Hemmed in and closely watched by police, hundreds of Muslims have unrolled rugs and mats and prayed outdoors in the busy streets of a Paris suburb to protest the closure of their prayer hall. The show of strength Friday...
Clichy City Hall wants to turn the rented prayer hall the worshippers were using into a multimedia library for the town’s 60,000 residents. City Hall refused to renew the three-year lease when it expired last June and, following a court battle, closed down the prayer hall last week with help from French police. It says Muslims can worship at a new Islamic cultural and prayer center, already used by hundreds of people, the town inaugurated last year.
However, the Muslim group that helped organize Friday's protest and which is calling for another demonstration Sunday says the new mosque is too small and remote.
The building is a disused former office block that City Hall "turned into a mosque by throwing down a few rugs," said Smail El-Baz, a spokesman for the group.
He warned that the closure of their prayer hall could drive worshippers underground and increase the risk of them becoming radicalized.
The group wants its prayer hall reopened until the end of Ramadan in July and space for the building of a new mosque.
Clichy, vendredi 31 mars 2017. Près de 800 personnes ont prié boulevard Jean-Jaurès ce vendredi pour contester la fermeture de la salle de prière rue Estienne d’Orves.
On March 22, Belgium's King Philippe marked the one-year anniversary of the murderous terrorist attack in Brussels that killed 32 people at the Brussels airport and subway. In a monument to Europe's surrender to the forces of evil, here is what the King had to say:
"It's the responsibility of each and every one of us to make our society more humane, and more just. Let's learn to listen to each other again, to respect each other's weaknesses. “Above all, let us dare to be tender."
At least the king wasn't holding an umbrella in one hand and waving a piece of paper in the other a'la Neville Chamberlain.
Where was the anger? Where was the vow to stand up to these barbarians who have entered his country and committed mass murder on his citizens? Was it Belgium's fault that they were not more humane, more just? Had Belgium not listened to the "grievances" of the bombers?
This is symptomatic of the attitude of almost every Western European country when it comes to confronting Islamic terror. They refuse to close their borders to waves of people that include so many criminals, shiftless people looking for welfare, hate-filled fanatics, rioters, and terrorists. How many Europeans have to die to show the world Europe's "openness"?
In addition to the March 22 bombings, it was Brussel's Molenbeek quarter, inhabited by an unassimilated Muslim community, that harbored one of the Paris terror attack ringleaders, Salah Abdeslam, for four months. The people in that district knew that he was hiding in plain view among them. He wasn't hiding in some attic. He was going to cafes and ordering pizzas. Yet nobody lifted a finger to notify the police.
Belgium has become one of the biggest havens for Islamic terrorists in the world. And here you have their king telling his grieving citizens, "Let us dare to be more tender," as if that were going to melt the hearts of the killers and lead them to the righteous path. Has Belgium not learned its lesson from World War II, when it was occupied by a murderous foreign force that was ready to kill their citizens at the drop of a hat - first and foremost its Jews?
The day may well come when Belgium's epitaph will read:
The United States and Britain fight anti-Israeli Bias at the UN
by Michael Curtis
British Prime Minister Theresa May is making history from which there is no turning back in the effort to restore what she called “our national self-determination” after 44 years of British membership first of the EEC, the Common Market, and then of the European Union. On March 29, 2017 she officially invoked Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty of December 2007 to start the Brexit process, withdrawal from the EU in accordance with the vote on the referendum on the issue on June 23, 2016, when 51.9% voted in favor of leaving the EU.
The Lisbon Treaty provides for a member state to withdraw from the EU in accordance “with its own constitutional requirements.” In view of the increasingly British criticism of the bias against Israel in United Nations bodies, especially the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), perhaps Prime Minister May is considering invoking similar constitutional requirements to withdraw from them.
Certainly there are some indications of this possibility. The British government changed its vote on March 24, 2017 at the UNHRC meeting which issued a “perverse” resolution for allegedly mistreating Druze residents on the Golan Heights. May asserted that in the future Britain would oppose all UNHRC resolutions concerning Israel unless the bias of the organization stopped. Britain had in the past usually abstained in the resolutions condemning Israel introduced by the Syrian and Islamic states. Now Britain will vote, like the US, against them.
The British Ambassador to the UN, Julian Braithwaite, on March 24, 2017 spoke truth to the organization about its bias. The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) had passed a series of four resolutions singling out, as usual, only Israel for violating human rights of Palestinians, and calling on Israel to return control of the Golan Heights to Syria. Ambassador Braithwaite asserted "Today we are putting the UNHRC on notice. If things do not change in the future, we will adopt a policy of voting against all resolutions concerning Israel's conduct in the occupied Syrian and Palestinian territories."
By tragic coincidence the UN bias was manifest that very week concerning the Islamist terror attack on Westminster Bridge and Parliament in London that killed five people and injured more than 30. The silence of the UNHRC on this terrorist attack, as well as on the 25 terrorist attacks and incitements in which at least 30 Israelis were killed, was deafening.
The stronger British position on UN bias follows the straightforward and unusual remarks on December 28, 2016 by Prime Minister Theresa May who severely criticized the speech of then Secretary of State John Kerry. She rebuked Kerry who had blamed Israel for the stalled peace process, and had disrespectfully referred to the government of Israel as the most right wing government in Israel history. May regarded this as an unwarranted attack on the composition of the democratically elected government of an ally.
In similar spirit to the British pronouncements, the U.S. State Department Spokesman Mark Toner announced on March 20, 2017 that the US will boycott a session of UNHRC that will discuss once again alleged Israeli human rights abuses against the Palestinians. For some time it has been a travesty of objectivity that Agenda Item Seven of UNHRC rules mandates that the organization must discuss alleged Israeli human rights abuses at every session of the Council.
The significance of this mandate is that Israel will be discussed regardless of what is happening in other countries in the Middle East of the rest of the world. Israel is the only country in the world to which a specific mandate applies. Alleged abuses of human rights in all other countries are discussed under Agenda Item Four. The US is opposed to the Agenda Item Seven mandate. So far President Trump has not made any formal statement on the issue, but the Administration is reconsidering its participation in UNHRC.
It is pertinent to the decision on this that President George W. Bush in 2006 refused to join UNHRC, but President Barack Obama in 2009 decided to join, and rejoin when its first term of three years ended.
The British diplomat Julian Braithwaite also opposed Agenda Item Seven, pointing out that Israel had been condemned for its occupation of Golan Heights formerly in the hands of Syria; by contrast Syria which has been murdering and butchering people on a daily basis, is not a permanent standing item on the Council’s agenda.
Even more forthright is Nikki Haley, former Governor of South Carolina and now US Ambassador to the UN. She declared to the UN, “You are not going to take our number one democratic friend in the Middle East and beat up on them.” Displaying herself as a new sheriff in town she warned the UN, the “days of Israel bashing are over.”
But not all nations feel as do the US and UK regarding the animosity towards Israel. In recent weeks this has been shown in the Netherlands and in Sweden.
In the Netherlands although Dutch Jewish leaders, fearing the event would incite antisemitism or pro-terrorist sentiment, and embolden terrorists, urged the Mayor of Rotterdam to cancel a conference of pro-Hamas group, the Palestinian Return Center due to be held on April 15, he refused to do. His excuse was there was no proof that Hamas is involved and therefore he could not do anything.
More serious has been the little known activity of Sweden regarding Israel. Some of this has been revealed in a French report issued on March 29, 2017, "Les Liaisons Dangereuses de Banques Francaises avec la Colonisation Israelienne." The report makes recommendations to French banks, insurance and utility companies in relation to Israel settlements. The title indicates the thrust of the report which condemns the Israel colonization, the illegality of the Israeli “colonies” that restrict the Palestinian people and are an obstacle to the resolution of the conflict. It concentrates on the Israeli banking system that it regards as an essential tool of “colonization.”
Three things are pertinent about the report. One is that the settlements in the disputed area are always referred to as “colonisation.” The second is that it is based on UN Security Council Resolution 2334 of December 23, 2016 and calls on French institutions to respect it and implement recommendations regarding Israeli settlements. 2334 was the resolution the Obama administration allowed to pass the Security Council because it abstained, refusing to veto the resolution.
The third most important issue is the funding of the report. It was produced by a number of Palestinian and pro-Palestinian organizations, including the Association France Palestine Solidarite, French League of Human Right s, founded in 2001, the c CGT (General Confederation of Labor, one close to the Communist Party),and Al Haq, based in Ramallah and whose director is alleged to have ties to the extreme PFLP (Front for the Liberation of Palestine). But it was funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, a government agency of the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs based in Stockholm. The Agency has for some time development assistance for Palestinian economic and social development.
Perhaps the Trump administration will not be able to influence Sweden to change its anti-Israeli position, but, like the British May Government, it can and should stick by its threat to pull out of the UNHRC, and by inference other UN bodies, if they continue their anti-Israeli bias.
Guatemalan Politico Questions Disabilities Law, May Lose Congressional Immunity
Unusual Case Raises Specter of Muzzling the Opposition
by Fergus Hodgson
Complainant Rosa Ilda Aldana thanks US Ambassador Todd Robinson after a meeting at the embassy. (Chochi Aldana)
Guatemala’s most outspoken congressman against constitutional reforms and the agenda of US Ambassador Todd Robinson faces the loss of immunity from prosecution. The charges are that he has acted in a discriminatory manner towards the disabled community, but notable locals have been swift to point out ulterior motives in the case.
Fernando Linares, a list member of the Party for National Advancement, expressed his opinion regarding proposed legislation. The bill, if passed, will be the Law for the Protection of Disabled People, and the response has been to bring charges that would sideline him at this sensitive time.
“The disability law contains millions in expenses,” said Linares while in the National Congress, “and as congressmen we are obliged to defend all taxpayers, and not necessarily give money to minority groups that call for it.”
People with disabilities made the claim that Linares’s remarks portrayed disabled people as non-contributing members of society, and therefore unworthy of receiving help.
The subsequent criminal case, though, has drawn local concerns about an opportunistic attempt at muzzling. Linares has taken a public stand against a UN-appointed commissioner and the US ambassador, including a letter to the Impunity Observer that implied the need for Robinson’s removal from office.
Further, Robinson’s close ally Attorney General Thelma Aldana is the one who has authority over the legal proceedings. Her ministry, however, is responding to complaints from disabled members of the community and accusations of bigotry, while Linares has accused the attorney general of doing the bidding of foreign interests.
One complaint came from Rosa Idalia Aldana, president of the Small People of Guatemala, who said via social media that “[her] voice is the voice of all the disabled people and of all the people that have been discriminated against.”
The case challenges congressional immunity, which is there so that members of Congress can speak freely while discussing legislative matters. Hence, Linares has described the criminal proceeding as unconstitutional, and he has filed a counter complaint against Aldana and two of her allies in the Justice Ministry.
The specific person making the complaint is also fanning speculation of a confrontation between Linares and those pushing constitutional reforms, in particular Ambassador Robinson. Rosa Aldana, who represents disabled people, expressed her public gratitude towards Robinson following an event that he attended. Over Facebook, she thanked him for “opening [his] door and [his] heart, generating inclusion and opportunities for disabled people.”
José Luis González, an attorney in private practice, states “It is evident that this is more than a criminal case, because there is no crime here.” The former professor of constitutional law at Francisco Marroquín University in Guatemala City adds that “It is an action to threaten congressmen who stand in the way of the constitutional reforms.”
If the attorney general prevails in removing Linares’s congressional immunity, he could then face criminal charges of discrimination that he allegedly violated the rights of persons with disabilities.
Paz Gómez contributed to this article, which first appeared in the Antigua Report.
Does the arrest of a Turkish State Bank official in New York further complicate US Turkey Relations?
by Jerry Gordon
Mehmet Hakan Atilla (R), a deputy general manager of Halkbank, is shown in this court room sketch with his attorney Gerald J. DiChiara (C) as he appears before Judge James C. Francis IV in Manhattan federal court in New York, New York, U.S., March 28, 2017. REUTERSJane Rosenberg
The FBI arrested on Tuesday, March 28th, 2017, Mehmet Hakan Atilla, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Turkish state-owned Halkbank after he was taken into custody at JFK airport the day before. He was charged with a multi-year conspiracy evading US sanctions against gold bullion trading with Iran in a deal that the Obama Administration permitted under a loophole because it went through “private individuals.” That was back in 2013, when the US was in intense negotiations with Iran via the P5+1 JCPOA deal that gave Tehran a guaranteed pathway to a nuclear bomb.
The private individual in question, who facilitated the multi-billion dollar illicit gold trade, was 33 year old Iranian Turkish Azeri, Reza Zarrab, who was arrested last March while on a vacation in Florida. He was arraigned in the New York Federal Southern District Court in October 2016. Zarrab’s arrest probably enabled the FBI to complete its investigation as to the Halkbank involvement in the gold for gas sanctions evasion scheme with Iran. Jonathan Schanzer and Mark Dubowitz exposed the violation nearly four years ago in a May 2013, Foundation for Defense of Democracies report, “Iran’s Golden Loophole”.
Bloomberg.comnoted following the arrest of the Halkbank deputy chief executive officer the shares on the Turkish Istanbul stock exchange plummeted:
The shares of Turkiye Halk Bankasi AS, as the lender is formally known, fell as much as 19 percent in Istanbul, knocking 2.1 billion liras ($576 million) off its market value. Traders exchanged almost 153 million shares by 4:56 p.m., the most since the shares were listed, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Mehmet Hakan Atilla, the deputy chief executive officer now detained in the U.S., faces charges including conspiring to evade trade sanctions on Iran and banking fraud.
Investors have been on tenterhooks since Reza Zarrab, an Iranian-Turkish gold trader accused of running a scheme to help the Iranian government launder hundreds of millions of dollars, was arrested in the U.S. last March. Tapes released in a previous corruption investigation in Turkey (2013) showed Zarrab coordinating with Halkbank officials including Atilla.
Note who the previous investigation involved and how it ended from this Dutch Kom Newsreport:
Reza Zarrab, the 33-year-old Iranian-Turkish dual citizen was arrested in Istanbul on December 17, 2013 as part of a corruption investigation involving the sons of three ministers from Erdogan’s cabinet as well as Egemen Bagis, former minister for EU Affairs and Turkey’s chief negotiator in accession talks with the European Union. Zarrab was accused of bribing ministers (through their sons) with millions of dollars in cash and gifts to help facilitate trade in gold with Iran. A parliamentary investigation committee was formed to decide whether the ministers would be put on trial or not but members of Erdogan’s party, holding the majority in the committee voted against a criminal proceeding.
This arrest occurred just prior to US Secretary of State Tillerson’s one day meeting with Turkey’s President Erdogan who doubtless winked at the gold trading by Zarrab, as someone in his family may also have benefitted from the illicit business. This February, Trump advisor former New York Mayor Rudolph Guiliani and former Bush Attorney General Michael Mukasey journeyed to Ankara, Turkey to allegedly meet with President Erdogan regarding their law firm’s defense of Zarrab.
Because of the timing of the latest development, it is likely that former US Attorney Preet Bharara and his staff were pursuing both cases against Zarrab and Atilla. Mukasey’s son Mark is being considered as a replacement for Bharara as US Attorney in the New York Southern District.
Note these details from the US Department of Justice press release on how the evasion was accomplished under the guise of humanitarian aid:
Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim stated: “As alleged, Mehmet Hakan Atilla, a Turkish banker, participated in a years-long scheme to violate American sanctions laws by helping Reza Zarrab, a major gold trader, use U.S. financial institutions to engage in prohibited financial transactions that illegally funneled millions of dollars to Iran. As alleged in the criminal complaint unsealed today, Atilla worked with Zarrab to create and use fraudulent documents to try to disguise prohibited Iranian financial transactions as food that would qualify under the humanitarian exception to the sanctions regime. United States sanctions are not mere requests or suggestions; they are the law. And those who use the American financial system to violate the sanctions laws, as Atilla is alleged to have done, will be investigated and prosecuted aggressively. I thank the FBI and the career prosecutors in my Office for their tireless work and dedication in this and other important investigations of alleged sanctions violators.”
FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. said: “Iran continues to illustrate it will use whatever means necessary to evade sanctions and violate U.S. law. Our work in this case shows the unscrupulous behavior by exposing how the men charged allegedly moved massive amounts of money through U.S. banks disguised as humanitarian efforts to feed people in need. In this instance, they allegedly utilized a Turkish national and a financial institution that knowingly shielded the true nature of the transactions. The FBI and the U.S. Intelligence Community have dedicated investigators and analysts who won’t stop weeding out every action Iran takes to continue its alleged illegal activity.”
The Turkish Justice Minister suggested the timing of Atilla’s arrest was “political”. He was cited in a Reuters report today on the arrival of Secretary Tillerson in Ankara:
The arrest in the United States of a top Turkish banker charged with participating in a multi-year scheme to violate sanctions against Iran is a "completely political" move, Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said on Thursday.
The Halkbank (HALKB.IS: Quote) executive is accused of conspiring with Turkish-Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab, who is already on trial. Bozdag said there was no evidence incriminating Zarrab or Turkey.
The arrest escalates a case that has fuelled tension between the United States and Turkey. President Tayyip Erdogan has said he believed U.S. authorities had "ulterior motives" in prosecuting Zarrab, who was arrested in March 2016 in Miami.
"There is nothing legally sound there and Turkey is facing a completely political plot," Bozdag told broadcaster A Haber. "It aims to tarnish the Turkish state, government and president."
Despite the Turkish Justice Minister’s comments, we suspect there is more to come from the trials of both Zarrab and Atilla in New York. Stay tuned for developments.
The campus fascists who are now suppressing conservative views have been using those tactics against pro-Israel speakers for years
by Richard L. Cravatts, PhD
When Chester Evans Finn, Jr., a former United States Assistant Secretary of Education, observed in 1989 that university campuses had become “islands of repression in a sea of freedom,” he was anticipating a troubling and prevalent trend now poisoning academia, namely, the suppression of free speech. With alarming regularity, speakers are shouted down, booed, jeered, and barraged with vitriol, all at the hands of groups who give lip service to the notion of academic free speech, and who demand it when their speech is at issue, but have no interest in listening to, or letting others listen to, ideas that contradict their own world view.
This is the tragic and inevitable result of a decades of grievance-based victimism by self-designated groups who frame their rights and demands on identity politics and who have been successful in weaponizing this victim status to stifle debate. In the space of the past two months, for example, tendentious and morally self-righteous progressive students, and some faculty, have displayed a shocking disregard for the university’s cardinal virtue of free expression, deciding themselves who may say what about whom on their respective campuses—and purging from campuses those ideas they have deemed too hateful, too unsafe, too incendiary to tolerate or to allow to be heard.
At Middlebury College, in one of the most astonishing examples, Charles Murray, political scientist, libertarian, and author of the controversial 1994 book, The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life, was verbally assaulted by a crazed audience of students intent on shutting down his planned speech—a crowd that eventually physically surrounded Murray and a Middlebury professor, Allison Stanger, and shoved them with sufficient force that she was hospitalized.
At NYU, Gavin McInnes, co-founder of Vice Media and the host of The Gavin McInnes Show on Compound Media, was showered with pepper spray by agitated and raucous protesters before his scheduled February 3rd speech.
Ezra Levant, conservative political activist, writer, and broadcaster, had to endure a similar experience at Canada’s Ryerson University in March when protesters set off alarms, pounded on doors, and continuously interrupted his speech while chanting, “no Islamophobia, no white supremacy.”
And at Berkeley on February 1st, some 1500 violent rioters lit fires, smashed windows, tossed smoke bombs, destroyed property, and pepper sprayed and beat pro-Trump bystanders and conservatives, all because of the purported extreme views of Milo Yiannopoulos, a speaker invited to campus by the Berkeley College Republicans.
Something is clearly amiss on North American campuses, and this recent spate of disrupted events has brought to the forefront a troubling phenomenon on campuses that supporters of Israel have been experiencing for more than a decade already. Anti-Israel campus activists have conducted an ongoing campaign to delegitimize and libel Israel, and their tactics include a concerted and blatant attempt to shut down dialogue and debate—anything that will help to “normalize” Zionism, permit pro-Israel views to be aired, or generate support for the Jewish state.
The marauding, virtue-signaling bullies who were successful in suppressing the speech of conservative speakers whose views they had predetermined could not even be uttered on campus share a common set of characteristics with the campus activists who have led the assault against Israel and Jewish students who support it: it is they, and they alone, who know what it acceptable speech, what ideas are appropriate and allowed, which groups are victims of oppression and should therefore receive special accommodation for their behavior and speech, which views are progressive (and therefore virtuous) and which views are regressive (and therefore hateful), which causes are worthy of support and which are, because of their perceived moral defects, worthy of opprobrium.
The notion that a vocal minority of self-important ideologues can determine what views may or may not be expressed on a particular campus is not only antithetical to the purpose of a university, but is vaguely fascistic by relinquishing power to a few to decide what can be said and what speech is allowed and what must be suppressed; it is what former Yale University president Bartlett Giamatti characterized as the “tyranny of group self-righteousness.”
The frequency and intensity of the disruption of pro-Israel events are shocking. The AMCHA Initiative, an organization that tracks instances of campus anti-Israelism and anti-Semitism, reported that in February 2017 alone, pro-Palestinian radicals attempted to disrupt and shut down the following events: a University of Georgia Dawgs for Israel event called “Beyond the Headlines: Israeli Soldiers Tour,” during which members of the toxic Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) tossed images of dead children around the room and then were escorted out of the room by an armed guard, chanting, “We will not allow justification of ethnic cleansing, occupation, and murder on UGA’s campus;” a University of Washington pro-Israel education display promoting peace that was set up by the Coalition of Husky Allies for Israel and was vigorously protested by Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights (SUPER-UW) who complained repeatedly that the pro-Israel display was “too close to SUPER-UW’s display,” and, more preposterously, that the pro-Israel display was offensive and “triggers” them; a Florida State University Hillel-sponsored event where Israeli soldiers spoke. SJP members disrupted the event, unfurling a large Palestinian flag, standing up during the presentation, and shrieking, “Free, free Palestine;” and a Students Supporting Israel at Columbia University event with Danny Danon, Israel’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations. Protestors from the anti-Israel University Apartheid Divest chanted, “Stop your murder, stop your hate, Israel is an apartheid state!” and some protesters broke into the lecture hall, interrupting Danon seven times.
It was never the intended purpose of academic free speech to enable or permit students, for example, to scream out in protest in classrooms if they disagree with the instructor or merely wish to raise their displeasure with some issue, engage in speech and behavior that would normally be considered to be incitement or harassment or criminal, and, most relevant to this current issue, individuals cannot, under the protection of free speech, deprive another of his or her free speech rights—through disruptions, heckling, physical obstructions, or other tactics which have as their purpose to suppress and/or eliminate the speech of those with opposing views, including the threat of violence if certain controversial speakers are allowed air their views, the so-called “heckler’s veto.”
True intellectual diversity — the ideal that is often bandied about in academia but rarely achieved — must be dedicated to the protection of unfettered speech, representing opposing viewpoints, where the best ideas become clear through the utterance of weaker ones. “. . . The University’s fundamental commitment is to the principle that debate or deliberation may not be suppressed because the ideas put forth are thought by some or even by most members of the University community to be offensive, unwise, immoral, or wrong-headed,” a 2014 Report of the Committee on Freedom of Expression by the University of Chicago suggested. “It is for the individual members of the University community, not for the University as an institution, to make those judgments for themselves, and to act on those judgments not by seeking to suppress speech, but by openly and vigorously contesting the ideas that they oppose.”
Richard L. Cravatts, PhD, President Emeritus of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, is the author of Dispatches From the Campus War Against Israel and Jews.
Italian police broke up an alleged jihadist cell in Venice that drew inspiration from last week’s terrorist attack in London and planned to blow up the city’s famous Rialto Bridge in the hope of killing hundreds of tourists.
In a series of overnight raids, anti-terrorism police arrested three suspects, all of them Kosovars who were living in Italy. Fisnik Bekaj, 24, Dake Haziraj, 25, and Arian Babaj, 27, were allegedly admirers of Islamic State and were secretly recorded discussing how they were ready to die for the sake of jihad. A fourth person, an unnamed minor also originally from Kosovo, was detained.
In wire-tapped telephone conversations, the suspects were recorded appearing to celebrate last week’s attack in London, in which Muslim convert Khalid Masood, 52, drove a car into crowds walking across Westminster Bridge, killing three people, and then fatally stabbed a policeman, Keith Palmer, outside Parliament.
A phone intercept caught one of the men telling another: “You'll go straight to paradise because of all the infidels in Venice. Put a bomb on the Rialto." In another conversation, one of the men said: “I can’t wait to take an oath to Allah. If they let me take the oath, I’m ready to die.”
The suspects had embarked on a training programme, putting themselves through physical exercises and viewing videos of Islamic State extremists explaining how to carry out knife attacks, the prosecutor said...They found a number of pistols as well as evidence that the trio had downloaded information from extremist websites about how to make bombs and carry out attacks with knives.
The undercover operation began last year after one of the men came back from a trip to Syria. All had residency permits and were living in Italy legally. "There was a lot of talk about unconditional support to ISIS. It wasn't just theory and dogma," said Mr D'Ippolito. The suspects were close to moving towards "planning and projects",
Around 300 Kosovars have gone to fight with Islamist groups in Syria and Iraq, including Islamic State and al-Nusra Front.
Especially in the north of Israel the traveler can visually identify the border by land that is cultivated for agriculture. On the other side of the border, whether in Syria or Jordan, land with the same qualities is barren, simply because the people residing there can’t make it work. Farming isn’t expensive, as Nature does most of the work in turning seed into food; but exploiting its gifts does require considerable organization and attention, not to mention respect for organization and attention. For various cultural and historic reasons, some people can make and bake while others can’t. Along the same playing field at the Israeli border the traveler observes visibly unequal results.
Back in 1899, a young writer named Winston Churchill acutely observed that “wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live...the effects are improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property.” He continued: “Individual Muslims may show splendid qualities, but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it.” Whether forces other than religion contribute to this social backwardness I’ll let others decide.
Stepping back, taking an economic view, consider that some people are makers while others are takers. Some of the latter try to take from their neighboring takers, though it’s more profitable for them to take as much as they can from those who make wealth. This principle informs my understanding of the Middle East. The sad truth is that nearly all Muslim economies are disasters unless they have abundant natural resources. In that case a privileged class controlling the resources lords over most of their impoverished countrymen.
One difference recently is that the takers try to enlist outside forces to support their efforts at taking. Unable to attract sufficient charity from their wealthier Muslim neighbors or to conquer them, certain Arab peoples try to appeal to elements in the West, especially in the United Nations, in their efforts to appropriate Israeli wealth. Takers fake when their leaders try to blame poverty on external forces, rather than internal cultural insufficiencies. With the Israeli deannexation of Gaza the takers succeeded politically, only to squander their takings with mismanagement and wonton destruction, incidentally undermining the Western sentiment that outside forces can create preconditions for more equal social results. (By contrast, when Malaysia dumped Singapore, it became wealthier than its sometime master.) Should any reader doubt, consider visiting these Middle Eastern scenes and seeing for yourself.
These machinations aren’t new, as one recurring truth of Jewish history is that takers fake whenever they try “legally” to appropriate Jewish makings. Remember Spain in the late 15th Century, Russia in the late 19th Century, and Germany in the third and fourth decades of the 20th Century.
The truth is that the charity of outsiders seems doomed until benefactors insist that takers cease faking and are, instead, encouraged to be makers. Only then will the results from level playing fields begin to appear more equal.
The recommendations made here to President Trump’s administration can be grouped under seven headings:
• The administration should acknowledge that combating political Islam by military means alone is not working.
• The administration should define the enemy more clearly: political Islam (Islamism) is not just a religion, but is also a political ideology.
• The administration should understand the significance of Islamist dawa, the subversive, indoctrinating precursor to jihad.
• The administration should ensure that key personnel in all relevant agencies understand the risk of Islamism, Islamist dawa activities, and militant jihad.
• The administration should choose its language carefully. Ideology is about persuasion. The administration must learn to persuade the leaders of the other branches of government,the American people, allied countries, and Muslims that Islamism is a hazard and poses risks to both national security and America’s constitutional order.
• The administration should recognize the diversity of Muslim citizens and support Islamic reformers here and around the world.
• In reaching out to the Muslim American community, the administration should ally itself with genuine Muslim moderates and reformers, not with “nonviolent” Islamists. Nonviolent Islamists are engaged in subversion: they seek to replace the US Constitution and rule of law with sharia, even when they refrain for tactical reasons from using or advocating violence.
• The administration should understand that the average American Muslim does cooperate with law enforcement, but does so against the advice of organizations such as CAIR.
• The administration should require the FBI to scrutinize the ideological background and nature of the Islamic organizations it engages with and partners with to ensure that they are genuinely moderate, that is, not committed to the Islamist agenda.
• The administration should instruct all agencies not to partner with nonviolent Islamist groups such as these:
• The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)
• The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC)
• The Muslim Students’ Association (MSA) • The North American Islamic Trust (NAIT)
• The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) • The International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT)
• The Islamic Society of Boston
• The current failing strategy known as “Countering Violent Extremism” is based on false premises and has empowered Islamists. It should be abandoned and replace with an effective strategy.
• The administration, through the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), should subject immigrants and refugees to ideological scrutiny, as happened during the Cold War.160 Individuals requesting temporary entry to the United States, permanent residency, or citizenship must be asked about their commitment to Islamism and related concepts such as the death penalty for apostasy and support for sharia law and the subjugation of women. If individuals are found to have lied in their immigration or citizenship applications about their commitment to the US Constitution by engaging in subversive dawa activities after establishing residency, their residency or citizenship must be revoked.
• The DHS should deny entry to foreign individuals involved with or supportive of Islamism and related groups and refuse permanent residency and naturalization to such individuals.
• The administration should reinstate the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS) and consult with experts to maximize its effectiveness.
• The administration should prioritize entry to the United States of immigrants who have shown loyalty to the United States in a war setting, such as interpreters who risked their families’ lives to support US troops.
Law and the Justice System
• The administration should heed the lessons of the successful conviction of the “blind sheikh,” Omar Abdel Rahman, for seditious conspiracy in the first World Trade Center bombing case.
• The secretary of state should designate the Egyptian chapter of the Muslim Brotherhood as a foreign terrorist organization, just as Hamas has been outlawed in the United States for clear connections to terrorism.
• The administration should implement effective ideological screening of chaplains employed by the Department of Justice, the Bureau of Prisons, the Department of Defense (military chaplains), and the State Department. The Bureau of Prisons, the Department of State, various state correctional systems, and the Department of Defense must stop relying on the Islamic Leadership Council and the Islamic Society of North America for chaplain vetting.
• The administration should systematically map the infrastructure of subversive dawa activities around the world, in particular the connections of the global infrastructure to the United States: funds, individuals, institutions, nongovernmental organizations, and governmental support.
• The administration, with Congress, should grant the DHS and the FBI greater powers to gather exploratory intelligence on Islamist groups. Now they can act only when a conspiracy to commit violence arises or an actual violent act occurs.
• The administration should ensure reasonable surveillance of Islamic centers and mosques that are credibly suspected of engaging in subversive activities, such as the Islamic Society of Boston. In response to pressure by Islamic lobby groups, efforts to gather intelligence in New York mosques were shut down in 2015. Such programs should be relaunched as soon as possible.
• The administration, through the Internal Revenue Service, should revoke the tax-exempt status of organizations connected to subversive Islamist activities; the IRS division tasked with accrediting religious 501(c)3 groups should consider subversion of the US constitutional order as a disqualifying criterion in granting or extending tax-exempt status.
• The administration, with Congress, must require annual disclosure to the IRS of foreign contributions by tax-exempt religious associations.
• As a condition of US friendship, the administration should require foreign governments as well as Islamic NGOs to stop supporting and financing subversive Islamist activities in the United States. Of particular interest here are Qatari, Kuwaiti, and Saudi “philanthropic” foundations.This will require policy synchronization among the State Department, the Department of Defense, and the National Security Council—and a great deal of persistence. Given the sensitivity of this issue, private requests are advisable first; if private requests are ineffective or ignored (as they have been since 9/11), appropriate public pressure must follow.
• The administration should firmly push back against the efforts of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to limit free speech by outlawing criticism of Islam. Such efforts are directed at the United Nations, the Council of Europe, and other international organizations.
• The administration should use broadcast institutions overseas (e.g., Voice of America) to fight the war of ideas by disseminating a counter-dawa message, highlighting the work of Muslim reformers and non-Islamist Muslims.
• If a country or NGO cannot show verifiable progress in curbing its support for subversive dawa activities in the United States, the administration should punish that country or NGO in concrete terms, for example by trade sanctions or cuts in aid payments.
• The administration should continue conventional military operations against jihadist organizations in order to capture or kill Islamist terrorists, deny them safe havens, and bolster the efforts of our allies against them.
• However, the administration also should wage cyber war on organizations engaged in dawa as well as those engaged in jihad.
Armed police are currently involved in an operation in Birmingham during today's afternoon rush hour. Officers have been pictured in Alum Rock Road this afternoon.
It is understood the operation could be linked to terror searches across the UK.
Two people have been arrested on suspicion of terror offences . . . Alum Rock Road was sealed off as counter-terrorism officers arrested a 21-year-old man and a 23-year-old woman. The duo were arrested on suspicion of preparing for terrorist acts following the swoop at around 5.30pm...Police said the arrests were not related to last week’s terror attack in Westminster.
The Metropolitan Police has confirmed in the last few minutes that a search is being carried out at a property in the Birmingham.
An Independent Kurdistan: Cometh the Hour, Cometh the Plan
by Hugh Fitzgerald
“Masoud Barzani: Independent Kurdistan is loyal response to Peshmerga sacrifices,” Rudaw, March 5, 2017:
Barzani [Masoud Barzani, President of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region] said that too many massacres have occurred, leaving no room for reconciliation,’ with a divided Iraq along the sectarian lines of Sunnis and Shiites, as he commented on the prospect of an independent Kurdistan, saying that the Kurds had tried to reconcile with the rest of the country after the fall of Saddam in 2003, but it failed because of the sectarian war between the two sects that has been going on for 1400 years.
“The independence of Kurdistan would create an area of stability in this region. We have already seen too much blood and injustice,” Barzani said, noting that an independent Kurdistan will be “based on the rule of law, respect for democratic rules, coexistence between different identities, and a multiparty system.”
“In the Middle East we can help to reduce crises and conflicts. It is in everyone’s interest,” Barzani said talking about the impact of an independent Kurdistan on the Middle East.”
The largest ethnic group in the world without its own state, a people without a country of their own, are the Kurds. By the Treaty of Sèvres in 1920, they were originally promised local autonomy in Anatolia, with the possibility of establishing, within a year of the Treaty’s signing, an independent Kurdish state. Section 3, Article 64 of the Sèvres treaty stated:
If within one year from the coming into force of the present Treaty the Kurdish peoples within the areas defined in Article 62 shall address themselves to the Council of the League of Nations in such a manner as to show that a majority of the population of these areas desires independence from Turkey, and if the Council then considers that these peoples are capable of such independence and recommends that it should be granted to them, Turkey hereby agrees to execute such a recommendation, and to renounce all rights and title over these areas.”
The detailed provisions for such renunciation will form the subject of a separate agreement between the Principal Allied Powers and Turkey.
If and when such renunciation takes place, no objection will be raised by the Principal Allied Powers to the voluntary adhesion to such an independent Kurdish State of the Kurds inhabiting that part of Kurdistan which has hitherto been included in the Mosul vilayet.
But that promise was never fulfilled; the treaty was annulled. After the Turks under Ataturk had managed to expel the last foreign troops from Anatolia, the Turkish government refused to recognize the commitments it had made in the Sèvres treaty, a refusal reflected in the Treaty of Lausanne, signed in 1923. The result was bitter: no autonomy for the Kurds, and certainly no independent Kurdish state. But the Kurds did not abandon their dream of an independent Kurdistan; though the Lausanne Treaty meant the postponement of the dream of Kurdish autonomy, or of a Kurdish state, it did not destroy it. Though the Kurds are still stateless, circumstances today in the Middle East may have brought their goal closer to being realized than at any time before.
The Kurdish people now number between 35 and 40 million. Most of them are to be found in four Muslim countries – Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Turkey. They have been mistreated, to varying degrees, in all of these countries. In Turkey there are 10-15 million Kurds, about 20% of the population, living mostly in eastern and southeastern Anatolia. There has been a long-running simmering rebellion by these Anatolian Kurds against Turkish rule, involving several different groups of Kurdish rebels, the most important group being the PKK, or Kurdish Worker’s Party. Serious organizing for Kurdish rights began in 1974; an open insurgency started in 1984, and since then there have been varying levels of violence, intermittent truces, suppression by the Turkish army — but the aim of Kurdish autonomy or, for a growing number of Kurds, the further aim of outright independence, remains despite defeats. That desire is no doubt heightened in the Turkish Kurds by their having to endure that Lord of Misrule, the self-proclaimed Padishah, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and in the Iraqi and Syrian Kurds, by their having proven their military mettle against the Islamic State.
About six million Kurds live in northern Iraq, the country where they have fared worst. The Arab army of Saddam Hussein killed 182,000 Kurds in Operation Anfal (a name taken from the eighth sura of the Qur’an, which is called Surat al-Anfal, or “the Spoils of War” chapter), and then moved Arabs into formerly Kurdish-populated villages, in a campaign of forced Arabization. After the Gulf War, the American military provided air cover for the Iraqi Kurds, beginning in 1991, which meant that none of Saddam’s planes dared enter the airspace over Iraqi Kurdistan. The Kurds are keenly aware of how much the Americans have done for them. Since 2003, while Shi’a and Sunni Arabs have been locked in conflict, Iraqi Kurds have enjoyed a semi-autonomous existence in the north. This experience has whetted Iraqi Kurdish appetites for independence, and also turned them into the most pro-American ethnic group – save for Israeli Jews – in the Middle East. It is worth noting that since 2003, not a single American has been killed in Iraqi Kurdistan. Today a Kurd, Fuad Masum, is President of Iraq, but one shouldn’t make too much of this, for it’s a largely ceremonial position, and has not diminished the desire of many Kurds for full independence, and not just de facto autonomy, for Iraqi Kurdistan. When Masoud Barzani (see above) claims that now is the time for Kurdish independence in northern Iraq, he talks about how an independent Kurdistan could help bring “stability” to a region rocked by sectarian conflict. Shouldn’t he wish that sectarian conflict between Sunni and Shi’a Arabs to continue forever? Isn’t that what may make possible an independent Kurdish state in Iraq in the first place?
The Kurds in Syria, of whom there are two million in Rojava, since the civil war began a de facto autonomous region in northern Syria, have proven themselves to be the most effective fighters against the Islamic State, with their Peoples Protection Units, or YPG, doing the bulk of Kurdish fighting. These Kurdish forces have not only had to contend with the Islamic State, but they have been targeted by the Turkish Army, which is supposed to be in Syria only to fight the Islamic State. In its waning days, the Obama Administration was planning to send arms to the Kurds in Syria, but the Trump Administration appears to have dropped that plan, reportedly because it might offend Erdogan.
But why should Washington try to please Erdogan? Since so much of what the Americans do or don’t do infuriates Erdogan as, for example, Washington’s refusal to extradite Fethullah Gulen, and as other Westerners – the Dutch, the Germans – are repeatedly called “Nazis” by Erdogan because they had the gall to keep Erdogan’s men from campaigning among Turks in their countries, it is clear that he is mercurial, ill-tempered, bullying, often hysterical, a false friend who in many ways has become an enemy of the non-Muslim West. He went into a towering rage against Israel because of the Mavi Marmara episode, in which Israeli soldiers dared to defend themselves against attack. He has fomented antisemitism at every level, accusing “the Jews” of harming the Turkish economy, causing a mine disaster, spreading anti-Turkish stories through their supposed control of the world-wide -media, and so on and so predictably forth.
Officially our military ally (and member of NATO), Turkey did not allow the Americans in 2003 to invade Iraq from the north, considerably complicating their military task. Erdogan has now been making noises about denying the Americans the use of the Incirlik airbase they built and share with the Turks, in order to force them to provide air support for his troops in Syria. The Americans are reluctant because they fear that they might inadvertently harm our Kurdish allies in the area. Erdogan is angry that the Americans are becoming too close to the Kurds, whose successes against the Islamic State appear not to please but to alarm him. He has even told the Americans that his first priority is fighting the Kurds; the Islamic State comes second. Finally, and most disturbing, Erdogan appears to take pleasure in his current prediction that a new “religious war” between Muslims and Christians — between “the cross and the crescent” — is brewing in Europe, leaving no doubt which side Turkey will be on. All this makes it harder and harder to justify treating Turkey as an ally or allowing it to remain in NATO.
In Iran there are six million Kurds, both Sunni and Shi’a, who since the First World War have demonstrated various levels of loyalty to the central government in Tehran. In 1946, Kurds in Iran established a “Republic of Mehabad” that only covered a minuscule territory along the border with Iraq and Turkey; it lasted less than a year. When the Islamic Republic was declared, many Kurds were at first enthusiastic, because the Shah had shown no patience with Kurdish nationalism, and they hoped for better treatment. They were soon disabused of that hope. As soon as Khomeini’s Islamic program became clear, the Kurds, always more secular than the Arabs (because their ethnic identity worked against, rather than reinforced, the hold of Islam) started a series of demonstrations that were suppressed far more brutally than they had been under the Shah. The Ayatollah Khomeini called for a Jihad against Kurdish separatists in August, 1979; mass executions of Kurds promptly followed.
All further attempts by Kurds to demonstrate against the Khomeini regime were crushed. The Iranian Kurds were on their own, for in Iraq the Kurds were held down by Saddam’s men after the 1986 Al-Anfal campaign of mass murder against them. And in the Iran-Iraq War (1980-88), two despots, Saddam and Khomeini, forced “their” Kurds to fight against those on the other side, instead of the Kurds in both countries being able to join forces to fight both the Arabs of Iraq and the Persians of Iran.
Now the future of the Kurds in Iran depends on what the Kurds in Iraq manage to accomplish. If they achieve independence, the route will be open for them to aid the Iranian Kurds militarily, perhaps even supplying them with arms that might be supplied by the Saudis, or the Israelis, for both Saudi Arabia and Israel have a stake in weakening Iran. (Geopolitics makes strange bedfellows.) The Saudis have recently announced their support for the independence of Iraqi Kurdistan, knowing that it will cause trouble for Iranian interests in Iraq and, even more importantly, in Iran itself.
Why has the West been so hesitant to support an independent Kurdistan when there are so many reasons why it should be enthusiastic?
The main American worry is that of alienating Turkey. The American government treats Turkey as if it were still the Kemalist Turkey of 1980, or even of 1951, when Turkey was invited to join NATO as a payback for sending its troops to fight in Korea. Turkey was once a stout ally, but that was in the heyday of Kemalism, when the forces of secularism seemed unstoppable and Ataturk’s reforms appeared to be permanent. Erdogan has been systematically undoing Kemalism, that is, reintroducing signs of Islam everywhere Ataturk had managed to banish them – especially in the army, the civil service, and the universities. He has been busy re-islamizing the country; both he and his ministers extol Islam and denounce secularism. Physical attacks by mobs on secularists, including those who only tried to distribute leaflets denouncing the Islamic State, have become more frequent and go unpunished.
Erdogan has built 10,000 new mosques in Turkey since 2004. His Deputy Prime Minister and others in his government have called for turning Hagia Sophia, currently a museum, into a mosque, which would further efface the Christian history of Byzantium, and of Christian Constantinople, for half a millenium the largest and richest city in Christendom, from historic memory. He has waged war on his own officer corps, using the failed coup as his excuse for a massive purge of the secularists in the army, while accusing those officers of taking their orders from Fethullah Gulen, a mild-mannered Muslim cleric who, Erdogan claims, directed the coup from his Pennsylvania exile. That officer corps, which for nearly a century has been the ultimate guarantor of Kemalism, has now been weakened by Erdogan’s removal of hundreds of secularist officers, the same officers whom he accuses of being the agents of a Muslim cleric.
Turkey under Erdogan has, as noted above, been an inconstant ally of the West. It’s hard to believe that a leader of Turkey, a country that for decades has received military supplies and training and aid of all kinds from the Americans, a country that was originally allowed into NATO thanks to American sponsorship, has turned out to be so ungrateful for all those decades of support of every kind.
What the Kurds need is a clear sign that the West, and especially the American government, supports the goal of an independent Kurdistan, beginning with the Kurdish territory in northern Iraq. Suppose our politicians – for example, Representative Tulsi Gabbard — were to begin to make known their own support for such a state by speaking out in Congress? Columnists might begin to write about why an independent Kurdistan would necessarily be a firm ally of the United States. David Brooks, E. J. Dionne, or any of the other grand panjandrums of the American commentariat could devote a few columns as to why an independent Kurdistan makes both geopolitical and moral sense. Just getting people to talk about the possibility, to examine it from every angle, would be helpful. For there are many reasons for thinking that this is a singularly propitious moment for the Kurds, having proved themselves militarily in both Syria and Iraq, to make a move for an independent Kurdish state.
If a state of Kurdistan were to be declared in northern Iraq with American political support, this will not stop the sectarian conflict among Iraq’s Arabs. And, pace Masoud Barzani, both we and the Kurds benefit from that conflict continuing. Neither the Shi’a nor the Sunni Arabs in Iraq now possess the wherewithal to suppress a Kurdish state, and neither will want to divert what military resources they now have to use against the Kurds. In many ways, Baghdad has already lost control of Iraqi Kurdistan over the last quarter-century, ever since the Americans started providing air cover in 1991. The Sunni Arabs might, in fact, begin thinking not about forcing the Kurds to remain within an Iraqi state, but rather, about the possibility of independence for themselves, since the Shi’a-run government in Baghdad, having undone the Sunni ascendancy under Saddam Hussein, now possesses the political and economic power (those oil revenues) that the Sunni Arabs once controlled. Those Sunni Arabs constitute about 20% of Iraq’s population, while the Shi’a Arabs make up more than 65% of Iraqis. That means there is no chance, in the new democratic polity that the Americans helped bring, that the Sunnis will ever again regain the power they once possessed. Instead, as a permanent minority, they are doomed to endure second-class status under the newly empowered Shi’a. But the Sunnis can continue to resist, and might attempt to create a Sunni state carved out of central Iraq, which could count on Saudi Arabia (and the smaller but very rich sheikdoms of the Gulf) to support them with money and weaponry, so that they might stand in the way of further Shi’a expansion. The main goal of the Saudis is to everywhere limit the influence and power of Shi’a Iran, which they regard, correctly, as Saudi Arabia’s mortal enemy. So this sectarian conflict can go on indefinitely, a proxy war between Iran-backed Shi’a and Saudi-backed Sunnis, and it is this war that gives the Kurds in Iraq their chance for independence.
Even more disturbed than Iraqi Arabs at the prospect of an independent Kurdistan in northern Iraq will be those who run things in Tehran. For they will naturally fear the potentially galvanizing effect on the six million Kurds in Iran and, even more disturbing, the effect on other, non-Kurdish, minorities in Iran. The Iranians have reason to worry. After all, only 61% of the population of Iran consists of Iranians.
The remainder are Baluchis, in the east, next to Pakistan’s Baluchistan, who make up 2% of Iran’s population, Azeris to the north, next to Azerbaijan,who make up 16% of the population, Arabs in the south, in the oil-bearing region of Khuzistan, who number fewer than two million (there are 8 million Arabs in Iran, or 2% of the population, widely dispersed) and the Kurds, who make up 10% of the population, on the western border with Iraq – or what could now be Kurdistan. And then there are a dozen smaller peoples. If the nearly seven million Iranian Kurds were able to rise up and join Iraqi Kurds in the new state of Kurdistan, that would by itself weaken the Islamic Republic. And it would also encourage other minorities to try to break away from Iran. The Azeris in Iran have not heretofore shown great interest in joining their territory to Azerbaijan, and Khomeini’s ferocious 1979 declaration of Jihad against all separatists scared many, but the tug of Azeri nationalism might grow stronger pari passu with the prospect of its success.
Right now Iran is involved, directly or through proxies, in Syria and Lebanon, in Yemen and Iraq. If Tehran had to simultaneously deal with internal uprisings by Kurds, Baluchis, Azeris, and Arabs, it would likely have to pull back from its foreign adventurism, and perhaps have to choose which of its minorities, or the land they live on, it could least afford to lose. The 2.4 million Baluchis in eastern Iran, almost 30% of the total Baluchi population in the world, live in one of the poorest parts of Iran, ignored by Tehran except when some separatists set off a bomb. 70% of the world’s Baluchis live just across the Iranian border in Pakistan, where they have been carrying on a low-level rebellion for many years. The Baluchis have a strong sense of national identity, despite, or possibly because, they are spread between Iran and Pakistan and ill-treated in both countries. They are Sunnis, which is another reason why the Islamic Republic treats them badly. If the Iranian Kurds were to be successful in leaving Iran, the Baluchis in eastern Iran might be inspired to join their territory to that of the Baluchis in Pakistan. The Sunni government of Pakistan would be glad to receive territory subtracted from Shi’a Iran, and might then grant the Baluchis greater autonomy, in the hope of forestalling demands for Baluchistan’s independence. The Iranians are unlikely to want to fight Pakistan in order to wrest back control of an impoverished land and its impoverished, rebellious, and hostile people.
The Arabs of Khuzistan number fewer than two million, though there are another six million ethnic Arabs spread out in Iran. Khuzistan is next to Iraq, but Shi’a Arabs in southern Iraq are not likely to help the Arabs of Khuzistan, for they are grateful to Iran for having backed the Shi’a militias in Iraq to the hilt, with weapons, training, and even some soldiers, for their fight against Sunni Arabs. Kuwait, too, is a country that traditionally has fostered close ties with Iran, calling relations with the Islamic Republic “excellent and historical.” How much of this friendship is real, and how much dictated by considerations of Realpolitik, given that Iran is the most powerful country in the region, is unclear. But what is clear is that Saudi Arabia, the second power in the region, and a determined enemy of Iran, could support a Khuzistani independence movement all by itself, by paying both for military supplies and for Pakistani Sunni “volunteers” (like the Pakistani mercenaries who have been employed to keep down the Shi’a in Bahrain) who could fight against Iranian forces trying to hold onto Khuzistan. The Iranians do not want to lose Khuzistan’s oil, so they will never relinquish the territory. And the deep-pocketed Saudis, for their part, can keep the fight in Khuzistan going as long as they are willing to spend some of their spare billions, and to hire Pakistani mercenaries. The Iranian army cannot simultaneously suppress the Kurds, the Azeris, the Baluchis, and Arabs at home, and at the same time, deploy forces to back Shi’a militia in Iraq, and Assad in Iran, and keep its commitment to Hezbollah (especially if the Israelis keep bombing those supply routes from Syria to Lebanon with such deadly accuracy) in Lebanon.
Even the attempts at rebellion by Kurds, Azeris, Baluchis, and Arabs, whether or not any or none or some of them succeed, will keep the Islamic Republic off balance, occupied with holding Iran together, in the face of centripetal forces to the north, the south, the east and the west, and keep the mullahs out of mischief elsewhere. The regime in Tehran instead will be forever teeter-tottering, as it tries to extinguish separatist fires that can re-flame up at any time, on all four sides.
In Iraq, the Kurds, who are both Sunni and Shi’a, want to stay out of what they regard as a religious quarrel among Arabs, insisting that their sense of peoplehood transcends that sectarian fissure. They have enjoyed autonomy ever since 1991, and have the economic wherewithal, from oil and natural gas fields, to support a viable Kurdish state, even if Kurds elsewhere do not join them. Their bitter memories, of the nearly 200,000 Kurds murdered by Saddam, the forced Arabization of Kurdish lands, the appropriation of Kurdish oil and gas revenues by the Arabs in Baghdad, have been more than enough to keep their dream of an independent Kurdistan alive. Having become used to living with autonomy, they now want more, and as it turns out, in Iraq and elsewhere in the neighborhood, the conditions are more propitious than they have ever been for obtaining Kurdish independence.
In Iraq, where the Kurdish Peshmerga has demonstrated its mettle against the Islamic State, it would be unimaginable for the Sunni and Shi’a Arabs, at this point of maximum sectarian mistrust and conflict, to join forces against the Kurds, or that either sectarian group would expend its own forces to fight the Kurds alone, which would only help their sectarian Arab enemy.
In Syria, the Kurds have won the trust and support of the Americans because they have proven themselves to be the most effective of all the groups fighting the Islamic State. There are only two million of them, and they would not try for independence on their own, but if the Kurds in Iraq declare independence, those in Syria, who enjoy de facto autonomy in Rojava (Syrian Kurdistan) might quickly act to join them. There are several reasons why Assad would not dare, nor even care, to try to stop them. In the first place, he has been weakened militarily by the war, even if he now seems to be winning, and needs to husband his military resources for fighting those who still threaten to topple and murder him. These are the various rebel groups, as well as Al-Qaeda and, of course, the Islamic State, still holding on in Raqqa. The Syrian Kurds have no such desire to topple Assad. They don’t care which Arab rules in Damascus. What they want is be out of Syria altogether, and as far as they are concerned the Arabs can, as in Iraq, fight among themselves for as long as they want.The sliver of land – Rojava– that the Kurds inhabit will not be missed by Assad, who is more worried that he could lose his power, and his head. The Assad regime’s enemies are not just the fighters of the Islamic State and the various Syrian rebel groups. He has one more enemy in the neighborhood – Turkey. Erdogan entered Syria originally, as he put it, to end “the cruel regime of Assad.” He’s put aside that goal for now, but Assad will not have forgotten the threat. Assad, who has defied all the predictions of his demise, has much to gain from an independent Kurdistan. For that Kurdish state consisting of parts of Iraq and Syria will be a permanent threat to Turkey, and to the cohesion of the Turkish state. The loss of Syrian Kurds to this new state would be well worth it to Assad if, as a result, that independent Kurdistan attracts Turkish Kurds, prompts them to a rebellion in eastern Anatolia, and keeps the Turkish military busy trying to put down a large-scale Kurdish revolt, one which they will not easily be able to suppress given the military aid and volunteers from Kurds outside Turkey. Letting the Syrian Kurds join the Iraqi Kurds is the cleverest way for Assad to divert or curb Erdogan’s efforts against him. It’s akin to sacrificing a piece in order to trap, and checkmate, one’s opponent.
In Turkey, the conditions for Kurds rising up in southeastern Anatolia are more favorable than they have ever been. Why? Outside of Turkey, both the weakness — and cold calculation — of the Assad regime will keep it from suppressing two million Syrian Kurds who, while not formally his allies, are the most effective fighters against the greatest threat to him, that is the Islamic State. The Iraqi Kurds have similar battle experience, have heavy weapons from the Americans for the fight in Mosul, and have the declared support of the Saudis for an independent state in Iraqi Kurdistan (not out of love for the Kurds, but because they want to weaken an Iran-backed Shi’a-ruled Iraq). They have experienced de facto autonomy that whets their appetite for more. They are certainly aware that the Shi’a-Sunni conflict between Iraq’s Arabs prevents a united Arab front against the Iraqi Kurds. And there is now strong sentiment in Washington against Turkey, thanks to Erdogan. In Turkey, Erdogan’s despotic and erratic behavior has weakened the Turkish army, beginning with the officer corps that has been demoralized by Erdogan’s arrests, with some of the remaining officers, and certainly all of Turkey’s secularists, eager to see Erdogan come a cropper. He has damaged Turkey’s relations with America and Europe by trying to campaign for Turkish votes abroad, and calling the Dutch and Germans “Nazis” for attempting to stop his interference in their countries. He has damaged, above all, his relations with the Americans, whose military aid he would need to put down a Kurdish rebellion. His re-islamizing of Turkish society, his aggressive demands that the American government hand over Fethullah Gulen, and his repeated gleeful prediction that there would soon be a war in Europe between Christians and Muslims, have lost him many former friends in Washington.
By way of contrast, as we have seen, the Kurds have been solidly pro-American ever since American warplanes began patrolling over Iraqi Kurdistan in 1991 to keep Saddam’s warplanes out. Americans who served in Iraq have reported that the Kurds were the only locals in Iraq whom they fully trusted; they would take their R-and-R in Kurdistan.
To recapitulate all the reasons why the time may be ripe for an independent Kurdistan:
In Iraq, Sunni Arabs and Shi’a Arabs have their hands full fighting each other for power, and have nothing to spare for keeping determined Kurds in the north from declaring their independence.
In Syria, Assad has little to lose — two million Kurds and a sliver of resource-poor territory – and a lot to gain, by not trying to prevent Syrian Kurds from joining an independent Kurdish state. This enlarged Kurdistan can stir up rebellious sentiments among Turkish Kurds, and force Erdogan to concentrate his efforts on holding Turkey together rather than trying to unseat Assad, whom he detests.
In Turkey, the spectacle of an independent Kurdistan carved out of northern Iraq and northeastern Syria, quite capable of holding its own against potential enemies and enjoying the support of the Americans, Israelis, and Saudis, all of whom have their own reasons for supporting Kurdistan, will be watched excitedly by the Kurds of Anatolia. Some of them will no doubt want to join their fellow Kurds, and Erdogan’s attempt to suppress a Kurdish revolt will be less effective than it might once have been, for three main reasons. First, he has weakened his own military by summarily cashiering so many secular – or “Gulenist” – officers. Second, he has lost support from the West, for his undoing of Kemalism at home, and his hysterical outbursts directed at the Americans, the Europeans, the Israelis. Third, the Kurds have shown themselves to be steadfastly pro-American, even as Erdogan becomes more anti-American, and this has not gone unnoticed in the Pentagon or in Congress.
In Iran, finally, if Iranian Kurds are prompted to join the independent Kurdistan that will have first come into being in northern Iraq, the Islamic Republic will have to worry not only about how best to suppress the Kurds in Iran, who for the first time will have the possibility of receiving outside aid (from Iraqi Kurdistan), but also have to consider what effect too brutal a suppression of the Kurds will have on the Azeris, Baluchis, and Arabs. They may recoil from the Islamic Republic’s display of brutality, and be more determined than ever to promote their own separatist movements. Their success would spell the end of the Islamic Republic and leave a distressed and dimidiated Iran. And for the entire West, and especially America, that would be a good thing.
And should we care if Erdogan’s Turkey were to lose its Kurds – that is, one-fifth of its population and of its land area? Why? What has Turkey done for us lately? Remember that as the Kurdistan in northern Iraq would be strengthened by the addition of Syrian and Iranian Kurds, the position of the Turkish Kurds, who could not receive military aid, including heavy weapons, from that new state – the Turks can’t seal off their entire border with an independent Kurdistan – also would become stronger. The fight to keep the Turkish Kurds in Turkey would be much more difficult for Ankara, with its officer corps demoralized by Erdogan’s purges. The conflict would be different from Kurdish revolts of the past, because the Turkish Kurds would now have their own powerful ally in the neighborhood just to their south, that is, independent Kurdistan. It would not be easy for the Turks to suppress the Kurds in Anatolia, given the military supplies, and even Kurdish volunteers, that could now arrive from Kurdistan. One welcome result of this strengthening of the Kurdish movement would be that the Kurdish conflict will drag on in Anatolia, with the result uncertain. And Erdogan, the ruler who antagonized and threatened the West, would be revealed as not even being able to assure those over whom he ruled that Turkey would remain intact. Would not Erdogan’s regime then collapse? And if it did, wouldn’t the successor be an anti-Erdogan regime, secular, pro-Western regime, one that would return Turkey to its Kemalist past and that would cease to treat the West as an enemy?
The establishment of an independent Kurdistan would weaken Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran, four Muslim countries whose regimes do not wish us well. An independent Kurdistan would be the fulfillment of a promise made by the Great Powers in the Treaty of Sèvres in 1920, and breached by the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923. We have been helping the Kurds since 1991. Most recently, we have supplied heavy weapons to the Peshmerga to aid them in their fight against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. That battle experience, and those heavy weapons, make a Kurdish state more likely. An independent Kurdistan would be an unshakeable outpost of pro-American sentiment in an anti-American Muslim sea. No doubt there is something wrong with this vision of an independent Kurdistan. But I’m still trying to figure out what it might be.
President Trump has — for the time being — put on the back burner an executive order designating the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization, according to U.S. officials close to a heated debate inside the administration over the status of the global Islamist movement.
While the White House has declined to comment publicly, officials speaking on condition of anonymity say the administration backed down from a plan to designate the Brotherhood last month after an internal State Department memo advised against it because of the movement’s loose-knit structure and far-flung political ties across the Middle East.
The memo “explained that there’s not one monolithic Muslim Brotherhood,” according to one of the officials, who told The Washington Times that while the movement may well be tied to such bona fide terrorist groups as Hamas, its more legitimate political activities would complicate the terrorist designation process.
The Brotherhood has prominent political factions engaged — at least perfunctorily — in democracy in Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia and several other Muslim-majority nations, and the State Department memo coincided with high-level pressure placed on the Trump administration from at least one of them.
Senior diplomats from Jordan — a close U.S. ally — are believed to have weighed in heavily against the idea of adding the Brotherhood to the State Department’s foreign terrorist organizations list, said the official, because the movement’s political arm in Amman currently holds 16 Jordanian parliament seats.
But debate over the Brotherhood’s status remains biting in Washington, where hard-liners in the fight against radical Islamic terrorism say former President Barack Obama erred for years by failing to target the organization’s promotion of extremist ideology, and that President Trump is now badly fumbling a chance to rectify the situation...
All this gender-neutral language baloney is really getting under my skin. Children who are not taught the proper use of pronouns and tense will never learn to write well. They are not being taught to respect the English language, rather the opposite. They are actually being taught to desecrate their heritage.
The object of political correctness is to make the obvious unsayable, or at least sayable only under the threat of a torrent of criticism or abuse. This does violence to the mind and spirit: those who refrain from objecting to the false pieties of political correctness (which are intoned within organizations as regularly as in public) come to despise themselves.
A female British judge, Lindsey Kushner, who was on the verge of retirement, has recently come under fire for remarks she made while sentencing a man to imprisonment for rape. The victim having been drunk and taken drugs at the time she was raped, the judge said:
I don’t think it’s wrong for a judge to beg women to take action to protect themselves. . . . They are entitled to do what they like but please be aware there are men out there who gravitate towards a woman who might be more vulnerable than others.
For offering a comment that she believed she would be remiss not to offer in her final criminal trial, Judge Kushner was immediately accused of blaming the victim.
Now in Britain it is a matter of common observation that, over the last couple of decades, young women have made themselves incapably drunk in public. They do so regularly and with a considerable degree of pride. In point of fact, the judge’s saying that young women “are entitled to do what they want” was not right: to be drunk and incapable, or drunk and disorderly, is still against the law, regardless of what the inebriated person wants.
Unfortunately, so prevalent has public drunkenness become in Britain that such charges are rarely brought. A little while ago, for example, and a hundred yards from my front door, a scantily clad young woman had collapsed drunk on the pavement and a policeman had to render her assistance. She was not charged; indeed nothing further was from the policeman’s mind than to do so.
It is possible that if the laws against public drunkenness were properly enforced in the first place, the judge would not have believed it necessary to make her parting statement that ruffled so many feathers. Interestingly, in all the commentary that followed, no one mentioned the failure to enforce laws against drunkenness as being of any significance in the matter. The judge certainly did not. In other words, it is now implicitly accepted that public drunkenness is an inevitable feature of modern life in Britain, like rain, even though it would be relatively easy to suppress. The law has become a dead letter by a combination of cowardice, incompetence, laziness, and lack of confidence from above and mass licentiousness from below.
The commentary about Judge Kushner has been, as I said, mostly hostile. A woman’s group called Ending Violence Against Women said:
When judges basically blame victims for rape—suggesting how much alcohol a woman drinks or what she wears is part of what causes rape—we remove the responsibility from the man who did it.
The rapist in this case, however, was found guilty and sentenced to what is, by Britain’s absurdly lax standards, a long prison sentence, six years.
Prisoners, incidentally, automatically receive remission of half of their prison sentence, which makes a dishonest charade of the sentencing process since the public is by and large unaware of this. The judges and the media are complicit in this semi-deception.
There are, of course, reasons why young women should not be drunk in public besides that it renders them more vulnerable to rapists. No doubt I shall be accused of sexism if I say that I find the public drunkenness of young women even less pleasing than that of young men; but even if it were only precisely as displeasing as the drunkenness of young men, it would be enough to advise against it.
The judge did not in the slightest exonerate the rapist in this case. We “must not put responsibility on them [women] rather than the perpetrator,” she explicitly said. She merely made the sociological generalization that drunkenness made women more vulnerable to rapists (and no doubt other predators), and that they should therefore be cautious about being drunk in public.
If the judge had said that women who were drunk were more vulnerable to robbery, it’s hard to imagine her being accused of implying lesser culpability on the part of the robber. She would probably have been taken to mean that a drunk woman was less able than a sober one to defend herself, or run away from a threat to her safety—that being drunk rendered her more likely to be picked upon by a potential robber. That would have struck people as so obvious as to not need saying.
Everyone accepts that it is no excuse for a burglar that a house’s front door has been left open; moreover, a householder has a perfect right to leave his front door open if he so wishes. But equally no one would say that a householder who does not want to be burgled acts prudently if he insists upon exercising his perfect right (a much more perfect right than that to get drunk in public) to leave his front door open.
Why, then, did the judge’s remarks cause such outrage? I think it was largely because outrage is so enjoyable, and therefore people are particularly prepared to be outraged. They are actually looking for pretexts to indulge in their favorite emotion.
But why should outrage be such a pleasant emotion?
Not only does it assure him who feels it that he is a good person, but—so long as it lasts, which can be for a long time—it answers, or at least buries, the deep existential questions of what life is for, and how it should be lived.
Personally, whenever I come across outrage that is unjustified I am . . . outraged.
Why should you be interested in the French presidential campaign? Because it might as well be going on next door to you. We are facing the same major challenges in a similar state of confusion. The differences are circumstantial, the stakes are the same. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Liberté, égalité, fraternité. Our freedom is on the line.
Besides, this cliffhanging French campaign is a fascinating mixture of Shakespeare, Greek tragedy, soap opera, and courtly intrigues.
First, a brief summary of the overall situation: The incumbent Socialist president, François Hollande, didn't dare run for reelection. His 5 year-term has been a disaster, the Socialist party is in a shambles, the winner of the (Belle Alliance Populaire) primary, Benoît Hamon, is a Kinder Surprise with goodies for all the small people paid for by the Big Bad Rich. He has no chance of getting to the 2nd round. ID: Socialist
The callow 38 year-old Emmanuel Macron, generally assumed to make it past the first round (April 23) to confront and defeat Marine Le Pen in the second round (May 7), is running on a vacuous Somewhat Right Somewhat Left platform. How did the fabulously unpopular François Hollande manage to place his alter ego in pole position while standing aside in studied absence as the cream of the Socialist party boards Macron's cruise ship? ID: En Marche
François Fillon, who served for five years as Nicolas Sarkozy's prime minister, came out of the Primaries (Right and Center-Right) with a strong mandate, upsetting the media's favorite Alain Juppé, and polling above Macron and Le Pen. Then, out of the blue, Fillon was hit with a sensational smear campaign and a judicial ton of bricks that would have crushed a weaker constitution. The character assassination putsch against Fillon is the centerpiece of an extraordinarily dramatic campaign. It will be treated briefly below and more amply in Part 2 of this ongoing series. Fillon's platform is built on a Thatcherite revolution aimed at releasing France from decades of stagnation and double digit unemployment, and a resolute combat against Islamic Totalitarianism at home and abroad. ID: Les Républicains.
And then there is Marine Le Pen. ID: Front National
The top issue on the list of voter preoccupations in February, whether expressed directly or indirectly, was Islam. They wanted to know where candidates stood on the question. Would it be sweet submission or tough resistance? Instead of the issue-based campaign they clearly wanted, voters have been dragged into the quicksand of moralizing purification-aimed at eliminating François Fillon-and thrown a lifesaver attached to the gossamer rope of the Little Prince Emmanuel Macron.
The one thing we cannot know before the 7th of May is the name of the winner. We don't even know which of the current frontrunners-Le Pen, Macron, Fillon- will make it to the second round. Despite constant reminders of recent prediction flops, commentators are hooked on the fortune-teller syndrome. They watch Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron peddle uphill and careen around hairpin curves as if it were the Tour de France. Last week the media thought they had pushed François Fillon over a cliff and into the abyss, but he held firm. He's only a few points behind the other two...in the polls, that is. Big Data Analysis gives a different picture, substantially more favorable to Fillon. But that's not the media's storyline...
So what about Marine Le Pen? Isn't she the fourth act of the Trump/ Brexit/ Wilders divine surprises?
Marine Le Pen's reputation as The Anti-Islamization Candidate goes back to the early 2000s, when she forcefully expressed the exasperation of the lower classes that were bearing the brunt of Islamic encroachment on French society. Immediately branded as xenophobe, Islamophobe, and racist she turned the disapproval into an advantage, gathered steam, and racked up a series of impressive electoral results. The Front National went from pariah to legitimate party. And Le Pen was handed ownership of anything that could be deemed hostile to Islam. Whenever a politician takes a stand on issues of immigration, Islam, law and order, or homegrown jihadis, he is accused of leaning to the far right, picking issues off the National Front's plate, disgracing himself...
Foreign media have generally relayed this caricature, fueling widespread ignorance of other aspects of Marie Le Pen's program and her embryonic party's structural weaknesses.
Desperate to burnish her foreign policy credentials, Le Pen found no better destination than Lebanon. She opted out of an audience with the Mufti, by refusing to wear a veil. This put her head and shoulders above the Swedish ladies wrapped in hijab that had paraded in front of Iranian president Rohani as if they were merchandise at a slave market. She did not, however, veil her defense of Bashir al Assad, "the only solution for Syria," or dissimulate her good relations with Michel Aoun, the Christian outsider that became an insider by making an alliance with Hezbullah. Madame Le Pen graciously suggested she might exempt French-Lebanese from her promised ban on extra-European dual nationality. How about French-Israelis? Hardly! Marine Le Pen wants French Jews to sacrifice the kippa in support of an across the board prohibition of religious garb in public. Her envoy, Nicholas Bay, was snubbed during a recent foray into Israel. The presidential candidate herself did not get any further than the Trump Tower coffee shop on a "recreational" weekend in New York.
The European Union accuses National Front eurodeputies of fraudulent use of EU parliamentary assistant salaries for a total of close to a million euros. Frédéric Chatillon is under investigation for tricky: campaign financing, Marine Le Pen is accused of faulty financial declarations, her cabinet chief is also under investigation and that's just the tip of an iceberg that has virtually no effect on her faithful supporters. Nevertheless, the sudden flurry of activity on cases that have dragged on for years is questionable. As is the absence of coverage of the party's unsavory dealings with neo-Nazis and Islamic Jew haters.
Under Marine Le Pen's leadership, emphasis has been subtly shifting the from Islam to the economy, with a French brand of national socialism: restored sovereignty, protected borders, increased welfare benefits and jobs for the French-French, zero immigration, law & order at home, no foreign entanglements abroad. Her rhetoric is anti-capitalist, anti-American, anti-globalization and, of course anti-EU. She promises a referendum to get France out of the EU and the Eurozone; if voters choose to remain, she will resign.
Sloppy comparisons with the unexpected victory of Donald Trump in the U.S. ignore the fact that Trump was able to hitch the Republican Party to his runaway wagon; Marine Le Pen rules over a heteroclite skeleton party that can't be fleshed out by alliances-all the other parties are devils in FN theology. If she does make it to the second round, she has virtually no chance of winning and no hopes of forming an operational government. The idea that hordes of politicians from the Parliamentary right would pour into her administration is far-fetched.
Emmanuel Macron is a former banker (Banque Rothschild) who served as François Hollande's Minister of the Economy while freelancing as the founder of En Marche [On the go], a movement that wears his initials like a signet ring. Never before elected to public office, Macron teased his movement into a presidential election machine. He is now jockeying with François Fillon for 2nd position... the polls again. In a cheap version of Richard the Something, Macron made an end run around Manuel Valls, who remained the faithful Prime Minister while Hollande delayed announcing he wouldn't run for reelection. Subsequently defeated in the primaries, Valls stands back while Socialists big and small go over to Macron. I expect François Hollande will join them at the opportune moment.
Macron is the feel good candidate. Just enough labor reform to look modern, a heavy dose of welfare to reassure the weak and make the strong feel generous. He talks high tech, floats a few inches above the ground, throws out ideas like flowers to lovely maidens, does Black is Beautiful photo-ops and makes affirmative action commitments in the banlieue, visits a police station to show he knows people want security, and declares, in Algeria, that the French colonization was a "crime against humanity." That was followed by a rally in a Front National stronghold with a large population of "pieds noirs," former French residents of Algeria, where he unashamedly declared "Because I want to be president, I hear you, I love you." (borrowed from Général de Gaulle). Macron ruffled feathers with a hymn to multiculturalism: "There is no French culture, there is a culture in France." That was followed by a long-winded exposé of his "Liberté, égalité, fraternité" project for France.
On his way back from Algeria, the startup candidate stopped in London where he addressed an enthusiastic crowd of expats. In a shocking feat of erroneous reporting, The Guardian turned Macron's Algerian bomb into a modest statement that "human rights abuses" were committed during the colonization of Algeria. No, my friends, he said "crime against humanity." We heard elsewhere that the British government was not pleased by Macron's invitation-extended in front of 10 Downing Street-to bankers, engineers, scientists, and other desirables fleeing the Brexited UK to settle in France.
February 22: 4-time defeated presidential candidate François Bayrou solemnly declared: "l'heure est grave" [the situation is serious]. The long-winded, pedantic, moralizing politician-professor performed a public act of abnegation-he wouldn't be running for president-and heroically offered an alliance with Emmanuel Macron. Who immediately accepted. Bayrou maintains his hallmark pose of disinterested superiority: He never seeks fame, fortune, power or prerogatives. His mission is to save the nation from electing someone other than himself or a candidate he has sanctioned. Will he be an addition or a subtraction to Macron's campaign? I wouldn't be surprised to see him pull out before mid-April. But I might be wrong.
We can safely assume that François Fillon has not been accused of corruption at any point in his 36-year political career; if he had been, we would be hearing about it from morning to night. Tragically, Fillon stood straight and tall on his clean reputation in the primary campaign, going so far as to ask, rhetorically, "Could we imagine Général de Gaulle mise en examen (under investigation)? This was an obvious poke at his rival Nicolas Sarkozy, who has been repeatedly mise en examen since François Hollande took office. No matter that all the cases ended in acquittal, mise en examen has come to mean "presumed guilty." When the scandal, maliciously labeled "Penelopegate," broke in February, Fillon was so certain of his innocence that he said he would drop out of the race if he were mise en examen.
The opening shot was sensational: "Penelope Fillon earned 500,000 euros for doing nothing." Zionists are familiar with this type of operation. Nothing that is said or done afterward will erase the initial shock effect. François Fillon's lawyer, Antonin Levy (the son of the famous philosopher and activist Bernard Henri Levy), says he has filed more than 600 pages of evidence of madame Fillon's effective assistance to her husband, why should anyone believe him? The story gets the post-modern treatment of verification by repetition.
Fillon's platform and the relentless effort to keep him from reaching the second round, where he might defeat Le Pen or Macron, will be explored in depth in Part 2.
The outgoing Prime Minister and Interior Minister made a brief statement to the press shortly after the thwarted attack at Orly airport this morning. The assailant, they said, tried to grab the Famas assault rifle from a (female) aviator on patrol. But she held onto it. This was repeated several times. He couldn't get the gun, but he was a danger to her and the passengers. He was shot dead by a fellow Air Force man in the patrol. A few hours later a photo of the dead assailant was published. The gun is lying across his chest.
Why Is Political Islam in Sudan supported by Gulf Emirates and Saudi Arabia?
by Lt. Gen. Abakar M. Abdallah
Her Highness Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser of Qatar with Sudan President Omar Bashir Khartoum,
March 12, 2017
The Political Islam system in the Sudan spearheaded by the National Congress Party regime is supported by the State of Qatar. The relationship is contributing to growing Islamic extremist groups and international terrorism in the world. Some Salafi movement leaders in Khartoum openly support ISIS; some Sudanese college students are already fighting for Jihad in Libya and Syria. Sudan’s geographical location and the ruling elite’s historical ties with Middle East nations have been the main reasons allowing the Khartoum regime to support global extremism in both ideology and fighting for Jihad without been stopped.
Those countries fighting in the global war against terrorism failed to understand how Sudan’s Muslim Brotherhood/National Congress Party (NCP) regime functions. The regime is telling the international community one thing and doing something else. For instance, the four Sudanese who killed John Granville, the American who was working in the USAID in Khartoum and his Sudanese driver Abdelrhaman Abass in 2008 were convicted to life sentences. However, the Sudan regime declared that they escaped from prison. These men were convicted to deceive the American government that the Sudan regime was not behind the assassination. The regime convicted the men to mislead both the US government authorities and the victims’ families that justice had been done. In reality, the Sudan regime released the prisoners under the pretext that they escaped from prison and sent them to fight as part of al Qaeda in Somalia and later to join the Islamic State and fight for ISIS in Libya.
The rise of the Islamic movements in Sudan started in early 1930s. The Sudanese society is characterized by a geographic diversity reflected in its multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-lingual and multi-religious populations. However, the Islamic movements ignored these facts and formed a government based its ideology on sectarian parties, tribalism, and religious extremism that excluded the majority of the Sudan’s population from their basic rights of citizenship. This exclusion has caused Sudan’s perpetual crisis that resulted in an endless civil war that subjugated the population of the country.
Throughout the history of Sudan, the successive regimes have been using the same vicious slogans: “Sudan is an Arab land, Defending Islam, Spreading Islam in Africa, Defending the Palestine Cause, and Defending Arabism.” Using these themes, successive regimes that ruled Sudan able to convince and at times mislead the Middle East nations to secure political, moral, material, and financial support.
It is in the context of this strategy that the NCP regime in Khartoum obtained financial support from Gulf States, because they ignored the majority non-Arab Sudanese people seeing the Sudan as an Arab country; constructing an Islamic Arab state and defending the Arab cause against Africanism, imperialism (America), and Zionism (State of Israel). Such belief is an important part of their political, religious, and social cohesion that generates funding to finance all forms of terrorism not only in the Sudan but also in the African Sahel region and the world. Those countries combating the global war on terrorism should understand these facts. They should deal with Bashir’s regime committing genocidal war crimes and crimes against humanity against the people of Darfur, Blue Nile and Kordofan.
The NCP regime’s ultimate goal is not to bring peace, stability, justice and the rule of law. Rather it is to spread radical Islamic ideology eventually establishing a Caliphate in the Sudan at the expense of destroying the entire people in the country’s conflict regions through the use of violence to intimidate its opponents. This regime has the habit of forming false alliances to resolve most crises. It also uses racial, ethnic, and tribalism to divide the people and deal with each group separately. The NCP government also uses religion as the word of God to frighten and control people. It uses deception, fomenting and financing of tribal conflicts, use of propaganda through its controlled media, forming alliances with under privileged groups. It uses state funds to bribe opponents to obtain their support consequently weakening them prior to their destruction. The NCP has not limited itself to the use of these tactics. It has also created Islamic institutions that functions within and outside its government to advance its Islamic extremist ideological vision in the world. These organizations include but not limited to:
-Leadership Bureau of the National Congress Party. This is where all the powers of the NCP reside. All higher decisions emanate from this office. For example, appointment of executive positions such as ministers, ambassadors, governors, senior military commanders.
-Islamic Movement (IM). The IM was created to serve as a political base for the NCP. IM unites domestic and international radical Islamist groups under its umbrella. It provides them with ideological guidance seeking to apply Islamic Sharia law to the entire world.
-Islamic Da’wa organization (IDO). The IDO is a Sudanese Islamic NGO founded in 1992 and designated to work in Africa. The organization is supported and funded by Saudi Arabia and other Arab Gulf States. IDO is a member of the International Islamic Council for Da’wa and Relief (IICDR). The IICDR is an umbrella of over 100 Islamic organizations most of them associated with Muslim Brotherhood, Al Qaeda, and Hamas. These organizations provide political guidance, ideology, recruitment, and funding for all Islamic Salafi movements in the world. IDO is headed by retired Field Marshal and former President of the Sudan Abderhaman Siwar al Dhahab. He is also the current Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Union of Good (UOG) member organization. The UOG is designated by the US Department of the Treasury as a terrorist organization providing financial assistance to Hamas.
-International University of Africa (IUA). The IUA is a public university located in Khartoum and like any other educational institution, has many faculties. However, it concentrates on two subjects: (1) Islamic Shariah and (2) Islamic studies. This institution is designed to train preachers and educate young African Muslims indoctrinating them with the Salafist view of Islam. The IUA University becomes an important Islamic center for Sub-Sahara Africa educating people in Islamic extremist ideology.
International University of Africa
Through these organizations the Sudan government and Gulf States are engaged in spreading extremist Islamic ideology contributing to global extremism. If we look a few years back, we see al Qaeda was present only in small areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Today we see Jihads all over the world and they are developing rapidly. We are regularly receiving information that Sudan and Qatar are providing financial and military assistance to Islamic militants in Libya, Mali, and possibly to Boko Harm in Nigeria.
Despite US Government placing financial restrictions to Sudan, Saudi Arabian government regularly donates money to the Sudan regime. Saudi Arabia gave Sudan $1billion in July and August 2015. These funds were given in the form of loans or investments. Recently, the Sudanese authorities mentioned that they expect to receive $4 billion following Khartoum’s decision to join the Saudi-led military coalition against Houthi rebels in Yemen. The flow of money from Saudi Arabia to the Muslim Brotherhood regime in the Sudan contributes to financing Global Jihad.
The IM, IDO, IICDR, and UOG organizations collect funds not only from the oil rich Gulf States but from companies, businessmen, Princes, Sheiks, traders, and ordinary people. These people give donations not for the purpose of supporting terrorism but for the goal of either advancing Pan-Arabism or supporting Islam. Most of these people do not care about what the result of their donation bring; they just give for the purpose of advancing Islam or Arabism.
Sudan President Omar Bashir’s trip to South Africa in violation of the outstanding International Criminal Court warrant for his arrest was settled by the Emir of Dubai. He paid one hundred million dollars to the South African government within the week following the incident. The Emir travelled to South Africa and settled the deal. Why did the Emir pay this money? The Emir paid the money simply because he has business interest in Sudan and was defending Pan Arabism.
Her Highness Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser, royal consort of Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, visited Sudan on March 12, 2017. She was welcomed by the first lady of Sudan Widad Babiker. She met with President Bashir and discussed development projects for Sudan. The Sheikha also visited North Kordofan State to meet with the notorious Janjaweed leader Ahmed Harun who has been indicted by the International Criminal Court but is still at large. In order to draw away the international community attention Sheikha Mozah visited pyramids in Merowe, Sudan’s historic City in which Qatar and Sudan have joint Archeological projects.
The Sudan government obtains from the Arab League and the oil rich Gulf States through official and nonofficial channels. In 2007 and 2008, the Arab League gave the Sudan government over $500 million in the name of development in Darfur. Sheik Moza who visited Khartoum on March 12, 2017 donated $200 million dollars to Bashir to recruit and train more Janjaweed militias. These funds will be used to finance terrorists and recruit Janjaweed to kill the indigenous people of Darfur, Blue Nile and Kordofan. Even though the money comes in the name of development, they used to recruit, train, and arm Janjaweed militias to kill the people of Darfur. The wealthy oil rich Gulf Emirates, especially Qatar, provide Sudan funding in the name of development projects while secretly working to establish an all Arab Caliphate in Darfur and African Sahel region.
Following the visit of the Qatari State Minister in Darfur, he promised to fund 17 development projects in Darfur. Since the signing of the Darfur Doha agreement both Qatar and Sudan spoke of developments in Darfur. Last July Chairman Tijani Sisi of the Darfur Regional Authority mentioned that his organization realized 1800 projects in Darfur. It’s easy to say in words but the fact is that over 3 million people of Darfur are living in internally displaced persons and refugee’s camps. Where are the 1800 projects that Chairman Sisi is talking of that he and his group realized? Where is this large number of projects that could not be seen in Darfur? The truth is that there are no projects in Darfur other than recruiting and training of Janjaweed and terrorists to kill innocent people.
The fact is that the Sudan government recruited and trained 34,000 Arab Janjaweed militias funded by State of Qatar. These Arab tribal militias are currently prepared to secure new settlement projects (construction of villages and digging of water pumps for new Arab settlers) in North Darfur. As I am writing this report, they deployed over 100 armed Toyota Pickup trucks of Rapid Support Forces to provide security protection to dig these water pumps at Wadi Azerk in Wadi Hawar, North Darfur. Their plan is to create 1,200 new Janjaweed villages in the area north of Kutum adjacent to the borders of Libya. Villagers in Disah, North Darfur were told to abandon their villages and move to the IDP camps or to the cities because next year they will not be allowed to cultivate their land. They said that area north of Kutum to the border of Libya is designated for Arab Janjaweed animal husbandry.
Sheikha Mozah with innocent school children of North Kordofan March 13, 2017
The Sudan government is contributing to the growing global Islamic extremist ideology and Jihadism. Eliminating this regime is a necessary requirement for peace. Its removal from Khartoum would greatly reduce the phenomenon of Islamic terrorism in the world. This would eliminate the system of sectarian parties, tribalism, and religious discrimination that successive regimes use to divide and rule Sudanese society. Regime change in Khartoum would call for creation of a secular and Sudanese identity transcending tribal and religious boundaries emphasizing equality and justice for its entire people.
Norwegian Muslim umbrella organisation Islamic Council Norway has been criticised for hiring a woman who wears the full face-covering niqab as a communications officer. The appointment of 32-year-old Leyla Hasic as an administrative consultant by Islamic Council Norway (Islamsk Råd Norge, IRN) comes soon after the Ministry of Culture (Kulturdepartementet) granted almost half a million kroner ($58 million) to help the organisation with initiatives aimed at improving dialogue between Muslim communities and the rest of society, reports news media Klassekampen.
Minister for Culture Linda Hofsted Helleland called the move “extremely ill-advised” and members of other parties have also voiced their concern about the appointment. Minister for Culture Helleland wrote in a Facebook post that the appointment by the council would “create distance and less understanding. . . But here it is important to take a stand!,"
Norway’s government showed its opposition to the niqab last autumn when a majority of parties on both sides of parliament supported a ban on the face-covering garment in schools.A ban is likely to be in place later this year.
Prime Minister Erna Solberg has also showed her personal disapproval. In October 2016 the PM said that she would not employ anyone wearing the niqab. “I believe we must be able to see each other’s faces in the workplace,” Solberg told NRK at the time.
The health-care-reform fiasco illustrates perfectly why the United States has been an ineffectual, gridlocked failure at legislative self-government for over 20 years. It is not only not a system with two parties ready to govern; it is not a system with one party ready to govern. The Cruz Right took 30 percent of the vote in the Republican primaries and the Sanders Left took almost 50 percent of the vote in the Democratic primaries. The Clinton-Obama Democrats are chasing pathetically after the itinerant base of their party as it has scurried to the left like a frightened lobster, and the Republican Right has cooled down to some degree, but shows no disposition to take one for the team. There is little point in assessing blame for how the Trump administration and the Democratic congressional leadership have reached such a lamentable state of vituperative hostility, but deescalating it will take time, work, and a will that is not now visible.
This crisis has been a long time ripening. George H. W. Bush inherited from Ronald Reagan a strong party, a reasonably serene Congress, and a happy country victorious in the Cold War, but he raised taxes and allowed the charlatan Ross Perot to steal enough Republicans to elect Bill Clinton. Clinton was adequately competent (as Bush had been), but lost the Congress after the first health-care fiasco, and was amused the rest of his term being a naughty, southern, corn-fed boy; and there was no consensus for anything except welfare reform. George W. Bush counter-attacked international terrorism well but mired the country in ill-considered wars and compounded Clinton’s inflation of the housing bubble until the worst international financial crisis since the 1930s erupted underneath him. Barack Obama came in on a wave of goodwill and national (well-deserved) self-congratulation for having elected a non-white president, but he was far to the left of the country, lost control of the Congress after the second health-care fiasco, and the rest was an anti-climax of chronic deficits, militant political correctness, and feckless foreign policy. The media soft-pedaled the president’s ineptitude and the country wanted to like him for esoteric reasons, but two-thirds of the people thought the country was headed in the wrong direction. It was.
Donald Trump ran against all those whom he held responsible for the terrible policy failures of 20 years. The litany is familiar, including the matters just cited along with increasing domestic violence, a shrinking work force, inaction in the face of about 12 million illegal immigrants, and a syncopated lurching in foreign policy that never elaborated a consistent objective apart from opposition to terrorism, though with fluctuating determination. Since he ran against all factions of both parties and almost all the national media, only a mighty landslide of personal support such as FDR received in 1932 or LBJ in 1964, and to a degree Ronald Reagan in 1980, was going to enable him to put his whole radical and overloaded agenda through. The country has a regime pledged to change course radically in many policy areas and a mandate to do that, but the replacement policies are a matter of sharp debate between Republican factions. In the climate created by the nastiest campaign in recent history, and one in which the honesty of the media was a legitimate issue, followed by the greatest electoral upset at least since 1948, coalitions will have to be assembled gradually and from different pieces, issue by issue. Most of us who do not know the congressional personalities had no alternative but to assume and hope that Speaker Ryan and the president’s congressional liaison and the able Health and Human Services secretary, former congressman Tom Price, could count the noses correctly in putting their bill together, to get it to the Senate, where the greater contest was expected. Our confidence was misplaced.
There must be a consensus, even within the U.S. Capitol, that the United States simply has to get its system working and become governable again. Everyone there knows that the Republicans won and that the Clinton, Obama, and Bush eminences were rejected amid widespread public discontent with decades of misgovernment. The argument in democratic politics is always whether the center is a position of strength or weakness, and that depends on whether it can push the Right and Left off to the shoulders, which in these circumstances means crowding over 40 percent of last year’s primary voters off to the sides, unless large numbers can be induced to succumb to the grace of conversion. Donald Trump is not everyone’s idea of a centrist, but in this crowded scene, he is the only prominent candidate for that honor that we have. Logically, the Clinton faction of Democrats could be amenable to join forces with the administration on some issues, especially if the tendency to criminalize policy differences, a deadly contagion that began with Watergate and is now more rabidly transmitted than ever, does not lead to a resurrection of the legal soft points of the Clintons. The FBI director, James Comey, is severely compromised and has no credibility with anyone, but getting rid of him now would be more trouble than it’s worth.
The president is right not to condemn the Freedom Caucus, but not because their conduct is very distinguished. They are mainly invulnerable electorally and evince the same irreconcilable, mindless dogmatism of many otherwise-intelligent conservative commentators now reduced to declaring the president unfit, for psychiatric reasons, to hold the office to which the country has elected him. But Trump will need the Freedom Caucus and can tailor some projects to attract their support, starting with the confirmation of Judge Gorsuch. That development should assure the eventual reassertion of the president’s constitutional right to control immigration. Eventually, the Democrats will have to abandon their effort to pretend they can impeach Trump over relations with Russia that never existed, and the president can rely on public opinion to pressure all but the lunatics (who are numerous and vocal) to try to get something useful done. (Roger Stone had it right when he said, “The Democrats are full of Schiff,” referring to the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee. Congressman Adam Schiff, appropriately, an ex-prosecutor, representative for the giant infestation of political idiocy in Hollywood, and a Benghazi whitewasher, is desperately trying to keep this fake Russian controversy going.)
Bringing on the tax program like fast food could produce another debacle; the administration can certainly sustain one of these and shake it off, but it will have to show that it has learned something. The president’s apparent fear of altering entitlements is disappointing. Even a minor tweak would send a useful message, and presumably the debt bomb is such that he could get support for such a move. That would give him some negotiating room for tax cuts, which everyone likes if they are affordable. He could use the now traditional Art Laffer et seq. argument, which LBJ, and up to a point Ronald Reagan, proved to be accurate, that tax reductions do largely pay for themselves in economic growth. Incentivizing the repatriation of $2 trillion in profits being held out of country by U.S. corporations would produce a nice pop that could be used to fund a substantial start of infrastructure renovation. Even the Democrats might crawl out of their foxholes and rejoin the civilized world on that one.
There will be no repeal of Obamacare, and the Freedom Caucus should understand that they booted that one. But just allowing it to “explode” (the president’s word) is not leadership, and deliberately reducing funding and accelerating its collapse would backfire. Presumably, transitional cost-reducing reforms could be negotiated within the Republican congressional delegations and put through piecemeal, cleaning up the worst failings and further reducing the deficit. It is not my place to write the script, but if the administration can get a record going of steady legislative successes, all in pursuit of fulfillment of its campaign promises, and with as little pyrotechnics and schoolyard posturing as possible, it will quickly acquire the prestige and aura of success of distinguished administrations of the now-distant past. Reagan had it for the middle half of his time; Eisenhower for most of his tenure, but with a relatively unambitious legislative agenda; Johnson and Nixon briefly; and FDR for practically all of his twelve years.
This will require Trump to perform a role for which he has not yet been known: the patient conciliator speaking in measured terms from the center of controversies and carefully putting shared interests together. Stranger things have happened, including his nomination and election. The present shrieks of joy by Pelosi and Schumer, that Trump is already a lame duck, are amusing and will assist the president in regrouping. But the Republican leadership evacuated the field on Friday and, as Mr. Churchill remarked (after Dunkirk), “Wars are not won by evacuations.” This is war.
On March 21, 2017 Martin McGuinness, the paramilitary activist turned peacemaker in Northern Ireland died at the age of 66. The commander of the Provisional IRA advocating and practicing armed resistance against British rule, he transformed himself into a working political figure for Sinn Fein, a realistic conciliator and stabilizing force in Northern Ireland where he served as Deputy First Minister from 2007 until 2017.
On the same day, March 21, the students at two Palestinian universities, An-Najah National University in Nablus, and Al-Quds Open University, part of the Fatah student movement Shabiba, issued a manifesto. It proclaimed, “from the sea of blood of the Martyrs we will create a state." Israel will be erased and become "Palestine," and it will be accomplished through violence and terror.
To illustrate their violent intentions, the Palestinian students accompanied the message with a logo containing a number of features: a coat of arms with a raised fist in the shape of "Palestine," (all of present day Israel and the areas under control of the Palestinian Authority); the Dome of the Rock; and the Palestinian Arab headdress, the Keffiyeh.
Palestine was to be created from the blood of martyrs. Already in 2016, the Palestinian students at BirZeit University, near Ramallah, had put up a poster calling for murder, illustrated by a knife dripping with blood shaped as the PA map of "Palestine."
Martin McGuinness is not the only political figure who recently illustrated the path to take of peace, the one opposite to the Palestinian bloodthirsty one. In recent generations they have included Mahatma Gandhi, Jomo Kenyatta (President of Kenya 1964-78) , Archbishop Makarios (President of Cyprus 1960-77), Hastings Banda (President of Malawi 1966-94), Kwame Nkrumah (President of Ghana 1960-66), Martin Luther King, and Nelson Mandela.
All of these leaders sought independence from colonial rulers or freedom from the ruling group in their country, all engaged in acts of disobedience, violent or non-violent, all were imprisoned or exiled at some point. All of them changed their political tactics, became peaceful leaders, though some when gaining power ruled in authoritarian or non-democratic fashion, guilty of nepotism or corruption. Some were founders of their liberated nation.
Perhaps the best and most influential model is Nelson Mandela who all his life was concerned with eliminating discrimination in South Africa. For this objective, he took part in student demonstrations and was expelled from his university. With the African National Congress of which he became president, he was engaged at first in non- violent civil disobedience against the apartheid regime. After his trial and non-conviction in 1956 for treason, he formed the ANC’s military wing, The Spear of theNation, which campaigned against the military and government, used sabotage, and was prepared for guerilla war. In June1964 Mandela was arrested for sabotage and treason and sentenced to life imprisonment. He served 27 years before being released in 1990 , aged 71.
The remarkable part of the story is Mandela’s rejection of bitterness and anger, and his giving up any thought of violence and armed struggle. In this regard he was certainly influenced by Gandhi who had lived in South Africa between 1893 and 1914. Making peace with his former enemies, the advocates of apartheid, Mandela cooperated with them. The result was that he and former foe President F.W. de Klerk shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993, He became president of South Africa the next year.
Mandela spoke of his objective, to seek a democratic and free society in which all, Afrikaan, English, and Zulu, in a color blind society live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. He was inspired in prison by the poem Invictus (undefeated, unconquered) by William Ernest Henley, the last lines of which are well known: “I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul.” Mandela had an unconquerable soul.
The film Invictus made by Clint Eastwood vividly illustrates one incident in Mandela’s attempt to unite his country, in this case by sport. Mandela prevailed on fellow countrymen, especially the black population, to support the Springboks, the national rugby team, formerly regarded as embodying apartheid, as a symbol of national unity. His own appearance, wearing a Springbok rugby shirt and cap, on the field when the team won the World Cup Final in 1995 was wildly applauded. This has been called the game that made a nation.
What a difference this form of behavior is compared to that of Palestinian leaders, past and present, towards the state of Israel, and their hatred of Jews and Zionism. Their talk has been of a holy war, or of taking the initiative to destroy the Zionist presence in the Arab homeland, or to destroy Israel.
The phraseology may differ from time to time but the thrust is always the same. Jerusalem and all of Palestine is Islamic land. The entire land of Palestine is Islamic Waqf: it is forbidden to facilitate the occupation of even a millimeter of it. Though it pretends to have done so, the Palestinian leadership has never, in any meaningful way, recognized Israel’s right to exist. The aim is to eliminate Israel, either in stages or all at once. The objective is officially pronounced in Article 1 of the Palestinian National Charter, resulting from the resolutions of the Palestine National Council in July 1-17, 1968: “Palestine is the homeland of the Arab Palestinian people; it is an indivisible part of the Arab homeland.”
Palestinian authorities pay little attention to Western calls for them to abandon their threats to eliminate Israel and to turn their swords into ploughshares. They might listen to the words of Muhammad Aal Al-Sheikh, published in 2017 in the Saudi daily paper Al Jazirah. He wrote that the reliance of radical Palestinian groups on armed resistance constitutes a kind of political suicide that only a political ignoramus can condone. To his Palestinian brethren he said that stubbornness, contrariness, and betting on the support of the Arab masses are a hopeless effort.
Most of all, the Palestinian leadership, both Fatah and Hamas, and above all Mahmoud Abbas, now in the 12th year of his 4 year term as Palestinian President, should remember not merely the career and contributions of Martin McGuinness and Nelson Mandela, but also the comments of the Norwegian Nobel Committee in awarding to prize to Mandela in 1993. Mandela, the Committee said, looked ahead to South African reconciliation instead of back at the deep wounds of the past.
Palestinians should follow the lead of Mandela who pointed the way to the peaceful resolution of similar deep-rooted conflicts elsewhere in the world. Is any Palestinian listening? Can President Trump help change the Palestinian mindset?
Miklós Radnóti: I LIVED UPON THIS EARTH IN SUCH AN AGE…
Translated from the Hungarian
By Thomas Ország-Land
The last of the three poems below was discovered in a mass grave of Jewish slave labourers murdered during a ‘deathmarch’ by a regular unit of the retreating Hungarian Army at the close of the Second World War. The poem, composed in careful, even handwriting and complete with printers’ instructions, was contained in a small notebook found on the body of its author, Miklós Radnóti (1909-1944). The poet had set out to record the chaos and brutality of the Holocaust in magnificent classical metre. His work in English translation is winning a robust international reputation. It has also made Radnóti a beloved literary figure in his native Hungary – although his statute has been repeatedly damaged and his poems publicly torched in an orgy of book burning by a neo-Nazi rabble.
Beside me, Fanni asleep beneath the oak-tree.
She had entrusted me with her last caress
to guard her peace. But so many acorns are leaping
and dropping, I feel I must quarrel with every leaf.
The autumn sunshine brightly winks through the leaves.
But fiercely humming, the menacing wasps are circling,
provoking the bickering leaves to chase the acorns
and acorn too chases acorn, unable to wait.
Now Fanni awakens. The blue in her eyes speaks of dreams.
Her delicate hands might have been drawn for an icon.
She tries to make peace between me and the foliage
and strokes my lips and touches my front teeth,
to keep me quiet. A silence ensues. It will
give way to the dribble and hiss of the raindrops, six days
of rainfall to soak the acorns away and fasten
upon us the month of November, like a black ribbon.
German invasion forces in Hungary 1944
I lived upon this earth in such an age
when folk were so debased they sought to murder
for pleasure, not just to comply with orders.
Their faith in falsehoods drove them to corruption.
Their lives were ruled by raving self-deceptions.
I lived upon this earth in such an age
that idolized the sly police informers,
whose heroes were the killers, spies and thieves –
The few who merely held their peace or failed
to cheer were loathed like victims of the plague.
I lived upon this earth in such an age
when those who risked protest were wise to hide
and gnaw their fists in self-consuming shame –
The country grinned towards its dreadful fate
insane and wild and drunk on blood and mire.
I lived upon this earth in such an age...
The mother of an infant was a curse
and pregnant women were glad to abort.
The living envied the corpses in the graves
while on the table foamed their poisoned cup.
I lived upon this earth in such an age...
when even the poet fell silent awaiting, expecting
an ancient, terrible voice to resound – for one
alone could utter a fitting curse on such horror,
that scholar of weighty words: the prophet Isaiah.
Hungarian invasion forces in Ukraine 1944
Collapsed exhausted, only a fool would rise again
to drag his knees and ankles once more like marching pain
yet press on as though wings were to lift him on his way,
invited by the ditch but in vain, he’d dare not stay...
Ask him, why not? maintaining his pace, he might reply:
he longs to meet the wife and a gentler death. That’s why.
But he’s insane, that poor man, because above the homes,
since we have left them, only a scorching whirlwind roams.
The walls are laid. The plum tree is broken. And the night
lurks bristling as a frightened, abandoned mongrel might.
Oh, if I could believe that all things for which I yearn
exist beyond my heart, that there’s still home and return...
return! the old veranda, the peaceful hum of bees
attracted by the cooling fresh plum jam in the breeze,
the still, late summer sunshine, the garden drowsing mute,
among the leaves the swaying voluptuous naked fruit,
and Fanni waiting for me, blonde by the russet hedge,
while languidly the morning re-draws the shadow’s edge...
It may come true again – see, the moon, so round! – be wise...
Don’t leave me, friend, shout at me! shout... and I will arise!
Isis uses terror attack to sign up YouTube recruits
Islamic State has flooded YouTube with hundreds of violent recruitment videos since the terrorist attack in London last week in an apparent attempt to capitalise on the tragedy, The Times can reveal.
Google, the owner of YouTube, has failed to block the films, despite dozens being posted under obvious usernames such as “Islamic Caliphate” or “IS Agent”. Many are produced by the media wing of Isis . . . Several of the videos expressly refer to Wednesday’s attack on parliament.
“Five kaffir dead in London, thousands of believers dead because of US airstrikes,” one Isis-produced YouTube video says....Another made by al-Anbar, the group’s media agency, is posted under the title “Westminster attack documentary (must watch)”
...YouTube poster uploaded an Isis statement claiming Masood as a “soldier of the Islamic State”. The video, which is still live, was commented on by a user called “Supporter of the Caliphate”, who wrote: “Allahu Akbar thankfully.”
I don’t like to say I told you so, but I told you so. On March 1, I wrote about the rash of bomb threats against Jewish targets in the US, which a large segment of the opposition media gleefully used to malign President Trump:
The question this leaves me with is whose political agenda is served by continuing to publicise what have clearly been bomb threats that haven’t materialised up to now? The threats, which do generate real fear and disruption themselves are the mode of attack. So far, thankfully, there haven’t been any real bombs threatening life. Unlike, for example, the real rockets that flew out of Gaza toward Jews in southern Israel in the past couple of weeks that received no international attention (until Israel bombed Hamas).
The publicity and associated panic run the risk of perpetuating this and spreading it worldwide. Jews will be terrorized worldwide, not by real bombs but by phone calls. It is not a sign that Jew hatred has increased, decreased or anything else: you cannot infer anything relative about the numbers of people hating Jews or the virulence of their hatred from the successful promotion of a tactic that can be carried out by one person or many. We just don’t know at this point.
There was barely any concealing the way in which media outlets and far-left Jewish organisations like the ADL used these calls to scream immediately about a rising tide of far-right antisemitism. This was completely contrary to what those of us who have spent the last decade watching global Jew-hatred know. While there is and always has been an underlying current of anti-Jewish feeling from a small far-right contingent, by far the biggest threat today comes from the left-wing alliance with Islam. The main increase in global antisemitism comes from movements that claim to be “pro-Palestinian” while really being virulently anti-Israel and, nearly always, virulently anti-Jewish too. This has been under-reported for a long time.
The suspect arrested Thursday for a wave of bomb threats against Jewish Community Centers in the United States employed an array of technologies, including Bitcoin and Google Voice, to make himself virtually untraceable for months, The Daily Beast has learned. But in the end, it only took one careless slip-up to lead police to his door.
Police arrested 19-year-old Michael Kaydar, who has joint Israeli-U.S. citizenship, at his home in Ashkelon, a coastal city in southern Israel. He’s suspected of phoning in over 100 bomb threats to JCCs and Jewish day schools in 33 states since January, with the most recent calls made two weeks ago. Police also suspect him of making similar threats in Israel, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.
The first reports specifically mentioned that the massive, worldwide publicity for his threats spurred the teenager to keep doing it, exactly as I had predicted almost a month ago.
He used some reasonably elaborate methods to hide his identity, but eventually got sloppy. He is not the only person arrested for these crimes, so far, but he does appear to be suspected of the majority of them. There was one other arrest:
Meanwhile, the bomb threats continued, coming in six separate waves. Jewish centers and day schools began evacuating with almost routine regularity. The threats were generally seen as evidence that anti-Semitic fringe groups were feeling emboldened by the election of Donald Trump. Then in March, a St. Louis man was arrest for a handful of copycat bomb threats he allegedly staged in an effort to frame an ex-girlfriend.
The St Louis man, of course, was also about as far from a white supremacist Trump supporter as anyone can get. Juan M. Thompson is black and firmly from the left side of the political tracks:
Thompson attended Vassar College and is a former journalist who was fired from the online news site The Intercept in 2016 for fabricating sources and quotes in his articles. A statement Friday from The Intercept said of Thompson’s arrest, “These actions are heinous and should be fully investigated and prosecuted.”
Thompson’s Twitter account also reveals he supported socialist Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders for president. “I voted for Bernie Sanders, but his supporters are annoying as fuck. ‘I almost cried when I got a Bernie sign’. Yuck,” he tweeted in July.
This puts Sanders in an awkward position. Only days before Thompson’s arrest, he told J Street: “I hope very much that President Trump and his political adviser Mr. Bannon understand that the entire world is watching, that it is imperative that their voices be loud and clear in condemning anti-Semitism.”
No matter how many phone calls were made, it is obvious now that the numerous attempts to infer an increase in Jew-hatred in the US flowing from Trump’s rise was malicious and wrong. There are reports now on Israeli TV that the Israeli man arrested may have received funding from the US to make the calls:
The special [Israeli Police] Lahav 433 investigation unit discovered a Bitcoin account operated by the suspect. A series of large deposits from overseas sources suggests the suspect may have been working on behalf of foreign interests.
Tonight, as we mark the conclusion of our celebration of Black History Month, we are reminded of our Nation’s path toward civil rights and the work that still remains. Recent threats targeting Jewish Community Centers and vandalism of Jewish cemeteries, as well as last week’s shooting in Kansas City, remind us that while we may be a Nation divided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all its forms.
And even then they weren’t happy. On the day before that speech, the media made a highly speculative leap in order to tie these events to Trump and paint him as not caring enough about Jew-hatred. Worse still, they took hearsay as fact and (despite later denials from the White House) ran headlines claiming Trump spoke of conspiracy theories:
Trump Reportedly Suggests Wave of anti-Semitic Incidents Could Be False Flags Perpetrated by Jews
Trump spoke to a gathering of state attorneys general from across the country that included Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro. Shapiro told reporters in a conference call after the meeting that Trump suggested that the attacks could reflect something other than anti-Semitism, saying that “the reverse can be true” and “someone’s doing it to make others look bad,” according to Philly.com.
A journalist asking the questions “who, what, where, when and why” might look into the background of Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro to figure out if he has any reason for reporting Trump in an unfavourable light (besides reporting that he’s Jewish). Especially as he is the single source for the story. A quick date limited Google search finds that “Attorney General Josh Shapiro” has been a vocal opponent of Trump. The first result of that search:
17 Attorney Generals, Including Josh Shapiro Condemn Trump Executive Orders On Immigration
HARRISBURG — Seventeen Attorney Generals across the nation, including Pennsylvania Attorney General, Josh Shapiro issued a joint statement on Sunday condemning the executive orders by Donald trump as ‘un-American.’
Nowhere in Ha’aretz’s reporting can we find any reference to any inherent biases this progressive and politically ambitious Democrat Attorney General may have. The “why is he saying these things” of the story in this case. Those details weren’t important because the story aligned with the bash-Trump agenda of Ha’aretz.
Even now that the story has broken about the main suspect phoning in these threats from Israel instead of being a knuckle-dragging white racist with a swastika tattoo, the ADL’s Jason Greenblatt can’t take his teeth out of Trump:
In a phone interview Thursday from Washington, where Greenblatt was discussing anti-Semitism with members of Congress, he said, “It’s not the identity of the culprit that’s the issue,” but the outcome of threats themselves, which terrified Jews and disrupted Jewish life.
More extreme-left Jewish organisations, such as the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect (which seems to exist solely to malign President Trump using the cloak of the Holocaust), manage to ignore completely all facts and reason in their far-left crusade against Trump:
Steven Goldstein, executive director of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, a civil rights and social justice group based in New York, said the arrest in Israel doesn’t change Trump’s record of being slow and insufficiently forceful in condemning anti-Jewish prejudice and bigotry in general. The center had repeatedly pointed to the bomb threats as evidence of “a national emergency of anti-Semitism” and accused Trump of failing to recognize the “real evidence” behind the problem.
All of this Jewish-backed hatred for Trump, emanating from the far-left, is absolute anathema to a non-dhimmi Jew, such as myself, who is living in Israel and fully awake to the threat of jihad all around me. These are the elements of the Jewish left in America that pushed for the insane Iran deal and wanted to see Hillary installed as President to further push Israel into a dark corner. These are the elements of American Jewry that can’t keep out of partisan politics in the US, with the worst accusations and insane insinuations that Trump is Hitler causing untold damage.
It is deeply unpalatable to say that Jews are responsible for antisemitism, but it also takes willful blindness to look at these Trump-hating actions of some elements of the US Jewish community, amplified to extraordinary proportions by the anti-Trump media, and fail to understand how this looks in the eyes of bemused Trump voters who have no real idea of the rifts within American Jewry and have nobody to explain the nuances.
Dawa: The Islamist mind poison that turns lost souls into 'lone wolves'
There was limited access to this very interesting article by Niall Ferguson in the Sunday Times yesterday, but today the Straits Times of Singapore has it in its entirety.
"All terrorists are politely reminded that this is London and whatever you do to us, we will drink tea and jolly well carry on. Thank you." It was hard not to smile at messages such as this that appeared online in the wake of Khalid Masood's murderous rampage through Westminster. How ineffably British. The stiff upper lip. Keep calm and carry on.
Yet, I found myself increasingly uneasy as details of Masood's life began to come out. Adrian Elms was his real name. (Elms was his mother's maiden name - she was unmarried at the time of his birth and that was how it was done in 1964. A few years later she married a man named Ajeo. He may have been Adrians father, he may not. But Adrian took his name and he brought the boy up. Mr and Mrs Ajeo had more children; they are still together 50 years on. The criminal aliases and the name(s) in Islam came later) Wait. First, the guy was a violent criminal, who was jailed twice for knife attacks. Second, his path from crime to Islamist terrorism was a familiar one: the conversion to Islam probably in jail, the spell in Saudi Arabia, the relocation to Luton - the home town of several jailed extremists. Third, another familiar story: known to the authorities for "violent extremism", but no longer under surveillance.
The term "lone wolf" is a misleading one. No one becomes an Islamist all by himself just by watching beheading videos. As my wife, Ms Ayaan Hirsi Ali, argues in a powerful new report, jihad is always preceded by dawa - the process of non-violent but toxic radicalisation that transforms the petty criminal into a zealot.
The network of dawa takes many different forms. In the United Kingdom, a key role used to be played by the organisation Al-Muhajiroun (the Emigrants), which the jailed Islamist preacher Anjem Choudary led before his arrest. But there are many less visible organisations - Islamic centres with shadowy imams - busily spreading the mind poison.
To see how this poison works, read the recent Policy Exchange study of Britain's Muslim communities, Unsettled Belonging. At first sight, the news is good. Altogether, 90 per cent of those surveyed condemned terrorism. Most British Muslims, we read, have "fundamentally secular interests and priorities". Only 7 per cent said they did not feel a strong sense of belonging to the UK.
But read on. Nearly half said they did not want to "fully integrate with non-Muslims in all aspects of life", preferring some separation in "schooling and laws". Asked whether they would support the introduction of syariah, 43 per cent said yes. And one in 10 British Muslims opposes the prohibition of tutoring that "promotes extreme views or is deemed incompatible with fundamental British values".
Worst of all, nearly a third (31 per cent) of those surveyed believe that the American government was responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Get this: "More people claimed that the Jews were behind these attacks (7 per cent) than said it was the work of Al-Qaeda (4 per cent)."
After the July 7 attacks in London, the government's anti-terrorism strategy was designed to "Prevent" people from becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism. The Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 even placed a duty on the police, prisons, local authorities, schools and universities to stop people from "being drawn into terrorism".
When she was home secretary, Mrs Theresa May vowed to "systematically confront and challenge extremist ideology". For this, she was denounced by the usual suspects, notably the Muslim Council of Britain, Hizb ut-Tahrir, and the Islamic Human Rights Commission. But the reality is that Prevent has not prevented enough.
The problem is that it is very hard to stop a network such as this from flourishing when it can operate even in jails. Figures published by the Ministry of Justice show the number of Muslims in prison (for all types of offences) more than doubled to 12,255 between 2004 and 2014. One in seven inmates in England and Wales is a Muslim. Guess what goes on inside. Clue: It is not like an episode of Porridge.
This problem is not going away. Ask the French. About 8 per cent of the French population is Muslim, which is roughly the proportion the Pew Research Centre projects it will be in Britain by 2030. The French authorities estimate that they have 11,400 radical Islamists. And about 60 per cent to 70 per cent of the French prison population is Muslim.
If you have not read Mr Michel Houellebecq's Submission, about a Muslim government in France, now might be a good time. Alternatively, you can "drink tea and jolly well carry on" - though it is hard to do that when your head is in the sand.
THE SUNDAY TIMES, LONDON
•Ms Ayaan Hirsi Ali's report, The Challenge Of Dawa: Political Islam As Ideology And Movement And How To Counter It, is published by Hoover Institution Press.
A leader of a hardline Islamist group which campaigns for sharia law says Muslims who leave the religion should be put to death.
Hizb ut-Tahrir spokesman Uthman Badar was frank when asked about the group's policy at a forum in Bankstown, in Sydney's south-west, on Saturday night.
'The ruling for apostates as such in Islam is clear, that apostates attract capital punishment and we don't shy away from that,' Badar said.
His extraordinary admission was exclusively captured on camera by Daily Mail Australia and the matter has now been referred to the Australian Federal Police by Justice Minister Michael Keenan.
Hizb ut-Tahrir Australia removed references to that apostasy policy from its website as Alison Bevege, a freelance journalist, sued the group for making her to sit in a women's-only section at a separate talk in October 2014.
On Saturday night, Ms Bevege held up a printed copy of Hizb ut-Tahrir's draft constitution of the khilafah state published on the UK site, which was on the group's Australian website until 2015.This outlines their vision for a global Islamic caliphate, which has Muslims and non-Muslims living under sharia law.
She asked about their policy of killing people born as Muslims who leave the faith.
Badar's remarks came after he delivered the keynote lecture for the forum, which was called 'Sharia and the modern age'. He said Islam was incompatible with a secular separation of religion and state, democracy, individual rights and even the process of science, which he called 'scientism'.
'The West seeks to domesticate Islam, to control, to bring within, the way you domesticate animals,' he said.
Badar described calls to reform Islam from secular Muslims as 'pernicious', 'insidious' and 'dangerous' and called for radical change. 'Always when you hear these sorts of calls, alarm bells should ring,' he said.
About 100 people were at the publicly-advertised lecture with men making up about two-thirds of the audience. Women were segregated from the men on the left-hand side of the room, apart from Ms Bevege who stood at the back.
Following the lecture, a group of men followed Daily Mail Australia to a parked car.