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Recent Publications by New English Review Authors
The Oil Cringe of the West: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly Vol. 2
edited by S.B. Kelly
The Impact of Islam
by Emmet Scott
Sir Walter Scott's Crusades and Other Fantasies
by Ibn Warraq
Fighting the Retreat from Arabia and the Gulf: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly. Vol. 1
edited by S.B. Kelly
The Literary Culture of France
by J. E. G. Dixon
Hamlet Made Simple and Other Essays
by David P. Gontar
Farewell Fear
by Theodore Dalrymple
The Eagle and The Bible: Lessons in Liberty from Holy Writ
by Kenneth Hanson
The West Speaks
interviews by Jerry Gordon
Mohammed and Charlemagne Revisited: The History of a Controversy
Emmet Scott
Why the West is Best: A Muslim Apostate's Defense of Liberal Democracy
Ibn Warraq
Anything Goes
by Theodore Dalrymple
Karimi Hotel
De Nidra Poller
The Left is Seldom Right
by Norman Berdichevsky
Allah is Dead: Why Islam is Not a Religion
by Rebecca Bynum
Virgins? What Virgins?: And Other Essays
by Ibn Warraq
An Introduction to Danish Culture
by Norman Berdichevsky
The New Vichy Syndrome:
by Theodore Dalrymple
Jihad and Genocide
by Richard L. Rubenstein
Spanish Vignettes: An Offbeat Look Into Spain's Culture, Society & History
by Norman Berdichevsky

These are all the Blogs posted on Tuesday, 17, 2012.
Tuesday, 17 July 2012
Canadian-Iranians Warned Harper Government about Iranian Embassy “Call to Arms�

Iranian Embassy in Ottawa

Source: The Ottawa Citizen

The Ottawa Citizen in a series of articles this month exposed the Harper Government’s tardy behavior in citing the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Embassy for recruitment of Canadian Iranians in a blatant “call to arms” influence campaign in Canada.   Iran’s Ambassador to Canada demurred from these accusations. The Citizen reported:

 Kambiz Sheikh-Hassani, Iran’s top diplomat in Canada, last week rejected claims Iran was using its Ottawa embassy to “recruit” Iranian-Canadians, calling the allegations “baseless.”

 Premier Canadian terrorism expert David B. Harris of Insignis Strategic Research in Ottawa considers the Citizen report a “direct, straightforward portrayal of the penetration problem that should long ago have preoccupied policy-makers.” Harris testified more than a year ago before a Senate committee that Iran already had an “aggressive presence” in the Canadian capital by “variously relying on, and victimizing, its expatriates.”  

We will be publishing an extensive interview with Harris in the August edition of the New English Review on this and other consequences of the country’s multi-culturist and immigration policies that have abetted infiltration of extremist Islamist elements in Canada.

It is to the credit of two concerned Canadian- Iranians, Shabnam Assadollahi and Shadi Paveh, whose perseverance and persistence in warning the Harper Government that resulted in these disclosures of nefarious activities at the Iranian Embassy in Ottawa.   An article published Monday by the Citizen noted their disclosures and subsequent developments:

The Iranian-Canadian activists who blew the whistle on Iran’s alleged recruitment program in Canada say they privately warned numerous politicians and officials of the Islamic republic’s activities in the weeks before government ministers spoke out in reaction to the Citizen’s report on the scheme.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and Public Safety Minister Vic Toews publicly admonished Iran after the Citizen’s July 10 front-page article told how a senior Iranian Embassy official in Canada was calling on Iranian-Canadians to “be of service” to Tehran.

Activists Shabnam Assadollahi and Shadi Paveh of the Ottawa region say they dispatched emails last month flagging what some terror experts described as an Iranian “call to arms.”

“I was fuming when I heard Vic Toews’ reaction,” Assadollahi told the Citizen, signaling she considered the minister’s admonishment to be tardy. She said she personally asked Toews at an Ottawa event in May for a meeting to discuss what she later called threats by “extremist groups” in Canada.

She added she was pleased when Toews asked Karma Macgregor, chief of staff of the government whip in the Senate, who was also at the event, to “make sure” the meeting got arranged.

But then she and Paveh came across the “call-to-arms” interview given by Hamid Mohammadi, the cultural affairs counselor at Iran’s Ottawa embassy.

In the interview — which appears in Farsi on an Iran-based website directed at Iranian expatriates — Mohammadi boasted that “younger second generation” Iranians were already “working in influential government positions,” and called on other Iranian-Canadians “to occupy high-level key positions” in Canada.

Assadollahi dispatched the Farsi version to Macgregor June 16, saying it shows that Iran “goes beyond cultural activities.” She marked as “Urgent & Immediate Attention” the version she and Paveh translated into English, and sent June 26 to Macgregor.

Others in government to whom the activists sent the “Immediate Action” translation included an official in the office of Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) Minister Jason Kenney, and almost 100 senators — among that group Sen. Pamela Wallin, chair of the Senate’s national security and defense committee.
[. . .]
The official in Kenney’s office to whom Assadollahi sent the “immediate action” email June 26 was Kasra Nejatian, a Canadian of Iranian descent, who serves as director of strategic planning. Assadollahi said she sent the Farsi version to him as early as June 3, explaining “as soon as I saw it, I sent it to CIC so it would reach the minster for review.” She sent him the Farsi version again June 16.

Nejatian, whom Kenney rehired last year following the young lawyer’s resignation in March 2011 over a fundraising controversy, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Sunday on action he took.

Neither did Wallin, who testified as chair of her Senate committee last fall about Canada’s energy sector being “one obvious target” for Iranians seeking “dual-use” technology for Iran’s nuclear program, which the West believes is aimed at developing a nuclear bomb.

Paveh sent and signed the email to the senators June 28, saying she and Assadollahi had “joined together to expose the Islamic Republic of Iran’s activities in Canada,” and flagging the Mohammadi interview as “very important.”

“Please be warned by us … that this regime is infiltrating Canada and using the warm Canadian acceptance of other cultures and political correctness as a tool,” she wrote. “For these reasons this regime sees Canada as the most fertile ground for their activities.”

Finally aroused by the disclosures of Shabnam Assadollahi and Shadi Paveh, an aide to Canadian Foreign Minister Baird commended them in the latest Citizen report:

Iranian-Canadians have rejected the oppressive Iranian regime and have chosen to come to Canada to build better lives,” said a spokesperson. “The Iranian Embassy should not interfere in their choices. Canadian security organizations will act to prevent threats and intimidation of Canadians.

Posted on 07/17/2012 12:56 AM by Jerry Gordon
Tuesday, 17 July 2012
Kitty Wells has Died at age 92

Posted on 07/17/2012 8:27 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Tuesday, 17 July 2012
A Spoonful of Sugar

When I was young I assumed that anything medicinal must be nasty to the taste. This assumption was partly the fruit of experience – medicines that were given to me were nasty to the taste – and partly attributable to the puritanical Zeitgeist in which I grew up, according to which anything that I enjoyed was morally suspect. It seemed to follow in my young mind that displeasure was therefore virtuous. Health, of course, was the natural reward of virtue, and disease of vice; hence nasty things were good for you. The logic is not strict, but it is understandable.

The unpleasantness of medicine, either to the taste or in side-effects, is one of the reasons, no doubt, for the poor compliance of patients with what doctors prescribe. Therefore, as the kitsch song puts it, a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. But what if the spoonful of sugar should become the medicine itself? That would be a therapeutic revolution indeed.

Some Australian researchers decided to model what would happen if their patients at risk of cardiovascular disease ate dark chocolate regularly. It is important to remember that this study, reported recently in the British Medical Journal, was conducted purely in the realm of the imagination; reality might turn out to be very different.

The Australian doctors noticed that trials that have actually been performed have shown that the consumption of dark chocolate reduces patients’ high blood pressure and their concentration of low-density lipoproteins, both of which are risk factors for cardiovascular disease. The problem with these trials is that none of them lasted very long: 18 weeks at most. Whether the beneficial effects would have endured if the trials had continued for a longer period is not known. But, the Australian doctors asked, what if the beneficial effects did last as long as patients continued to take dark chocolate?

They produced a mathematical model of what would happen to their own patients at risk of cardiovascular disease if they took dark chocolate for medicinal purposes over a prolonged period. They worked out how many would have been expected to have fatal and non-fatal cardiovascular events (strokes and heart attacks) if they took no therapeutic chocolate; then they worked out how many would have fatal and non-fatal cardiovascular events if they took dark chocolate, on the presumption that the beneficial effects of that chocolate on high blood pressure and low-density lipoproteins persisted.

They came to the conclusion that, if compliance was 100%, a regime of dark chocolate taken for 10 years by 10,000 people at high risk of cardiovascular disease would prevent 15 fatal cardiovascular events and 70 non-fatal ones. If compliance was only 90 percent, the figures would be 10 and 60 respectively.

Of course, one must remember that this was a virtual trial, not a real one. As Goethe said, grey is theory, but green is the tree of life: in other words, full of surprises. It is possible that dark chocolate does not continue to exert a beneficial effect upon the risk factors for cardiovascular disease beyond 18 weeks. It is also possible that harmful effects of dark chocolate consumption would become evident after 18 weeks.

On the other hand, the dose of dark chocolate used in the trial seemed modest, costing only $50 a year. A higher does might have a greater effect. Perhaps dark chocolate is some kind of panacea, like aspirin.

That would overturn completely my prejudice that medicine should be nasty. I am not sure, in my heart of hearts, that I am ready for it. And then, of course, there is the question of chocolate prescribed on Medicare…

Fist published in PJ Media.

Posted on 07/17/2012 12:33 PM by Theodore Dalrymple
Tuesday, 17 July 2012
A Big Chip Off The Old Block, Or What's Happening To The Petermann Glacier

As predicted, humongous iceberg breaks away from Greenland glacier

Last autumn, scientists predicted that the Petermann Glacier, which is larger than the island of Manhattan, would soon break way from the Greenland ice sheet. They were right.

By OurAmazingPlanet Staff, July 17, 2012

In this 2007 photo, an iceberg is seen melting off the coast of Ammasalik, Greenland.

John McConnico/AP/File

A massive iceberg larger than Manhattan has broken away from the floating end of a Greenland glacier this week, an event scientists predicted last autumn.

Related stories

The giant ice island is 46 square miles (120 square kilometers), and separated from the terminus of the Petermann Glacier, one of Greenland's largest.

The Petermann Glacier last birthed — or "calved" — a massive iceberg two years ago, in August 2010. The iceberg that broke off and floated away was nearly four times the size of Manhattan, and one of the largest ever recorded in Greenland.

Although the new iceberg isn't as colossal as its 2010 predecessor, its birth has moved the front end of the massive glacier farther inland than it has been in 150 years, Andreas Muenchow, an associate professor of physical ocean science and engineering at the University of Delaware, said in a statement.

Jason Box, a scientist with Ohio State University's Byrd Polar Research Center, has also been monitoring the Petermann Glacier, and in September 2011, he told OurAmazingPlanet that a growing crack likely would sever the glacier once warmer weather took hold during the summer months.

"We can see the crack widening in the past year through satellite pictures, so it seems imminent," Box said at the time.

Muenchow said that the newest ice island broke away on Monday morning (July 16).

Although iceberg birth is a natural, cyclical process, when the process speeds up, there are consequences.

The floating ends of glaciers, known as ice shelves, act as doorstops. When these ice shelves suddenly splinter and weaken or even collapse entirely, as has been observed in Antarctica, the glaciers that feed them speed up, dumping more ice into the ocean and raising global sea levels.

"The Greenland ice sheet as a whole is shrinking, melting and reducing in size as the result of globally changing air and ocean temperatures and associated changes in circulation patterns in both the ocean and atmosphere," Muenchow said.

Posted on 07/17/2012 1:04 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 17 July 2012
Clinton Silent as Egyptian Foreign Minister Ties Israel Treaty to pre-1967 Armistice Line


Secretary of State Clinton                                                         Secretary of State Clinton with Israeli

with Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr                                        Prime Minister Netanyahu in Jerusalem

in Cairo on July 15, 2012                                                              on july 16, 2012

As Madame Secretary of State Clinton's trip to the Middle East segued into her meeting yesterday with Israeli PM Netanyahu, disturbing elements were revealed in her joint Press Conference with Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr on Saturday.  In a Washington Free Beacon article published today, Clinton was conspicuously silent during the press conference while Amr tied continuation of the Camp David accords of 1979 between Israel and Egypt to recognition of a Palestinian state based on the pre-1967 armistice line.  The  Free Beacon report noted what Amr said:

During a press conference Saturday in Cairo, Clinton and Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr were asked about Egypt’s longstanding peace treaty with Israel, which has come under scrutiny in recent months by officials of Egypt’s new, Muslim Brotherhood-led government.

“Egypt’s understanding of peace is that it should be comprehensive, exactly as stipulated in the treaty itself,” Amr said, referring to the original 1978 Camp David peace accords between Israel and Egypt.

“And this also includes the Palestinians, of course, and its right to—their right to have their own state on the land that was—the pre-June 4, 1967, borders with Jerusalem as its capital.”

Clinton remained silent following Amr’s statement. (The Obama administration also backs a return to the pre-1967 borders—a decision that was roundly condemned by Jewish leaders when it was announced by the president in May 2011.)

The reactions to this episode are reflected in Free  Beacon comments from Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) and Dr.  Jon Schanzer, Vice President at the Washington, DC-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a  frequent guest on NER/WEBY Middle East Round Table discussions:

This is just more evidence that the new Egyptian government has no intention of upholding the long-standing peace deal with Israel,” Rep. Joe Walsh (R., Ill.), a congressional opponent of U.S. aid to Egypt, told the Free Beacon in a statement.
“I once again call on this administration to get tough with the Muslim Brotherhood and let them know that their $ 2 billion aid package will be cut off if the current peace deal is not enforced by Egypt.”

“This is a little bit of a troubling development,” said Jonathan Schanzer, vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “To have the foreign minister raise this right now with the Secretary of State is what we all need to be looking at.”
While the more-than-three-decades-old accords explicitly discuss Egypt’s stance on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, stability between Israel and Egypt was historically viewed as the most critical aspect of the agreement, Schanzer explained.
“By bringing this up, they are bringing up ancient history and redefining the de facto terms under which the peace agreement has existed,” Schanzer said. “The new government is looking to establish itself with its domestic base. This is an attempt to flex a little bit of muscle here.”

In a July NER article with Schanzer in which we raised dangers of the Morsi Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt he warned where these developments might lead:

I believe that if the Muslim Brotherhood has its way, and if another parliamentary election takes place that brings them back to power, they will truly take control of the country. We are going to lose Egypt. In fact, we may have already lost Egypt since President Morsi is already not eager to work with the United States to uphold the peace with Israel. This is strikingly similar to what happened to the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979… I see huge parallels here. Very scary parallels. And so for those who keep saying well, gee, don't worry about it; you know the military is still in control. That is exactly what analysts said about Iran back in 1979. History does repeat itself.

The Free  Beacon noted criticism of Clinton by a Congressional source:

“The Islamic, radical, new Egyptian government invented a contingency clause for the Camp David peace accords in a live press conference with the U.S. Secretary of State who said nothing in response,” said a senior congressional official in contact with the Israeli government. “If that is not a failure of leadership I don’t what is.

From an Arab world perspective, the lack of response by the secretary could be taken as acceptance of such a contingency on the Camp David peace accords, which would constitute a change to U.S. policy as well,” added the source. “What happened is a major strategic error, and it needs to be corrected publicly and loudly very soon.”

Clinton also expressed apathy about a potential meeting between the newly elected Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“It is up to the two nations and the president and the prime minister to make their own scheduling plans,” Clinton said. “We have done nothing. That’s not our role; that would not be appropriate.”

As we posted  on the Iconoclast yesterday, Clinton appears to be in the forefront of the Obama Administration policy appeasing radical Muslim Brotherhood elements throughout the Middle East and North Africa.  When Secretary Clinton appeared with Israeli PM Netanyahu at their joint press conference in Jerusalem yesterday, their message was that Israel and the US were “ on the same page” with the Iran nuclear threat.  The exchange of public messages by Netanyahu and Clinton  reported by the Jerusalem Post went along the usual lines:

"We have our common goals to make sure that Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon," Netanyahu said prior to the meeting.

Clinton said: "We will continue to consult closely as we have on an almost daily basis between our two governments to chart the best way forward for peace and stability for Israel, the United States and the world."

Clinton said that her visit should reiterate Washington's commitment to Israel's security, and its investment in Israel's long term future.

Israel and the US, she said, cooperate every day at the "highest level and across many dimensions."
The reality in behind the scenes discussions with Netanyahu may have been tougher on matters like the Levy Commission report suggesting legalizing possible annexation of Judea and Samaria. The Levy Report has troubled liberal American Jewish leaders who contend its conclusions threaten peace discussions with the truculent Palestinian Authority. They  have suggested PM Netanyahu reject the Report’s recommendations.  

Clinton may also have raised with Netanyahu concerns about the bloody disarray in neighboring Syria whose Chemical and Biological Warfare caches could be used against both opposition and Israel.    Israel Hayom noted the comments of Israel Defense Forces Deputy Chief of General Staff Maj. Gen. Yair Naveh  who said an interview published June 11, 2012:

"Syria today has the largest chemical weapons stockpile in our neighborhood. These missiles can reach any point in Israel and therefore we must remain vigilant."
Naveh warned, "What the Syrians are doing to their own people they would do to us if they got the chance."

Clinton is publicly boosting the effects of tough sanctions on Iran while  telling  the Islamic Republic's leaders that doors are open to realistic discussions.  That may be an ineffective chess move to the grand masters in Tehran who have devised  several means of suborning the moratorium.  According to UK security experts  the recent EU oil moratorium sanctions implemented on July 1st will not avert ultimate achievement of nuclear devices by the Islamic Republic within less than two years.  Israeli security experts contend the first crude devices could be available before year end given available supplies of enriched uranium.    That reality may explain the recent augmentation of the US Navy Fifth Fleet in the Gulf  given rising tensions by the Islamic Republic threatening to close the Straits of Hormuz.   Meanwhile, Secretary Clinton is in the Emirates trying to allay fears about US resolve amidst increasing concerns about Iran’s saber rattling.

 All these photo ops on Clinton’s globe girdling trip in the end signify nothing more than the Obama Administration is intent of preserving its options, while distancing itself from Israel. That is dramatically reflected in the alleged failure by the State Department to include the Jewish State, a constant victim of Islamic terrorism, in a recent Global Terrorism Conference.   That abject concession to Islamist Turkey and other Middle East regimes attending  the Conference was roundly criticized by the Simon Wiesenthal Center. 

Sic transit ignominia the Obama Administration's  appeasement of triumphant Muslim Brotherhood and fundamentalist Islamic regimes in MENA.

Posted on 07/17/2012 11:37 AM by Jerry Gordon
Tuesday, 17 July 2012
A Musical Interlude: If I Didn't Have You (Lew Stone & Orch.,Al Bowlly)

Despite the attribution at YouTube  to Roy Fox,  by this time in1932 what had been Roy Fox's band was being led by Lew Stone.

Listen here.

Posted on 07/17/2012 2:27 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 17 July 2012
Barry Rubin On Syria

A comment on two of his remarks are below his text:

The tide seems to be turning in Syria. [why not resist this kind of speculation, that has been going on for a year, to the same effect?]While the civil war is far from over, the regime is clearly weakening; the rebels are expanding their operations and effectiveness. There have also been more high-level defections. What does this mean and why is this happening?

There are three main factors that are making a rebel victory seem more likely.

First, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, with Turkey’s facilitation and U.S. coordination, are sending arms to the opposition.

Second, the regime has been rushing the same trusted units around the country to put down upsurges. After many months of battle, these forces are getting tired and stretched thin.

Third, President Bashar al-Assad really has nothing to offer the opposition. He won’t leave and he can’t share power. His strategy of brutal suppression and large-scale killing can neither make the opposition surrender nor wipe it out. Even if he kills civilians and demonstrators, the rebel military forces can pull back to attack another day.

Even though the fighting may go on for months, then, it is time to start assessing what outcomes might look like. Here are some suggestions:

–Ethnic massacres? While there have been reports of such actions—the regime killing Sunni Muslims; the opposition killing Alawites and Christians—what we’ve seen already might be nothing compared to what is to come. Such murders might take place during the civil war or after it ends.

–An Alawite fortress? Assad has built up his defenses in northwest Syria where most of the Alawites live to make a last stand or to try to hold out. How would such a final phase in the war go and could Assad keep the rebels from taking this stronghold?

–Obama Administration bragging rights? We’ve already had leaks about U.S. covert involvement in the anti-Assad effort. If the rebels seem to be winning or do in fact win the war before November, the White House will claim Syria as proof of its tough, triumphant foreign policy. (The elections in Libya, in which reportedly the Islamists were held off by a U.S.-backed government, will be cited as another example of success.)

–But at great risk. What if the Obama Administration increasingly claims credit for regime change in Syria and then has to take blame for massacres or an Islamist takeover?

–The Kurdish factor. Syria’s Kurds have essentially walled off their northeast section of the country. Their armed militia, helped by their compatriots in Iraq, can hold out against all but the most concerted force. The Kurds generally view the regime as repressive Arab nationalists while they see the opposition as Islamists and Arab nationalists. Would a new regime in Damascus make a deal with them for autonomy, or would it be tempted to try to conquer the area? If so, how would the opposition’s Western backers react to such an assault?

–And then there’s the biggest question of all: Who among the opposition forces would take power? Syria is quite different from such relatively homogeneous countries as Egypt and Tunisia. Let’s just list the different groupings:

Alawites now rule and in general support the regime. The treatment of the Alawites—who pretend to be Shia Muslims but really aren’t Muslims at all—would be a key indicator for a new regime. Would it seek conciliation or would it massacre large numbers of them? Unless Assad can hold out in the northwest, the Alawites will have little role in a post-Assad Syria.

Christians also generally support the regime because they fear Islamists taking power. Will they face massacres and flee the country or will the new regime work to accommodate them?

Alawites and Christians together number more than one-fourth of the country’s population.

The Kurds have been discussed above. Their goal is autonomy, one that a new central government could meet but will it want to grant them such status?

The Druze, who live in the southwest of the country, have not played a major role in the rebellion. They tend to accommodate themselves to the status quo. Will they organize communally and seek some autonomy? The Druze strategy is of special interest to Israel since they live closer to the Golan Heights and, indeed, Israel rules a Druze population there most of whose members identify as Syrians. Would a new regime’s treatment of the Druze make the Golan Heights’ residents more rebellious against Israel or more eager to remain under Israeli rule? Israel’s military intelligence commander has already warned of the danger of jihadists infiltrating into the border area, though one might add that Israel already has strong defenses in place there that would stop any cross-border attacks, a contrast of course with the Sinai.

And finally there are the Sunni Muslim Arabs who comprise about 60 percent of the population. As a group they would be the new rulers. But they are very much divided among themselves. On one hand there are the Islamists, both Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists; on the other hand there are urban moderates who are more proportionately numerous and politically astute than their Egyptian counterparts. Who will get the upper hand?

Yet even that is an incomplete inventory. In addition, there are many rural Sunni Arabs who could be described as traditionalists, who want a socially conservative state but could swing in either direction politically.

Last and certainly not least are the military officers who deserted Assad’s army and now run much of the opposition Free Syrian Army (FSA). They can be described as both technocrats and as Arab nationalists in varying degrees. Would they impose themselves on a new government?

The exile groups, including the U.S. backed Syrian National Council (SNC) seem to have little influence and prestige within the country. Would the Obama Administration and others try to force this Brotherhood-dominated group onto those who did the fighting?

At some point, one side or the other will win and at this time that winning side seems to be the opposition. It will establish a new central government in Damascus. That government will have to complete the conquest of the Alawite region and to decide on whether to grant some autonomy to the Kurds. A huge problem is whether it can, or wants to, prevent ethnic massacres. And of course there will be the question of who, and which political philosophy, will rule. I do not think Syria is going to fall apart. Everybody pretty much has a vested interest in the survival of the state as a whole, just as happened with Iraq.

As you can see there are many questions and unknowns about Syria’s future. These apply regardless of the timing of any rebel victory, and they are going to be major factors affecting the Middle East over the coming decades.


Comment #1: "The treatment of the Alawites—who pretend to be Shia Muslims but really aren’t Muslims at all—would be a key indicator for a new regime."

This is the first time I have seen Barry Rubin, or anyone other than myself (for the past eight years) make this point, though he doesn't bother to explain about the veneration for Mary (whose image can be seen all over Alawite villages, or explain the history, either, of how the Alawites obtained the fatwa from an Iranian cleric years ago, which defined them as "Shi'a Muslims.: If in the many articles he has devoted to Syria he has previously mentioned this, I'd be interested to find out.

Comment #2: "The Kurds generally view the regime as repressive Arab nationalists while they see the opposition as Islamists and Arab nationalists."

Rubin here has missed a chance to make an important point. It is not that the opposition consists of "Islamists and Arab nationalists" with the second group only being regarded with suspicion by the Kurds. For those whom Rubin calls  "Islamists" in Arab countries -- that is, those who take Islam most to heart -- are also, despite the universalist claims made for Islam, carriers of Arab supremacism. They may be "Islamists" in the sense that they want a return to Islam, an end to the "age of ignorance" (as Egyptians were reported by Peter Hessler in The New Yorker to have shouted in Tahrir Square recently, without Hessler explaining wht the reference -- the the Jahiliyya -- islamically meant), but they also have shown, again and again, when it comes to the rights of Kurds, Berbers, and other non-Arab Muslims, these fanatical Muslim Arabs want the non-Arabs to know their place. One of the complaints of the Afghan Taliban was that "the Arabs" who arrived with Bin Laden, or joined him later, treated the non-Arab Afghans with such arrogance and contempt.

Posted on 07/17/2012 2:36 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 17 July 2012
Syrian Forces Withdrawn From The Golan

So read the latest dispatches from that front. Now why would Assad do that? some may ask.

But it makes perfect sense. Despite all the decades of hysterical propaganda about Greater Israel (from the Nile to The Euphrates), all the Arab rulers know that Israel has no such ambitions, and wants simply to be left alone.

And Assad knows that many of those who are most fanatically Muslim, Syrians and people who have come into Syria from outside, will now flock to the Golan, and try to figure out how to inflict as much pain on the people of Israel. After all, now there will be enemies directly to the north -- Hezbollah, and to the south -- Hamas, and now to the northweat, the "Jihadis" (as they are called) facing Israeli forces on the Golan.

If they act up, by lobbying missiles and so on,  and Israel retaliates, or pre-emptively strikes, than Israel has taken care of one problem for Assad, by wiping out a determined group of his most implacable enemies. And if they also cause Israeli casualties, that's fine for him. And ideally, any such outbreak of hostilities might, he reasons (I think in this case wrongly) that the ensuing brouhah will cause some Syrians to re-think their opposition to Assad, heroic leader of the Resistance to Israel, as his regime never tires of telling.

No doubt, over the next few days or weeks, aa rivulet becoming a mighty river of solemn and complicated and ponderous explanations will flow over us.

But tell that river to stay 'way from your door. For you already grasp what, in any case, has always been perfectly obvious.

Posted on 07/17/2012 3:28 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald

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