Archive for April, 2006

Iraq Coalition… Finally?

Saturday, April 22nd, 2006

By Andrew L. Jaffee

It looks like Iraq’s transitional prime minister, Ibrahim Jaafari, has agreed to step aside, and allow a coalition government to be formed… finally. Kurdish and Sunni parties had objected to his leading of a new government — even some of his own Shiite supporters were growing reticent in their support. Whatever the politics, Iraq must now form a coalition government, and start taking the reigns of democratically elected power. From the BBC:

Iraq’s largest parliamentary bloc, the Shia United Iraq Alliance (UIA), has nominated Jawad al-Maliki as its choice for the post of prime minister.

The decision came a day after the Shias’ first choice, Ibrahim Jaafari, agreed to step down.

Sunni and Kurdish parties had opposed Mr Jaafari’s candidacy. …

Disagreement over the new prime minister has held up the formation of a new government, months after elections. …

Sunni and Kurdish parties had objected to Mr Jaafari’s nomination in February, accusing him of failing to tackle growing sectarian violence.

While I respect the rights of the Shiites who took most seats in parliament in December’s elections, and recognize the fact that Shiites have shown great restraint in the face of almost daily terrorist attacks by Sunnis, the Shiites do not have enough votes to control Iraq’s parliament outright. Coalition building is one of the toughest political games to play in democracy, followed by holding a ruling coalition together.

Sine the U.S.-led Coalition toppled the megalomaniac Saddam, I’ve had the distinct impression that many Iraqis were in wait-and-see mode; waiting to see who will take charge and lead the country. Except it is only Iraqis themselves that can lead, and only if they put aside their old, sectarian, tribal habits. Welcome to a new world.

30,000 Iraqis, mostly Shiite, have been slaughtered by Iraq’s “insurgents.” More than 2,000 Coalition soldiers have given their lives for Iraqi democracy.

Wait-and-see mode is over. It is time for Iraqis to police their own streets, gather intelligence, rebuild infrastructure, and patrol the borders — themselves.

It is time Iraqis take full responsibility for their own nation as the primary players. Only by working together through parliament, and independent judiciary, and a free press will they establish a stable nation. It is time for Iraqi citizens to more and more turn in the terrorists in their midst to either Coalition or Iraqi forces.

I’m not advocating a premature withdrawal of Coalition forces. These brave souls should stay on to support and train the new Iraqi government. But it is time they transition from being the front-line guard against terrorists to playing a support, logistics, and training role.

It is because of the millions of Iraqis who have voted three times that I still hold hope for Iraq.

The Coalition has done the heavy lifting for 3 years. It is time for Iraqis to pick up the big jobs. And the U.S. needs to impose a timetable, not for withdrawal of troops, but specifying definitive milestones for Iraqis to meet in building a true democracy. Bush did a great job adhering to his original election schedule for Iraqi elections. I can see some logic in giving the parties time to form a coalition government. But that time has run out.


CAIR Backs Down from Anti-CAIR

Friday, April 21st, 2006

by Daniel Pipes*
April 21, 2006
* Cross-posted with permission

In a stunning setback, the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ defamation suit against Andrew Whitehead of Anti-CAIR has been dismissed with prejudice.

The Anti-CAIR website,, reports a “mutually agreeable settlement,” the terms of which are confidential. However, Whitehead notes that he issued no public apology to CAIR, made no retractions or corrections, and left the Anti-CAIR website unchanged, so that it continues to post the statements that triggered CAIR’s suit. Specifically, CAIR had complained about Whitehead calling it a “terrorist supporting front organization — founded by Hamas supporters” that aims “to make radical Islam the dominant religion in the United States.” It also objected to being described as “dedicated to the overthrow of the United States Constitution and the installation of an Islamic theocracy in America.”


Replace Turkey as a Strategic Partner?

Thursday, April 20th, 2006

by Jonathan Eric Lewis
Middle East Quarterly*
Spring 2006
* Cross-posted with permission

The U.S.-Turkish partnership remained strong throughout the Cold War. Turkey was a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member and a frontline state against the Soviet Union. Washington valued Ankara as a strategic partner. But, with the end of the Cold War, the pivotal status of Turkey receded. Successive U.S. presidents paid heed to the importance of the U.S.-Turkish relationship, but few cultivated it. Until the Turkish parliament shocked Washington by failing to authorize the use of Turkish facilities for Operation Iraqi Freedom on March 1, 2003, many in Washington took the Turkish partnership for granted. The loss of Ankara as a reliable ally has forced U.S. policymakers to readjust their regional strategy. Turkey may no longer be a pivotal state, but the Black Sea and Caspian littoral remains a pivotal region as a bulwark against radical Islam and for energy security. While Washington seeks to repair its once strong partnership with Ankara, increasingly, the security and stability of the region requires a more active and engaged U.S. approach not only to Turkey, but also to Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, and Romania.


Mass Execution At Evin Prison [Iran]

Thursday, April 20th, 2006

SMCCDI (Information Service)
April 19, 2006

Reports are stating about a mass execution that took place, today, at the infamous Evin jail located in North Tehran.

9 unidentified victims were hanged in the facility in which tens of political activists are being held including several student activists.

Several other executions are to take place, in the days ahead, according to an intelligence plan to spread more fear among the population and especially among the exasperated Iranian youth. An increasing number of Islamic regime’s agents, its supporters and their interests are becoming the nightly targets of underground groups having lost any hope for a peaceful change in Iran.

Armed attacks, acts of sabotage and arson have been in sharp raise in most Iranian cities despite the very well known consequences if the authors are caught.

The Islamic regime murdered, in 1987, several thousands of inmates following a quasi defeat in the war against Iraq. Most political activists were liquidated following speedy trials in which the current Ministry of Interior, Poor Mohammadi, played a major role.


UN Threatens RE: Palestinian Aid

Wednesday, April 19th, 2006

By Andrew L. Jaffee

The UN is trying to convince the West to keep funding the Palestinians. Too bad the UN ignores history. Too bad the UN is not interested in history. Last time we “gave peace a chance” with the Palestinians (via Oslo), they responded with the “most sustained wave of Palestinian suicide bombings in Israeli history.” Here’s the UN, according to the BBC:

Palestinians face a bleak humanitarian situation because of cuts in foreign aid after the Hamas-led government took office, the UN has warned.

It says poverty will rise sharply and the security situation could become very volatile if there is a total cut in Palestinian Authority funding. …

Financial crises are a familiar feature of the PA’s ramshackle government.

But, as the UN makes clear, this one could be much more serious than ever before.

And we should now trust Hamas, one of the world’s most feared terrorist groups, with our money? Issam Abu Issa, former chairman of the Palestine International Bank, doesn’t buy it. Max Abrahms, writing for the National Review, summed up the UN’s thinking in 2003 — an old article, but still very relevant:

The Arab-Israeli conflict is often framed as a “cycle of violence.” A strong Israeli policy against Palestinian terrorism will only spawn more attacks against Israel, goes the logic. Conversely, if only Israel made unilateral concessions to the Palestinians, it would find a partner for peace. This is the conventional wisdom. And it is wrong.


Hamas Shunned by Jordan

Wednesday, April 19th, 2006

By Andrew L. Jaffee

Hamas is getting further isolated — today, by the Arab country of Jordan. From the BBC:

Palestinian officials have criticised Jordan’s decision to cancel a visit to Amman by Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahhar of the Hamas militant group.

Amman announced it had postponed the trip indefinitely after discovering arms and explosives it said were smuggled into Jordan by Hamas members.

It said this was proof that Hamas had been saying one thing and doing another in its dealings with Jordan.

Jordanian officials said the weapons were seized in the last couple of days and included “missiles, explosives and automatic weapons”.

The Beeb adds:

Correspondents say the Jordanian leadership privately supports US-led efforts to isolate the Palestinian government unless Hamas changes its anti-Israeli policies.

Note that Jordan has full diplomatic ties with Israel. The Arab nation also has a free trade agreement with Israel.


Telephoning the Enemy

Tuesday, April 18th, 2006

by Daniel Pipes
New York Sun*
April 18, 2006
* Cross-posted with permission

North America’s leading Islamist organization, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, enjoyed a seeming endorsement last week when it hosted the FBI on a television show. But if America’s top law enforcement agency and many in the American establishment are clueless about CAIR’s sympathy for the enemy, others may understand the problem better – such as the Government Emergency Telecommunications Service (GETS).


Moussaoui Gets the Broken Home Defense

Monday, April 17th, 2006

By Andrew L. Jaffee

Even though 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui wants to be executed, his defense has trotted out the broken home sob story:

Jan Vogelsang – a clinical social worker from Greeneville in South Carolina, called as an expert witness after interviewing 51 of Moussaoui’s acquaintances – shed light on the youth of the future Al Qaeda fighter.

She said Moussaoui boasted a sharp sense of humour and was a friendly, smiling child, who triumphed over apparent learning difficulties by earning a high school diploma, a technical degree and a master’s degree from a London university.

He grew up in a “violent, chaotic and very, very emotional” home and he and three siblings were often sent to orphanages as the abusive marriage of his Moroccan immigrant father, Omar, and mother, Aicha, deteriorated.

Prodded by defence lawyer Gerald Zerkin, Ms Vogelsang suggested that children from such environments grow up robbed of the life skills and stability needed in normal life.

The would-be Al Qaeda suicide pilot – facing death or life in prison for his role in the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington – often appeared amused at the defence case, shaking his head several times.

After court recessed for lunch he shouted: “Zerkin! A lot of American BS!”

On the last point, I actually agree. Personally, I hope the jury doesn’t give Moussaoui martyrdom. Let him rot and suffer in a cell for the rest of his life. Let him torture himself as a failed jihadi.


Tel Aviv Bombing: Self-Defense?

Monday, April 17th, 2006

By Andrew L. Jaffee

Hamas has taken the meaning of sophistry to a new level. It claims that an attack by a crazed Palestinian homicide bomber on a falafel restaurant on the Passover holiday was an “act of self-defence.” Nine innocent civilians were killed and 50 injured. According to the BBC:

Sami Abu Zuhri, the official spokesman for Hamas, said the attack was “a natural result of the continued Israeli crimes” against Palestinians.

“Our people are in a state of self-defence and they have every right to use all means to defend themselves,” he added.

Speaking of sophistry, here’s the BBC’s “analysis:”

The group [Hamas] does nothing to stop other militant groups from attacking Israel, but the tone of the official government statement was, by Hamas standards, quite muted, says the BBC’s Alan Johnston in Gaza.

Just a minor footnote that Hamas “does nothing” about other terrorist groups, eh? DOH! Hamas is a terrorist group, albeit democratically elected — and what does that tell us about Palestinian society? At least the U.S., Canada, and the EU have cut off funding to Hamas…


An Inadvertent Endorsement of Campus Watch

Monday, April 17th, 2006

by Daniel Pipes*
April 17, 2006
* Cross-posted with permission

What is the impact of Campus Watch, a project I founded that “reviews and critiques Middle East studies in North America with an aim to improving them,” in its four years of existence? It gets plenty of back-handed compliments (a favorite: Duke University’s Miriam Cooke claims it threatens “to undermine the very foundations of American education”), but last week turned up the most eloquent, if unintended, testimony to its effectiveness.


Internal Dissent Building Against Ahmadinejad?

Monday, April 17th, 2006

By Andrew L. Jaffee

It is noteworthy that there have been voices in Iran criticizing President Ahmadinejad’s anti-Semitic/anti-Israeli rantings and nuclear saber-rattling. The question is: Will these voices of discontent have any effect on the apocalyptic course Ahmadinejad has set his country on?

On Friday, Ahmadinejad reiterated:

“Whether you like it or not, the Zionist regime is on the road to being eliminated.”

On Monday, Iran announced that it has “successfully produced the enriched uranium needed to make nuclear fuel.” Tuesday, Iran’s leader took his nuclear saber-rattling to a new level. From the Globe and Mail:

Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vowed Thursday that Iran won’t back away from uranium enrichment and said the world must treat Iran as a nuclear power.

The comments were made as Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, arrived in Tehran for talks aimed at defusing tensions over Iran’s nuclear program.

“Our answer to those who are angry about Iran achieving the full nuclear fuel cycle is just one phrase. We say: Be angry at us and die of this anger,” the official Islamic Republic News Agency quoted Mr. Ahmadinejad as saying.

“We won’t hold talks with anyone about the right of the Iranian nation [to enrich uranium].”

Earlier, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad urged that Israel be “wiped off the map,” has denied that the Holocaust ever occurred, called for Israelís Jews to be moved to Europe (ethnically cleansed), and has planned to host a conference to “prove” that Hitlerís extermination of Jews (and gypsies and gays) was a “myth.”

This hyperbole has stoked a reaction, even amongst Iran’s party elite. From the BBC:

Ex-Iranian President Mohammad Khatami has called the Holocaust a historical reality, clashing with controversial comments by the current president. …

He [Khatami] added: “We should speak out if even a single Jew is killed. Don’t forget that one of the crimes of Hitler, Nazism and German National Socialism was the massacre of innocent people, among them many Jews.”

Even Iran’s generally docile Jewish community has reacted to Ahmadinejad’s ravings. Again, the BBC:

The chairman of Iran’s Jewish Council has strongly criticised the country’s hardline president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for saying the Holocaust was a myth.

In a letter to the president, Haroun Yashayaei said the leader’s remarks had shocked the international community and caused fear in Iran’s Jewish community.

Mr Yashayaei described the Holocaust as one of the most obvious and sad events in the 20th Century.

Six million Jews were killed in Nazi persecution during World War II.

This is the first time that a senior Iranian Jewish leader has openly criticised President Ahmadinejad for denying the Holocaust.

In his strongly-worded letter, Mr Yashayaei asked the president how he could justify what he termed the crimes of Hitler.

Note that Yashayaei has not yet received a response from Ahmadinejad.

But if Iranís pretend democracy were really a democracy, why would an official government poll show that 90 percent of Iranians were so disillusioned that they did not intend to vote in 2004 elections?

Some would tell you that Iranians support their government and hate America, but an official government poll found that

  • 74% of respondents over the age of 15 support dialogue with the US
  • 45.8% believe Washington’s policy on Iran is “to some extent correct”.

Very rarely are brutal dictatorships 100% secure in the power, precisely because their brutality against their own people breeds discontent. Ahmadinejad may just be the lynchpin that snaps and pushes Iran’s populace en masse into a popular revolution. One can only hope…

The key is Iran’s young people. 70 percent of Iran’s population is under the age of 30. Under previous reforms, young people got used to shopping for the latest Western fashions in Tehran. Music blared from car radios. Parties were held.

But Ahmadinejad has turned the clock back, outlawing Western music, and banning hand-holding and dancing. Now, Iranians complain that they must plan their weddings to seem like funerals, for fear of being turned in by the Islamist thought police. And Iran’s young people certainly must be nervous about confronting Israel, one of the strongest military powers on earth. If Iran would attack Israel, as its rhetoric now indicates, it would be horrible, but Iran would be the biggest loser as Israel ironed out its nuclear weapons capabilities years ago. If Ahmadinejad sees himself as the usher to bring the end of times, that doesn’t mean his young people want to end their lives early under nuclear mushroom clouds.

It seems that all we need is a spark to set off popular discontent, which would lead to an over-throw of the mullahs.


Destroy Egypt’s Antiquities?

Sunday, April 16th, 2006

by Daniel Pipes*
* Cross-posted with permission

When the Islamic Republic of Iran first came to power in 1979, some of its leaders made noises about the need to destroy the pagan structures at Persepolis, with its many idolatrous elements, but saner heads prevailed and the ruins have survived. In March 2001, the Taliban rulers of Afghanistan did in fact destroy a giant statue of the Buddha at Bamiyan. The Saudi rulers in recent years have destroyed ancient buildings and sites in Mecca and Medina (for a shocking account of this, see Daniel Howden, “The destruction of Mecca: Saudi hardliners are wiping out their own heritage“).


Ahmadinejad Reiterates Call for Destroying Israel

Saturday, April 15th, 2006

By Andrew L. Jaffee

A reminder as to why Iran’s mullahs are bringing us all one step closer to Armageddon… The BBC reported today that Iranian President Ahmadinejad “has not tempered his comments” regarding his desire for Israel to be “wiped off the map.” Here’s Ahmadinejad in his own words:

“The Zionist regime is an injustice and by its very nature a permanent threat.

“Whether you like it or not, the Zionist regime is on the road to being eliminated.”

“[It] is a decaying and crumbling tree that will fall with a storm,” he added.

Speaking at an event held to express support for the Palestinians, he also cast doubt on the extermination of the Jews by Nazi Germany.

“If there is serious doubt over the Holocaust, there is no doubt over the catastrophe and Holocaust being faced by the Palestinians,” he said.


At What Cost Israel-China Ties?

Friday, April 14th, 2006

by P. R. Kumaraswamy
Middle East Quarterly*
Spring 2006
* Cross-posted with permission

Israel’s military ties with China — especially the upgrading of Harpy surveillance aircraft — are undermining the Jewish state’s security. The dispute goes beyond friendly and short-lived differences of opinion. Rather, the diplomatic row represents a clash of strategic outlooks that can have lasting consequences. Middle Eastern states, for example, may perceive Washington’s public unhappiness over the Harpy deal and U.S. restrictions on future Israeli military dealings as a sign of wavering support for a country perceived by many to be Washington’s chief ally in the region. For many states with strained or adversarial ties with Washington, Israel’s diplomatic importance was as a symbolic gatekeeper to Washington. They perceived the development of relations with the Jewish state as a way to win them goodwill in the White House. But U.S. anger over Sino-Israeli military ties has undercut such a perception.


Nuclear Hostage Crisis

Friday, April 14th, 2006

by Michael Rubin
Wall Street Journal*
April 14, 2006
* Cross-posted with permission

On April 11, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced, “Iran has joined the club of nuclear countries.” State television broadcast the audience chanting “God is great.” The presence of senior military commanders underlined the nature of the program, which the regime vowed to continue. Mohammad Saeedi, deputy chairman of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, told state-run television that the Islamic Republic would begin uranium enrichment on an industrial scale but Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi suggested a new status quo. “The West can do nothing and is obliged to extend to us the hand of friendship,” he said.

Some diplomats are inclined to take the bait. Kofi Annan urged “everyone to work more actively in search of a diplomatic solution.” Earlier this month, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier urged the U.S. to engage Iran directly. On April 11, Council on Foreign Relations President Richard Haass said that if he were still the State Department’s policy planning director, a position he held between 2001 and 2003, he “would put together a diplomatic package.” International Atomic Energy Agency director-general Mohamed ElBaradei continues to push the idea. The idea of a Grand Bargain — diplomatic recognition, security guarantees, and economic incentives in exchange for Iranian forfeiture of its nuclear autonomy — has had long resonance in the foreign policy debate, even though a similar strategy failed to halt North Korea’s program.