apparently expected that the sympathy should be given to the terrorist, who might have to do prison time. But so what? It does not matter if each specific lie is exposed. Nobody is going to change their behavior by proving these findings. This certainly doesn't mean that Israelis never lie and Palestinians never tell the truth, but if we're talking about what the Israeli state would never do and what the Palestinian state would do, that's different. Just as in the Cold War, we could easily tell the difference between England and Bulgaria. But as mentioned, the media does not make it a point to spend significant time and money exposing the truth.

After all, there have been such lies told about Jews for over 2,000 years. There has been a dense history of attempts to hate Jews and not have sympathy for them. Is this a surprise? Are some credible people inclined to believe these things? For example, a senior Saudi cleric announced that soccer was a Jewish plot; another complained that the Protocols of the Elders of Zion–which many Arabs believe to be true–dictated all of modern Egyptian history. Are ideological extremists (of the left or the right) showing a strong inclination to resist this? Did the New York Times cover the Holocaust in depth when it was happening? In other words, what exists here is a situation in which:
  1. Some are sympathetic to the truth
  2. Some will swallow lies.
  3. Some will spread lies for political advantage.
Is that anything new? For example, it is probable that millions of people read blogs denying Israeli claims that some specific lie is not true. Again, I don't think there is a point in denying every lie. If one wants to do something, one should assess the truth. Once again, the problem with the Arab-Israeli conflict is not accidental; it is the natural result of two things:
  1. The Arab-Islamic general refusal to recognize Israel ever
  2. The Arab-Islamic inability to destroy Israel.
Get it? I must admit that the funniest falsehood is simply the result of hutzpah (audacity).

A recent New York Times article was titled, "Gaza Need Not Be a Sewer." Now, let us think that you are a rational person. Let us think that you do not have a mere illogical clicker. Wouldn't it be obvious to think this?

Of course Gaza need not be a sewer. For one thing, the Hamas government could have used the chance of getting a lot of money from oil producers, but then it would have to not wage war on Israel forever. Hamas would be expected to pay its electricity bills, and not expect Israel to provide it electricity for free while under the threat of destruction. It would not use antisemitic stereotypes in a clear sense that conveys genocide. And note that Hamas's involvement in Egypt would be criticized. If Gaza had followed this policy, it wouldn't have to be a sewer.

After the disengagement of Jewish settlements in Gaza, Israeli approach was that they would leave behind much of the equipment for the PA, in order to set a good example. Yet Fatah sold or destroyed everything that was left behind. It is quite likely that Hamas also earned a large amount of money from this.
Really then, is Gaza's problem Israel's fault? Did Israel have an alternative given Hamas' desire to wage war on Israel? The point is that it is assumed that somehow Gaza could have become a paradise, and it was Israel's fault that it didn't. In addition, this situation is going to continue as such.

And by the way, Hamas is now helping revolutionary Islamists in Egypt and adding creating another enemy. This gets Gaza deeper embroiled in regional hostilities.

If you lie systematically about someone else, you will not find the truth about yourself.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

How to Read a Newspaper (or Watch Television) About the Real Middle East

This column is an attempt to provide a running narrative of the Middle East. It will tell the news behind the news, including what the mainstream media has missed, especially because of its lack of knowledge of history.

Obama Says Iran-Israel Nuke Deal Is Only a 50/50 Chance

It is amazing that even though this is a low-probability, it has been talked about for a year.  It has been the speculative centerpiece of the Obama administration (like its domestic centerpiece the Obamacare website.  It is not just that the talk about this deal causes disruption in all foreign policy, but also that if it isn't realized the administration will look like fools.

Second, who has been an ally 75 years and who has been an agent of state terrorism?! Vice President Joe Biden said, “The U.S. should make sure the Iranians don’t violate the agreement and build nuclear weapons.” Why is the United States going to do something like bombing them?

By the way, does anyone know how much money the cutting of sanctions is going to yield Iran? According to sources, it is at least 20 billion dollars. How many billion pieces of silver is the West going to get for possibly letting Iran get nuclear weapons?


Hagel Visits Pakistan

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel visited Pakistan last week, with Afghanistan's stalled peace process the main agenda item--given the strained relations between Washington and Islamabad.

In Washington, Obama had previously told Karzai to make friends with the Taliban. Why if you want to make friends do you keep fighting them? Karzai said openly that he was angry; he would rather push the United States out of Afghanistan--than end with his head put up on a pole.  No wonder Karzai says he no longer trusts the United States.

Islamic Parties in Pakistan Are Blocking NATO Supplies

If you think that the U.S. supports “moderate” Islamists, look again. In fact, anyone who wants to know can read in the newspaper that support for Islamism is like Greshams law. In other words, as a coinage “bad Islamism drives out relatively moderate Islamism.”

  1. If NATO supplies fight against radicals then that’s a bad thing. It is better not to have NATO supplies if it strengthens the current government (or other more moderate factions).
  2. Islamists want to promote anti-Americanism and to forget that the U.S. gives Pakistan billions in aid. They want to promote an anti-Christian attitude. Isn't all this obvious?
  3. Anti-Westernism weakens the Pakistani government.
  4. It is in line with Islamist ideology

You Can Understand Why Arabs, Iranians, Turks, and Israelis Think the U.S. is Playing “Cowboy” More Easily If You Comprehend What a Leading Egyptian Moderate Said Recently  

Here is what the Egyptian author and business man tan on Monday

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will visit Pakistan on Monday, officials said, with Afghanistan's stalled peace process high on the agenda as well as the strained relations between Washington and Islamabad. Hagel, who has been in Afghanistan since Saturday, will meet with Prime Minister Nawaz…


Leave Afghanistan: Hamid Karzai Gives Washington a Welcome Shove

Americans have been fighting in Afghanistan for longer than the Civil War, World War I, and World War II combined. America has overstayed its welcome. It's time to go home.
Iet Karzai gets his head on a stick!;
• Obama warns 'ideal world' Iran deal not possible
President Barack Obama warned Saturday that Israel's vision of an "ideal" nuclear agreement with Iran was unrealistic and put the chance of any acceptable final deal emerging at no more than 50/50. But Obama argued that the best possible available agreement with Tehran was likely to be better than…
• Why Would America Sell Saudi Arabia 15,699 Dangerous Missiles?
Saudi Arabia wants to buy over 15,000 TOW missiles, but why? And who benefits? The answer may surprise you.,

• How The USA Lost Its Syrian Allies
As the Geneva peace talks loom, the Obama administration has been forced to reach out to the very Islamist groups it once hoped to marginalize.
Ie. They sold out even more allies—turkey, Saudi Arabia and in some ways Israela
Tarek Heggy said
, "Egypt now needs to reexamine its relations with the U.S. …Nations with honor do not accept aid that is provided in such a manner… this aid benefits the U.S. much more than it benefits Egypt."

He isn’t exaggerating. He views the United States as acting like “cowboys.” First the U.S. supported Gamal Nasser, then Sadat, then Mubarak, then the Muslim Brotherhood--giving no perception or care of Egyptian interests. Now the United States doesn’t care if the military regime runs the country.

Excerpt from Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations

A decade is a long time in the Middle East. If it weren’t so serious, it would be a laugh. The United States initially said it wanted to have a 15-year Israeli army presence in the West Bank.

Supposedly, Abbas rejected any Israeli presence and offered a 10-year American presence, and it seems that Kerry agreed.  This is absolutely ludicrous. This shows how easily the U.S. concedes on Israel’s strategic presence.

Does anyone think that the Palestinian Authority is going to hold the territory against daily attacks from Hamas and Fatah radicals? Do they believe that they are going to cede one inch of this territory? Do you believe that they’re going to collaborate secretly on attacks? Do you believe that they are not going to be overthrown before that from attacks?

The PA says there will be no agreement with Israel without more prisoner releases. Are we going to see Kerry demand this? Is the United States going to guarantee, at the possible cost of war, Palestinian stability? Has anyone in the White House studied Middle East history? Or is Israel going to have to defend against cross-border attacks, because--believe it or not--there are going to be attempts and successes.

Who’s Leading the Syrian Rebels?

Not long ago, Secretary of State John Kerry said “moderates” were leaders of the Syrian rebellion. Now, it is admitted that the Islamist fighters are actually stealing warehouses on the Turkish-Syrian border. The Free Syrian Army’s leadership has been taken over. This “moderate” force has no connection. The power is with the Islamic front, not the Free Syrian army.

In the latest development, the U.S. military officers had to admit that the leaders of the Free Syrian army had to flee back into Turkey.

You can imagine why the Syrian Rebel Islamists don't like or trust the "moderates." These moderates are officers who defected from the Syrian army. While they may be professional military men, they are former men of Asad. You see, the U.S. and Britain are supporting the last people that are really moderate or may be susceptible to the Islamists. These are people from a regime that was killing them and fighting them for years.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Meanwhile on Israel’s Lebanese Border

On December 15, an Israeli jeep was driving along the Israel-Lebanese border near the coast, in a quiet area, which hadn’t seen war for decades. Suddenly a shot rang out. A warrant officer fell dead, but he wasn't killed by a "terrorist." Apparently he had been shot by a uniformed soldier of the Lebanese army. Let's consider this situation under the America's supposed security protection of Israel.

Is Lebanon going to court martial this soldier? Is the United States going to demand that he be punished? Will the United States do anything? Remember that the U.S. will be subsidizing Iran, and who knows what else. Moreover, the United States will try to restrain any Israeli actions. This person is going to get away with murder, and no one will criticize him, but rather compliment him.

This is going to pose daily questions of U.S. policy (true I know this is a Lebanese not Palestinian soldier, but the principal is the same). What if the soldiers had been a few dozen miles away? The United States is obviously going to regret this action but is not going to do anything. It will try to restrain Israel. And meanwhile Lebanon, Syria, and other countries are going to act like they are at war with Israel, but the United States will not allow Israel to act like it is at war with them.

How about if Hizballah had shot the soldier. This means that an Israeli soldier was shot by what is a de facto ally of the United States. After all, the United States has likely provided Iran with some 20 billion dollars, cut sanctions, and won't do anything about the situation. What do Israelis gain? A "frequent friar [Hebrew for sucker] card"?

Does the United States want to get into this situation, the middle of an Arab-Israeli conflict that has gone on for 66 years? As I have pointed out many times, this will be a disaster.

The current stage of peace negotiations are the following: The U.S. has offered American troops to be in the West Bank and Gaza Strip for 10 years. How many soldiers will there be? What is their designated mission? Do you really think the U.S. will have thousands of soldiers in Israel and Palestine for a decade? I don't believe this will happen. I repeat, either this will be a disaster or will not happen.

Here is an interesting option. Suppose the Obama administration draws negotiations out to the end of 2014? Certainly parties would like to do that; they are in no hurry. Then negotiations are drawn out during the campaign, and then the day after voting, they collapse. Wouldn't the Democratic Party achieve a great voter turnout, considering the Arab-Israeli conflict and the Iran conflicts are solved? And then Obama would announce that U.S. interests cannot make the concessions to create peace. In other words, he would get the value of the campaign slogans but then does not deliver.

In other words, if you want this conflict, you can keep this conflict. Don't be surprised at this prediction.