Monday, November 29, 2010

Monday Iran Talking Points

From Blog:

4:54 PM (8 hours ago)Monday Iran Talking Pointsfrom Blog by Eli Cliftonfrom LobeLog: News and Views Relevant to U.S.-Iran relations for November 29th, 2010:

The Wall Street Journal: Harvard professor and Project for the New American Century signatory Stephen Peter Rosen writes that while the United States promotes the elimination of nuclear weapons, Iran and North Korea have made the acquisition of nuclear weapons their high priority. Following the meme of equating North Korea and Iran as similar foreign policy challenges, Rosen argues the United States should not simply accept Iran or North Korea acquiring nuclear weapons but, instead, “If North Korea and Iran want nuclear weapons, and China does nothing to stop them, we can reintroduce tactical nuclear weapons onto American aircraft carriers and attack submarines in the Pacific.” Acknowledging the importance of working with allied nations, Rosen characterizes his call for increased U.S. military readiness as “an old-school response that doesn’t seek war, but that also doesn’t aspire to utopian goals.”

Commentary: Jennifer Rubin is one of dozens of hawks to jump on the WikiLeaks document dump of U.S. diplomatic cables to draw exactly the conclusions she was looking for. Despite confirmation of linkage — that the continuing Israeli-Palestinian conflict hurts U.S. interests in the Mid East — at the highest levels of the Pentagon, Rubin is determined to take the Saudi King’s word that the concept is “nonsense.” “In short, there is zero evidence that the Palestinian non-peace talks were essential to obtaining the assistance of the Arab states on Iran,” she writes. She calls Palestinian-Israeli peace talks a “grand waste of time and a dangerous distraction” and says, “Obama frittered away two years that could have been spent cementing an Israeli-Arab alliance against Tehran.” Her logic relies on the straw-man argument that the peace process is “essential to obtaining the help of the Arab states in confronting Iran’s nuclear threat” — the words “helpful” or “productive” used in conjunction with “peace process” would better describe this linkage

WikiLeaks: Is China Ready To Abandon North Korea?

From The American Thinker:

November 30, 2010

Is China ready to abandon North Korea?

Rick Moran

Leaked Wikileak cables reveal some interesting attitudes that have recently formed in China toward North Korea:

China has signalled its readiness to accept Korean reunification and is privately distancing itself from the North Korean regime, according to leaked US embassy cables that reveal senior Beijing figures regard their official ally as a "spoiled child".

News of the Chinese shift comes at a crucial juncture after the North's artillery bombardment of a South Korean island last week that killed four people and led both sides to threaten war. China has refused to condemn the North Korean action. But today Beijing appeared to bow to US pressure to help bring about a diplomatic solution, calling for "emergency consultations" and inviting a senior North Korean official to Beijing.

This would be hugely significant if true. Some of the things said by PRC officials to representatives of the US and South Korea are eye popping:

In highly sensitive discussions in February this year, the-then South Korean vice-foreign minister, Chun Yung-woo, told a US ambassador, Kathleen Stephens, that younger generation Chinese Communist party leaders no longer regarded North Korea as a useful or reliable ally and would not risk renewed armed conflict on the peninsula, according to a secret cable to Washington.

Chun, who has since been appointed national security adviser to South Korea's president, said North Korea had already collapsed economically.

Political collapse would ensue once Kim Jong-il died, despite the dictator's efforts to obtain Chinese help and to secure the succession for his son, Kim Jong-un.

"Citing private conversations during previous sessions of the six-party talks , Chun claimed [the two high-level officials] believed Korea should be unified under ROK [South Korea] control," Stephens reported.

"The two officials, Chun said, were ready to 'face the new reality' that the DPRK [North Korea] now had little value to China as a buffer state - a view that, since North Korea's first nuclear test in 2006, had reportedly gained traction among senior PRC [People's Republic of China] leaders. Chun argued that in the event of a North Korean collapse, China would clearly 'not welcome' any US military presence north of the DMZ [demilitarised zone]. Again citing his conversations with [the officials], Chun said the PRC would be comfortable with a reunified Korea controlled by Seoul and anchored to the US in a 'benign alliance' - as long as Korea was not hostile towards China. Tremendous trade and labour-export opportunities for Chinese companies, Chun said, would also help 'salve' PRC concerns about ... a reunified Korea.

A reunified Korea in economic cooperation with China would be an economic powerhouse. Maybe we should be careful what we wish for...

Posted at 12:10 AM

North Korea Will Listen, But Only To F-22s

From AEI:

North Korea Will Listen, But Only to F-22s By Michael Auslin

Washington Examiner

Monday, November 29, 2010

North Korea's wanton shelling of a South Korean island last week--one that has 1,000 civilian residents--is a reminder of how dangerous Pyongyang remains. Pundits worldwide have been busy trying to fathom North Korea's "reasons" for firing 200 artillery shells over a 90 minute period, sending up thick plumes of black smoke across the island and killing four South Koreans. The truth is, we don't know and it doesn't matter.

What matters is our response, and that of the South Koreans. Right now, that response may well embolden North Korea to further outrageous acts.

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak has stated that if the North attacks again, then the South will respond. Of course, that is what is said every time the North makes an wanton act of aggression. And so far it hasn't stopped the North, which just this March sank a South Korean naval vessel, killing 46 sailors.

The leaders of North Korea, however, have to know that such an attack would lead, in short order, to the destruction of their state.Washington has made the usual noises of condemning the attack, but it also decided to reverse its first instinct of avoiding antagonizing the North, instead sending a U.S. aircraft carrier group to Korean waters for naval exercises.

If South Korea and the United States won't stand up to the North, then this type of aggression will continue to happen into the future. One day, the North may well miscalculate, forcing the South into a major response that could lead to war.

Yet the thinking of those in Seoul and Washington too often is that we are boxed into a corner thanks to the thousands of artillery tubes pointed at the South, and that if we push the North too far, it could lead to a massive attack on Seoul, with the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians.

The leaders of North Korea, however, have to know that such an attack would lead, in short order, to the destruction of their state. That is why they have carefully planned each outrage they commit, so far correctly assuming that South Korea and America will restrain themselves from responding.

On top of that, our diplomatic attempts over the past seven years have also failed. We are, it seems, batting .000 so far.

So, how to take control of the situation and try to change North Korea's behavior? By refusing to be paralyzed.

The most powerful military in the world needs to start showing some strength, and see if that might force some behavioral adjustment in Pyongyang. For 60 years, the Pentagon has kept an enormous amount of military power in East Asia, and those planes, ships, subs, and American military personnel have undoubtedly helped keep the general peace in the region.

Now is the time to start flexing our muscles and the White House has taken the first positive step. On Wednesday, the USS George Washington, our nuclear-powered aircraft carrier homeported in Japan, left for waters off Korea, accompanied by two guided missile cruisers and two guided missile destroyers.

This can be a significant show of force, but it all depends on where the flotilla goes. It should be sent directly to the waters off the island, not just in the general vicinity of Korea.

The Obama Administration has twice pulled the George Washington back from entering the Yellow Sea since March, in deference to China. The ship should stay in the region for at least a week, conducting flight operations and joining up with whatever South Korean vessels and U.S. subs happen to be in the area.

Naval power is important, but it's not enough, since the North's threat comes primarily from the air (its missiles) and the ground (its million-man army). Thus, it's time to start deploying our F-22 fighters to South Korea.

We've never sent the world's most advanced fighter aircraft into any conflict zone, which is one reason why Congress found it so easy to kill the program last year at the behest of President Obama and Defense Secretary Gates. This is why we built the F-22: to show friends and enemies alike that we will enter any contested and defended airspace that we want, and that they won't be able to stop us.

North Korea has a small and inconsequential air force and old radar systems, but it has significant air defenses, including surface-to-air missiles and over 8,000 antiaircraft guns. What it lacks in sophistication, it makes up for in numbers.

A squadron of F-22s should be sent to Osan Air Base in South Korea and start conducting air patrols along the DMZ and over South Korean territory that is targeted by the North. Anything that fires on the F-22s should be destroyed, just as the North should have destroyed the artillery guns that attacked its island this week. Let the F-22s show they have a real role to play in protecting our allies and in operating with impunity in conflict areas, just as they were designed to do. And let the message get through to Pyongyang that if we want to, we can buzz Kim Jong-il's breakfast room.

Sending the USS George Washington is a good first move, but it needs to be followed up by a strong and continuing military presence in the area. Otherwise, we will send the wrong message to a regime that acts with increasing aggression and confidence.

Michael Auslin is a resident scholar at AEI.

The Life Expectancy Of Iran's Nuclear Physicists

From AEI:

The Life Expectancy of Iran's Nuclear Physicists By Ali Alfoneh

National Review Online

Monday, November 29, 2010


Earlier today, Majid Shahriari, a professor in nuclear physics at Martyr Beheshti University, was assassinated in Tehran. Fereydoun Abbasi Davani, professor in nuclear physics at Iran's National Defense University, was severely wounded in a separate attack. Motorcyclists either stuck explosives to the physicists' cars as they headed to work, or threw explosives into the cars. These were just the latest attacks--on January 10, 2010, Masoud Ali-Mohammadi, another Iranian physicist, was killed by a remote-controlled bomb as he left his home.

No group has taken responsibility for the assassination attempt, but President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has blamed "Western governments and the Zionist regime."

There is too much unknown right now. The attacks could be a concerted effort to retard Iran's nuclear progress, or they could be meant to hype Iran's own "terror threat" and provide an excuse to crack down on domestic opposition. The only certainty is that the life expectancy of Iranian nuclear physicists is falling rapidly, and is now almost as low as that of Iran's civil-rights activists, journalists, and public intellectuals.

Ali Alfoneh is a resident scholar at AEI.


From The American Spectator:


By John Tabin on 11.29.10 @ 11:17PM

Some stray thoughts on the release of State Department cables by WikiLeaks:

• The infantile cartoon worldview of Julian Assange and the anti-Americanists he speaks for is undermined by the revelations in the document dump. As Dan Drezner notes, while Assange "clearly thinks he's blown the doors off of American hypocrisy," in fact, Foreign Policy managing editor Blake Hounshell is correct in his observation that "the U.S. is remarkably consistent in what it says publicly and privately." In fact...

• Left-wingers, paleoconservatives, so-called "realist" -- those who style themselves the "reality-based community" -- are in fact far further removed from reality than their neocon hate-objects. David Frum runs down "who really should be embarrassed" by various revelations:

• Those who pooh-poohed George W. Bush's "axis of evil." WikiLeaks confirms that Iran and North Korea have for years been sharing weapons technology.

• Those who suggest that it's some "Israel lobby" or Jewish cabal that is driving the confrontation with Iran. WikiLeaks confirms that the region's Arab governments express even more anxiety than Israel about the Iranian nuclear weapons program.

• Those who have condemned Israel for inspecting or impeding Red Crescent ambulances. WikiLeaks confirms that during the 2006 Lebanon war, Iran smuggled weapons to Hezbollah in Red Crescent vehicles, including ambulances.

• Those who have appeased Red Crescent demands that Israel's Red Magen David be excluded from international Red Cross organizations. The Red Crescent has been thoroughly penetrated by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and is regularly used as a tool of Iranian foreign policy.

• Those who lamented that Israel's interception of the Turkish blockade-runner Mevi Marmara would alienate Turkey as a key U.S. ally: The U.S. government itself has for years regarded the Turkish government as trending on its own impetus toward anti-Western Islamist radicalism.

And so forth. Frum concludes that, if anything, the leak makes a military strike against Iran more politically feasible.

• Yes, this will most likely get people killed. Toby Harndon picks out an example:

As for Assange's protests that no one's life would be put at risk, check this out. The name of the source has been redacted. But how many UK-educated engineers from prominent Pre-Revolution Isfahan families who once owned a large factory in Iran and are former national fencing champions of Iran, former presidents of the Iran Fencing Association and former vice-presidents of an Azerbaijan sports association do you think there are out there?

John Bolton argues that Bradley Manning, the WikiLeaks source, should be charged with treason and put to death. There's certainly a case to be made.

• The damage goes beyond compromising sources. Drezner predicts that the government's reaction is likely to lead to "both less transparency and less effective policy coordination." The latter point -- that WikiLeaks will discourage intelligence sharing -- will make intelligence failures more likely, he notes. The former point is more devastating as a critique of WikiLeaks on its own terms; Assange and his gang are not champions of government transparency, they are enemies of it. A handful of responsible national security reporters hold the government accountable by cultivating sources with access to classified information, building trust that they will use their access responsibly. The response to WikiLeaks will make those reporters' jobs harder.

Your Tax Dollars At Work: Eric Holder, The Attorney General, Heads to Switzerland With Morgan Freeman And Bill Clinton To Lobby For The 2022 World Cup

From Fire Andrea Mitchell:

10:59 PM (2 hours ago)Your tax dollars at work: Eric Holder heads to Switzerland to lobby for the 2022 World Cupfrom Fire Andrea Mitchell! by adminForgive me for my lack of knowledge when it comes to boring soccer. Apparently the site of the 2022 World Cup hasn’t been decided yet, so what better way to deal with all the problems in America then to send a corrupt Attorney General like Eric Holder over the Switzerland to lobby for it. I mean, a soccer tournament twelve years from now is far more important than dealing with the Wikileaks issue. Eric Holder needs some rest after seizing all those domain names that allegedly had pirated material on it, or worse yet, was selling bootleg goods. I guess Obama figured after he struck out with getting the Olympics in Chicago in 2016, he’d better send Holder instead. Even Bill Clinton and Morgan Freeman is heading to Switzerland on the government junket, thanks to our tax money!

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder will join former President Bill Clinton and Academy Award winner Morgan Freeman on Wednesday at the final presentation to FIFA’s executive committee of the U.S. bid to host the 2022 World Cup.

WikiLeaks: John Kerry Called For Israel To Cede Half Of Jerusalem; Believed Syrian Tyrant Assad Is A Man Who wants Change

From Gateway Pundit and Right Network:

Wikileaks: Doofus John Kerry Called For Israel to Cede Half of Jerusalem; Believed Syrian Tyrant Assad Is a “Man of Who Wants Change”

Posted by Jim Hoft on Monday, November 29, 2010, 11:14 PM

Doofus alert.


Wikileaks documents revealed that John F. Kerry wanted to give half of Jerusalem to the Palestinian factions Kerry also believed that Syrian tyrant Bashar al-Assad was a man of change.

How ridiculous.

Foreign Policy reported:

On a February trip to the Middle East, Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman John Kerry (D-MA) told Qatari leaders that the Golan Heights should be returned to Syria, that a Palestinian capital should be established in East Jerusalem as part of the Arab-Israeli peace process, and that he was “shocked” by what he saw on a visit to Gaza.

Kerry discussed the Israeli-Palestinian peace process in a visit to Qatar during separate meetings with Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani and the Emir of Qatar, Hamad bin Khalifa, as revealed by the disclosure of diplomatic cables by the website WikiLeaks.

The emir told Kerry to focus on Syria as the path toward resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Kerry agreed with the emir that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is a man who wants change but pointed out that his arming of Hezbollah and interference in Lebanese politics were unhelpful. Kerry said that Assad “needs to make a bolder move and take risks” for peace, and that he should be “more statesman-like.” Kerry also agreed with the emir that the Golan Heights should be given back to Syria at some point.

“The Chairman added that Netanyahu also needs to compromise and work the return of the Golan Heights into a formula for peace,” the diplomatic cable reported.

Honestly… Is there any dictator that these far left radicals will not prop up?

For the record… Assad said that war was likely after the Gaza Flotilla raid.

Koreans Find Chinese Envoy, Dai Binnuo, To Be Rude During His Visit

From The Marmot's Hole:

Dai Bingguo rude during Korea visit: report

by Robert Koehler on November 30, 2010

Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger might have called Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo “an outstanding personality” and former US National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski noted that he was “a superb individual,” but after Dai visited Seoul last weekend, it seems Koreans found him undiplomatic and rude.

Most problematic was that President Lee told Dai during their meeting that he opposed holding a round of six-party talks, but just five hours later, China made a public proposal for talks anyway.

Kinda fun to read, especially after looking at the comments made about China’s chief negotiator for the Six Party Talks, Wu Dawei, as revealed in WikiLeaks. Or reading about Chinese foreign minister Yang Jiechi (see here and here). Or about UN undersecretary general for Economic and Social Affairs Sha Zukang

Sharia And Obama's Foreign Policy

From The American Thinker:

November 30, 2010

Sharia and Obama's Foreign Policy

By Wendy Wright

A Christian woman who gave water to Muslim fieldworkers was accused by the women of blaspheming Muhammed. The women refused the water, claiming it was unclean because a Christian carried it. Asia Bibi, a mother of five, merely explained her faith. For that, she has been in prison for over fifteen months and has been sentenced to be hanged, according to The Telegraph.

Ashiq Masih, her husband, said, "I haven't told two of my younger daughters about the court's decision. ... They asked me many times about their mother, but I can't get the courage to tell them that the judge has sentenced their mother to capital punishment for a crime she never committed."

Pakistan outlaws blasphemy against Islam. It is punishable by death. Religious minorities are targeted for accusations, and while most are acquitted, they are oftentimes killed by mobs.

Last week, the U.N. again voted for a resolution against "defamation of religions" or "vilification of religions" as a violation of human rights. It's been called a global anti-blasphemy law, and it changes the concept of human rights from protecting people from persecution to condemning criticism of (a particular) religion. This nonbinding resolution, altered slightly this year, has passed every year since 2005 against the objection of the U.S. While Christianity formed the basis of the Western world's embrace of freedom of speech, religion, and conscience, this resolution would legitimize the Islamic prohibition against non-Muslim beliefs.

The United States joins in all nations coming together to condemn hateful speech, but we do not support the banning of that speech," said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. "Indeed, freedom of speech and freedom of religion emanate from the same fundamental belief that communities and individuals are enriched and strengthened by diversity of ideas, and attempts to stifle them or drive them underground, even when it is in the name and with the intention of protecting society, have the opposite effect.

In Iran, a Muslim widow accused of adultery is sentenced to be stoned to death. When international activists and government leaders condemned the sentence and questioned the legitimacy of the Islamic-based trial, Iran released a supposed confession from the woman.

Sakineh Ashtiani drew international attention when her son alerted the outside world to her plight. The son and Sakineh's lawyer have since been arrested, and two German men who sought to interview her son have been detained in Iran.

The Washington Times reports that Iranian state television broadcast an interview of Sakineh saying, "I am a sinner." Her face was blurred, and her words, spoken in a regional language, were translated into Farsi. Statements purportedly from her son, lawyer, and the German journalists were also broadcast.

In the tape, Sakineh's son retracted his previous statements that Sakineh was tortured and criticized Sakineh's lawyers, one of whom has fled the country and received asylum in Europe for publicizing the case. The journalists accused a female activist in Europe of hiring them, and one said he would file a complaint against her.

Sanctions against Iran for its nuclear ambitions are taking a toll, and Iran initially appeared to relent from the harsh stoning sentence as international moral criticism mounted on top of the economic punishment. But this latest round of arrests and public "confessions" shows Tehran ratcheting up the tension between itself and Western countries.

Ironically, the "confessions" came the same week that the U.S. Senate held hearings on the ineffective U.N. women's treaty called CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women). Radical feminists and the Obama administration are pressuring the Senate to ratify CEDAW, calling it a priority in order for the U.S. to gain credibility in the international world on women's rights.

Melanie Verveer, Obama's ambassador on global women's issues, and other supporters stated that errant countries which have adopted CEDAW (like Iran) would be more likely to follow the treaty if the U.S. ratified it.

Concerned Women for America submitted testimony to the Senate pointing out that nations which are the worst abusers of women are also anti-American. They are not likely to change their ways because the U.S. adopts a treaty. And if the U.S. ratifies CEDAW, we would be subject to the U.N. committee that oversees its implementation. Representatives from countries that adopt CEDAW -- like Iran -- can sit on the committee.

To get an idea of how the CEDAW Committee has already operated, it has criticized countries for allowing Christian beliefs to influence policy and cultures. Christianity, the essential foundation for freedom of belief, speech, and religion, is frowned upon by both radical feminists and Islamists.

The Obama administration has great admiration for international law and believes that subjecting the U.S. to other countries' opinions will make us moral and accountable. Yet it seems unaware that its attempt to place America under the authority of international opinion and "law" jeopardizes our Christian-based liberties and freedom from Shariah-inspired tyranny.

In a recent article, "Stonings and Nuclear Weapons," I wrote, "If we want to see what America's enemies -- Islamist radicals -- have in store for us if we don't stop them, look at Sakineh. Would we want shariah law allowed, in any form, in America?"

We can add Asia Bibi and the thousands, if not millions, of Christians and women who have suffered at the hands of Islamic radicals. President Obama and Secretary Clinton should think twice about subjecting America to international law and bodies where the U.S. is easily outvoted or unrepresented.

Wendy Wright is president of Concerned Women for America, the nation's largest public policy women's organization.

Muslim Genocide Of Christians Continues Throughout Middle East

From Winds of Jihad:

Muslim Genocide of Christians Throughout Middle East

by sheikyermami on November 28, 2010

It is obvious by now that the Christians in the Middle East are an “endangered species.”

by Khaled Abu Toameh/Hudson New York (thanks to Mullah)

Christians in Arab countries are no longer being persecuted; they are now being slaughtered and driven out of their homes and lands.

Those who for many years turned a blind eye to complaints about the persecution of Christians in the Middle East now owe the victims an apology. Now it is clear to all that these complaints were not “Jewish propaganda.”

The war of genocide against Christians in the Middle East can no longer be treated as an “internal affair” of Iraq or Egypt or the Palestinians. What the West needs to understand is that radical Islam has declared jihad not only against Jews, but also against Christians.

In Iraq, Egypt and the Palestinian territories, Christians are being targeted almost on a daily basis by Muslim fundamentalists and secular dictators.

This Coptic Christian was doused with petrol in Egypt and set alight….

As if on cue:

Iraqi jihadists threaten Christians: “Leave Iraq immediately or you will be killed by us”

The jihad against the Christians of Iraq continues apace, yet the world community continues to look the other way. “Iraq: Death threats continue to menace nation’s Christians,” from AKI, November 26

Dozens of Arab Christians in Iraq have been killed in recent months in what seems to be well-planned campaign to drive them out of the country. Many Christian families have already begun fleeing Iraq out of fear for their lives.

Some have chosen to start new lives in Jordan, while many others are expressing hope that they could be resettled in North America or Europe.

In Egypt, the plight of the Coptic Christian minority appears to be worsening. Just this week, the Egyptian security forces killed a Coptic Christian man and wounded scores of others who were protesting against the government’s intention to demolish a Christian-owned structure.

Hardly a day passes without reports of violence against members of the Coptic Christian community in various parts of Egypt. Most of the attacks are carried out by Muslim fundamentalists.

According to the Barnabas Fund, an advocacy and charitable organization based in the United Kingdom, “Fears for the safety of Egyptian Christians are growing after a series of false allegations, violent threats and mass demonstrations against Christians in Egypt.”

Muslim anger was ignited by unfounded accusations that Egyptian Christians were aligned with Israel and stockpiling weapons in preparation for war against Muslims.

The Barnabas Fund noted that Egyptian authorities have been accused of complicity for political reasons in the escalating sectarian crisis.

Palestinian Christians have also been feeling the heat, although they their conditions remain much better than those of their brothers and sisters in Iraq and Egypt.

Last week, the Western-funded Palestinian Authority in the West Bank arrested a Christian journalist who reported about differences between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and senior Fatah operative Mohammed Dahlan. The journalist, George Qanawati, manager of Radio Bethlehem 2000, was freed five days later.

In the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, the tiny Christian community is also living in fear following a spate of attacks by radical Islamic groups.

The failure of the international community to pay enough attention to the dangers facing the Christians encouraged radical Muslims and corrupt dictatorships to step up their assaults on Christian individuals and institutions.

When Muslim fanatics cannot kill Christian soldiers or civilians in the mountains of Afghanistan or on the streets of New York, they choose an easy prey: their Arab Christian neighbors.

Hamas Prime Minister In Gaza Proclaims: We Are A Nation Of Jihad

From The Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Report:

BREAKING NEWS: Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood Wins No Seats In Parliamentary Elections

Breaking News Comments (0)

Print This Post

Global media is reporting that the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood has won no seats in parliamentary elections. According to a Voice of America report:

Egypt’s main opposition group says the ruling party of President Hosni Mubarak has heavily defeated its candidates in a parliamentary election it says was rigged. The banned Muslim Brotherhood said Monday none of its candidates won a seat outright in the first round of elections, and just a few garnered enough votes to contest a seat in a runoff on December 5. While the Muslim Brotherhood is illegal in Egypt, its candidates are tacitly allowed to run as independents. In 2005, the party won one-fifth of the parliamentary seats. Charges of ballot stuffing, voter intimidation and fraud marred Sunday’s parliamentary elections. Voters and opposition campaigners reported that ballot boxes were filled to the brim only minutes after the polls opened. Others cited instances of police intimidation and bribery. Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood protested after polls closed in the Nile Delta city of Mahalla El Kubra, near Alexandria. Sunday’s voting also saw sporadic violence in the capital, Cairo, and in the southern city of Qena, as protesters clashed with riot police who fired tear gas. Egypt’s High Elections Commission, a body of judges and parliamentary nominees, said complaints of voting irregularities were being examined but were not serious enough to question the vote’s legitimacy. Early estimates show another low turnout of the country’s 41 million registered voters. Official estimates place Sunday’s election turnout at about 25 percent, similar to the 2005 election turnout of 22 percent. Rights groups, however, place voter turnout in Sunday’s election at about 12 percent. The run-up to Sunday’s vote was also dogged by charges of harassment and intimidation. Several hundred Muslim Brotherhood members were arrested in the latest in a series of crackdowns on the group. Although the government promised a free and fair election, it barred international monitors, calling them an infringement of its sovereignty. Mr. Mubarak’s National Democratic Party is poised to win a solid majority of the 508 elected seats. Ten additional seats are filled by the president. Egypt is scheduled to hold a presidential election next year. Mr. Mubarak, who is 82 and has been president since 1981, has not said whether he will run for re-election.

A previous post discussed the background to the government’s campaign against the Egyptian Brotherhood.

The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood can be considered to be the “mother” organization of what is referred to in these pages as the Global Muslim Brotherhood which developed as Muslim Brothers fleeing Egypt settled in Europe and the United States, as well as other places, throughout the years. The global network has since eclipsed the Egyptian organization as evidenced by global Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi’s decision to turn down the leadership of the Egyptian organization when it was offered to him in 2004.

Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood Wins No Seats In Parliamentary Elections

From The Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Report:

BREAKING NEWS: Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood Wins No Seats In Parliamentary Elections

Breaking News Comments (0)

Print This Post

Global media is reporting that the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood has won no seats in parliamentary elections. According to a Voice of America report:

Egypt’s main opposition group says the ruling party of President Hosni Mubarak has heavily defeated its candidates in a parliamentary election it says was rigged. The banned Muslim Brotherhood said Monday none of its candidates won a seat outright in the first round of elections, and just a few garnered enough votes to contest a seat in a runoff on December 5. While the Muslim Brotherhood is illegal in Egypt, its candidates are tacitly allowed to run as independents. In 2005, the party won one-fifth of the parliamentary seats. Charges of ballot stuffing, voter intimidation and fraud marred Sunday’s parliamentary elections. Voters and opposition campaigners reported that ballot boxes were filled to the brim only minutes after the polls opened. Others cited instances of police intimidation and bribery. Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood protested after polls closed in the Nile Delta city of Mahalla El Kubra, near Alexandria. Sunday’s voting also saw sporadic violence in the capital, Cairo, and in the southern city of Qena, as protesters clashed with riot police who fired tear gas. Egypt’s High Elections Commission, a body of judges and parliamentary nominees, said complaints of voting irregularities were being examined but were not serious enough to question the vote’s legitimacy. Early estimates show another low turnout of the country’s 41 million registered voters. Official estimates place Sunday’s election turnout at about 25 percent, similar to the 2005 election turnout of 22 percent. Rights groups, however, place voter turnout in Sunday’s election at about 12 percent. The run-up to Sunday’s vote was also dogged by charges of harassment and intimidation. Several hundred Muslim Brotherhood members were arrested in the latest in a series of crackdowns on the group. Although the government promised a free and fair election, it barred international monitors, calling them an infringement of its sovereignty. Mr. Mubarak’s National Democratic Party is poised to win a solid majority of the 508 elected seats. Ten additional seats are filled by the president. Egypt is scheduled to hold a presidential election next year. Mr. Mubarak, who is 82 and has been president since 1981, has not said whether he will run for re-election.

A previous post discussed the background to the government’s campaign against the Egyptian Brotherhood.

The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood can be considered to be the “mother” organization of what is referred to in these pages as the Global Muslim Brotherhood which developed as Muslim Brothers fleeing Egypt settled in Europe and the United States, as well as other places, throughout the years. The global network has since eclipsed the Egyptian organization as evidenced by global Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi’s decision to turn down the leadership of the Egyptian organization when it was offered to him in 2004.

Just Another WikiLeak On An Already Sinking Ship

From The Heritage Foundation:

Just Another WikiLeak On An Already Sinking Ship

There is nothing positive that can be said about the release of more than a quarter-million confidential American diplomatic cables by the rogue hacker organization WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks has recklessly and inexcusably put lives at risk. Any U.S. person who cooperated with WikiLeaks has committed a crime and should be prosecuted to the maximum extent of the law.

That said, WikiLeaks is not the end of the world. The fundamentals of U.S. relationships with other nations remain unchanged. Leaks are not going to stop nations from cooperating with the U.S., or for that matter sharing secrets with us. Nations cooperate with the U.S. because it is in their interest to do so. And no leak will stop nations from acting in their self-interest.

But what is in our best interest? This has not been a good month for the Obama Doctrine: The President came home empty-handed from Asia, North Korea fired artillery at South Korea just days after revealing nuclear facilities no one knew they had, and Obama failed to get the G-20 to take any action limiting trade imbalances. It was not supposed to be this way. After apologizing for all of our nation’s sins, the world was supposed to swoon at President Obama’s unparalleled charisma. As American military power withered away, President Obama would use soft power and the United Nations to manage world affairs. But like Woodrow Wilson and Jimmy Carter before him, this progressive foreign policy vision has failed.

That is why it is so important for the Obama Administration to change course on foreign policy. Heritage Foundation Foreign Policy Studies Director James Carafano advises:

The president should dump the New START treaty—its one-sidedness makes the U.S. look like a lousy negotiator in the eyes of the world … and a patsy in the eyes of the Russians. He should also reject out of hand calls to gut the defense budget and just flat out declare that America will stick it out in Iraq and Afghanistan until the job is done. And while he’s at it, he could stand up to China and stop extending the hand of friendship to regimes interested in a world without freedom or America.

The President should also make it a publicly top priority to hunt down any American connected with these leaks and prosecute them. This is not the first WikiLeak. This is, in fact, the third time that WikiLeaks has undermined our nation’s national security, and the Obama Department of Justice has been silent each time. Nobody gets more cooperation than a winner. The Obama Administration can begin to right its foreign policy ship by stopping and successfully prosecuting the WikiLeakers.

Allawi: Iraq Got The Worst Of All Worlds

From Middle East Forum:

Ali Allawi, "Iraq Got the Worst of All Worlds"

Middle East Quarterly

Fall 2010, pp. 71-78 (view PDF)

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Ali Allawi, Iraq's first post-Saddam civilian minister of defense, was born in Baghdad in 1947. He was educated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the London School of Economics, and Harvard University. On top of a long and successful career as a merchant banker, he has held visiting posts in a number of academic institutions, including the International Institute for Islamic Thought and Civilization in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, founded by the Islamic philosopher Syed Naquib al-Attas, and the Centre for Middle Eastern Studies at Oxford University.

During the 1980s and the 1990s, Allawi was a prominent member of the London-based Iraqi opposition to Saddam Hussein's regime, and in 2002, was one of the drafters of a declaration of Iraqi Shiites,[1] a statement that helped lay the groundwork for Saddam's ouster.

Allawi returned to Iraq in September 2003 after forty-five years of exile and was made minister of trade in the Interim Iraq Governing Council, followed by a year's stint as minister of defense. In January 2005, he was elected to Iraq's Transitional National Assembly, and three months later, was appointed minister of finance in the Transitional Government headed by Ibrahim al-Jaafari. He held this post until May 2006 when he returned to private life.

Author of two prize winning books—The Occupation of Iraq: Winning the War, Losing the Peace[2] and The Crisis of Islamic Civilization[3]—Allawi is currently a senior visiting fellow at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. Efraim Karsh interviewed him in London by telephone on July 26, 2010.

A Justified War?

Ali Allawi

Middle East Quarterly: With the benefit of hindsight, was the 2003 Iraq war justified?

Ali Allawi: The answer, I am afraid, is equivocal. It depends on what term you use to justify the invasion. If you launch a war that is driven by mainly moral or ethical considerations with a specific purpose of removing a terrible dictatorship and replacing it with something else, then yes, you can make a case for that. But the war was never claimed to be a just war. It was waged in order to uncover weapons of mass destruction [WMD], so it's like a post factum justification. On balance, the answer is yes—we removed the dictatorship; no—because the mismanagement and subsequent disaster that befell the country could have been and should have been avoided and, therefore, perhaps overshadowed the removal of the dictatorship.

MEQ: Apropos weapons of mass destruction. As Iraq's first minister of defense after the invasion, could you illuminate us as to what happened to them?

Allawi: It seems to be clear now that there was no serious Iraqi nuclear program in the wake of the U.N. inspections and that whatever had existed was either successfully dismantled or was just a bluff. The main issue is whether Iraq had the capability of developing weapons of mass destruction after the 1991 Kuwait war. It may have had that in 1989, and it probably came very close to it, maybe a few months or a few years at the most. But the removal of the key elements of the weapons program, together with the sheer difficulty of getting supplies and appropriate equipment, might have made the effort useless, and it was used primarily as a bargaining or threatening tool by Saddam. Whether or not this was known to the Bush administration, we will have to wait for some time before the smoking gun evidence emerges.

MEQ: Did the Iraqi government find any evidence of the existence of WMD or their possible removal out of the country?

Allawi: There is perhaps a general overestimation of Iraq's ability to organize such a complex operation without access to the resources that Saddam had in the 1980s. The amount of money that came into Iraq then, some of which was used to fund this program, was simply not available in the 1990s. … I personally never thought back in the 1990s that there was a serious program. I thought it was a red herring.

MEQ: But then, how do you explain Saddam's decision to risk total war? Given his all consuming paranoia and utter conviction that the Americans, among others, were out to get him, why didn't he simply let the inspectors into Iraq and let the whole world see that he had nothing to hide?

Allawi: There are a lot of inexplicable decisions on Saddam's part. I still cannot understand why he sent his air force to Iran during the 1991 Kuwait war, why he didn't withdraw from Kuwait when it became clear that the coalition was going to attack, or why he persisted in goading the Americans [in 2003] into an irreversible decision. These decisions could have been made by a paranoiac. But they could also have been made by a man who never understood the strategic or the geostrategic circumstances in which he operated, and there were not enough people around him who had the courage to explain to him otherwise. So, there was an element of paranoia but also an element of ignorance of how Western policymakers, especially in America, make decisions and stick to them. He saw things mainly in terms of the crude conclusions about human nature he derived from his upbringing and life experience. It's like a street fighter's version of how events play out on the international scale. He was basically a brute, a very intelligent brute.

MEQ: Still, this brutish worldview kept him in power for longer than any other ruler in Iraq's modern history and made war the only viable option to remove him.

Allawi: The war came as a direct consequence of 9/11. Had there been no 9/11, American foreign policy was unlikely to have shifted this way. Could sanctions have brought this regime down? The answer is no, clearly not. Could the Iraqi opposition have achieved anything against Saddam? The answer is also no. Could a war triggered by supporting insurgents in Kurdistan spread to the rest of the country? The answer is clearly no. So from the Iraqi opposition's point of view, it was really an extraordinary event that overthrew Saddam. Looking back, I think it was rather futile to try to do it after the 1980s.

MEQ: So perhaps the war's "accidental" origin explains its catastrophic aftermath.

Allawi: What struck me most was the incoherence of American policy. It just doesn't make sense to undertake action of this size and scope—in some ways, very outlandish in terms of post-World War II international relations—only to allow that massive effort to deteriorate, like water slipping through your hand. The Americans really had only two choices: either to take responsibility for the consequences of the invasion and, therefore, manage the country until they changed its political culture, or to say, "We came here for this specific purpose; we have done this job. There are no weapons of mass destruction. The ideal of changing Iraq's political culture has never been on the agenda. It's time for us to get out."

MEQ: How do you assess what took place?

Allawi: I know that Iraq is not Panama or Grenada, but it really got the worst of all worlds: the destruction of whatever dysfunctional state had existed, without anything replacing it that is coherently meaningful; with massive expenditure of resources in an unplanned and uncoordinated way that could have, in a more determined way, played a fundamental part in changing the country's political culture. It's not that the Americans didn't spend money; they spent more money on a per capita basis than they probably spent on the Marshall Plan. But it was just so misguided and so ill-directed and not pulled together in a coherent strategy, with people who were indifferent to the long-term evolution of the country's institutions. That just doesn't make sense.

MEQ: When did you come to this realization?

Allawi: These issues became clear to me in September-October 2003 when I first went back. I kept a diary, and I made some of these observations back then. I argued that it was all going to end up in tears since there was no real effort to transform the country's institutions and political culture. Rather there was an attempt to build on a political culture that had not been thoroughly reformed at the root and branch with a pseudo-democratic superstructure attached to it without having a real chance of developing into a genuine, democratic culture. This, in turn, was bound to end up in a hybrid situation—a hybrid, authoritarian-democratic system with warped democratic institutions or supposedly representative institutions.

But the counterargument is that one was operating in a barren landscape. There were very few choices available to either the U.S., or the coalition, or the Iraqi exiles who came back into power, apart from the Kurds who had their long-standing, quasi-national organizations that rooted them in the country. Everything else had to be imported.

A Decentralized Iraq

MEQ: Let's take the counterargument a step further. In The Occupation of Iraq, you cite King Faisal I, founding monarch of Iraq, as saying (in 1932) that "there is no Iraqi people inside Iraq. There are only diverse groups with no national sentiments." Likewise, you have recently argued that Iraq "is not a nation, at least not in terms of the commonly understood definitions of a nation."[4] Has nothing changed during this 90-year period?

Allawi: There is obviously a sense of "Iraqiness." The Arabs do have a sense that they are together in a kind of a long-term marriage, so to speak, in the context of the boundaries of modern Iraq. But there is nothing reflecting this communality at the level of loyalty to shared institutions or laws or to an identity that all parties adhere to and consider important. All view this identity as a corollary of its association to their own exercise of power. Take the Islamist parties, for example: In 2005, they were pushing for a decentralized, federal region, but once they began to exercise undivided power, the emphasis changed to the old Iraqi centralized state. There really is no common vision on the part of the various groups that constitute Iraq as to where the country should go and what kind of identity and role it should have at the end.

MEQ: What you are pointing to has been an issue for a long time.

Allawi: Yes, this problem has existed since the creation of Iraq in 1921, and nothing seems to have changed in a significant way. Regimes come and go, and they emphasize this or that aspect of the country, but there is no continuity in building national institutions that are free of sectarian considerations and are fair to the general population. The Baathists have perhaps been the worst of the lot, and their legacy is possibly the most detrimental, not least since it is etched even on the minds of their bitterest opponents. Thus, those who came into power used the levers of the Baathist state to their advantage rather than to reform and dismantle them (though at the superficial level they were democratized). The only difference is that now people are using the central state's huge powers for their own purposes rather than for Baath purposes or Saddam's purposes. If you wanted to get a job in Saddam's days you had to be a Baathist; now you have to be close to the group that controls the relevant ministry. For the ordinary person on the street, nothing much has changed.

MEQ: You have recently argued that "there is nothing sacrosanct or inevitable about the survival of the Second Iraq State [i.e., post-Saddam Iraq]" and that "Iraqis must understand that this time around, the house may very well fall down on their heads if they don't find a way of living together and enjoying being together."[5] Could you elaborate?

Allawi: This is the last fling of the Second Iraq State. If the political caste doesn't come up with something that takes into account the huge changes and opportunities that arose as a result of the destruction of the old dictatorial state, their hold on power will drastically diminish and dissolve, and the state may not last beyond the next cycle. Something else may come up.

MEQ: Are you saying that Iraq may disintegrate into a number of smaller states?

Allawi: I don't think so. It remains to be seen how Iraq will be configured—as a centralized state, as a binational state, a confederation, or as something in between. The jury is still out on that.

MEQ: What's your preference?

Allawi: I would build the state along the lines of a decentralized, federal system where a great deal of responsibility is put on the provincial and local authorities, who are in many ways closer to the people than the distant ministry in Baghdad, rather than repeat the buildup of the central state whose forms were basically outlined in the 1920s. This is because Iraq as a centralized state cannot really function in the long run unless there is high degree of political maturity or a dictatorship. There is just no way around it.

MEQ: Why not?

Allawi: What exists now is, again, the worst of all worlds. There are central ministries trying to enforce their dysfunctional authority on provincial powers that haven't built up any institutional depth, with a Kurdish region that for all intents and purposes is on its own. And if you superimpose on this state of affairs electoral cycles of four or five years, manipulated by rulers seeking to perpetuate their power, then the state will disintegrate were it not for the oil revenues. If you take oil out of the equation, Iraq is one of the poorest states in the world. But with oil coming in, there will be a lot of expansion. This kind of ramshackle system might continue, but it is like a car or a machine operating at a much lower level than it is designed for.

A Federal Middle East?

MEQ: This rationale seems to run counter to the conventional, pan-Arab criticism of the West, whereby the great powers broke the unity of the "Arab Nation" by carving a string of artificial nation-states out of the defunct Ottoman Empire. By contrast, you seem to suggest that they over-unified the region rather than divided it.

Allawi: The Middle East can only function through large, confederal arrangements. It's not only a question of whether a state is centralized or decentralized, but also how you are going to relate to your neighbors. One of the reasons that empires were such a dominant form of government in the Middle East is because of the variety of nations and peoples. And when the format of empire began to be seriously questioned in the early twentieth century, there was no alternative on the ground apart from the ethnically-based nation-state. For a person like King Faisal, in these early days, to come up with a formula that would decentralize power—given that the British thought that the only thing that would keep Iraq intact was military force, whether theirs or somebody else's—would have required an abiding historical sense or political foresight that didn't really exist at that point.

MEQ: Did the Europeans do a better job elsewhere in the region?

Allawi: No other Middle Eastern state was organized on a decentralized basis. The French tried it in Syria, but it was seen as a way of weakening any resistance to them. Decentralization became a code word for acquiescence in colonial rule and for weakening the state, which was seen as the only agent of change, development, and empowerment. It was outside the zeitgeist as it were. The world has changed since then, and to use the same arguments to reject the ideas of decentralization, or federalism, and so on, is very disingenuous. There is no reason why you should use the arguments of the 1920s nowadays.

MEQ: But wasn't the situation in the Middle East far more acute? Europe at least had the nation-state as a substitute for the fallen empires, but Middle Easterners were wholly unfamiliar with the idea of national self-determination. Their local loyalties were superseded only by submission to the Ottoman sultan-caliph in his capacity as the head of the Muslim community. Hence, when the Ottoman Empire collapsed, the gap was simply too wide to bridge.

Allawi: Because of the West's overwhelming force—political, military, technological, and so on—it became associated with everything that was good and new. But there are certain formulae that could have evolved or worked better than the nation-state paradigm given the context of the area.

MEQ: Such as?

Allawi: Until very late in the day, there was no great desire among Arabs to leave the Ottoman Empire and to create ethnically-based states, so there was always the possibility that a kind of non-national principle could be applied to the evolution or modernization of this empire. This opportunity fell for a variety of reasons in the post-World War I order and was replaced by a forced march into the nation-state without the necessary ingredients for the existence of such an entity beyond common ethnicity. So when I speak about empires as being kind of a natural state of affairs in the area, it's basically that the national principle doesn't work, except in ethnically homogenous states (with very few exceptions like the United States).

Even beyond the Middle East, in places where the national ideal has been far more firmly rooted, there are very few multiethnic countries that are functioning democracies. There is always a tension in such societies that frequently leads to breakup, which is what happened in Czechoslovakia and nearly happened in Canada.

MEQ: Can pan-Arabism substitute for the nation-state in the Middle East?

Allawi: Today you hear the argument that one of the effects of the war has been to isolate or quarantine Iraq from its Arab connections. The idea of being an Arab and being a part of a larger unity or grouping has been current since the 1920s at the expense of any local identity. But it is precisely the dead-end way in which pan-Arabism was formulated, that excluded any local considerations, local divisions, and local sensibilities, that led to its demise well before the Iraq war.

Now, to accommodate this tension in a new political framework, outside an imperial structure or a confederal structure, you have to be centralized. So we go back full circle to the forms of government that successfully operated in the Islamic world, which were either empires or highly localized dynasties, which didn't operate like modern states but were based on local factors and considerations. The Ottoman world could have easily survived as a kind of Turkish-Arab or maybe some Balkan Muslim confederation, held together by allegiance to a broader identity with highly decentralized, local authorities. But then, this always takes place at the expense of the centralized state and the military aspect of it, and in those days there were enough military threats for the Ottomans not to take this option too seriously.

MEQ: Does this mean the best solution to Iraq's domestic instability is a strong dynasty or a leader?

Allawi: Either that or you must create a certain equilibrium at a much lower basis than the centralized state, so that issues of contention are not negotiated and resolved at the national level but become local questions. So, for example, the Shiites can have their own educational curriculum, and each province can define its own issues within a loose understanding of what Iraqi citizenship means. Attempting to build a central state now by cobbling together a coalition based on ethno-sectarian balances will only create a very strong political class that dominates the state but not a real national identity.

MEQ: In other words, transforming Iraq into a mini Ottoman Empire.

Allawi: Yes. Perhaps it is too small a unit to have that kind of thing, but if you take this model and expand it, it can work for the Arab world.

MEQ: This is of course the opposite of the concept of pan-Arabism or qawmiya.

Allawi: Yes, but then it is more modern because it is more appropriate. With it will come a great deal of stability and, therefore, economic development that will increase the resources generated for the common good, which will hopefully not be wasted on military power. You can do a lot of good with this kind of system.

MEQ: A decentralized Arab world?

Allawi: A decentralized Arab world welded together by very strong agreements and contracts with institutions of a super-national nature that manage aspects of common interest. You can start that at a national level, the Iraqi level, and move from there. It's not reinventing the wheel. The U.S. has the same relationship with its constituent states. So you can weave coordinated institutions on top of a decentralized political order that is held together by a communality of purpose.

MEQ: Something like the European Union?

Allawi: Maybe the EU after the decentralization that is taking place. The EU still has a long way to go before it gets the right balance. Its member states are undergoing dramatic changes, and it will become basically a mosaic of interests held together by a strong bond, by a set of common principles, and a strong constitutional structure, one that is properly negotiated and implemented, around which every element of the state can be reconfigured rather than a slapped together affair.

The Ideal Islamic State

MEQ: But how does this scheme conform to the Islamic order of things? Islam is about unification, not decentralization, isn't it?

Allawi: It is unification at one level. I am speaking now obviously as a person who believes in the tenets of Islam. To me Islam operates at the level of the other world, the spiritual level, the level of the unseen. But there are certain ethical virtues and principles that should be reflected at the level of a political order. Islam expressed ideally is not a religion of empire, though in practice it often took this route.

In an ideal form, Islam is an urban civilization, a civilization based on cities, on localities. It was most successful when it was a confederation of cities and dynasties not necessarily held together by imperial force. These things wax and wane, have a certain dynamic. To me, an ethical basis of a government that responds to the Qur'anic principles of justice is where you have as low a barrier as possible between rulers and ruled—the greater the proximity the better, the greater the interaction and engagement the better. Ideally this can presumably take place only in a medieval community of 10,000 people, but in the absence of this, we are talking about decentralized forms. The ideal forms of Islamic government are confederations of cities and regions held together by a certain common allegiance rather than an imperial power operating out of highly centralized, bureaucratic structures. The way that Muslim forms of government evolved over time, and the way that they subjected the ideal to the imperial standard is, in many ways, antithetical to the ideal of Islam and also antithetical to the post-modern options that we have. So, not so much a Dubai-type system but probably not too dissimilar from it.

MEQ: What changes would be necessary in Iraq to bring such a system into existence?

Allawi: If you look at it in terms of Iraq, I would spend a great deal of effort rebuilding the urban cultures of the country. Take Basra, which has the potential to live out its geographical destiny and to become a magnet to the [Persian] Gulf. This kind of networking of urban states and regions—maybe even in a post-nation-state formula—is something that would be not only desirable but would also push us to living the sort of life that reflects the ethical requirements of religion rather than thinking of Islam only in the context of political power, army, resources, etc. If you had, say, twenty units of this kind, probably the sum total of their contribution, both quantitatively and qualitatively, will be greater than one state, or super-state, based on these units. So, it requires basically a re-imagination of the future that is not confined by the dimensions of the past.

And you can start in Iraq because that's where the challenges are very big. Perhaps 90 percent of the problems will go. A new dynamism will emerge. Assuming, of course, that the fear of chaos, always under the surface, does not break out, which is something that has bedeviled history, certainly Islamic history: the tendency toward chaos and disorder if there is no central power on top. But again, one has to rethink these things in modern times. One reason why small units did not become a viable alternative is probably because of this fear, because whenever one unit became more powerful and more forceful and had better military talent at its disposal, it turned itself into an empire. This kind of paradigm can't hold anymore. There is a natural sort of limit to the ambition of small units when they get out of their bounds. One can't just go out and invade the world anymore.

MEQ: In many ways this runs counter to human nature …

Allawi: Persons claiming to be guided by the principles of Islam cannot but go except in this direction. You have to overcome the defense mechanisms that push you into taking this retrograde course. You have to transcend them. Obviously, it's not possible to do this overnight, but you can do that in the context of well articulated policies that take into account all the risks of building these kind of structures, so that at the end, you'll have a constellation of regions and states, and it will work well, including solving the larger problems in the area.

MEQ: I am afraid you'll need a different kind of leadership for this vision.

Allawi: You are right.

MEQ: Is it one of the reasons you are not there?

Allawi: I am actually going there next week. I am now on the margins, but I try to do whatever I can to help develop Iraqi civil society, however imperfect the term is.

[1] "Delaration of the Shia of Iraq," London, July 2002.

[2] New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007.

[3] New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009.

[4] Ali A. Allawi, "The Iraqi Crisis and the Future of the Middle East Order," Nov. 4, 2009.

[5] Ibid.

Iraq: Jihadists Threaten Christians--"Leave Iraq Immediately, Or You Will Be Killed By Us"

From Jihad Watch:

Iraqi jihadists threaten Christians: "Leave Iraq immediately or you will be killed by us"

The jihad against the Christians of Iraq continues apace, yet the world community continues to look the other way. "Iraq: Death threats continue to menace nation's Christians," from AKI, November 26 (thanks to C. Cantoni):

Baghdad Nov. 26 (AKI) - Fresh death threats against Christians residing in Iraq are terrorising families and inciting them to flee, according to reports from 'al-Hayat' newspaper, which cites interviews from Iraqi security officials.

Seven hand written messages for which Al-Qaeda has claimed responsibility were found in various locations throughout the city, Abdullah al-Nawafili, a Christian community leader in the Iraqi capitol, Baghdad confirmed.

"Threats of these types have been coming in over the past few days that push us to leave the country," he said.

The messages were delivered to the Camp Sara neighbourhoods of Baghdad which is home to a predominantly Christian population as well as the districts al-Amin and Baghdad al-Jadid and were written on white paper resembling doctors prescription pads. "Leave Iraq immediately or you will be killed by us," the notes read....

Posted by Robert on November 28, 2010 4:57 AM

Leaked Cables: Turkey Wants "To Take Back Andalusia [Spain] And Avenge The Defeat At The Siege Of Vienna

From Jihad Watch:

Leaked cables: Turkey wants "to take back Andalusia and avenge the defeat at the siege of Vienna in 1683"

Direct confirmation of what we have been saying for years about Erdogan's plans for Turkey. "Diplomatic Cables Reveal US Doubts about Turkey's Government," from Spiegel, November 28 (thanks to Ian):

[...] The leaked diplomatic cables reveal that US diplomats are skeptical about Turkey's dependability as a partner. The leadership in Ankara is depicted as divided and permeated by Islamists.

US diplomats have grave doubts about Turkey's dependability. Secret or confidential cables from the US Embassy in Ankara describe Islamist tendencies in the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. [...]

The Americans are also worried about Davutoglu's alleged neo-Ottoman visions. A high-ranking government adviser warned in discussions, quoted by the US diplomats, that Davutoglu would use his Islamist influence on Erdogan, describing him as "exceptionally dangerous." According to the US document, another adviser to the ruling AKP party remarked, probably ironically, that Turkey wanted "to take back Andalusia and avenge the defeat at the siege of Vienna in 1683."

The US diplomats write that many leading figures in the AKP were members of a Muslim fraternity and that Erdogan had appointed Islamist bankers to influential positions. He gets his information almost exclusively from newspapers with close links to Islamists, they reported. The prime minister, the cables continue, has surrounded himself with an "iron ring of sycophantic (but contemptuous) advisors" and presents himself as the "Tribune of Anatolia."

Posted by Robert on November 28, 2010 6:59 PM

Egyptians Riot, Burn Cars, Claim Vote Fraud

From the AP and Alliance Defense Fund:

Nov 29, 7:36 PM EST

Egyptians riot, burn cars, claiming vote fraud


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ALEXANDRIA, Egypt (AP) -- Protesters set fire to cars, tires and two polling stations, clashing with police firing tear gas in riots that erupted around Egypt on Monday over allegations the ruling party carried out widespread fraud to sweep parliamentary elections.

The country's most powerful opposition movement, the Islamic fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood, acknowledged that its lawmakers may be all but completely swept out of parliament by what it and other called rampant rigging.

That's a significant blow to the group, which held 88 seats - a fifth - of the outgoing parliament, and it is widely believed that it was the government goal to drive out its only real rival's lawmakers. The election showed the Brotherhood's limited options after repeated crackdowns in past years - including the arrest of some 1,400 of its activists in the weeks ahead of the vote.

Brotherhood figures admitted they could do little to stop vote rigging, fearing that protests could make their movement appear violent and bring a harsher crackdown amid uncertain political times.

"We were very restrained and were given instructions from up top to be extremely restrained," said Sobhi Saleh, a Muslim Brotherhood candidate in the Mediterranean coastal city of Alexandria. "We want to show the world that we are not thugs, we will not resort to violence."

Sunday's parliamentary vote was overshadowed by a presidential election set for next year, which is clouded in uncertainty because the man who has ruled Egypt for nearly three decades, 82-year-old President Hosni Mubarak, has had health issues and underwent surgery earlier this year. Many believe Mubarak is positioning his son, Gamal, to succeed him, but there is widespread public opposition to any "inheritance" of power.

Saleh said the Brotherhood was hoping that over the long term the rigging would discredit the ruling National Democratic Party in the public eye and draw people to the movement.

"We have a vision. There is no doubt we will have a new president in the next two years at least. Either Hosni who is ill, or his son - who is disliked," he said. "When I lose seats this time, I will gain sympathy on the street. People know these elections were rigged."

A coalition of local and international rights groups Monday reported that the balloting was marred by widespread rigging after the government prevented monitoring. It said opposition candidate representatives and independent monitors who were supposed to be allowed to watch the voting were barred from almost all polling stations around the country, allowing officials to stuff ballot boxes.

Though official results are not due until Tuesday, candidate supporters around the country took to the streets in anger after hearing word their favorites lost.

In the southern province of Assiut, police fired tear gas at a procession of Muslim Brotherhood supporters armed with sticks who were carrying their candidate Mahmoud Helmi and chanting "Islam is the winner."

But in most other places, it was backers of independent candidates who rioted, or even of ruling party candidates defeated by rivals within the party.

Also in Assiut, supporters of a losing ruling party candidate stormed the ruling party headquarters in Qussia, rampaging and burning the office. Further south in the city of Luxor, protesters set fire to cars and clashed with security forces. Five people were injured and 30 arrested.

Other protests erupted in Egypt's northern Delta region. Around 500 backers of the secular opposition Wafd party clashed with ruling party supporters in Gharbiya, and police fired into the air and shot tear gas to disperse them. Other protesters set fire to two schools used as polling stations in Menoufiya and burned tires outside a station south of the Mediterranean coastal city of Alexandria, briefly blocking the main highway to Cairo.

In a statement, the High Election Commission dismissed reports of violence or irregularities during the voting, saying that the few incidents it uncovered "did not undermine the electoral process as a whole."

The ruling party secretary-general, Safwat el-Sherif, blamed the Brotherhood for fomenting reports of fraud.

"An outlawed group of people is trying to stifle the positive results of the elections by spreading rumors about the whole process," he said, referring to the Brotherhood.

The Brotherhood's media official, Abdel-Galil el-Sharnoubi, acknowledged that when the results are announced, his movement may end up with almost no seats. He said none of its 130 candidates have so far secured a seat, either losing to the National Democratic Party or facing a Dec. 5 runoff. The Brotherhood website said that so far 27 candidates were going into the second round.

"The elections revealed the real intention of the regime to unilaterally take over the Egyptian political arena," el-Sharnoubi said.

Still, the Brotherhood rank-and-file clearly had the message from its leadership not to enflame the street, with the government highly sensitive ahead of next year's presidential vote.

"We are going through a period which we don't know where it takes us," said Mohammed Abdel-Fattah, a 35-year old lawyer and supporter of the Brotherhood in Cairo. "Any move must be calculated according to the political conditions in the country and the group's rules."

The coalition of rights groups estimated turnout Sunday was only 10 to 15 percent, substantially less than the 25 percent turnout in the 2005. While the government has yet to issue official figures, election commission chief al-Sayyed Abdel-Aziz Omar admitted it was "less than the accepted level."

Before the election, Egypt publicly rebuffed U.S. calls for international election monitors, maintaining that its own civil society groups were adequate to the task. The rights coalition, however, said authorities then largely prevented even local groups from watching.

In 2000 and 2005 voting, independent judges watched the polls, but a 2007 constitutional amendment also removed them.

"We are facing violations that we have not seen in the last two elections, when the stuffing of ballot boxes had stopped because judges were in the polling stations," explained Hafez Abu Saada of the Egyptian Organization of Human Rights. "This year we have gone back to the tradition of marking ballots."


AP correspondents Maggie Michael and Paul Schemm in Cairo contributed to this report.

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Russia: Moscow Patriarchate Expects Future Reports Of U.S. Department Of State Will Be More Objective

From interfax and Alliance Defense Fund:

25 November 2010, 16:06

Moscow Patriarchate expects future reports of the USA Department of State will be more objective

*** The Church is ready to held the United States in the question

Moscow, November 25, Interfax - The USA Department of State report on religious freedom in Russia for 2010 lacks objectivity and analytical depth, the Russian Church believes.

"I'd like to wish that in the future the report will have truly equal, friendly attitude to various religious organizations and will avoid selectiveness so that religious situation is reflected more fully," deputy head of the synodal Department for External Church Relations Hegumen Philipp (Ryabykh) said in his interview with Interfax-Religion.

According to him, American reporters need to present different points of view in their document "not only claims of religious minorities to the state or to the religious organizations of the majority, but the opinion of the Russian Church as well".

"We are ready for consultations, for the dialogue on a standing basis. Such a dialogue will help overcome all mentioned defects of the report?" the priest said.

Father Philipp mentioned an essential advantage in the Report 2010: "it gives rather detailed and reliable description of legal norms, state and public measures taken to provide religious freedom and also some events in the country's religious life". Thus, statistic data cited in the report mentions perish of Orthodox priests and damage inflicted to Orthodox churches.

At the same time, Father Philip noted that the report left an impression that democracy and prosperity in the country depend only on the society's ability to provide comfortable conditions for religious minorities or even micro groups of various kinds.

"Freedoms of other part of the society, security, preservation of original national, spiritual and cultural tradition fade at this background. The report considers it least of all," he said.

According to the priest, the situation with religious education is covered "absolutely tendentiously" and information that the Russian Church urged to stop Darwinism in schools is presented in "a negative way".

"It's worth mentioning that in the past the United States gave an opportunity to priests on Freedom Radio to expose scientific dogmas of the Soviet system and Darwinism in particular," the interviewee of the agency said.

The priest calls it "unfortunate" that actions of the government taken to overcome consequences of Soviet times and injustice to religious organizations, and support given to these actions by traditional religions "are presented negatively." It refers to giving religious organizations in ownership or use religious property.

Besides, the report focuses on religious rights of minorities and "blames Orthodox public organizations for their criticism against actions of religious minorities." At the same time, according to Father Philip, it doesn't mention that the latter sometimes have very critical or even aggressive position against the Russian Church, it's enough to analyze speeches of some religious leaders of the country, "but such speeches are not mentioned in the report."

The report is critical about the fact that the Russian Church has more opportunities to reach the society and cooperates with the state, but even "the reporters say that about hundred million Russians call themselves Orthodox." The priest believes it is impossible to cooperate with religious minorities to the same degree as "it will be out of proportions to their presence in the society and infringe rights of the citizens who adhere to the religion of majority."

The report expresses concerns over the growth of the Russian Church political influence and it is presented as violation of religious freedom. It points out to the cooperation with the United Russia party, other political parties and institutes of the country.

"But it makes me wonder why such interaction is evaluated negatively: in the United States political forces actively cooperate with religious organizations, politicians speak at religious meetings and it is a democratic process when the country's major political forces build a dialogue with religious organizations," the Russian Church official stressed.

The Department of State believes that another example of religious freedom violation is the fact that Christmas is a state holiday and the new memorial date - Day of Russia's Baptism was introduced in the calendar and the Day of Slavic Scripture and Culture is widely celebrated. However, it only vaguely mentions that main Islamic feasts are officially celebrated in some Russian regions.

"Such information is not full as for example some Buddhist regions celebrate Buddhist feasts... Besides, such attitude to Christmas is absolutely unclear as this feast as well as some other Christian feasts is a state holiday in the States," the priest said.

Russia: Muscovites Protest Against Construction Of New Orthodox Churches

From Kyiv Post and Alliance Defense Fund:

Facebook Share on Twitter Muscovites are demonstrating against the construction of more than 100 of the 200 new Russian Orthodox churches because such buildings would deprive residents in many cases of public parks.

Muscovites protest against construction of new Orthodox churches

Yesterday at 13:13

Muscovites protest against construction of new Orthodox churches

Paul Goble In the latest version of the NIMBY principle, Muscovites are demonstrating against the construction of more than 100 of the 200 new Russian Orthodox churches the Moscow Patriarchate plans to build with the assistance of the capital’s government because such buildings would deprive residents in many cases of public parks.

Although the objections of Muscovites to the construction of any new mosques have attracted more attention, anger among residents of the Russian capital about the Moscow Patriarchate’s plans to build churches “within walking distance” of every Muscovite has provoked a “not in my back yard” reaction in more parts of the city.

This development is likely to prove doubly important. On the one hand, the powers that be in Moscow by deferring to popular opposition to mosques have encouraged Russians who object to new churches to protest. And on the other, regardless of what the city does regarding churches, officials are likely to face more protests over a variety of other issues as well.

Last Thursday, “Novyye izvestiya” reported that residents in Strogino had launched a protest against the construction of a new Russian Orthodox church on the only hill in a park where their children can go sledding. “We are not against God,” the demonstrators said; “we are for nature”.

Both to mobilize opinion and to show the powers that be that the people are overwhelmingly opposed to the church, residents organized Internet voting about the project on their region’s website, More than 60 percent were opposed, 13 percent were for, and 25 percent said they supported the project as long as it doesn’t harm residents.

Were this a unique case, it might not matter too much. But according to the Moscow Patriarchate’s plan as approved by the city authorities in August, some 200 Orthodox churches are to be built in residential areas in the capital as part of the Church’s efforts to attract more people to the faith.

However, as various Moscow newspapers have suggested, more is at work here than just a desire to spread the Gospel. The Church is very much interested in gaining access to property and to the tax free status such property enjoys if but only if there is a religious facility built and constructed on it, experts say.

At the same time, the financial interests of residents are very much at risk. Anton Paleyev, the chairman of the Moscow city duma committee that oversees relations with religions, noted that an individual who buys an apartment overlooking a park is certain to be upset if instead of a park there is a church and the crowds such a facility might attract.

Because property issues are involved and because most of the decisions involving the Strogino site were made in secret, Moscow newspapers report that the people of that Moscow district both plan to hold more demonstrations and to appeal to prosecutors to investigate what they say are illegalities in the approval process.

Similar activities are being planned in many other Moscow neighborhoods, the Russian media report, raising the intriguing possibility that a new step forward in the formation of civil society in that city will involve activism motivated by religious concerns, the kind of activism that many who track NGOs often ignore.

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia, he can be contacted directly at You can read all his blog entries at

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Iraq: More Than 500 Iraqi Christian Families Flee To Kurdish North

From and Alliance Defense Fund:

More than 500 Iraqi Christian families flee to Kurdish north

By Basel al-Khatib

Azzaman, November 29, 2010

The exodus of Iraqi Christians is continuing and 507 families have landed in the Kurdish north where security conditions are relatively stable.

Many more families have fled directly abroad, mainly to Syria, Jordan and Turkey.

Those fleeing to the Kurdish north are reported to be mostly low income Iraqi Christians whose meager resources will not make it easy for them to make ends meet in a foreign country.

But the Kurdish north, where Kurds have established a semi-independent state in the three provinces of Arbil, Sulaimaniya and Dahouk, is even more expensive than countries such as Syria.

Rents are extremely high and commodity prices dearer than in other parts of Iraq.

The large exodus began after scores of Iraqi Christians were killed in a church in Baghdad as they attended mass on Sunday.

Most of those heading for the Kurdish north land in Arabil, the Kurdish region’s capital.

Despite calls for them to stay, many Iraqi Christian feel they have no future left in the country.

Churches in Baghdad are reported to be almost empty with senior Christian clergymen fearing that Iraq is on its way to lose its Christian minority.

Baghdad was the last remaining city with a sizeable Christian community, but thousands are said to have fled the latest upsurge in anti-Christian violence.

Mosul, the other city with a large Christian minority, is so volatile that one of the city’s archbishops declared recently that the city had become dangerous for Christians to stay.

Mosul was the city of churches, but many of them have been abandoned and some turned into police stations or inhabited by squatters.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Media Matters Lies, Minimizes And Denies About Media Coverage Of Sarah Palin's North Korea Slip

From Big Government:

Media Matters Lies About Media Coverage of Sarah Palin North Korea Slipfrom Big Government by Kristinn Taylor and Andrea Shea KingDemocratic Party front group Media Matters for America has published yet another attack on Republican Sarah Palin. This one a dishonest portrayal of media coverage of her recent slip of the tongue regarding the crisis on the Korean peninsula.

In a Thanksgiving Day message posted Nov. 25th on her Facebook page, Palin opened her post with a tongue in cheek send-up of President Barack Obama in which no fewer than ten of his verbal gaffes and misstatements were included and sourced.

My fellow Americans in all 57 states, the time has changed for come. With our country founded more than 20 centuries ago, we have much to celebrate – from the FBI’s 100 days to the reforms that bring greater inefficiencies to our health care system. We know that countries like Europe are willing to stand with us in our fight to halt the rise of privacy, and Israel is a strong friend of Israel’s. And let’s face it, everybody knows that it makes no sense that you send a kid to the emergency room for a treatable illness like asthma and they end up taking up a hospital bed. It costs, when, if you, they just gave, you gave them treatment early, and they got some treatment, and ah, a breathalyzer, or an inhalator. I mean, not a breathalyzer, ah, I don’t know what the term is in Austrian for that…

The point Palin was making was that though everyone occasionally goofs up — including the President, you might not remember hearing about his, “because for the most part the media didn’t consider them newsworthy,” Palin wrote.

Such is not the case when it comes to Palin who in the course of a radio interview with Glenn Beck, mistakenly referred to South Korea as North Korea, but then quickly corrected herself. Media Matters blogger Oliver Willis, writing at his personal blog, posted the audio clip of Palin’s slip. Willis is one of several liberal bloggers who met recently with President Obama at the White House.

Responding to Palin’s “57 states” comment, Media Matters’ Eric Boehlert wrote “Palin Concocts More Media Sins“. Boehlert uses a search of Nexis to make Media Matters’ disingenuous case that Palin has overblown media coverage of her “We have to stand by our North Korean allies” flub made during the interview with Beck on his radio show last Wednesday.

Boehlert smears Palin, describing her as being nuts in some manner or form, “self-obsessed” and imagining things.

“Fox News’ Sarah Palin is now so consumed with every real or imagined media wrong against her that she’s to the point where she’s attacking the press for stuff they don’t even do.”

Even though Palin’s slip was reported in headlined stories by American and international wire services, as well as major news sites across America and around the globe, Boehlert claims “major American newspaper(s) did not turn the Palin/North Korea gaffe into a “major political headline,” did not treat it as news, and did not even mention it as news when it occurred .” Boehlert changes Palin’s assertion of major political headlines to major newspaper headlines, a sleight of hand that allows Boehlert to use Nexis to list major American news outlets that supposedly did not report on Palin’s slip:

“New York Times; Wall Street Journal; Los Angeles Times; Washington Post; New York Post; Houston Chronicle; Philadelphia Inquirer; Newsday; Denver Post; Arizona Republic; Minneapolis Star Tribune; Dallas Morning News; Cleveland Plain Dealer; Seattle Times; Chicago Sun-Times”

Boehlert also claims broadcast media did not cover Palin’s slip:

“What other news outlets ignored Palin’s verbal gaffe when it occurred? All three major networks–ABC, CBS, and NBC–as well as CNN, Fox News, PBS and NPR.”

However, Boehlert fails to note the story exploded on major news sites on the Web within hours of Palin’s slip.

Boehlert also conveniently fails to note that the faux scandal was initiated by his fellow Media Matters writer Oliver Willis.

A Google News search reveals the following global reporting trying to paint Palin as ignorant for what a transcript of the interview with Beck reveals to be a simple slip of the tongue.

The Associated Press article Palin Draws Fire With North Korea Gaffe was published at 162 news sites according to Google News, including The Washington Post; Newsday; CBS News; The Miami Herald; The Kansas City Star; and The Huffington Post.

Another wire service, AFP, headlined their article, In Gaffe, Palin Supports Our North Korea Allies’. UPI titled their article Palin Silent on North Korea ‘Ally’ Gaffe.

Newsbusters reported that ABC News mentioned Palin’s slip on Good Morning America.

Also contrary to Boehlert’s shoddy propaganda is this Wall Street Journal report titled, Sarah Palin Says US Must ‘Stand With North Korea Allies’ and a Los Angeles Times piece titled, Why Make a Big Deal Out of Sarah Palin’s ‘our North Korean allies’ Gaffe which concluded the media should make a big deal of it.

In addition to carrying the AP article, CBS News did a stand alone article titled, Sarah Palin Mistakenly Calls N. Korea an “Ally” which drew 1075 comments.

Political news sites played up Palin’s slip, including MSNBC; The Hill; Politico; and The Atlantic Wire, which gleefully headlined their article, Quote of the Day: Palin Sticks With ‘North Korean’ Allies.

The story quickly went around the globe. British news outlets reporting Palin’s slip included: The Guardian; the BBC; Sky News; and The Daily Mail.

The Daily Express headlined their article Let’s Back North Korea Says Blundering Sarah Palin.

Palin’s slip was also reported in Korea; China; Hong Kong; Malaysia; India; New Zealand and Australia.

Clearly, the Nexis version of news does not reflect online versions of the media’s dead tree editions. Moreover, the vast majority of people are reading their news online. Boehlert’s sleight of hand claim that Nexis has no record of the story being published in the majors is disingenuous.

If there’s a lesson to be learned from Media Matters ginning up a political hit only to follow it up later with commentary that Sarah Palin is delusional, it’s this: reporters relying on Media Matters for accuracy are setting themselves up to be played for fools.