Friday, August 30, 2013

Phillips: Attack Iran, not Syria

Posturing over Syria -Melanie Phillips [pictured]
Obama has reacted in predictable fashion by thoughtfully alerting the enemy in advance to what he is about to do to them, so that everyone involved has the chance to run away before they get hurt.
What kind of Commander-in-Chief publicly announces in advance details and targets of his proposed strike? Of course, this may all be a bluff to conceal a far deadlier military action against the Assad regime.
[T]his proposed strike would seem simply designed to advertise the moral virtue of David Cameron, Barack Obama and any other western leaders involved. It aims to show that, faced with the evidence of an appalling atrocity, these leaders reacted in a principled way. But in fact, their moral nausea is highly selective. 
Faced with the chemical attack in Syria, says Cameron, ‘the world cannot stand by’.

Oh really? So why did he ‘stand by’ while the Copts of Egypt were subjected to savage pogroms by Muslim Brotherhood fanatics – who Cameron and Obama actually helped put into power in that country?

Why did he ‘stand by’ while Christians were burned alive in their churches, converted at gunpoint or ethnically cleansed by Islamic zealots week in, week out across Africa and the Third World?
So what is Cameron and Obama’s strategic goal in Syria? No-one knows. Do they? Do they want to remove Assad? Apparently not; they just want to make him stop being a murderous psychopath. And they are going to do that, it seems, by strikes which they assure him will leave him in power.
The point of this strike, therefore, is not military but political. It is merely a rap over the knuckles. It is a gesture.
The most important argument used to support attacking Assad’s regime is that, by bringing it down, the west would deal a grievous blow to Iran, Syria’s puppet-master, which itself poses such a terrible threat to the region and the world.
There is only one way to hit Iran – and that is to hit Iran. Attempting to weaken Iran by striking at Assad is to look at the problem the wrong way round. To neutralise the puppet Assad, the west has to strike the puppeteer, Iran.
The overwhelming moral imperative for the US, the UK and the west not to ‘stand by’ is to stop the Iranian bomb. Striking a few Syrian targets not only will not achieve that end. It will be yet another displacement exercise deployed by the US and UK to avoid facing up to the overwhelming threat to the west posed by Iran.
[Electric Media]

The Coming Syria Hit: Reflections

Assad Has Been Using Chemical Weapons for Some Time - Amos Harel

The general view among senior Israeli defense officials is that Assad has been using chemical weapons systematically for months, whenever he was unable to dislodge rebel forces from strategically important areas. But he has been using them only on carefully chosen targets and in low doses - just enough to be effective against the rebels, without causing enough casualties to rouse a sleeping world. But something went wrong last week, resulting in more casualties than expected.

Assad Senses West's Weakness - Ron Ben-Yishai

The use of chemical weapons has become almost routine in Syria. The regime is using these weapons to deter the opposition and the rebels by attacking the non-combatant civilian population. This is a war crime that is taking place without any response from the international community.

In addition, as the Assad government becomes less and less apprehensive about using chemical weapons, and should the regime feel it has nothing to lose, it may also use chemical weapons against Israel.
(Ynet News)

What Will Assad Learn from a Western Missile Strike? - Jeffrey Goldberg

So what exactly is the most telegraphed missile strike in history meant to achieve? Is it meant to signal to Syria's barbaric president, Bashar al-Assad, that he should please resist the urge to kill his country's children with chemical weapons and instead limit himself to killing children with bullets and bombs, which he has used effectively and without much outside interference for more than two years?

Assad's plan is to hunker down, survive whatever attack is materializing on the horizon, and emerge from his bunker declaring victory over the perfidious Americans. He may also conclude that every brutal thing short of Obama's chemical-weapons red line is permissible.

The Unlikely Winner of the Arab Revolutions Is Israel - Dominique Moisi

At this point, more Arab lives have been lost in Syria's civil war than in all of the Arab-Israeli wars combined.
(Daily Star-Lebanon)

Threats Facing Israel: Graphic

Hat Tip: LindaF

Monday, August 26, 2013

Obama May Hit Syria

Israel Expects U.S. Strike on Syria - Amos Harel & Jack Khoury

The likelihood is increasing of an American strike on Syria as a targeted retaliation against the Assad regime for the use of chemical weapons last week, according to assessments in Israel based on President Obama's statements over the past few days.

Washington announced that four U.S. destroyers in the Mediterranean Sea armed with Tomahawk missiles would be moving closer to Syria. The U.S. is expected to make do with a targeted response that will not embroil it in another war in the Middle East.

Obama Opts for "Tomahawk Diplomacy" - Anshel Pfeffer      

Every U.S. president since 1991 has ordered Tomahawk launches - in Iraq, Afghanistan, Serbia, Yemen, Sudan, and two years ago when Obama supported the rebels in Libya.

Initial Implications - Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi    

War crimes and crimes against humanity have been carried out in Syria on a large scale and before the eyes of the world.

The international impotence in the face of these events weakens deterrence against the use of nonconventional weapons and has implications in the Iranian context as Tehran continues on its determined march toward nuclear weapons.
(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

Netanyahu: Syria Has Become Iran's Testing Ground

Prime Minister Netanyahu told visiting French Foreign Minister Fabius: "Assad's regime is not acting alone. Iran, and Iran's proxy, Hizbullah, are there on the ground playing an active role assisting Syria. In fact, Assad's regime has become a full Iranian client and Syria has become Iran's testing ground. Now the whole world is watching. Iran is watching and it wants to see what would be the reaction on the use of chemical weapons." 
(Prime Minister's Office)

Questions as Attack on Syria Looms - Zvi Bar'el

Who exactly will reap the fruits of the attack? Who will take the reins of government in Syria if the strike leads to Assad's downfall? No one knows the answer.

Syria Will Require More than Cruise Missiles - Eliot A. Cohen

The scale, openness and callousness of the Syrian government's breaking of an important taboo seems likely to compel this president to launch warplanes yet again in the Middle East. The temptation here is to follow the Clinton administration's course - a futile salvo of cruise missiles, followed by self-congratulation and an attempt to change the topic.

It would not work here. A minority regime fighting for its life, as Assad's is, can weather a couple of dozen big bangs. More important, no one would be fooled. As weak as the U.S. now appears in the region and beyond, we would look weaker yet if we chose to act ineffectively.
(Washington Post)

In Syria, America Loses If Either Side Wins - Edward N. Luttwak

It would be disastrous if President Assad's regime were to emerge victorious after fully suppressing the rebellion. Iranian money, weapons and operatives and Hizbullah troops have become key factors in the fighting, and Assad's triumph would dramatically affirm the power and prestige of Shiite Iran and Hizbullah, posing a direct threat both to the Sunni Arab states and to Israel.

But a rebel victory would also be extremely dangerous for the U.S. and for many of its allies because extremist groups, some identified with al-Qaeda, have become the most effective fighting force in Syria. If the jihadis were to triumph in Syria, Israel could not expect tranquility on its northern border.

The war is now being waged by petty warlords and dangerous extremists of every sort: Taliban-style Salafist fanatics who beat and kill even devout Sunnis because they fail to ape their alien ways, Sunni extremists who have been murdering innocent Alawites and Christians merely because of their religion, and jihadis from Iraq and all over the world.

There is only one outcome that the U.S. can possibly favor: an indefinite draw. By tying down Assad's army and its Iranian and Hizbullah allies in a war against al-Qaeda-aligned extremist fighters, four of Washington's enemies will be engaged in war among themselves and prevented from attacking Americans or America's allies.
(New York Times)

Bruce's Note: Daniel Pipes, PhD made an similar argument, well prior to Mr. Luttwak. Dr. Pipes, however, went further, suggesting intervention to help the losinig side...and when that side was no longer losing, help the other side to prolong the conflict. See:


Syrian rebels used Sarin nerve gas, not Assad’s regime: U.N. official
-Shaun Waterman

Testimony from victims strongly suggests it was the rebels, not the Syrian government, that used Sarin nerve gas during a recent incident in the revolution-wracked nation, a senior U.N. diplomat said Monday.

Carla del Ponte, a member of the U.N. Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, told Swiss TV there were “strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof,” that rebels seeking to oust Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad had used the nerve agent.
[Washington Times]

Families of Syrian Brass "Fleeing" Ahead of Feared U.S. Strike    
Israel TV reported that chemical shells were fired last Wednesday by the 155th Brigade of the 4th Armored Division of the Syrian Army, commanded by President Assad's brother Maher.
(Times of Israel)
Bombing Syria: What's the Goal? - Robert Satloff

In Syria, the Assad regime and its Iranian sponsors apparently believe they can put a stake through the heart of U.S. power and prestige in the region by testing the president's "red line" on the use of chemical weapons (CW). For the Iranians, Assad's CW use makes Syria - not Iran's nuclear facilities - the battlefield to test American resolve. Assad probably miscalculated - there is a line beyond which even the most reluctant president cannot go.

Given the strategic stakes at play in Syria, the wiser course is to take action that hastens the end of Assad's regime, and not just dispatch cruise missiles against Syrian military installations. This will also enhance the credibility of the president's commitment to prevent Iran's acquisition of a nuclear weapons capability.
The writer is executive director of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.


Intercepted Calls Prove Syrian Army Used Nerve Gas
- Noah Shachtman

[H]ours after a horrific chemical attack east of Damascus, an official at the Syrian Ministry of Defense exchanged panicked phone calls with a leader of a chemical weapons unit, demanding answers for a nerve agent strike. Those conversations were overheard by U.S. intelligence services, and that is the major reason why American officials now say they're certain that the attacks were the work of the Assad regime. But it is unclear whether the attack on Aug. 21 was the work of a Syrian officer overstepping his bounds or explicitly directed by senior members of the Assad regime.
(Foreign Policy)

Questions on Syria for the U.S. and its Allies - James Blitz

Brig.-Gen. Mike Herzog, a former senior figure in Israel's Ministry of Defense, says the U.S. should conduct what he calls a "stand-off air strike" on a Syrian military establishment. "You could target airfields, air assets, helicopters. Hitting any of these in a single strike would do a lot of damage. If it is big enough Assad will take notice. It could deter Assad from allowing chemical weapons to be used in this way again."

Failure to take any meaningful action would give the Assad regime the green light to use chemical weapons attacks on civilian population with even greater impunity.
(Financial Times-UK)

Choosing the Right Options in Syria - Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Even if the U.S. does intervene militarily in Syria, the time window for its best option has already passed. The U.S. did not intervene when the rebels were strongest, the Assad regime most fragile, and limited U.S. support to the then dominant moderate rebel factions might well have pushed Assad out of power without dividing Syria along sectarian and ethnic lines.
  • Assad is now far stronger and the rebels are fractured and have strong Sunni Islamist extremist elements. This means there is no way the U.S. can quickly use any amount of force to destroy the Assad regime with any confidence that Syria will not come under Sunni Islamist extremist control.
  • The U.S. has also chosen the wrong red line. The key challenge in Syria is scarcely to end the use of chemical weapons. The real challenge is some 120,000 dead, another 200,000-plus wounded, and as many as 20% of its 22.5 million people have been displaced inside the country or are living outside it as refugees.
  • If the U.S. is to intervene in Syria, its options must have some strategic meaning and a chance of producing lasting success. They must have a reasonable chance of bringing stability to Syria, of limiting the growth of Iranian and Hizbullah influence, of halting the spillover of the Syrian struggle into nearby states, and helping to deal with the broader humanitarian crisis.
(Center for Strategic and International Studies)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Muslim Brotherhood in Retreat, Part 5

Coptic Christians praying in their bombed out church in Egypt

Islamists Step Up Attacks on Christians - Kareem Fahim

The call for revenge echoed from the loudspeakers of mosques last week in the village of Nazla, southwest of Cairo, after the military invaded two protest camps in Cairo, killing hundreds of supporters of the deposed president, Mohamed Morsi. Hundreds of Islamists poured into the street, torching, looting and smashing the village's two churches and a nearby monastery, lashing out so ferociously that marble altars were left in broken heaps on the floor.
Over the next few days, a wave of similar attacks on the Coptic Christian minority washed over the country as Islamists set upon homes, churches, shops, schools, and youth clubs as the authorities stood by and watched.
(New York Times)

Christian-Muslim Animosity Becomes Incendiary Subplot
- Jeffrey Fleishman

 The gunmen sped past on motorcycles and in a car, firing automatic weapons and hurling gasoline bombs. Parishioners ran for cover as bullets chipped the stone and rattled the metal doors of St. George's Church in Helwan, south of Cairo.

(Los Angeles Times)

Why Are Americans Backing the Muslim Brotherhood?
- Robert Reilly

What were the Egyptian people expected to make of the visits earlier this month by two U.S. senators to Mohammed Morsi, under house arrest, and to the Deputy Guide of the Brotherhood, Khairat al-Shater, also under arrest? No matter what intentions the senators may have had, the choreography of the visits clearly indicated support by the U.S. for a Muslim Brotherhood restoration.
Deploring violence and calling for reconciliation simply makes the U.S. appear naive and totally disconnected from what is actually taking place. Saudi Arabia and the UAE understand what is going on, which is why they are willing to pony up $12 billion in support of the new government. They are relieved that the Brotherhood's imperial project, of which they were intended victims, has been thwarted for the time being.
Instead of just deploring violence, the U.S. should be appraising the character of the moral principles animating the two sides in this conflict and supporting the side that more closely comports with our own. And yes, that may require the choice of a lesser evil.     
(Intercollegiate Review)


The choice in Egypt -Charles Krauthammer

Through a half-century of cold war, repeatedly we faced precisely the same dilemma: choosing the lesser evil between totalitarian (in that case, communist) and authoritarian (usually military) rule.

We generally supported the various militaries in suppressing the communists. That was routinely pilloried as a hypocritical and immoral betrayal of our alleged allegiance to liberty.

But in the end, it proved the prudent, if troubled, path to liberty.

The authoritarian regimes we supported — in South Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, Chile, Brazil, even Spain and Portugal (ruled by fascists until the mid-1970s!) — in time yielded democratic outcomes. Gen. Augusto Pinochet, after 16 years of iron rule, yielded to U.S. pressure and allowed a free election — which he lost, ushering in Chile's current era of flourishing democracy. How many times have communists or Islamists let that happen?

Regarding Egypt, rather than emoting, we should be thinking: what's best for Egypt, for us and for the possibility of some eventual democratic future?

Under the Brotherhood, such a possibility is zero. Under the generals, slim.

Slim trumps zero.
[Jewish World Review]

Muslim Brotherhood in Retreat, Part 4

Muhammad Badie, Muslim Brotherhood scum

A Terror Leader Behind Bars in Egypt -Raymond Ibrahim

The supreme leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, the head of the Islamist snake, Muhammad Badie—who had slipped security forces by traveling in and out of the Brotherhood torture camps (known as “peaceful sits ins” by the mainstream media”)—has finally been arrested in Egypt and is awaiting trial. Not only was he the leader of the Brotherhood, but, according to Brotherhood members themselves, he was giving orders to his underling, Muhammad Morsi, the now ousted Egyptian president.

Among other serious accusations, Badie is being charged with inciting widespread terrorism and murder and playing a key role in the current violence and unrest in Egypt—also known as “the jihad”—which has led to the destruction of some 80 Christian churches and monasteries, the violent slaughters of Egyptian police, and any number of other criminal activities.

If Badie, as a Brotherhood member on live TV inadvertently admitted, used to order president Morsi around, surely his authority over the average Brotherhood member—the very fellows now burning and slaughtering—was ironclad.

Badie publicly proclaimedthe necessity for every Muslim to strive to save al-Quds [Jerusalem] from the hands of the rapists [Israelis] and to cleanse Palestine from the clutches of the occupation, deeming this an individual duty for all Muslims.” More specifically, he “called on all Muslims to wage jihad with their money and their selves to free al-Quds”—the same exact language one finds in al-Qaeda’s tracts. Unsurprisingly, the Wiesenthal Center named him the top anti-Semite of 2012.

In a normal world, then, Americans—like millions of anti-Brotherhood Egyptians—should be glad to hear that this leading inciter of terrorism and hate has been arrested.

But of course, in the bizarro world that is the mainstream media of America, the arrest of the Brotherhood chieftain is bad news. For example, the consistently pro-Islamist and terrorist-apologist David Kirkpatrick of the New York Times is portraying the arrest of Badie as “a measure of how far and how quickly the tumult shaking Egypt...has rolled back the changes brought by the revolution of 2011.” In other words, arresting the man responsible for the slaughter of innocent officers, the burning of dozens of Christian churches, and the sexual harassment of nuns—is a return to “autocracy.” Such is the whole tone and tenor of the silly NYT report.

But of course the NYT is simply following the White House’s lead, which, when recently asked at a press conference about the idea that Egypt is considering dissolving the Brotherhood due to the organization’s terrorist activities, said that dissolving the Brotherhood would be a “bad idea.”

Such are the signs of our times: when 30 million Egyptians march in the streets calling for the ouster of the Islamist Brotherhood, and the people’s military obliges them, and then the Brotherhood responds with nonstop terrorism against Egypt—the U.S sides with the terrorists
[Front Page Magazine]

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Muslim Brotherhood in Retreat, Part 3

Egypt's Beleaguered Muslim Brotherhood
- Hamza Hendawi & Maggie Michael

The Muslim Brotherhood's decision to play hardball after the military's ouster of Egypt's Islamist president has backfired, leaving it with unattractive choices: aligning with hard-line groups in an insurgency that almost certainly will fail or going underground in the hope of resurfacing one day. The Brotherhood's grim future will impact Islamic groups across the Middle East. Egypt's Brotherhood is something of a "mother ship" that has inspired their creation and provided a role model of the political Islam they want to prevail.

Hundreds of Brotherhood leaders and supporters have been detained in the crackdown, crippling the group's command structure and demoralizing loyalists and sympathizers. Pro-Morsi demonstrations in Cairo and elsewhere in Egypt have diminished since last week's deadly clashes, with only a few hundred or even dozens showing up for protests after the government authorized the use of deadly force against protesters last week.

However, Raafat Sayed Ahmed, head of the Yafa Center for Arab Studies, predicted the group will continue to show a measure of resistance so long as its sources of funding are left untouched by authorities. He predicted the Brotherhood will join an insurgency already underway in Sinai, while simultaneously starting another in southern Egypt, where the Brotherhood and Gamaa Islamiyah, an allied hard-line organization with a history of violence, enjoy significant influence.

Sisi Is Preventing Egypt from Turning into Iran - Lahav Harkov

Former defense minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer said Monday that deposed Egyptian Islamist president Mohamed Morsi was "trying to lead Egypt to be something similar to Iran." Egyptian General "Sisi wouldn't have made this move if he didn't have the backing of most, about 80%, of the Egyptian people," he added.
(Jerusalem Post)

Ties with Egypt Army Constrain Washington
- Thom Shanker and Eric Schmitt

Most nations, including many close allies of the U.S., require up to a week's notice before American warplanes are allowed to cross their territory. Not Egypt, which offers near-automatic approval for military overflights, to resupply the war effort in Afghanistan or to carry out counterterrorism operations in the Middle East, Southwest Asia or the Horn of Africa. American warships are also allowed to cut to the front of the line through the Suez Canal in times of crisis. Those are some of the largely invisible ways the Egyptian military has assisted the U.S. - and why the generals now in charge in Cairo are not without their own leverage in dealing with Washington.

"We need them for the Suez Canal, we need them for the peace treaty with Israel, we need them for the overflights, and we need them for the continued fight against violent extremists who are as much of a threat to Egypt's transition to democracy as they are to American interests," said Gen. James N. Mattis, who retired this year as head of U.S. Central Command.
(New York Times)

It's Time to Hold Our Nose and Back Egypt's Military - Leslie H. Gelb

Let's get real and tamp down the moral posturing about democracy in Egypt. Freely elected President Morsi and his now-deposed Muslim Brotherhood government weren't practicing democracy. They were co-opting the laws and slowly destroying all possible opposition. Besides, they were aligning with America's jihadist enemies in Syria, Gaza, and elsewhere. The U.S. has little or no chance of saving Egypt for democracy if the Islamists return to power.
The worst thing we could do would be to cut off military assistance, thereby humiliating the Egyptian government and driving the relationship into crisis. 
(Daily Beast)

Cold Calculation in Egypt - Editorial
  • The U.S. shouldn't cut off aid to Egypt. Despite the brutality of the military regime, Washington cannot back away from the nation at the heart of the Arab world. The generals haven't listened and probably won't listen to American entreaties for military restraint in pursuing Muslim Brotherhood militants. The generals won't again surrender Egypt to Islamic extremists.
  • A stable Egypt, an Egypt at peace with Israel, an Egypt that thrives economically, is crucial to American interests in the region. An Egypt that instead slides into civil war becomes a fertile recruiting ground for jihadists.
  • We don't pick the leaders of Egypt. Egyptians do - and not always at the ballot box. Walking away from the most populous Arab country, which sits at one of the Earth's most important geopolitical locations, would be the worst of many bad alternatives.
  • Morsi aggressively expanded his powers and protected the Islamist-dominated constitutional assembly from judicial oversight. He ignored vital secular groups and persecuted political opponents. He sidled up to the terrorists of Hamas in Gaza and welcomed then-Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
(Chicago Tribune)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Breast Bombs: al-Qaida Innovation


Breast Bomb Threat at Heathrow Airport -Kounteya Sinha

Britain has credible intelligence that female suicide bombers with explosives concealed in breast implants are planning to blow up Heathrow airport.

Security agencies have found that al-Qaida's chief bomb-maker Ibrahim al-Asiri has developed a method to conceal explosives from airport scanners in an implant or bodily cavity. A large contingent of female suicide bombers have been recruited.

"We have been told to pay particular attention to females who may have concealed explosives in their breasts," the airport authorities said.

Security checks have been beefed up at UK's Heathrow airport after intelligence reports surfaced that al-Qaida is plotting attacks on airlines flying out of London. Increased surveillance led to long queues at Heathrow.

[The Times of India]

The Bible Comes Alive

2,700-Year-Old Hebrew Inscription Found in Jerusalem
- Gavriel Fiske

Archaeologists working in Jerusalem have discovered a 2,700-year-old pottery fragment with an ancient Hebrew inscription, the Israel Antiquities Authority said.

The text fragment on the shard is similar to the name of Zechariah, son of Benaiah, the father of the prophet Jahaziel, whose name appears in 2 Chronicles 20:14.      
(Times of Israel)

Monday, August 19, 2013

Muslim Brotherhood in Retreat, Part 2

For Part 1 of "Muslim Brotherhood in Retreat" click HERE

Egypt's War of Attrition - Ron Ben-Yishai

What seems to be utter chaos in Egypt is in fact the result of planned strategies, both by the Muslim Brotherhood and by the army-backed interim government. Those currently setting the tone of the bloodshed are the Muslim Brotherhood.

The new strategy is a war of attrition on the interim government and the defense forces, with violent clashes in dozens of places across the country.
These clashes grant the Muslim Brotherhood distinct advantages. Losses among Muslim Brotherhood members cause the people's support of the interim government and the army to decline.

Fatalities bring about increasing international pressure on the interim government and the army. The clashes increase militants' motivation, as well as Brotherhood supporters' desire for revenge.

The U.S. and Europe are trying to pressure the Egyptian regime into compromising with the Brotherhood, ignoring the fact that the Brotherhood is not willing to compromise, and believes it can still reinstate Morsi.      
(Ynet News)

Israel Quietly Maintaining Ties with Egyptian Military

    Eli Shaked, a former Israeli ambassador in Egypt, said the scenario of the Camp David accords unraveling was highly unlikely. He said it was highly doubtful the U.S. would cut off aid to Egypt and he could not envision Egypt canceling the peace treaty. "They have no interest in engaging in another conflict they have neither the time nor the energy for," he said. "They need us now, with or without American aid." 

(AP-Washington Post)

The Truth about Egypt - Michael J. Totten

Eric Trager, a scholar at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and an expert on Egypt, explains:

"The Muslim Brotherhood is certainly not democratic. Its view of Egyptian politics is one in which it should control everything. For example, while it is willing to pursue power through elections, once it comes into office its goal is to establish an Islamic state in which it and its institutions control the Egyptian bureaucracy and institute its version of Islam while sidelining and oppressing all opponents."

"'Moderate' is an even less accurate word in describing the Brotherhood.... The process of becoming a Muslim Brother is a five-to-eight-year ordeal where potential Muslim Brothers are vetted through five tiers of membership that tests their commitment to the cause and their willingness to take orders. Anyone who has second thoughts about the organization, the ideology, or their willingness to blindly do what they're told, is out."

"A lot of observers thought it would become more moderate when forced to actually govern, but what those analysts overlooked is that the Brotherhood prevents moderates from becoming members and prevents members from becoming moderates."
(World Affairs Journal)

Israel's Message on Egypt: Keep Cairo from Falling Apart, Then Worry about Democracy
- Herb Keinon

  • Israel's message to Washington and key European capitals regarding Egypt is that the military should be supported to help get the country back on track, an Israeli official said.
  • "The name of the game right now is not democracy," the official said Sunday. "The name of the game is that there needs to be a functioning state. After you put Egypt back on track, then talk about restarting the democratic process there."
  • The official said that in the present reality the only actor that can assert authority in Egypt and keep it from descending into chaos is the military. "Like it or not, no one else can run the country right now." 
  • "You can scold [Gen.] Sisi all you wish, but at the end of the day, you want a functional government to rule the country." Otherwise, he said, the country would risk falling into an anarchy that would be exploited by local and global jihad forces.
(Jerusalem Post)


U.S. Should Hold Its Nose and Back Military - Bret Stephens
  • A policy is a set of pragmatic choices between unpalatable alternatives designed to achieve the most desirable realistic result.
  • Restoring the dictatorship-in-the-making that was Morsi's elected government is neither desirable nor realistic.
  • Bringing the Brotherhood into some kind of inclusive coalition government in which it accepts a reduced political role in exchange for calling off its sit-ins and demonstrations is not realistic.
  • What is realistic and desirable is for the military to succeed in its confrontation with the Brotherhood as quickly and convincingly as possible. And it beats the alternatives of outright civil war or victory by a vengeful Muslim Brotherhood.
  • Politics in Egypt today is a zero-sum game: Either the military wins, or the Brotherhood does. If the U.S. wants influence, it needs to hold its nose and take a side.
(Wall Street Journal)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Israeli Politician Blasts Kerry

Ayelet Shaked, a brave Israeli politician, probably speaks for most Israelis

MK Shaked attacks Kerry -Ainav Weisberg

Following the release of 26 Palestinian prisoners as the first part of 4 planned releases as an Israeli gesture for the renewal of peace talks with the Palestinians, member of Knesset Ayelet Shaked (Haba’it Hayehudi Party) sent a letter, unusual in its aggressive tone, to American Secretary of State John Kerry, in which she abandons all accepted rules of diplomacy.

In light of the current situation which you created – I feel that I cannot limit myself to the restrictions of ‘political correctness’ and so I allow myself to pass my message in the most direct way” Shaked began her unusual letter.

Mister Secretary of State, by forcing Israel to submit to terror and to release terrorists with so much blood on their hands – such prisoners that the US itself would never dream of releasing - not only are you being extremely hypocritical, but you are in fact performing experiments, gambling and putting my life and my children’s lives in danger” Shaked wrote.

 You acted with stupidity and put us in an impossible situation.”

The Knesset member called the American pressure to release prisoners “absurd, cynical and especially cruel”, due to the fact that Washington refuses to release Jonathan Pollard, even though he has served 27 years so far. “The price of releasing over a hundred murderers will be paid by me, my family and my people and not by you”, Shaked wrote. 

 “How will you afford the terrible price you are leading us to? You forced us to start talks at a time when the whole Middle East is in chaos. Without understanding your actions, you have stupidly put us in an impossible situation, in which we can make no concessions”.

With your very own hands you have raised expectations in the area to
dangerous levels, which could put the whole area into an uncontrollable spin, the minute expectations are so unrealistic, as has happened so many times in the past", Shaked wrote.

In summation she added: “I suggest that you continue your work in a more relevant and efficient manner, by focusing on Syria and Egypt, where people are truly being slaughtered”.
[Jerusalem Online]

British Hypocrisy

Britain's Diplomacy of Hypocrisy - Haim Shine

Last week Britain announced it is not even thinking about returning to Spain the Rock of Gibraltar, which it conquered many years ago. The Rock sits on seven km. of land where the Mediterranean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean. For hundreds of years Gibraltar was controlled by Spain until it was taken by the British, but Spain has never forfeited its demand to reassume sovereignty there. Britain has no historical rights to the Rock, yet it insists it will never relinquish it. From Britain's perspective, what was conquered by force will be held by force for eternity.

Off the coast of Argentina sit the British-controlled Falkland Islands, which have a population of 2,500. For years Argentina has claimed the islands as its property. In 1982 Britain sent an armada to take back the islands from the Argentinean army.

For years now Britain has been at the forefront of the global effort to return Israel to its 1967 borders. Britain preaches morality to Israel day and night because of its grip on its national homeland, while it refuses to ease its grip on territories it conquered out of clear imperialistic ambitions. Britain should look in the mirror at its own flaws, and not try to force Israel to commit suicide
(Israel Hayom)

Muslim Brotherhood in Retreat

What Prompted the Egyptian Army to Act? - Ron Ben-Yishai

Egyptian Defense Minister al-Sisi had good reason to estimate that if the mass sit-ins organized by the Muslim Brotherhood persisted, the Brotherhood may regain control over the country. Moreover, there were credible reports, including from Brotherhood members, that the pro-Morsi protesters in Cairo were accumulating weapons and defensive equipment and were also building barricades, meaning that it would become harder to remove them by force and the number of casualties would have been greater.

The protest encampments were not evacuated sooner due to the Egyptian army's fear of global public opinion. Until it was utterly clear that the Muslim Brotherhood refused to make peace with the new reality, General al-Sisi was under pressure to refrain from moving against the mass sit-ins. In addition, the army did not want to act during the Ramadan period, which just ended. 
(Ynet News)

Why Does the Muslim Brotherhood Attack Churches? - Jonathan S. Tobin

In response to the Egyptian military's crackdown in Cairo, supporters of ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi have attacked Coptic Christian churches in numerous cities.

Why is the Brotherhood attacking churches? The attacks are an inextricable part of the Brotherhood's worldview as they seek to transform Egypt in their own Islamist image. In the Muslim Brotherhood's Egypt, there is no room for Christians or even secular Muslims.

Though the military is an unattractive ally, the only alternative to it is the party that is currently burning churches.

The True Nature of a Coup Revealed - Fouad Ajami

In truth, there was no avoiding the bloodshed in Egypt. It was willful to assume that the Brotherhood would go gently into the night - that a political party that had pined for power for eight decades, that had won outright parliamentary and presidential elections and secured the passage of a constitution of its own making, would bow to a military writ.
(Wall Street Journal)

The Egyptian Army Has More Support than Brotherhood
- Ariel Ben Solomon 

  • Zvi Mazel, a former Israeli ambassador to Egypt, said the army gave the protesters a number of weeks to end their protests or agree to mediation and a negotiated solution. Because the Brotherhood refused to be flexible in its demands, it became obvious that a crackdown was coming.
  • Mazel noted that the new Egyptian government was pro-West and will have decent relations with Israel. "What is better than that?" he asked.
  • He emphasized that the West must understand that the army was in a fight with radical Islam. "The Brotherhood was building an Islamic dictatorship," and it was the army that moved in to prevent that. He added that the killings were bad, but compared to the situation in countries like Iraq or Pakistan, the Egyptian crackdown was less severe.  
  • The army has more support from the people and is more organized than the Brotherhood, Mazel asserted, predicting that there would not be a lengthy civil war and that the army would calm the situation and try to get Egypt back on its feet.
(Jerusalem Post)


El-Sissi Will Not Be Deterred - Avi Issacharoff

The Egyptian military claims that armed Muslim Brotherhood supporters opened fire on its soldiers, killing close to 50 and injuring dozens more.

The war for Egypt's future has returned to international headlines and the Muslim Brotherhood is now demanding that Defense Minister Gen. el-Sissi be removed from power in order to restore peace. It is highly unlikely, though, that this will happen anytime soon. There also is little chance of the Muslim Brotherhood ending their protests anytime soon.

But as further confrontation looms, the Muslim Brotherhood is at a disadvantage. It has the support of less than half of the Egyptian population. The Brotherhood will be able to continue to disrupt, but there is currently no third revolution or coup on the horizon.

It would be best for Israel if el-Sissi's army was able to maintain order in Egypt without more violent clashes that may undermine its authority. Jerusalem sees el-Sissi as an ally, which is why it is so difficult for Israel to swallow the Americans' onslaught against the Egyptian army, their decision to cancel joint military maneuvers, and their threats to halt foreign aid to Egypt.
(Times of Israel)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Bloody Tuesday

"Bloody Mess"
Photography by trutildeathxxx using latex

Palestinian Prisoners to Be Released on Tuesday - Sammy Hudes

The Palestinian prisoners released [today] include:

Fayez Mutawi al-Khur, who murdered Menahem Dadon in Gaza in 1983.
Salah Ibrahim Ahmed Mugdad, who murdered Israel Tenenbaum in Netanya by striking him on the head with an iron bar.

Samir Nayef al-Na'neesh, who murdered IDF reservist Binyamin Meisner in 1989.

Salameh Abdallah Musleh, who murdered Reuven David in 1991.

Salah Mahmoud Mukled, who stabbed to death his Jewish employer Yeshayahu Deutsch in 1993 in a Gush Katif greenhouse.

Mohamed Abdel Majid Sawalha and Hosni Faregh Sawalha, who stabbed to death Baruch Yaacov Heisler on a bus in 1990.

Midhat Fayez Barbakh, who stabbed to death his employer Moshe Beker in Rishon Lezion.

Ali Ibrahim al-Rai, who murdered Moris Eisenstatt, 79, by striking him in the head with an axe as he sat on a public bench in Kfar Saba.

Faraj Saleh al-Rimahi, who murdered Avraham Kinstler, 84, with an axe.

Ala Eddin Ahmed Abu Sitteh and Ayman Taleb Abu Sitteh, who stabbed to death

David Dadi, 43, and Hayim Weizman, 33, in their sleep in Ramle.

Khaled Mohamed Asakreh, who stabbed to death French tourist Annie Ley.

Nihad Yusef Jundiyeh and Mohamed Mahmoud Hamdiyeh, who stabbed to death Zalman Shlein. 
(Jerusalem Post)

Israel Refuses to Apologize for Building in Its Capital - Mati Tuchfeld

As Israel was set to release the first wave of Palestinian prisoners as part of its deal to start peace talks, tenders were announced for hundreds of new housing units in Jerusalem. Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel noted: "No other nation on the planet accepts diktats from other countries on where it can build and where it can't. We're going to continue issuing tenders for apartments and we're going to build all over Israel, according to our citizens' needs." 
(Israel Hayom)

Kerry: Israeli Housing Announcement Was Expected - Adiv Sterman

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that he didn't think the recent flap over Israeli settlement announcements will derail Mideast peace talks, which are scheduled to resume this week. According to Kerry, the Israeli move was expected.

Israeli diplomatic sources quoted by Channel 10 News noted that while the Palestinians demanded a settlement freeze as a precondition to peace talks, Israel did not accept such terms. "Israel has never promised not to build," adding that the approved units were in a location which, Palestinians agree, will remain in Israeli hands even after the signing of any future agreement.
(Times of Israel)


Palestinian Heroes - Editorial

The Israeli decision to release the prisoners was shortly followed by the approval of additional construction permits for housing in east Jerusalem and West Bank settlements. The move elicited howls of condemnation, as if building houses is more objectionable than murdering people in cold blood
(Wall Street Journal)

Leprous Role Models - Dan Margalit

It pains us to release 104 terrorists, partly because of the means they used to kill Jews indiscriminately and partly because one needs a unique personality structure to be able to murder an old man sitting on a bench, using a heavy tool to deliver blow after blow, again and again.

Ponder for a moment to whom the Palestinians will one day look as the national symbols of their past fight. Axe murderers and child stabbers? Those are leprous role models.
(Israel Hayom)

Friday, August 09, 2013

Europe's Dirty Little Secret

The Future of European Jewry - Michel Gurfinkiel

European Judaism looks healthy and secure. Religious and cultural activities are everywhere on the rise. Many European capitals now harbor major Jewish museums or Holocaust memorials. Yet, despite all their success and achievement, the majority of European Jews, seconded by many Jewish and non-Jewish experts, insist that catastrophe may lie ahead.

A large-scale survey commissioned by the EU's Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) tells a tale of widespread and persistent anti-Semitism. More than one in four Jews report experiencing anti-Semitic harassment at least once in the twelve months preceding the survey; and between two-fifths and one-half in France, Belgium, and Hungary have considered emigrating because they feel unsafe. In France, since 2000, 7,650 anti-Semitic incidents have been reliably reported. All over Europe, with exceptions here and there, the story is much the same.

Robert Wistrich of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, author of definitive works on the history and dynamics of anti-Semitism, has concluded that although the final endpoint of European Jewry may be decades in coming, "any clear-sighted and sensible Jew who has a sense of history would understand that this is the time to get out." 
The writer is the founder and president of the Jean-Jacques Rousseau Institute in Paris.

Are Jews the Most Incompetent "Ethnic Cleansers" in the World?
- Adam Levick

The "question" of whether Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinians can be easily refuted by a few population statistics. The Palestinian population in the West Bank increased from 462,000 in 1949 to more than 2.5 million today. In Gaza, the population increased from 82,000 in 1949 to 1.7 million today. Additionally, the number of Arabs killed (since 1920) in Arab-Israeli wars is less than the number of Arabs killed by Arabs in Syria alone since 2011.

In the territory where Jews rule or have ruled in some manner since 1948, the Arab population has increased dramatically, while in territories where Arabs rule, the Jewish population has decreased from over 850,000 in 1949 to less than 5,000 today.  
(CIF Watch)

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Reflection on the Terror War

The War on Terror Is Here to Stay - Walter Russell Mead
  • With the latest intercepted chatter indicating that a major attack is being planned, and with the corresponding shuttering of U.S. embassies across the world, it's clear that al-Qaeda has adjusted to American tactics and taken advantage of the widespread chaos across the Middle East.
  • The "Arab democracy" approach to the problem of terrorism that dominated recent U.S. administrations was a classic example of American "quick fix" thinking. Get democracy going, or so the thinking went, and we marginalize al-Qaeda, make people happy, and the war on terror comes to an end.
  • However, the political, religious, cultural, and social issues that keep the Middle East under stress and set the conditions for al-Qaeda-type movements to arise are deeply rooted. Worse, we really don't have the answers to them.
  • From Pakistan to Morocco there are countries and societies wrestling with demons we can't control and casting desperately about for answers we can't supply. That's a reality that is hard for Americans to accept, but accept it we must.
  • Presidents Bush and Obama both thought they saw the evolution of a peaceful, democratic Middle East hovering just on the horizon. Instead, we face a long slog and changing risk against people who really, really hate us, and really, really believe that killing as many of us as possible is the shortest road to a better life for them and their people.

    The writer is Professor of Foreign Affairs and Humanities at Bard College and a former Senior Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations.
(American Interest)