Archive for the ‘Middle East.’ Category

It’s not a war, it’s a ‘kinetic military action’ UPDATED: No more!

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

A what? A ‘kinetic military action’

In a briefing on board Air Force One Wednesday, deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes took a crack at an answer.  “I think what we are doing is enforcing a resolution that has a very clear set of goals, which is protecting the Libyan people, averting a humanitarian crisis, and setting up a no-fly zone,” Rhodes said.  “Obviously that involves kinetic military action, particularly on the front end.”

You could have fooled me.

Who’s in Charge Here?
On Libya, there’s confusion over both goals and authority.

Why am I against the Libya “kinetic military action”? Let us count the ways. A sample,

Aims and ObjectivesFact: We are now and then bombing Libyan ground targets in order to enhance the chances of rebel success in removing or killing Qaddafi. Fiction: We are not offering ground support but only establishing a no-fly zone, and have no desire to force by military means Qaddafi to leave. Questions: Is our aim, then, a reformed Qaddafi? A permanently revolutionary landscape? A partitioned, bisected nation? What is the model? Afghanistan? Mogadishu? The 12-year no-fly-zone in Iraq? A Mubarak-like forced exile? Who are the rebels? Westernized reformers? Muslim Brotherhood types? A mix? Who knows? Who cares?

As for “no boots on the ground”, think again. It’s all “contingency planning.” 400 Marines now, 2,200 later.

Kinetic, indeed.

As of 3:05PM Eastern, Kinetic Military Action No More

“Kinetic military action” is out and  “a time-limited, scope-limited military action” is in.

Well, that ought to ease everybody’s mind!


Egypt roundup: Violent clashes on streets

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

Clashes Erupt in Cairo Between Mubarak’s Allies and Foes

President Obama’s calls for a rapid transition to a new order in Egypt seemed eclipsed on Wednesday as a choreographed surge of thousands of people chanting support for the Egyptian leader, Hosni Mubarak, fought running battles with a larger number of antigovernment protesters in and around Cairo’s Tahrir Square.

The mayhem and chaos — with riders on horses and camels thundering through the central square — offered a complete contrast to the scenes only 24 hours earlier when hundreds of thousands of antigovernment protesters turned it into a place of jubilant celebration, believing that they were close to overthrowing a leader who has survived longer than any other in modern Egypt.

Video: Obama somehow manages to say nothing meaningful in Egypt statement

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Perhaps Obama will realize soon that It’s Time To Earn that Nobel Peace Prize, but don’t hold your breath.

Bernard Lewis granted Jay Nordlinger an extremely rare telephone interview (I have spoken with Mr Lewis in the past and he usually does not grant interviews)

Lewis says, first of all, that “it’s too early to say anything definitive” — anything definitive about Egypt. He is too smart, too experienced to make many pronouncements while events are in flux. He says, “Things look a little better than they did” a couple of days ago. “But they could go badly wrong.”

“The immediate alternatives are not attractive.” What are those? “Continuation, in some modified form, of the present regime, or a takeover by the Muslim Brotherhood. Obviously, the former is better.”

Are we witnessing a democratic revolt? “I don’t know what ‘democratic’ would mean in this context. It is certainly a popular revolt.” Egyptians are suffering from both unfreedom and material want. (They usually go hand in hand.) “The economic situation in Egypt is very, very bad. A large percentage live below the poverty line.”

Here is something to bear in mind: “The fact that this regime,” the Mubarak regime, “has good relations with the United States and Israel only seems to discredit the idea of good relations with the United States and Israel.”

And here is a question of the hour: Is Egypt 2011 like Iran 1979? Lewis: “Yes, there are certain similarities. I hope we don’t repeat the same mistakes.” The Carter administration handled events in Iran “poorly.”

The Obama administration should ponder something, as should we all: “At the moment, the general perception, in much of the Middle East, is that the United States is an unreliable friend and a harmless enemy. I think we want to give the exact opposite impression”: one of being a reliable friend and a dangerous enemy. “That is the way to be perceived.”

IBS editorial points out that Egypt Means Real Trouble For Israel, while the Wall Street Journal has a symposium on Where Should Egypt Go From Here?
Protests in Egypt have rocked the country’s political order, and last night President Hosni Mubarak announced he would not run in the September presidential election. Four experts—Francis Fukuyama, Ryan Crocker, Maajid Nawaz and Amr Bargisi—weigh in on where Egypt should go from here.

Phyllis Chesler asks, Am I the Only One Troubled By Cairo Street Scenes? Indeed, Phyllis is not the only one – go read her article to see why.


Egypt roundup: “Those who unleash the tiger very rarely ride it for long…”

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

…says Andrew Roberts, writing about Obama’s Dangerous Game in Egypt (h/t Roger Kimball)

For when President Obama visited what he called “the timeless city of Cairo” to give his famous speech of June 4, 2009, and went through all the diplomatic pleasantries and greetings with Mubarak, exchanging presents and so on, it turns out that his administration was actively undermining his host and ally. WikiLeaks has revealed that only three weeks before Obama’s inauguration, on December 30, 2008, Margaret Scobey, the U.S. Ambassador to Egypt, warned the State Department that opposition groups had drawn up secret plans for “regime change” before the September 2010 elections. The embassy’s source was an anti-Mubarak campaigner whom the State Department had helped to attend an activists’ summit in New York. This secret support for anti-Mubarak campaigners continued after the change of administrations, and up to the outbreak of the present attempted revolution.

Should Mubarak survive, he will understandably abhor American double-dealing in this matter, and the alliance between Egypt and the United States will hereafter be characterized by suspicion and deep distrust.

Should he fall, and his place be taken at any stage by the Muslim Brotherhood, the Republican narrative for the next presidential election will be obvious. Truman lost us China; Johnson lost us Vietnam; Carter lost us Iran, and now Obama has lost us Egypt. You can’t trust the Democrats in foreign policy. Argue over the historical minutiae if you like—was LBJ more or less to blame than JFK or Nixon, for example—but if Cairo goes Islamist the overall narrative will be compelling.

History shows how small, extremist, determined, and, above all, well-organized revolutionary cadres tend to succeed out of all proportion to their numbers against amorphous, well-meaning, middle-class liberals.

Lenin usurped the Russian revolution only eight months after Alexander Kerensky toppled the Czar. ElBaradei might well be fated to play the role in Egypt that was played by Shapour Bakhtiar in Iran or Bishop Abel Muzorewa in Zimbabwe, of the stopgap figure who is acceptable to the West but soon swept away by the far more extreme Khomeini and Mugabe, respectively. Timeless Cairo itself provides the example of Mohammed Naguib, who lasted only 17 months as president of Egypt after the revolution that toppled King Farouk, before being ousted and placed under house arrest for 18 years by Nasser. Those who unleash the tiger very rarely ride it for long.

Ralph Peters, on the other hand, comments on Denial On The Nile
We Can’t Dictate Egypt’s Future
and sees zero chance of a short-term Muslim fundamentalist takeover.

Mark Levin interviewed Frank Gaffney last night; The Right Scoop has the interview, where Gaffney sees the Muslim Brotherhood behind the revolution.

At the LA Times, the headline reads, U.S. open to a role for Islamists in new Egypt government; if that’s the case, this represents a momentous shift in American foreign policy. The LA Times article says,

The organization must reject violence and recognize democratic goals

which strikes me as a particularly naive attitude when dealing with taqiyya.

Carolyn Glick Washington’s reaction as clueless.

Over in Jordan,
Jordan’s King Dismisses Government Amid Protests

Jordan’s King Abdullah II dismissed his government and named a new prime minister tasked with introducing “true political reforms,” following weeks of street protests calling for economic and political change.

Follow the link for a timeline of the uprisings in the Middle East.


The tale of the spying vulture

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

Just when you thought you had heard everything,
Vulture in Saudi Custody Suspected as Mossad Agent

Saudi Arabian security forces have captured a vulture that was carrying a global positioning satellite (GPS) transmitter and a ring etched with the words “Tel Aviv University.” They suspect the bird of spying for Israel, Maariv-NRG reported Tuesday.

The arrest of the vulture – whose identification code is R65 – comes several weeks after an Egyptian  official voiced the suspicion that a shark that attacked tourists off the Sinai shore was also acting on behalf of Mossad.

That’s what happens when you have a culture where you are taught from birth that the only book you ever need to learn from is a religious text that has all the answers to everything you’ll ever need to know.


Exposing the Mohammed al-Dura fraud

Friday, December 10th, 2010

Jamie Glazov inaugurates FrontPage Close-Up, a series of interviews with leading thinkers and newsmakers, with an interview with Phillipe Karsenty.

As you may recall,

Philippe Karsenty, the French media analyst who exposed the Mohammed Al-Dura Fraud, which involved France 2, a French television network, broadcasting staged footage of Israeli soldiers allegedly killing a 12-year old Palestinian, Mohammed al-Dura, during a gun battle in Gaza in 2000

Here’s Glazov’s interview with Karsenty,
Part 1

Part 2,

Prior posts on the Al-Dura fraud here.


Wikileaks: The Middle East, part 1

Monday, November 29th, 2010

(part 1 because there surely will be more, much more on the Middle East)

Barry Rubin summarizes how the information leaked by Wikileaks confirms points he has made over the years,

1. Iran steadily smuggled arms to Hizballah using various means including in ambulances and medical vehicles during the 2006 war. This violates the laws of war. At times, the media has condemned Israel for attacking ambulances though it showed Hamas was also using such vehicles for military and arms-smuggling operations. Moreover, the postwar UN force proved consistently ineffective in stopping smuggling while the U.S. government did not denounce Iran, Syria, and Hizballah for breaking the ceasefire arrangements.

2. Israeli leaders have repeatedly made clear in diplomatic discussions their acceptance of a two-state solution but warned that the Palestinian leadership sought Israel’s destruction.

3. Arab states have constantly been warning the United States about the threat from Iran as their highest priority, even urging the United States to attack Iran itself. Note that Arab leaders did not condition their oppositon to Iran or call for a U.S. attack on settling the Arab-Israeli or Israel-Palestinian conflicts. This is contrary to what Administration officials, academia, and parts of the mass media who argue these issues are basically linked and that is why the conflicts must be ”solved”  before doing much else. As I’ve told you, the Arab regimes worry first and foremost about Iran and have greatly downgraded their interest in the conflict or antagonism toward Israel.

4. Iran and North Korea cooperated to provide Tehran with long-rang missiles that were shipped to Hizballah.

5. One week after President Bashar al-Asad promised a top State Department official that he would not send “new” arms to Hizballah, the United States complained that it had information that Syria was providing increasingly sophisticated weapons to the group. Yet the U.S. government did not take strong action.

(Reminds me of how Bashar promised the Bush Administration that he would stop buying oil from Iran in violation of UN sanctions but continued doing so; and how Yasir Arafat promised that he had nothing to do with terrorism and arms smuggling from Iran and then was shown to have lied. Is there a pattern here?)

6. Israel has been warning the United States about how Iran obtaining nuclear weapons would destabilize the region, not just create a danger of an Iran-initiated attack on Israel.

7. U.S. Officials in Turkey think that the current government is in fact an Islamist one, though the U.S. government (and media) keeps insisting it is some kind of democratic-reform-minded centrist regime.

8. The U.S. government ignored repeated pleas from Israel to press Egypt to block smuggling of military equipment into the Gaza Strip.

Indeed, Anti-Israel Foreign Policy Experts Got Saudi Arabia, Other Arab Countries 100% Backward On Iran Attack.

And, yes,

It’s quite a blow to conspiracy theorists, is it not, that the combined weight of two of their favor bogeymen, “the Zionists” and “the Arabs” haven’t been able to get the U.S. to take military action against Iran.


Rape and the West Bank

Friday, September 24th, 2010

Phillys Chesler writes,
Female Troubles on the West Bank

Today, privileged, young, white, Jewish, and Arab women who travel to the West Bank to “protect” Palestinians from Israeli soldiers, also seem to be facing similar troubles. According to one recent and very disturbing report, foreign (American and European) and Israeli Jewish and Arab left-feminists are being routinely harassed, raped, and even forced into marriage by the very Palestinians whom they have come to “rescue.” More shocking is the alleged pressure brought to bear on those activists who wish to press charges about being raped or abducted into marriage; their own movement presumably pressures them not to do so because the alleged Israeli “occupation” of Palestine is far more important than the violent “occupation” of any woman’s body.

Read the full article.


Why appeasement never works VIDEO

Saturday, August 21st, 2010

Bill Whittle explains,

Found it via Larwyn at Gerard’s who asks,

Bill Whittle talks about how policies of appeasement encouraged our enemies in the years leading up to World War II. Are modern policies of appeasement encouraging Islamic extremists? Will we pay the price for Obama’s cowardice?

While we’re enjoying this lovely weekend afternoon, Richard Fernandez ponders The Fatal Summer.

Over in Iran,
Iran Opens Its First Nuclear Power Plant – for “peaceful purposes”, of course.


While on the subject of appeasement, Jennifer Rubin looks at Obama Pressuring Israel (Still) Not to Hit Iran

This raises several issues. First, why is this appearing on the front page of the Times? Second, do we imagine that the Israelis were “persuaded”? And finally, is everyone now in agreement that it is one year before the mullahs go nuclear, rather than one to three years, as some in the administration have declared?

The real question remains, however, what the administration intends to do when it becomes apparent that sanctions have failed and the mullahs are on the verge of success in their dream of attaining status as a nuclear power. Will the administration think of new excuses for inactivity? What should concern the American people is that the administration uses the Gray Lady to send a message of restraint to our ally rather than as a platform to put forth a message to Iran that we will use force before the year is up. The dog that didn’t bark is also sometimes news.

Don’t count on it.


Meet you at the mall… in Gaza?

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

Tom Gross of Mideast Dispatch posts photos of the new mall opening in Gaza. Yes, Gaza, the same Gaza that Hamas claims is under siege, lacks electricity and can not get building supplies. Click on the photo above for more photos.

Maayana Miskin reports (emphasis added),

While Hamas continues to complain that Gaza lacks building materials, a luxury mall in Gaza City held its grand opening over the weekend. Among the goods on sale are Israeli men’s clothing, and items from Turkey, France, and the United States.

Gross, who has previously posted pictures of fancy restaurants, shops filled with goods, and even an Olympic-size swimming pool during the “Israeli siege,” pointed out that Gaza enjoys a higher standard of living than Turkey, which recently sent citizens on a flotilla to Gaza in violation of an Israeli naval blockade of Hamas. Noting that life expectancy and literacy rates are higher in Gaza than in Turkey, while infant mortality rates are lower, he asked, “Have they considered that perhaps the humanitarian flotillas ought to be going in the other direction, towards Turkey?”

They ought to, but that wouldn’t fit the propaganda, would it?


It’s all about the O

Friday, July 9th, 2010

Obama: Israelis Are Most Likely Suspicious Of Me Not Because Of My Anti-Israel Policies But Because Of My Middle Name, Hussein

It’s kind of amazing that every single criticism of, or lack of proper enthusiasm for, Barack Obama is rooted in some sort of bitter, clingy ignorance and malice. Apparently not a single critique of him is well-founded, or founded upon anything at all, really, except hatred and mental retardation.

Particularly since this time Netanyahu wasn’t left to his own devices during a lunch date.

Congrats! You Just Beat Your High Score of Sputtering Outrage!