Monday, February 28, 2011

Monday Iran Talking Points

From Blog:

Feb 14, 2011 8:03 PMMonday Iran Talking Pointsfrom Blog by Eli Cliftonfrom LobeLog: News and Views Relevant to U.S.-Iran relations for February 14th, 2011:

The Washington Post: On her “Right Turn” blog, Jennifer Rubin asks “Will Obama now reverse course on Iran?” “We should re-evaluate the ongoing, useless talks with the Iranian regime on its nuclear weapons program, which have the effect of legitimizing the regime and depressing the opposition,” says Rubin. “Instead, in international bodies and with allies we should pursue a full court press to isolate the Iranian regime and highlight its dismal human rights record.” The neoconservative Foreign Policy Initiative’s Jamie Fly tells Rubin “If the administration is serious about regime change, it is going to have to give up its hopes of a negotiated solution to Iran’s nuclear weapons program.”

Commentary: Abe Greenwald writes about the reports on protests in Tehran and the house arrest of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi. “Given the regional political temperature, the Iranian regime’s historical inclination to absolute security, and the new suspicion that Washington is content to be a witness to atrocity, there could be a perfect paranoid storm brewing in the minds of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Amadinejad.”

The Wall Street Journal: Melik Kaylan opines on Iranian official’s decision to “outlaw Valentines Day” and observes, “The state, for its part, continues to respond with a Whack-a-Mole approach to any social ripple not dreamt of in its philosophy.” He goes on, “[W]ith mosque and state firmly conjoined, there’s no stray detail of daily life so arcane that the scriptures can’t be mobilized to rein it in.”

The Wall Street Journal: The Journal’s editorial board writes, “The hard men of Tehran are now seeking to tap into Egypt’s revolutionary fervor, hailing Hosni Mubarak’s downfall as “a great victory,” but acknowledge that the Iranian government is concerned about the upsurge of pro-Democracy movements in the region… Clearly the mullahs are nervous about contagion,” they conclude.

The World Oil Politics Of The Libyan Revolt

From Informed Comment:

Feb 28, 2011 (23 hours ago)The World Oil Politics of the Libyan Revoltfrom Informed Comment by JuanThe question of what comes after Qaddafi became more complicated on Sunday, as rival claims to forming a provisional liberated government emerged. Former Justice Minister Mustafa Abdel-Jalil had announced on Saturday from Benghazi that he would head an interim government. But on Sunday human rights attorney Abdel-Hafidh Ghoga said from Benghazi that an interim government was being formed for all of liberated eastern Libya, and disputed Abdel Jalil’s claim of leadership. The new council will form a paramilitary to take further territory away from Qaddafi’s forces, Ghoga said.

Some 80% Libya’s developed petroleum fields are in rebel-held territory, and the Benghazi leadership is making plans to pump the oil and receive the proceeds. If the standoff with Qaddafi goes on very long, the oil politics could prove decisive. With Qaddafi’s own foreign funds increasingly frozen, and 3/4s of the country’s oil facilities idled (it ordinarily exports 1.7 million barrels a day), his cash on hand to pay mercenaries and bribe clients will rapidly decline, whereas the Benghazi rebels may reap a windfall. Reports about the situation at the oil fields are chaotic and contradictory, but it seems clear that some oil workers are pumping the oil themselves as expatriate companies flee, and it is possible that the Benghazi leadership could export by tanker truck despite the closing of the Italian pipeline.

The oil politics could also provoke NATO or other intervention. Although Saudi Arabia is pumping extra petroleum (500,000 barrels a day), it is probably not actually replacing what has been lost from Libyan production. Brent crude hit $114 a barrel on Sunday. The world is skating on the edge of petroleum prices so high that they could push the global economy back into recession. Will NATO governments really risk taking a bath in their next elections because they declined to implement a no-fly zone over Libya and bring a quick end to what is for them not only a humanitarian crisis abroad but also a potential oil crisis at home?

CBS Money Watch has a report:

The Effect of Libya and Gas Prices on the Recovery

More production may be lost, as unrest spreads in the Middle East. Iraq’s massive protests this weekend were followed by an attack on the refinery at Baiji, which closed it. The plant has a capacity of between 150,000 and 300,000 barrels a day (you see varying estimates). The spread of the protests to Oman, moreover, raised ominous questions about how much production may be lost. Not only have petroleum workers in the port of Sohar demonstrated, with 2 protesters killed, but they targeted the road used by tanker trucks. (They so far haven’t had an impact on pipeline exports, the bulk of them.) Workers in the Gulf unhappy with their lives, unlike Wisconsin school teachers, can fairly easily disrupt the economy if they choose.

Oman pumped some 860,000 barrels a day in 2010 and exported about 750,000 of it. If most Libyan production goes off line and Oman is similarly crippled, that would be a loss of about 2.5 million barrels a day– nearly 3% of the 85 million a day the world typically consumes, which is probably all the Saudis could cover even if they were willing and able to ramp up production that much for an unknown period of time. (Some critics question whether the Saudis can really pump that much extra petroleum for very long without putting strains on their equipment and infrastructure). Although a loss of 3% of export capacity may not seem very much, actually in a market where supply was just barely meeting demand, the loss could cause prices to skyrocket (especially because of the atmosphere of uncertainty the losses could provoke). The big kahuna would be disruptive protests in Saudi Arabia itself, which would certainly cause a global economic crisis.

Quite apart from production, a lot of petroleum refining is done in the Middle East, and were the world’s refining capacity to be reduced that might be more significant for supplies and prices than merely taking crude off the market temporarily. Oman, for instance, refines 200,000 barrels a day. Refineries take years to build and billions in investments. Raw petroleum is useless– it has to be turned into gasoline/ petrol, kerosene, etc., to drive vehicles– its main use. Increasing refining capacity is not nearly as easy to do in the short term as just pumping more crude.

So back to Libya. In newly liberated Zawiyah, half an hour drive west of the capital of Tripoli, rebels displayed their heavy weaponry– including tanks and artillery– to Western reporters and underscored their intent to take on Qaddafi’s forces. The Zawiyah liberation movement appears to be coordinating with Benghazi, now the epicenter of revolutionary politics. The city is significant because it is the site of Libya’s largest refinery.

Aljazeera English has video of Zawiya:

The dispute between Abdel Jalil and the Benghazi liberation council may signal more trouble ahead. Given that the former Tunisian prime minister, Mohamed Ghannouchi, has just been forced to resign because he served in the old, overthrown government, Abdel Jalil’s move was probably inadvisable. Even though Abdel Jalil was the first cabinet minister to resign in disgust at Qaddafi’s brutal use of force, and even though he offers some continuity at a time of upheaval, having a Qaddafi cabinet minister, especially one who had oversee Libya’s corrupt and oppressive ‘justice’ system, try to run the country now would be a recipe for further protests and upheavals. The rebels are talking about parliamentary elections within three months, which is, frankly, probably unrealistic. The pledge underlines the need for the United Nations to get officials into Benghazi to consult with the revolutionary notables about how to go forward, since the UNO has a lot of experience in these matters, which, to say the least, the leading lights of Benghazi do not.

More Deaths In Iraqi Kurdistan And Continued Silence From Obama

From AEI:

ARTICLES & COMMENTARY More Deaths in Iraqi Kurdistan By Michael Rubin


Friday, February 25, 2011

Protests have escalated not only in Libya but also in Iraqi Kurdistan, having entered their eighth day, with deaths reported in Kalar and Chamchamal. The protests started when an official from regional leader Masud Barzani's Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) fired into a crowd in Sulaimani, killing a 14-year-old boy. Fadhil Mirani, the man who the independent news agency Lvin said ordered the shooting, is a Kurd who reportedly has either permanent residence in the United States or citizenship; a prominent American general several years ago reportedly endorsed his application as a personal favor.

Kurdish youth are protesting the regional leadership's corruption and nepotism. While the Kurdish government has promised yet again to take action against corruption, the parliament has instead only passed laws to restrict the media and demonstrations. This creates an untenable situation as Barzani cracks down on illegal demonstrations but refuses permission for legal protests. Religious figures in Sulaimani today issued a fatwa declaring the illegality of police forces' firing on demonstrators.

While international attention remains on Libya, the fires in Iraqi Kurdistan will not soon ebb for two reasons: First, the Kurdish government has repeatedly promised but failed to investigate outrages. There has been no resolution to the investigation of the 2005 murder of an opposition candidate by a KDP mob, nor has there been any punishment for the kidnap and murder of a journalist by the security force run by Masrour Barzani, Masud's son. Second, with deaths in at least four cities so far, people demand revenge.

Once again, as in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya, the Obama administration's silence has consequences. If the White House will not stand up for the most pro-American people in the Islamic world, then Kurds might rightly ask if they would not be better off looking elsewhere for support, to Iran for example.

Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at AEI.

Qaddafi's Son Incites Massacre Of Protestors

From Informed Comment:

1:09 AM (3 minutes ago)Qaddafi Son Incites Massacre of Protestersfrom Informed Comment by JuanSaif al-Islam Qaddafi, son of the besieged dictator, has been caught on a smart phone video whipping up a crowd of ‘police’ and other supporters last Saturday to massacre protesters (he asks them ‘do you need guns?’ They shout, ‘yes.’)

Saif al-Islam Qaddafi had earlier given interviews in which he told Western reporters that there is nothing going on in Libya, everything is calm, everyone loves his father, and it is the media whipping up people and causing a potential civil war. Then later he accused the protesters of being al-Qaeda and terrorists. When Saif addressed the nation on t.v., his address was projected on a wall in Benghazi and people threw mounds of shoes at the image all the time he was speaking.

Another indication of the murderous and duplicitous character of the Qaddafi regime was that it sent a fighter jet to bomb a rebel-held air base at Ajdabiya, though the Tripoli government immediately deniedit . The BBC reporter in Libya, however, reports that the plane behaved suspiciously and did not in the end seem to bomb anything of value. This incident may be another indication that Qaddafi cannot actually depend on his officer corps, many of whom are probably looking for the first opportunity to defect.

Muammar Qaddafi even said there were no protests in the streets of his country, drawing a charge from US envoy to the UN Susan Rice that the old dictator is ‘delusional.’

British Prime Minister David Cameron’s hopes of convincing his allies to establish a no-fly zone over Libya to prevent bombings like the one on Monday are running into resistance from other NATO members, many of whom already feel militarily stretched in Afghanistan and who appear to feel that a no-fly zone might draw them into use of land troops, which most don’t have to spare (not to mention the expense, at a time when Western budgets are broken). Analysts concur that any such operation would be complex.

Aljazeera English has a video report on the state of play in Libya on Monday:

Iran's Top Opposition Leaders Secretly Jailed, West Fails To Act Again

From Middle East Affairs Information Center:

Iran’s Top Opposition Leaders Secretly Jailed, West Fails to Act Again

Posted on Mon, February 28, 2011 at 17:33 pm, in Democracy, Human Rights, Iran, Iranian Protests, Islamofascism, Shi'ism, United States of America .
Mon, Feb 28, 2011

Pro-reform Cleric Mehdi Karoubi (L) together with Green Movement Opposition leader Mir-Hossein Mousavi (R). (

Iran’s Top Opposition Leaders Secretly Jailed, West Fails to Act Again

The White House on Monday, Feb. 28, said the U.S. “strongly condemns the Iranian government’s organized intimidation campaign…” After a human-rights group reported that two opposition figures had been moved from where they were detained under house arrest to an unknown location, the White House accused the Iranian government in general terms of, “blatant violation of the universal rights of its citizens…” as well as “blocking Internet sites and jamming satellite transmissions.”

The disappearance of Iran’s two most prominent opposition figures, Mir-Hossein Moussavi and Mehdi Karroubi, was not mentioned in the White House statement.

Debkafile’s Iranian sources reveal here that both have been secretly jailed at the infamous Parchin prison.

Thursday night, Feb. 24, they were taken from their Tehran homes, beaten, concealed in large sacks and carried in armored police vehicles to one of Iran’s hellhole prisons. Inmates of Parchin are rarely seen again. Their wives have also disappeared to “an unknown location.”

They were seized so suddenly that their fellow activists thought they were still at home under protracted house arrest. They soon discovered that the Moussavi and Karroubi residences were dark and deserted and their families nowhere to be seen. The guards were also gone.

The dreaded “top security” Parchin prison is reserved for the regime’s boldest political and ideological dissidents, as well spies accused of threatening Iranian state security and foreign captives of the regime. According to reliable intelligence sources, the Israeli navigator captured in Lebanon 25 years ago and abducted to Iran was held at Parchin prison and never seen again. So too was the American Robert Levinson, who was arrested four years ago on a trip to Kish Island, although the Iranians deny they know what happened to him.

Situated almost next door to Iran’s most secret nuclear laboratories, the prison’s vicinity is one of the most heavily guarded sections of Tehran.

Before the arrests, large numbers of security and special forces agents cordoned off entire blocks and placed guards armed with anti-riot gear along the streets through which the opposition leaders were driven to the prison. Their wives were taken with them but their whereabouts have not been established.

Our sources have learned that when they were unloaded in the prison forecourt, the two men could not stand unaided and their faces were streaked with blood.

Our sources report Moussavi and Karroubi must have been seriously weakened by enforced hunger while still at home. They and their wives were not allowed to shop for food and obliged to eat food supplied by their guards. They refused for fear of poison. Their children and other relatives sent many letters to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei expressing deep concern about their state of health and complaining that they were barred from visiting them, but were never answered.

March 1 is Mousavi’s 69th birthday and the two leaders’ followers are preparing to launch broad demonstrations in Tehran and other cities to protest the cruel mistreatment they are suffering at the Islamic regime’s hands. The authorities plan to crack down on their protest with their habitual harshness, encouraged – the Iranian opposition movement is convinced – by the Obama administration’s failure to take action strong enough to save their leaders.

Its activists were asking this week how come Western leaders are so ready to push for Muammar Qaddafi’s ouster and offer the Libyan opposition every assistance, when Ayatollah Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad rate no more than a slap on the wrist for the savage repression they mete out at the slightest expression of dissent. They point to the orchestrated demands coming from regime extremists in the last ten days for the two opposition leaders to be hanged, including a collective call from 200 deputies of the Iranian parliament.


Portrait Of Sheikh Dr. Yusuf Abdallah Al-Qaradawi: A "Moderate" Islamist?

From Middle East Affairs Information Center:

Portrait of Sheikh Dr. Yusuf Abdallah al-Qaradawi: A “Moderate” Islamist?

Posted on Mon, February 28, 2011 at 23:29 pm, in Anti-Israel, Anti-Semitism, Egypt, Global Jihad, Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, Islamism, Jew-Hatred, Muslim Brotherhood, Sunni Islam .
Sun, Feb 27, 2011
The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center

Sheikh Dr. Yusuf Abdallah al-Qaradawi, senior Sunni Muslim cleric, affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Portrait of Sheikh Dr. Yusuf Abdallah al-Qaradawi: A “Moderate” Islamist?


Sheikh Dr. Yusuf Abdallah al-Qaradawi is a central figure affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. He was expelled from Egypt and found refuge in Qatar, and operates from there throughout the Muslim world.

After President Hosni Mubarak was ousted al-Qaradawi returned to Egypt and delivered the Friday sermon at a mass rally held in Al-Tahrir Square in Cairo. Many consider him the supreme religious and ideological authority for the Muslim Brotherhood, although he is not officially its leader (in the past refused to accept the title of the Muslim Brotherhood’s General Guide). He is influential in Egypt and considered one of the most important Sunni Muslim clerics of our generation and a spiritual authority for millions of Muslims around the world, including the Hamas movement.

Al-Qaradawi’s popularity among the Sunnis has grown because of the massive use he makes of electronic media, mainly television and the Internet. One of his most important tools is the Al-Jazeera TV channel, which broadcasts his popular program “Life and Islamic Law,” (Al-Shariaa wa Al-Haya) viewed by tens of millions of Muslims.

Al-Qaradawi has often exploited the program for blatant anti-Semitic propaganda and incitement (see below). He was also one of the founders of the IslamOnline website in 1997, which often quotes him.

Al-Qaradawi refers to his religious views as “moderate Islam,” which seeks to balance intellect and emotion. He has positive attitudes toward reforms in Islam, which he calls “correcting perceptions which were corrupted.” He is considered one of the foremost propounders of the doctrine of the “the law of the Muslim minorities,” which provides the Muslim minorities around the globe with space in which to maneuver and compromise between their daily lives and Islamic law. The aim of implementing his doctrine is to unite and unify Muslim minorities to make it possible for them to live under non-Muslim regimes, until the final stage of spreading Islam to the entire world.

At the same time, building a bridge between the exigencies of Muslim emigrants’ daily lives and Islamic religious law also includes regarding taking over Europe as Islam’s next target. In 2003 al-Qaradawi issued a fatwa declaring that “Islam will return to Europe as a victorious conqueror after having been expelled twice. This time it will not be conquest by the sword, but by preaching and spreading [Islamic] ideology…The future belongs to Islam…The spread of Islam until it conquers the entire world and includes the both East and West marks the beginning of the return of the Islamic Caliphate…”

Although al-Qaradawi opposes Al-Qaeda and its methods, he enthusiastically supports Palestinian terrorism, including suicide bombing attacks targeting the civilian Israeli population. In the past he also supported “resistance” (i.e., terrorism) to the occupation of Iraq, including, by implication – although he denied it – abducting and murdering American civilians in Iraq. He issued fatwas calling for jihad against Israel and the Jews, and authorizing suicide bombing attacks even if the victims were women and children. He regards all of “Palestine” as Muslim territory (according to Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas ideology), strongly opposes the existence of the State of Israel and rejects the peace treaties signed with it, and opposes the Palestinian Authority (and in the past called for the stoning of Mahmoud Abbas).

Al-Qaradawi and the recent events in Egypt

In response to the dramatic events in Egypt, al-Qaradawi (whose statements are widely reported in Egypt) expressed his support for the demonstrators. He called on the Egyptian people to fight the despots and forbade the security forces to shoot civilians. The IslamOnline website has recently posted a chapter of his book [Islamic] Law and Jihad, according to which jihad against corruption and a tyrannical regime is the most exalted form of jihad, even more important than jihad against external enemies.

Al-Qaradawi was expelled from Egypt in 1997 because of his affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood, which was outlawed in Egypt. After Hosni Mubarak was ousted, on Friday, February 18, 2011, al-Qaradawi appeared at a rally attended by more than a million people in Cairo’s Al-Tahrir Square and delivered the sermon. He expressed his esteem for the young people of Egypt who had revolted against the “despotic Pharaoh” Mubarak. He sent a message of interfaith unity between Muslims and Christians, who had stood and demonstrated side by side. He praised the Egyptian army which had “adhered to freedom and democracy” and called for the immediate release of all political prisoners and for the rapid formation of a civilian government. He ended the sermon with a call for the liberation of Al-Aqsa mosque and asked the Egyptian army to open the Rafah crossing and allow aid convoys to enter the Gaza Strip (Al-Jazeera TV, February 18, 2011). A few days later, apparently on February 21, he returned to Qatar.

The Muslim Brotherhood, which until al-Qaradawi’s arrival was careful to keep a low profile, was quick to declare that it was not behind the invitation that brought him to Egypt, apparently to prevent tensions with the other protest movements. Dr. Muhammad Sa’ad al-Katatni, Muslim Brotherhood spokesman, said that the Muslim Brotherhood had not invited Dr. Al-Qaradawi to Egypt, but rather that the invitation had come from “the youth in [Al-Tahrir] Square” (Al-Sharq al-Awsat, February 19, 2011). Spokesmen for other protest movements tried to diminish the importance of al-Qaradawi’s appearance (ibid).

Al-Qaradawi’s appearance at the rally in Cairo was a tribute to the great popularity he enjoys in Egypt and reflects a new stage in the Muslim Brotherhood’s public involvement in the events in Egypt. However, the statement made by the Muslim Brotherhood spokesman may indicate a potential rivalry and/or dissention between the Muslim Brotherhood leadership in Egypt and al-Qaradawi, who entered the leadership vacuum which has plagued the Muslim Brotherhood in recent years.

Al-Qaradawi’s biography

Al-Qaradawi was born in a small Nile delta village in 1926. His father died when he was two and he grew up in his uncle’s house, in a religious environment. When he was four he was sent to a religious school. According to stories, when he was nine he knew the Qur’an by heart. As a youth he studied at a religious school in Tanta where he delved into the writings of Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, whom al-Qaradawi said shaped his political and religious thinking.

When he was 18 he became a student in the religion department of Al-Azhar University in Cairo. He graduated in 1953. The following year he passed the exam to receive a teaching license. In 1958 he received a Master’s degree in Arab language and literature and in 1973 received a Doctorate. So far he has written more than 50 books about various aspects of Islamic jurisprudence. During his studies at Al-Azhar he was exposed to the Muslim Brotherhood ideology and devoted himself to political Islamic activity and to preaching against the British presence in Egypt. His preaching against Nasser’s regime led to his being arrested several times.

His Islamic political activity and sharp tongue caused him to be dismissed from Al-Azhar University in 1961 and assigned to head its branch in Qatar. However, sent to Qatar and released from the pressures of the Egyptian regime, enabled him to become prominent as an independent cleric. He has lived in Qatar since 1961, where he headed an high religious school. In 1977 he founded the Department of Islamic Law Studies in the University of Qatar and headed it until 1990. He also founded an institute for Sunnah study.

To this day, the institutions he founded are important centers for his activity in the Arab-Muslim world and among Muslim communities in the West. He was granted Qatari citizenship in honor of the services he performed for the country. He has received a number of awards and decorations, among them the King Feisal of Saudi Arabia Award, the Islamic University of Malaysia Award and the Sultan of Burundi Award.

After the Muslim Brotherhood was outlawed, al-Qaradawi was a wanted man and could not return to Egypt. Until now he has lived in Qatar, where he has held a number of posts, both in and outside the country. They included head of the Qatar University’s institute for the study of the history of the prophet Muhammad; chairman of the association of Muslim scholars; head of the European Council for Fatwa and Research (ECFR – an Islamic-European umbrella organization for the rapprochement between Muslim communities throughout Europe and for building bridges between the various Islamic schools so that they can integrate life in democratic Christian Europe with Muslim law). In July 2007 he launched a forum for moderate Islam named after himself and funded by the Shari’a’ department of the University of Qatar and the moderate Islamic Center in Kuwait.

Although al-Qaradawi began as a Muslim Brotherhood activist he later denied membership in it and several times even refused to head the movement in Egypt (i.e., to accept the title of General Guide). However, he has a special status among members of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, its Palestinian branch, and the Islamic movement in Israel, for all of whom he is the supreme authority on Islamic law.

Ideology, political activity and publications

Al-Qaradawi refers to his religious views as “moderate Islam,” which seeks to balance intellect and emotion. He has positive attitudes toward reforms in Islam, which he calls “correcting perceptions which were corrupted.” He is considered one of the foremost propounders of the doctrine of the “the law of the Muslim minorities,” which provides the Muslim minorities around the globe with space in which to maneuver and compromise between their daily lives and Islamic law. The aim of implementing his doctrine is to unite and unify Muslim minorities to make it possible for them to live under non-Muslim regimes, until the final stage of spreading Islam to the entire world.

At the same time, building a bridge between the exigencies of Muslim emigrants’ daily lives and Islamic religious law also includes regarding Europe as Islam’s next target. In 2003 al-Qaradawi issued a fatwa declaring that “Islam will return to Europe as a victorious conqueror after having been expelled twice. This time it will not be conquest by the sword, but by preaching and spreading [Islamic] ideology…The future belongs to Islam…The spread of Islam until it conquers the entire world and includes the both East and West marks the beginning of the return of the Islamic Caliphate…”

Conservative Muslims object to what they consider al-Qaradawi’s excessive flexibility and have occasionally attacked his fatwas as “too permissive.” However, despite the criticism he is greatly respected and esteemed in the Muslim world and most Muslim clerics respect his fatwas. Many people today consider him the heir of Sayyid Qutb (Muslim Brotherhood theoretician and senior activist in Egypt) and as the movement’s highest religious and ideological authority, even if he did reject offers to officially head it.

Al-Qaradawi has issued a great many fatwas and written a large number of books, the most important of which is The Lawful and Prohibited in Islam. It was translated into many languages and has sold millions of copies. Today it is considered the best selling Muslim book after the Qur’an.

Al-Qaradawi’s attitude towards suicide bombing attacks and support for Hamas

All of al-Qaradawi’s opinions regarding Israel are extreme and he is a source of supreme religious authority for Hamas. He is an enthusiastic supporter of Palestinian terrorism, including when it is directed against civilians, claiming that it is a legitimate expression of the so-called “resistance” and that is Israel is a militaristic society where every civilian is a potential soldier. He issued fatwas calling for jihad against Israel and the Jews and authorizing suicide bombing attacks, even when they entailed killing women and children. He also issued fatwas authorizing attacks on Jews around the world because in his view there is no essential difference between Judaism and Zionism, and therefore every Jewish target equals an Israeli target.

His status as a leading Sunni Muslim cleric gives added importance to his fatwas supporting Palestinian terrorism and make him particularly influential in shaping anti-Israeli sentiments in the Arab-Muslim world.

In July 2003, during the height of the suicide bombing terrorism (the second intifada), he addressed the issue of suicide bombing attack at an ECFR conference. He said that istishhad (death as a martyr for the sake of Allah),[1] carried out by the Palestinian organizations to opposed the so-called “Zionist occupation” were by no means to be defined as terrorism (Al-Sharq al-Awsat, July 19, 2003). On other occasions he also supported suicide bombing attacks, including on the BBC (February 8, 2010) and Al-Jazeera TV (January 28, 2009).[2]

Senior Hamas figures relied on al-Qaradawi’s fatwas which authorize suicide bombing attacks against Israel to justify that sort of (debatable) attack. For example:

1) Sheikh Hamid al-Bitawi, senior Hamas activist in Judea and Samaria, relying on an al-Qaradawi fatwa, said that according to Islamic jurisprudence, “jihad is a collective duty…” and that if infidels occupy any bit of Muslim land – such as the occupation of Palestine by the Jews, jihad becomes the duty of every individual, thus making it permissible to carry out suicide bombing attacks.[3]

2) Dr. Abd al-Aziz al-Rantisi, a senior Hamas leader who died in a targeted killing, relying on a fatwa issued by al-Qaradawi, said that “suicide depends on intention. If the person intends to kill himself because he is fed up with life, that is suicide (which is prohibited). However, if he wants to die to strike at the enemy and to receive a reward from Allah, he is considered as delivering up his soul [and not as committing suicide].”[4]

To help fund Hamas’ civilian infrastructure (the da’wah) al-Qaradawi established the Union of Good, which he heads today. It is an umbrella organization which raises money for Hamas and other Islamist activities around the globe. The Union of Good was declared a terrorism-sponsoring organization and outlawed by Israel in February 2002. In December 2002 it was designated as a terrorist organization by the United States and outlawed.

Al-Qaradawi is hostile to the Palestinian Authority. At the beginning of 2010 he criticized Mahmoud Abbas for his vote regarding the Goldstone Report, and issued a fatwa calling for Mahmoud Abbas to be stoned in Mecca. Mahmoud Abbas demanded a retraction from al-Qaradawi, who denied having issued the fatwa. However, he did admit that during a sermon he said that if accusations against any person in the Palestinian Authority were proved true [i.e., that he had supported the cancellation of the vote on the Goldstone Report], that person should be stoned in Mecca as punishment for treason (IslamOnline, January 7, 2010). In response Mahmoud al-Habash, Palestinian Authority minister of religion and endowments, said that his ministry had ordered all the preachers in the mosques in the Palestinian Authority to attack al-Qaradawi personally (Al-Quds Al-Arabi, January 18, 2010)

Anti-Semitic remarks

Al-Qaradawi has often made anti-Semitic remarks. For example, his “Life and Islamic Law” program broadcast on March 15, 2009, discussed the topic of righteous Muslims in Islam. One of the viewers called in and asked about the role of the righteous (al-salkhoun) in the Qur’an in the liberation of the [Islamic] holy places and the victory of the [Muslim] nation.

Al-Qaradawi used the opportunity to attack the Jews, basing his answer on a known hadith [oral tradition] calling for the murder of Jews. On the program he said that righteous Muslims were “the salt of the earth” who were always instrumental in liberating lands. He called them a source of hope and that he hoped that through them Jerusalem would be “liberated,” as would “Palestine,” the Gaza Strip, and all the lands ruled by the enemies of the Muslims. He said that the war against the Jews was not only the war of the Palestinians but of all Muslims. Al-Qaradawi based his answer on a well-known hadith about the war on Judgment Day between Muslims and Jews. He said that the prophet Muhammad said that “…therefore you will continue to fight the Jews and they will fight you until the Muslims kill them. The Jew hides behind rock and tree. The rock and the tree say, oh, slave of Allah, oh, Muslim, here is the Jew behind me, come and kill him.”[5] He interpreted that to mean that those who fight to “liberate” the holy places are the Muslim slaves of Allah, and not Jordanians or Palestinians or Egyptians or Iraqis.

Al-Qaradawi’s position on Al-Qaeda and the global jihad

Al-Qaradawi denounced the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and said it was the duty of every Muslim to help bring the perpetrators to trial. As opposed to his opposition to Al-Qaeda, he called for attacks on Americans fighting in Iraq.

In August 2004 the “Pluralism in Islam” conference was held by the Egypt’s journalists’ union in Cairo. At the conference al-Qaradawi issued a fatwa allowing the abduction and murder of American civilians in Iraq to exert pressure on the American army to remove its forces. He emphasized that “all the Americans in Iraq are fighters, there is no difference between civilians and soldiers, and they have to be fought against because the American civilians come to Iraq to serve the occupation. Abducting and killing them is a [religious] duty to make [the Americans] leave [Iraq] immediately. [On the other hand] abusing their corpses is forbidden by Islam” (Al-Sharq al-Awsat, London, September 2, 2004).

Al-Qaradawi issued the fatwa a week after public figures from various Muslim countries published an open letter calling for support for the forces fighting the coalition in Iraq. It was signed by 93 Islamic clerics and public figures, including al-Qaradawi and figures from the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah (Al-Quds Al-Arabi, London, August 23, 2004).

In view of the storm caused by the fatwa permitting the abduction and murder of American civilians in Iraq, ten days later al-Qaradawi sent a fax to the London-based daily Arabic newspaper Al-Hayat denying “what the media said he said.” He said that “some of the media claimed I issued a fatwa saying it was a duty to kill American civilians in Iraq. That has no basis. I never issued a fatwa on the issue. A few days ago I was asked by Egypt’s journalists’ union about permission to struggle against the occupation in Iraq and I answered in the affirmative. After that I was asked about American civilians in Iraq and I answered only with a question: Are there American civilians in Iran? It is well known that I do not use the word ‘kill’ in a fatwa but rather ‘struggle,’ which is broader and does not necessarily refer to killing. In addition, in the past on a number of times I denounced abducting hostages and demanded they be released without threatening to kill them” (Al-Hayat, London, September 9, 2004).

Before the denial was issued, Azzam Halima, al-Qaradawi’s office manager, confirmed that al-Qaradawi had issued a fatwa stating that it was a duty to fight the American civilians in Iraq because they were invaders (Al-Quds Al-Arabi, London, September 23, 2004).

Al-Qaradawi and Iran

Al-Qaradawi strenuously opposes the attempts to disseminate Shi’ite Islam and is critical of Iran’s attempts to spread it to Sunni countries. He has also criticized Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah on a number of occasions.

The call for Muslims to acquire nuclear weapons

In the past al-Qaradawi has said that Muslims should acquire nuclear weapons “to terrify their enemies.” However, he has said that nuclear weapons should not be used.[6]

Al-Qaradawi’s position on the recent events in Tunisia and Libya

Regarding the recent events in Tunisia, al-Qaradawi said that the struggle should be continued until all the members of Ben Ali’s party be removed from their positions, with the exception of the interim president, who should, he said, remain in power to prevent the creation of a constitutional vacuum. He called on Tunisia to release its political prisoners, being back political exiles and restore the Islamic customs which were forbidden by the secular regime of the ousted president, such as wearing the veil (hijab) on university campuses.

Regarding the recent events in Libya, al-Qaradawi called on Muammar Gaddafi to relinquish power and to learn the lessons of Egypt and Tunisia. He said that a revolt against Gaddafi was an Islamic religious duty, called on the members of the tribes in Libya to rise up against Gaddafi and join the ranks of the demonstrators. He called on the Libya army “to behave like their brothers in Egypt, to stand alongside the people to restore to Libya its Arab Islamic character.” He said that those who had died during the violent events in Libya were shaheeds in paradise and supported the jihad fighters rising up against the Libyan regime (Egyptian TV, telephone conversation with al-Qaradawi broadcast in a special program, February 20, 2011).



[1] The suicide bomber is called istishhadi, the one who deliberately sacrifices himself for the sake of Allah.

[2] According to MEMRI, February 8, 2010.

[3] Al-Hayat, February 25, 2001.

[4] Al-Hayat, February 25, 2001.

[5] According to the original hadith, every tree and rock will give up the hiding places of the Jews except the nitraria, (a thorny bush which grows in desert regions). In other versions, such as that quoted by al-Qaradawi, the words of Muhammad are not related to Judgment Day but used rather in their current political contexts and as a general commandment to Muslims to kill Jews, with no mention of the bush that protects them

[6] Qatari TV, October 18, 2002, according to MEMRI.


Monday Iran Talking Points

From Blog:

4:54 PM (7 hours ago)Monday Iran Talking Pointsfrom Blog by Eli Cliftonfrom LobeLog: News and Views Relevant to U.S.-Iran relations for February 28th, 2011:

The Washington Post: Jennifer Rubin blogs that White House Middle East Adviser (and Middle East Quarterly board member) Dennis Ross’s appearance at the J Street conference today “was an odd assignment, given that J Street, in concert with the pro-Iranian-regime NIAC had conspired to try to prevent his appointment.” She observes, “The applause greeting him was slight, almost imperceptible.” (I attended Ross’s speech and remember Ross receiving a polite reception from the crowd.) She adds, “on Iran’s nuclear program, he gave the Obama-approved squishy line, saying we are determined to try to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons.”

RealClearPolitics: Hawkish senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) on RealClearPolitics’s State of the Union blog. “The president should reverse the terrible decision he made in 2009 to not support the demonstrators in Tehran,” said McCain, in response to a question about the Obama administration holding off criticism of Libya out of concern that Americans there might be taken hostage. “Stand up for democracy in Iran and tell those people that we are with them,” he continued, “And that should be true not only throughout the Arab countries but as far as China and other parts of the world as well.”

Israelis In No Mood For Massive Protests And That Includes Israeli Arabs

From The American Thinker:

February 28, 2011

Israelis in no mood for massive protests and that includes Israeli Arabs

Leo Rennert

Take a look at the news coverage of mass protests throughout the Arab world and you will see regional maps pointing to turmoil from Tunisia to Bahrain. Except in a tiny, barely visible country wedged between Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt -- Israel.

And that points up a major oversight in daily reports from the Middle East -- that virtually alone, Israel is an island of tranquility in a sea of rising and spreading turbulence. How come?

For some answers, here's a monthly poll, known as the Peace Index, that takes the political temperature of Israel -- Israeli Jews, Israeli Arabs -- on a range of current hot-button topics, first and foremost a February gauge that measures Israeli expectations of how they're apt to fare in a radically changed Middle East.

No surprise that on some issues, Jews and Arabs in Israel party company. For example, 70 percent of the country's Jews have low expectations that Egypt will emerge as a full-fledged democracy. In marked contrast, 74 percent of Israel's Arabs expect Egypt will embrace democracy.

But when Israelis are asked what the chances are of major protest blow-up in Israel, both Jews and Arabs are of similar mind that they're not about to bet the ranch on any such conceivable scenario.

Among Israel's Jews, 90 percent have low expectations of an Egypt-style uprising. Ditto a big majority of Israel's Arabs -- with 67 percent highly dubious about hitting the streets with massive anti-government demonstrations a la what's happened in next-door Egypt.

One would expect Israeli Jews to dismiss any such anti-government protests. But why are Israel's Arabs in big percentages equally dismissive of any such uprising? Aren't they usually depicted by our media as alienated victims of discrimination?

Here are the reasons, according to the latest Peace Index poll:

--47 percent of Israeli Arabs -- nearly one out of every two -- say there's no need to emulate fellow Arab demonstrators elsewhere because Israel already is a democracy.

--14 percent are skeptical that any new Israeli government would make a big difference.

--10 percent are apathetic.

--and 9 percent of Israeli Arabs see no point in staging massive protests because they view the situation in Israel as quite good.

Bottom line: 56 percent of Israeli Arabs shrug off massive protests because they already live in a full-fledged democracy or they're generally satisfied with their lives as Israeli citizens.

Now, what are the odds of our mainstream media, led by the New York Times and the Washington Post, reporting these findings?

(The poll was conducted by telephone Feb. 21-22 by the Dahef Institute on behalf the Evans Program for Conflict Resolution at Tel Aviv University and the Israeli Democracy Institute. It has a possible error margin of 4.5 percent)

Posted at 08:00 PM

Egypt's Revolution And Israeli Interests: A Strategic Assessment

From Middle East Affairs Information Center;

Egypt’s Revolution and Israeli Interests: A Strategic Assessment

Posted on Tue, March 1, 2011 at 1:24 am, in Arab-Israeli Conflict, Democracy, Egypt, Egyptian Revolution, Israel, The Middle East . Mon, Feb 28, 2011
The Rubin Report
By Barry Rubin

Tel Aviv, Israel: Solidarity protest with Egypt's Revolution. (Source: - Feb 6, 2011)

Egypt’s Revolution and Israeli Interests: A Strategic Assessment

What does the Egyptian revolution mean for Israel? A great deal and, unfortunately, none of it is particularly good, though Israel will have to adjust to these new circumstances.

People who don’t know very much predict some great chance for peace in a rosy democratic dawn. I’ve even heard moderate Egyptians claim that the only reason people there hated Israel was because it was associated in their minds with the Mubarak regime and now there’s no reason for friction. But this kind of argument has nothing to do with reality.

The implications for Israel should be divided into two categories: those that relate to Egypt directly and those arising from the event’s fall-out on the regional situation.

Even if one assumes a best-case outcome in Egypt — a stable, moderate Egyptian democracy — it presents Israel with some difficult problems. The simplest way to put it is that certainty has been replaced by doubt.

The single most salient issues is whether the new government preserve the peace treaty with Israel.? Not only the Muslim Brotherhood but also the two best-known oppositionists (Ayman Nour and Muhammad ElBaradei) have spoken of the need to revise the treaty, hold a referendum, or dispense with it altogether. Even if they never do it, Israel must assume that this kind of thing is in the realm of the possible.

What is most likely is that the treaty will not be formally torn up — due to Egyptian fear of losing U.S. aid or of Israeli retaliation — but rather emptied of content. If Egypt violates the treaty without admitting it, Israel may have trouble convincing the United States to act. And how does Israel respond without triggering a confrontation?

There are many steps the Egyptian government could take: letting weapons flow and terrorists walk across the Egypt-Gaza border; not trying too hard to stop terrorists from crossing the Egypt-Israel border; not providing proper protection to Israeli citizens travelling in Egypt or to the Israeli embassy; recalling Egyptian diplomats from Israel; stepping up hostile and official anti-Israel incitement; and so on.

The most critical, which would be a treaty violation, would be to disregard the limits on Egyptian troops being stationed in Sinai. The Egyptian army might want to avoid this as being too provocative. But if it did send additional forces, Israel would have to turn to the United States and ask President Barack Obama to keep the U.S. pledge to enforce the treaty by putting massive pressure on Egypt. And you can complete the paragraph on your own.

There is another and most critical point being swept under the rug. Even if the Egyptian government doesn’t actually violate the treaty, Israel cannot depend 100 percent on peace with Egypt surviving a number of potential crises. If Hamas or Hizballah attacks and Israel retaliates will Egypt remain passive? What about the possibility of a future Israel-Syria confrontation?

Arguing that Egypt will not provoke or go to war with Israel is based on a Western assessment of Egyptian interests. The regime might well decide to interpret those interests in its own way. Thinking this could not happen is the same kind of reasoning that implied Egypt would not provoke a war with Israel in 1967, Iraq wouldn’t invade Iran in 1979, Saddam Hussein wouldn’t pretend he was working on nuclear weapons and thus incur sanctions and then an American attack, and Yasir Arafat would accept a compromise solution to get a Palestinian state.

In other words, it is a line of reasoning that has repeatedly failed in the past, yet those asserting it have learned nothing from decades of harsh experience.

This altered Egyptian factor will now have to be taken into account in every major Israeli decision. Beginning after the 1967 war the strategy of the PLO and other groups was to attack Israel with terrorism to try and trigger a crisis that would bring the Arab states into a full-scale war. In the late 1970s, with Egypt-Israel peace, this ceased to be a threat. It has now become one again, with Hamas, Hizballah, and even al-Qaida in place of the PLO.

Another problem is border security. Again, we are told that it is in the interest of Egypt, especially the army, to avoid having terrorists cross the border into Israel. Yet similar logic has often proven mistaken in previous, similar cases. With junior officers and soldiers sympathizing with Islamism or radical nationalism, the orders of the generals back in Cairo might not be followed with a high degree of discipline. There are already reports of al-Qaida planning to infiltrate into the Sinai to launch cross-border attacks.

And so Israel is going to have to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to rebuild its defenses along the long border with Egypt. Thousands of Israelis will have to spend more time in reserve duty to man the reinforced Southern Command. No matter how many international or Egyptian assurances are given, Israel cannot depend on what might turn out to be wishful thinking.

Then there’s the Gaza problem. Helping Hamas is considered a national and religious duty by most Egyptians. Maintaining sanctions on Gaza and a tightly controlled border is unpopular. Can any elected government resist the popularity to be obtained by opening the border or want to sustain the unpopularity in maintaining the status quo? Here’s an Israeli intelligence evaluation of Iranian efforts to expand arms shipments to Hamas.

Such a step would further embolden Hamas and entrench it in power. More arms and more sophisticated weapons are going to flow across the border. With the Muslim Brotherhood legalized, it will be free to stir up massive support for its Palestinian branch, Hamas. Indeed, these things are already happening. Consequently, the possibility of a renewed Hamas-Israel war in several years is increased.

And, as noted above, suppose Israel needs to retaliate against a Hamas attack as happened in Operation Cast Lead? Can one assume that an Egyptian government would stand by and do nothing? Maybe; perhaps even probably; but not definitely. As we have seen in the last round, even if Hamas fires scores of rockets and launches cross-border attacks the Arab world (even the world more broadly) would not support Israel’s retaliation as a reasonable act of self-defense.

The least important bilateral issue is the Egypt-Israel gas pipeline. Out of economic interest the Egyptian government wants to keep open the pipeline. But what if it comes under repeated attacks by terrorists, the first of which has already happened, and soon no longer functions. Egypt could also demand a price increase for gas, which will end up losing it Israel’s business — but that would be a public relations’ plus for an elected Egyptian government. Of course, Israel now has its own natural gas reserves so this is not a big problem if there is time to make the transition.

Finally, there is the issue of the Muslim Brotherhood itself. While the likelihood of the Brotherhood taking power in the near future is very low, the chance of it gaining power in the long run is now enhanced. At any rate, the Brotherhood is going to be an important force in Egypt and perhaps an influence on the government. As it spreads its message of hate, this is not likely to lead to a love-fest for Israel.

And the situation also enhances the threat to the Jordanian monarchy from the Muslim Brotherhood there as well as the threat to the Palestinian Authority from Hamas.

Yet the most likely alternative to Islamism in Egypt, radical nationalism, is also a threat. An Egypt that goes down that road could renew its alliance with Syria, for instance.

But won’t the Egyptians just concentrate on raising living standards and enjoying freedoms? Perhaps. Yet the problem is that there is no money for improving the Egyptian economy and angry frustration is more likely than prosperity. We have seen often in the Arab world how a government that cannot deliver the goods provides foreign scapegoats instead.

In light of these factors and of the possibility of anarchy and terrorism within Egypt, Israeli tourism is likely to become untenable. It certainly would not be advisable.

The situation can be summarized by saying that so far Egypt has gone from positive to neutral. The question is whether it will go over into the negative.

What about the regional situation? Is Egypt likely to be a democratic light unto other Arabic-speaking societies? The radical regimes — Iran, Syria, Hizballah and its allies in Lebanon, and Hamas in the Gaza Strip — are not going to politely surrender to Facebook-organized demonstrations. Their armies and security forces are willing to shoot to kill. There may be demonstrations but there won’t be revolutions.

The wave of popular upheavals is more likely to destabilize more moderate regimes that aren’t hostile to Israel than radical ones that are. In the end, though, probably no governments will fall. But they — and especially Jordan and the Palestinian Authority (PA) — will be intimidated. They know that any compromises with Israel or friendly relations with it will not sit well with the masses and those who would agitate them into anger and action.

Another consequence, then, of the Egyptian revolution is to put the peace process, already frozen, into the very deep freeze. Those who believe that events in Egypt and anti-government demonstrations accord some great opportunity for advancing negotiations overlook this basic fact of how internal politics restrain the flexibility of leaders in the Arab world. To make matters worse, friendly Arab governments now have to worry whether America is a reliable ally that would protect them. Who knows whether Washington might declare them to be a dictatorship and support their opponents?

And there’s also a message for Israel. How can Israel be expected to take risks and make concessions when it sees the very real possibility that anyone with whom it makes a deal may be overthrown and their successors not honor their pledges?

Finally, since Iran, Syria, and other Islamist forces see the Egyptian revolution as, at minimum, the destruction of their strongest Arab opponent and, at best, a possible gain for their side. They are likely to be emboldened. After all, they have virtually taken over Lebanon without any strong U.S. response and have entrenched the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip.

How can I present such a gloomy analysis while the Western world is celebrating a joyous event in Egypt? Because it’s unfortunately an accurate assessment. Yet the gap between Israeli and Western perceptions is still another aspect of the problem.

Ignorant authors with far bigger audiences than mine will assure people with a wave of a hand that no problems exist and that everything will be just fine. But even in the best case analysis, the main Arab power opposing the expansion of the revolutionary Islamist forces — the Iran-Syria-Hamas-Hizballah-Lebanon government-Turkish government alliance and the Egyptian and Jordanian Muslim Brotherhoods — is gone.

Will the example of Egypt and Tunisia prove to Arab peoples that democracy is better than Islamism? Will it so shame the Iranian regime and its allies that they will leap into the dustbin of history? Well, first these would-be role models have to succeed and that’s a long way from happening.

When one looks at how Egypt weighs its national interests, consider the following story that I heard first-hand: The U.S. government some years ago came up with an idea to fund Egypt-Israel-Jordan cooperation to keep the Red Sea clean. A U.S. official was sent to Israel and Jordan. Both agreed. He then went to Egypt. A high-ranking Egyptian official told him that Cairo would not participate in the plan. The American asked why since Egypt would also benefit from the project. The Egyptian explained that his government couldn’t do anything that helped Israel even if it also helped Egypt.

The current situation reminds me of an old joke. The passengers are seated and everything is ready on the airplane when a voice comes over the loudspeaker from the cockpit:

“Ladies and gentlemen, this is the world’s first fully automated airplane, piloted by an infallible computer and not a mere human being. It has all of the most modern and sophisticated technical devices. Nothing can go wrong…go wrong…go wrong…go wrong….”

There’s no danger like one that potential victims refuse to notice. Hoping for a best-case outcome is one thing; basing one’s strategic calculations on it is quite another.


About the author,

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His books include Islamic Fundamentalists in Egyptian Politics and The Muslim Brotherhood (Palgrave-Macmillan); and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East, a study of Arab reform movements (Wiley). GLORIA Center site: His blog, Rubin Reports,


We Won't Have An Effective Strategy For Dealing With The Ummah...Until We Commit To Understanding What It Is Rather Than Imagining What It Could Be"

From Jihad Watch:

McCarthy: "We won’t have an effective strategy for dealing with the Ummah ... until we commit to understanding what it is rather than imagining what it could be"

Another crucial point: "Americans were once proud to declare that their unalienable rights came from their Creator, the God of Judeo-Christian scripture. Today we sometimes seem embarrassed by this fundamental conceit of our founding. We prefer to trace our conceptions of liberty, equality, free will, freedom of conscience, due process, privacy, and proportional punishment to a humanist tradition, haughty enough to believe we can transcend the transcendent and arrive at a common humanity."

Many more instructive observations follow below, in an articulate analysis of the reality of the Islamic supremacist vision that still seeks to dominate the globe, and of the roots and folly of foreign policy based on wishful thinking. "The OIC and the Caliphate: The Islamic agenda is not coexistence, but dominion," by Andrew C. McCarthy for the National Review Online, February 26 (thanks to Ken):

The Organization of the Islamic Conference is the closest thing in the modern world to a caliphate. It is composed of 57 members (56 sovereign states and the Palestinian Authority), joining voices and political heft to pursue the unitary interests of the ummah, the world’s 1.4 billion Muslims. Not surprisingly, the OIC works cooperatively with the Muslim Brotherhood, the world’s most extensive and important Islamist organization, and one that sees itself as the vanguard of a vast, grass-roots movement — what the Brotherhood itself calls a “civilizational” movement.

Muslims are taught to think of themselves as a community, a single Muslim Nation. “I say let this land burn. I say let this land go up in smoke,” Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini famously said of his own country in 1980, even as he consolidated his power there, even as he made Iran the point of his revolutionary spear. “We do not worship Iran, we worship Allah.” Muslims were not interested in maintaining the Westphalian system of nation states. According to Khomeini, who was then regarded by East and West as Islam’s most consequential voice, any country, including his own, could be sacrificed in service of the doctrinal imperative that “Islam emerges triumphant in the rest of the world.”

Because of that doctrinal imperative, the caliphate retains its powerful allure for believers. Nevertheless, though Islamists are on the march, it has somehow become fashionable to denigrate the notion that the global Islamic caliphate endures as a mainstream Islamic goal.

It was only a week ago that close to 2 million Muslims jammed Tahrir Square to celebrate the triumphant return to Egypt of Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi, a Khomeini-esque firebrand who pulls no punches about Islam’s goal to “conquer America” and “conquer Europe.” Yet, to take these threats seriously is now to be dismissed as a fringe lunatic, a Luddite too benighted to grasp that American principles reflect universally held truths — truths to which the ummah, deep down, is (so we are told) every bit as committed as we are.

The caliphate is an institution of imperial Islamic rule under sharia, Muslim law. Not content with empire, Islam anticipates global hegemony. Indeed, mainstream Islamic ideology declares that such hegemony is inevitable, holding to that belief every bit as sincerely as the End of History crowd holds to its conviction that its values are everyone’s values (and the Muslims are only slightly less willing to brook dissent). For Muslims, the failure of Allah’s creation to submit to the system He has prescribed is a blasphemy that cannot stand.

The caliphate is an ideal now, much like the competing ideal of a freedom said to be the yearning of every human heart. Unlike the latter ideal, the caliphate had, for centuries, a concrete existence. It was formally dissolved in 1924, a signal step in Kemal Atatürk’s purge of Islam from public life in Turkey. Atatürk, too, thought he had an early line on the End of History. One wonders what he’d make of Erdogan’s rising Islamist Turkey.

What really dissolved the Ottoman caliphate was not anything so contemporary as a “freedom agenda,” or a “battle for hearts and minds.” It was one of those quaint military wars, waged under the evidently outdated notion that Islamic enemies were not friends waiting to happen — that they had to be defeated, since they were not apt to be persuaded.

It was, I suppose, our misfortune in earlier times not to have had the keen minds up to the task of vanquishing “violent extremism” by winning a “war of ideas.” We had to make do with dullards like Winston Churchill, who actually thought — get this — that there was a difference worth observing between Islamic believers and Islamic doctrine.

“Individual Muslims,” Churchill wrote at the turn of the century, demonstrated many “splendid qualities.” That, however, did not mean Islam was splendid or that its principles were consonant with Western principles. To the contrary, Churchill opined, “No stronger retrograde force exists in the world.” Boxed in by rigid sharia, Islam could only “paralyse the social development of those who follow it.” Reason had evolved the West, but Islam had revoked reason’s license in the tenth century, closing its “gates of ijtihad” — its short-lived tradition of introspection. Yet, sharia’s rigidity did not render Islam “moribund.” Churchill recognized the power of the caliphate, of the hegemonic vision. “Mohammedanism,” he concluded, remained “a militant and proselytising faith.” [...]

Muslims, of course, understood the implausibility of achieving such dominance in the near term. Still, Hurgronje elaborated, the faithful were “comforted and encouraged by the recollection of the lengthy period of humiliation that the Prophet himself had to suffer before Allah bestowed victory upon his arms.” So even as the caliphate lay in ruins, the conviction that it would rise again remained a “fascinating influence” and “a central point of union against the unfaithful.”

Today, the OIC is Islam’s central point of union against the unfaithful. Those who insist that the 1,400-year-old dividing line between Muslims and non-Muslims is ephemeral, that all we need is a little more understanding of how alike we all really are, would do well to consider the OIC’s Cairo Declaration of 1990. It is the ummah’s “Declaration of Human Rights in Islam,” proclaimed precisely because Islamic states reject the 1948 Declaration of Human Rights promulgated by the United Nations under the guidance of progressives in the United States and the West. That is, the leaders of the Muslim world are adamant that Western principles are not universal.

They are quite right about that. The Cairo Declaration boasts that Allah has made the Islamic ummah “the best community . . . which gave humanity a universal and well-balanced civilization.” It is the “historical role” of the ummah to “civilize” the rest of the world — not the other way around. [...]

The Declaration makes abundantly clear that this civilization is to be attained by adherence to sharia. “All rights and freedoms” recognized by Islam “are subject to the Islamic Shari’ah,” which “is the only source of reference for [their] explanation or clarification.” Though men and women are said by the Declaration to be equal in “human dignity,” sharia elucidates their very different rights and obligations — their basic inequality. Sharia expressly controls freedom of movement and claims of asylum. The Declaration further states that “there shall be no crime or punishment except as provided for in Shari’ah” — a blatant reaffirmation of penalties deemed cruel and unusual in the West. And the right to free expression is permitted only insofar as it “would not be contrary to the principles of Shari’ah” — meaning that Islam may not be critically examined, nor will the ummah abide any dissemination of “information” that would “violate sanctities and the dignity of Prophets, undermine moral and ethical Values, or disintegrate, corrupt or harm society, or weaken its faith.”

Americans were once proud to declare that their unalienable rights came from their Creator, the God of Judeo-Christian scripture. Today we sometimes seem embarrassed by this fundamental conceit of our founding. We prefer to trace our conceptions of liberty, equality, free will, freedom of conscience, due process, privacy, and proportional punishment to a humanist tradition, haughty enough to believe we can transcend the transcendent and arrive at a common humanity. But regardless of which source the West claims, the ummah rejects it and claims its own very different principles — including, to this day, the principle that it is the destiny of Islam not to coexist but to dominate.

We won’t have an effective strategy for dealing with the ummah, and for securing ourselves from its excesses, until we commit to understanding what it is rather than imagining what it could be....

Read it all.

Posted by Marisol on February 27, 2011 2:53 PM

"Beware That Islam Comes Before Its People": Grand Mufti OfSaudi Arabia Rejects Women's Suffrage, Blames "Enemies Of Islam" For Promoting It

From Jihad Watch:

"Beware that Islam comes before its people": Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia rejects women's suffrage, blames "enemies of Islam" for promoting it

He said it. But that's not all he says, and he provides chapter and verse from the Qur'an and extensive citations of ahadith to show he's not the only one with such contempt for women. "Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia: Womens’ Suffrage Movement Is a ‘Machination’ of the Enemies of Islam," from Big Peace, February 27 (thanks to Ken):

The Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Shaykh ‘Abd-al-’Aziz Al al-Shaykh, responded to a question in 2006 regarding whether women should be allowed to vote. The Grand Mufti responded, as seen below, by first blaming the whole issue of womens’ rights and suffrage on “machinations” of Jews and Christians and other non-Muslims seeking to destroy Islam. Then he warns them against “open[ing] up the door of wickedness for the people of Islam” by pushing for these rights. He makes clear that the issue of womens’ rights must be subservient to the more important issue of “serv[ing] the Islamic religion.” The translation follows (original Arabic here):.

Source: Journal of Islamic Research, No. 78; Issue: (Approximately) April to June 2006; from the fatwas of Shaykh ‘Abd-al-’Aziz bin ‘Abdallah bin Muhammad Al al-Shaykh.

Question: The community of educated and academic women is engaging in discussions about the political participation of women in the coming stage, and from there her entrance into the Shura Council and her participation in elections. What is your Eminence’s opinion of these proposals?.

Answer: I would like to direct an honest message to my educated and academic sisters. I hope that they will pay good attention to it. My sisters: when Almighty Allah sent the Prophet (peace be upon him) from the Arabs, the enemies of Allah from among the Jews and Christians laid traps for him, with their knowledge that Allah would send a prophet at that time, and with their knowledge of his name and description, as they saw him with their own eyes. Allah said, “The people of the Book know this as they know their own sons; but some of them conceal the truth which they themselves know” [Qur'an 2:146]. The Almighty also said, “Those who follow the messenger, the unlettered Prophet, whom they find mentioned in their own (scriptures),- in the law and the Gospel;- for he commands them what is just and forbids them what is evil; he allows them as lawful what is good (and pure) and prohibits them from what is bad (and impure); He releases them from their heavy burdens and from the yokes that are upon them. So it is those who believe in him, honour him, help him, and follow the light which is sent down with him,- it is they who will prosper” [Qur'an 7:157]. Jesus (peace be upon him) informed his people of the mission of this Noble Prophet (peace be upon him): “…giving Glad Tidings of a Messenger to come after me, whose name shall be Ahmad…” [Qur'an 61:6]. They were even waiting for him, and knew the time of his emergence, and his description, but they were hoping he would be from the tribe of Israel. When Allah Almighty sent him, and he was an Arab, they disbelieved in him: “And when there comes to them a Book from Allah, confirming what is with them,- although from of old they had prayed for victory against those without Faith,- when there comes to them that which they (should) have recognised, they refuse to believe in it but the curse of Allah is on those without Faith” [Qur'an 2:89]. For they disbelieved in our Prophet (peace be upon him), arrogantly and jealously. But it goes even further than that–they envied the house of Islam for this true religion, and they know that it is true. Despite that, they did not follow it, and they would like the people of Islam to disbelieve in it, out of envy for them. Almighty Allah says: “Quite a number of the People of the Book wish they could Turn you (people) back to infidelity after ye have believed, from selfish envy, after the Truth hath become Manifest unto them” [Qur'an 2:109]. Their hatred and jealousy of the house of Islam has increased, to the point where they will waste no opportunity to disparage Islam and its followers, whether by obscene and abusive words, or by actions such as killing, sabotage, and others. Allah Almighty says: “If they were to get the better of you, they would behave to you as enemies, and stretch forth their hands and their tongues against you for evil: and they desire that ye should reject the Truth” [Qur'an 60:2]..

My sisters, I am here to address the elite, educated, attentive Muslim woman. I have complete confidence in her religious awareness, and her zealousness toward her religion, the Islamic religion, and toward preserving it. Therefore I say that demands such as these need to be looked at again–do they serve the Islamic religion? Will they support the kinship and cohesiveness of the Islamic community? Will they lead to the raising up of this religion? My sisters, this is beyond the issue of recording opinions, or taking advantage of opportunities, or reserving seats, or other such things that we hear and read..

The issue, sisters, is on-going due to the machinations of the enemies of this community. They will spare no effort in bringing harm to us. They will spare no effort in dividing our side and dispersing our word. They will spare no effort in spreading fitna amongst us. Everything they promote under “womens’ rights” in these days is a kind of machination. You know that the Prophet (peace be upon him) says: “After me I have not left any affliction more harmful to men than women” [Sahih al-Bukhari, "(The Book of) Marriage," No. 5096; Sahih Muslim, "(The Book of) Remembrance, Supplication, Repentance, and Seeking Forgiveness," No. 2740]. He (also) said (peace be upon him): “The world is sweet and green (alluring) and verily Allah is going to install you as vicegerent in it in order to see how you act. So avoid (the allurement) of the world and women: verily, the first trial for the children of Israel was caused by women” [Sahih Muslim, "Book of Remembrance, Supplication, Repentance, and Seeking Forgiveness," No. 2742; Sunan al-Tirmithi, "The Trials," No. 2191; Sunan Ibn-Majih, "The Trials," No. 4000; Musnid Ahamd (3/19)]..

Muhammad also said: "O women! Give alms, as I have seen that the majority of the dwellers of Hell-fire were you (women)." They asked, "Why is it so, O Allah's Apostle ?" He replied, "You curse frequently and are ungrateful to your husbands. I have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religion than you. A cautious sensible man could be led astray by some of you." The women asked, "O Allah's Apostle! What is deficient in our intelligence and religion?" He said, "Is not the evidence of two women equal to the witness of one man?" They replied in the affirmative. He said, "This is the deficiency in her intelligence. Isn't it true that a woman can neither pray nor fast during her menses?" The women replied in the affirmative. He said, "This is the deficiency in her religion" (Sahih Bukhari 1.6.301)

Will Islamic apologists throw every source mentioned above under the bus as "unreliable?"

I would like my sisters to be conscious of their reality, and perceive the weight of responsibility that is upon them, and not open up the door of wickedness for the people of Islam. We verily suffer from wicked men who rob women of their legitimate rights. We see some of them prevent them from receiving their inheritance, and others deprive them of their match when they offer them for engagement, and others beat their wives, and others prevent them from marrying, and so on. We suffer from this and warn against it, and make clear that it is forbidden. We demand that this reality which is terrible, humiliating, and far removed from what is (Islamically) lawful, be changed..

But I repeat, we should all stand hand-in-hand against the plans of our enemies. The issue is much bigger than the participation of women in the Shura (Council), or equality, or other such calls. The issue revolves around seeking to destroy the religion in its stronghold in this pure country, which witnessed the mission of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and the appearance of the religion. The Prophet (peace be upon him) proclaimed that faith would return and go back to Medina as a snake returns to its hole..

Be shrewd, and beware that Islam comes before its people. Allah bless you, and may Islam and the Muslims benefit you.

Well, all these citations of Islamic texts are pretty handy -- thanks, Shaykh!

Posted by Marisol on February 27, 2011 6:10 PM

Muslim Brotherhood Hails Iran's Role In Promoting Muslim Uity

From Jihad Watch:

Muslim Brotherhood hails Iran's role in promoting Muslim unity

The Iranian regime has warmly praised the revolt in Egypt and called for Islamic rule there. Now the Muslim Brotherhood returns the favor. "Muslim Brotherhood Hails Iran's Role in Reinvigorating Muslim Unity," from the Fars News Agency, February 27:

TEHRAN (FNA)- A senior member of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, Kamal al-Halbavi, praised Iran's role in consolidating unity and solidarity among the Muslim countries throughout the world.

"Given the recent developments in the region, we need unity among the Muslim countries and Iran can play an important role in this regard," Halbavi said on Sunday, addressing a conference in Tehran dubbed 'Islamic Awakening in Arab World'.

He also called Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad his favorite leaders in the world, and said, "He is the bravest man in the Muslim world and we (in Egypt) need innocent, honest and brave leaders like him."

Halbavi reiterated that the West is opposed to the progress of the Muslim countries and that's why the world powers are against Iran's progress in scientific and technological fields....

Posted by Robert on February 27, 2011 6:50 PM

Battle Lines In Libya Harden

From Homeland Security NewsWire:

Libya update

Battle lines in Libya harden

Published 28 February 2011

The divisions in Libya harden; the Gaddafi government reinforces its hold on the Tripoli region by transferring to the area thousands of soldiers from southern tribes loyal to Gaddafi, augmented by hundreds of mercenaries from sub-Saharan Africa; in the break-away eastern part of the country, former justice minister Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, who defected from the Gaddafi regime, announced Saturday he was setting up a provisional government; the UN Security Council imposed a series of sanctions on the Gaddafi regime and its loyalists; the UN General Assembly will debate tomorrow (Tuesday) whether to kick Libya off the UN Human Rights Council (the 47-member Council debated the Libyan situation Friday, but member states could not bring itself to criticize Gaddafi); British and German military planes landed in Libya's desert over the weekend to rescue hundreds of oil workers and civilians stranded at remote sites; the secret military rescue missions signal the readiness of Western nations to disregard Libya's territorial integrity when it comes to the safety of their citizens

Gaddafi continues to lose ground // Source:

With residents shouting “Free, free Libya,” anti-government rebels who control the battle-scarred city of Benghazi, an opposition stronghold, deployed tanks and anti-aircraft weapons Sunday, bracing for an attack by troops loyal to Moammar Gaddafi. Politicians in Benghazi, meanwhile, set up their first leadership council in a step that could lead to an alternative to the regime.

In the capital of Tripoli, where Gaddafi is still firmly in control, state banks began handing out the equivalent of $400 per family in a bid to win back loyalty. “The Libyan people are fully behind me,” Gaddafi defiantly told Serbian TV, even as about half of the country was turning against him and world leaders moved to isolate him. “A small group (of rebels) is surrounded … and it will be dealt with.”

Gaddafi has launched by far the bloodiest crackdown in a wave of anti-government uprisings sweeping the Arab world, the most serious challenge to his four decades in power. The United States, Britain, and the UN Security Council all slapped sanctions on Libya this weekend, and President Barack Obama said it is time for Gaddafi to go.

Gaddafi’s son, Seif al-Islam, in an interview with U.S. television, insisted that his father will not relinquish power and that Libya had not used force or airstrikes against its own people.

Fox News reports that there was no major violence or clashes on Sunday, although gunfire was heard after nightfall in Tripoli.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the United States was “reaching out to many different Libyans who are attempting to organize in the east and as the revolution moves westward there as well.” Two U.S. senators said Washington should recognize and arm a provisional government in rebel-held areas of eastern Libya and impose a no-fly zone over the area — enforced by U.S. warplanes — to stop attacks by the regime.

The regime, eager to reinforce its view that Libya is calm and under its control, took visiting journalists to Zawiya, thirty miles west of the capital of Tripoli on Sunday. The tour, however, confirmed that anti-government rebels control the center of the city of 200,000 people, with army tanks and anti-aircraft guns mounted on pickup trucks at the ready.

Hundreds of people chanted “Gaddafi out!” in central Zawiya, a key city close to an oil port and refineries. It also is the nearest population center to Tripoli to fall into rebel hands.

The charred hulks of cars littered

Erdogan Criticizes The Germans

From Winds of Jihad:

Erdogan takes a big dump on Germany

by sheikyermami on February 28, 2011

Turkish PM Slams German ‘Xenophobia’, Urges Integration (GoV links)

Once again the insolent, megalomanic caliph of Turkey manages to annoy everyone

Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan Warns of Growing Racism in Germany

Why has no one told him that Islam is not a race?

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, recipient of the ‘Gaddafi Peace Price’, on Sunday slammed “xenophobia” in Germany as he urged Turkish workers there to integrate into German society, but without abandoning their own culture. “We are following xenophobia in some European countries, primarily Germany, with great concern… We urge politicians and especially the media… not to fan it,” he told a crowd of Turkish immigrants in the west German city of Duesseldorf, in a speech aired on Turkish television.

Row Over Treatment of Immigrants Reopens Turkey’s Rift With Europe (too bad Germans will not allow Muslim scum to rule over them)

Addressing the government’s campaign to encourage more Turks to speak German, he added: “Any policy which seeks to revoke the language and culture of migrants violates international law.”

Translation: Turkish is the language of your masters, get with the program, kaffirs. Sharia rules!

“Islamophobia is a crime against humanity as much as anti-Semitism is,” the Islamist-rooted Erdogan said.

Germany is home to 2.5 million Turks, mostly workers living in often closed communities, frequently under fire for a poor integration record despite having settled in the country decades ago. A German central banker sparked a controversy last year when he said that poorly educated and unproductive Muslim immigrants made Germany “more stupid”.

Erdogan Says Germany Must Support Turkish EU Membership

Germany must not. In fact, Germany must resist any further demands for Islamiziation…….

Demands and more demands:

“I want everybody to learn German and get the best education… I want Turks to be present at all levels in Germany — in the administration, in politics, in civil society,” Erdogan told the crowd. “Yes to itegration… But no to assimilation… No one can tear us from our culture,” he said. (And no reciprocity either: Islam is a one way street)

(More below the fold)

Turkish femicides up 1400%

Erdogan forgot to mention it during his visit……

Low Expectations of Sarkozy’s Visit to Turkey Fulfilled

French President Nicholas Sarkozy, on his first visit to Turkey and the first visit of any French head of state in 19 years, reiterated Friday his country’s insistence on finding an alternative to full Turkish membership in the European Union.

EU issues statement of “stuttering timidity” in denouncing Muslim persecution of Christians

In so doing, the EU joins the mainstream media and the White House of trying to portray both sides more equally as perpetrators and victims when they bother to denounce the Muslim persecution of non-Muslims in the name of establishing and maintaining the dominance of Islamic law. (JW)

Erdogan’s remarks were similar to controversial comments he made in nearby Cologne in 2008 that assimilation, which he defined as a person being “forced” to abandon their culture, was a “crime against humanity”. Erdogan said Turkey would issue special documents — “blue cards” — for Turks who abandon their Turkish citizenship in favour of German nationality, a procedure required under German law. “We will recognise the blue card as an identity document and make it easier for you to make transactions at government offices and banks” in Turkey, he said.

On Monday, Erdogan was to meet with Chancellor Angela Merkel in Hannover, where the two will jointly inaugurate a technology fair. Germany, together with France, opposes Turkey’s bid to join the European Union and advocates a special partnership for the sizeable mainly Muslim nation, an idea Ankara flatly rejects…

The Middle East's Third Wave

From The Heritage Foundation:

The Middle East's Third Wave

In a private phone call with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, almost two weeks after the unrest began, President Barack Obama finally called for Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi to step down. While the President’s inertia may have been mitigated by the need to get Americans out of the country so Qadhafi could not take any hostages, the incident demonstrates again that the wave of revolution currently sweeping North Africa and the Middle East took the Obama Administration completely by surprise. And for good reason: President Obama's "engagement" strategy toward the “Islamic world” is thoroughly outdated and irrelevant.

The first wave of revolutions in the region came in the middle of the last century and was made up of nationalist revolts against European colonialism. The next wave, the Islamist revolt, came a generation later, upending corrupt monarchies and nationalist regimes set up after the colonial era. Each of these movements—nationalist and Islamist—pretended to be "pan" movements of some kind. But they never caught on because their universal claims were myths, undermined by tribal, religious, and nationalist divisions. The third wave we are witnessing today is completely different. Heritage Foundation Vice President and former Assistant Secretary of State Kim Holmes explains:

Arab nationalism was largely an elite phenomenon that drove and exploited popular sentiments. Islamism is driven by clerics and political ideologues like the Muslim Brotherhood who likewise exploit peoples’ religious beliefs and social resentments. The current third wave of revolt is truly a bottom-up, people driven movement. It’s driven not by nationalism, Islamism or any other 20th Century “ism,” but by a 21st Century socially linked-up mass movement of people who are sick of corruption, the lack of representative government, and being poor. … Despite the unique national and tribal features of each movement, it is united by the same emotional revulsion to the ruin and corruption created by the first two waves of revolution in the Middle East. The people of Libya are no less disgusted with Qadhafi than the people of Iran are with Ahmadinejad. One may be largely Sunni Arabs and the other Shiite Persians, but both are utterly finished with the ideologies, pretentions, and results of the Middle East’s first two failed revolutions.

This new movement exposes the fact that everything the Obama Administration believed was important in the Middle East – from the Arab-Israeli talks to Obama's apology tour – is completely irrelevant. Just look at how al-Qaeda has been sidelined by events. Its leaders have been horrified by the outbreak of demands for democracy and freedom, since they are utterly against those values. Of course, groups like the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt are trying to figure out how to take advantage of this new opening, so we must watch out for an Islamist backlash. But that is all the more reason the world needs a strong voice in favor of democracy and individual freedom from the United States.

The Administration must get our objectives and strategy clear very quickly. If we want to see the Egyptian revolution turn out well, we need to be more forceful in talking with the army there about how to proceed with elections and reform the economy. If we want Qadhafi out of power without further bloodshed, we need a clearer and more public voice. And most importantly, if we find Ahmadinejad’s behavior unacceptable, we need to consider options more forceful than talking with "multilateral institutions."

Revolution In The Middle East: Time For The U.S. To Take A Step Back

from The CATO Institute:

Revolution in Middle East: Time for US to Step Back

by Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. A former special assistant to Ronald Reagan, he is the author of Foreign Follies: America's New Global Empire (Xulon).

Added to on February 25, 2011

This article appeared in The Korea Times on February 25, 2011.

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ShareThisChaos in Cairo's streets wrecked Hosni Mubarak's presidency in Egypt. The collapse of any dictatorship should please Americans. Several other Middle Eastern leaders may soon follow him into history's dustbin.

However, the process in Egypt and elsewhere has only started. The most difficult question for any revolution is how any it ends. Tragically, revolts against repressive regimes often lead to even greater tyranny.

Washington was little more than an interested bystander in Egypt. Jon Alterman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies said, "Neither the protestors nor the government are relying on signals from the United States."

But the U.S. has no good options in such cases. Long identified with dictators, Washington now must separate itself from repressive regimes. Attempting to promote particular individuals or factions is likely to be counterproductive, however. Having chosen wrong for so long, U.S. officials are unlikely to choose right this time.

Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. A former special assistant to Ronald Reagan, he is the author of Foreign Follies: America's New Global Empire (Xulon).

More by Doug BandowMore important, the U.S. government has no credibility with democracy demonstrators. In Lebanon Druze leader Walid Jumblatt recently joined with Hezbollah to oust the government backed by Washington. He observed: "Why should we follow American advice in the name of democracy? They have nothing to teach us when they have supported dictators."

At the same time, Washington fears losing key allies. Potential Republican presidential candidate Michael Huckabee even criticized the Obama administration for doing too little to support Mubarak.

Although much ink has been spilled on the geopolitical importance of such authoritarian allies, they matter far less today than during the Cold War. Oil producers will want to sell their only valuable export in any case.

Even potentially radical groups like the Muslim Brotherhood would be unlikely to support attacks on the U.S., given the certainty of retaliation. Some Americans worry about Israel, but it is a regional superpower able to defend itself.

Thus, while adapting to fast-moving events in the Middle East, the Obama administration should not attempt to micro-manage politics in foreign nations. Americans should support democracy and a liberal society in the best sense of the word. But U.S. officials should not work to bolster or oust even authoritarian governments.

Washington has a long history of supporting foreign thugs to advance perceived geopolitical interests. Sometimes horrible choices must be made, such as allying with Joseph Stalin against Adolf Hitler. In most cases, however, the interests being advanced are not worth the moral price of underwriting brutal repression.

For instance, former Reagan official Daniel Oliver declared: "however great the interest of the Egyptian people in their own freedom and human rights, it is eclipsed, even if they don't realize it, by the national security interest of the United States." It is hard to imagine what cause short of national survival could warrant Americans seeking to keep the Egyptian people in chains for the benefit of America.

And such a policy would ensure enduring hostility, since the Egyptian people are unlikely to view their "freedom and human rights" as mere incidentals to be tossed aside at Washington's behest. Even when the U.S. government is successful in temporarily buying authoritarian friends, it inevitably makes enemies, many of whom have long memories. When such regimes ultimately collapse, as in Iran, the results are not pretty.

Attempting to forcibly reform, or even overthrow, repressive regimes seems more satisfying morally. But the outcome is not necessarily more positive. It is far easier to blow up a society than put it back together. In Iraq at least 200,000 civilian likely have died after America's ill-considered invasion.

In 2006 the U.S. government pressed for elections in the Palestinian territories, which propelled Hamas to power in the Gaza Strip. Washington then refused to recognize the result, adding hypocrisy to stupidity.

Abrupt changes of regime are more likely to result in violence and repression. While Washington should not oppose democratic movements even if they seem less likely to promote its geopolitical interests, the U.S. government should not actively spur revolution. American policymakers simply don't know how to get there or even where "there" is.

The world in which Washington can simply tell everyone else what to do is illusory. Even in pushing for the liberal ideal American officials risk doing more harm than good.

Better for the U.S. government to advocate respect for human rights and democracy and then shut up. The less said by Washington about what the U.S. government desires, the better.

People in Egypt and across the Middle East deserve liberation. Americans and other people of goodwill should promote the principles of liberty and national cultures in which those principles are most likely to ultimately flourish. But the U.S. government should recognize its limited ability to influence events, and even more important, to do so positively.