The American Kafir

2012/05/01

SEALs slam Obama for using them as ‘ammunition’ in bid to take credit for bin Laden killing during election campaign

This is an interesting dilemma, first and foremost Obama did not take out Osama bin Laden, the brave men of the Navy SEALs did, also an internet article on The Ulsterman Report states that a longtime Washington D.C. Insider outlined shocking details of an Obama administration having been “overruled” by senior military and intelligence officials leading up to the successful attack against terrorist Osama Bin Laden, this is very believable considering Obama would have the best of two worlds, if something went wrong he could deny it and blame rouge individuals did it, and of course as we can see if it was successful he could take the credit. W

Source Link Mail Online

SEALs slam Obama for using them as ‘ammunition’ in bid to take credit for bin Laden killing during election campaign

By Toby Harnden

Serving and former US Navy SEALs have slammed President Barack Obama for taking the credit for killing Osama bin Laden and accused him of using Special Forces operators as ‘ammunition’ for his re-election campaign.

The SEALs spoke out to MailOnline after the Obama campaign released an ad entitled ‘One Chance’.

In it President Bill Clinton is featured saying that Mr Obama took ‘the harder and the more honourable path’ in ordering that bin Laden be killed. The words ‘Which path would Mitt Romney have taken?’ are then displayed.

Besides the ad, the White House is marking the first anniversary of the SEAL Team Six raid that killed bin Laden inside his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan with a series of briefings and an NBC interview in the Situation Room designed to highlight the ‘gutsy call’ made by the President.

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Taking credit: President Obama has used bin Laden's death as a campaign tool

Taking credit: President Obama has used bin Laden’s death as a campaign tool

Mr Obama used a news conference today to trumpet his personal role and imply that his Republican opponent Mr Romney, who in 2008 expressed reservations about the wisdom of sending troops into Pakistan, would have let bin Laden live.

‘I said that I’d go after bin Laden if we had a clear shot at him, and I did,’ Mr Obama said. ‘If there are others who have said one thing and now suggest they’d do something else, then I’d go ahead and let them explain it.’

Ryan Zinke, a former Commander in the US Navy who spent 23 years as a SEAL and led a SEAL Team 6 assault unit, said: ‘The decision was a no brainer. I applaud him for making it but I would not overly pat myself on the back for making the right call.

‘I think every president would have done the same. He is justified in saying it was his decision but the preparation, the sacrifice – it was a broader team effort.’

Mr Zinke, who is now a Republican state senator in Montana, added that MR Obama was exploiting bin Laden’s death for his re-election bid. ‘The President and his administration are positioning him as a war president using the SEALs as ammunition. It was predictable.’

Target: Bin Laden, pictured in his compound in Pakistan, was killed a year ago

Target: Bin Laden, pictured in his compound in Pakistan, was killed a year ago

Mission: Senior figures gathered to watch Navy SEALs invade the compound

Mission: Senior figures gathered to watch Navy SEALs invade the compound

Mr Obama has faced criticism even from allies about his decision to make a campaign ad about the bin Laden raid. Arianna Huffington, an outspoken liberal who runs the left-leaning Huffington Post website, roundly condemned it.

She told CBS: ‘We should celebrate the fact that they did such a great job. It’s one thing to have an NBC special from the Situation Room… all that to me is perfectly legitimate, but to turn it into a campaign ad is one of the most despicable things you can do.’

Campaigning in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Mr Romney responded to a shouted question by a reporter by saying: ‘Even Jimmy Carter would have given that order.’

A serving SEAL Team member said: ‘Obama wasn’t in the field, at risk, carrying a gun. As president, at every turn he should be thanking the guys who put their lives on the line to do this. He does so in his official speeches because he speechwriters are smart.

‘But the more he tries to take the credit for it, the more the ground operators are saying, “Come on, man!” It really didn’t matter who was president. At the end of the day, they were going to go.’

Chris Kyle, a former SEAL sniper with 160 confirmed and another 95 unconfirmed kills to his credit, said: ‘The operation itself was great and the nation felt immense pride. It was great that we did it.

‘But bin Laden was just a figurehead. The war on terror continues. Taking him out didn’t really change anything as far as the war on terror is concerned and using it as a political attack is a cheap shot.

‘In years to come there is going to be information that will come out that Obama was not the man who made the call. He can say he did and the people who really know what happened are inside the Pentagon, are in the military and the military isn’t allowed to speak out against the commander- in-chief so his secret is safe.’

Rival: Mr Obama has questioned whether Mitt Romney would have done the same

Rival: Mr Obama has questioned whether Mitt Romney would have done the same

Senior military figures have said that Admiral William McRaven, a former SEAL who was then head of Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) made the decision to take bin Laden out. Tactical decisions were delegated even further down the chain of command.

Mr Kyle added: ‘He’s trying to say that Romney wouldn’t have made the same call? Anyone who is patriotic to this country would have made that exact call, Democrat or Republican. Obama is taking more credit than he is due but it’s going to get him some pretty good mileage.’

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2012/04/12

Clinton Overrules Republican Lawmaker’s Hold on Palestinian Aid

Much like her boss Barack Hussein Obama, Hillary Clinton has no respect for the Constitutional Laws and the peoples elected officials. Why do we elect representation? Has congress no spine and tell Obama and his Administrative minions they are out of line? W

Source National Journal

Clinton Overrules Republican Lawmaker’s Hold on Palestinian Aid

Ros-Lehtinen: “Where is the accountability for U.S. taxpayer dollars?”

By Sara Sorcher

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton addresses the G8 foreign ministers at the start of a working session at Blair House in Washington on Wednesday.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is allowing U.S. funds to flow to the West Bank and Gaza despite a hold by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., a rare display of executive-branch authority that angered the key lawmaker concerned about protecting her congressional oversight role.

A State Department official said that a letter was delivered on Tuesday to key members of Congress informing them of Clinton’s decision to move forward with the $147 million package of the fiscal year 2011 economic support funds for the Palestinian people, despite Ros-Lehtinen’s hold. Administrations generally do not disburse funding over the objections of lawmakers on relevant committees.

The funds deliver “critical support to the Palestinian people and those leaders seeking to combat extremism within their society and build a more stable future. Without funding, our programs risk cancellation,” the official, who was not authorized to speak about the issue, said in an e-mail. “Such an occurrence would undermine the progress that has been made in recent years in building Palestinian institutions and improving stability, security, and economic prospects, which benefits Israelis and Palestinians alike.”

Late last month, Ros-Lehtinen sent a letter to Clinton and U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Rajiv Shah, informing them she will lift her hold on some $88.6 million of the Palestinian aid package — out of the full $147 million — under special conditions. Appropriations State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee Chairwoman Kay Granger, R-Texas, agreed to release her hold on the full assistance package on humanitarian grounds.

“The U.S. has given $3 billion in aid to the Palestinians in the last five years alone, and what do we have to show for it?” Ros-Lehtinen said on Wednesday in a statement to National Journal. “Now the administration is sending even more. Where is the accountability for U.S. taxpayer dollars?”

Ros-Lehtinen earlier said she was disappointed that the administration “would employ hardball tactics against Congress and threaten to send, over congressional objection, U.S. taxpayer dollars to the Palestinian Authority.” She does not want the funds used for assistance and recovery programs in Hamas-run Gaza; road construction projects in the West Bank, unless vital for security; or trade facilitation, tourist promotion, or scholarships for Palestinian students.

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2012/04/03

Iran Sanctions Exemptions Leave Room for Doubt About Obama’s Intentions

Source Commentary Magazine

Iran Sanctions Exemptions Leave Room for Doubt About Obama’s Intentions

Jonathan S. Tobin

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced today that the United States was granting exemptions to Japan and several European countries from sanctions that are intended to prevent the sale of Iranian oil. However, Clinton represented the waivers as part of the administration’s effort to tighten the vise on Iran. This makes some sense, at least as far as Europe is concerned. The European Union has already forbidden its member nations from signing new oil contracts with Iran and has pledged itself to ending existing obligations by July 1. As for Japan, Clinton said the exemption was a reward for their efforts toward reducing their dependence on Iranian oil.

If these exemptions really part of an integrated strategy aimed at tightening the noose around Iran’s economy then it is fair to say that President Obama is keeping his word to implement the sanctions Congress passed last year over his objections. However, it is worth noting that the administration has history of non-enforcement of sanctions on Iran as well as the possibility that such waivers will be used as a way to prolong negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program. There is also the likelihood that the exemptions have more to do with a desire to stabilize oil prices than a campaign to force the ayatollahs to renounce their nuclear plans.

Assuming that Clinton means what she says about sticking to a tough policy on Iran, the exemptions are a way to gradually achieve an oil embargo of Iran without causing a major disruption of oil markets that would harm America’s allies. And while avoiding a spike in oil prices is an imperative for the president’s re-election campaign, it is also desirable to avoid any actions that would create windfall profits for Iran.

That said, as the New York Times notes, the real test of the administration’s intentions is whether it is prepared to apply the law to China and India, the nations that are the primary consumers of Iranian oil. China has already committed itself to buying more Iranian oil in the future.

The danger here is not only that Iran doesn’t believe that President Obama has the guts to risk raising oil prices in an election year and thus will continue to defy international efforts to get it to back down. Though the waivers allow the administration some flexibility in implementation of the sanctions, the fear is that when push comes to shove, the president will lack the nerve to punish nations that still prefer to do business with Tehran. The waivers may also encourage the Iranians to use the promise of negotiations to string the West along without them ever having to give up their nukes. As with everything else about the administration’s Iran policy, the key issue here is trust. The Treasury Department has already issued thousands of exemptions to American companies who want to do business with Iran in violation of the law. So long as Obama and Clinton can keep talking tough, they may assume that the public will be unaware of the fact that the crippling sanctions Congress imposed on them are full of holes.

Given Washington’s ardent desire to prevent Israel from taking action against the existential nuclear threat from Iran on its own, the administration will have every incentive to keep granting exemptions while continuing to indulge in bellicose rhetoric aimed at Iran but really intended for the ears of American voters. An American government that is more committed to maintaining a window for dubious diplomacy with Iran than actually forcing Tehran to give up its nuclear ambitions may well use the exemptions to avoid a confrontation rather than to achieve their intended purpose.

all emphasis added

N. Korean satellite launch pretext for Iran missile test

N. Korean satellite launch pretext for Iran missile test

Western defense officials say upcoming launch is a continuation of Iran and North Korea’s nuclear and missile cooperation • Seoul warns it might shoot down North Korean rocket if it violates South Korean territory.

Yoav Limor

The satellite that North Korea intends to launch into space next month is apparently merely a front, with the real reason behind the planned launch being to test a long-range ballistic missile for another country – apparently Iran. This, at least, is what defense officials in the West have come to believe. The launch is also intended to possibly test a new launcher.

North Korea has moved a long-range rocket to a launching site, apparently determined to press ahead with its plan to launch a satellite in defiance of international condemnation, the South Korean military said Sunday, The New York Times reported. The Times article said that the North Koreans moved the main body of the Unha-3 rocket to the newly built launching station in Dongchang-ri, a village in northwest North Korea.

The satellite launch is expected to take place between April 12 and 16. North Korea has claimed that the launch is for “peaceful purposes only,” and to celebrate the April 15 centenary of the birth of its founder, Kim Il Sung. Kim’s grandson, Kim Jong Un, has led the nation of 24 million since his father, Kim Jong Il, died in December. North Korea has also claimed that the launch will not affect its neighbors and that it wasn’t violating an agreement with the West under which North Korea has agreed to suspend its nuclear program in exchange for food shipments. Within the agreement, North Korea has agreed to halt the testing of ballistic missiles and to stop enriching uranium at its nuclear facility in Yongbyon.

Pyongyan’s neighbor and nemesis, Seoul, warned Monday that it might shoot down parts of the North Korean rocket if they violate South Korean territory, as worries about what Washington calls a long-range missile test overshadowed an international nuclear security summit, AP reported on Monday.

Western security officials now believe that sending the satellite into space is only a pretext for the primary goal of the launch, and that the actual purpose is to test a long-range ballistic missile belonging to another country. Suspicions, as stated, have fallen on Iran.

The Islamic Republic has close ties to North Korea, depending on it during different stages of its nuclear and long-range missile program. Based on this assessment, Iran is concerned that testing its long-range missiles from its own territory will be interpreted by the West as another sign that it is advancing its nuclear weapons program, including an accelerated effort to develop its arsenal of long-range missiles.

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2012/03/29

State Department Refuses to Say Jerusalem is Israel’s Capital

Source Arutz Sheva

State Department Refuses to Say Jerusalem is Israel’s Capital

U.S. State Department spokeswoman refuses to say outright that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital during daily press briefing.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland on Wednesday refused to say that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, according to a report by The Weekly Standard.

The report said the exchange took place at the daily State Department press briefing. The questions Nuland was asked were regarding a Washington Free Beacon story that highlighted the State Department’s refusal to list Jerusalem as part of Israel.

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Earlier in the week, the Washington Free Beacon had shown an official State Department communication which labeled Jerusalem and Israel as separate entities.

The official press release stated that “Acting Under Secretary Kathleen Stephens Travels to Algeria, Qatar, Jordan, Jerusalem, and Israel.”

After the Washington Free Beacon reported on this, the communication was altered to read, “Acting Under Secretary Kathleen Stephens Travels to Algiers, Doha, Amman, Jerusalem, and Tel Aviv.”

On Wednesday, a reporter asked Nuland about this, saying, “Yesterday there was a bit of a kerfuffle over an announcement that was made by the department about the travel of your boss. Is it the State Department’s position that Jerusalem is not part of Israel?”

Nuland said in response, according to the State Department transcript, “Well, you know that our position on Jerusalem has not changed. The first media note was issued in error, without appropriate clearances. We reissued the note to make clear that undersecretary, acting undersecretary for — our — Kathy Stevens will be travelling to Algiers, Doha, Amman, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. With regard to our Jerusalem policy, it’s a permanent-status issue.  It’s got to be resolved through the negotiations between the parties.”

The reporter did not let up and asked Nuland whether it was the view of the United States that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, to which Nuland responded, “We are not going to prejudge the outcome of those negotiations, including the final status of Jerusalem.”

The reporter then asked, “Does that — does that mean that you do not regard Jerusalem as the capital of Israel?” and Nuland responded, “Jerusalem is a permanent-status issue.  It’s got to be resolved through negotiations.”

Q: That seems to suggest that you do not regard Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.  Is that correct or not?

Nuland: I have just spoken to this issue — and I have nothing further to say on it.

Later on during the briefing, the same reporter asked once again, “I want to clarify something, perhaps give you an ‘out’ on your Jerusalem answer. Is it your — is it your position that all of Jerusalem is a final-status issue, or do you think — or is it just East Jerusalem?”

The irritated Nuland, according to The Weekly Standard, then responded, “Matt, I don’t have anything further to what I’ve said 17 times on that subject. OK?”

The issue of Jerusalem being recognized by the U.S. as Israel’s capital has been at the forefront for many years. It is centered on whether Israel has sovereignty over Jerusalem.

The U.S. Congress defined Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1955, passed by the 104th Congress on October 23, 1995, (PDF copy of the Full Text and Summary are below) to have the US Embassy moved to Jerusalem no later than May 31, 1999, The act called for Jerusalem to remain an undivided city and for it to be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel. The proposed law was adopted by the Senate (93–5) and the House (374–37), but not implemented by the State Department and the Executive branch.

Attorney Harvey Schwartz, Chair of the American Israeli Action Coalition, explained in an interview with Arutz Sheva several months ago, “United States policy has been consistent since 1948 that Israel is not sovereign over Jerusalem. Rather, the question of Jerusalem’s sovereignty is to be determined, ultimately, by resolution between the parties. That’s been consistent U.S. policy.”

The question of Israel’s sovereignty over Jerusalem is central to the Menachem Zivotofsky v. Hillary Clinton case. The case involves Menachem Zivotofsky, who was born in Jerusalem and whose parents requested that the place of birth on his U.S. passport and Consular Report of Birth Abroad be listed as Israel.

The State Department refused the request, leading the Zivotofskys to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Earlier this week, the Supreme Court returned the decision on the issue to the lower court.

In their decision, the justices wrote, “Congress enacted a statue providing that Americans born in Jerusalem may elect to have “Israel” listed as the place of birth on their passports. The State Department declined to follow that law, citing its longstanding policy of not taking a position on the political status of Jerusalem. When sued by an American who invoked that statute, the Secretary of State argued that the courts lacked authority to decide the case because it presented a political question. The Court of Appeals so held.

“We disagree. The courts are fully capable of determining whether this statute may be given effect, or instead must be struck down in light of authority conferred on the Executive by the Constitution.”

View this document on Scribd
View this document on Scribd

2012/03/24

Saudi Wahhabism Expands into Libya

Source JCPA

Saudi Wahhabism Expands into Libya

by Jacques Neriah

Inroads by the Salafi-Wahhabi School of Islam

Since the ouster of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi in October 2011 and in the chaos that has gripped Libya since, fundamentalist Libyans have been pushing for a strict interpretation of Islamic law. Under the umbrella of lawlessness, gunmen calling themselves Salafis broke into the Saif al-Nasr Mosque in Tripoli on November 8, 2011, smashed open the wooden sarcophagus and removed the remains of el-Nasr, a scholar who died 155 years ago, as well as that of a former imam, Hammad Zwai. The gunmen moved the bodies to a Muslim cemetery and, with the help of graffiti left on the walls, explained their disapproval of the Sufi Muslim tradition of burying scholars and teachers in mosques to honor them.

The estimated 200 to 400 members of the local Salafi movement in the small town of Zuwara near the Tunisian border have demolished shrines belonging to adherents of the Ibadi sect, long considered heretics by orthodox Sunni Muslims. In the town’s cemetery, large blocks of stone surround what was once a mausoleum. The large, conical-shaped structure that once adorned it now lies collapsed in the debris.

In January 2012, extremists bulldozed through a wall of an old cemetery in the eastern city of Benghazi, destroyed its tombs, and carried off 29 bodies of respected sages and scholars. They also demolished a nearby Sufi school.

A group of Salafis angered by the burning of the Koran at a NATO military base in Afghanistan entered the Commonwealth War Cemetery in Benghazi on February 24, 2012, and shattered headstones of British and allied servicemen who fought in North African desert campaigns against the Nazis during World War II.

Salafis are intolerant of other schools of Islam and have physically attacked Muslim minorities in other parts of the Arab world, including Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Many Muslims frequent the shrines of saints, believing the holy men have powers of intercession with the divine. Salafis, however, believe these are pagan rites that must be obliterated from Islam, in line with the teachings of the founder of the Salafi movement, Muhammad Ibn ‘Abd el-Wahab (1703-1792) whose philosophy has been the official doctrine of Saudi Arabia since the end of the eighteenth century. Its adherents prefer to call themselves Salafis.

The Wahhabi teachings disapprove of the veneration of historical sites associated with early Islam on the grounds that only God should be worshipped and that veneration of sites associated with mortals leads to idolatry. Many buildings associated with early Islam, including mausoleums and other artifacts, have been destroyed in Saudi Arabia by Wahhabis from the early nineteenth century through the present day.

Indeed, this version of fundamentalist Islam is not typical of Libyan Islam. Moderate Libyan and North African Islam has receded in the face of Wahhabi Islam coming from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries. Under Gaddafi, the regime succeeded mostly in containing the Salafi push. But in areas remote from the center (Benghazi), the Salafis, together with al-Qaeda elements that apply a strict Wahhabi Islam, succeeded not only to survive the persecutions of the Gaddafi regime, but also succeeded in proselytizing their school of thought among the Libyans who were the backbone of the fighters in Afghanistan.

Throughout Libya, Gaddafi’s fall has emboldened Salafis, who were persecuted and imprisoned under the now deceased leader. They have increased their public presence, taken over mosques, and even raised the flag of al-Qaeda over the courthouse in Benghazi where the revolution began eleven months ago. Gaddafi’s disappearance and the link between the Qatari regime and the fighting militias particularly exposed the connection with Abdel Hakim Belhaj, the head of the Tripoli Military Council and former Guantanamo Bay inmate, and has created a situation where the military commanders of Libya are part and parcel of the Salafi-Wahhabi school of Islam. This explains their attitude towards the prevalent Sufi Islam in North Africa.

Moreover, for thirty years, massive amounts of oil money have been used to drown the Middle East and North Africa in Wahhabi ideas. The purpose of this support for the Wahhabi school of thought is basically political, in that the Saudi system of government depends on an alliance between the ruling family and the Wahhabi sheikhs. Hence, spreading the Wahhabi ideology reinforces the political system in that country.

Libyans exposed to Wahhabi ideas see a society different from theirs. Men and women are completely segregated, but rates of sexual harassment and rape are among the highest in the world. Alcohol is banned but many people drink in secret. The law does not apply to princes, who can do what they like, confident that they are immune from punishment. Libyans learn that performing your prayers on time is not voluntary, as it is in Libya, but a compulsory obligation, and if you are late the police might arrest you and harm you. They learn that if you are walking along the street with your wife and her hair is accidentally uncovered, then a policeman will pounce on her to hit her with a stick and make her cover her head. Women in Tripoli are already feeling the heaviest burden to conform. They have been under pressure to dress conservatively since Gaddafi’s downfall.

In January, hundreds of Libyan Salafis rallied to demand that Muslim Shari’a law inspire legislation. Assembled by Islamist political and religious groups, mostly young and bearded men holding up copies of the Koran demonstrated in squares in the capital Tripoli, the eastern city of Benghazi, and in Sabha in the southern desert. In Tripoli’s Algeria Square, Islamists burned copies of the “Green Book,” Gaddafi’s pronouncements on politics, economics, and everyday life, to underline that the Koran should be the country’s main source of legislation.

The chairman of Libya’s ruling National Transitional Council (NTC), Mustafa Abdul Jalil, promised in October to uphold Islamic law. “We as a Muslim nation have taken Islamic Shari’a as the source of legislation; therefore, any law that contradicts the principles of Islam is legally nullified,” he said. The NTC says that the new constitution that will be drafted by a panel elected in June must have Islamic law, i.e. Shari’a, as its principal source. How Shari’a will be interpreted remains uncertain until the constitution is drafted.

Economic Islamism

The new trend in Libyan Islam is also weighing on the economy. The deputy governor of the central bank of Libya stated that a law regulating Islamic banking would be issued in the first quarter of 2012, but stressed that both conventional and Islamic banks would be allowed to operate in Libya. Islamists in Algeria Square in Tripoli held up placards demanding a financial system respecting Islam’s ban on interest and calling for a constitution derived from Shari’a’s legal and moral codes.

Along with Libya, Egypt is also preparing a law that will pave the way for the issuance of Sukuk the Arabic name for financial certificates, commonly referring to the Islamic equivalent of bonds. Since fixed income, interest bearing bonds are not permissible in Islam, Sukuk securities are structured to comply with Islamic law and its investment principles that prohibit charging or paying interest. The Islamist party that won Tunisia’s election says it will encourage the establishment of stand-alone Islamic lenders.

Islamic banking services in Libya are limited today to Murabaha, a three-party contract where a customer places an order at a bank to purchase goods from a supplier by paying a deposit and secures the rest through collateral. The bank sells the goods back to the customer at a mark-up with a fixed credit period.

The Break-Up of Libya?

On the one-year anniversary of the start of the Libyan revolution, the NTC seems to have lost control of what used to be a united Libya. The NTC is unable to impose its authority over regional military bodies, while tensions between secular and Islamist groups are surfacing in all spheres because of the clash between two versions of Islam: The North African (and Libyan) version and the Salafi-Wahhabi school of thought represented by the militias.

The country itself has split into two semi-autonomous regions. Representatives of about 100 militias from western Libya declared in January 2012 that they had formed a new federation to prevent infighting and to allow them to press the country’s new government for further reform. The leader of the new federation, Col. Mokhtar Fernana, said the council’s committee in charge of integrating revolutionary fighters was taking in men who had fought for Colonel Gaddafi.

Beginning in March 2012, tribal leaders and militia commanders declared eastern Libya to be a semiautonomous state. The thousands of representatives of major tribal leaders, militia commanders, and politicians who made the declaration at a conference in Benghazi said the move was not intended to divide the country. They declared that they want their region to remain part of a united Libya, but insisted the move was needed to stop decades of discrimination against the east.

The conference stated that the eastern state, known as Barqa, would have its own parliament, police force, courts and capital – Benghazi, the country’s second largest city – to run its own affairs. Under their plan, foreign policy, the national army, and oil resources would be left to a central federal government in the capital Tripoli in the west. Barqa would cover nearly half the country, from central Libya to the Egyptian border in the east and down to the borders with Chad and Sudan in the south.

The announcement aimed to pose a federal system as a fait accompli before the National Transitional Council. The goal is to revive the system that was in place between 1951 and 1963 when Libya, ruled by a monarchy, was divided into three states: Tripolitania in the west, Fezzan in the southwest, and Cyrenaica in the east – or Barqa, as it was called in Arabic.

Sufism vs. Salafism

Polarization between the two main schools of Islam in Libya, Sufism and Salafism, has created two distinct camps fighting one another. The tension between the traditional Sufis and the Salafis, influenced by Saudi Wahhabis and other ultra-conservative foreign Islamists, has become a key divide in Libyan politics as parties begin to form to contest free elections in June. At present the Sufis are on the defensive and behave accordingly. Sufi militiamen guard the remaining mosques in Tripoli, including the Sha’b Mosque, home to the body of a revered scholar, Abdul Sahfi, which is interred in a large stone sarcophagus.

Libyan Sufis staged a joyous parade through the heart of Tripoli and Benghazi to mark the Prophet Mohammad’s birthday, defying radical Salafi Muslims who were pressuring them to scrap the centuries-old tradition. Chanting hymns to the beat of drums and cymbals, marchers choked the narrow alleys of the walled old town to celebrate the feast of Mawlid (birth), a favorite event for pious Sufis whose spirituality is an integral part of North African Islam. The celebrations were the first since the fall last August of Muammar Gaddafi, who kept religion under firm control during his 42-year dictatorship, and went ahead despite concerns that hardliners might attack the marchers as heretics.

This is the essence of the phenomenon: the disconnect between belief and behavior is a social malaise that emanates from Saudi Arabia and has spread like a plague throughout almost all the Arab world, just as it has spread into Islamist groups. Libya is clearly its victim, as are other Arab states that have witnessed the so-called “Arab Spring.”

*      *      *

Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah, a special analyst for the Middle East at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, was formerly Foreign Policy Advisor to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Deputy Head for Assessment of Israeli Military Intelligence.

2012/03/19

‘People yawning, developing goose bumps could be terrorist’ says US Homeland Security

Article Link Web India

‘People yawning, developing goose bumps could be terrorist’ says US Homeland Security

A US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) document aimed at raising awareness on how people can help combat terrorism, has warned that passengers yawning, developing goose bumps and appearing fidgety could all be potential terrorists.

A presentation tilted ‘Terrorism Awareness and Prevention’ released by the New Jersey office of the agency, said it aims to educate the public on recognizing potential threats in any environment including at work and in the community as well as how to report them.

The document said the ‘signs will become particularly evident in a person’s eyes, face, neck and body movements.’

According to the report, if an individual has a cold stare, ‘trance-like gaze’ or wide ‘flashbulb eyes,’ he/she might be a terrorist.

The document also said if somebody seem to exaggerate yawning in conversation, repeatedly touch their face or ears, or excessively watch a clock or fidget, these may be indicators of a terrorist, The Daily Mail reports.

If passengers pace, tremble, perspire or have goose bumps, the department’s report states that these also may be indicators.

The report also states that ‘citizens should never use race or religion as factors for reporting suspicious activity.’ (ANI)

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Article Link: Prokerala

How To Spot A Terrorist

The US Department of Homeland Security has brought out a presentation that aims to educate people on recognising terrorists and how to report them.

The report titled “Terrorism Awareness and Prevention” warned that people yawning, developing goose bumps and appearing fidgety could all be potential terrorists, according to the Daily Mail.

It said the “signs will become particularly evident in a person’s eyes, face, neck and body movements”.

If an individual has a cold stare, “trance-like gaze” or wide “flashbulb eyes”, they may be a terrorist, according to the report.

If they seem to exaggerate yawn during conversation, repeatedly touch their face or ears, or excessively watch a clock or fidget, these may also be indicators of a terrorist.

If they pace, tremble, perspire or have goose bumps, these also may be indicators.

Doctors have linked goose bumps to an individual’s mentality, be it anxiety or fear.

“The described indicators are not fool-proof. They are not guarantees of terrorist activities or the lack thereof,” the report said.

“However, if you encounter an increasing number of indicators, common sense would tell you that increased attention and thought should be placed on reporting your observations,” it added.

The report, however, said citizens “should never use race or religion as factors for reporting suspicious activity”, but instead report only facts to authorities.

2011/12/12

Hillary, Israel is not Iran

Hillary, Israel is not Iran

By GILAD ERDAN

Israel is not Iran or Saudi Arabia. Perhaps it would be better to begin where the real problems are.

Hillary, our dear friend. A few days ago, you expressed your deep concern about harm to the status of women in Israel, which you said reminds you of the events in Iran. The truth is you surprised us. Really.

We did not think that in the midst of a range of international disputes, along with the reversal of the Arab Spring that now turns out to be winter, Iran’s development of nuclear weapons and other real and tangible threats, you would still manage to find time to deal with the status of women.

But we certainly agree with you – the status of women and women’s rights is a universal and important subject.

In Israel, we do have problems, as you pointed out in your address to the Saban Forum – problems such as women’s seating arrangements in some buses or women singing to religious soldiers.

These issues certainly keep us awake at night, and we appreciate the fact you share our concerns. Although the extent of these phenomena is very limited, we are trying to find a way to resolve them, and the government of Israel, out of a deep commitment to the status of women, will act to prevent any violation of equality between women and men.

(In our country, by the way, a woman serves as the president of the Supreme Court, a woman is the head of the opposition, a woman serves as a major-general in the army, and I could give you many more examples.) Each of the sectors in Israel – men and women, religious and secular, Jews and Arabs, and others – has representatives in the Knesset, courts, academia, media and all the mechanisms of society.

Because of this, we are really upset that there are several bus lines in which women are required to sit in the back, and we will do all in our power to stop this phenomenon.

We are pleased to know that you, our close friend, are also worried. We are pleased, because we understand that if you are concerned about the status of women in Israel, you are much more concerned about status of women in other countries friendly to the United States, such as Saudi Arabia, for example.

After all, if you’re concerned about the sitting arrangements on the buses in Israel, you must be even more worried about the fact that in Saudi Arabia, women cannot drive at all, not a bus and not a private car.

I am certain that you’re worried that in Arab countries such as Egypt or Qatar, men can marry several women and divorce them without any reason, leaving them without any rights, without custody for their children and certainly without alimony.

I’m also certain that you’re worried that in Muslim countries such as Indonesia or Pakistan, women are executed on charges of adultery.

But, somehow, I do not recall that you have expressed your concern about it or have taken any steps to stop it. Am I wrong? I know that you, Hillary, as one of the most powerful women in the world, attach great importance to the subject of women’s rights, devoting your time to promote this issue despite your busy schedule.

I guess you’re also very concerned about domestic issues in the US relating to human rights, such as the new law in Arizona that was signed by the governor, permitting the police to arrest anyone who might look like an illegal immigrant, which could encourage racial discrimination.

So to make it easier on you, I want to tell you that you should not be so worried about the status of women in Israel.

As I mentioned, there are other places in which the issues of women’s rights, or the rights of minorities or homosexuals, are much more painful. In Israel, unlike in other places and just like in the US, we are taking care of equality between men and women, and we don’t need help. We even get a little offended when we are the targets of moralistic preachings on this subject.

Israel is not Iran or Saudi Arabia. Perhaps it would be better to begin where the real problems are.

(This article was translated by Moria Dashevsky.) The writer is minister of environmental protection.

2011/11/22

Because the State Department wants to make sure…

Very interesting posting at Internet Haganah concerning stats of Iranian Students studying in the United States. Walt

Source Link: Internet Haganah
The Open Doors program is funded by the US Department of State:

Open Doors, supported by a grant from the Department of State’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs, provides a comprehensive information resource on international students and scholars studying or teaching at higher education institutions in the United States, and U.S. students studying abroad for academic credit at their home colleges or universities.Every year, U.S. embassies, the Departments of State, Commerce, and Education, and U.S. colleges and universities use Open Doors data to inform policy decisions about educational exchanges, trade in educational services and study abroad activity.

To mark the start of International Education Week, the Institute of International Education released Open Doors 2010 data on November 15, 2010. The report contains statistics and trends regarding international students enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities during the 2009 through 2010 academic year and U.S. students who studied abroad for academic credit at their home institutions in the 2008 through 2009 academic year, including summer of 2009.

Of particular note is that Iran is among the top 25 countries to send students, with 5,626 enrolled in US academic institutions[1]. 83% of those students are in graduate level programs meaning, among other things, that they have likely also completed their compulsory military service. Perhaps more importantly, it seems reasonable to presume that all have been carefully screened by the IRI prior to being allowed to sally forth to the Great Satan. And it is also reasonable to suspect that some have even been tasked with gaining entry into the United States.

Now, I’d happily caveat all this by noting I’m in the suspicion business, but as I looked more closely at the data… Let’s just say that nothing gets attention like something that isn’t there.

They’ll allow that there are Iranian students in the USA, and that Iran ranks 22 among countries with students here.


Archive of data

Open Doors Data

International Students: Leading Places of Origin

2009/10 – 2010/11

TOP 25 PLACES OF ORIGIN OF INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS, 2009/10 – 2010/11
Rank Place of Origin 2009/10 2010/11 2010/11 % of Total % Change
WORLD TOTAL 690,923 723,277 100.0 4.7
1 China 127,822 157,558 21.8 23.3
2 India 104,897 103,895 14.4 -1.0
3 South Korea 72,153 73,351 10.1 1.7
4 Canada 28,145 27,546 3.8 -2.1
5 Taiwan 26,685 24,818 3.4 -7.0
6 Saudi Arabia 15,810 22,704 3.1 43.6
7 Japan 24,842 21,290 2.9 -14.3
8 Vietnam 13,112 14,888 2.1 13.5
9 Mexico 13,256 13,713 1.9 2.0
10 Turkey 12,397 12,184 1.7 -1.7
11 Nepal 11,233 10,301 1.4 -8.3
12 Germany 9,548 9,458 1.3 -0.9
13 United Kingdom 8,861 8,947 1.2 1.0
14 Brazil 8,786 8,777 1.2 -0.1
15 Thailand 8,531 8,236 1.1 -3.5
16 Hong Kong 8,034 8,136 1.1 1.3
17 France 7,716 8,098 1.1 5.0
18 Nigeria 6,568 7,148 1.0 8.8
19 Indonesia 6,943 6,942 1.0 0.0
20 Malaysia 6,190 6,735 0.9 8.8
21 Colombia 6,920 6,456 0.9 -6.7
22 Iran 4,731 5,626 0.8 18.9
23 Venezuela 4,958 5,491 0.8 10.8
24 Pakistan 5,222 5,045 0.7 -3.4
25 Kenya 5,384 4,666 0.6 -13.3

Suggested citation: Institute of International Education. (2011). “Top 25 Places of Origin of International Students, 2009/10-2010/11.” Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange. Retrieved from http://www.iie.org/opendoors

But when you look to see what those folks are studying?

Open Doors Data

International Students: Fields of Study by Place of Origin

2010/11

FIELDS OF STUDY FOR THE TOP 25 PLACES OF ORIGIN, 2010/11
PERCENT OF TOTAL
Rank Place of Origin Business/ Management Education Engineering Fine/ Applied Arts Health Professions Humanities Intensive English Math/ Computer Science Physical/ Life Sciences Social Sciences Undeclared Other TOTAL
1 China 27.5 2.1 19.2 3.4 2.0 1.2 4.3 10.6 11.5 7.0 2.3 8.9 100.0
2 India 15.2 1.0 36.9 1.3 4.9 0.6 0.7 19.8 11.4 3.0 0.5 4.7 100.0
3 South Korea 17.0 3.7 10.8 12.2 5.4 4.6 5.2 5.0 8.0 10.1 3.3 14.7 100.0
4 Canada 15.3 9.1 7.7 7.8 16.1 4.8 0.2 2.4 8.0 12.0 2.5 14.1 100.0
5 Taiwan 23.4 4.9 14.7 11.5 3.7 2.1 4.8 6.0 10.0 7.0 1.6 10.3 100.0
6 Saudi Arabia 18.4 2.0 21.8 1.1 5.3 1.3 29.1 8.1 3.4 2.3 1.7 5.5 100.0
7 Japan 19.8 3.4 4.4 8.6 3.9 5.4 10.8 2.9 5.7 13.7 4.7 16.7 100.0
8 Vietnam 41.3 1.7 10.7 2.6 5.2 2.4 4.2 8.5 7.1 4.6 2.9 8.8 100.0
9 Mexico 21.7 3.7 14.7 7.5 2.9 4.9 3.4 4.8 8.2 10.0 2.7 15.5 100.0
10 Turkey 17.3 3.7 22.9 4.0 1.2 3.1 5.1 9.6 8.1 12.5 2.6 9.9 100.0
11 Nepal 23.5 1.1 16.9 1.2 8.1 1.2 0.2 12.1 18.5 5.6 1.1 10.5 100.0
12 Germany 26.7 2.1 7.6 4.4 3.0 7.3 0.9 3.6 7.6 12.3 5.7 18.8 100.0
13 United Kingdom 19.9 4.3 4.7 6.4 4.5 6.2 0.4 3.1 8.0 17.8 6.5 18.2 100.0
14 Brazil 26.1 2.9 7.9 7.9 5.5 4.7 3.9 3.0 6.2 10.1 3.0 18.8 100.0
15 Thailand 24.2 2.7 17.6 6.6 4.5 1.7 4.9 8.0 7.4 6.2 2.1 14.1 100.0
16 Hong Kong 31.2 1.4 6.7 8.4 2.5 3.5 1.6 5.6 7.5 13.6 2.5 15.5 100.0
17 France 30.7 1.1 9.4 4.9 1.9 7.8 1.7 2.9 6.4 8.6 5.5 19.1 100.0
18 Nigeria 18.6 1.5 24.7 1.9 13.9 3.2 0.2 6.9 11.9 6.8 1.4 9.0 100.0
19 Indonesia 30.2 2.8 18.0 8.1 4.0 2.8 0.8 5.5 6.1 7.4 1.5 12.8 100.0
20 Malaysia 19.8 2.1 29.1 3.4 3.9 2.1 0.2 7.6 11.2 7.7 3.8 9.1 100.0
21 Colombia 20.1 3.5 16.3 6.0 3.0 5.2 7.6 4.0 10.0 10.1 1.5 12.7 100.0
23 Venezuela 26.6 2.7 15.7 5.5 3.5 2.2 11.9 3.6 5.6 6.7 2.0 14.0 100.0
24 Pakistan 21.5 2.8 24.7 2.1 5.0 2.1 0.6 9.7 7.3 11.6 2.9 9.7 100.0
25 Kenya 17.1 4.5 10.0 1.7 19.6 3.8 0.4 4.6 13.3 9.3 2.1 13.6 100.0
26 Russia 28.0 3.2 5.4 7.6 3.4 7.0 3.0 5.4 11.8 11.5 2.5 11.2 100.0

____________________

Suggested citation: Institute of International Education. (2011). “Fields of Study for the Top 25 Places of Origin, 2010/11.” Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange. Retrieved from http://www.iie.org/opendoors

Not only does this raise the question of why someone doesn’t want us to know what Iranian students are studying (physics? engineering? metallurgy? other weapons related subjects?), but also leaves us to wonder what else might have been done to the data.

[1] To put this in perspective, the number one country is the People’s Republic of China, with 157,558 students in the USA (and the number one major for Chinese students is Business Management at 27.5%).

2011/11/13

Free Speech Concerns Ahead of Meeting With Muslim Nations on Religious Tolerance

Filed under: Hillary Clinton, National Security, Obama — - @ 8:45 am

Source Link: FrontPageMag

Free Speech Concerns Ahead of Meeting With Muslim Nations on Religious Tolerance

Posted By Judson Berger

Reprinted from Fox News.

A looming meeting with Islamic leaders hosted by the State Department has religious scholars and advocacy groups warning that the United States may “play into” the push by some Islamic nations to create new laws to stifle religious criticism and debate.

The meeting on religious tolerance, which is scheduled for mid-December, would involve representatives of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation — a coalition of 56 nations which more or less represents the Muslim world.

Critics describe the get-together — the first in a series — as a Trojan horse for the long-running OIC push for restrictions on speech. They note the track record of nations that want the dialogue, including Egypt, where recent military action against Coptic Christians raised grave concerns about intolerance against religious minorities.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton originally announced the meeting this past July in Turkey, where she co-chaired a talk on religious tolerance with the OIC. The event was billed as a way to foster “respect and empathy and tolerance” among nations. Delegates from up to 30 countries, as well as groups like the European Union, are also invited.

A State Department official told FoxNews.com this week that the meeting is meant to combat intolerance while being “fully consistent with freedom of expression.”

A key worry is that the meeting could become a platform for Islamic governments to push for hate-speech laws which, in their most virulent and fundamentalist form, criminalize what they perceive as blasphemy.

While Clinton has drawn a line in the sand, saying nations should not “criminalize speech,” the upcoming meeting is seen by some as a misstep on a very sensitive issue.

“It’s just an astonishingly bad decision,” said Nina Shea, who sits on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and serves as director of the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom.

Shea, who joined a group of scholars specializing in religious defamation for an event last week on Capitol Hill hosted by The Federalist Society, warned that the United States is virtually alone among western nations in not having hate-speech laws. She said the Obama administration doesn’t need to delve deeper into religious speech issues with OIC nations, considering their history.

Shea said she doesn’t yet fear the possibility that hate-speech laws are coming to the U.S. any time soon, “but I am concerned the culture is changing on this.”

Jacob Mchangama, director of legal affairs for Denmark’s Center for Political Studies, noted that the U.S. has resisted following Europe with hate-speech laws, but the Obama administration may be willing to “relax” its approach. He noted the administration co-sponsored a resolution with Egypt in 2009 that expressed concern about “negative racial and religious stereotyping,” and said the upcoming December conference lends credibility to the OIC agenda.

The push by Islamic nations, especially Pakistan, for global religious sensitivity on its surface sounds innocuous. But the debate often pits their cause against free speech, and western officials have long complained the nations spearheading the push are keen on shielding Islam specifically from criticism.

In some countries, perceived protections against religious insult are used as license to threaten, bully and attack those who offend, intentionally or not. Most recently, the office of a French satirical newspaper was attacked after it published a Muhammad cartoon. That follows widespread 2006 protests over the publication of cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad in a Danish newspaper.

And in Pakistan, whose blasphemy laws are internationally renowned for their broadness and severity, the legal protections on religious insult are used most often to protect Islam. Being charged with a blasphemy offense — or criticizing the laws themselves — can open the door to intimidation, or worse. Earlier this year, two Pakistani officials who had been critical of the laws were assassinated.

The OIC, looking for international cooperation on the issue of religious tolerance, has pushed for so-called “defamation” resolutions before the United Nations for over a decade. Those resolutions were Islam-focused and called on governments to take action to stop religious defamation.

Though the OIC took a pass on the resolution this year, the U.N. Human Rights Council in March approved a watered-down version that expresses concerns about religious “intolerance, discrimination and related violence.” The adoption was generally seen as a successful move by the U.S. to replace the far-tougher resolutions the OIC has pushed over the past decade.

But the upcoming meeting has been hailed by some OIC officials as a way to craft a tougher approach to curbing religious criticism.

An August article from the International Islamic News Agency cited OIC “informed sources” saying the meetings were meant to develop a “legal basis” for the March resolution.

The State Department official noted that the Human Rights Council’s resolution does not call for limits on free speech or provide support for defamation or blasphemy laws.

“Instead, the text notes the positive role that the free exchange of ideas and interfaith dialogue can have in countering religious intolerance,” the official said. “We believe that implementing the specific, appropriate steps called for in the resolution will help to undercut support for such restrictions on expression and religious freedom.”

But Shea questioned why Clinton was moving to implement the non-binding measure.

“It validates the OIC on speech,” she said. “It plays into their agenda.”

The meeting has been set for Dec. 12-14, and is expected to be hosted by Suzan Johnson Cook, the U.S. ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom. It’s unclear whether Clinton will attend. The meeting was announced around the same time as the Norway terror attacks, carried out by an individual said to harbor anti-Muslim views.

December’s meeting is the first in a series — focusing on engaging religious minorities and training officials on religious awareness, as well as “enforcing laws that protect against” religious discrimination, according to the State Department.

Lindsay Vessey, advocacy director with Open Doors USA, said her group is “cautiously optimistic” about the meetings. Vessey, whose organization advocates for persecuted Christians and has criticized the “defamation” resolutions in the past, said her organization remains hopeful the upcoming conference will turn out to be a “good thing.”

The conservative Traditional Values Coalition last month sent a letter to Clinton asking that the group be included as part of the discussion. President Andrea Lafferty told FoxNews.com her organization is “very concerned” the administration is becoming “cozy” with the OIC, which she claimed wants to “silence” voices critical of Islam.

Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.

2011/11/04

IDF ready to strike Iran

Source Article Link: YNet

IDF ready to strike Iran

Op-ed: Israel’s message to world – either you stop Iran’s nuclear program, or we will

By Ron Ben-Yishai

The fact that Israel is holding training sessions seen as practical preparations for striking Iran’s nuclear sites is no secret. Anyone following the intensive drills held by the Air Force in the Mediterranean and in distant regions, ranging from Romania to Sardinia, realizes that Netanyahu’s and Barak’s declarations that Israel will not tolerate nuclear arms in Iranian hands is backed up by practical capabilities developed by the Air Force and by our military industries.

Based on the raging public discourse in recent days, we can estimate that a military option is available.

Pros and Cons:

No less importantly, the international community and the Iranians fully realize that Israel’s top politicians are seriously considering such strike in order to curb or at least delay the Iranian race to the bomb. This is assuming there is no non-military, efficient option to secure this aim. Meanwhile, the former IDF chief of staff, Mossad director and Shin Bet head, as well as the current ones, and some of our top ministers are also not rejecting the possibility of a strike out of hand.

However, the above is contingent upon absolute certainty that Iran has already started to produce the bomb and that all other ways to prevent Tehran from doing so have been exhausted. In such case, and only in such case, Israel would have no choice but to thwart the existential threat we face as result of nuclear arms in Iranian hands, even at the price of the casualties and damage to be sustained by Israel as result of Iran’s response (and that of its allies – Syria, Hezbollah and the Palestinian groups in Gaza.)

However, the above scenario is still relatively far off, as according to all estimates the Iranians are not expected to complete their preparations to produce nuclear weapons before 2015.

Until that time, harsh global sanctions could force the Iranian leadership to accept a deal with the West that would delay the military nuclear program. Other possible scenarios include an Iranian revolution that would disrupt the Ayatollahs’ plans, or an American and allied decision to curb Iran’s nuclear program by force in order to avert Mideastern instability. Under such circumstances, Israel would be able to join a coalition that strikes Iran without being isolated internationally. According to strike objectors in Israel, we must not attack on our own.

American objection

However, Netanyahu and Barak believe that we must not wait until it’s too late. At this time already, according to the British Guardian, the Iranians are vigorously building deep underground bunkers and long cement tunnels. These shelters are gradually becoming home to new uranium enrichment facilities, nuclear labs, and ballistic missiles.

Barak and Netanyahu argue that the Iranian response would not be as terrible as predicted and that Iran would settle for a measured response to a strike – either because Hezbollah and Hamas won’t rush to comply with Tehran’s wishes or because the Ayatollahs would fear a wide-scale confrontation that would inflict greater damage and destruction, including on Iranian oil fields.

At this time, there is apparently no decision on a strike yet. The reason for this is not only the resistance of ministers and senior IDF and intelligence officials, but also America’s objection. Washington fears that Iran’s response to an Israeli strike would harm US allies in the Persian Gulf and destabilize them. Oil production and transport could also be disrupted. Another possibility would see Iran’s terror emissaries targeting US citizens and troops in the Middle East and beyond. Hence, the Bush Administration, as does Obama, objected to an independent Israeli operation in Iran.

The Americans are also concerned that Israel is about to embark on an operation without coordination with Washington. “Nobody would believe that you operated without coordinating it with the US, and hence, as we too would sustain damages, we demand at least an advance warning,” said a senior American official who recently visited Israel.

The new American Defense Secretary, Leon Panetta, apparently felt that something is brewing in Netanyahu’s and Barak’s kitchen vis-à-vis Iran and came to Israel a few weeks ago in order to avert a move that contradicts US interests. He also spoke publicly and said that decisions on the Iranian front must be taken in cooperation and coordination between Jerusalem and Washington.

While Army Chief Benny Gantz is believed to endorse the view that an Israeli strike should be taken in coordination – and if possible in conjunction – with the US, some political leaders hold different views. They believe that Israel should not coordinate such strike with the Americans so that the Arabs and Muslims won’t blame Washington for cooperating with Israel in striking a Muslim state. These politicians believe that the Americans would secretly thank us if we make do with a brief warning shortly before a strike is carried out. On this front too, no decision has been taken yet in Israel.

The lively public debate on the issue grants more credibility to the Israeli strike threat. It illustrates to the world that Israeli officials are well aware of the difficulties inherent in an Iran strike and of the heavy price that the Ayatollahs’ response would exact from Israel, regional countries and the international community. However, the heavy price and even the objection to a strike among top security officials do not deter our top decision-makers, Netanyahu and Barak.

Iran fears more sanctions

The objection to a strike is in itself also an important signal to Washington, Moscow and Beijing – either you stop the Iranian race to the bomb through truly painful sanctions on Iran but with minimum damage for us and for you, or we shall be forced to act, and then all of us shall pay a heavy price.

This signal is important because the West intends to soon utilize a series of drastic pressure levers against Iran. The first one is full publication of the grave findings gathered by the International Atomic Energy Agency. The report has been available for a while now but has been shelved for political reasons.

Iran is aware of its existence and fears it because it paves the wave for greater pressure: A Security Council decision to impose yet another package of sanctions that would deliver a grave blow to the Iranian economy. This would entail boycotting Iran’s central bank and imposing an embargo on the importation and exportation of oil products.

The effect of such sanctions could directly threaten the regime’s survival, hence prompting Iran – with China’s and Russia’s help – to undertake an immense diplomatic effort to prevent the IAEA report’s publication. Should it be published, Iran wants Russia and China to use their veto power to avert dramatic sanctions.

The public debate that erupted in Israel, just like the publication of the Air Force drill in Italy, remind the US, Russia and China that should effective sanctions not be imposed, the world may have to deal with the graver implications of an Israeli strike.

Another strategic Israeli target is to make it clear to Iran’s leadership, and mostly to supreme leader Ali Khamenei, how substantial the threat of attack is. It is unlikely that Iran would abandon its nuclear program for fear of an Israeli strike, yet this fear will prompt Iranian efforts to hide the sites and missiles related to the military program and fortify them. These efforts require time and resources and therefore would almost certainly slow down the pace of Iran’s nuclear work and bomb’s development.

On Tuesday, the British Guardian also reported that the Royal Air Force is preparing to strike in Iran within a year. The reason given is that should the Brits fail to strike soon, they would not be able to do so at all – the Iranians would be hiding their facilities deep underground, protecting them against the largest bunker-buster bombs in Britain’s arsenal. This reasoning sounds familiar, doesn’t it? We can assume this is also related to Defense Minister Barak’s recent trip to London and the secret trip to Israel by Britain’s army chief. As the old saying goes, “Great minds think alike.”

2011/10/31

Tunisia Tests Arab Democratic Gains

Source Article Link: Folksmagazine

Tunisia Tests Arab Democratic Gains

by Stephen Schwartz

The Tunisian Republic, where the “Arab Spring” began at the end of last year, has now passed the first test of democracy in the region undergoing upheaval since then. On Sunday, October 23, the country held free elections for its new constituent assembly.

But there was an ambiguous aspect to the success of the balloting process. A plurality of 41 percent was received by Ennahda (Renaissance), the local branch of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), delivering 90 of 217 assembly seats to the Islamist party. Ennahda has proposed its secretary general, Hamadi Jebali, as the country’s new prime minister, and has commenced negotiations for a coalition with the secularist Congress for the Republic (CPR) and the leftist Ettakatol party, according to BBC News.

Ennahda and its top leader, Sheikh Rachid Ghannouchi, have presented a version of MB ideology mentored by Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party (known by its Turkish initials as the AKP). Among other links with the AKP environment, several books by Ghannouchi have been published in Turkish. In addition, Ghannouchi’s views have, for some years, been promoted by the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID), a U.S.-based think tank known for its outreach to radical Islamist regimes and groups in Iran, Sudan, and in the West.

Ghannouchi and Ennahda have declared that, as in Turkey, where the AKP and Erdoğan have won three national elections since 2002, Ennahda promises Islamic policies while respecting the secular basis of the Tunisian state. But also as in Turkey, such pledges may cover intentions by Ennahda as a party not so thoroughly committed to reliably equable governance as one might hope. The Turkish AKP includes numerous activist cadres from the ultra-radical Milli Gorus or National Vision movement of Necmettin Erbakan, which is distinguished by flamboyant Jew-baiting and other conspiratorialist views. Erdoğan has conducted a long and alarming judicial offensive against alleged opponents of the AKP inside the military and media (the “Ergenekon conspiracy”).

The AKP administration has threatened naval action in the Mediterranean to assist the Hamas regime in Gaza. Erdoğan ‘s government has pursued an expansion of Turkish Islamist influence beyond his country’s borders, westward into the large Turkish diaspora in Germany and the Netherlands, as well as in the former Ottoman provinces in the Balkans. Similar AKP initiatives are visible eastward in the Turkic-speaking ex-Soviet nations of Central Asia, and southward in the Arab countries, including Syria (where the AKP government has taken its distance from the bloody dictatorship of Bashar Al-Assad). In North Africa, aside from its relationship with Ennahda, the Erdoğan government was quick to inject itself into the recent civil conflict in Libya.

AKP is the party on which Tunisia’s Ennahda has modeled itself, although the latter cannot hope for such an ambitious field of foreign operations as the AKP has assumed. But Ennahda possesses an asset that AKP lacks. That is, the secular state within which the Turkish neo-fundamentalist party operates remains largely intact. The Turkish army, formerly the protector of the state from religious penetration, has been reduced in its power yet still constitutes a significant factor. But the Tunisian secularist state of Zine El Abedine Ben Ali was overthrown, and the constituent assembly to which the Ennahda deputies were elected is responsible for writing a new constitution. By contrast, the Turkish AKP has managed to amend the national constitution, but has not proposed a completely new political foundation for the state.

In addition, even if it cannot play the role in transnational politics undertaken by the Turkish AKP, Ennahda and Ghannouchi’s notable success at the ballot box will doubtless have an important impact in the Arab countries. At the end of November, Egypt will begin a series of parliamentary elections. The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in the country on the Nile, is recognized as its best-organized political and social force, and has created a political front for the vote, titled the Freedom and Justice Party. Candidate registrations for the Egyptian elections were closed on October 24, with Islamist parties claiming a majority of those accepted to run for 498 seats. According to the news portal bikyamasr.com, 6,700 candidates were registered, representing 47 political parties.

The Egyptian MB has taken cues from the Turkish AKP and the Tunisian Ennahda in offering a new image of itself as an epitome of moderation. The Freedom and Justice Party has said it will contest no more than half of the seats to be awarded in the voting, and has formed an alliance with the New Wafd Party, the heir to a liberal nationalist party, the Wafd or “Delegation” created in the 1920s. The original Wafd was banned after the Egyptian Revolution of 1952, from which the pan-Arab revolutionary platform of Gamal Abdel Nasser emerged. The Egyptian MB resembles the Turkish AKP in its broad support among the aspiring middle class, and the MB’s alignment with the New Wafd Party underscores this aspect of its profile, although Turkey is, at least for now, economically better-off than Egypt. The MB’s Freedom and Justice Party and the New Wafd Party have combined under the rubric of a “Democratic Alliance.”

The Egyptian MB possesses, on its own, a large enough constituency to achieve its electoral goals, so that it needs no particular help from either the AKP or Ennahda. But the reaction of the international community to the success of the Tunisian Ennahda may well affect the psychological state of the MB and its partisans in the Egyptian elections.

That is, if elections are held in Egypt. Unlike the Turkish army, which has been curbed by the AKP, and the Tunisian state apparatus, which was deposed, the Egyptian armed forces were largely unaffected by the events of the “Arab Spring,” and could intervene to reinforce the military rule under which Egypt has been governed since 1952. Further, the Tunisian outcome is liable to be irrelevant in responding to one of the most disturbing aspects of the Egyptian chapter in the “Arab Spring:” the emergence of an ultra-fundamentalist Wahhabi party, Nour (“Light”) competing with the Egyptian MB in radicalism. Nour has joined two other radical Islamist groups, in an electoral list titled the “Islamist Alliance.” The Wahhabis, inspired by the Saudi ultra-fundamentalist, exclusivist, and violent sect, are often flattered by the label of “Salafis,” because of their purported emulation of the “aslaf,” the Islamic forerunners, made up of the companions and successors of Muhammad.

On October 27, Matt Bradley of The Wall Street Journal reported at length on a feature of the Egyptian context different from the situations of Turkey and Tunisia. Egyptian secularists have “discovered” the very large presence of spiritual Sufi Islam in Egyptian life, and are assessing whether mobilization of Egyptian Sufis may produce an effective counterbalance to the MB and Wahhabis. Bradley notes that Egyptian Sufis claim 15 million adherents, which would outnumber the combined voters for the MB and the Wahhabis. Egypt is indeed one of the outstanding Muslim countries in its Sufi legacy and institutions, with, as Bradley points out, a substantial Sufi presence in rural Egypt, giving them credibility as challengers to the MB and Wahhabis.

Egyptian Sufis have come under physical attack from the resurgent Wahhabis, who condemn Sufi spiritual practices as heretical. Sufi mosques and shrines have been targeted for destruction by Wahhabis, who seek to prohibit milad, the celebration of the birthday of Muhammad, which they consider a dilution of Islamic monotheism and which some Wahhabis assail as an alleged imitation of the Christian worship of Jesus. Milad is, however, deeply engrained in the Egyptian collective sensibility and cannot be removed from it.

The Egyptian Tahrir (Liberation) Party was formed in February with the participation of a leading Sufi sheikh, Mohamed Alaa Abul Azayem of the Azeemia Sufi order, who called for resistance to the fundamentalists. It will present 80 candidates at the polls. A similar Democratic People’s Party has been established and has recruited thousands of Sufis. The latter party has reached out to the Egyptian Coptic Christian population, which has suffered atrocities from Wahhabi fanatics and army units following the overthrow of the Mubarak regime, and the electoral list of the Democratic People’s Party will include a group of Copts.

Sufi politics may, however, be difficult to organize, as the WSJ‘s Bradley pointed out in his reportage. Some Sufi movements, or tariqas, have cleaved to Islamist ideology, and while Sufis have a reputation for non-involvement in political activity, Sufis vary in their attitudes to the state. The Naqshbandi Sufi movement, for example, claims spiritual descent from the first of Muhammad’s four “righteous caliphs,” Abu Bakr, while other Sufis assert their origins in the example of Imam Ali, the fourth of the “righteous caliphs.” The Naqshbandis have historically sought to protect the Islamic state and a rigid standard of Islamic law from alleged dilution, by placing their sheikhs and adherents close to or in positions of political authority. The Turkish AKP has drawn support from semi-clandestine Sufi movements that survived under the secularist regime in that country, after the public suppression of the Sufi orders in the aftermath of the abolition of the Ottoman caliphate.

The ideological underpinnings of the AKP include followers of the Nurcu movement of Said Nursi (1877-1960), who began as a Naqshbandi Sufi, but gravitated to the jihadist Sufism of the Qadiri tariqa. A series of such Sufi-inspired figures has been prominent in the revival of Islamist politics in Turkey, culminating in the foundation of the AKP. A variant in this evolution is represented by the Turkish Islamist movement of Fethullah Gulen, whose network of schools, newspapers, and policy institutes has extended far beyond Turkey and the Turkish diaspora, into Western civil society, as well as Pakistan and other countries.

It is a matter of their physical survival for the Sufis of Egypt and other countries to defend themselves against militant fundamentalists, especially the acolytes of Wahhabism. Pakistan is already undergoing a crisis in which the Barelvi Muslims, who are Sunnis with a strong internal attachment to Qadiri and Naqshbandi Sufism, have abdicated their responsibility for defending their shrines and personal security against a brutal offensive by the Deobandis, Wahhabis, and others bent on wrecking their sacred sites and killing them. Indeed, the Pakistani Barelvis, who represent a majority of South Asian Muslims in the diaspora community of Britain, have shown that some Sufis cannot be expected to resist the onslaught of fundamentalist violence on their own. Similar examples are found in other Muslim communities.

The Turkish and Pakistani examples indicate that the Sufis, long neglected in Islamic life and treated as a manifestation of “folk Islam” by academic experts, may prove either complicit with Islamists or passive in the face of homicidal aggression against them. Such an outcome would represent a profound deviation from the path of love, mercy, and mutual respect between all human beings taught in Sufism. As a Muslim Sufi myself, I hope sincerely that the Egyptian Sufis can mobilize to defend their shrines, their communities, and the stability of their nation against both the “neo-fundamentalism” of the refurbished MB and the bloodthirsty schemes of the Wahhabis.

Tunisia’s election was a first test, but only the first. Events in Egypt will have a much greater impact in the Islamic lands and the world as a whole.

2011/09/18

Egypt Overlooked in State Department’s Religious Freedom Report

Egypt Overlooked in State Department’s Religious Freedom Report

Washington, D.C. (September 16, 2011) – International Christian Concern (ICC) commends the Obama administration’s designation of eight nations as “countries of particular concern” (CPCs) – a classification appointed to countries that severely violate religious freedom – in the State Department’s Annual Report on International Religious Freedom released on Tuesday. However, the report failed to designate Egypt as a CPC despite the increase of violence targeting religious minorities and the killings of more than fifty Christians in 2011.

On April 28, the U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government commission, had recommended for the first time that the State Department designate Egypt as a CPC. “Instances of severe religious freedom violations engaged in or tolerated by the government have increased dramatically,” said USCIRF Chair Leonard Leo. “Since President Mubarak’s resignation from office in February, such violence continues unabated without the government’s bringing the perpetrators to justice.”

Attacks against Egyptian Christians in 2011 include, but are not limited to:

  • The bombing outside the Church of the Two Saints on New Year’s morning that killed 23 worshippers leaving a midnight mass celebration in Alexandria.
  • The destruction of a church by a Muslim mob following reports of a romantic relationship between a Christian man and a Muslim woman in the village of Sol on March 5.
  • The killing of nine Coptic Christians by a radical mob and the Egyptian military while Copts were protesting in the Mokattam Hills in Cairo on March 9.
  • The killing of twelve Christians and Muslims by an Islamist group that attacked St. Mina Church and Virgin Mary Church in the Imbaba district of Cairo on May 7. One church was burned to the ground and numerous Christian-owned apartments and shops were vandalized and looted.

Egyptian Christians are also concerned that religious freedom will decline further if Islamist-based parties win the majority seat in Egypt’s parliament in elections scheduled for November. The Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party is the most organized and financed contender in the elections and has publicly stated their intention to institute forms of Sharia (Islamic law) in the country.

While the U.S. gives 1.3 billion dollars in foreign military assistance to the Egyptian government annually, a CPC designation can carry economic sanctions if the Egyptian government fails to address U.S. concerns. Several U.S. congressmen have voiced frustration to ICC over the “illogical” approach taken by the U.S. in continuing to give billions of dollars in aid to a government that is yet to be elected and that may not be interested in honoring previous agreements made between the U.S. and Egypt, like maintaining a peace treaty with Israel.

Egypt should be classified as a CPC,” Coptic scholar Magdi Khalil told ICC. “Further monitoring of persecution, like the special envoy to promote religious freedom in the Middle East known as [house bill] H.R. 440, would be pushed forward quicker and taken more seriously if Egypt was a CPC.”

Aidan Clay, ICC Regional Manager for the Middle East, said, “In light of increasing attacks on Christian communities and the Egyptian government’s failure to enhance security and institute nondiscriminatory reforms to protect religious minorities, we urge the Obama administration to strongly consider designating Egypt as a CPC. A CPC designation will give the U.S. additional leverage to place sanctions on existing military and emergency economic aid and to direct a portion of that aid to enhance security for religious minorities and fund civil society groups who are adamant about promoting religious freedom.”

Source Link: Persecution.Org

2011/04/01

Syria’s ‘reformer’

Filed under: Dictators, Hillary Clinton, National Security, Obama, Syria — - @ 2:52 pm

Source Link Washington Post
Written By Charles Krauthammer

Many of the members of Congress of both parties who have gone to Syria in recent months have said they believe he’s a reformer.

— Hillary Clinton on Bashar al-Assad, March 27

Few things said by this administration in its two years can match this one for moral bankruptcy and strategic incomprehensibility.

First, it’s demonstrably false. It was hoped that President Assad would be a reformer when he inherited his father’s dictatorship a decade ago. Being a London-educated eye doctor, he received the full Yuri Andropov treatment — the assumption that having been exposed to Western ways, he’d been Westernized. Wrong. Assad has run the same iron-fisted Alawite police state as did his father.

Bashar made promises of reform during the short-lived Arab Spring of 2005. The promises were broken. During the current brutally suppressed protests, his spokeswoman made renewed promises of reform. Then Wednesday, appearing before parliament, Assad was shockingly defiant. He offered no concessions. None.

Second, Clinton’s statement is morally obtuse. Here are people demonstrating against a dictatorship that repeatedly uses live fire on its own people, a regime that in 1982 killed 20,000 in Hama and then paved the dead over. Here are insanely courageous people demanding reform — and the U.S. secretary of state tells the world that the thug ordering the shooting of innocents already is a reformer, thus effectively endorsing the Baath party line — “We are all reformers,” Assad told parliament — and undermining the demonstrators’ cause.

Third, it’s strategically incomprehensible. Sometimes you cover for a repressive ally because you need it for U.S. national security. Hence our muted words about Bahrain. Hence our slow response on Egypt. But there are rare times when strategic interest and moral imperative coincide completely. Syria is one such — a monstrous police state whose regime consistently works to thwart U.S. interests in the region.

During the worst days of the Iraq war, this regime funneled terrorists into Iraq to fight U.S. troops and Iraqi allies. It is dripping with Lebanese blood as well, being behind the murder of independent journalists and democrats, including former prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri. This year, it helped topple the pro-Western government of Hariri’s son, Saad, and put Lebanon under the thumb of the virulently anti-Western Hezbollah. Syria is a partner in nuclear proliferation with North Korea. It is Iran’s agent and closest Arab ally, granting it an outlet on the Mediterranean. Those two Iranian warships that went through the Suez Canal in February docked at the Syrian port of Latakia, a long-sought Iranian penetration of the Mediterranean.

Yet here was the secretary of state covering for the Syrian dictator against his own opposition. And it doesn’t help that Clinton tried to walk it back two days later by saying she was simply quoting others. Rubbish. Of the myriad opinions of Assad, she chose to cite precisely one: reformer. That’s an endorsement, no matter how much she later pretends otherwise.

And it’s not just the words; it’s the policy behind it. This delicacy toward Assad is dismayingly reminiscent of President Obama’s response to the 2009 Iranian uprising during which he was scandalously reluctant to support the demonstrators, while repeatedly reaffirming the legitimacy of the brutal theocracy suppressing them.

Why? Because Obama wanted to remain “engaged” with the mullahs — so that he could talk them out of their nuclear weapons. We know how that went.

The same conceit animates his Syria policy — keep good relations with the regime so that Obama can sweet-talk it out of its alliance with Iran and sponsorship of Hezbollah.

Another abject failure. Syria has contemptuously rejected Obama’s blandishments — obsequious visits from Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry and the return of the first U.S. ambassador to Damascus  since the killing of Hariri. Assad’s response? An even tighter and more ostentatious alliance with Hezbollah and Iran.

Our ambassador in Damascus should demand to meet the demonstrators and visit the wounded. If refused, he should be recalled to Washington. And rather than “deplore the crackdown,” as did Clinton in her walk-back, we should be denouncing it in forceful language and every available forum, including the U.N. Security Council.

No one is asking for a Libya-style rescue. Just simple truth-telling. If Kerry wants to make a fool of himself by continuing to insist that Assad is an agent of change, well, it’s a free country. But Clinton speaks for the nation.

letters@charleskrauthamm er.com

2011/03/30

Why Washington is Reluctant To Arm Libya’s Eastern Rebels

Source Stratfor

NATO Supreme Allied Commander in Europe U.S. Adm. James Stavridis answered questions on the Libyan intervention before the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, echoing the refrain voiced in Western capitals of knowing little about the exact nature of the eastern opposition. Though Stavridis labeled the rebel leadership as “responsible men and women” fighting Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, he added that there have been “flickers” of intelligence indicating that elements of al Qaeda and Hezbollah exist among the eastern opposition’s ranks. The question of arming the eastern rebels now, when U.S. military officials have gone on record before Congress with such suspicions of Hezbollah and al Qaeda links, seems politically unpalatable to say the least. Indeed, Stavridis’ testimony came on the same day that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. President Barack Obama demurred on the notion that Washington is on the verge of sending weapons to Benghazi.

Of the three countries most committed to seeing Gadhafi removed from power – the United States, France and the United Kingdom – none have yet to come up with a clear strategy on how to they intend to see this through. All have been steadfast in the refusal to consider sending ground troops to combat Gadhafi’s forces. Obama drove this point home in his Monday night speech when he drew parallels between the road the United States went down in Iraq and the way things should not be done in Libya. Airstrikes alone, however, are ill equipped to achieve this type of mission. While sanctions are made to be broken and while hope exists that continued international pressure on Tripoli would force Gadhafi to eventually step down, as evidenced by Obama’s words on Tuesday, this creates the possibility for a very long wait. Relying on such an eventuality also increases the chance that the coalition, committed to the enforcement of U.N. Resolution 1973, will splinter and potentially leave Washington to pick up the pieces. What the United States really wants out of the Libyan intervention is an opportunity to transfer responsibility for a multilateral conflict to the Europeans.

If regime change without having to insert Western forces is indeed the end goal, and ground troops are the most expedient way to push Gadhafi out in a somewhat timely manner, it would seem that bolstering the rebel forces in the east with better weapons and training is the next logical step. After all, any doubts that rebel fighters are no match for the Libyan army were erased by the events that unfolded along the coastal stretch between Bin Jawad and Sirte on Tuesday. After several days of steadily gaining ground due to a calculated decision by Gadhafi’s troops to withdraw and dig in more defensible positions, opposition forces were forced to beat a hasty and chaotic retreat from the outskirts of the Libyan leader’s hometown. While arms transfers are believed to have been occurring unofficially, courtesy of Qatar and Egypt, they aren’t going to do the job, and it is not quite clear what level of materiel would. (This is to say nothing of the amount of training that would need to go along with any arms shipments to eastern Libya, as the rebels also have proven themselves to be lacking in command and control, communications and logistics capabilities.)

As Gadhafi’s forces pushed the rebels eastward away from Sirte, an international conference on Libya took place in London, where NATO member states and others that have supported the no-fly zone were attempting to come together and speak with one voice on how to proceed. Included at the conference was a delegation from the Libyan rebel leadership, representing the body known as the Transitional National Council (TNC), or, the “responsible men” fighting Gadhafi that Stavridis referenced in his Senate testimony. One of the TNC officials explicitly requested that fighters be supplied with bigger and better weapons to combat Gadhafi’s forces. This request was rebuffed, ostensibly due to restrictions on such military aid by the U.N. resolution. France suggested that there are ways to get around such restrictions, as did the United States, but neither was willing to go on record as saying that they are on the verge of changing their undecided policy on arming the eastern forces.

For the United States, this is a reflection of what Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was saying over the weekend as he made the rounds on the Sunday talk show circuit. Intervening in Libya is not part of the Americans’ “vital national interests.” It may be in their interests to remove Gadhafi and have the Europeans demonstrate that they are capable of taking a greater role in joint military operations, but it is not absolutely critical. Washington has a history of arming rebel groups first, and asking questions later. The fact that it has allowed a lack of familiarity with whom, exactly, the TNC represents indicates that Libya, while certainly a high priority, is not on par with other recent crises that have spurred Washington into immediate action. Indeed, the United States was not an early proponent of the no-fly zone, and only came around after repeated insistences by the France and the United Kingdom (who have motivations of their own) gave it an opportunity to put the Obama doctrine of multilateralism and limited U.S. involvement on display.

In his Senate testimony, Stavridis also pointed out that if recent history is to be a guide, then a “foreign stabilization force” would likely be needed in Libya should the rebels ever successfully topple Gadhafi. Stavridis cited the examples of Bosnia and Kosovo as precedents. Such an assessment by NATO’S supreme allied commander in Europe might give American politicians even more pause to arming the rebels than the suggestion that some of its members may have links to al Qaeda and Hezbollah.

2011/03/22

America’s descent into strategic dementia

Source Link: J Post

Hat Tip NewsRealBlog

Written By CAROLINE B. GLICK

What the US foreign policy fights regarding Egypt and Libya indicate is that currently, a discussion about how events impact core US regional interests is completely absent from the discussion.

The US’s new war against Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi is the latest sign of its steady regional decline. In media interviews over the weekend, US military chief Adm. Michael Mullen was hard-pressed to explain either the goal of the military strikes in Libya or their strategic rationale.

Mullen’s difficulty explaining the purpose of this new war was indicative of the increasing irrationality of US foreign policy.

Traditionally, states have crafted their foreign policy to expand their wealth and bolster their national security. In this context, US foreign policy in the Middle East has traditionally been directed towards advancing three goals: Guaranteeing the free flow of inexpensive petroleum products from the Middle East to global market; strengthening regimes and governments that are in a position to advance this core US goal at the expense of US enemies; and fighting against regional forces like the pan-Arabists and the jihadists that advance a political program inherently hostile to US power.

Other competing interests have periodically interfered with US Middle East policy. And these have to greater or lesser degrees impaired the US’s ability to formulate and implement rational policies in the region.

These competing interests have included the desire to placate somewhat friendly Arab regimes that are stressed by or dominated by anti-US forces; a desire to foster good relations with Europe; and a desire to win the support of the US media.

Under the Obama administration, these competing interests have not merely influenced US policy in the Middle East. They have dominated it. Core American interests have been thrown to the wayside.

BEFORE CONSIDERING the deleterious impact this descent into strategic dementia has had on US interests, it is necessary to consider the motivations of the various sides to the foreign policy debate in the US today.

All of the sides have contributed to the fact that US Middle East policy is now firmly submerged in a morass of strategic insanity.

The first side in the debate is the anti-imperialist camp, represented by President Barack Obama himself. Since taking office, Obama has made clear that he views the US as an imperialist power on the world stage. As a result, the overarching goal of Obama’s foreign policy has been to end US global hegemony.

Obama looks to the UN as a vehicle for tethering the US superpower. He views US allies in the Middle East and around the world with suspicion because he feels that as US allies, they are complicit with US imperialism.

Given his view, Obama’s instincts dictate that he do nothing to advance the US’s core interests in the Middle East. Consider his policies towards Iran. The Iranian regime threatens all of the US’s core regional interests.

And yet, Obama has refused to lift a finger against the mullahs.

Operating under the assumption that US enemies are right to hate America due to its global hegemony, when the mullahs stole the 2009 presidential elections for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and then violently repressed the pro-Western opposition Green Movement, Obama sided with the mullahs.

Aside from its imperative to lash out at Israel, Obama’s ideological predisposition would permit him to happily sit on the sidelines and do nothing against US foe or friend alike. But given Obama’s basic suspicion of US allies, to the extent he has bowed to pressure to take action in the Middle East, he has always done so to the detriment of US allies.

Obama’s treatment of ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak is case in point.

When the Muslim Brotherhood-backed opposition protests began in late January, Obama was perfectly happy to do nothing despite the US’s overwhelming national interest in preserving Mubarak in power. But when faced with domestic pressure to intervene against Mubarak, he did so with a vengeance.

Not only did Obama force Mubarak to resign. He prevented Mubarak from resigning in September and so ensured that the Brotherhood would dominate the transition period to the new regime.

Obama’s most outspoken opponents in the US foreign policy debate are the neoconservatives.

Like Obama, the neoconservatives are not motivated to act by concern for the US’s core regional interests. What motivates them is their belief that the US must always oppose tyranny.

In some cases, like Iran and Iraq, the neoconservatives’ view was in consonance with US strategic interests and so their policy recommendation of siding with regime opponents against the regimes was rational.

The problem with the neoconservative position is that it makes no distinction between liberal regime opponents and illiberal regime opponents. It can see no difference between pro-US despots and anti-US despots.

If there is noticeable opposition to tyrants, then the US must support that opposition.

This view is what informed the neoconservative bid to oust Mubarak last month and Gaddafi this month.

The fracture between the Obama camp and the neoconservative camp came to a head with Libya. Obama wished to sit on the sidelines and the neoconservatives pushed for intervention.

To an even greater degree than in Egypt, the debate was settled by the third US foreign policy camp – the opportunists. Led today by Clinton, the opportunist camp supports whoever they believe is going to make them most popular with the media and Europe.

In the case of Libya, the opportunist interests dictated military intervention against Gaddafi. Europe opposes Gaddafi because the French and the British bet early on that his opponents were winning. France recognized the opposition as the legitimate government two weeks ago.

Once Gaddafi’s counteroffensive began, France and Britain realized they would be harmed politically and economically if Gaddafi maintained power so they began calling for military strikes to overthrow him.

As for the media, they were quick to romanticize the amorphous “opposition” as freedom fighters.

Seeing the direction of the wind, Clinton jumped on the European-media bandwagon and forced Obama to agree to a military operation whose goal no one can define.

WHAT THE US foreign policy fights regarding Egypt and Libya indicate is that currently, a discussion about how events impact core US regional interests is completely absent from the discussion. Consequently, it should surprise no one that none of the policies the US is implementing in the region advance those core interests in any way. Indeed, they are being severely damaged.

Under Mubarak, Egypt advanced US interests in two main ways. First, by waging war against the Muslim Brotherhood and opposing the rise of Iranian power in the region, Mubarak weakened the regional forces that most threatened US interests. Second, by managing the Suez Canal in conformance with international maritime law, Egypt facilitated the smooth transport of petroleum products to global markets and prevented Iran from operating in the Mediterranean Sea.

Since Mubarak was ousted, the ruling military junta has taken actions that signal that Egypt is no longer interested in behaving in a manner that advances US interests.

Domestically, the junta has embarked on a course that all but guarantees the Muslim Brotherhood’s rise to power in the fall.

Saturday’s referendum on constitutional amendments was a huge victory for the Brotherhood on two counts. First, it cemented Islamic law as the primary source of legislation and so paved the way for the Brotherhood’s transformation of Egypt into an Islamic state. Under Mubarak, that constitutional article meant nothing. Under the Brotherhood, it means everything.

Second, it set the date for parliamentary elections for September. Only the Brotherhood, and remnants of Mubarak’s National Democratic Party will be ready to stand for election so soon. The liberals have no chance of mounting a coherent campaign in just six months.

In anticipation of the Brotherhood’s rise to power, the military has begun realigning Egypt into the Iranian camp. This realignment is seen most openly in Egypt’s new support for Hamas. Mubarak opposed Hamas because it is part of the Brotherhood.

The junta supports it for the same reason. Newly appointed Foreign Minister Nabil el-Araby has already called for the opening of Egypt’s border with Hamas ruled Gaza.

There can be little doubt Hamas’s massive rocket barrage against Israel on Saturday was the product of its sense that Egypt is now on its side.

As for the Suez Canal, the junta’s behavior so far is a cause for alarm. Binding UN Security Council Resolution 1747 from 2007 bars Iran from shipping arms. Yet last month the junta thumbed its nose at international law and permitted two Iranian naval ships to traverse the canal without being inspected.

According to military sources, one of the ships carried advanced armaments. These were illicitly transferred to the German merchant ship Victoria at Syria’s Latakia port. Last week, IDF naval commandos interdicted the Victoria with its Iranian weaponry en route to Gaza via Alexandria.

Add to that Egypt’s decision to abrogate its contractual obligation to supply Israel with natural gas and we see that the junta is willing to suspend its commitment to international law in order to realign its foreign policy with Iran.

ON EVERY level, a post-Mubarak Egypt threatens the US core interests that Mubarak advanced.

Then there is Libya. One of the most astounding aspects of the US debate on Libya in recent weeks has been the scant attention paid to the nature of the rebels.

The rebels are reportedly represented by the so-called National Transitional Council led by several of Gaddafi’s former ministers.

But while these men – who are themselves competing for the leadership mantle – are the face of the NTC, it is unclear who stands behind them. Only nine of the NTC’s 31 members have been identified.

Unfortunately, available data suggest that the rebels championed as freedom fighters by the neoconservatives, the opportunists, the Europeans and the Western media alike are not exactly liberal democrats. Indeed, the data indicate that Gaddafi’s opponents are more aligned with al-Qaida than with the US.

Under jihadist commander Abu Yahya Al- Libi, Libyan jihadists staged anti-regime uprisings in the mid-1990s. Like today, those uprisings’ central hubs were Benghazi and Darnah.

In 2007 Al-Libi merged his forces into al- Qaida. On March 18, while denouncing the US, France and Britain, Al-Libi called on his forces to overthrow Gaddafi.

A 2007 US Military Academy study of information on al-Qaida forces in Iraq indicate that by far, Eastern Libya made the largest per capita contribution to al-Qaida forces in Iraq.

None of this proves that the US is now assisting an al-Qaida takeover of Libya. But it certainly indicates that the forces being assisted by the US in Libya are probably no more sympathetic to US interests than Gaddafi is. At a minimum, the data indicate the US has no compelling national interest in helping the rebels in overthrow Gaddafi.

The significance of the US’s descent into strategic irrationality bodes ill not just for US allies, but for America itself. Until the US foreign policy community is again able to recognize and work to advance the US’s core interests in the Middle East, America’s policies will threaten both its allies and itself.

caroline@carolineglick.com