Saturday, April 02, 2011

Obama’s Missionless War

Mark Steyn

If you don’t have a mission, it’s hard to know when it’s accomplished.

If I recall correctly, we went into Libya — or, at any rate, over Libya — to stop the brutal Qaddafi dictatorship killing the Libyan people. And thanks to our efforts a whole new mass movement of freedom-loving democrats now has the opportunity to kill the Libyan people. As the Los Angeles Times reported from Benghazi, these democrats are roaming the city “rousting Libyan blacks and immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa from their homes and holding them for interrogation as suspected mercenaries or government spies.” According to the New York Times, “Members of the NATO alliance have sternly warned the rebels in Libya not to attack civilians as they push against the regime of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi.” We dropped bombs on Qaddafi’s crowd for attacking civilians, and we’re prepared to do the same to you! “The coalition has told the rebels that the fog of war will not shield them from possible bombardment by NATO planes and missiles, just as the regime’s forces have been punished.”

So, having agreed to be the Libyan Liberation Movement Air Force, we’re also happy to serve as the Qaddafi Last-Stand Air Force. Say what you like about Barack Obama, but it’s rare to find a leader so impeccably multilateralist he’s willing to participate in both sides of a war. It doesn’t exactly do much for holding it under budget, but it does ensure that for once we’ve got a sporting chance of coming out on the winning side. If a coalition plane bombing Qaddafi’s forces runs into a coalition plane bombing the rebel forces, are they allowed to open fire on each other? Or would that exceed the U.N. resolution?

Who are these rebels we’re simultaneously arming and bombing? Don’t worry, the CIA is “gathering intelligence” on them. They should have a clear of who our allies are round about the time Mohammed bin Jihad is firing his Kalashnikov and shouting “Death to the Great Satan!” from the balcony of the presidential palace. But America’s commander-in-chief thinks they’re pretty sound chaps. “The people that we’ve met with have been fully vetted,” says President Obama. “So we have a clear sense of who they are. And so far they’re saying the right things. And most of them are professionals, lawyers, doctors — people who appear to be credible.”

Credible people with credentials — just like the president! Lawyers, doctors, just like Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda’s No. 2. Maybe among their impeccably credentialed ranks is a credible professional eye doctor like Bashar Assad, the London ophthalmologist who made a successful mid-life career change to dictator of Syria. Hillary Rodham Clinton calls young Bashar a “reformer,” by which she means presumably that he hasn’t (yet) slaughtered as many civilians as his late dad. Assad Sr. killed some 20,000 Syrians at Hama and is said to have pumped hydrogen cyanide through the town: There wasn’t a dry eye in the house, as the ophthalmologists say. Baby Assad hasn’t done that (yet), so he’s a reformer, and we’re in favor of those, so we’re not arming his rebels.

According to the State Department, Colonel Qaddafi’s 27-year-old son, Khamis, is also a “reformer.” Or at least he was a few weeks ago, when U.S. officials welcomed him here for a month-long visit, including meetings at NASA and the Air Force Academy, and front-row seats for a lecture by Deepak Chopra entitled “The Soul of Leadership.” Ten minutes of which would have me buckling up the Semtex belt and yelling “Allahu Akbar!” but each to his own. It would have been embarrassing had Khamis Qaddafi still been getting the red carpet treatment in the U.S. while his dad was getting the red carpet-bombing treatment over in Tripoli. But fortunately a scheduled trip to West Point on February 21st had to be canceled when young Khamis was obliged to cut short his visit and return to Libya to start shooting large numbers of people in his capacity as the commander of a crack special-forces unit. Maybe he’ll be killed by a pilot who showed him round the Air Force Academy. Small world, isn’t it?
Meanwhile, the same CIA currently “gathering intelligence” on these jihadist lawyers, doctors, and other allies has apparently been in Libya for some time arming them, according to a top-secret memo on their eyes-only clandestine operation simultaneously leaked by no fewer than four administration officials to the press. A reader suggested to me that they’d misheard the Warren Zevon song “Send Lawyers, Guns And Money,” and were sending guns and money to lawyers. And, if some of the guns and money end up in the hands of “al-Qaeda elements,” I’m sure Janet Napolitano can have it re-classified as an overseas stimulus bill. In the old days, simpletons like President Bush used to say, “You’re either with us or you’re with the terrorists.” This time round, we’re with us and we’re with the terrorists, and you can’t say fairer than that.

So this isn’t your father’s war. It’s a war with a U.N. resolution and French jets and a Canadian general and the good wishes of the Arab League. It’s a war with everything it needs, except a mission. And, if you don’t have a mission, it’s hard to know when it’s accomplished. Secretary Gates insists that regime change is not a goal; President Sarkozy says it is; President Obama’s position, insofar as one can pin it down, seems to be that he’s not in favor of Qaddafi remaining in power but he isn’t necessarily going to do anything to remove him therefrom. According to NBC, Qaddafi was said to be down in the dumps about his prospects until he saw Obama’s speech, after which he concluded the guy wasn’t serious about getting rid of him, and he perked up. He’s certainly not planning on going anywhere. There is an old rule of war that one should always offer an enemy an escape route. Instead, David Cameron, the British prime minister, demanded that Qaddafi be put on trial. So the Colonel is unlikely to trust any offers of exile, and has nothing to lose by staying to the bitter end and killing as many people as possible.

Meanwhile, the turbulence in the Middle East has spread to Syria, Kuwait, Yemen, Jordan, and beyond. In Egypt, an entirely predictable alliance between the army and the Muslim Brotherhood seems to be emerging. The “Arab Spring” turns out to be a bit more complicated than it looks on CNN, and a CIA that failed to see the bankruptcy of its own pension plan looming is unlikely to be a very useful guide to the various forces in play. For the Western powers to be bogged down in the least consequential Arab dictatorship’s low-grade civil war desultorily providing air support to incompetent al-Qaeda sympathizers may be an artful if expensive piece of misdirection.

Either that, or we haven’t got a clue what we’re doing.

— Mark Steyn, a National Review columnist, is author of America Alone. © 2011 Mark Steyn.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Thousands of leading Islamists set to ‘come back’ to Egypt – including from London

Just Journalism

Lawyer claims that thousands of leading Islamists will soon arrive in Egypt from a variety of notorious centres for radical Islam – including Afghanistan, Somalia, and Chechnya.

Ibrahim Ali, an Egyptian lawyer who works with Islamist groups, has claimed that thousands of leading Islamists from around the world are preparing to return to Egypt in the next few days in light of the regime change. According to the Egyptian Al Masry Al Youm, Ali predicted that:

‘3000 leading figures of the Jama’a al-Islamyia and Egyptian Islamic Jihad groups will return to Egypt in a few days, as their names have been dropped from the “wanted” list maintained by Egyptian security forces.’The article then quotes Ali’s list of where the individuals are coming from, citing many countries well-known as breeding grounds for radical Islam – alongside London:

‘They are coming back from Afghanistan, Chechnya, Bosnia, Somalia, Kenya, Iran and London’.

The article concludes by naming three such prominent Islamists, including one from London:

‘Among those waiting to come back are Osama Rushdi, who lives in London, Hussein Shemeis, who was convicted of the assassination attempt on ousted President Hosni Mubarak in Addis Ababa, and Mohamed Shawki al-Islambolly, brother of Khaled al-Islambolly, who assassinated former President Anwar Sadat.’

Comment: One of the endgames of this wonderful "democratic" revolution-if you did not anticipate this then you are even more uninformed than I imagine-MB's strategy is emerging, in less than 2 years Egypt will be under the MB's control.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Perfidious Albion and Israel

Isi Leibler
March 31, 2011

British Jews who primarily interact with fellow Jews in their daily lives, and thus remain largely insulated from direct anti-Semitic confrontations, frequently underrate the impact of the relentless demonization of Israel on their standing in society. Others, who insist that the anti-Israeli onslaughts are unconnected to anti-Semitism, are simply in outright denial The principal barometer is the media which is now so consistently hostile to Israel that an occasional neutral or positive article is almost cause for celebration. The drama focuses on a British soldier who witnessed the Nazi death camps and subsequently served in the British mandatory forces when the state of Israel was born. His granddaughter, the heroine, witnesses Israeli brutality against peace-loving Palestinian women and children. It concludes with the aged former British soldier pontificating that despite the Nazi death camps, the creation of Israel was a terrible event which dispossessed the Palestinian people. The historical events are utterly distorted; rich Jews celebrate as innocent Arabs are butchered; a Jewish sniper deliberately murders a young Arab child and Israeli soldiers continuously abuse elderly Palestinians.

The Jewish director, Peter Kosminsky, had the gall to inform the media that the research undertaken prior to production demonstrated that overall, Israel had squandered the compassion it derived from the Holocaust and was now "isolated, feared and loathed in equal measure."

The credits at the end of the film disclose the dominant involvement of Jews and Israelis in the production.

My concern is that "The Promise" will serve as a trailblazer for future dramas in which Israelis and Jews will be portrayed as despicable villains.

AT THE universities, the situation continues to deteriorate. Campaigns to boycott, divest and sanction Israel are the order of the day. Many Jewish students are intimidated by the aggressiveness and violence of pro-Palestinian leftists and Arabs. Only two weeks ago, an Israeli activist at the University of London was brutally attacked and hospitalized after peacefully challenging anti-Semitic remarks expressed at an anti-Israeli demonstration.

The hypocrisy and double standards of British universities were highlighted when the director of the London School of Economics, Sir Howard Davies, was obliged to resign after it was disclosed that the LSE had received huge donations from the Gaddafi family and hosted Gaddafi's son Saif, who had provided them with the benefit of his insights on civil society and human rights.

The visceral hatred against Israel extends to the British judiciary. A judge recently went so far as to acquit seven anti-Israel activists vandalizing and causing $300,000 damage in a factory supplying weapons to Israel. His ruling exonerated the perpetrators on the grounds that they were preventing Israel from indulging in further Nazi like "war crimes"! The government maintains the tradition of perfidious Albion towards Israel, with the Conservatives behaving no better than their predecessors.

On March 2, Prime Minister David Cameron gave a major speech to the Jewish community extolling the contributions of the Anglo-Jewish community, condemning anti-Semitism, claiming his "belief in Israel" was "indestructible" and even endorsing Zionism.

Yet according to "All the president's messengers" in The Economist, with encouragement from US President Barack Obama, Cameron remains at the forefront of one-sided condemnations of Israel at the United Nations and within the Quartet. During his visit to Turkey, the PM endeared himself to his Turkish counterpart Recep Erdogan by describing Gaza as an "open air prison camp" and condemning Israel for its "attack" on the Mavi Marmara.

Foreign Minister William Hague is also at the forefront of the European anti-Israeli pack. In response to the upheaval in Egypt, he reprimanded Israel for using "belligerent language" and congratulated the fervently anti- Zionist Labor Parliamentarian Gerald Kaufman for taking a "tough line" on the peace process.

YET, THERE is some light at the end of the tunnel. Prime Minister Cameron has for the first time conveyed concern regarding the failures of multiculturalism and one senses a popular backlash against Islamic extremism and terror. Regrettably, this is not accompanied by a more positive attitude towards Israel and the Jews.

The Jewish community is besieged. I met with the well-intentioned leaders of the Board of Deputies of British Jews seeking to cope with a difficult situation.

In my opinion, they are overwhelmed by the hostile climate. They still emphasize the merits of retaining a low profile, prioritizing silent diplomacy and avoiding confrontation. They also remain reluctant to resort to public action other than as a last recourse. Together with BICOM, a generously-funded organization commissioned to promote Israel advocacy, they appear to be continuously on the defensive, desperately seeking to prove their bona fides to the Left. They invest more effort against the marginal fascists than the far more threatening Arabs and anti-Israeli far Left.

The community also faces internal problems. The head of the unaccountable ‘Jewish Leadership Council', Mick Davis, who also chairs the UJIA, has been severely condemned for encouraging Jews to be critical of Israel. Samuel Hayek, the JNF UK head, resigned in protest and Davis was also subject to considerable criticism by rank-and-file members of the Board of Deputies. The feisty Zionist Federation vice president Jonathan Hoffman was obliged to withdraw a petition calling on Davis to resign when threatened by him with a costly libel suit. Hoffman's subsequent challenge to debate Davis was ignored. There are also increasing grassroots calls demanding that Jewish leaders become more assertive in their pro-Israel advocacy and public activity.

The highlight of my visit was meeting talented young people who, under the leadership of Sam Westrop, have formed a new pro-Israel advocacy body called "The British Coalition for Israel."

Despite resistance from some establishment Jewish communal and student leaders averse to confrontation, they have received a remarkable flow of grassroots support from activists throughout the UK. Together with a British offshoot of "Stand with Us", they now stand at the forefront of those courageously resisting the anti-Israeli onslaughts at universities and in the media.

Prominent individual publicists are also making an impact. There is the renowned journalist Melanie Phillips, author of the book Londonistan which exposed the extension of radical Islamic influence within the core of British society. Currently she is under police investigation for having referred to "the moral depravity" of the Arab "savages" who slaughtered the Fogel family in Itamar and those who incited them. She represents a beacon of light, fearlessly exposing the cant and hypocrisy of the viciously anti-Israeli media. Also Robin Shepherd, a non-Jew who after publishing a brilliant book supportive of Israel, personally experienced outrageously anti-Israeli sanctions by Chatham House, which dismissed him from his post as Senior Fellow. He now writes a superb, widely read blog, commenting on Middle East affairs.

Sadly, the best pro-Israel activists are frequently condemned by the Jewish establishment as extremists and accused of damaging the reputation of the Jewish community. May they grow from strength to strength.

This column was originally published in the Jerusalem Post

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

info4u: Hasbara for Israel - Fighting the media war

I have sat in front of my computer for the last few days and read the posts and statuses of my fellow Jews around the world. I have felt the anger and sadness of the injustice we continuously encounter and I see the will in everybody to show the world the truth.

As a student of Communications, I have for the last 3 years studied the power of the internet and the ability and opportunity it gives us to shout out and speak to the world. We are citizen journalists and we have the ability now to fight for the truth.

However, our message isn't getting across as we have clearly seen.

My point is that as much as you think you are telling the world the truth when you post an article on Facebook or you change your status, it is not going any further than all your Jewish friends (or maybe a few not Jewish friends) that you have on Facebook.

That is why I wish that all of us, with all our anger and pride for our country, truly begin the cyber battle and start to really equip ourselves with proper armour! I have lived in Israel now for about 3 and a half years and I feel like I've learned a lot about Jews and Israelis. We are proud people, and smart people and kind. But we are afraid. We are afraid because we are a minority, because we have had to fight anti-Semitism and basically because everybody hates us.

But the time has come to be brave! And what better place than on the internet!

So how do we do this???

Firstly, open a Twitter account ( On Wednesday, after the bomb in Jerusalem, I went onto Twitter to see if anyone had written about it. There were no posts. Nothing. Twitter is an extremely powerful tool that we have to spread OUR opinion to random people around the world, anybody and everybody can read Twitter.

The second weapon we have is internet's beautiful ability to comment on almost everything! Whether it's on Youtube, a CNN news report, a blog post etc.

Don't just read the negative comments, ANSWER them! Especially on Youtube. You all know we see them all the time, and we just brush them off… Oh… someone else that hates us..

Another option is to join the website Digg ( . This website is kinda like Facebook but it is public. It is a place where you can share any article you've ever read online, and once again, anybody can read it. Go onto Haaretz or Ynet and share the articles about the bomb in Jerusalem or the rockets in the South.

Lastly, there is always the option to create a blog. A place where you can write all your feeling and truths about what's going on.

It's time to fight!

Expect anger and negativity and a lot of people arguing against us. This is the world we live in and this is our destiny as Jews.

A small thing though in my opinion, is to try not to be too extreme. Unfortunately, the more extreme your messages are, the easier it is to brush off and say "crazy-right-wing-murderous-Jews". In cyber newspapers its really good when reading an article that is clearly biased, to answer the writer with facts from our side and ask openly why he hasn't mentioned these facts, but most importantly put links to sources so that people see you are serious. Be smart, use facts, show confidence and pride.

Also, MOST importantly, COPY AND PASTE this message. If we want it to have any effect whatsoever, pass it on to everyone. Also feel free to add any other suggestions as to how we can spread our side of the story.

If you really want to make a true difference, THIS IS THE WAY!

GOOD LUCK!!! We can do this!!!!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

"Fighting Back"

Arlene Kushner

For those in N. America, tomorrow, March 30, has been designated as BIG day: Buy Israeli Goods.

Why this date: The anti-Israel forces that promote boycotts of Israeli products have selected tomorrow for a boycott of Israeli products. This is designed to counter that effort.

Go into stores, seek out Israeli brands that suit your needs, and let store managers know why you are there.

For a list of Israeli brands in stores in your geographical area:
Then, continue that effort. Make sure that BIG is not a one-day event. People who wish to support Israel should be looking for Israeli products all of the time. It's an excellent way to show support for Israel and enjoy quality products at the same time.


The leaders of the PA are up to their necks in game-playing. Their two big ploys of the moment are the plans to secure recognition of a Palestinian state via the UN, and the courting of Hamas in order to establish a unity government.

The two are said to be connected, as the likelihood of securing a UN nod for a Palestinian state might depend at least in part on the existence of one governing body for all of the Palestinian Arab people. If the PA represents the Palestinian Arabs only in Judea and Samaria, it's not quite a "state."


The problem here -- or one of many problems, actually -- is that Hamas has the upper hand.

This was true already in early 2007, when there was a Fatah-Hamas unity agreement (which fell apart with the Hamas coup in Gaza). During the negotiations it was Fatah that was conciliatory and acceded to Hamas demands: Hamas sent the tone of radical discourse.

And now it's even more the case. For it is Fatah (i.e., the PA) that wants this agreement. Hamas, after all, is not seeking UN approval for a state.

What is more, there is an increased sense of empowerment for Hamas in the prospect of Muslim Brotherhood involvement in an Egyptian government (see Stephen's article below on this). For, just as Mubarak was involved previously in negotiations for a Fatah-Hamas unity agreement, so the Egyptians are expected to be involved again now.

We see signs of the Hamas position of strength in its demands for "gestures" from the PA before there are discussions on unity: release of hundreds of Hamas prisoners, re-opening of closed Hamas charities, and the removal of a ban on Hamas activities in the West Bank.

The last demand ought ring bells for Abbas, for if he removes the ban on Hamas activities, he is inviting the possibility of a Hamas takeover.

In addition to demanding these "gestures," Hamas has made it clear that it wants parity in controlling security forces and would retain control of Gaza.


Yet Abbas seems to want this quite badly. According to his aide, Azzam Ahmed -- as cited by Mohammed Daraghmeh, writing for AP -- Abbas would even be willing to forgo American aid, to the tune of over $470 million annually, if it is used as a means of pressuring the PA on the issue of unity. There is a great deal of posturing hidden within these words, you can be sure.


Khaled Abu Toameh, writing for Hudson NY, sees Abbas's efforts in this regard as futile. In the end, Hamas, which does not trust Abbas, is not going to go along, he says. In fact, "Hamas's armed wing, Izaddin al-Kassam, has even gone as far as threatening to assassinate Abbas if he dares to set foot in the Gaza Strip."

Abu Toameh sees a number of factors possibly motivating Abbas to pursue the unity agreement. Perhaps most significant is the thought that this may be a means of threatening the US: lean harder on Israel to make concessions or we will go with Hamas.


According to Hanna Amerah, a member of the PLO executive committee, Abbas has the support of the UN, the EU and the Arab League in his efforts to forge a unity government.

The UN and the Arab League, indeed. But if the EU is on board for this -- and it well may be -- then it is the final indication of the moral collapse of the Europeans.

At least in theory, Hamas is identified by the EU as a terrorist group, and is not supposed to receive recognition unless it complies with specific Quartet criteria -- that it renounce violence, recognize Israel and abide by past Israeli-Palestinian accords. These are criteria which it has no intention of accepting.

But there a dozen ways around this, for those willing to shut their eyes. Some of those ways are so convoluted and dishonest as to make your head spin, e.g., a willingness by Hamas to acknowledge that, de facto, Israel does exist, which is then said to be "almost a recognition" of Israel.


And so we are in watch-and-see mode. Abbas is making a bid to come to Gaza to discuss matters, and Hamas is not ready to receive him until they have certain evidence of his sincerity.


In the face of all of this, is Israel fighting back?

While I would like to see a great deal more, there are some modest signs of stiffer positions being taken.

I mentioned recently the statement by Netanyahu that for the PA it's either Israel or Hamas but it cannot have both. If the PA reaches a unity agreement with Hamas, he said, that's the end of negotiations.

Well, there are no negotiations, and Netanyahu is not really expecting any to begin imminently. I would imagine (hope) that this statement was truly meant for the Quartet: Israel will not deal with a Fatah-Hamas government. Do not expect this.


A diplomatic message was sent out by Israel to the 15 members of the UN Security Council, as well as to 15 other EU nations last week, indicating that if the PA persists in its efforts to pursue statehood via the UN, Israel will take unilateral actions of its own.

Good that 30 Israeli embassies were told to protest the PA plans at the highest diplomatic levels. But not enough, because, according to reports, the threats were vague. What unilateral actions?

Originally there was talk about applying Israeli civil law to all Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. Would that this might happen without delay! But as far as I can tell, the protests at the highest diplomatic levels didn't mention this or anything else specific. Vague threats carry considerably less weight.


There are plans in the works for the Quartet to meet in mid-April, with senior officials in attendance --US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Special Envoy Tony Blair.

It is anticipated that in the course of this meeting the Quartet may issue a proposal for final parameters for an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. Reportedly, Britain, France and Germany have been urging that this proposal say that an agreement would be based upon the 1967 lines “with agreed upon land swaps,” and would reach a “just, fair and agreed solution to the refugee question.”

Maddening is what it is. Worse than maddening: this one-sided meddling.

Herb Keinon, in an article about this in the JPost at the beginning of the week, wrote that Israeli "government sources" said that if the Quartet feels the need to propose final-settlement outlines, it needs to take into account Israeli demands and not just Palestinian ones.

Fine. True. But to whom did government sources say this? Just to Herb Keinon? Keinon's piece in no way suggests that this was also said to the representatives of the Quartet or the relevant EU nations.

But why not? This is no time for tip-toeing. The Israeli position must be stated unequivocally.


And so, my friends, it's time to contact your representatives in Congress.

Tell them that there are reports of a Quartet meeting to be held in mid-April, at which time a proposal for the final settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict might be issued, suggesting that an agreement would be based upon the 1967 lines "with agreed upon land swaps," and would reach a "just, fair and agreed solution to the refugee question."

Advise them that this is a one-sided approach attending only to Palestinian concerns.

Let them know that:

--The 1967 line was only a temporary armistice line arranged between Jordan and Israel and is not sacrosanct.

--The 1967 line would not provide a secure and defensible border for Israel, something that was acknowledged in UN Security Council Resolution 242. Israel requires strategic depth and high places for security.

--It was Jordan on the other side of the armistice line. The implication is that the Palestinians "had" everything beyond that line, but it simply is not so. There was no Palestinian entity involved.

In addition, suggest that if specifics are going to be mentioned, they should include the Israeli demands that a Palestinian state be demilitarized and that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state.


For your Congresspersons:

For your Senators:


Quarter Envoy Tony Blair wrote a major piece in US press ten days ago, emphasizing the importance of moving on with the negotiations:

"...we ignore the importance of the peace our own peril. This absolutely must be revitalized and relaunched. I know it is said (it is said ??) that this wasn't the issue behind the uprisings.

"That is true. But we delude ourselves if we don't think that its outcome matters profoundly to the region and the direction in which it develops..."

Methinks that Tony Blair is profoundly deluded. Either that or he's repackaging the same pap for a new situation. The Middle East is on fire, and the issue of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations probably doesn't even show up on the radar screen of most of the nations in turmoil right now.


Keinon writes, finally, that there are those suggesting that the Quartet might be considering proposing an "end game" so that the PA will be enticed to return to the table.


This simply gives the PA the sense that it can get what it wants from the international community.


Please see Bret Stephens piece, "Egypt--The Hangover."

"'The West seems to be convinced that the revolution was led by secular democratic forces,' says Mahmoud. 'Now that myth is shattered. Which means that either the old order'—by which he means the military regime—'stays in power, or we're headed for Islamist dominance.'"


© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.

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The Syrian Spring

Caroline Glick

Amidst the many dangers posed by the political conflagration now engulfing the Arab world, we are presented with a unique opportunity in Syria. In Egypt, the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak has empowered the Muslim Brotherhood. The Sunni jihadist movement which spawned al-Qaeda and Hamas is expected to emerge as the strongest political force after the parliamentary elections in September.

Just a month after they demanded Mubarak’s ouster, an acute case of buyer’s remorse is now plaguing his Western detractors. As the Brotherhood’s stature rises higher by the day, Western media outlets as diverse as The New York Times and Commentary Magazine are belatedly admitting that Mubarak was better than the available alternatives. Likewise in Libya, even as US-led NATO forces continue to bomb Muammar Gaddafi’s loyalists, there is a growing recognition that the NATO-supported rebels are not exactly the French Resistance. Last Friday’s Daily Telegraph report confirming that al-Qaeda-affiliated veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are now counted among the rebels the US is supporting against Gaddafi, struck a deep blow to public support for the war.

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates’s admission Sunday that Gaddafi posed no threat to the US and that its military intervention against Gaddafi does not serve any vital interest similarly served to sour the American public on the war effort.

After al-Qaeda’s participation in the anti-Gaddafi rebellion was revealed, the strongest argument for maintaining support for the rebels became the dubious claim that a US failure to back the al-Qaeda penetrated rebellion will convince the non-al-Qaeda rebels to join the terrorist organization. But of course, this is a losing argument. If supporting al-Qaeda is an acceptable default position for the rebels, then how can it be argued that they will be an improvement over Gaddafi?

The anti-regime protests in Syria are a welcome departure from the grim choices posed by Egypt and Libya because supporting the protesters in Syria is actually a good idea.

Assad is an unadulterated rogue. He is an illicit nuclear proliferator. Israel’s reported bombing of Assad’s North Korean-built, Iranian-financed nuclear reactor at Deir al-Zour in September 2007 did not end Assad’s nuclear adventures. Not only has he refused repeated requests from the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency to inspect the site, commercial satellite imagery has exposed four other illicit nuclear sites in the country. The latest one, reportedly for the production of uranium yellowcake tetroflouride at Marj as Sultan near Damascus, was exposed last month by the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security.

Assad has a large stockpile of chemical weapons including Sarin gas and blister agents. In February 2009 Jane’s Intelligence Review reported that the Syrians were working intensively to expand their chemical arsenal. Based on commercial satellite imagery, Jane’s’ analysts concluded that Syria was expending significant efforts to update its chemical weapons facilities. Analysts claimed that Syria began its work upgrading its chemical weapons program in 2005 largely as a result of Saddam Hussein’s reported transfer of his chemical weapons arsenal to Syria ahead of the US-led invasion in 2003.

The Jane’s report also claimed that Assad’s men had built new missile bays for specially adapted Scud missiles equipped to hold chemical warheads at the updated chemical weapons sites.

As for missiles, with North Korean, Iranian, Russian, Chinese and other third-party assistance, Syria has developed a massive arsenal of ballistic missile and advanced artillery capable of hitting every spot in Israel and wreaking havoc on IDF troop formations and bases.

Beyond its burgeoning unconventional arsenals, Assad is a major sponsor of terrorism. He has allowed Syria to be used as a transit point for al-Qaida terrorists en route to Iraq. Assad’s Syria is second only to Iran’s ayatollahs in its sponsorship of Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the Palestinian Authority.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders live in Damascus. As Hezbollah terror commander Imad Mughniyeh’s assassination in Damascus in February 2008 exposed, the Syrian capital serves as Hezbollah’s operational hub. The group’s logistical bases are located in Syria.

If the Assad regime is overthrown, it will constitute a major blow to both the Iranian regime and Hezbollah. In turn, Lebanon’s March 14 democracy movement and the Iranian Green Movement will be empowered by the defeat.

Obviously aware of the dangers, Iranian Revolutionary Guards forces and Hezbollah operatives have reportedly been deeply involved in the violent repression of protesters in Syria. Their involvement is apparently so widespread that among the various chants adopted by the protesters is a call for the eradication of Hezbollah.

Mention of Lebanon’s March 14 movement and Iran’s Green Movement serves as a reminder that the political upheavals ensnaring the Arab world did not begin in December when Mohammed Bouazizi set himself on fire in Tunisia. Arguably, the fire was lit in April 2003 when jubilant Iraqis brought down a statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad.

The first place the fire spread from there was Syria. Inspired by the establishment of autonomous Kurdistan in Iraq, in May 2004 Syria’s harshly repressed Kurdish minority staged mass protests that quickly spread throughout the country from the Kurdish enclaves in northern Syria. Assad was quick to violently quell the protests.

Like Gaddafi today, seven years ago Assad deployed his air force against the Kurds.

Scores were killed and thousands were arrested. Many of those arrested were tortured by Assad’s forces.

The discrimination that Kurds have faced under Assad and his father is appalling. Since the 1970s, more than 300,000 Kurds have been stripped of their Syrian citizenship. They have been forcibly ejected from their homes and villages in the north and resettled in squalid refugee camps in the south. The expressed purpose of these racist policies has been to prevent territorial contiguity between Syrian, Iraqi and Turkish Kurds and to “Arabize” Syrian Kurdistan where most of Syria’s oil deposits are located.

The Kurds make up around 10 percent of Syria’s population. They oppose not only the Baathist regime, but also the Muslim Brotherhood. Represented in exile by the Kurdistan National Assembly of Syria, since 2004 they have sought the overthrow of the Assad regime and its replacement by democratic, decentralized federal government. Decentralizing authority, they believe, is the best way to check tyranny of both the Baathist and the Muslim Brotherhood variety. The Kurdish demand for a federal government has been endorsed by the Sunni-led exile Syrian Reform Party.

This week the KNA released a statement to the world community. Speaking for Syria’s Kurds and for their Arab, Druse, Alevi and Christian allies in Syria, it asked for the “US, France, UK and international organizations to seek [a] UN resolution condemning [the] Syrian regime for using violence against [the Syrian] people.”

The KNA’s statement requested that the US and its allies “ask for UN-sponsored committees to investigate the recent violence in Syria, including the violence used against the Kurds in 2004.”

The KNA warns, “If the US and its allies fail to support democratic opposition [groups] such as the Kurdistan National Assembly of Syria and others, [they] will be making a grave mistake,” because they will enable “radical groups to rise and undermine any democratic movements,” and empower the likes of Hezbollah and Iran.

Led by Chairman Sherkoh Abbas, the KNA has asked the US Congress to hold hearings on Syria and allow representatives of the opposition to state their case for regime change.

Opponents of regime change in Syria argue that if Assad is overthrown, the Muslim Brotherhood will take over. This may be true, although the presence of a well-organized Kurdish opposition means it may be more difficult for the Brotherhood to take charge than it has been in Egypt.

Aside from that, whereas the Brotherhood is clearly a worse alternative in Egypt than Mubarak was, it is far from clear that it would be worse for Syria to be led by the Brotherhood than by Assad. What would a Muslim Brotherhood regime do that Assad isn’t already doing? At a minimum, a successor regime will be weaker than the current one. Consequently, even if Syria is taken over by jihadists, they will pose less of an immediate threat to the region than Assad. They will be much more vulnerable to domestic opposition and subversion.

Even if Assad is not overthrown, and is merely forced to contain the opposition over the long haul, this too would be an improvement over what we have experienced to date. In the absence of domestic unrest, Assad has been free to engineer and support Hezbollah’s coup d'etat in Lebanon, develop nuclear weapons and generally act as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s sub-contractor.

But now, in a bid to quell the anti-regime protests, Assad has been forced to deploy his military to his own towns and villages. Compelled to devote his energies to staying in power, Assad has little time to stir up fires elsewhere.

The first beneficiary of his weakness will be Jordan’s King Abdullah who now needs to worry less about Assad enabling a Hamas-Muslim Brotherhood-instigated civil war in Jordan.

Depressingly, under the Obama administration the US will not lift a finger to support Syrian regime opponents. In media interviews Sunday, not only did Secretary of State Hillary Clinton rule out the use of force to overthrow Assad, as his troops were killing anti-regime protesters, Clinton went so far as to praise Assad as “a reformer.”

The US retreat from strategic rationality is tragic. But just because President Barack Obama limits American intervention in the Middle East to the places it can do the most harm such as Egypt, Libya and the Palestinian conflict with Israel, there is no reason for Israel not to act independently to help Assad’s domestic opponents.

Israel should arm the Kurds. Israeli leaders and spokesmen should speak out on behalf of Syria’s Kurds from every bully pulpit that comes their way. Our leaders should also speak out against Assad and his proliferation of missiles and weapons of mass destruction.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu should ask the UN to speed up the release of the indictments in the investigation of the late Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman should call on the UN to behave honestly and indict Assad for ordering Hariri’s murder.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak should release information about Syria’s transfer of weapons to Hamas and Hezbollah. The government should release information about Syria’s use of terror against the Druse. Netanyahu must also state publicly that in light of the turbulence of the Arab world generally, and Assad’s murderous aggression against his own people and his neighbors specifically, Israel is committed to maintaining perpetual sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

We are living through dangerous times. But even now there is much we can do to emerge stronger from the political storm raging around us. Syria’s revolt is a rare opportunity. We’d better not squander it.
Caroline Glick

Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, where this article first appeared.

Monday, March 28, 2011

It's Official: The Obama Administration Will Do Zero to Criticize or Undermine the Syrian Dictatorship

Barry Rubin

It's official. The Obama Administration won't do anything at all to help the Syrian people against the Bashar al-Asad dictatorship. Libya's Muammar Qadhafi is a bad dictator, but Bashar al-Asad is a good dictator?

The great Martin Kramer puts it perfectly:

"Earlier I noted that the Arab League gave Asad a license to kill because Syria is "occupied." Now Clinton and Kerry have given him one because he's a "reformer." Asad hasn't carried out any reforms, still supports terror, has stockpiles of WMD, and even tried to build a secret nuke facility. But unlike Qaddafi, he cleans up nicely and his wife is chic. Asad gets a pass; Asads always do." Ask yourself these simple questions: Which regime is more dangerous to U.S. interests? Which regime is sponsoring more terrorism at present? Which regime is killing Americans in Iraq? Which regime is allied with Iran and actively trying to destroy U.S. interests in the Middle East? Who is the worse dictator--more repressive; incompetent; and bad for regional stability, the United States, and the West--Egypt's Husni Mubarak or Syria's Bashar al-Asad?

Nobody is asking the U.S. government to bomb Syria or to send troops. It's just a matter of supporting those seeking democracy when it also serves U.S. interests. Even Secretary of Defense Robert Gates seems to feel this way.

I have no idea whether Secretary of State Hillary Clinton supports the White House's pro-Syrian policy or not but her attempt to defend it is the most pitiful performance of her 26 months in the job. Was this because her heart isn't in it or just that the contradictions are too obvious to paper over?

Does anyone still believe that the United States is going to woo Syria away from Iran, especially now that it's handing one victory after another to Tehran? Does anyone still believe that Syria is going to make peace with Israel? I mean someone who is a rational being who has some comprehension of international affairs, in other words not Senator John Kerry.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Kinetic Military Action

Op-ed: Notion of Intifada allows Palestinians to justify violence while using victimhood card

Asaf Romirowsky
Israel Opinion

The Arabic term Intifada connotes awakening or uprising and was first used during the 1987 uprising against Israel. It is also used in the Palestinian narrative in the sense of “to shake up or wake up” the world and Israel to all the wrong that was done to the Palestinians as a result of the Israeli “occupation.”

Practically, this idea, that any means including violence may be used in the face of “occupation” has given Palestinians the carte blanche to do whatever they want whenever they want with no consequences for their actions. Yasser Arafat’s ultimate goal in his day was to make the Palestinian cause the flagship for the Arab world at large. Until the Palestinians receive the justice they are divinely owed, the theory went, the Arab world should not rest. Over the years, the Palestinian cause has been used by many Arab regimes and Islamist groups like al-Qaeda and others as a public relations tool to galvanize their respective causes without really intention of helping the Palestinians.

Historically, the first Intifada began in 1987. The second so-called al-Aqsa intifada took place in 2000, and now according to a Facebook page the third Intifada is scheduled to erupt on May 15 - the Palestinian Nakba Day – the catastrophe day. This is the Palestinian interpretation of Israel’s creation in 1948.

With the ongoing upheaval in the region from Tunisia and Egypt to Bahrain, Yemen, Libya, and now even Syria, the Palestinians have no plan to sit idly by and not join the party. In the past, the Intifada was the vehicle to unite and bind Palestinians to their Arab/Muslim brethren. Recently, Hamas praised Tunisia’s Intifada and the overturning of the corrupt Ben Ali regime. Hamas went as far as saying that the Tunisian Intifada was a “milestone in contemporary Arab history”, and asserted that injustice can only be countered with sacrifice.

This language is an excellent illustration of Arafat's legacy, the Palestinianization of the Arab/Muslim world.

Intifada in academia

Intifada is not limited to the Middle East but has penetrated the halls of US academia. This is demonstrated by individuals like Hatem Bazian, an Arabic lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley who following the War in Iraq stated that “it’s about time that we have an Intifada in this country that changes fundamentally the political dynamics in here.” There is also Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad, a professor of the History of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations at Georgetown University, who explained simply that, “Intifada is something that Muslims and Palestinians all approve of. It means ‘just get off my back’.”

No one should doubt that Intifada has violent terroristic goals that have been demonstrated by the level of violence used against Israelis since the first and second Intifadas. As a mechanism that justifies all violence in the name of “resistance,” the Intifada has allowed continued violence, including the latest rampage of killings of innocent Israelis in Itamar and now in Jerusalem. One of the mistakes Israel has made is adopting the phrase itself to describe its ongoing conflict with the Palestinians. By adopting an Arabic phrase with clear goals into Israeli political and cultural vernacular Israel has, in effect, legitimated the Palestinian point of view.

One result is that the violent asymmetrical war Israel has been fighting for the past 24 years has been relegated to an “uprising,” which implies that the means are justifiable, instead of a full blown war.

Internally, Israel's government understands that Palestinians are conducting a war but for unclear reasons it simply declines to call it what it is. Even now, key Israeli government figures like former Shin Bet chief and now Knesset member Avi Dichter have been warning against a third Intifada. Dichter is wrong. “Shaking up” does not include cutting children's throats; terrorist wars do.


The cycles of Intifada have been more beneficial to Palestinians than their so-called quest for Palestinian statehood. Intifada allows Palestinians to use and justify violence whenever necessary, and to use the victimhood card as needed. By continually harping on “occupation,” Palestinian victims automatically explain and justify moral depravity of violence as not only exceptional but legitimate. In turn, regional Intifadas only validate the ongoing Palestinian one.

Whether or not the increasing violence against Israel will be called a "third Intifada" or something more honest, until Palestinians choose a different vehicle Israel will be forced to combat their violence in a way that leaves no room for interpretation.

Asaf Romirowsky is a Philadelphia-based Middle East analyst, a lecturer in history at Pennsylvania State University and an adjunct scholar at the Middle East Forum