Tag: Boko haram

AMID SURGING AFRICAN ISLAMIST VIOLENCE — I.S. MOVES TO LIBYA, & CAPTURED NIGERIAN WOMEN BECOME KILLERS

Islamic State Moves to Libya with the Promise of Fresh Plunder: Jonathan Spyer, The Australian, Apr. 23, 2016— The reconquest by the forces of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad of the town of Qaryatayn from Islamic State this month is the latest indication of the declining fortunes of the extremist organisation in Iraq and Syria, following the loss of Palmyra in late March.

Italy Left to Deal With Migrants By Sea: Globe & Mail, Apr. 21, 2016— Alas, there is no three-year-old Alan Kurdi on a Turkish beach, and no corresponding photographer to compel the world’s compassion for the drowned and drowning migrants in the Mediterranean Sea.

Boko Haram Turns Female Captives Into Terrorists: Dionne Searcey, New York Times, Apr. 7, 2016— Hold the bomb under your armpit to keep it steady, the women and girls were taught.

U.S. at Easter: When Christians Are Slaughtered, Look the Other Way: Raymond Ibrahim, Gatestone Institute, Mar. 27, 2016— Boko Haram, the Nigerian Islamic extremist group, has killed more people in the name of jihad than the Islamic State (ISIS), according to the findings of a new report.

 

On Topic Links

 

Libya's Descent into Chaos: Yehudit Ronen, Middle East Quarterly, Winter, 2016

‘We Saw the Dead People With Our Eyes’: Two Men Describe Surviving Big Migrant Shipwreck Last Week: Elena Becatoros, National Post, Apr. 22, 2016

Libya Could ‘Open the Floodgates’ For Thousands Of Migrants Into Europe: Nick Hallett, Breitbart, Mar. 29, 2016

Tunisia's Fragile Post-Revolutionary Order: Daniel Zisenwine, Middle East Quarterly, Winter, 2016

 

 

ISLAMIC STATE MOVES TO LIBYA WITH

THE PROMISE OF FRESH PLUNDER

Jonathan Spyer

The Australian, Apr. 23, 2016

 

The reconquest by the forces of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad of the town of Qaryatayn from Islamic State this month is the latest indication of the declining fortunes of the extremist organisation in Iraq and Syria, following the loss of Palmyra in late March. Facing determined enemies on three fronts, the Sunni jihadis would appear to be adopting a policy of tactical retreat to preserve their forces for the vital battles to come. As Islamic State holdings in Iraq and Syria contract, the organisation is seeking to maintain its image and momentum by focusing on gains on other fronts.

 

Islamic State's slogan is baqiya wa tatamaddad (remaining and expanding). But in its home grounds, Islamic State is no longer expanding. The prospect of its eclipse there is visible, though still distant, on the horizon. Elsewhere, most notably in Libya, Islamic State is still moving forward. As its holdings in Iraq and Syria contract, Islamic State is seeking gains on other fronts.

 

Islamic State was never solely, or mainly, a ramshackle de facto governing authority in the badlands of western Iraq and eastern Syria. Had it been so, it almost certainly would have been left in place, just one florid example of brutal and dysfunctional governance in a neighbourhood where dictatorship is the norm.

 

Such a bargain would not have suited the Iraqi jihadis at the head of the organisation. They are not in business to rule a small and dusty emirate. Rather, they are deadly serious regarding the task of their caliphate: war against the non-Islamic world until the latter is defeated. More pragmatically, the sense of forward momentum is necessary to keep the foreign volunteers coming and the monetary contributions flowing.

 

For Islamic State, focus on other fronts means two things. The first is increased efforts to engage in international terrorism. The bloody attacks on Brussels airport and Maalbeek metro station on March 22 were the latest events in a discernible trend to offset defeats in the Levant by staging terrorist actions farther afield. The second is heightened efforts to expand territorial holdings in areas other than Iraq and Syria. The movement's holding in Libya is emerging as a place of concern. As Islamic State's territorial holdings continue to be whittled away, it is likely to attempt further international terrorist attacks.

 

Preparations for the retaking of Mosul city are under way. The Iraqi army is cutting supply lines to the city from Salah al-Din and Anbar provinces. Three army divisions have been moved to the Mosul area. Mosul, with more than a million inhabitants, will be a tough target to take. But the outcome of the war is clear and it is against the jihadis. The consequent need for vigilance, communication and co-operation between the security services of the democratic world has never been higher. Regarding the second issue, Islamic State claims authority over eight "provinces" in addition to its area of control straddling Iraq and Syria. The eight areas in question are in Sinai, Libya, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Nigeria, the north Caucasus and the Afghanistan-Pakistan border area.

 

These areas vary greatly in size and importance, and in the extent of control that Islamic State has over them. In some cases, such as the "provinces" of Saudi Arabia and Algeria, the term means relatively little. Both these areas are ruled by powerful states with strong security agencies. The groups in question have carried out terror attacks. But they are seen more properly as organisations supporting Islamic State rather than entities in control of territory analogous to Islamic State in Iraq and Syria itself. However, in areas where, as in Iraq and Syria, the state has lost control over territory, the threat represented by Islamic State "prov­inces" is of a more substantial nature. It is in these lawless and ungoverned or poorly governed spaces that a repeat of the Iraqi and Syrian experiences and the emergence of new de facto jihadi sovereignties is most possible.

 

Some of the countries listed above fit this description. But it is in Libya that Islamic State has made the most progress. In other areas, various factors have stymied the growth of Islamic State, but these factors are absent in Libya. In Yemen, Islamic State declared its wilayah (province) in November 2014. Its growth and activity, however, have been hampered by the presence in that country of a strong rival Salafi jihadi organisation. This is the branch of the core al-Qa'ida leadership in Yemen, known as al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula. AQAP denounced the formation of Islamic State province in Yemen and its presence has limited the ability of Islamic State to grow. Nevertheless, the latter has carried out several attacks. These include suicide bombings in two Shia mosques in March last year and the murder by crucifixion of a Christian priest last month.

 

In northern Sinai, the former Ansar Bait al-Makdis organisation, now called Wilayat al-Sina (Sinai Province), is engaged in an insurgency against Egyptian security forces. The group also has vowed to carry out attacks against Israeli targets across the border. Wilayat al-Sina claimed responsibility for the downing of Russian Metrojet flight 9268. But the insurgency appears to be contained within Sinai, ongoing but with little likelihood of spreading into Egypt proper.

 

Libya is different. The importance of the Islamic State holding there derives from its location and the number of fighters under Islamic State command in the area.  Islamic State controls an area of about 200km around the city of Sirte on the Libyan coast. The greater part of this area was secured last year against the backdrop of Islamic State setbacks in Iraq and Syria, and general chaos in Libya. The location of Sirte offers the possibility for Islamic State of infiltration into Europe, sub-Saharan Africa and the Maghreb. Sirte was the birthplace of former dictator Muammar Gaddafi. It has extensive infrastructure, including an international airport, a seaport and oil installations.

 

Islamic State is thought to have about 4000 to 5000 fighters in Sirte, and is recruiting African migrants making their way to the coast. The movement also derives the depth of its support in the Sirte area from the loyalty of tribesmen. Clearly, the goal is to seek to replicate the model for success in Iraq and Syria: once a territorial base is established, a military force can be built up that can be used aggressively to expand the holding. Islamic State achieved its greatest successes this way, when its forces swept from eastern Syria into Iraq in 2014. In Libya, as in these countries, central government effectively has collapsed and the country is in a state of civil war. Two rival governments vie for power: an internationally recognised authority in Tobruk in the east and an Islamist de facto power in the capital, Tripoli, in the west…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

 

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ITALY LEFT TO DEAL WITH MIGRANTS BY SEA

Globe & Mail, Apr. 21, 2016

 

 

Alas, there is no three-year-old Alan Kurdi on a Turkish beach, and no corresponding photographer to compel the world’s compassion for the drowned and drowning migrants in the Mediterranean Sea. In this latest disaster, it’s far from clear how many people died – maybe 500, with only 41 survivors. One of the 41 survivors was three years old, the same age as Alan Kurdi.

 

                      

 

 

 

                  

 

 

 

WALLENBERG: A SHINING EXAMPLE OF HOW TO CONFRONT EVIL IN OUR CRUEL, & INCREASINGLY VIOLENT WORLD

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station  H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 

 

Contents:

 

In Dark Times, Remember Wallenberg: Irwin Cotler, Algemeiner, Jan. 18, 2015— It has been a dark January.

While the World Has Been Looking Elsewhere, Boko Haram Has Carved Out its Own, Brutal Country: David Blair, National Post, Jan. 14, 2015— You might not have noticed, but the world has acquired a new country.

Let us Mourn for Paris – And No Less for Nigeria: Globe & Mail, Jan. 12, 2015— Millions gathered in Paris this weekend as a tribute to the victims of the Charlie Hebdo shootings and in defiance of the Islamic extremists who murdered them..

This Is Obama’s Last Foreign Policy Chance: Leslie H. Gelb, Daily Beast, Jan. 14, 2015 — Here’s why America’s failure to be represented at the Paris unity march was so profoundly disturbing.

Obama: Charlie Who?: Charles Krauthammer, National Review, Jan. 15, 2015 — On Sunday, at the great Paris rally, the whole world was Charlie.

 

On Topic Links

 

Satellite Images Show Boko Haram Massacre in Nigeria: Drew Hinshaw,  Wall Street Journal, Jan. 15, 2015

Chad Soldiers to Fight Boko Haram in Cameroon: Emmanuel Tumanjong & Drew Hinshaw, Wall Street Journal, Jan. 15, 2015

Boko Haram’s Campaign of Terror in Nigeria is Only Getting Worse: Washington Post, Jan. 14, 2015

When Normal Is Deadly: How Boko Haram Made Us Ok With Slaughter:  Joe Randazzo, Daily Beast, Jan. 18, 2015

                                                     

                            

IN DARK TIMES, REMEMBER WALLENBERG                                                                       

Irwin Cotler                                                                                                                             

Algemeiner, Jan. 18, 2015

 

It has been a dark January. Thus far, 2015 has brought tragic and infuriating terrorism, anti-Semitism, and assaults on liberty in France; a car bomb in Yemen that killed and injured dozens; and the massacre of thousands in Nigeria by Boko Haram, as well as yet another of the group’s mass kidnappings. This is in addition to continuing mass atrocities and humanitarian crises in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Central Africa, Sudan, and elsewhere, and it comes on the heels of the deadly hostage-taking in Sydney, and the barbarous terrorist attack on a school in Pakistan that left more than a hundred dead, most of them children.  At times like these, the evil in the world can feel overwhelming, and it can be tempting to cede to despair, aggravating the problem of the international community as bystander to atrocity and injustice. How appropriate, then, that January 17 was Raoul Wallenberg Day in Canada, in remembrance and tribute to this disappeared hero of humanity.

 

Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat, was a beacon of light during the darkest days of the Holocaust, and his example remains so today. Prior to his arrival in Budapest in July 1944, some 430,000 Hungarian Jews had been deported to the Auschwitz death camp in the space of ten weeks – the fastest, cruelest, and most efficient mass murders of the Nazi genocide. Yet Wallenberg rescued more Hungarian Jews from the Nazis than any single government, notably saving 20,000 by issuing Schutzpasses – documents conferring diplomatic immunity. He even went to the trains as mass deportations were underway, distributing Schutzpasses to people otherwise consigned to death. Other diplomatic missions followed suit, saving thousands more.

 

Wallenberg saved an additional 32,000 by establishing dozens of safe houses in a diplomatic zone protected by neutral legations. He organized hospitals, soup kitchens, and childcare centres, providing human dignity along with the essentials of life. Moreover, when thousands of Jews were sent on a 125-mile death march in November 1944, Wallenberg followed alongside, distributing improvised Schutzpasses, as well as food and medical supplies. To Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi desk murderer who organized the mass deportations to Auschwitz, Wallenberg was the judenhund, the Jewish dog; to thousands of survivors and their families – many of whom have shared their stories of Wallenberg’s bravery with me – he was a guardian angel. Finally, with the Nazis preparing to liquidate the Budapest ghetto as the war neared its end, Wallenberg warned Nazi generals that they would be held accountable and brought to justice, if not executed, for their crimes. The Nazis desisted, and 70,000 more Jews were saved.

 

Regrettably, 70 years ago on January 17, Wallenberg was arrested by the Soviets, who had entered Hungary as liberators. He disappeared into the Gulag, and his fate remains unknown. Initial Soviet claims that he died in custody in July 1947 have since been contradicted by investigations, including the International Commission on the Fate and Whereabouts of Raoul Wallenberg, a group I chaired in 1990, and which included Nobel peace laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, Soviet scholar Mikhail Chelnov, former Israeli attorney general Gideon Hauser, and Wallenberg’s brother, Guy von Dardel, who was the driving force behind the commission’s establishment. In 1985, a U.S. Federal Court found the evidence “incontrovertible” that Wallenberg lived past 1947, “compelling” that he was alive in the 1960s, and “credible” that he remained alive into the 1980s; but precisely what became of him remains a mystery.

 

It is tragic that, while too many of the Holocaust’s guilty have lived out their lives in peace, this saviour of the innocent was detained and disappeared. Indeed, the person who saved so many was not saved by so many who could. Yet, while we pursue the moral obligation of discovering the truth of Wallenberg’s fate, his legacy endures, reminding us of the power of an individual with the compassion to care and the courage to act to confront evil, resist, and transform history. In recognition of his heroism, Canada named Wallenberg our country’s first honorary citizen 30 years ago. He has been granted the same distinction in Hungary, Australia, Israel, and the USA – where many states mark Wallenberg Day on October 5. There are monuments to him in cities around the world, as well as streets and schools that bear his name. In Paris, there has been a Rue Raoul-Wallenberg since 2007.

Wallenberg is a shining example of how to confront overriding evil. By intervening to save civilians, he personified what today we call the Responsibility to Protect; by giving out food and medical supplies, he provided what today we call humanitarian relief and assistance; and by issuing his warning to Nazi generals, he prefigured the Nuremberg principles and what today we call international criminal law. At a time when it seems as though each day brings a new heart-wrenching catastrophe, let us be inspired by Raoul Wallenberg, who came face to face with the horrors of Nazism, and was moved not to despair, but to action.

                                                           

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WHILE THE WORLD HAS BEEN LOOKING ELSEWHERE,                                  

BOKO HARAM HAS CARVED OUT ITS OWN, BRUTAL COUNTRY                                                          

David Blair                                                                                                                                           

National Post,  Jan. 14, 2015

 

You might not have noticed, but the world has acquired a new country. With its own capital, army and self-styled “emir,” this domain possesses some of the features of statehood. But don’t expect an application to join the United Nations: the consuming ambition of this realm is to reverse just about every facet of human progress achieved over the past millennium. Boko Haram, the radical Islamists responsible for enslaving the Chibok schoolgirls and killing hundreds of people in the past week alone, have carved out a heartland in the plains of northern Nigeria. Every insurgency tries to graduate from launching hit-and-run attacks to controlling territory. Boko Haram has now crossed this vital threshold. Scores of towns and villages have fallen into the hands of its gunmen across the states of Borno and Yobe. Today, Boko Haram rules a domain the size of Belgium with a surface area of about 32,000 square kilometers and a population of at least 1.7 million people. The capital, incidentally, is a town called Gwoza. The terrorist state’s army comprises Boko Haram’s fearsomely well-equipped insurgents and the “emir” is a maniacal figure called Abubakar Shekau.

 

For the second time in less than three years, an African government has been sufficiently absent-minded to lose a swathe of its country. Ever since the attacks on September 11, a central goal of Western counter-terrorism policy has been to prevent al-Qaida or its allies from controlling territory. But, somehow, it keeps happening – over and over again. Back in 2012, al-Qaida’s affiliate in North Africa managed to take over two thirds of Mali, achieving mastery over an area three times the size of Britain. France’s brilliantly executed intervention broke al-Qaida’s grip on that domain in 2013, but there is no prospect of Boko Haram being similarly defeated in Nigeria. As Shekau proclaims the birth of his new African “Caliphate” – to go with the similar creation of Islamic State (ISIL or ISIS) in the Middle East – three questions arise: How did it come to this? How dangerous is the world’s newest country? And, most vitally of all, what is to be done?

 

The first question is easiest to answer: Boko Haram achieved its advances because of the corruption and incompetence of the Nigerian state. Now that a string of towns has fallen, the failure of the country’s army to stand up to the insurgents is glaring. Partly, that is explained by the fact that the Nigerian armed forces are relatively small: the army has only 62,000 soldiers to defend a country four times bigger than Britain, with no fewer than 180 million people. But that is not the sole reason for the failure. Instead of spending their generous security budget – almost $8 billion in 2014 – on proper weapons and equipment, Nigerian generals tend to pocket the money themselves or blow it on showpiece helicopters that attract generous commissions but are of precious little use against Boko Haram. The result is that the beleaguered 7th Division, which has primary responsibility for fighting Boko Haram, confines itself to mounting a static defence of Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state. Back in 2013, the Islamists managed to destroy most of this unit’s helicopters. Lacking the means to wage a mobile war and crippled by a venal and inept leadership, the 7th Division has made no serious effort to recapture territory from Boko Haram…

 

As for the dangers posed by the birth of Boko Haram-land, the immediate threat is that the new state will become a base for more conquests. That has already happened, with the town of Baga falling last Wednesday and the Islamists launching regular raids over the border into neighbouring Cameroon. Does this pose a wider peril, stretching beyond West Africa? At the moment, the answer is probably not. Boko Haram shares the anti-Western fanaticism of al-Qaida, but the insurgency stubbornly fails to conform to neat categories. Even its name is not what it seems. Boko Haram is generally taken to mean “Western education is banned,” but “Boko” means book in the Hausa language, so “books are banned” would be a more accurate translation. By implying that their campaign is motivated by an objection to “Western education,” we risk allowing Boko Haram to appear less atavistic than they actually are…                                 

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

                                                                       

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LET US MOURN FOR PARIS – AND NO LESS FOR NIGERIA                                                                  

Globe & Mail, Jan. 12, 2014

 

Millions gathered in Paris this weekend as a tribute to the victims of the Charlie Hebdo shootings and in defiance of the Islamic extremists who murdered them. Meanwhile, in Nigeria, Islamic extremists continued the grim work of slaughtering innocents. The heavily armed Islamist group known as Boko Haram has cut a bloody swath through the country since 2009. It now controls a territory of roughly the same size as the one that suffers under the yoke of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

 

It’s not yet known how many people died during a vicious, week-long rampage in and near Baga, a fishing town in the strife-ridden northeast. Estimates vary, but it’s claimed that between 600 and 2,000 were killed. The weekend toll from the towns of Potiskum and Maiduguri is more precise: 19 dead and 26 injured, after a pair of explosions in crowded outdoor markets. It’s believed the suicide bombers were 10-year-old girls. Last week, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said that “the international jihadist movement has declared war” and that countries like Canada must face it head on. International jihadists may or may not amount to one monolithic enemy. But Mr. Harper is right. With the Nigerian military on the run in Baga – where the national army has itself been accused of mass killings in the past – and as calls multiply for greater international involvement, this is a good opportunity for Canada to define more clearly how this country could contribute to thwarting radical Islamist violence. Ideally, it would go beyond the modest military involvement in Iraq. It’s not realistic to send on its own a Canadian mission, military or otherwise, to Africa’s most populous nation. But surely Canada has a role to play. Mr. Harper and the other party leaders should urgently sketch out their conceptions of it.

 

The insurgency led by Boko Haram – which explicitly rejects Western niceties like public education, gender equality and democracy – is precisely the sort of thing a country serious about opposing violent, obscurantist zealots ought to help stamp out. It’s time to break with the West’s scandalous pattern of inaction in the face of large-scale loss of life in Africa. Millions proclaim, “Nous sommes Charlie.” Let’s also be Baga.                               

                                        

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THIS IS OBAMA’S LAST FOREIGN POLICY CHANCE                                                                            

Leslie H. Gelb                                                                                                     

Daily Beast, Jan. 14, 2015 

 

Here’s why America’s failure to be represented at the Paris unity march was so profoundly disturbing. It wasn’t just because President Obama’s or Vice President Biden’s absence was a horrendous gaffe. More than this, it demonstrated beyond argument that the Obama team lacks the basic instincts and judgment necessary to conduct U.S. national security policy in the next two years. It’s simply too dangerous to let Mr. Obama continue as is—with his current team and his way of making decisions. America, its allies, and friends could be heading into one of the most dangerous periods since the height of the Cold War.

 

Mr. Obama will have to excuse most of his inner core, especially in the White House. He will have to replace them with strong and strategic people of proven foreign policy experience. He’ll also need to seed the Defense and State Departments with new top people serving directly as senior advisers to the secretaries. And he also will need to set up regular consultations—not the usual phony ones—with the two key Senate leaders in this field, Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker and Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, two people who can really improve his decisions and bolster his credibility. Many will be tempted to dismiss these crash solutions as several bridges too far, as simply unrealistic. But hear me out. It can be made much more plausible than it seems at first blush. What’s more, if Mr. Obama doesn’t do something along the lines of what’s proposed here, he and we are in for unmanageable trouble. Before I continue, I have to tell you that I’ve never made such extreme and far-reaching proposals in all my years in this business. I’ve never proposed such a drastic overhaul. But if you think hard about how Mr. Obama and his team handled this weekend in Paris, I think you’ll see I’m not enjoying a foreign policy neurological breakdown. It was an absolute no-brainer for either Mr. Obama or Mr. Biden personally to show the American flag on the streets of Paris. Of course every senior staff person should have recommended it three seconds after the news of the Parisian horrors. So far as we know, none did. Sure, this was an inexplicable and utter staff failure, but the president and the vice president shouldn’t have required anyone to tell them what to do in this situation. It was, after all, about terrorism, the main issue of the era. If all these top officials blew this obvious decision, shudder at how they’ll handle the hard ones.

 

First, Mr. Obama will have to thank his senior National Security Council team and replace them. The must-gos include National Security Adviser Susan Rice, Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, chief speech writer/adviser Ben Rhodes, and foreign policy guru without portfolio Valerie Jarrett. They can all be replaced right away, and their successors won’t require senatorial confirmation. Here’s who could succeed them and inspire great confidence immediately at home and abroad: first rate former top officials and proven diplomats Thomas Pickering, Winston Lord, and Frank Wisner; Republicans with sterling records like Robert Zoellick, Rich Armitage, Robert Kimmitt, and Richard Burt; or a rising young Democrat of proven ability and of demonstrated Cabinet-level quality, Michele Flournoy. Any one of them would make a huge difference from Day 1 in a top role. Others among them could be brought on to the NSC as senior advisers without portfolio to take the lead on specific problems. These are not just my personal opinions about these individuals; they are practically universal ones.

 

The State Department really needs help, too. Anthony Blinken, the new No. 2 there, is quite good and should stay. But Secretary of State John Kerry has been described even by the faithful in this administration as quixotic. Any of those mentioned above for the top NSC job could also serve as senior advisers without portfolio to Kerry and Blinken. But they would have to be given real access and authority. Even if they could only do their advising two or three days a week, these are the kind of people who carry most of the relevant information in their heads already, and their experience is unmatched. Ashton Carter, the defense secretary to be, will be very strong and very good, but he too could use some senior national security/foreign policy advisers to help him through the long list of problems. Particularly good in this role would be Dov Zakheim, a Pentagon undersecretary in a Republican administration. He knows budgets and policy. Carter could also take aboard first rate retired military minds such as Mike Mullen, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and Jack Keane, the former vice chief of staff of the Army.

 

And Mr. Obama also has a great opportunity that he should try his best to pursue: establishing a genuine working relationship with two new senatorial power brokers. Bob Corker and John McCain really know their stuff and are very good heads. Nothing can stop McCain from going beyond acceptable limits of critiquing Mr. Obama, and if he’s determined to do it so be it, but he has the knowledge and often the good instincts to really improve the president’s defense policies. This can work only if McCain accepts that he is not president of the United States and commander in chief. At some point, he’d have to be a team player as he has proved he can be. Corker is much more self-controlled and a very wise head on foreign policy. The more Americans get to know him in the coming years, the more this gem of a public servant will be recognized. Finally, Mr. Obama will need the usual wise men for regular informal consultation: Henry Kissinger, Brent Scowcroft, Zbigniew Brzezinski, and James Baker. These suggestions are all ad hoc and a bit helter-skelter. But no one can figure out how to make the present Obama team work, and I haven’t heard other solutions.

 

In the end, making the national security system work comes down to one factor, one man—Barack Obama. He’s the key problem, and he’s the only one who can bring about a solution. He’s such a closed person. He’s first rate as an intellectual thinker, but he thinks about problems as an intellectual and not as a policy maker and a leader. Alas, that’s just too clear. He also doesn’t like to be challenged with give and take. If he were to bring in the kind of people I suggest, he would have to resolve at the outset to give them a full hearing and tangible respect for their views. The world’s challenges to America today are not mere distractions from domestic priorities. They are gut challenges to our national security in the Middle East, with Russia and China, and with the terrorist threat inside and outside our borders. The terrorism and cyber warfare challenges in particular imperil our very survival. Mr. Obama will not be a lesser man but a greater man if he recognizes what’s at stake and accepts the help he must have to ensure our survival. End of story.

                                                                       

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OBAMA: CHARLIE WHO?                                                                                                

Charles Krauthammer                                                                                                  

National Review, Jan. 15, 2015 

 

On Sunday, at the great Paris rally, the whole world was Charlie. By Tuesday, the veneer of solidarity was exposed as tissue thin. It began dissolving as soon as the real, remaining Charlie Hebdo put out its post-massacre issue featuring a Muhammad cover that, as the New York Times put it, “reignited the debate pitting free speech against religious sensitivities.” Again? Already? Had not 4 million marchers and 44 foreign leaders just turned out on the streets of Paris to declare “No” to intimidation, and to pledge solidarity, indeed identification (“Je suis Charlie”), with a satirical weekly specializing in the most outrageous and often tasteless portrayals of Muhammad? And yet, within 48 hours, the new Charlie Hebdo issue featuring the image of Muhammad — albeit a sorrowful, indeed sympathetic Muhammad — sparked new protests, denunciations, and threats of violence, which in turn evinced another round of doubt and self-flagellation in the West about the propriety and limits of free expression. Hopeless.

 

As for President Obama, he never was Charlie, not even for those 48 hours. From the day of the massacre, he has been practically invisible. At the interstices of various political rallies, he issued bits of muted, mealy-mouthed boilerplate. These were followed by the now-famous absence of any U.S. representative of any stature at the Paris rally, an abdication of moral and political leadership for which the White House has already admitted error. But this was no mere error of judgment or optics or, most absurdly, of communication, in which we are supposed to believe that the president was not informed by his staff about the magnitude, both actual and symbolic, of the demonstration he ignored. (He needed to be told?) On the contrary, the no-show, following the near silence, precisely reflected the president’s profound ambivalence about the very idea of the war on terror. Obama began his administration by purging the phrase from the lexicon of official Washington. He has ever since shuttled between saying (a) that the war must end because of the damage “keeping America on a perpetual wartime footing” was doing to us, and (b) that the war has already ended, as he suggested repeatedly during the 2012 campaign, with bin Laden dead and al-Qaeda “on the run.” Hence his call in a major address at the National Defense University to “refine and ultimately repeal” Congress’s 2001 Authorization of the Use of Military Force, the very legal basis for the war on terror. Hence his accelerating release of Gitmo inmates, in full knowledge that about 30 percent will return to the battlefield. (Five more releases were announced Wednesday.) Which is why, since, oh, the Neolithic era, POWs tend to be released only after a war is over.

 

Paris shows that this war is not over. On the contrary. As it rages, it is entering an ominous third phase. The first, circa 9/11, involved sending Middle Eastern terrorists abroad to attack the infidel West. Then came the lone wolves — local individuals inspired by foreign jihadists to launch one-off attacks, as seen most recently in Québec, Ottawa, and Sydney. Paris marks Phase 3: coordinated commando strikes in Western countries by homegrown native-speaker Islamists activated and instructed from abroad. (Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula [AQAP] has claimed responsibility for the Charlie Hebdo killings, while the kosher-grocery shooter proclaimed allegiance to the Islamic State.)…

 

The War on Terror 2015 is in a new phase with a new geography. At the core are parallel would-be caliphates: in Syria and Iraq, the Islamic State; in central Africa, now spilling out of Nigeria into Cameroon, a near-sovereign Boko Haram; in the badlands of Yemen, AQAP, the most dangerous of all the al-Qaeda affiliates. And beyond lie not just a cast of mini-caliphates embedded in the most ungovernable parts of the Third World from Libya to Somalia to the borderlands of Pakistan, but also an archipelago of no-go Islamist islands embedded in the heart of Europe. This is serious. In both size and reach it is growing. Our president will not say it. Fine. But does he even see it?

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On Topic

 

Satellite Images Show Boko Haram Massacre in Nigeria: Drew Hinshaw,  Wall Street Journal, Jan. 15, 2015

Chad Soldiers to Fight Boko Haram in Cameroon: Emmanuel Tumanjong & Drew Hinshaw, Wall Street Journal, Jan. 15, 2015—Chad began deploying troops on Friday to fight Boko Haram in neighboring Cameroon, officials from the two countries said, drawing the landlocked, Central African nation into a now-regional conflict against the Islamic militants.

Boko Haram’s Campaign of Terror in Nigeria is Only Getting Worse: Washington Post, Jan. 14, 2015 —While the world fixated on the murder of 17 people by Islamic terrorists in and around Paris last week, another slow and grisly massacre was taking place in Nigeria, at the hands of the Islamist militants of Boko Haram.

When Normal Is Deadly: How Boko Haram Made Us Ok With Slaughter:  Joe Randazzo, Daily Beast, Jan. 18, 2015—In the first few days after Boko Haram’s recent attack in the remote village of Baga, most of the news coverage I saw about it concerned the lack of news. Why, the media wondered, was the media not more interested? As many as 2,000 people had been slaughtered, a figure that, if true, would dwarf the number killed in Paris around the same time.

           

 

 

 

 

               

 

 

 

                      

                

                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Contents:         

Visit CIJR’s Bi-Weekly Webzine: Israzine.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing is available by e-mail.
Please urge colleagues, friends, and family to visit our website for more information on our ISRANET series.
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CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing attempts to convey a wide variety of opinions on Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world for its readers’ educational and research purposes. Reprinted articles and documents express the opinions of their authors, and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.

 

 

Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish ResearchL'institut Canadien de recherches sur le Judaïsme, www.isranet.org

Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284 ; ber@isranet.org

“THE ARC OF TERROR” ISLAMIST GROUPS—ISIS, HAMAS, BOKO HARAM, ET AL—EXECUTE TERRORIST JIHAD ACROSS M.E., AFRICA (& N. AMERICA?)

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station  H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 

 

What is Going to Become of Gaza?: Dr. Mordechai Kedar, Arutz Sheva, Aug. 8, 2014 — The question worrying everyone who has an interest in Israel's security is how Operation Protective Edge will end and what the near and distant future of Gaza will be.

ISIS, Hamas, and Boko Haram: Newt Gingrich, CNN, Aug. 8, 2014 — Grim, unyielding and violent reality is beginning to confront the American political establishment with facts from which it cannot hide.

For Gaza Critics, Lessons From ISIS on Genocide: Michael Wilner, Jerusalem Post, Aug. 9, 2014 — Protestors against Israel's operation in Gaza should pay close attention to what is happening tonight in northern Iraq.

Exposing the UN’s Unreliable Data on Gaza Casualties: Evelyn Gordon, Commentary, Aug. 8, 2014 — Okay, it’s official: Even the BBC now admits the UN has been essentially collaborating with a terrorist organization to libel Israel.

 

On Topic Links

 

How a Hamas Anthem Became a Hit in Israel: Yoram Hazony, Tablet, Aug. 8, 2014

Beyond Bombs: To Stop ISIS, US Must Engage: Amir Taheri, New York Post, Aug. 8, 2014

Kurds Need More U.S. Help to Defeat Islamic State: Masoud Barzani, Washington Post, Aug. 10, 2014 

Hamas Could Have Chosen Peace. Instead, It Made Gaza Suffer: Dennis Ross, Washington Post, Aug. 8, 2014

 

WHAT IS GOING TO BECOME OF GAZA?                                                          

Dr. Mordechai Kedar                                                                                     

Arutz Sheva, Aug. 8, 2014

 

What is going to happen in Gaza? The question worrying everyone who has an interest in Israel's security is how Operation Protective Edge will end and what the near and distant future of Gaza will be. The media are filled with Israeli and foreign speakers who know what should happen to Gaza, each according to his own mindset. In this article we will attempt to evaluate the predictions according to the way Hamas sees things. Let us enumerate some of them: 1.Hamas will need outside help on a massive scale to rebuild its ruins: The "proof" of this claim is Hamas' turning to the nations of the world for aid in reconstruction. Except that the real truth is that the Hamas leadership does not want to rebuild the ruins, it wants to use them for many years to milk the world for funds. Leaving things the way they are is in Hamas' interests, rebuilding is not. They will bring journalists, politicians, human right activists and ordinary tourists to look, get them to open their hearts and wallets and pour billions into the hands of Hamas. This money is needed to reconstruct their military infrastructure, to dig tunnels leading to Israel, to manufacture arms, rebuild the rocket-manufacturing sites and continue building underground Gaza.

 

2. Gaza must be demilitarized: Demilitarizing Gaza is a pipe-dream, which a few people in Israel and the world believe can come true, even though demilitarization on such a large scale has never succeeded when there is local resistance to it. There isn't an army in the world that is willing to come to Gaza to battle Hamas, Palestinain Islamic Jihad and other organizations who refuse to give up their weapons. This mission will lead to widescale bloodshed of the force that tries to take away large and varied amount of arms from a terrorist group. And even if some armed force manages to take some of the weapons of a few groups, they will buy new weapons with Qatar funding and from other countries who do not check what the Palestinians did with the money they received before the Operation. 3. Hamas will have to change for the sake of the Gazan civilian population: That, too, is a pipe-dream. Jihadist movements listen only  to Allah and the commandment to do Jihad for him, not to the needs of any man woman or child. Allah and Jihad are way above any human needs, and the welfare of Gazans doesn't interest the Jihadists any more than did the lives of the Gazans who were their human shields. On the contrary, the more the people suffer the easier it is to bring the media and politicians to see them and thereby squeeze some more international funds for "humanitarian purposes" – like digging tunnels and acquiring more rockets.

 

4. Gazans will rebel against Hamas rule: The probability that the people of Gaza will protest against Hamas rule or act against the organization is very low, because Hamas rule is no different from any Islamic State: the terrorists have no problem killing, torturing and humiliating anyone who acts against them or even demonstrates against them. The rule of fear and terror that Hamas has built in Gaza since its 2007 takeover is still going strong and will continue in the future, in the name of Allah and the Palestinian people, of course. 5. Hamas' demand to lift the sea blockade is sensible and justified : There are people in the world, some even in Israel, who think that the people of Gaza have the right to have access to the sea, to import and export merchandise freely, as do most of the nations that  border the sea. Hamas also thinks it has this right, but for a totally different reason: the terrorists must get their "irrigation pipes" from Iran, cement from Turkey, and raw materials for manufacturing "humanitarian goods" from North Korea. Those tired souls who believe in removing the siege are acting  as if they don't know just why Hamas wants the blockade lifted. Worst of all, Israel has several organizations, most of them funded by the New Israel Fund, that used legal and public measures to make it easier for Hamas to prepare its military infrastructure…How long will it take for these organizations and others of their type to go back to working on the legal, political and public level in Israel and abroad, trying to "ease the life of the residents of Gaza" by removing the siege on importing "humanitarian goods" for the peaceful army of Hamas? Someone will say that instead of cement, one can allow boards and sheets of hammered metal, so that houses can be built. It is worthwhile remembering that a terror tunnel can be built  with a ceiling supported by metal sheets held up by vertical boards. That is how the IDF once built fortifications, and Hamas is capable of doing that in the future.

 

6. We must bring the PA to Gaza to replace Hamas' rule: That, perhaps, is the most egregious statement of all. As opposed to the mantra repeated by Oslo Accord supporters, that "Arafat will deal with terror without having to worry  about Betselem (see above organizations, ed.) or the Supreme Court", the PA led by Mahmoud Abbas has never had to commit itself to eliminating terror organizations. The PA has labored throughout to "calm" the terror organizations, which used the period to get stronger and better armed. There were those in Israel and the world who knew the truth, who read the books by Ronen Bergman and Kenneth Levine. Israelis and others deluded themselves and the world into thinking that the PA is on the right path. Meanwhile Hamas won a majority of the seats in the PA legislature in January 2006, and forcibly – and bloodily – gained control of Gaza in June 2007, establishing a terror state there. Will the PA agree to get Gaza back? Very possibly it will, but not so as to demilitarize Hamas. It will do so to be on the receiving end of the money sent to rebuild Gaza from Europe, America, Qatar, the UN and private donors. What these donors do not know is that the PA's leaders will siphon off, as they have done in the past, a good part of the money for their private bank accounts before they buy one brick for Gaza. There are those who will say that they can be supervised in order to prevent that, as if past supervision ever did any good. It is possible that if the PA gets to Gaza, the Dayton Force that the US established will battle the Jihadists in the tunnels? Will the PA "Security Forces" discover the tunnels and destroy them? Will they take on the terror organization fighters who refuse to give up their rockets and arms? Will Abbas close the rocket factories? The answer to these questions is as clear and bright as the August noon sun: NO and once again, NO. The opposite will occur: the PA presence in Gaza will make it harder for Israel to act against terror and will add another "mediating" factor which will soon become a terror-masking entity whose actions vis a vis Israel will be chosen with a Hamas gun to its head. Is there someone in Israel who can promise that this is not what will happen?

 

7. The "secure passage" from Gaza to Judea and Samaria must be opened: This, too, is an idiotic idea that is meant – either on purpose or through utter naivete – to allow Hamas and the other terrorist organizations to establish Hamastan in Judea and Samaria, a terror state that will be able to look over the entire length and  breadth of Israel from Beer Sheva and Dimona in the south to Afula and Beit Shean in the north and including the coastal plain from Ashkelon to Haifa, Tel Aviv and its suburbs. No airline, Israeli or international, will agree to put its airplanes and passengers in danger during landing and takeoff in Ben Gurion Airport when Jihadists are perched on the hills of Beit Aryeh setting their light weaponry's sights (the ones given to them by Israel) on those airplanes. Opening the "secure passage" will allow the transferring weapons of war and the practical knowledge needed to manufacture them from Gaza to Judea and Samaria and will allow all the enemies of Israel, whenever they wish, to aim at Tel Aviv, Dimona and Afula – and paralyze Israel's economy. What will those tired souls say then, when Hamas deals with the PA without worrying about Betselem and the High Court? Is there anyone in Israel and the world that can give their word that this scenario won't be played out? Can anyone prevent Hamas from, once again, winning most of the seats in the legislature democratically? And what will the countries of Europe, America or the UN do when Hamas controls Judea and Samaria the way they control Gaza?

 

Three main conclusions can be reached from the above: The first is that we must not reach any agreement with Gaza. What can bring quiet to Gaza is only fear based on the sure knowledge that any provocation – and it doesn't matter which organization does that provocation – will be answered with a non-proportionate response. The idea of removing the sea blockade should not even be broached and certainly not the thought of an airport. Israel can continue to sell Gaza food, water, medicines, gasoline and electricity to prevent a humanitarian tragedy there…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

Contents                                               

ISIS, HAMAS, AND BOKO HARAM                                                               

Newt Gingrich                                                                                                               

CNN, Aug. 8, 2014

 

Grim, unyielding and violent reality is beginning to confront the American political establishment with facts from which it cannot hide. For 35 years, since Iranians seized the American Embassy on November 4, 1979, and kept the Americans in it as hostages, the United States has been at war with radical Islamists. They knew it. We hid from it. Year after year since then, radical Islamists have grown more militant, more sophisticated and more numerous. Now, in an arc of terror from Boko Haram in Nigeria through Hamas in Gaza to ISIS in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, there is a clear wave of vicious religious warfare being waged against civilization by fanatics who openly promise and engage in genocidal killing.

 

To understand why I link ISIS, Hamas and Boko Haram, consider the language of their own statements. Why not take them at their word? ISIS has made its murderous intentions painfully clear. It has proven in town after town that it will force people to convert to Islam or it will kill them in numbers that are now being called genocidal. As President Obama said in his speech Thursday night, “Many thousands of innocent civilians are faced with the danger of being wiped out.” The group has also made clear that it views its mission as a worldwide war. “I say to America that the Islamic caliphate has been established,” a spokesman for the group said Thursday. He warned that the group will attack America and “will raise the flag of Allah in the White House.” “Don’t be cowards and attack us with drones,” he said. “Instead send your soldiers, the ones we humiliated in Iraq. We will humiliate them everywhere.” Its actions give us no choice but to acknowledge that ISIS means what it says.

 

Many people seem to be confused or deluded into believing that Hamas does not have similarly genocidal intentions. Its charter is a useful starting point. “Israel will rise and will remain erect until Islam eliminates it as it had eliminated its predecessors,” it says. What does “eliminate” mean, you might ask? More from the charter: “…[T]he Hamas has been looking forward to implement Allah’s promise whatever time it might take. The prophet, prayer and peace be upon him, said: The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! there is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him!” As Americans and Europeans beg for cease-fires, it is useful to see Hamas’ attitude toward such arrangements. From “Article Thirteen: Peaceful Solutions, [Peace] Initiatives and International Conferences”: “[Peace] initiatives, the so-called peaceful solutions, and the international conferences to resolve the Palestinian problem, are all contrary to the beliefs of the Islamic Resistance Movement. For renouncing any part of Palestine means renouncing part of the religion…the movement educates its members to adhere to its principles and to raise the banner of Allah over their homeland as they fight their Jihad. …“There is no solution to the Palestinian problem except by Jihad,” it concludes. “The initiatives, proposals and international conferences are but a waste of time, an exercise in futility. The Palestinian people are too noble to have their future, their right and their destiny submitted to a vain game.” Of course, the Charter of Hamas was written in 1988, so maybe they have mellowed? During this current struggle, while Westerners were begging the Israelis to be reasonable, an imam amplified Hamas’ position in a public, televised sermon. “Our doctrine in fighting you [the Jews] is that we will totally exterminate you. We will not leave a single one of you alive, because you are alien usurpers of the land and eternal mercenaries.” Obviously the organization exists for the same genocidal mission as ISIS.

 

Boko Haram has its own contribution to this hateful movement. A spokesman for Boko Haram recently told a Nigerian newspaper that “the Nigerian state and Christians are our enemies and we will be launching attacks on the Nigerian state and its security apparatus as well as churches until we achieve our goal of establishing an Islamic state in place of the secular state.” Boko Haram threatened its captured Christian girls with death or being sold into slavery if they didn’t convert to Islam. ISIS is saying the same thing to the Yazidi girls they are capturing. The civilized world faces an existential challenge to its very right to exist. This violent, genocidal ideology holds more territory today than at any time in modern history. From Nigeria to Iraq, the challenge is being organized by sincere, serious fanatics motivated by religion and willing, indeed eager, to die for their cause.  Western elites are terrified of confronting this reality. For years they have refused to take these people at their word, and millions of Iraqis, Syrians, Nigerians, Lebanese, Palestinians and Israelis, among many others, are paying the price…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

Contents

FOR GAZA CRITICS, LESSONS FROM ISIS ON GENOCIDE                  

Michael Wilner   

Jerusalem Post, Aug. 9, 2014 

                       

Protestors against Israel's operation in Gaza should pay close attention to what is happening tonight in northern Iraq. From a mountaintop, with a view over enemy combatants from a clear moral high ground, the United States is acting against the pending threat of actual genocide: the intentional, regime-sponsored systematic extermination of a people based on their identity. Genocide is not a word often uttered by American presidents. In part, that is because genocide is an exceptionally rare crime. But when the act occurs, it is unmistakeable in its scale and its hallmarks: the world knows what has happened, because historically, its perpetrators hold a worldview that their murderous actions were justified.

 

In that tradition, the medieval Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, has made no secret of its goal to rule a "caliphate" full of zealot Sunnis, where women are enslaved and mutilated, and nonbelievers are tortured and beheaded. Tens of thousands of innocents have run for their lives from its warpath without much help from the international community— until now, from the United States, which has committed its military to the enforcement of that very basic international norm. Can we expect mass protests in Vienna, Paris and Berlin calling for the protection of the oppressed of Iraq? The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees says over 1 million have been displaced across Iraqi territory in the last month alone, with over 100,000 Christians, Yazidis, and many Muslims now seeking shelter.  This is what the threat of genocide looks like, for all those confused by its definition. Yazidi children are dying of thirst on the peak of a low mountain, without roofs over their heads to protect them from the August Iraqi sun, in flight from their homes because ISIS believes their families should submit and convert or perish. ISIS wants these people dead at their hands; the acute travesty unfolding in Iraq is just that simple. International norms require the world make every effort to protect these innocent men and women stranded on Mount Sinjar, regardless of their religion, creed or ethnicity. Thankfully, due to the hard-fought successes of liberal democracies, that standard applies to all peoples, everywhere, including the Jews of Israel and of the diaspora, and the desperate Palestinians of Gaza.

 

Unfortunately for Gazans, they are ruled by a government that, like ISIS, makes no secret of its intention to kill, systematically, on a massive scale. "For our struggle against the Jews is extremely wide-ranging and grave," Hamas' charter reads, "so much so that it will need all the loyal efforts we can wield, to be followed by further steps and reinforced by successive battalions from the multifarious Arab and Islamic world, until the enemies are defeated." Not two weeks ago, Hamas officials called for the killing of all Jews worldwide. And a week before that, Hamas' leadership said that the objectives of the group, as listed in their charter, are more important than the cherished lives of the people in Gaza that they claim to represent. Nevertheless, this organization has mobilized the support of parties throughout Europe, after building an infrastructure with minimal resources that facilitates the indiscriminate targeting of not only Jews, but of all people throughout the lands of a sovereign neighboring state. Quite transparently, the group seeks the targeted, regime-sponsored systematic extermination of a people based on their identity. Terrorists in the Middle East today, driven perversely by Islamic fundamentalism, operate from a paradigm that does not value human life— and certainly not liberty, taken for granted by those demonstrating freely throughout the streets of Europe. A xenophobic interpretation of the Quran, instead, justifies to some the mass control and killing of men as the will of God. Israel seeks the basic rights of a state, and has demonstrated its desire to protect Gazan civilians from military actions against those who attempt to deny those basic rights: sovereign borders, free from the daily threat of attacks against its people. And yet throughout the last month, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and PLO ambassador to the United Nations Riyad Mansour, have openly charged Israel with actions tantamount to this stark charge of genocide.

 

Put succinctly: Leadership of the Palestinian Authority, considered the moderate representation of the Palestinian people, have equated Israel's operation in Gaza to ISIS' operations in eastern Syria and northern Iraq. "It is shameful and disgraceful that these terrorists are doing this in the name of religion, killing the people whose killing Allah has forbidden, and mutilating their bodies and feeling proud in publishing this,” Saudi Arabian King Abdullah said of Hamas' tactics last month, at the height of the conflict. "They have distorted the image of Islam with its purity and humanity and smeared it with all sorts of bad qualities by their actions, injustice and crimes.” Way too many people have died in Gaza, and the tactics and wisdom of Israel's operation should be matters of fierce public debate. They surely will. But such cries of genocide, crimes against humanity and other war crimes are accusations of an intent among Israelis that go far beyond the reality of those supporting and executing Operation Protective Edge. Genocide is what happens when a people are discriminated against, corralled, and led to slaughter; misrepresenting the deed does an injustice to all of its true victims, and complicates good-faith efforts to prevent the crime from happening again.

 

Contents

EXPOSING THE UN’S UNRELIABLE DATA ON GAZA CASUALTIES              

Evelyn Gordon                 

 

Commentary, Aug. 8, 2014

 

Okay, it’s official: Even the BBC now admits the UN has been essentially collaborating with a terrorist organization to libel Israel. Of course, the venerable British broadcaster doesn’t say so explicitly; it even assures its readers that UN officials aren’t to blame for the misinformation they’ve been propagating. But it’s hard to reach any other conclusion after reading this analysis of Gaza’s casualty figures by the station’s head of statistics, Anthony Reuben. As Reuben notes, the figures on Palestinian casualties cited by most news organizations come from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. As of August 6, this agency was reporting 1,843 Palestinian fatalities, including at least 1,354 civilians; 279 hadn’t yet been identified. Thus civilians ostensibly comprise at least 73 percent of total fatalities, and since the UN excludes unidentified casualties from its calculations, it usually cites an even higher figure–currently 86 percent.

 

But as Reuben writes, “if the Israeli attacks have been ‘indiscriminate’, as the UN Human Rights Council says, it is hard to work out why they have killed so many more civilian men than women.” Quoting a New York Times analysis, he noted that men aged 20-29, who are the most likely to be combatants, are “also the most overrepresented in the death toll,” comprising 9 percent of Gazans but 34 percent of identified fatalities. In contrast, “women and children under 15, the least likely to be legitimate targets, were the most underrepresented, making up 71 percent of the population and 33 percent of the known-age casualties.”

 

So Reuben asked the high commissioner’s office how it explains this statistical anomaly. Here’s the mind-boggling response: “Matthias Behnk, from OHCHR, told BBC News that the organisation would not want to speculate about why there had been so many adult male casualties.” In other words, confronted with a glaring statistical anomaly, the UN opted “not to speculate” about whether this cast doubt on the credibility of its claim that over 80 percent of fatalities were civilians. Instead, it kept right on feeding that number to journalists–most of whom promptly regurgitated it with no questions asked. The statistical anomaly is compounded by other known facts: Terrorists don’t usually fight in uniform, so they arrive at the morgue in civilian clothing; the Hamas Interior Ministry explicitly ordered Gazans to identify all casualties as “innocent civilians” even if they aren’t; and Hamas has a history of mislabeling militants as civilian casualties: It did so during the 2009 war in Gaza as well, only admitting years later that, just as Israel claimed, most of the dead were militants rather than civilians. All this provides further grounds for suspecting that many male combat-age “civilians” were actually militants, and thus for caution about declaring them civilians. But the UN evinced no such qualms.

 

Finally, there’s the minor detail that some civilian casualties were caused by Hamas’s own misfired rockets. We know for certain about some such cases; for instance, an Italian journalist confirmed (after leaving Gaza) that one Palestinian rocket killed 10 Palestinians, including eight children, in a park in al-Shati. But there are undoubtedly many more that we don’t yet know about, because according to IDF data, almost a sixth of all Palestinian rockets launched–475 out of 3,137–landed in Gaza rather than Israel. That statistic is highly credible, because the Iron Dome system tracks every rocket’s trajectory to determine whether it needs intercepting, and couldn’t have achieved the success it did if its trajectory tracking system weren’t extremely accurate. And since Gaza has neither Iron Dome nor bomb shelters, Hamas rockets would be far more lethal there than they were in Israel. Yet the UN unhesitatingly blames Israel for all Palestinian casualties. Reuben insists the UN shouldn’t be blamed for its misleading data, since “their statistics are accompanied by caveats and described as preliminary and subject to revision.” But that’s ridiculous. If the UN had doubts about the data’s veracity, it should have told the media it “would not want to speculate” about the civilian-to-combatant ratio. Instead, it opted to publish wildly exaggerated civilian casualty counts as unqualified fact while declining “to speculate” about the glaring statistical anomalies in its data. In short, it collaborated wittingly and willingly with Hamas’s strategy to smear Israel by accusing it of massacring civilians. And most of the world’s media unhesitatingly played along.

 

On Topic

 

How a Hamas Anthem Became a Hit in Israel: Yoram Hazony, Tablet, Aug. 8, 2014—A few days ago, I called a young relative who is serving in the Israeli air force and asked him: “Do you know that song—“Kum, Aseh Piguim”?

Beyond Bombs: To Stop ISIS, US Must Engage: Amir Taheri, New York Post, Aug. 8, 2014 —The “Islamic State” is on the march. To stop it, American bombs are welcome, but what’s needed most is US leadership.

Kurds Need More U.S. Help to Defeat Islamic State: Masoud Barzani, Washington Post, Aug. 10, 2014 —Today the people of Kurdistan and Iraq are threatened by a fanatical and barbaric terrorist organization that wishes to dominate Middle East.

Hamas Could Have Chosen Peace. Instead, It Made Gaza Suffer: Dennis Ross, Washington Post, Aug. 8, 2014— In the winter of 2005, Ziad Abu Amr, a Gaza representative in the Palestinian Legislative Council, invited me to speak in Gaza City.

               

 

 

                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Contents:         

Visit CIJR’s Bi-Weekly Webzine: Israzine.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing is available by e-mail.
Please urge colleagues, friends, and family to visit our website for more information on our ISRANET series.
To join our distribution list, or to unsubscribe, visit us at http://www.isranet.org/.

The ISRANET Daily Briefing is a service of CIJR. We hope that you find it useful and that you will support it and our pro-Israel educational work by forwarding a minimum $90.00 tax-deductible contribution [please send a cheque or VISA/MasterCard information to CIJR (see cover page for address)]. All donations include a membership-subscription to our respected quarterly ISRAFAX print magazine, which will be mailed to your home.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing attempts to convey a wide variety of opinions on Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world for its readers’ educational and research purposes. Reprinted articles and documents express the opinions of their authors, and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.

 

 

Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish ResearchL'institut Canadien de recherches sur le Judaïsme, www.isranet.org

Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284 ; ber@isranet.org

SHAVUOTH WHILE ISRAEL’S ENEMIES—SYRIA, TALIBAN, BOKO HARAM, HAMAS, ETC.— MACHINATE, THE JEWISH PEOPLE JOYFULLY CELEBRATE GIVING OF THE TORAH

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station  H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 – Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284; E-mail: rob@isranet.org

 

Assad’s Hollow Mandate: Steven Heydemann, Foreign Policy, June 2, 2014—  On June 3, in a parody of democracy, Bashar al-Assad will be reelected as president of Syria for his third seven-year term.

Deal for U.S. Soldier Reignites Debate About Talking to Terrorists: Paul Koring, Globe & Mail, June 2, 2013— President Barack Obama's decision to swap five high-ranking Taliban for a U.S. soldier some regard as a deserter has ignited a furore over whether deal-making with terrorist groups increases the risk of attack.

Boko Haram and the Dynamics of Denial: Mark Durie, Frontpage, May 15, 2014— It is a common refrain of pious Muslims in the face of atrocities done by other Muslims in the name of Islam that Islam must not be shamed.

Why Shavuot is All But Ignored Across America: Marissa Brostoff, Tablet, May 17, 2014— When it comes to theological significance, the late-spring festival of Shavuot is no slouch: The event it commemorates—God giving the Torah to the Jews at Mount Sinai—is arguably the most pivotal in the narrative of the Jewish people.

 

On Topic Links

 

How Could Obama Ignore Radical Islam in 9/11 Speech?: Morton A. Klein & Daniel Mandel, Algemeiner, May 20, 2014

Doors Open for Muslim Brotherhood?: Tarek Fatah, Sun News, June 2, 2014

The Muslim Brotherhood and Terrorist Organizations: Valentina Colombo, Gatestone Institute, May 6, 2014

Shavuot and Diversity: Jerusalem Post, June 2, 2014

 

ASSAD’S HOLLOW MANDATE           

Steven Heydemann                                                                                             

Foreign Policy, June 2, 2014

                         

On June 3, in a parody of democracy, Bashar al-Assad will be reelected as president of Syria for his third seven-year term. If he serves out this term, Assad will be eligible to run for a fourth term in 2021 that would extend his presidency to 28 years — two years short of his father's tenure. Syrians may yet be spared almost six decades of direct Assad family rule, but the outcome of Tuesday's vote is a foregone conclusion. Tuesday's election is easy to ridicule, but it would be a mistake to dismiss it as a meaningless charade. Assad's victory will further weaken international leverage over his regime, will be used by his authoritarian allies to sustain their support — including in the U.N. Security Council — and will diminish prospects for a negotiated settlement of the Syrian conflict.

 

The United States, the U.N., and the more than 100 governments that constitute the Friends of Syria Group (FOS), an alliance of governments opposed to Assad's continued rule, should take steps to thwart the Assad regime's efforts to exploit this phony election, enhance its legitimacy, and validate its self-serving claims to a military victory over the Syrian opposition. A preemptive move by the U.N. General Assembly, in the form of a resolution denouncing the election, rejecting the outcome as illegitimate, and insisting on a negotiated settlement of the conflict under the terms of the U.N. Geneva Protocol of June 2012, would be a small but important step in this direction.

 

Still, there are far more meaningful measures that can, and should, be taken. The United States and other FOS governments, which include Egypt, France, Germany, Italy, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and Britain, can implement policies to strip the Assad regime of its legal and political legitimacy, transferring elements of sovereignty, including control over embassies, to recognized bodies of the Syrian opposition. On May 12, France closed the Syrian embassy in Paris to protest the June 3 election. Germany and Belgium have denied permission for Syrian embassies to hold expatriate voting. These are useful short-term steps, but longer-term measures to challenge the legitimacy of the regime are needed. In playing the sovereignty card, the United States and other FOS governments will not only make their rejection of the Assad regime's phony election clear, but also gain leverage in their efforts to move the Syrian conflict toward a negotiated settlement.

 

Syria's conflict has left 160,000 dead and more than nine million displaced. It has wreaked havoc on the country's civilian population, decimated its economy, frayed its territorial integrity, and fueled sectarian spillover that threatens the stability of neighboring states. That an election is taking place at all in the midst of such conditions underscores the determination of the Assad regime to assert its standing as the sovereign authority in Syria, the outsized importance it attaches in doing so to the kind of hollow, ritualistic displays of legalism and political participation this election represents, and the ease with which autocrats can appropriate and distort the vocabulary and form of democratic politics.

 

The regime and its supporters have pitched the upcoming election as a major step forward in Syria's democratic development. The June 3 vote has been organized according to electoral regulations approved in a February 2012 referendum to amend the Syrian constitution. Under the revised electoral law, Syria's president will be chosen in a multi-candidate election for the first time since the Ba'ath Party seized power in March 1963. For the past 40 years, Syrian presidents were not so much elected as affirmed through national plebiscites in which the sole candidate was routinely supported by upwards of 98 percent of participants, giving rise to any number dark jokes concerning the fate of the 1-2 percent of dissenters.

 

The Assad regime has billed the 2014 election as the first in which the incumbent will face competition. The Syrian, Iranian, pro-Hezbollah, and even Russian media are covering the election "race" with great fanfare. However, the fine print of the new election laws ensure that the playing field is anything but level. Candidates must be approved by 35 members of the regime's tame Parliament and by the Supreme Constitutional Court, and cannot have been convicted of a "dishonorable felony," a category that includes most political acts criminalized by the regime. Candidates must also have been resident in Syria continuously for the past 10 years — a condition that renders most credible opposition leaders ineligible to run…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

                                               

 

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DEAL FOR U.S. SOLDIER REIGNITES

DEBATE ABOUT TALKING TO TERRORISTS

Paul Koring                                              

 Globe & Mail, June 2, 2014

 

President Barack Obama's decision to swap five high-ranking Taliban for a U.S. soldier some regard as a deserter has ignited a furore over whether deal-making with terrorist groups increases the risk of attack. "We didn't negotiate with terrorists," insisted Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, explaining that it was a prisoner-of-war exchange and thus different. But many regard Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, now 28, as a deserter, not a soldier captured by the enemy. After sending e-mails to his family denouncing the war, then-Private Bergdahl shed his helmet and weapons and walked away from a remote mountain outpost in Afghanistan's Paktika province five years ago. At least six U.S. soldiers were subsequently killed in the massive hunt to find the disenchanted missing soldier who had dabbled in Buddhism and tried – but failed – to join the French Foreign Legion.

"I don't understand why we're trading prisoners at Gitmo for somebody who deserted during a time of war, which is an act of treason," Matt Vierkant, a member of the same army unit, told CNN, using the shorthand name for the U.S. detention centre at Guantanamo Bay naval base. Senator John McCain, the former naval aviator who spent five years as a prisoner of war being tortured in North Vietnam, said he understood the impulse to bring every American home, but decried the deal as an example of Mr. Obama's deeply flawed Afghanistan exit strategy. He warned that the senior Taliban who were ordered released by Mr. Obama were among "the hardest of the hard core" and could pose a threat to the United States. "If they re-enter the fight, it will put American lives at risk," Sen. McCain said, noting the only known conditions on their release to Qatar was that they not be free to leave the wealthy Gulf emirate for a year. Susan Rice, the President's national security adviser, played down the threat. "In all likelihood," she said, "they will not pose a national security risk."

In Kabul, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who was reportedly kept in the dark about the swap, "is now even more distrustful of U.S. intentions," said one of his aides. The Taliban dismissed notions that freeing the five from Guantanamo, where they have been held for 12 years, will help long-stalled talks between insurgents and the Afghan government. "It won't help the peace process in any way, because we don't believe in the peace process," said Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the radical Islamic group that ruled Afghanistan and sheltered al-Qaeda before being toppled after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. In Washington, the President's critics denounced the swap. "It sends a message," said Senator Ted Cruz, the Canadian-born Republican from Texas. "Capture a U.S. soldier [and] you can trade that soldier for five terrorists."

Senior administrations officials defended the swap even as it emerged that former Obama cabinet members, including Hillary Clinton, had rejected freeing high-ranking Taliban prisoners. Mike Rogers, the Republican chairman of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, said: "I am extremely troubled … that the United States negotiated with terrorists," warning "this decision will threaten the lives of American soldiers for years to come." The White House ducked questions about whether Sgt. Bergdahl had voluntarily left his post. The Pentagon "has been and will continue to be the lead in terms of evaluating all of the circumstances surrounding his initial detention and his captivity," said Mr. Obama's spokesman Jay Carney.

Nothing by way of explanation has yet been heard from Sgt. Bergdahl, who was plucked from a remote rendezvous spot by U.S. Special Forces and flown first to Bagram air base near Kabul and then to Germany. He will eventually return to the United States to face intense scrutiny – and possibly a court martial. In messages home shortly before he walked away from his post, Sgt. Bergdahl, who has twice been promoted while in captivity, made clear his disillusionment with the war. "Life way too short to care … I am ashamed to even be American … I am sorry for everything. The horror that is America is disgusting," he wrote in e-mails first made public by Rolling Stone magazine two years ago. "The U.S. army … is the army of liars, backstabbers, fools, and bullies," he wrote – views that sparked a renewed firestorm on social media in the last few days. Meanwhile, the tiny Idaho town of Hailey was festooned with yellow ribbons and balloons awaiting the sergeant's return. "There's a lot of controversy," Adam Marks told The Los Angeles Times. "People are saying he's a traitor and that he deserted his post. But everybody here is just happy he's coming home."

 

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BOKO HARAM AND THE DYNAMICS OF DENIAL                                            

Mark Durie                                                                                                                         

Frontpage, May 15, 2014

 

It is a common refrain of pious Muslims in the face of atrocities done by other Muslims in the name of Islam that Islam must not be shamed. Whenever an Islamic atrocity potentially dishonors Islam, non-Muslims are asked to agree that ‘This is not Islamic’ so that the honor of Islam can be kept pristine. The real issue, however, is not what would be good or bad for Islam’s reputation; Islam is not the victim here. The pressing issue is not to get people to think well of Islam, but how, for instance, in the case of Boko Haram’s kidnapping of the Nigerian schoolgirls, the girls can be rescued and, above all, how Boko Haram’s murderous rampage can be halted. Qasim Rashid, an American Muslim, recently published on FoxNews.com a heart-felt expression of deep distress at the kidnapping of Nigerian girls by Boko Haram (‘What would Muhammad say to Boko Haram’).  He declared that Muhammad himself would not recognize this group as acting in line with his teachings: “Boko Haram’s claim that Islam motivates their kidnappings is no different than Adolf Hitler’s claim that Christianity motivated his genocide. This terrorist organization acts in direct violation of every Islamic teaching regarding women.”

 

Qasim Rashid is not the only Muslim who has been speaking out in support of the kidnapped girls, while denying that their plight has anything to do with Islam. Qasim Rashid is a member of the Ahmaddiyah community, which is regarded as unorthodox by most Muslims. Indeed Ahmaddiyahs are often severely persecuted for their beliefs in Islamic nations.  Although Qasim Rashid does not speak for mainstream Islam, he is nevertheless to be commended for speaking up against Boko Haram’s repugnant acts. But does the claim that Boko Haram is not Islamic hold up to scrutiny? What counts as a valid manifestation of Islam? Ahmaddiyah beliefs can be considered Islamic, for those who hold them do so on the basis of a reasoned interpretation of Islamic canonical sources, even if the majority of Muslims reject them as Muslims. By the same token, the beliefs of Boko Haram must also be considered a form of Islam, for they too are held on the basis of a reasoned interpretation of Islamic canonical sources.

 

It needs to be acknowledged that Boko Haram has not arisen in a vacuum.  As Andrew Bostom has pointed out, violent opposition to non-Islamic culture has been a feature of Nigerian Islam for centuries. Today this hatred is being directed against Western education and secular government, but in the past it was indigenous Africa cultures which were targeted for brutal treatment, including enslavement and slaughter.  The modern revival of absolutist Sharia-compliant Islam in the north of Nigeria is a process which has deep roots in history.  It has also been in progress for decades.  Khalid Yasin, an African American convert to Islam and globe-trotting preacher, waxed lyrical about the advance of Sharia law in Nigeria on Australian national radio in 2003: “If we look at the evolution of the Sharia experiment in Nigeria for instance. It’s just a wonderful, phenomenal experience. It has brought about some sweeping changes, balances, within the society, regulations in terms of moral practices and so many things. …What did the Sharia provide? Always dignity, protection, and the religious rights?”

 

But let us consider the evidence Qasim Rashid gives for his view that Muhammad would disown Boko Haram.  His arguments can be summarized as follows: ‘Boko Haram violates the Koran 24:34 [i.e. Sura 24:33] which commands, “and force not your women to unchaste life,” i.e. [this is] a condemnation of Boko Haram’s intention to sell these girls into prostitution.’ ‘They violate Koran 4:20 [i.e. Sura 4:19] which declares, “it is not lawful for you to inherit women against their will; nor should you detain them,” i.e. a specific repudiation of Boko Haram’s kidnapping and detention.’ ‘Prophet Muhammad’s dying words embodied these commandments. He implored, “Do treat your women well and be kind to them, for they are your partners and committed helpers.”’ The seeking of knowledge is an obligation on all Muslims, including ‘secular  knowledge’. ‘Islam … commands female education.’

 

Although Qasim Rashid’s views are sincerely held, his reasoning is weak. Let us consider his points in order. Compel not your slave-girls — Sura 24:33…Contra Qasim Rashid, Sura 24:33 does not say ‘force not your women’ but: “… compel not your slave-girls to prostitution when they desire to keep chaste, in order to seek the frail goods of this world’s life. And whoever compels them, then surely after their compulsion Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.” (The Quran translation used here is cited from a translation by Ahmaddiya scholar Muhammad Maulana Ali). The word translated ‘slave-girl’ here can also mean a young woman, but in this passage it clearly refers to female slaves. A standard interpretation of this verse by Sunni commentators – such as Ibn Kathir – is that if someone owns a slave girl, he should not prostitute her, but if he does, Allah will forgive her.

 

Strictly speaking, this verse does not appear to apply to the situation of the Nigerian girls taken by Boko Haram.  The outrage is that they were taken captive and enslaved in the first place, becoming what the Koran refers to as ‘those whom your right hand possesses’.  That they may have been raped by their captors seems highly likely, but this is not the same thing as being prostituted to produce income for their owners. Islam permits men to have sexual intercourse with their slave women, and also to sell them into the service of another, but it frowns on hiring them out for prostitution. In Sura 33:50 of the Koran it is stated that it was permissible for Muhammad to have sex with his female slaves: “O Prophet! We have made lawful to thee thy wives to whom thou hast paid their dowries, and those whom thy right hand possesses, out of those whom Allah has given thee as prisoners of war”, and in verse 23:6 this prerogative is extended to Muslim believers: “Successful indeed are the believers … who restrain their sexual passions except in the presence of their mates [their wives], of those whom their right hands possess.”

 

The actions and teaching of Muhammad also support the practice of sexual slavery for women taken captive in jihad.  Chapter 547 of the Sahih Muslim, a revered collection of sayings of Muhammad considered reliable by most Muslims, is entitled ‘It is permissible to have sexual intercourse with a captive woman…’. Abdul Hamid Siddiqi, the translator and editor of the Sahih Muslim, added the following footnote to this chapter: “As for the expression malakat aymanukum (those whom your right hands possess) [it] denotes slave-girls, i.e. women who were captured in the Holy War … sexual intercourse with these women is lawful with certain conditions.” Boko Haram is reported to be intending to sell the girls at a slave market.  This is no doubt based upon the precedent of Muhammad’s own practice. There are many examples from Muhammad’s actions and those of his companions which could be cited.  For example, after putting the men of the Jewish Quraiza tribe in Medina to the sword, Muhammad’s biographer Ibn Isaq reports that he sold some of the Jewish women and used the money to buy horses and weapons…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

 

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WHY SHAVUOT IS ALL BUT IGNORED ACROSS AMERICA                  

Marissa Brostoff                                                                          

Tablet, May 17, 2014

 

When it comes to theological significance, the late-spring festival of Shavuot is no slouch: The event it commemorates—God giving the Torah to the Jews at Mount Sinai—is arguably the most pivotal in the narrative of the Jewish people. But from the treatment it receives next to its more popular siblings—at least within non-Orthodox American communities—you wouldn’t know it. Passover gets celebrated at the White House and inspires novels, Yom Kippur turned Sandy Koufax into an American Jewish hero, and Hanukkah is so visible that conservative talk radio hosts think it threatens Christmas. Shavuot, meanwhile, can’t even satisfy Tom Lehrer, who “spent Shavuos, in East St. Louis/A charming spot but clearly not the spot for me.”

“When you ask people what’s their favorite holiday, I’ve heard people say Passover, Hanukkah, Sukkot, Purim,” says Jonathan Sarna, who teaches American Jewish history at Brandeis University. “I think it’s harder for people to find an emotional attachment to Shavuot than to almost any other Jewish holiday.” According to Sarna and other historians, Shavuot’s trouble catching on is nothing new—it goes back, they say, to the fall of the Second Temple in the year 70 C.E.

 

In its earliest incarnation, Shavuot marked a pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the sacrifice of the harvest’s first fruits and is one of a historical trio of harvest celebrations, along with Sukkot and Passover, known as the shalosh regalim. According to Paul Steinberg, a rabbi at the Conservative synagogue Valley Beth Shalom in Los Angeles and the author of a series of books on the Jewish holidays, rabbis in the Talmudic period needed to reinvent Shavuot after the Jews left Israel for the Diaspora and no longer traveled to Jerusalem with harvest offerings. So, through what Steinberg calls the use of “complicated mathematical formulas” that were debated for centuries, the sages associated Shavuot with the giving of the Torah. But that interpretive shift, says Steinberg, has not “captured the imagination of Jews in America or anywhere else.” (According to Reform rabbi Andy Bachman, who leads Brooklyn’s Congregation Beth Elohim, some early Zionist settlers went so far as to explicitly reject the rabbinic interpretation of the holiday in favor of the agricultural one and celebrated Shavuot by dancing in the fields and riding on tractors.)

 

In the United States, Shavuot has met with particularly bad fortune. “They used to say that Jewish holidays needed mazel,” or luck, Sarna says. Hanukkah and Passover—located next to major Christian holidays that Jews want an alternative to—have mazel. Shavuot, marooned in the long stretch between Passover and the High Holidays, has the opposite. “Passover is the last Jewish gesture of the year before you disappear into summer camp, Memorial Day, et cetera,” Bachman says. Until recently, Shavuot’s overlap with the end of the school year actually did confer some mazel at many Reform and Conservative synagogues, because Confirmation ceremonies—celebrations for high school students who have continued their Jewish education in addition to or instead of bar and bat mitzvahs—have traditionally been held on the holiday. But many congregations, including Bachman’s and Steinberg’s, have recently dropped Confirmation, which is increasingly seen an accommodation to Protestantism without authentic Jewish roots—another inadvertent blow to Shavuot.

 

Beyond the bad mazel, though, some conjecture that Shavuot may simply be too abstract to become popular among all but the most engaged or observant Jews. “The holidays that have done really well here are either firmly grounded in the home or allow for a kind of interplay between the synagogue and the home,” says Jenna Weissman Joselit, who teaches American Jewish history at George Washington University. Home-based holidays have strong elements of material and ritual—seders for Passover, sukkahs for Sukkot, menorahs for Hanukkah. But on Shavuot, “there’s no stuff and nothing to do, if you don’t go to shul,” Joselit says. “It’s a very serious holiday about law and responsibility and duty.” (All of this might be said as well for the High Holidays, which of course don’t lack for attendance. But the High Holidays make these themes personal, while Shavuot applies them to the Jews as a people—which, Joselit argues, makes them feel more remote.)

 

Shavuot is the consummate rabbis’ holiday: Its difficult themes of revelation, law, and collective responsibility make it a favorite among scholars—who struggle with how to share their enthusiasm with the laity. Elliot Dorff, a rabbi and professor of theology at American Jewish University in Los Angeles, calls it “my holiday”—precisely for the reasons their congregants may not. And Sarna says, “Shavuot is the holiday of books—it’s a harder sell, but we’re the People of the Book. Maybe it is our most authentic and distinctive holiday in that way.” This idea might be starting to catch on: In the past few years, some synagogues have begun holding a tikkun leil Shavuot, or all-night study session, to celebrate the holiday. In its original form, the tikkun, first practiced in the 16th century by kabbalists who were themselves trying to revitalize Shavuot, involved prayer and Torah study from dusk until dawn; non-Orthodox congregations that hold the celebration now usually substitute lectures and roundtable discussions on a variety of subjects. Dorff said that Temple Beth Am, the Conservative synagogue he attends, can pull in 500 people for its tikkun (this year themed around “ethical, spiritual, halakhic implications of our food choices”), with 100 still remaining when the sun rises…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

How Could Obama Ignore Radical Islam in 9/11 Speech?: Morton A. Klein & Daniel Mandel, Algemeiner, May 20, 2014President Barack Obama recently delivered an address inaugurating the new 9/11 Museum.

Doors Open for Muslim Brotherhood?: Tarek Fatah, Sun News, June 2, 2014Author John Goddard is a history buff of sorts. His latest book, Inside The Museums: Toronto's Heritage Sites and Their Most Prized Objects, is an in-depth tour of our history ranging from the battle at Fort York to the Upper Canada Rebellion.

The Muslim Brotherhood and Terrorist Organizations: Valentina Colombo, Gatestone Institute, May 6, 2014A new terror group, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis [ABM], just officially entered the scene. Both the U.S. State Department and the British government included it, at the beginning of April, in their list of proscribed terrorist organizations.

Shavuot and Diversity: Jerusalem Post, June 2, 2014 It was a temporary and uncharacteristic moment of Jewish unity, the rabbis teach, which facilitated the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai.

 

                               

 

                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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ISLAMISTS: KENYA & NIGERIA AL-SHABAAB: MURDER AND MUTILATION AT THE MALL; BOKO HARAM: WAR AGAINST ISLAMIC GHOSTS

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Ber Lazarus, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station  H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 – Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284; E-mail:  ber@isranet.org

 

 

 

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Al-Shabaab Breaks new Ground with Complex Nairobi AttackPaul Cruickshank and Tim Lister, CNN, Sept. 23, 2013—The Al-Shabaab assault on a mall in Nairobi, Kenya, is alarming for its audacity, its scale and the sophisticated planning that went into it. Both the choice of target and method of attack exactly fit the new al Qaeda playbook.

 

Al-Shabaab Backed by Money from U.S.: Peter Bergen and David Sterman, CNN, Sept. 29, 2013—After the attack on the Westgate mall in Nairobi, Kenya, substantial attention was given to the some 40 Americans who have traveled to fight for Al-Shabaab in Somalia during the past several years. But much less attention has focused on Al-Shabaab's supporters in the United States who have helped to fund the terrorist group.

 

Jihadist Ritual Murder & Mutilation at the MallDawn Perlmutter, Front Page Magazine, Oct. 1, 2013—During the four-day siege in Kenya’s Westgate shopping Mall, al-Shabaab jihadists raped, tortured, beheaded, dismembered, castrated, gouged out eyes, amputated fingers and hung hostages on hooks from the roof.

 

Nigeria is at War with Islamist GhostsPeter Dörrie, Medium, Sept. 10, 2013—A war rages in northeastern Nigeria. Three months into a government-declared state of emergency, an army division of 8,000 men and a joint task force of other military and civilian security forces are trying to wrest control of large swathes of land from a fundamentalist insurgent group known as Boko Haram.

 

Psychology: Why Islam Creates Monsters : Nicolai Sennels, Jihad Watch, Sept. 27, 2013—Psychopathic people and behaviour are found within all cultures and religions. But one tops them all — by many lengths. The daily mass killings, terror, persecutions and family executions committed by the followers of Islam are nauseating, and the ingenuity behind the attacks — always looking for new and more effective ways of killing and terrorising people — is astonishing.

 

On Topic Links

 

Pretending the Problem is not ThereDouglas Murray, Gatestone Institute, Oct. 1, 2013
Al-Shabaab and Obama’s Family Push For Islamic KenyaTheodore Shoebat, Front Page Magazine, Sept. 30, 2013




AL-SHABAAB BREAKS NEW
GROUND WITH COMPLEX NAIROBI ATTACK

Paul Cruickshank and Tim Lister
CNN, Sept. 23, 2013

 
The Al-Shabaab assault on a mall in Nairobi, Kenya, is alarming for its audacity, its scale and the sophisticated planning that went into it. Both the choice of target and method of attack exactly fit the new al Qaeda playbook.
 
Few counterterrorism experts are surprised that the Somali group launched another attack in the Kenyan capital. It has threatened to take revenge ever since Kenyan forces entered Al-Shabaab's heartland in southern Somalia. Small-scale attacks, frequently with hand grenades, have already brought bloodshed to Nairobi's streets. Back in September of last year, Kenyan authorities said they had disrupted a major plot to attack public spaces in Nairobi in its final stages of planning. Authorities also broke up a plot by the group against Western tourists in the city in late 2007.
 
But the scope of the assault on the Westgate Mall — and especially its eerie similarities to the attack in Mumbai, India, in 2008 — show that Al-Shabaab has taken its ability to strike outside Somalia to a new level. Only once before has the group caused such carnage in East Africa, when bombers attacked bars and restaurants in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, on the night of the World Cup Final in 2010. More than 60 people were killed. Al-Shabaab said the attacks were in retaliation for Uganda's leading role in the African Union force supporting Somalia's weak government in Mogadishu.
 
But the attack on the Westgate Mall is very different, involving perhaps 10 or more heavily armed assailants, using multiple entrance points to lay siege to a high-profile venue in an upscale neighborhood. The assault then evolved into a hostage-taking to garner maximum publicity. Al-Shabaab says the attack took months of planning and training, and as it unfolded the group kept up a running commentary on its Twitter feed. "The Mujahideen entered #Westgate Mall today at around noon and are still inside the mall, fighting the #Kenyan Kuffar (infidels) inside their own turf," it said.
 
The operation ticks the boxes that al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri listed in a message published just over a week ago.
 
1. Ensure the target is Western. The Westgate Mall has several Israeli establishments and is popular with expatriates. Those killed include three British citizens, two French nationals and two Canadians, their governments said. In his September 13 message, al-Zawahiri warned against attacks on non-Western states unless the regime was part of "the American forces." Kenya, with its long tradition of pro-Western governments and close relationships with Western militaries, fits that bill.
 
2. Take hostages where possible. Al-Zawahiri recommended taking "the citizens of the countries that are participating in the invasion of Muslim countries as hostages so that our prisoners may be freed in exchange."
 
3. Try to avoid Muslim casualties. Al-Shabaab claimed on its Twitter feed that the gunmen escorted Muslims out of the mall, before turning on the "disbelievers" inside. Witnesses said the gunmen at the Westgate tried to identify Muslims by asking shoppers the name of Mohammed's mother. They shot those who didn't know.
 
Nairobi is vulnerable to Al-Shabaab attacks not least because of the large Somali community, many of them refugees from the country's long-running clan warfare, that lives in the Eastleigh district. Known as "little Mogadishu," Eastleigh is now home to an estimated 250,000 Somalis. And Al-Shabaab is well established there, raising money, finding recruits and setting up safe houses.
 
Al-Shabaab also has an ally in the militant Kenyan group al Hijra, formerly the Muslim Youth Center, which has a strong presence in Eastleigh and in the coastal city of Mombasa. Investigators will be examining whether al Hijra played a role in the attack on the Westgate mall. Kenyan al Hijra militants are suspected to have been responsible for several of the small-scale terrorist attacks that have hit the country.
 
This is a worrying trend, analysts say. While Al-Shabaab's Somali fighters are not used to operating abroad, non-Somali East Africans have been training with the group in southern Somalia. Al Hijra is the most potent outgrowth of that training. Founded in an Eastleigh mosque in 2008, al Hijra took advantage of growing radicalization among a minority of Kenya's 4.3 million Muslims to build a significant presence in Nairobi and Mombasa. Investigators established the group had close links to the attacks in Kampala in July 2010. According to the U.N. Monitoring Group on Somalia, most of the operatives who conspired in the attack were Kenyan and close to al Hijra leaders.
 
A crackdown against al Hijra by Kenyan authorities, helped by the United States, has weakened the group. According to a 2013 United Nations report, "Al Hijra members were plagued by unexplained killings, disappearances, continuous 'catch and release' arrest raids and operational disruptions." But al Hijra is far from defeated. According to the U.N. report, it has established links with Al-Shabaab affiliates elsewhere in East Africa and is enlisting the services of fighters returning from Somalia "to conduct new and more complex operations." Its leadership has become closer to al Qaeda through figures such as Abubakar Shariff Ahmed, known as "Makaburi," who is said to favor large-scale attacks in Kenya in support of Al-Shabaab.
 
Al-Shabaab has other valuable alliances in the region, including the government of Eritrea, which sees it as a useful ally against its arch-enemy Ethiopia. A United Nations Monitoring Group reported in 2011 that financial records and shipping movements indicated Eritrea's support for Al-Shabaab went far beyond the humanitarian. In a 400-page report, it concluded that Eritrea's relationship with Al-Shabaab seemed designed to "legitimize and embolden the group rather than to curb its extremist orientation or encourage its participation in a political process."
 
Al-Shabaab has also established a relationship with al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen, from which it obtains weapons and training, according to counterterrorism officials and former members of both AQAP and Al-Shabaab. One former jihadist tells CNN the relationship began in 2008 when he linked up a senior figure in Al-Shabaab, Ahmed Warsame, with the Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.
 
In September 2011, the U.S. Africa Command warned that Al-Shabaab, Boko Haram in Nigeria and al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb were trying to synchronize their efforts to launch attacks on U.S and Western interests. The Kenyan capital became much more vulnerable to retaliation when Kenyan troops and tanks, supported by airstrikes, moved into Somalia in October 2011 in response to growing cross-border violence. Al-Shabaab immediately warned that the incursion would have "cataclysmic consequences."
 
What was meant to be a limited engagement dragged on. It took a year for Kenyan forces to capture the port of Kismayo, but in doing so they dramatically raised the stakes for Al-Shabaab. According to the U.N., Al-Shabaab used to collect an estimated $35 million to $50 million annually in custom tolls and taxes on businesses in Kismayo and two secondary ports higher up the coast — about half its entire estimated annual income.
 
Its expulsion from Kismayo changed the dynamics for Al-Shabaab. Previously the group held off plotting large-scale attacks in Kenya because of Kenya's importance for recruitment, logistics and fund-raising. Al-Shabaab commanders realized a crackdown by law enforcement on Somali interests in Kenya would be devastating to the Somali business community, creating a backlash against it in Somalia. But after they lost control of Kismayo, the gloves came off.
 
In March, Al-Shabaab warned Kenyans they would not "sleep safely" in Nairobi as long as their soldiers were in Somalia. And in the midst of the siege, the group tweeted: "For long we have waged war against the Kenyans in our land, now it's time to shift the battleground and take the war to their land." "The attack at #WestgateMall is just a very tiny fraction of what Muslims in Somalia experience at the hands of Kenyan invaders," another tweet said.
 
It's notable that Al-Shabaab was able to plan and train for such a sophisticated attack despite losing much territory in southern Somalia and around the capital, Mogadishu. As it has lost ground, the group has resorted to suicide bombings. Earlier this month it carried out a bomb attack against a restaurant popular with Westerners in Mogadishu, killing more than a dozen people. A U.N. report issued in July noted that Al-Shabaab "has shifted its strategic posture to asymmetrical warfare in both urban centres and the countryside" but added that it "continues to control most of southern and central Somalia." The report estimated the military strength of Al-Shabaab at about 5,000 fighters, with a functioning chain of command, and said it had "preserved the core of its fighting force and resources."
 
After years of infighting and feuds, the Nairobi attack may also confirm the ascendancy of Al-Shabaab's most militant faction and its leader Mukhtar Abu al Zubayr (aka Ahmed Abdi Godane). Zubayr attended a madrassa in Pakistan as a young man and merged the group with al Qaeda in February 2012. He sees Al-Shabaab as part of al Qaeda's global jihad.
 
Dissenters have defected or been killed. Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys of Al-Shabaab's old guard surrendered to Somali authorities. And earlier this month Zubayr reportedly ordered the killing of two Western militants who were critical of his leadership style and had aligned themselves with Aweys — Omar Hammami and Osama al Brittani. Hammami was an American from Alabama who had become a prominent mouthpiece for Al-Shabaab before publicly criticizing Zubayr last year.
 
Zubayr's increasingly tight grip on Al-Shabaab — thanks to his ruthless use of the group's intelligence wing in hunting down opponents — appears to have forestalled the collapse of Al-Shabaab, and may have made it more dangerous. Zubayr has threatened a direct attack on the United States, and last year the U.S. offered a $7 million reward for information locating him. It would be very surprising if the attack in Nairobi did not receive his blessing, and it may be a sign of things to come as Al-Shabaab takes its war to other parts of East Africa. Of more immediate concern to Kenyan authorities, in a country where political violence can explode quickly, is a likely backlash against Somali and Kenyan Muslims, which could create a new cycle of radicalization and unrest.


 




 AL-SHABAAB BACKED BY MONEY FROM U.S.
Peter Bergen and David Sterman
CNN, September 29, 2013

 
After the attack on the Westgate mall in Nairobi, Kenya, substantial attention was given to the some 40 Americans who have traveled to fight for Al-Shabaab in Somalia during the past several years. But much less attention has focused on Al-Shabaab's supporters in the United States who have helped to fund the terrorist group. Those supporters have funneled tens of thousands of dollars via money transfer businesses to the terrorist organization and have often maintained direct contact with Al-Shabaab leaders and fighters in Somalia.
 
After the 9/11 attacks, when it became clear to investigators that al Qaeda's deadly assaults on New York and Washington had cost as much as $500,000 to mount, the U.S. government became far more aggressive about trying to block funds going to terrorist organizations. Part of that process involved a determined effort to sort through which groups were terrorist organizations. On 9/11 there were only 26 terrorist groups on the State Department's list of designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations. Today there are 51, among them Al-Shabaab, which was designated in March 2008.
 
The result of that designation was that it was now illegal for a person in the United States to knowingly provide Al-Shabaab with money, training, expertise, false documentation, communications equipment, weapons or explosives, or to join the group.On that basis, a number of cases have emerged:
 
• In Rochester, Minnesota, two women from Somalia who had become naturalized U.S. citizens helped organize funding for Al-Shabaab. Hawo Hassan, a 64-year-old adult day care worker, and Amina Farah Ali, 35, set up a dedicated teleconference line to raise funds for Al-Shabaab. Hundreds of interested individuals called in to these teleconferences, and after each one Hassan and Ali recorded pledges of funds from the callers. After a teleconference on October 26, 2008, the two women received pledges from 21 individuals totaling $2,100 in funds for Al-Shabaab.
 
These teleconferences often featured Al-Shabaab figures. In one teleconference, an Al-Shabaab female leader exhorted the listening audience to send funds. In another, Mahad Karate, the head of Al-Shabaab's intelligence wing, told the members of the listening audience that jihad "is waged financially" and that their help was needed. The two female Al-Shabaab fund-raisers also went door to door in Minnesota to raise contributions, often under false pretenses claiming contributions were for war orphans in Somalia. During a phone call with her Al-Shabaab financial contact, Ali stated, "I tell the people to collect money in the name of the poor. Nobody is aware of the money I send to you."
 
Prosecutors said it was clear from the phone conversations that they monitored that the two women knew that they were raising money for Al-Shabaab, a group that had been designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department. Both women were convicted of providing funds to Al-Shabaab and were sentenced to lengthy prison terms this year.
 
• Similarly, Ahmed Hussein Mahamud, a 27-year-old man, raised money from the Minnesota Somali community under the pretense that the money was going to a local mosque or to help orphans in Somalia. Instead he transferred the funds to fellow conspirators who had traveled from Minnesota to fight in Somalia to help them buy weapons. He and his co-conspirators transferred $1,500 to help Al-Shabaab. Mahamud pleaded guilty last year.
 
• Nima Ali Yusuf, a 25-year-old San Diego woman, who pleaded guilty in December 2011 to sending $1,450 to help fund Al-Shabaab, was in telephone contact with some of the Somali-American men fighting in Somalia for Al-Shabaab.
 
• In 2007, Aden Hashi Ayrow, a Al-Shabaab leader, contacted Basaaly Saeed Moalin, a cabdriver in San Diego, asking him to fund his group. In January 2008, Ayrow told Moalin that he needed to know how much money was being sent monthly to his group, even if it was only $100, because even relatively small amounts of money could make a big difference in Somalia, which is one of the poorest countries in the world. To keep an Al-Shabaab foot soldier in the field only cost a dollar a day. At Ayrow's request, Moalin organized other members of the Somali-American community to help provide funding. Moalin recruited three others members of the Somali-American community and together they sent $8,500 to Al-Shabaab between 2007 and 2008. All four were later convicted of providing support to Al-Shabaab.
 
• Another Al-Shabaab supporter in St Louis, cabdriver Mohamud Abdi Yusuf, was part of a group of men that sent $21,000 to Kenya and Somalia for Al-Shabaab. Yusuf pleaded guilty to giving support to the terrorist group. Since Al-Shabaab was designated as a terrorist organization, the U.S. Justice Department has mounted "Operation Rhino" to combat Al-Shabaab's support network in the States and has convicted 12 individuals for providing funds to Al-Shabaab, according to a count by the New America Foundation.
 
This seems to have had a real deterrent effect. As a result of the publicity these cases have had in the Somali-American community, indictments for Al-Shabaab fund-raising have slowed considerably. And the last time a Somali-American was indicted for raising money for Al-Shabaab was 2011.
 

 
During the four-day siege in Kenya’s Westgate shopping Mall, al-Shabaab jihadists raped, tortured, beheaded, dismembered, castrated, gouged out eyes, amputated fingers and hung hostages on hooks from the roof. According to a forensic medical doctor, “They [the al-Shabaab attackers] removed eyes, ears, noses. Fingers are cut by pliers, noses ripped by pliers”… “Those are not allegations. Those are f****** truths,”… “They removed balls, eyes, ears, nose. They get your hand and sharpen it like a pencil then they tell you to write your name with the blood. They drive knives inside a child’s body. Actually, if you look at all the bodies, unless those ones that were escaping, fingers are cut by pliers, the noses are ripped by pliers.” There were also reports that hostages were beheaded and their heads thrown out of the windows.
 
This inexplicable savage violence is typically attributed to psychological warfare, military tactics or individual acts of brutality but for Jihadists they are justifiable sacred acts against the enemies of Islam. They are ritual murders that are consistent with a growing global Jihadist method of operation [MO]. Similar acts of torture, rape, beheading and mutilation regularly occur in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt, Syria and other countries. The Westgate Mall massacre is comparable to the mass murder of 166 people by members of the Islamist Jihadist group Lashkar-e-Taiba, in ten coordinated shooting and bombing attacks across Mumbai, India on November 26 -29, 2008. During their siege operation the LeT Jihadists also took the time to sexually humiliate, torture and mutilate some of the victims before shooting them dead.
 
The Jihadist M.O. is also evident in murders, honor killings and war crimes. On June 20, 2006 in al-Yusufiyah outside of Baghdad, Iraq, the bodies of American soldiers Pfc. Kristian Menchaca, 23, and Pfc. Thomas L. Tucker, 25, members of the 101st Airborne division, were found mutilated beyond recognition. Like the hostages in the Westgate shopping Mall there were reports that their eyes were gouged out, they were castrated, their ears and noses were cut off and they were beheaded.  Jihadist murders that involved throat slashing, multiple stabbings and body desecration also occurred in London and in Waltham, Massachusetts. On May 22, 2013 on the streets of London two jihadists used meat cleavers to publicly behead and disembowel a British soldier while shouting “Allahu Akbar”. On September 11, 2011 in Waltham, MA the suspects in the Boston Bombings and their Chechen friend are suspected of ritually murdering three men by slitting their throats from ear to ear with such force that they were nearly decapitated and of desecrating their mutilated corpses. [Read the entire case at Prelude to the Boston Bombing http://www.meforum.org/3618/boston-bombings-prelude]. These are just a few examples of dozens of Islamist ritual murders that involve torture, dismemberment and mutilation.
 
Islamist mutilation entails a specific kind of ritualistic crime; a collective, provocative and incendiary desecration of the enemy. Mujahideen throughout the world expend extra effort brutalizing the enemies of Islam including women and children.  To understand the significance of these violent ritualistic acts they have to be analyzed in the context of Islamist honor and shame. The primary motivations of Islamist atrocity is an irrepressible impulse to alleviate shame and a sacred duty to restore honor, serve vengeance, preserve purity, maintain tradition and save face. For Islamists honor is signified by stereotypical male characteristics such as courage, bravery, heroism, power, virility, and strength; dishonor is signified by stereotypical female characteristics such as weakness, vulnerability, helplessness and submissiveness.
 
Honor is what defines Islamists as men and psychologically is experienced as dignity and pride; conversely dishonor is indicated by female traits of weakness experienced as humiliation and shame. Islamists are in a constant struggle with fear of disgrace and maintaining manhood particularly those that are living in countries that they consider to be occupied or run by ‘un-Islamic regimes’. Emotions of weakness, helplessness, shame are always just below the surface triggered by a hypersensitivity to any real or perceived act of humiliation. Even a sideways glance can be misinterpreted as a questioning of manhood. Islamist recruitment and indoctrination functions to cultivate the honor-shame paradigm so that boys will grow to be ruthless soldiers that require blood vengeance to restore honor and maintain power.
 
The fear of even the appearance of weakness or vulnerability provides one explanation for the torture of men, women and children. For Mujahedeen mercy, compassion, sympathy and kindness symbolize weakness; cruelty, brutality, violence and atrocity symbolize strength. This explains incomprehensible cruel violent acts.  Jihadists want to evince their strength and alleviate feelings of shame. Through murder and mutilation these Islamist jihadists experience relief from a sense of humiliation.  Psychologically they equate their relief with violent atrocity. Symbolically blood cleanses their impurity. Culturally the violence is sanctioned and they are viewed as heroic. It becomes natural and moral to punish disrespect with torture, mutilation and ritual murder.  Strategically it sends a message that there is no mercy for infidel unbelievers.
 
From a Western behavioral science perspective torture, murder and mutilation are categorized as pathological acts of violence. However, from the jihadist worldview these seemingly inexplicable acts of violence are neither random nor pathological.  Atrocity has historical and theological precedents in Islam, is a socially acceptable punishment for infidels and significantly is a projection of cultural taboos. For Islamists the blood of enemies washes away dishonor, disrespect and the Western impurities that have polluted Islam.  A symbolic analysis of the types of mutilation reveals jihadists motivations. Mutilating the body is a deliberate act of defilement, impurity and stigmatization. Islamists torture hostages to humiliate and shame them. Cutting off fingers, hacking off noses, cutting out tongues, castration, and dismemberment represent power and control of the body at the moment of death. The slow destruction of the body prevents the person from having any dignity in death.
 
Rape and gang rapes are a common form of Islamist punishment including men raping other men. The symbolic meaning of male on male rape is that the victims are being turned into women, which in a machismo and homophobia culture is one of the worst forms of humiliation. Similar to prison culture the victims become their bitch. For the same reason castration is the archetypal sign of dishonor and signifies that the victim is no longer a man.  Another common form of Jihadist mutilation is gouging out eyes and/or chopping off parts of a person’s face such as lips, ears and most often the nose. It was reported that all of these atrocities were inflicted on the hostages in the Westgate Mall. 

Disfigurement has historical, symbolic and theological meaning in the context of Islamism. In fact mutilation is a form of judicial corporal punishment that occurs in many Islamic countries and includes among other things amputations, floggings, beheadings and stoning to death. In Saudi Arabia and Iran eye gouging is considered a legitimate judicial punishment. Surgically removing one or both eyes is based on the literal interpretation of lex talionis, the law of retaliation or best known from the formulation “an eye for an eye”.  There are hundreds of women in Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Turkey and other countries who are mutilated for dishonoring their families and men accused of being traitors, spies or simply designated as infidel unbelievers who are victims of similar atrocities.
 
Victims of torture and mutilations are always potential witnesses to jihadists unspoken and often imagined shame. The Somali jihadists had to gouge out the hostages eyes so they could not mock them, cut out their tongues so they could not talk about them and cut off their ears so they could not hear of their offenses. They were indoctrinated to believe that non-Muslims disregard them and think of them as less than human. This imagined disrespect is experienced as shame that originates and resides in the eyes of the innocent people who unfortunately went to the mall that day. Killing the hostages kills shame, without witnesses shame no longer exists. Honor, purity and respect is restored. Torture felt good.
 
Simply shooting the hostages would have demonstrated weakness and sympathy. Similar to gang initiations and narco-cults the Somali jihadists earned their status by brutalizing victims.  Dismemberment, eye gouging, castration, beheadings, and body desecration are marks of jihad, what genteel people use to refer to as unspeakable acts. The members of al Shabaab were able to torture and mutilate because Sharia law sanctions atrocities committed against infidel enemies of Islam. Ritualizing violence legitimizes it as acceptable punishment allowing the Somali jihadists to murder in the name of Islam.  According to Sharia Law mutilation is not a barbaric act, the violence is prescribed so brutality is transformed into a sacred ritual that cleanses impurities through bloodshed. For the al Shabaab jihadists torture and murder was not immoral but righteous blood vengeance that restored honor to Somali Muslims. Through murder and mutilation the jihadists acquire strength, alleviate dishonor and achieve heroic status as ruthless Mujahideen warriors. Torturing and killing the hostages transformed them from men ashamed of their status in life into badass Mujahideen, soldiers of Allah, respected by Islamists all over the world.
 
Dawn Perlmutter, Director and founder of Symbol & Ritual Intelligence and Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum, is considered one of the leading subject matter experts (SME) in the areas of symbols, unfamiliar customs, ritual murder and religious violence.
 
 
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NIGERIA IS AT WAR WITH ISLAMIST GHOSTS
Peter Dörrie

Medium, Sept. 10, 2013
 
A war rages in northeastern Nigeria. Three months into a government-declared state of emergency, an army division of 8,000 men and a joint task force of other military and civilian security forces are trying to wrest control of large swathes of land from a fundamentalist insurgent group known as Boko Haram. The
government has deployed helicopter gunships, fighter jets and armored vehicles — and battles regularly result in dozens of soldiers, insurgents and civilians being killed. It’s one of the most intense conflicts of present times and yet we know practically nothing about the enemy, its organization, goals and real developments on the ground.
 
For people following the various conflicts in Africa, Boko Haram has been a household word for some time now. The group was founded by Mohammed Yusuf in 2001 and 2002 in the Nigerian town of Maiduguri and for at least several years remained a non-violent, if radical, sect of orthodox Muslims opposing the perceived corruption and mismanagement of the Nigerian state.
 
At some point before 2009, members of the group began arming themselves and preparing for a violent uprising against the government, with the goal to introduce their interpretation of Islamic law to the north of Nigeria. The security services sprang into action and confronted members of the sect in a series of engagements that resulted in the deaths of at least 700 people, among them Yusuf, who died almost without a doubt as a result of police brutality while in custody.
 
In what was to become a recurring pattern, Boko Haram emerged strengthened and even more violent from this confrontation. The group began to systematically attack representatives of the state, security forces, prisons and civilians. Wikipedia has collated some of the largest attacks in a well-sourced timeline, but probably hundreds of smaller attacks have not been recorded by international media. All in all, at least 4,000 people have been killed by Boko Haram and the counter-violence by security forces.
A Nigerian police officer serving with a Formed Police Unit (FPU) of the African Union
 
For being such a formidable enemy, practically nothing is known with certainty about the group itself. Various splinter groups exist, but their respective organization and chains of command are opaque. Regularly, individuals emerge who claim to speak for Boko Haram, only to have that claim refuted convincingly by other people linked to the group. Outsiders — no matter if coming from the international community or Nigeria itself — are often at loss at how to observe and analyze the inner workings of the group, which in contrast to other jihadist entities like Al Qaeda does little in the way of propaganda and media outreach.
 
This ignorance includes the exact meaning of the group’s name. While “Boko Haram” is often translated as “Western education is a sin,” researcher Alex Thurston has convincingly argued that the seemingly simple term is much more complex than that, to say nothing of the group’s official Arabic name, “Ahl Al Sunna Li Al Da’wa Wa Al Jihad.”
 
Probably not even most members of Boko Haram have a firm knowledge of who belongs to them and what goals the different parts of the organization, if it can even be called that, pursue. This theory is supported by frequent reports of powerful regional politicians handing cash to people associated with Boko Haram, even though the dead leader Yussuf expressly forbade his followers to cooperate with the secular government of Nigeria. Also, bank robberies are frequently blamed on Boko Haram, even though at least some of these incidents are almost certainly the work of regular criminals.
 
For the group itself, this apparent disorganization has proved to be quite effective. Repeated attempts by the government to crack down on Boko Haram after 2009 failed, because the security services couldn’t identify any vital parts of the organization to take out. The Nigerian army and police resorted to heavy-handed tactics of repression, putting up roadblocks, shutting down markets and on occasion flattening whole town quarters with heavy weaponry, if a Boko Haram cell was suspected to be inside.
 
Military operations were frequently followed by impressive body counts of dozens of “terrorists” killed, but given the indiscriminate nature of the attacks and the resilience of Boko Haram itself, it is safe to assume that many of those “terrorists” were actually innocent bystanders or non-violent sympathizers. The brutal counter-violence by the state of course helps the recruiting effort of Boko Haram. In between offensives, the federal government or prominent religious figures tried their hand at negotiations, but all efforts to broker a compromise failed in the end due to the impossibility to identify someone, who could actually exert some influence over all parts of the jihadist group.
 
These cycles of violence have so far largely served to strengthen Boko Haram. By the beginning of this year, large swathes of Borno, Yowe and Adamawa states in the country’s northeast were essentially out of government control. In May, Nigeria’s president Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in these states and called out the big guns. In a first phase, operations of the joint task force, a cooperation between the military, intelligence services and police, intensified operations in the area and civilians were encouraged to assist the security services, essentially creating vigilante groups in many areas.
 
In a second phase, which started last week, a regular army division of over 8,000 soldiers took over the responsibility of fighting Boko Haram. A thousand of these soldiers just returned from Mali, where they took part in an operation against other jihadist groups challenging the state’s secular government. The newly created 7th Division brings armored vehicles, artillery and air support.
 
And the army is eager to show its worth: on Thursday, the army claimed to have eradicated a Boko Haram camp with 50 fighters in it. The soldiers followed the insurgents through aerial surveillance after they ambushed a group of pro-government vigilantes, killing at least 24 of them. The camp was surrounded and pounded by helicopter gunships. Apart from making clear the scale and intensity of the conflict, these reports also give an impression of the capabilities of the Nigerian armed forces….
 
Nigeria’s government and its generals hope that the new strategy of recognizing Boko Haram as a formidable fighting force and deploying a massive amount of troops and weaponry will force the most important parts of the group to the negotiation table. The result could be an amnesty for Boko Haram fighters and some form of political compromise, an approach that Nigeria has some experience with from its other insurgency, in the Niger Delta.
 
But if history is any guide, this hope seems to be unreasonable. Boko Haram is probably too splintered to be engaged in a meaningful dialogue as an organization. It is also unclear what the government could have to offer, apart from an amnesty. Other than the rebellion in the Niger Delta with its focus on economic participation, Boko Haram’s fighters are at least partly motivated by a religious, social and anti-government agenda. The Nigerian government can’t make any meaningful concessions on these issues.
 
The optimal way to go would of course be to address the underlying reasons for the insurgent’s disenchantment with the state, namely the pervasive poverty and corruption that cripples any economic opportunity for most Nigerians. But realpolitik will probably prevail and the Nigerian government will rely on its armed forces and security services to suppress any armed resistance. For this, Nigeria certainly has the capability and the will. It will just mean a lot more suffering for the people caught between the front lines.

Contents

 
PSYCHOLOGY: WHY ISLAM CREATES MONSTERS
Nicolai Sennels
Jihad Watch, Sept. 27, 2013

Psychopathic people and behaviour are found within all cultures and religions. But one tops them all — by many lengths. The daily mass killings, terror, persecutions and family executions committed by the followers of Islam are nauseating, and the ingenuity behind the attacks — always looking for new and more effective ways of killing and terrorising people — is astonishing: hijacking jumbo jets and flying them into skyscrapers, hunting unarmed and innocent people with grenades and automatic rifles in shopping malls, planting bombs in one's own body, using model airplanes as drones, attaching large rotating blades to pickup trucks and using them as human lawn movers, killing family members with acid or fire, hanging people publicly from cranes in front of cheering crowds, etc. It makes one ask oneself: what creates such lack of empathy and almost playful and creative attitude towards murdering perceived enemies? This is a question for psychologists like me.

Nobody is born a mass murderer, a rapist or a violent criminal. So what is it in the Muslim culture that influence their children in a way that make so relatively many Muslims harm other people? As a psychologist in a Danish youth prison, I had a unique chance to study the mentality of Muslims. 70 percent of youth offenders in Denmark have a Muslim background. I was able to compare them with non-Muslim clients from the same age group with more or less the same social background. I came to the conclusion that Islam and Muslim culture have certain psychological mechanisms that harm people's development and increase criminal behaviour.

I am, of course, aware that Muslims are different, and not all Muslims follow the Quran's violent and perverted message and their prophet's equally embarrassing example. But as with all other religions, Islam also influences its followers and the culture they live in.

One could talk about two groups of psychological mechanisms, that both singly and combined increase violent behaviour. One group is mainly connected with religion, which aims at indoctrinating Islamic values in children as early as possible and with whatever means necessary, including violence and intimidation. One can understand a Muslim parent's concern about his offspring's religious choices, because the sharia orders the death penalty for their children, should they pick another religion than their parents. The other group of mechanisms are more cultural and psychological. These cultural psychological mechanisms are a natural consequence of being influenced by a religion like Islam and stemming from a 1,400 year old tribal society with very limited freedom to develop beyond what the religion allows.

Brainwashing people into believing or doing things against their own human nature — such as hating or even killing innocents they do not even know — is traditionally done by combining two things: pain and repetition. The conscious infliction of psychological and physical suffering breaks down the person's resistance to the constantly repeated message. Totalitarian regimes use this method to reform political dissidents. Armies in less civilized countries use it to create ruthless soldiers, and religious sects all over the world use it to fanaticize their followers.

During numerous sessions with more than a hundred Muslim clients, I found that violence and repetition of religious messages are prevalent in Muslim families. Muslim culture simply does not have the same degree of understanding of human development as in civilized societies, and physical pain and threats are therefore often the preferred tool to raise children. This is why so many Muslim girls grow up to accept violence in their marriage, and why Muslim boys grow up to learn that violence is acceptable. And it is the main reason why nine out of ten children removed from their parents by authorities in Copenhagen are from immigrant families. The Muslim tradition of using pain and intimidation as part of disciplining children are also widely used in Muslim schools — also in the West.

Combined with countless repetitions of Quranic verses in Islamic schools and families, all this makes it very difficult for children to defend themselves against being indoctrinated to follow the Quran, even if it is against secular laws, logic, and the most basic understanding of compassion. And as we know from so many psychological studies, whatever a child is strongly influenced by at that age takes an enormous personal effort to change later in life. It is no wonder that Muslims in general, in spite of Islam's inhumane nature and obvious inability to equip its followers with humor, compassion and other attractive qualities, are stronger in their faith than any other religious group.

Not only does a traditional Islamic upbringing resemble classical brainwashing methods, but also, the culture it generates cultivates four psychological characteristics that further enable and increase violent behaviour. These four mental factors are anger, self-confidence, responsibility for oneself and intolerance.

When it comes to anger, Western societies widely agree that it is a sign of weakness. Uncontrolled explosions of this unpleasant feeling are maybe the fastest way of losing face, especially in Northern countries, and though angry people may be feared, they are never respected. In Muslim culture, anger is much more accepted, and being able to intimidate people is seen as strength and source of social status. We even see ethnic Muslim groups or countries proudly declare whole days of anger, and use expressions such as "holy anger" — a term that seems contradictory in peaceful cultures.

In Western societies, the ability to handle criticism constructively if it is justified, and with a shrug if it is misguided, is seen as an expression of self-confidence and authenticity. As everyone has noticed, this is not the case among Muslims. Here criticism, no matter how true, is seen as an attack on one's honor, and it is expected that the honor is restored by using whatever means necessary to silence the opponent. Muslims almost never attempt to counter criticism with logical arguments; instead, they try to silence the criticism by pretending to be offended or by name-calling, or by threatening or even killing the messenger.

The third psychological factor concerns responsibility for oneself, and here the psychological phenomenon "locus of control" plays a major role. People raised by Western standards generally have an inner locus of control, meaning that they experience their lives as governed by inner factors, such as one's own choices, world view, ways of handling emotions and situations, etc. Muslims are raised to experience their lives as being controlled from the outside. Everything happens "insha' Allah" — if Allah wills — and the many religious laws, traditions and powerful male authorities leave little room for individual responsibility. This is the cause for the embarrassing and world-famous Muslim victim mentality, where everybody else is blamed and to be punished for the Muslims' own self-created situation.

Finally, the fourth psychological factor making Muslims vulnerable to the violent message in the Quran concerns tolerance. While Western societies in general define a good person as being open and tolerant, Muslims are told that they are superior to non-Muslims, destined to dominate non-Muslims, and that they must distance themselves socially and emotionally from non-Muslims. The many hateful and dehumanising verses in the Quran and the Hadiths against non-Muslims closely resemble the psychological propaganda that leaders use against their own people in order to prepare them mentally for fighting and killing the enemy. Killing another person is easier if you hate him and do not perceive him as fully human.
The cultural and psychological cocktail of anger, low self-esteem, victim mentality, a willingness to be blindly guided by outer authorities, and an aggressive and discriminatory view toward non-Muslims, forced upon Muslims through pain, intimidation and mind-numbing repetitions of the Quran's almost countless verses promoting hate and violence against non-Muslims, is the reason why Islam creates monsters.

The problem with Islam and Muslim culture is that there are so many psychological factors pushing its followers towards a violent attitude against non-Muslims that a general violent clash is — at least from a psychological perspective — inevitable. With such strong pressure and such strong emotions within such a large group of people — all pitched against us — we are facing the perfect storm, and I see no possibilities of turning it around. For people to change, they have to want it, to be allowed to change, and to be able to change — and only a tiny minority of Muslims have such lucky conditions.

Far too many people underestimate the power of psychology embedded in religion and culture. As we have already seen, no army of social workers, generous welfare states, sweet-talking politicians, politically correct journalists or democracy-promoting soldiers can stop these enormous forces. Sensible laws on immigration and Islamisation in our own countries can limit the amount of suffering, but based on my education and professional experience as a psychologist for Muslims, I estimate that we will not be able to deflect or avoid this many-sided, aggressive movement against our culture.

I do believe that we, as a democratic and educated society can become focused and organised concerning the preservation of our values and constitutions, can win this ongoing conflict started by the often inbred followers of sharia. The big question is how much of our dignity, our civil rights, and our blood, money and tears will we lose in the process.

 

 
Pretending the Problem is not ThereDouglas Murray, Gatestone Institute, Oct. 1, 2013—Is it ever acceptable to tell a lie? If you believe the answer is "no" then this is an area in which you disagree with our political class. The recent terror attack in Kenya — and the reaction to it — is only the latest evidence. When it comes to the truth about Islamic violence, our politicians evidently believe the truth is something we, the general public, cannot handle.
 
Al-Shabaab and Obama’s Family Push For Islamic KenyaTheodore Shoebat, Front Page Magazine, Sept. 30, 2013—Both the al-Shabaab terrorists and the Obama family want the nation of Kenya to be under Sharia code. Al-Arab wrote that Obama’s cousin, Musa Obama, “studied Sharia in Medina” and has called “upon the Arab and Islamic states to put more effort toward aiding the Kenyan Muslim brethren, especially since there is much support coming from Western nations and Western churches.”
 

 

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IRANIANS, POST-SYRIA, CHECKMATING FALL-GUY OBAMA — ROUHANI, A “MODERATE”, OFFERS NUCLEAR “DEAL” (NETANYAHU: “A TRAP”)

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Ber Lazarus, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station  H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 – Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284; E-mail:  ber@isranet.org

 

 

 

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The ‘Iran is Now Moderate’ JokeBarry Rubin, Jewish Press, Sept. 23, 2013—I have never understood why anyone expected any U.S. action on Iran’s nuclear program. Basically there was never any chance the U.S. would undertake any armed action or allow Israel to do so.

 

How Obama Was Checkmated by IranFouad Ajami, Bloomberg, Sept. 23, 2013— “Down is up and up is down. I feel like we have passed through the looking glass and are looking back at a backwards world,” a military historian of the modern Middle East wrote in a recent note to me about the hectic diplomacy over Syria and Iran. “Where did all the realists go? It’s as though the Cold War never took place.”

 

The Perils of an Iran Nuclear DealAmir TaheriNew York Post, Sept. 20, 2013—The White House has announced that President Obama might meet with Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, should it seem they could talk seriously about the nuclear issue. One wonders if Obama is ready for another Russian offer to “help.”

 

A Kinder, Gentler Iran?Ray Takeyh, LA Times, Sept. 20, 2013—In an autumn ritual, an Iranian president is once more coming to New York for the United Nations' annual meeting of the heads of state. Media frenzy is likely to follow, as the smiling visage of President Hassan Rouhani dominates the airways next week.

 

Netanyahu is Said to View Iran Deal as a Possible TrapMark Landler, New York Times, Sept. 22, 2013—Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, stepping up his effort to blunt a diplomatic offensive by Iran, plans to warn the United Nations next week that a nuclear deal with the Iranian government could be a trap similar to one set by North Korea eight years ago.

 

 On Topic Links

 

From Iran to Syria, Obama's Toughness Is Paying OffJeffrey Goldberg, Bloomberg, Sept. 20, 2013
Rouhani Enlists Iran Jewish MP Against Hard-LinersMeir Javedanfar , Al-Monitor, Sept. 22, 2013
The Burden of Proof is on IranEphraim Asculai, Emily B. Landau, Jerusalem Post, Sept. 23, 2013
Playing by Iran's RulesJames Jay Carafano, The National Interest, Sept. 23, 2013
Tensions in Tehran: Iran’s Mullahs vs. the Revolutionary GuardsRamin Ahmadi, World Affairs, Sept./Oct. 2013


 


 
 
I have never understood why anyone expected any U.S. action on Iran’s nuclear program. Basically there was never any chance the U.S. would undertake any armed action or allow Israel to do so. That may be a good idea, and it may have been inevitable. But there was no chance in anything else, even if Barack Obama might never have been president. Here’s what was going to happen:
 
–The U.S. would impose economic sanctions. Yet there was never a chance these would fully succeed. There was too much cheating, and China, Russia, and Turkey were among there was exempt.
 
–Negotiations would fail because Iran would stall, play games, and try to use trickery. –So Iran would eventually get nuclear weapons.
 
–The U.S. would then use containment. That would not necessarily be bad but the point was containment as in the Cold War or merely a narrow containment to try to prevent use of nuclear weapons?
 
Yet now something very weird has happened: Hassan Rouhani won the election. Let’s review. Rouhani is a veteran national security official. He was backed by the regime. The voters would not be allowed a choice of a reformer so they could only vote for a phony one. Now what then happened? “President Rouhani says Iran will never develop nuclear weapons.” But that is what Iranian leaders have always claimed! The Los Angeles Times applauded that ten dissidents were released. But they weren’t , even though the newaspaper said, ”It’s Rouhani’s strongest signal yet that he aims to keep a pledge to improve ties with the West.”
 
But he didn’t do it! “Rouhani said I have full authority to make a deal with the West. But that’s what they said too! He then implied that he reversed Iran’s denial that the Nazis committed a Holocaust of Jews. But even that turned out to be a lie and here. They also had a phony New Year’s greeting to the Jews. Rouhani added a Jew to the UN delegation of Iran, no doubt to tell how well they were treated. So Rouhan loves the Jews and wants to make peace. Obama swallowed the bait, eagerly.
 
But note that Rouhani does not have a moderate record–he has bragged about fooling the West about Iran’s nuclear program before–and meanwhile Iran now has troops in Syria. What suckers Americans are. They’ll still be talking about Iranian nukes on the day they get them and probably that’s true for Syria giving up chemical weapons, too. But no it is Israel that wants to plunge the world into war.
 
The New York Times writes: “Netanyahu Scoffs at Iranian Overtures, Setting Stage for Showdown With U.S.” It is Israel that “scoffs” and that scoffing is setting up a U.S.-Israel “showdown” because America would understandably rather have a nice peace than a war with Iran. Yet there is no indication that experience shows Israel might be right. The Times writes: “Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, moved quickly to block even tentative steps by Iran and the United States to ease tensions and move toward negotiations to end the nuclear crisis, signaling what is likely to be a sustained campaign by Israel to head off any deal.”
 
But this is a lie. Netanyahu cannot “block” an initiative and if Obama wants talks he will have them. And it is assumed that the initiative will succeed “toward negotiations to end the nuclear crisis.” Peace in our time!
 
Yet there is one more piece of poison. The reader is warned that there will be “a sustained campaign by Israel to head off any deal. Israel will frantically try to head off an attempt to make peace.” Bad Israel! In fact it is obviously others who want to claim a deal is certain and that Iran wants one. Like Vladimir Putin on the Syria deal it is Rouhani that gets an op-ed, in the Washington Post instead of the Times, to make his claim and be cheered.
 
Already there has been a pay-off for Iran in a series of European Union court decisions which recommended the removal of unilateral sanctions against dozens of Iranian firms, including crucial shipping lines. The European states show they are eager to drop sanctions because of the money to be made. Rami G. Khouri writes: “The positive possibilities that could emanate from the escalating signs of a direct Iranian-American engagement are dazzling in their intensity and historic in their scope. Rarely in modern history has the Middle East region experienced such a hopeful moment as this, when one major diplomatic shift towards productive American-Iranian relations could positively impact half a dozen conflicts in the region.”
 
On what evidence? “Will Iran trade Al-Assad?, says al-Ahram. when it looks like Iran is actually escalating the civil war ”Syria deal holds a lesson for Barack Obama–talk to Iran,” says an op-ed in the Financial Times. Reuters”calls the regime a “centrist government.” The Guardian tells us: “After years of seeing their personal freedoms and political demands quashed, young Iranians hope the efforts of the new government led by President Hassan Rouhani will open up Iranian society and restore the country’s standing on the world stage.”
 
On what evidence? About the only article reminding us that Tehran is an ideological and sworn enemy of America that wants to deceive it was Ray Takeyh, an Iran expert who has worked at the National Security Council. Speaking of an article in an Iranian newspaper he said: “The article stressed that former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad‘s confrontational policies and reckless rhetoric had caused the international community to perceive Iran as threatening and dangerous. In that context, Iran’s quest for nuclear empowerment was bound to be resisted by the great powers.
 
And cleverly manipulated by the United States and Israel, the United Nations censured Iran and imposed debilitating sanctions on its fledgling economy. “The editorial went on to say that to escape this predicament, Iran had to change its image. A state that is considered ‘trustworthy and ‘accountable’ is bound to be provided with some leeway. Iran can best achieve its nuclear aspirations not by making systematic concessions on the scope of its program but by altering the overall impression of its reliability as a state.”
 
Otherwise, all problems can be settled with the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran, with the help of Russia and Turkey. Israel, in contrast, is unreliable, preferring an avoidable confrontation. Funny, so Iran no longer regards America as the Great Satan but as the Great Sucker. Beware of Iranians bearing gifts, and even more aware of Iranians that aren’t.

 
 
HOW OBAMA WAS CHECKMATED BY IRAN
Fouad Ajami
Bloomberg, Sept. 23, 2013
 
“Down is up and up is down. I feel like we have passed through the looking glass and are looking back at a backwards world,” a military historian of the modern Middle East wrote in a recent note to me about the hectic diplomacy over Syria and Iran. “Where did all the realists go? It’s as though the Cold War never took place.”
 
The logic of familiar things has been overturned. Iran President Hassan Rohani comes to New York for a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly preceded by a brilliant publicity campaign. There was an interview with NBC, with a female correspondent at that. There was an op-ed article under his name in the Washington Post. His foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, sent Rosh Hashanah greetings to Jews worldwide via Twitter.
 
The Iranian president stepped forth in the nick of time, right as the Barack Obama administration was reeling from the debacle of its Syria policy. We have been here before with the skilled and tenacious guild that runs the Iranian theocracy.
 
An attractive cleric with a winning smile, Mohammad Khatami, cultured and literate, preaching the notion of a “dialogue of civilizations,” was elected president in a landslide in 1997; he was re-elected four years later. Great hopes were pinned on Khatami. He delivered an oration at the Washington National Cathedral, and his ascent was seen on both sides of the Atlantic as evidence of the mellowing of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s revolution of 1979.
 
But the hopes invested in Khatami were to no avail. Iran pushed on with its nuclear weapons program and with its bid for greater power in neighboring states. At home, a student rebellion animated by unmistakable liberal sentiments that broke out in 1999 was crushed without mercy.
Recalling Khatami
 
Khatami was either a man powerless to defend the movement or a faithful son of the Khomeini order who was given leeway by the regime’s powers that be. He couldn’t defy the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, or run afoul of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard.

The case is now being made that Rohani is no freelancer, that he is a player of standing in the regime, and that the olive branch he carries with him has the consent of the supreme leader himself. The regime has been humbled, brought low by draconian sanctions, this line of argument goes, and has come to a reckoning with its weaknesses. There are serious and obvious flaws in this view.
 
These begin with Rohani’s biography. As pointed out by Sohrab Ahmari in the Wall Street Journal, Rohani, who was secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council for 16 years, starting in 1989, “led the crackdown on a 1999 student uprising and helped the regime evade Western scrutiny of the nuclear-weapons program.” Indeed, from 2003 to 2005, Rohani was Iran’s chief negotiator over the nuclear program. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, who once proclaimed that he hadn’t become the king’s first minister in order to preside over the liquidation of the empire, Rohani hasn’t risen to the presidency of Iran to barter away the regime’s nuclear assets.
 
The assertion of the Obama administration and its chorus that the theocracy is now at a low point in its fortunes can be turned on its head. Iran has been fighting a proxy war with the U.S. over Syria, and can be said to have prevailed in that contest. The regime of Bashar al-Assad hasn’t fallen; in a moment of peril for the Syrian dictatorship, Iran dispatched the fighters of the Hezbollah militia deep into the war. They and the Revolutionary Guard turned the tide of war in Assad’s favor.
 
The supreme leader and his lieutenants watched an American leader draw a “red line” in Syria, only to blink when it counted. Masters of chess — didn’t they invent the game? — they had an exquisite sense of Obama’s dilemma. Rohani had the indecency of shedding crocodile tears for Syria in his Washington Post article, speaking of it as a “jewel of civilization” that had turned into a “scene of heartbreaking violence, including chemical weapons attacks.” So much of this violence, he doubtless knew, has been the work of the Revolutionary Guard and Hezbollah, its Lebanese satrap.
 
Iran’s clerics have nothing to lose from the diplomacy entrusted to Rohani. They bought time for their nuclear program and for their client regime in Damascus. The theocracy has erected a deep structure of power. Men such as Rohani are dispensable. There is a tenaciousness to the theocracy’s bid for power and to its survival instincts. Let Obama have his boast about the efficacy of the economic sanctions imposed on Iran. The theocracy can live with that. Since its conquest of power in 1979, it has had the perfect level of enmity with the U.S. — just enough to serve as the ideological glue of a regime built on paranoia and xenophobia without triggering a military campaign that could do it damage.
 
American officials now say that Iran can’t draw comfort from the reticence of Obama on Syria, that American vigilance would be greater on Iran’s nuclear assets than had been the case thus far over Syria’s chemical weapons. But on that diplomatic chessboard, and before a big crowd that has gathered to watch the protagonists in a standoff with high stakes, it is easy to see the American player being decisively outclassed. There is cunning aplenty in Persia, an eye for that exact moment when one’s rival has been trapped.
 
Fouad Ajami is a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.
 
Contents


 

 
The White House has announced that President Obama might meet with Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, should it seem they could talk seriously about the nuclear issue. One wonders if Obama is ready for another Russian offer to “help.”
 
In the case of Syria, Russian “assistance” has left the United States committed to a process that may or may not dispose of the Assad regime’s chemical weapons, in exchange for which Obama effectively dropped his longstanding demand that “Assad must go” (as well as sacrificing any credible threat to use force to punish Bashar al-Assad for his atrocities). Syria, of course, only used the weapons to keep Assad in power.
 
This week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov offered a preview of Moscow’s plan for “solving” the Iranian nuclear stand-off. Fars, a news agency owned by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, quoted Lavrov about tackling the standoff over Iran’s nuclear program: “We have been in contact with Iranian partners and expect positive results soon.” Lavrov mentioned the possibility of Iran “voluntarily” suspending uranium enrichment above the 20 percent level in exchange for full recognition of its right to enrich uranium. Lavrov’s plan offers great advantages to Iran.
 
First, if America buys into it, it will abandon its freedom to develop a policy of its own on Iran.
 
Second, the five Security Council resolutions imposing sanctions on Iran would be set aside.
 
Third, the fact that Iran has been violating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty for more than 20 years will be forgotten — just as Assad’s use of chemical weapons, a war crime and a crime against humanity, is not mentioned in the Russo-American accord.
 
Fourth, Iran will get to keep almost all of the 4,000 kilograms of uranium it has illegally enriched. To give Obama something to chew upon, Tehran may agree to transfer to Russia the uranium enriched to 20 percent. This would provide TV footage to create the illusion that Obama achieved something.
 
Fifth, as Lavrov made clear, the Iranian move would be reciprocated by a lifting of sanctions against the Islamic Republic — including the US and European Union sanctions that go beyond those imposed by the United Nations.
 
Finally, Iran will be invited to join the Geneva-2 conference on Syria, thus having its leading role in the Middle East endorsed by both Russia and America.
 
The ease with which Russia managed to seize control of US policy on Syria has encouraged Rouhani that similar results could be obtained on the Iranian issue. Rouhani and his advisers believe that Obama is desperate to make a deal with Tehran. “Obama is the best news for our revolution since Jimmy Carter,” says Hussein Seifi, a political consultant in Tehran. “We antagonized Carter and created problems for ourselves.”
 
Tehran policy circles believe that Obama was ready to concede Iran’s main demands even under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — but Ahmadinejad enjoyed being provocative and believed that humiliating America was more important than neutralizing it. Rouhani rejects that method.
 
He has a history of direct and indirect contact with US politics. As far back as 1986, he acted as interpreter for Ayatollah Najaf Abadi in secret talks in Tehran with President Ronald Reagan’s emissary, Robert MacFarlane. Scottish-educated, Rouhani also has British friends who advise him to seize the opportunity provided by Obama’s presidency. Several key members of Rouhani’s Cabinet, including Foreign Minister Seyyed Muhammad-Javad Zarif, are US-educated and have spent years living and working in the America. Rouhani’s chief of staff, Muhammad Nahavandian even has a US Green Card.
 
At next week’s UN General Assembly, Rouhani will be all smiles and will do his utmost to appear moderate and reasonable. Lobbyists have already fixed a series of media appearances and private meetings for him, including with select Jewish figures in New York. In the runup to his trip, Rouhani spread the message that his administration does not deny the Holocaust and that the end of Ahmadinejad means an end to annual Holocaust-denial conferences in Tehran organized by the Islamic Republic. The view in Tehran is that, since Obama proved ready to eat humble pie on Syria, he should be helped to do the same on Iran.
 
Contents


 

A KINDER, GENTLER IRAN?
Ray Takeyh
LA Times, Sept. 20, 2013
 
In an autumn ritual, an Iranian president is once more coming to New York for the United Nations' annual meeting of the heads of state. Media frenzy is likely to follow, as the smiling visage of President Hassan Rouhani dominates the airways next week. Beyond vague pledges of cooperation and lofty rhetoric about turning a new page, the question remains how to assess the intentions of the new Iranian government. The early indications are that Rouhani has put together a seasoned team that seeks to both advance and legitimize Iran's nuclear program.
 
One of the peculiarities of the Islamic Republic is that at times it seemingly floats its strategies in the media. On Sept. 3, a long editorial titled "A Realistic Initiative on the Nuclear Issue" appeared in Bahar, an Iranian newspaper with ties to the more moderate elements of the country's elite.
 
The article stressed that former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's confrontational policies and reckless rhetoric had caused the international community to perceive Iran as threatening and dangerous. In that context, Iran's quest for nuclear empowerment was bound to be resisted by the great powers. And cleverly manipulated by the United States and Israel, the United Nations censured Iran and imposed debilitating sanctions on its fledgling economy.
 
The editorial went on to say that to escape this predicament, Iran had to change its image. A state that is considered "trustworthy" and "accountable" is bound to be provided with some leeway. Iran can best achieve its nuclear aspirations not by making systematic concessions on the scope of its program but by altering the overall impression of its reliability as a state.
 
It appears that Rouhani is carefully following this script. One of his first acts as president was to appoint as his foreign minister Javad Zarif, an urbane diplomat unwisely purged by Ahmadinejad. Zarif's superb skill as a negotiator, his easy access to Western power-brokers and his pragmatism are bound to impress Iran's skeptical interlocutors.
 
The most contentious issue that has crossed Rouhani's desk thus far is Syria's alleged use of chemical weapons against unarmed civilians. In the past, the ideological compulsions of the Islamic Republic would lead it to deny the charges, defend Syrian President Bashar Assad and accuse his detractors of fabricating the evidence. This time around, Rouhani and his functionaries have subtly distanced themselves from Assad, condemned the use of chemical weapons and welcomed Russia's efforts to resolve the issue through the United Nations.
 
Along with tweets commemorating the Jewish High Holy Days, Rouhani has managed to reverse some of the reputational damage that the theocratic regime had suffered under his impetuous predecessor. The new government's soothing words have not lessened its determination to forge ahead with its nuclear program. Rouhani has stressed, as reported on state radio this month, that Iran "will not withdraw an iota from the definite rights of people." That message was reinforced by the appointment of Ali Shamkhani to the powerful position of secretary of the Supreme National Security Council.
 
Shamkhani is a creature of the security services, one of the founding members of the Revolutionary Guard and a former defense minister. Throughout his career, Shamkhani has been involved with the nation's nuclear program, procuring technologies for it and defending it. During his time as defense minister, he even subtly suggested the utility of nuclear arms in Iran's contested regional environment. "We have neighbors who, due to international competition, have gained nuclear weapons…. We have no other alternatives but to defend ourselves in view of these developments," Shamkhani said in 2000.
 
If Zarif's appointment is designed to placate the international community, Shamkhani's selection is a signal to the hard-liners at home that Rouhani intends to preserve Iran's nuclear prerogatives. Rouhani's attempt to refashion Iran's image and temper its rhetoric should be welcomed. After eight years of Ahmadinejad provocations that often unhinged the international community, a degree of self-restraint is admirable. However, judge Tehran by its conduct and not its words.
 
It is not enough for Rouhani to condemn the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Is he prepared to withdraw the Revolutionary Guard contingents that have done much to buttress Assad's brutality? It is not sufficient for Rouhani to speak of transparency; he must curb Iran's troublesome nuclear activities and comply with the U.N. Security Council resolutions. And it is not enough for Rouhani to speak of a tolerant society unless he is prepared to free his many former comrades and colleagues who are languishing in prisons under false charges. Rouhani's reliability has to be measured by his actions, not by his speeches or tweets.
 
Ray Takeyh is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Contents


 


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, stepping up his effort to blunt a diplomatic offensive by Iran, plans to warn the United Nations next week that a nuclear deal with the Iranian government could be a trap similar to one set by North Korea eight years ago, according to an Israeli official involved in drafting the speech. Mr. Netanyahu is scheduled to address the General Assembly next Tuesday, a week after President Obama and Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, are to speak at the United Nations.
 
But the Israeli government, clearly rattled by the sudden talk of a diplomatic opening, offered a preview Sunday of Mr. Netanyahu’s hard-edged message, in which he will set the terms for what would be acceptable to Israel in any agreement concerning Iran’s nuclear ambitions. “A bad agreement is worse than no agreement at all,” the Israeli official said, reading a statement from the prime minister’s office that he said reflected Mr. Netanyahu’s remarks.
 
President Rouhani, in advance of his arrival in New York this week, has signaled a willingness to negotiate. The Obama administration, while professing wariness, is clearly intrigued by the possibility of resolving a problem that has bedeviled President Obama as long as he has been in office. And that, in turn, has deeply unsettled the Israelis. “Iran must not be allowed to repeat North Korea’s ploy to get nuclear weapons,” said the Israeli official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter. “Just like North Korea before it,” he said, “Iran professes to seemingly peaceful intentions; it talks the talk of nonproliferation while seeking to ease sanctions and buy more time for its nuclear program.”
 
In his speech, the official said, Mr. Netanyahu plans to review the history of North Korea’s negotiations, with particular emphasis on an active period of diplomacy in 2005, when the North Korean government, in what was then seen as a landmark deal, agreed to abandon its nuclear weapons program in return for economic, security and energy benefits. A year later, North Korea tested its first nuclear device. Israeli officials warn something similar could happen if the United States were to conclude too hasty a deal with Mr. Rouhani. As Iran is doing today, the North Koreans insisted on a right to a peaceful nuclear energy program.
 
There are differences between the two cases. At the time that it concluded the deal in 2005, North Korea said it had already produced a nuclear bomb. American intelligence experts believe Iran is still many months, if not years, away from having such a weapon.
 
But American officials agree that North Korea offers a troubling precedent of nuclear negotiations in which a rogue nation repeatedly extracted concessions from the United States and other countries, only to renege later and fire missiles or test nuclear devices.
 
In his speech, the Israeli official said, Mr. Netanyahu will offer a familiar list of demands: that Iran cease all enrichment of uranium and agree to the removal of all enriched uranium from its territory; dismantle its nuclear facility hidden in a mountain near the holy city of Qum; dismantle its newest generation of centrifuges at another facility, Natanz; and stop construction of a heavy-water reactor at Arak.
 
What is new is Mr. Netanyahu’s explicit comparison of Iran to North Korea — a rhetorical device devised to undermine Mr. Rouhani’s image as a moderate leader who posted greetings on Twitter to Jews for Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year. North Korea’s reclusive dictators — whether Kim Jong-il in 2005 or his son, Kim Jong-un, today — have not traveled to the United Nations to plead their country’s case to the world.
 
The Israeli official said that Mr. Netanyahu recognized that he would be labeled a naysayer for his pessimism. “He feels morally impelled to stake out this position,” the official said. The White House has sought to allay the fears of Israel officials, assuring them that Mr. Obama will judge Mr. Rouhani by his actions, not his words, and that the United States is not planning to prematurely ease the economic sanctions against Iran that have crippled its economy.
 
“We certainly recognize and appreciate Israel’s significant concerns about Iran, given the threats that have been made against Israel and the outrageous comments that have come out of Iran for many years about Israel,” Benjamin J. Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser, told reporters on Friday, previewing Mr. Obama’s speech on Tuesday.
 
But with a recent exchange of letters between Mr. Obama and Mr. Rouhani stirring hopes of a diplomatic breakthrough, Israeli officials are not mollified. At last year’s General Assembly, Mr. Netanyahu provided what was probably its most dramatic moment, brandishing a simple drawing that he said demonstrated how close Iran was to producing a nuclear bomb.
 
This year, Israeli officials fear, the highest drama may be Mr. Obama greeting Mr. Rouhani on the sidelines of the General Assembly, something that has not happened for decades and which they worry would leave Israel more isolated in dealing with Iran.

Contents
 

 
From Iran to Syria, Obama's Toughness Is Paying OffJeffrey Goldberg, Bloomberg, Sept. 20, 2013—There is one main reason why Iran is making conciliatory noises about its relationship with the U.S. and about the future of its nuclear program, and there is one main reason why Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian dictator, is signaling his intention to give up his stockpiles of chemical weapons.
 
Rouhani Enlists Iran Jewish MP Against Hard-LinersMeir Javedanfar , Al-Monitor, Sept. 22, 2013—In Iran, much like everywhere else, all politics is local. This applies to some of the most important reasons behind Rouhani's reported decision to take Iran's Jewish member of parliament, Siamak Moreh Sedgh, with him on his upcoming UN trip to New York.
 
The Burden of Proof is on IranEphraim Asculai, Emily B. Landau, Jerusalem Post, Sept. 23, 2013—Iran’s new President Hassan Rouhani is clearly determined to get economic and financial sanctions on Iran lifted. To that end, he obviously must conduct dialogue with the P5+1 world powers, especially with the US; as such, he has – not surprisingly – put out concrete feelers in this direction.
 
Playing by Iran's RulesJames Jay Carafano, The National Interest, Sept. 23, 2013—Hassan Rouhani is not Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Everyone in Washington pretty much agrees with that. On everything else the city divides into two camps. One holds that the new Iranian president offers an opportunity to engage with the regime.
 
Tensions in Tehran: Iran’s Mullahs vs. the Revolutionary GuardsRamin Ahmadi, World Affairs, Sept./Oct. 2013—In its first days under the Ayatollah Khomeini, the Islamic Republic of Iran was a competitive authoritarian state that, despite challenges of war, armed opposition, and difficult economic times, enjoyed a significant measure of stability. The Revolutionary Guards and paramilitary Basij force were charged with controlling the disenfranchised masses.

 

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Ber Lazarus, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish ResearchL'institut Canadien de recherches sur le Judaïsme, www.isranet.org

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ARTIFICIAL PEARLS, REAL SWINE: AFRICAN “STATES” CONFRONT POST-LIBYA ISLAMISTS

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(Please Note: articles may have been shortened in the interest of space. Please click link for the complete article – Ed.)

 

In Mali, the Domino Theory is Real: Daniel Larison, The American Conservative, Jan. 23, 2013—As the French military intervention in Mali nears the end of its second week, French and Malian forces have begun making slow advances into the territory controlled by several different Islamist and separatist groups. What began a year ago as a Tuareg secessionist rebellion fuelled by weapons and mercenaries returning from Libya expanded into a larger war Jan. 11, when France attacked advancing Islamist forces that were moving towards Mali’s capital, Bamako.

 

Al-Qaeda's Soft Power Strategy in Yemen: Daniel Green, Washington Institute, Jan.24, 2013—Learning from jihadist mistakes in Iraq and Afghanistan, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has become adept at aligning with local political movements and building popular support in Yemen. In doing so, it has morphed into an insurgency while retaining its roots as a terrorist group.

 

Nigeria – Where Every Problem is Too Hard to Fix: Gwyne Dyer, The New Zealand Herald, Jan 2, 2013—It is not known if the word "dysfunctional" was invented specifically to describe the Nigerian state but the word certainly fills the bill. The political institutions of Africa's biggest country are incapable of dealing with even the smallest challenge.

 

On Topic Links

 

 

'Darker Sides': The Vast Islamist Sanctuary of 'Sahelistan': Paul Hyacinthe Mben, Jan Puhl, Thilo Thielke, Der Spiegel, Jan 28, 2013

Connecting the Dots in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya: Abukar Arman, The Commentator, Jan. 7 2013

The Mali Blowback: Patrick J. Buchanan, American Conservative, Jan. 18, 2013
Mali and the al-Qaeda Trap: Paul Rogers, Real Clear World, Jan. 25, 2013

 

 

IN MALI, THE DOMINO THEORY IS REAL

 

Daniel Larison

The American Conservative, Jan. 23, 2013

 

As the French military intervention in Mali nears the end of its second week, French and Malian forces have begun making slow advances into the territory controlled by several different Islamist and separatist groups. What began a year ago as a Tuareg secessionist rebellion fueled by weapons and mercenaries returning from Libya expanded into a larger war Jan. 11, when France attacked advancing Islamist forces that were moving towards Mali’s capital, Bamako. Unlike most previous Western interventions over the last two decades, France is here supporting the internationally recognized government of Mali, and its intervention has so far been welcomed by most Malians as necessary for the defense of their country. Unfortunately, French intervention now likely would not have been necessary had it not been for the intervention in Libya in 2011 that the last French president demanded and the U.S. backed. Had Western governments foreseen the possible consequences of toppling one government two years ago, there might be no need to rescue another one from disaster now.

 

France says it will continue fighting until the Malian government’s control over its northern territory is restored and Islamist groups are defeated, which promises to be a protracted, open-ended commitment for a nation that was already weary of its role in Afghanistan and unable to wage the war in Libya without substantial American help. The U.S. role in the conflict remains a minimal one, confined so far to intelligence assistance and logistical support. Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) does pose a real security threat to North and West Africa, and it could pose a threat to Europe, but the threat to the U.S. from AQIM is minimal, if it exists at all. The U.S. has far less at stake in this fight than France or the countries in the region, so it is appropriate that they bear the costs of countering that threat.

 

The Libyan war did not create Mali’s internal divisions, which have existed since independence, but the destabilizing effects of changing one regime in the region exacerbated many of the country’s political weaknesses. As a result, the country was effectively cut in half, its democratically-elected president was overthrown in a coup, and hundreds of thousands of its people have been forced to become refugees. Adding to the embarrassment of Western interventionists, up until then Mali had been something of the poster child for successful democratization and development in Africa. Now it is in danger of being reduced to an even more misleading caricature as “another Afghanistan” or “another Somalia.” But thinking in these terms is bound to fail. Mali’s predicament has to be understood on its own terms.

 

Despite broad French and Malian support for French intervention, it is far from obvious that President Hollande’s decision was a wise or well-considered one. One of the few prominent French opponents of that decision, Dominique de Villepin, voiced his doubts shortly after the intervention began:

 

In Mali, none of the conditions for success are met. We will fight blindfolded absent a clear objective for the war. Stopping the southward advance of the jihadists, and retaking the north, eradicating AQIM bases are all different wars. We will fight alone absent a reliable Malian partner. With the overthrow of the president in March and the prime minister in December, the collapse of the divided Malian army, and the overall state failure, on whom can we depend? We will fight in a void absent strong regional support. ECOWAS is in the rear and Algeria has signaled its reluctance.

 

Like Sarkozy’s decision to use force in Libya, Hollande’s decision to go to war in Mali has been a popular one and a much-needed political boost for his ailing government, but that popularity will disappear if French involvement becomes prolonged and costly. Unless Hollande limits French objectives to those that are realistic and obtainable, he will find that de Villepin was as prescient in his warnings about war in Mali as he was when he admonished the U.S. against invading Iraq.

 

As far as America is concerned, there is no compelling national interest that obliges the U.S. to become more involved in the conflict in Mali. One lesson of the Libyan war is that the U.S. shouldn’t join wars of choice that our allies insist on fighting. Americans should remember that one of the reasons the French are fighting in Mali is that our government agreed to support the last French-backed military adventure in Africa. What other countries in the region would suffer serious unintended consequences from doing the same thing in Mali? How many other countries have to be wrecked before American leaders acknowledge that their interventionist remedies often do more harm than good?

 

The Libyan intervention’s consequences in Mali tell a cautionary tale about the disaster that unnecessary war can unleash on an entire region, but most of the Obama administration’s opponents in the U.S. refuse to understand this. Instead of seeing Mali’s current woes as a warning against going to war too quickly, hawkish interventionists are already crafting a fantasy story that this is a result of excessive American passivity. This virtually guarantees that Republican hawks will keep attacking the administration for “inaction” when they could instead be trying to hold it accountable for its past recklessness in using force. Absent a credible opposition, the administration will keep receiving the benefit of the doubt from the public on foreign policy, even when it isn’t deserved.

 

If the U.S. learned anything from the Libyan war experience, it ought to be that our government should be far more cautious about resorting to force and much less willing to dismiss the importance of regional stability when considering how to respond to a brutal and abusive regime. Unfortunately, the bias in favor of (military) action in U.S. foreign-policy discourse makes it virtually impossible for these lessons to take hold.

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AL-QAEDA'S SOFT POWER STRATEGY IN YEMEN
Daniel Green

Washington Institute, Jan.24, 2013
 

Learning from jihadist mistakes in Iraq and Afghanistan, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has become adept at aligning with local political movements and building popular support in Yemen. In doing so, it has morphed into an insurgency while retaining its roots as a terrorist group. To counter the group's political, legal, and social-welfare efforts in areas outside the capital, the Yemeni and U.S. governments must supplement their counterterrorism campaign by expanding services to the provinces in a decentralized fashion.
 

Since its founding in January 2009, AQAP has repeatedly attacked the United States and its interests. Washington has responded by significantly expanding its drone strikes in Yemen and bolstering the government's ability to fight AQAP itself through additional military aid and training.

 

When the Arab Spring began to sweep the region in 2011, a political crisis emerged in Yemen between then president Ali Saleh, who had ruled for over thirty years, and opponents who criticized the regime's corruption, lack of services, and leadership. As the crisis unfolded, Yemeni security forces became involved in political struggles in Sana, with many units moving from the south to the capital. Sensing a vacuum, AQAP launched a series of raids throughout the south that year, using conventional tactics to overrun large swathes of territory, including many districts and a provincial capital.
 

After seizing control of various southern Yemeni towns and districts, AQAP moved beyond its terrorist focus, adopting the characteristics of an insurgency and holding territory in order to create a nascent government. Its ability to do so was based not only on its enhanced military capabilities and the departure of government security forces, but also on its effective community engagement strategy.

 

Capitalizing on longstanding southern grievances regarding insufficient education, healthcare, security, rule of law, political representation, and economic development, AQAP sought to replicate the central government's functions throughout the region. Its political agents established a form of stability based on Islamic law, convening regular meetings with community leaders, solving local problems, and attempting to replace chaotic tribal feuds with a more ordered and religiously inspired justice system. This effort included mitigating tribal conflicts, protecting weaker tribes from stronger rivals, and creating opportunities for some ambitious locals, including weaker tribal factions, to rise beyond their social position and seize power in their communities. AQAP also provided humanitarian assistance such as fresh water and food for the indigent, basic healthcare, and educational opportunities (albeit only Quranic teachings).

 

Many of these efforts appealed to the population, not only because they were better than what the local government had provided, but also because many tribal sheiks had previously been discredited for not living up to their responsibilities. Additionally, Quran-based engagement was highly appealing to communities in which that book was often the only text residents knew.
 

Al-Qaeda's strategy in Yemen reflects many of the lessons it learned in Iraq and Afghanistan, where it frequently alienated locals through the brutality of its rule. In addition, Yemeni tribal structures are far stronger than in those two countries, and tribal leaders are much more adept at governing their traditional areas of control. AQAP has therefore pursued a softer approach not simply because it wants to, but because it must, since the tribes have far greater power than it currently wields.

AQAP has also been effective at joining its cause with local political movements in Yemen, as it did in Iraq with Sunni Arab nationalists. To date, it has aligned its interests with southern elements seeking greater autonomy from the central government or complete independence from Yemen (though it is probably not working with the longstanding Southern Mobility Movement).

 

Finally, al-Qaeda does not have as strong a foreign character in Yemen as it did in previous conflicts. This reduces Washington and Sana's ability to separate the population from the terrorist group by using national pride, ethnic/tribal differences, or simple xenophobia to rebuff AQAP's advances.

 

Last year, in response to AQAP's gains, the Yemeni military launched widespread operations against the group's forces in the south. Although these efforts were largely successful in pushing AQAP out of areas it overran in 2011, the group continues to pose a threat. Having retreated to its traditional safe havens in the interior, al-Qaeda has since undertaken a concerted assassination campaign against Yemeni security, military, and intelligence officials as it reconstitutes its forces.

 

In addition, the group still commands sympathy and influence in the south. To be sure, AQAP eventually reverted to harsh rule in many communities once it consolidated power there, alienating many locals and spurring the exodus of thousands from areas under its sway. Yet many others remain sympathetic to the group, not just for religious or culturally conservative reasons, but also out of a general feeling that al-Qaeda, with all its imperfections, is still a better alternative than the Yemeni government.

 

Although relief efforts for war refugees did much to improve Sana's image among southerners, only a sustained governance and development initiative — one highly synchronized with military clearing and holding operations against AQAP — will consolidate support for the central government. Yet this sort of initiative will not come naturally to Sana or Washington. The lack of such efforts following last year's clearing operations is already undermining popular support, creating another opportunity for a chastened but resilient AQAP to leverage the south against the central government. The group is already adapting its community engagement strategy by apologizing for the excesses of its recent rule and making overtures to key local leaders to lay the groundwork for reasserting control.

 

Thus far, most U.S. efforts against AQAP have been limited to counterterrorism operations, which are unable to address the fundamental issues prompting Yemenis to either tolerate the group's presence or actively support its goals. In fact, the heavy reliance on sometimes-inaccurate drone strikes has allowed AQAP to take advantage of U.S. and Yemeni mistakes and further bolster its support among the population…..

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NIGERIA – WHERE EVERY PROBLEM IS TOO HARD TO FIX

Gwyne Dyer

The New Zealand Herald, Jan 2, 2013

 

It is not known if the word "dysfunctional" was invented specifically to describe the Nigerian state – several other candidates also come to mind – but the word certainly fills the bill. The political institutions of Africa's biggest country are incapable of dealing with even the smallest challenge. Indeed, they often make matters worse.

 

Consider, for example, the way that the Nigerian Government has dealt with the Islamist terrorists of Boko Haram. Or rather, how it has failed to deal with them. Boko Haram (the phrase means "Western education is sinful") began as a loony but not very dangerous group in the northern state of Bornu who rejected everything that they perceived as "Western" science. In a BBC interview in 2009 its founder, Mohammed Yusuf, claimed that the concept of a spherical Earth is against Islamic teaching. He also denied that rain came from water evaporated by the sun.

 

Bornu is a very poor state, however, and his preaching gave him enough of a following among the poor and ignorant to make him a political threat to the established order. So hundreds of his followers were killed in a huge military and police attack on the movement in 2009, and Mohammed Yusuf himself was murdered while in police custody. That was what triggered Boko Haram's terrorist campaign.

 

Its attacks grew rapidly: by early last year Boko Haram had killed 700 people in dozens of attacks against military, police, government and media organisations and against the Christian minorities living in northern Nigeria. So last March Nigeria's President, Goodluck Jonathan, promised that the security forces would end the insurgency by June. But the death toll just kept climbing.

 

In September, an official told the Guardian newspaper, "There is no sense that the Government has a real grip. The situation is not remotely under control." Last week alone, six people died in an attack on a church on Christmas Day, seven were killed in Maiduguri, the capital of Bornu state, on December 27 and 15 Christians were abducted and murdered, mostly by slitting their throats, in a town near Maiduguri on December 28.

 

President Jonathan's response was to visit a Christian church on Sunday and congratulate the security forces on preventing many more attacks during Christmas week: "Although we still recorded some incidents, the extent of attacks which [Boko Haram] planned was not allowed to be executed." If this is what success looks like, Nigeria is in very deep trouble.

 

Part of the reason is the "security forces", which are corrupt, incompetent, and brutal. In the murderous rampages that are their common response to Boko Haram's attacks, they have probably killed more innocent people than the terrorists, and have certainly stolen more property.

 

But it is the Government that raises, trains and pays these security forces, and even in a continent where many countries have problems with the professionalism of the army and police, Nigeria's are in a class by themselves. That is ultimately because its politicians are also in a class by themselves. There are some honest and serious men and women among them, but as a group they are spectacularly cynical and self-serving.

 

One reason is Nigeria's oil: 100 million Nigerians, two-thirds of the population, live on less than a dollar a day, but there is a lot of oil money around to steal, and politics is the best way to steal it. Another is the country's tribal, regional and religious divisions, which are extreme even by African standards. In the mainly Muslim north, 70 per cent of the population lives below the poverty line; in the mostly Christian south, only half do.

 

Now add a ruthless Islamist terrorist group to the mix, and stir. Boko Haram's support does not just come from a tiny minority of religious fanatics and from grieving and angry people turned against the Government by the brutality of the security forces. It also comes from a huge pool of unemployed and demoralised young men who have no hope of doing anything meaningful with their lives.

 

Democracy has not transformed politics dramatically anywhere in Nigeria, but the deficit is worst in the north, where the traditional rulers protected their power by making alliances with politicians who appealed to the population's Islamic sentiments.

 

That's why all the northern states introduced sharia law around the turn of the century: to stave off popular demands for more far-reaching reforms.

 

But that solution is now failing, for the cynical politicians who became Islamist merely for tactical reasons are being outflanked by genuine fanatics who reject not only science and religious freedom but democracy itself.

 

Nigeria only has an Islamist terrorist problem at the moment, mostly centred in the north and with sporadic attacks in the Christian-majority parts of the country. But it may be heading down the road recently taken by Mali, in which Islamist extremists seize control of the north of the country and divide it in two. And lots of people in the south wouldn't mind a bit. Just seal the new border and forget about the north.

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'Darker Sides': The Vast Islamist Sanctuary of 'Sahelistan': Paul Hyacinthe Mben, Jan Puhl and Thilo Thielke, Der Spiegel, Jan 28, 2013—France is advancing quickly against the Islamists in northern Mali, having already made it to Timbuktu. But the Sahel offers a vast sanctuary for the extremists, complete with training camps, lawlessness and plenty of ways to make money.

 

Connecting the Dots in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya: Abukar Arman, The Commentator, Jan. 7 2013—Just as the temperature of ‘security threat’ slowly declines in Somalia, it rises in other parts of East Africa. Elements of mainly political, religious, and clan/ethnic nature continue to shift and create new volatile conditions. Though not entirely interdependent these conditions could create a ripple effect across different borders.  It is a high anxiety period in the region – especially the area that I would refer to as the triangle of threat: Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya.
 

The Mali Blowback: Patrick J. Buchanan, American Conservative, Jan. 18, 2013—“For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction” is Newton’s third law of physics. Its counterpart in geopolitics is “blowback,” when military action in one sphere produces an unintended and undesirable consequence in another. September 11, 2001, was blowback.

Mali and the al-Qaeda Trap: Paul Rogers, Real Clear World, Jan. 25, 2013—A series of events and statements in the early weeks of 2013 suggests that the "war on terror" declared in 2001 is entering a new phase. The escalation of war in northern Mali and the siege of the In Amenas gas facility in Algeria, followed by the sudden advice from several European governments that their citizens in Benghazi should leave immediately, all focus security attention on northern Africa. At the same time, there are signs of an increase in Islamist influence among the opposition forces in Syria's ongoing war, and of an intensified bombing campaign against government and Shi'a sites in Iraq.

 

 

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Ber Lazarus, Publications Editor, Canadian Institute for Jewish ResearchL'institut Canadien de recherches sur le Judaïsme, www.isranet.org

Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284 ; ber@isranet.org

DISQUIETING ISLAMIST “ARAB SPRING” IN TUNISIA & LIBYA, AND SADISTIC ISLAMIST INSURGENCY IN NIGERIA, NIGER & BEYOND

Download Today's Isranet Daily Briefing.pdf 

 

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Ennahda Clears the Decks to Dominate: Sana Ajmi, The Daily Star, Dec. 11, 2012—Members of Tunisia’s National Constituent Assembly – the democratically elected body responsible for drafting the country’s constitution – put forward a new bill on Nov. 23 which would exclude politicians once affiliated with the former ruling Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD) from political life for 10 years.

 

Boko Haram’s Growing Presence in Niger: Jacob Zenn, Jamestown Foundation, Nov. 2, 2012—The recent arrests of Boko Haram members in the Niger town of Zinder come at a time when the Islamist movement’s fighters are taking advantage of the porosity of the Nigeria-Niger border region to avoid security crackdowns in Yobe, Borno and other states of northeastern Nigeria.

 

Libyans Say Sharia Will Be Law of the Land: Jamie Dettmer, The Daily Beast, Dec 11, 2012—The constitutional debate that Libya is likely to have in the coming months is going to be different from Egypt’s…Across the political spectrum, there’s a general acceptance that the country’s new laws must reflect religion and that sharia will figure prominently—only a small minority question this.

 

On Topic Links

 

 

Tunisia Battles Over Pulpits, and Revolt’s Legacy: Neil MacFarquhar, New York Times, Nov. 11, 2012
Boko Haram’s Dangerous Expansion into Northwest Nigeria: Jacob Zenn, Counter Terrorism Center, Oct 29, 2012
Nigeria’s Most Sadistic Killers: Why is Boko Haram not Designated a Terrorist Group?: Eli Lake, The Daily Beast, Oct 16, 2012
List of Designated Terrorist Organizations: Wikipedia

 

 

 

 

ENNAHDA CLEARS THE DECKS TO DOMINATE

Sana Ajmi

The Daily Star, Dec. 11, 2012

 

Members of Tunisia’s National Constituent Assembly – the democratically elected body responsible for drafting the country’s constitution – put forward a new bill on Nov. 23 which would exclude politicians once affiliated with the former ruling Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD) from political life for 10 years. Entitled “The Protection of the Revolution,” the measure – proposed and supported by Ennahda parliamentarians – is being seen by some as a tactic to hinder an opposition front to Ennahda and ensure the Islamists’ dominance in the upcoming election. Its supporters, however, see it as a protective measure necessary to safeguard the revolution.

Sahbi Atig, the head of Ennahda’s parliamentary bloc, explained that the bill would forbid any politician who had served in the RCD from running for president and participating in political life. Ennahda controls 89 out of 217 seats in Constituent Assembly and can easily pass the bill by an overwhelming majority – with the support of four other major blocs backing the measure: This includes the Fidelity to the Revolution, Congress For the Republic, Freedom and Dignity, and the Democratic Bloc – as well as some independent parliamentarians.

Farida Laabidi, head of the government’s Commission on Rights and Liberties (and a member of Ennahda himself) explained that “Through this law we will guarantee that those who served under the former repressive and corrupt regime will not rule the country again.”

This envisioned ban on former RCD members has sparked controversy particularly within the ranks of center-left parties in the opposition, a number of whose members were associated with the old regime. Parties like the newly formed Nidaa Tunis (as well others like Al-Moubadara and Al-Watan) have condemned the proposed bill. Khmais Ksila, a member of the Constituent Assembly representing Nidaa Tunis and who is formerly a member of the center-left Ettakatol Party (currently in coalition with Ennahda), described the proposed law as “anti-revolution”; the bill would render certain Tunisians second-class citizens based on political affiliations, and that these kinds of laws only encourage a revenge mentality among Tunisians and threatens to “resort to international institutions to invalidate it.”

Analysts have argued that Tunisia’s transitional democratic process cannot be based on exclusion. Kais Saiyed, a constitutional law expert at the Faculty of Political Science in Tunis, believes that proposing such a law contradicts the principles of democracy: “It is up to the people to decide who to exclude from the political,” he says. Furthermore, other figures – like Kamel Morjane, the former minister of foreign affairs under Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and the leader of Al-Moubadara, and Beji Caid Essebsi, the octogenarian head of Nidaa Tunis and interim prime minister during the transition (and also former interior minister under Habib Bourghuiba) – all see this as a purely politically motivated attack to eliminate parties and coalitions capable of competing with Ennahda in the upcoming election.

Nidaa Tunis has a wide range of secular liberals formerly associated with the RCD – which claimed a membership of 2 million people before its dissolution. Many of these saw in Essebsi’s party an opportunity to revive their political chances and perhaps even regain their lost status. Nidaa Tunis, which aims to unite Tunisia’s non-Islamist parties in a national unity movement, was perceived as a way to “protect” them from religious extremism and to uphold a modernist interpretation of Islam initiated under the Bourghuiba and Ben Ali regimes – which these former RCD-associates see Ennahda failing to do, if not supporting explicitly. Essebsi himself is especially outspoken in his criticism of the ruling coalition for its “failure” to protect its people from religious extremism and Salafism.

The pragmatism of which Essebsi’s party boasts and its espousal of “modernist” values – coupled with Ennahda’s perceived failures to deal with pressing socio-economic issues – have all given Nidaa Tunis an edge and a chance to have a strong showing in the coming election. According to a recent poll conducted by the Tunisian poll office and 3C Etude, Ennahda and Nidaa Tunis rank close in popularity.

The party has also announced an initiative to merge with the ranks of other center-left parties – among which include Al-Joumhouri, Al-Massar, and the Popular Movement, as well as others – in anticipation of the 2013 parliamentary and presidential elections. Essebsi and his followers believe that the only way to counter Ennahda is through a united opposition front.

Ennahda’s fear of a more robust opposition in the upcoming election may well be the motive behind its support of the proposed bill. And whether or not a concern for the rise of former-regime sympathizers is founded, a bill based on political exclusion and score-settling does not bode well for Tunisia’s fragile political process. By pushing it forward, Ennahda is doing exactly what it claims to protect the revolution from: creating a one-party system and attempting to ensure an opposition vacuum – bringing the ruling party more in line with the RDC than it would perhaps like to admit.

 

Sana Ajmi is a Tunisian journalist and writer. This commentary first appeared at Sada, an online journal published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

 

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BOKO HARAM’S GROWING PRESENCE IN NIGER

Jacob Zenn

Jamestown Foundation, Nov. 2, 2012

 

The recent arrests of Boko Haram members in the Niger town of Zinder come at a time when the Islamist movement’s fighters are taking advantage of the porosity of the Nigeria-Niger border region to avoid security crackdowns in Yobe, Borno and other states of northeastern Nigeria. On September 27, a Nigerien security official reported that five Boko Haram members were arrested in Zinder, one of the rare times that Boko Haram members have been arrested outside of Nigeria since Boko Haram launched an insurgency in September, 2010 to dismantle Nigeria’s secular regime and “entrench a just Islamic government”. The only similar case in Niger occurred last February, when 15 suspected Boko Haram members were arrested in Diffa, Niger’s easternmost city, allegedly planning to plant bombs in several of the city’s public places. Diffa and Zinder (the largest city in southern Niger) both border Nigeria’s Yobe State, where Boko Haram—then popularly known as “the Nigerian Taliban”—established a base nicknamed “Afghanistan” in a village three miles south of the border with Niger in 2003. Diffa is believed to be a principal refuge for Nigerian Boko Haram fighters.

 

On both sides of the Nigerian-Nigerien border, as well as in northern Cameroon and western Chad, Sunni Islam and the Hausa language are predominant. However, there are sizable minorities of Shuwa Arabic and Kanuri speakers in Diffa, western Chad and Nigeria’s far northeastern Borno State, which has been Boko Haram’s main area of operations since the start of the insurgency. These cross-border ties help unite the peoples of the border region.

 

The movement of Boko Haram members into Niger follows a series of blows inflicted on the movement by Nigerian security services in recent weeks:

 

    On September 24, Nigeria’s Joint Task Force (JTF) killed 35 Boko Haram members and seized ammunition and weapons in house-to-house searches in Yobe;

    Also on September 24, the Special Security Squad launched “Operation Restore Sanity” in Mubi, Adamawa State, which borders Borno to the south. 156 Boko Haram suspects were arrested, four of whom were believed to be unit commanders. A top commander, Abubakr Yola (a.k.a Abu Jihad) was killed in the operation;

    On October 15 the Joint Task Force in Borno State killed 24 Boko Haram members during a series of night raids in Maiduguri; and

    On October 20, security forces arrested a wanted Boko Haram leader, Shuaibu Muhammad Bama, in Maiduguri at a house owned by his uncle, Senator Ahmad Zanna, who represents Borno Central.

 

Nigeria shares approximately 2,000 miles of border with Niger, Cameroon and Chad, but, according to the Nigerian Immigration Service, only 84 border points are staffed by immigration officials. Nigeria has previously closed the border after major Boko Haram attacks, such as the Christmas Day 2011 church bombings in Madalla, a city outside of Abuja. The Borno State National Service Immigration Comptroller said at the time that such measures were the only way to “prevent the entry and exit of suspected Boko Haram sect members and illegal aliens that have no travel or residence permit documents to remain in the country”.  

 

Due to the linguistic and cultural ties along the 950-mile Nigerian-Nigerien border, Nigerien Muslims can easily cross the border and assimilate into Boko Haram’s ranks. According to local reports in Niger, many Nigeriens have joined Boko Haram because of economic rather than religious or ideological motives. Unlike northern Nigeria, Niger does not have a legacy of religious extremism, but it is one of the world’s least developed and most impoverished nations.

 

With an estimated 200,000 herdsmen and farmers in Niger subsisting on Red Cross food rations due to severe drought, the $30 that Boko Haram offers its members for killing Nigerian security officers—or the $60 it offers for also stealing the officer’s weapon—can be an effective recruiting tool.. The hundreds of thousands of dollars that Boko Haram has acquired in several dozen bank robberies in the past two years, can provide additional economic motivation for the poor to join the insurgency, whether or not they share the same motivations as Boko Haram leader Abu Shekau. If such reports are true, the poor Nigeriens who are taking up arms for Boko Haram may join other illicit economic activities such as selling black market gasoline and cigarettes. In February, captured Boko Haram spokesman Abu Qaqa told interrogators that Nigeriens were among the groups commonly chosen by Boko Haram to carry out suicide bombings.

 

Boko Haram’s infiltration of the immigration service also facilitates its operations in the border region. Two days after the arrests of the five Boko Haram members in Zinder, the Nigerian Army announced it had arrested a Nigerian immigration official posing as an army officer. Under interrogation, the official confessed to having been trained along with 15 other Boko Haram members in weapons handling, assassinations and special operations in Niger, and named other officials who were conspiring with Boko Haram. The October 19 killing of a customs official and his son in Potiskum, Yobe State, by Boko Haram members was likely intended to coerce other officials to comply with – or at least not obstruct – Boko Haram’s efforts to infiltrate the immigration service. Boko Haram has similarly assassinated dozens of Islamic clerics, politicians and journalists who disagreed with Boko Haram’s ideology and militant activities in order to deter other influential figures from speaking out.

 

Since April, there have been reports of several hundred Nigerian and Nigerien Boko Haram members helping al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Ansar al-Din and the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJWA) consolidate control of northern Mali after the three militias expelled the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), the ethno-national secular Tuareg militia. As a result, the territory of Niger separating northern Nigeria from northern Mali—only 300 miles across at its shortest point, Sokoto to Gao—is becoming an important area of transit for the insurgents. Niger is the one country of these three that has thus far avoided an Islamist insurgency on its territory, but Niger has a restive Tuareg population in the northern Agadez region bordering northern Mali and an increasing Boko Haram presence in its southern border cities—both representing potential sources of instability. Given this pressure, Niger and Nigeria agreed on October 18­—after four years of discussion­—to deploy joint patrols along their border in order to prevent the Boko Haram presence in southern Niger from growing into a cross-border insurgency. 

 

Jacob Zenn is a legal adviser and international affairs analyst who focuses on the Boko Haram insurgency in northern Nigeria.

 

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LIBYANS SAY SHARIA WILL BE LAW OF THE LAND

Jamie Dettmer

The Daily Beast, Dec 11, 2012

 

“Egypt is Islamic, it will not be secular!” Islamist supporters of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi have taken to chanting this slogan during street protests in Cairo. While the mantra fills opponents of the Egyptian president with dread, as does a Morsi-backed draft Constitution ensuring laws and rights will be strictly subordinated to sharia law, such chants would hardly prove controversial in Libya, Egypt’s neighboring Arab-Spring country—nor would they propel tens of thousands onto the streets of Tripoli or Benghazi to express dissent.

 

The constitutional debate that Libya is likely to have in the coming months—once its new rulers have decided on how to proceed with a draft—is going to be different from Egypt’s, and less about whether Islamic law should figure in the Constitution. Across the political spectrum, there’s a general acceptance that the country’s new laws must reflect religion and that sharia will figure prominently—only a small minority question this.

 

During the campaign for the country’s elections last July, party leaders—even those from moderate parties, such as Mahmoud Jibril, leader of the National Forces Alliance—acknowledged that sharia would significantly influence any Constitution. New laws should have a “reference to sharia,” Jibril told The Daily Beast, arguing, “Sharia law, when it was understood in the proper way, managed to create one of the great civilizations in human history. The problem is not with sharia or Islam; the problem is with the interpretation of sharia.”

 

Even among women agitating for a greater role in public and political life here, there’s agreement that sharia law should be at the heart of the country’s new Constitution. The only disputes are about the drafting process; whether the members of a 60-strong drafting panel should be elected or appointed by the country’s new Parliament, the General National Congress; and whether sharia should be the “only source of law” or a “principal source of law,” with the latter allowing greater possibility of adopting laws used in non-Muslim countries.

 

“Libyans wouldn’t accept a Constitution that isn’t informed by Sharia,” says 20-year-old Issraa Murabit, a second-year medical student from the town of Zawiyah and vice president of The Voice of Libyan Women, an NGO campaigning for greater women’s rights.

 

She says that a majority of women involved with civil-society activism are broadly comfortable with sharia and don’t see any contradiction between Islamic law and their demands for gender equality and a bigger role for women in Libyan society.  Some women activists argue that women’s rights are, in certain cases, better protected under sharia than they are in the West. They cite property protections afforded to divorced spouses. “In the West, they think we are the oppressors of women and they have the best rights for women, but we have a different perspective,” says Murabit, who was raised in Canada until her early teens. “Islam doesn’t undermine women’s rights—the problem is with Muslim men and how they try to use sharia against women.”

 

For Western commentators, the mere mention of Islamic law prompts, at best, suspicion and oftentimes pure horror. “A dangerous pattern is emerging,” Bonnie Erbe, host of the PBS show, To the Contrary, wrote recently. “Islamic countries more often than not replace tyrants with religious dictators who can become even more despotic than their predecessors. Look at Iran. Unfortunately, look at Egypt.”

 

Libyan activists say such sentiments tarnish the Arab Spring and that the problem with Morsi’s draft Constitution lies with the underhand manner of its drafting process, involving a lack of consultation by the country’s Islamist-dominated Constituent Assembly. Islamists railroaded approval of the final draft in an all-night session on November 30….

 

When Libya’s government—led by the new prime minister, Ali Zeidan, and the country’s Congress—eventually decide on the process for the drafting the Libyan constitution, activists warn that Morsi’s example shouldn’t be followed.  “If they are inclusive and consult and have women among the drafters, there won’t be a problem,” says Murabit.

 

One key area of contention could be over who interprets the Sharia provisions included in any Libyan constitution. Morsi’s Egyptian opponents take issue with the draft Constitution’s provision that Muslim clerics will be Sharia’s arbiters. Under the charter, clerics from Egypt’s conservative Al-Azhar University are “to be consulted on any matters related to Sharia.” Libyan women activists say no religious body or figures should be allowed under Libya’s Constitution oversight of the country’s laws—only the courts should decide. Others argue that religious arbiters would be acceptable as long as women religious scholars were also included.

 

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Tunisia Battles Over Pulpits, and Revolt’s Legacy: Neil MacFarquhar, New York Times, Nov. 11, 2012—On the Friday after Tunisia’s president fell, Mohamed al-Khelif mounted the pulpit of this city’s historic Grand Mosque to deliver a full-throttle attack on the country’s corrupt culture, to condemn its close ties with the West and to demand that a new constitution implement Shariah, or Islamic law.

 

Boko Haram’s Dangerous Expansion into Northwest Nigeria: Jacob Zenn, Combatting Terrorism Center, Oct 29, 2012—During the past year, the Nigerian militant group Boko Haram has expanded from its traditional area of operations in northeastern Nigeria’s Borno State and is now capable of conducting attacks across a 900-mile breadth of northern Nigeria, including in the strategic state of Sokoto.

 

Nigeria’s Most Sadistic Killers: Why is Boko Haram not Designated a Terrorist Group?: Eli Lake, The Daily Beast, Oct 16, 2012—The group is one of the deadliest organizations in Africa, accused of killing at least 1,500 people between June 2009 and September 2012. Its victims are the cops, Christians, and those Muslims it sees as betraying the true faith. It is alleged to sabotage oil pipelines, take down automated teller machines, and rip up telephone lines in a violent jihad against the West.

 

List of Designated Terrorist Organizations: Wikipedia—This is a list of designated terrorist organizations by national governments, former governments and inter-governmental organizations, where the proscription has a significant impact on the group's activities.

 

 

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