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Amidst the Clatter, Abbas Shows He is Not Serious

September 24, 2011

Much has been made of Palestine’s application for admission to the UN as a member state, this week.  However, reading a little closer, I was interested to see on what basis Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas submitted his application.

Waving a copy of the document over the UN podium, Abbas said he had submitted an “application for the admission of Palestine on the basis of the June 4, 1967 borders” with Jerusalem as its capital.

Interesting that Abbas chose previously-rejected borders which Israel has stated are “indefensible”.  Surely, this represents the wishes of the Palestinians, but it is hardly offering a realistic olive branch of compromise.  Further, specifying Jerusalem as its capitol is equally fallacious.  Israel will never give up Jerusalem (nor should they).

Israeli Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman got it right when he noted that Abbas’s move “proves that the Palestinians have no intention of negotiating with Israel.”

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Netanyahu on Palestinian State

September 24, 2011

We saw an artfully diplomatic PM Netanyahu address the UN this past week.  In that speech, the PM rightfully stated that there can be no true Palestinian state without peace with Israel.  Geographically, we are talking about a postage stamp within a postage stamp here.  While strong fences make good neighbors, having a neighbor who tosses his garbage over said fence still leads to disharmony and tension in the neighborhood.

Netanyahu’s speech was incredible in its depth and its truth.  The UN has been no friend to Israel, and that is good to call to account.  Further, the reality of Israel’s history to accomodate peace with Palestine is a good reminder of who has been the real roadblock here.  Netanyahu’s grasp of reality is also refreshing.

But as the prime minister of Israel, I cannot risk the future of the Jewish state on wishful thinking. Leaders must see reality as it is, not as it ought to be. We must do our best to shape the future, but we cannot wish away the dangers of the present.

[…]

President Abbas just said on this podium that the Palestinians are armed only with their hopes and dreams. Yeah, hopes, dreams and 10,000 missiles and Grad rockets supplied by Iran, not to mention the river of lethal weapons now flowing into Gaza from the Sinai, from Libya, and from elsewhere.

World governments have been consistent in asking Israel to do what they themselves would never consider.  The PM rightly brings this to bear on these governments.

So I want to ask you. Would any of you — would any of you bring danger so close to your cities, to your families? Would you act so recklessly with the lives of your citizens?

The light of truth shines on the darkness of the Islamist lie:

President Abbas just stood here, and he said that the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the settlements. Well, that’s odd. Our conflict has been raging for — was raging for nearly half a century before there was a single Israeli settlement in the West Bank. So if what President Abbas is saying was true, then the — I guess that the settlements he’s talking about are Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jaffa, Be’er Sheva. Maybe that’s what he meant the other day when he said that Israel has been occupying Palestinian land for 63 years. He didn’t say from 1967; he said from 1948. I hope somebody will bother to ask him this question because it illustrates a simple truth: The core of the conflict is not the settlements. The settlements are a result of the conflict. (Applause.)

The settlements have to be — it’s an issue that has to be addressed and resolved in the course of negotiations. But the core of the conflict has always been and unfortunately remains the refusal of the Palestinians to recognize a Jewish state in any border.

The catch, as many realize (though others may not admit), is that the Palestinians will not accept peace with Israel, or acknowledgement of Israel as a legitimate state.  Hamas will staunchly refuse peace with Israel, regardless of what Abbas will promise.  The surrounding Arab Muslim states will refuse to recognize Israel and will continue to funnel weapons and money to Hezbollah, Hamas, and other groups who thrive on conflict, terror, and destruction.

Read the whole speech here.  Every Israeli (even every Jew) should be proud of the leadership of Mr. Netanyahu.

Al Qaeda in Maghreb

September 23, 2011
Image courtesy bbc.co.uk

Al Qaeda seems like that one racoon you can’t seem to get out from under your porch, or like moles:  you think they’re gone and then, all of a sudden, they pop up somewhere else.  Al Qaeda in Maghreb has popped up , and they are propagandizing…and growing.

While outside AQ personnel have entered the area, they have leveraged local, likeminded people.

…a nationalist movement bent on establishing an Islamic state in Algeria. That movement, the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, known by its French acronym GSPC, was then focused primarily on fighting Algerian government forces.

Even before the group formally became an al-Qaida affiliate, the GSPC had a close working relationship with al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI) leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The Algerian group sent militants to fight against American forces in Iraq.

GSPC issued a communiqué on the second anniversary of the September 11 attacks, supporting al-Qaida in its “jihad against the heretic America.” In 2006, on the fifth anniversary of 9/11, the GSPC became an official al-Qaida branch.

Al-Zawahiri, not bin Laden, organized the al-Qaida merger. “Our brothers will be a thorn in the necks of the American and French crusaders and their allies, and a dagger in the hearts of the French traitors and apostates,” said al-Zawahiri.

The following year, the GSPC changed its name, and AQIM was born.

It is important to note that many of the groups perpetrating the ‘Arab Spring’ in Tunisia, Libya, as well as Algeria to some extent, are Salafist.  So, we have Salafists fomenting revolution in Libya and Tunisia (a significant bloc of the Maghreb), and there is a Salafist/Al Qaeda group growing in Mali and Algeria (another large bloc of the Maghreb). 

Read the whole report here.

Iran and Its “Islamic Awakening Conference”

September 23, 2011

On the world stage of the Arab Spring, and Muslim revolution in general, the position of Iran has been an interesting one to watch.  While most of the revolt and demand for change has come from Arab countries of the Sunni flavor, Iran has kept itself in the mix and jockeyed for position as a leader in the region. 

Iran’s leaders have struggled to figure out how to co-opt this Sunni/Salafist uprising and get mileage out of it as a Shi’a nation state.  The result:  This week’s “Islamic Awakening Conference” in Tehran.  However, the pre-cursor to the conference provides some interesting reading, as Amir Taheri reports.

Initially, the Khomeinists in Tehran tried to ignore the whole thing. The uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt resembled what had happened in Iran in 2009 when IT-savvy youths led a movement against the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

[…]

What if Arabs wanted an “Islamic” system, whatever that means?

Tehran would not be comfortable with that analysis either. Most Arab “Islamists” are of Salafist brand and, thus, enemies of Iran’s version of Islam.

The issue was debated within the “star chamber” that runs the Islamic Republic under “Supreme Guide” Ali Khamenei.

The outcome of the debate was simple: the Islamic Republic should claim that Arabs revolts are inspired by Iran’s experience in 1979 when mullahs, in alliance with Communists, seized power.

Once they figured out how to spin it, then they needed to figure out how to become the front man for the revolution.  What better way than to host a conference?  Even better, at that conference claim that all these Sunni rebels are fighting in demand that a Shi’a leader be their “Imam” .

According to organizers, it attracted some 600 “scholars and political leaders” from 53 countries. It was inaugurated by Khamenei with a sermon in which he presented the late Ruhallah Khomeini as the father of the “awakening”. The implication was that, as Khomeini’s successor, he should now be regarded as “Imam of the Ummah”.

However, claiming that Arabs had risen to demand that Khamenei be their “Imam” still needed an ideological context.

But what could that be?

Obviously, the participants could not agree on theological issues. Some guests were not even ready to pray alongside their Iranian hosts. It was impossible to claim that all Muslims wanted to live under “Walayat al-Faqih”, or rule by the mullahs, as practiced in Iran.

So, what to do? The solution was found in the last refuge of the scoundrel: anti-Americanism.

Conspicuously absent from this conference was anyone who was actually fighting in any of these revolutions.  The outgrowth from the “Islamic Awakening Conference” is the “Islamic Awakening Movement”.  Tasked with selling this to the various Arab Spring countries was none other than Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad.  Unfortunately, they big three Arab Spring states (Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya) politely refused his visit.

Where does that leave Iran now?  The other major power-broker in the region, Turkey, is having much better luck.  The relationship between Turkey and Iran will be one to watch.

Read the entire piece here.

U.S. MB Organs Sponsor Conference on Islam in America

September 23, 2011

The GMBDR is reporting that MPAC, and other Muslim Brotherhood affiliates, are sponsoring a conference on Islam in America at DePaul University in Chicago.

Beyond the actual conference, here is some insight in to the alphabet soup of sponsoring players:

MPAC as well as most of the sponsors of the conference have ties to the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood including the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, George Mason University, and the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago.

MPAC, headquartered in Southern California, was established initially in 1986 as the Political Action Committee of the Islamic Center of Southern California whose key leaders likely had their origins in the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. Since that time, MPAC has functioned as the political lobbying arm of the U.S. Brotherhood. MPAC has opposed virtually every count-terror initiative undertaken or proposed by the U.S. government.

Perusing the presentation abstracts (which you can do here), there is a lot of discussion of shaping image, shaping Ummah policy, authority, shari’ah, etc.  While on the surface, one might think that this conference is about Muslim integration into the American fabric, I read a tone of “how can we establish ourselves in spite of this fabric.” 

Maybe it’s me…or maybe it’s me listening to the legion of Muslim/Islamist groups who say they want to destroy Western Civilization…call me crazy.

The Shi’a Militancy in Iraq

September 22, 2011

If you haven’t heard of the CTC’s monthly publication, Sentinel, you should really check it out.  Anyway, in the August edition, Ramzy Mardini has a great rundown on the underlying Shi’a movement in Iraq and how it is affecting ground operations and the potential for the future of Iraq.

In June 2011, 14 U.S. soldiers were killed by hostile fire, representing the largest monthly toll for U.S. forces since June 2008. Twelve of those fatalities were attributed to three extremist Shi`a groups: Asaib Ahl al-Haq (AAH), Kataib Hizb Allah (KH), and the Promised Day Brigades (PDB).[4] All three organizations are directly tied to the IRGC Qods Force, led under the direction of the enigmatic Brigadier General Qasem Soleimani.

[…]

Among the three Shi`a groups, KH has demonstrated to be the most advanced and sophisticated. “They’re much more experienced,” asserted the same military official. “It’s a learning process. They have better facilities, more money and backing, more experienced fighters, and better recruiting.”[9] On June 6, 2011, KH carried out multiple IRAM attacks on Camp Loyalty in eastern Baghdad that led to the deaths of five U.S. soldiers, the most in a single incident since April 2009.

[…]

The frequency and type of operations by Iranian-sponsored Shi`a insurgents has demonstrated their higher level of confidence and freedom of movement in Baghdad and southern Iraq. This is partially the result of the elevated political influence of the Sadrist Trend in key southern provinces since the March 2010 parliamentary elections. Occupying 40 seats out of the 325-seat Council of Representatives, the Shi`a cleric Moqtada al-Sadr holds more representation in parliament than any individual party in Iraq.

[…]

The Iran-Syria axis is the most enduring alliance in the Middle East.[25] Syrian President Hafiz al-Assad made Syria the first Arab state to recognize the Islamic Republic of Iran and was its only Arab partner throughout the devastating 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War. While serving as a linchpin for Iran’s reach to the Arab world, including the Palestinian Territories, Syria is also Iran’s bridge to Lebanese Hizb Allah. The consequences of al-Assad succumbing to the same fate as Mubarak could limit Lebanese Hizb Allah’s influence and mobility. In response, reports indicate Tehran is intensifying its efforts to reproduce the Lebanese Hizb Allah model by grooming various Shi`a proxy groups in Iraq to extend its interests in the Arabian Gulf and the greater Middle East.

[…]

The United States perhaps overstresses the “prestige motivation” behind the revival of Shi`a militancy, and by default overlooks the broader dynamics playing out in the region as a source of instability in Iraq. Indeed, the strategic implications carried by the Arab Spring—the consequences of developments in Syria, heightened Saudi-Iranian rivalry, and a new assertive Turkish foreign policy in both Iraq and the region—will largely characterize Iraq’s security environment for the foreseeable future.

Read the whole thing here.

Where Pakistan Fits…

September 22, 2011

The Combatting Terrorism Center at Westpoint (CTC) has an excellent new paper which delves into the threat that Pakistan poses from its Shi’a branch of Islam.  The CTC puts out some great material.  Here are a few highlights from the Executive Summary:

Before the arrival of General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq in 1977, the relationship between Pakistan’s Shia and Sunni communities was mostly amicable. But Pakistan’s fateful involvement in the Afghan-Soviet war of the 1980s, General Zia-ul-Haq’s controversial ‘Islamization’ policies, and a sense of Shia empowerment in the aftermath of the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979 had the combined effect of limiting the Shia’s freedom to practice their religion and challenging their loyalty to Pakistan. Those developments also contributed to the persecution of many Shia at the hands of a number of militant anti-Shia organizations.

[…]

Pakistani Shia perceive the rising trend of sectarian attacks as a major threat to their identity—a vulnerability compounded by the failure of traditional Shia political movements to provide effective leadership. Whether the Shia will adopt a militant posture as a response to anti-Shia violence remains an open question.

[…]

Western analysts can no longer afford to ignore the growing potential for sectarian violence in Pakistan, for uncontrolled sectarian violence can destabilize Pakistan and the region at large.

A destabilized Pakistan only benefits the Pakistani Taliban and/or the Haqqani Network which, in turn, benefits the majority of mainstream Muslim fighters.  Additionally, as the Muslim Brotherhood continues to work with Pakistan, I would expect them to benefit from this instability.

Read the whole paper here.  More posts from this article as I digest it further.