Curious and curiouser 1

What sense can be made of this story?

Syria flies rockets to Iran: Iran loads them on a ship and sends it sailing down the Gulf, south-west on the Arabian Sea, and north up the Red Sea.

Israel intercepts the ship, commandos board it, find the rockets, re-route the vessel to the Israeli port of Eilat.

Where was it bound for? For whom were the rockets intended? Gaza? How the hell would they get there?

Look at the map showing the path of the arms to the point of interception, search and capture:

Next we are told that the Israelis didn’t accomplish the whole feat alone – gathering the intelligence, setting up the capture. No, suddenly Jay Carney claims that it was a US-Israeli joint venture.

In an unusually frank disclosure, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Wednesday night, March 5, that US intelligence services and military had worked with Israel to track the Iranian Panama-flagged ship KLOS C, which was apprehended by Israeli naval commandos on the Red Sea earlier that day carrying missiles for Gaza via Sudan. The ship was boarded by the Israeli elite Shayetet 13 (Flotilla 13) and found to be carrying dozens of 302mm rockets with a range of 150 km made in Syria. It is now on its way to Eilat.

Just how would they get from Port Sudan to Gaza? Through Sinai? Then through tunnels? Isn’t the Egyptian army patrolling Sinai? Hasn’t Egypt closed the arms-smuggling tunnels? Why would Egypt allow arms to reach Hamas, the rulers of Gaza and a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood when the MB is the present Egyptian government’s enemy?

And even more curious, why would Obama suddenly co-operate with Israel against Iran when his whole policy towards those two countries for at least the last four years has been to co-operate with Iran against Israel?

Has he had a sudden change of heart and mind? If so, what will his party, his base, his hurrah-chorus the mainstream media, say to this 180 degree turnabout?

It’s really very hard to believe.

The White House spokesman said that Washington worked with Israeli through intelligence and military channels, and at the national security adviser level, as soon as it knew the shipment was on the move. He said that President Barack Obama also directed the US military to work out contingencies in case it became necessary to intercept the vessel (therebysanctioning military action).

Obama? Military action?

“Our Israeli counterparts ultimately chose to take the lead in interdicting the shipment of illicit arms,” Jay Carney said. …

This was the first time in four years that the US and Israel have collaborated in an operation against Iran – ever since the Stuxnet virus attack in 2010 on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Until now, the Obama administration steadfastly refused to act against Iran for fear of jeopardizing the international diplomatic track for curbing its nuclear program.

The unusual frankness with which the Obama administration announced its coordination with Israel is both dramatic in itself and a road sign pointing the way to a radical change in its Iran policy.

The US and Israel appear to be lining up – in their military policies as well – against the Iranian-Syrian-Hizballah bloc.

This radical turnabout was most probably the high point of the conversation between the US president and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at the White House Monday, March 3, after which Netanyahu raised comment by showering Obama with praise during his speech to the AIPAC conference in Washington the next day. …

Whereas  Obama had shown impatience, irritation, and antipathy towards Netanyahu in an interview just one day before the meeting.

US and Israeli intelligence sources report that both countries are braced for a swift and stinging response from Tehran … As Carney put it: “We will continue to stand up to Iran’s support for destabilizing activities in the region in coordination with our partners and allies.These illicit acts are unacceptable to the international community and in gross violation of Iran’s Security Council obligations.”

Israel’s elite Shayetet 13 (Flotilla 13) early Wednesday, March 5, boarded [the] Iranian Panama-registered cargo vessel KLOS C. Concealed in its hold under sacks of cement were dozens of 302mm rockets with a range of 150 kms, manufactured in Syria and destined by Iran for the Gaza Strip after being offloaded in Sudan.

The Israeli commandos seized the vessel in open sea on the maritime border of Sudan and Eritrea, 1500 km south of Israel, and have set it on course for Eilat.

Sudan has [become] in the last two years …  a major Iranian weapons manufacturing and logistic depot, which supplies Syria, Hizballah and Hamas. Port Sudan is the hub for the smuggling of Iranian arms to various Middle East locations.

The IDF [Israeli Defense Force] said the Iranian missile cargo was destined for the Palestinian Hamas which rules the Gaza Strip. If this is so, it would mean that Iran had gone back to arming Hamas with missiles and rockets after a two-year pause during which the Palestinian extremists were cold-shouldered by Tehran for their animosity to Syria’s Bashar Assad. …

[But] it is hard to believe the Assad would consent to relay Syrian-made missiles to this antagonist.

Some Middle East military sources believe the shipment was not destined for Palestinian terrorists for use against Israel, but rather for Muslim Brotherhood activists fighting the Egyptian army from their forward base in the Gaza Strip.

They don’t rule out the possibility of Al Qaeda affiliates fighting in Sinai as being the address. Western intelligence has recorded instances of Iran entering into ad hoc operational collaboration with al Qaeda elements when it suits Tehran’s book. …

The rockets were flown from Syria to Iran, then loaded on [the] ship where they were concealed under sacks of cement inside containers. From the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas, the ship headed into the Red Sea bound for Sudan where it was intercepted by Israeli commandos.

The Iranian arms ship’s progress was tracked all the way.

By Israel, apparently. By the US, easily if that’s what Obama wanted. But why suddenly does he want to “jeopardize the international diplomatic track for curbing Iran’s nuclear program“?

Will Jay Carney, standing there among the flying pigs, do something he has never done before – tell the truth and explain everything?

That’s not very likely, but then much is not very likely in these bizarre events.

Ending the pax Americana 2

We are in principle against intervention in the internal affairs of other countries. But we are not for isolationism or pacifism – we regard either philosophy as a formula for national suicide. If other countries become belligerent, build up their armed strength, send their warships towards our shores, establish bases in countries on our borders, and declare their aggressive intentions towards us, the politics of those countries become our business. That is happening now. We are under threat – because Obama is deliberately weakening America. And his reaction to the result is to weaken America even more.

The conditions for major war develop much more easily when the U.S. is too weak. They are developing as we speak. 

To a meaningful extent, the significant increase we’ve seen in unrest around the globe since 2010 has been made possible, and inevitable, by the retraction of American power. Even where we still have power in place, it has become increasingly obvious that we aren’t going to use it. 

We quote from a website interestingly named Liberty Unyielding. The article on the extreme folly of the Obama administration’s moves to weaken America is by Commander Jennifer Dyer, now retired from the US navy. (Her own blog is at Theoptimisticconservative.wordpress.com):

The collapse of order in the Arab nations in 2011 was the first significant stage of the process. The perception that the United States would do nothing about a Hezbollah coup in Lebanon was tested in January of that year. The perception proved to be true, and when protests erupted in Tunisia and Egypt, for causes both natural and manufactured, a set of radical Islamist actors – the “establishment” Muslim Brotherhood, Sunni jihadists, Iran – saw an opportunity. The establishment Muslim Brotherhood has largely won out in Tunisia, but the battle still rages among these radical actors for Egypt, Syria, and now Iraq. Lebanon is being incrementally sucked into the maelstrom as well.

In multiple venues, Russia has watched the U.S. and the West effectively back Islamists in Russia’s “near abroad”: in Turkey (with support for the now struggling Erdogan government); in the Balkans, especially Bosnia and Kosovo; and in Syria. …

There was a time when the implicit determination of the U.S. to enforce the “Pax Americana” order – the post-World War II alignments of the region – held Russia in check. The Russians still derived some security benefit from that order, after all … It appears to me, however, that 2014 will be the year in which it becomes clear that, according to Russians’ perception, they no longer benefit from the old order. If we’re not going to enforce it, Russia will do what she thinks she has to.

In fact, Moscow’s pushback against the plan for Ukraine to affiliate with the EU constitutes just such a blow for perceived Russian interests. It is of supreme importance for Westerners to not misread the recent developments. The EU and the U.S. did back down when Russia pushed hard last fall. The only ones who didn’t back down were the Ukrainian opposition. I predict Vladimir Putin will try to handle the opposition factions cleverly, as much as he can, and avoid a pitched battle with them if possible. He respects what they are willing to do. But he has no reason to respect Brussels or Washington.

And that means he has more latitude, not less, for going after the regional props to the old order, one by one. As always, Russia’s inevitable competition with China is a major driver, along with Russia’s concern about Islamism on her southern border. The whole Great Crossroads – Southwest Asia, Southeast Europe, Northeast Africa, the waterways that snake through the region – is, if not up for grabs, at least in ferment. Look wherever you like: there are almost no nations where there is not a very present menace from radicalism, or where governments and even borders are not gravely imperiled by internal dissent.

Israel is the chief standout for politically sustainable stability and continuity. Romania and Turkey seem likely to at least retain their constitutional order in the foreseeable future, but Turkey’s geopolitical orientation, in particular, is less certain. Greece and Kosovo – even Bosnia – have serious internal problems. Egypt, Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Somalia all remain in crisis at various levels. Jordan and Saudi Arabia are relatively stable, and the Arab Persian Gulf states relatively so as well. But their neighborhood is going downhill fast. Iran is riding a wave of radical confidence, and the Taliban are resurgent in Afghanistan.

In this tumultuous region, it’s actually a little funny that Pakistan looks stable and staid compared to Iran, Afghanistan, and neighbors west. We can hope that Islamabad’s perceived need to maintain a symmetrical stance against India will keep Pakistan’s loose federation of intransigents federated, and the nukes under central control. But as we move across South Asia, we near another boiling pot. Thailand – long an American ally and pillar of stability in the region – has been rocked in recent months by national unrest of a kind not seen in Southeast Asia for decades. Islamist radicalism is a growing threat in Indonesia, and an unpacified one in the Philippines, after more than a decade of U.S.-Philippines collaboration in fighting it.

And, of course, China is making real, transformative moves against regional security with her proclamations about air space and maritime rights off her southeast coast.

This disruptive process, like the battles for many of the Arab nations, is already underway. We’re not waiting for something to happen; it’s started.

China assumes, quite correctly, that there will be no effective pushback from the United States. But two other nations with power and means will regard it as intolerable for China to dictate conditions in Southeast Asia: Japan and Russia. The dance of realignment among these nations has implications for everyone in Central Asia and the Far East. The day may be on the horizon sooner than we think when maintaining a divided Korea no longer makes sense to at least one of the major players. The day is already here when Chinese activities in Central Asia are alarming the whole neighborhood, just as Chinese actions are in the South China Sea. …

Russia and Iran are advancing on the US through Central America:

It’s no accident that as radical leftism creeps across Central America (falsely laying claim to a noble “Bolivarian” political mantle), the maritime dispute between Nicaragua and American ally Colombia heats up – and Russia shows up to back Nicaragua and Venezuela – and so does Iran – and unrest turns into shooting and government brutality and violence in Venezuela – and Hezbollah shows up there to openly support the radical, repressive Maduro government.

Now Iran has a naval supply ship headed for Central America, very possibly with a cargo of arms that are not only prohibited by UN sanction, but capable of reaching the United States if launched from a Central American nation or Cuba.

We’re not still waiting for the shocks to start to the old order. They’ve already started. I haven’t surveyed even the half of what there is to talk about …

She looks at the latest defense cuts with dismay and considers what the consequences will be:

This is the world in which the United States plans to reduce our army to its lowest level since before World War II, and eliminate or put in storage much of its capabilities for heavy operations abroad (e.g., getting rid of the A-10 Warthogs, moving Blackhawk helicopters into the National Guard). It’s in this world that DOD proposes to cease operating half of our Navy cruisers, while delaying delivery of the carrier-based F-35 strike-fighter to the Navy and Marine Corps. These cutbacks come on top of cuts already made to training and maintenance expenditures in the Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force that will affect unit readiness for years to come. …

Then comes what should be a shocking observation:

By cutting back on defense so drastically, America is deciding, in essence, to “fight fair”: to give whatever opponents emerge more of a chance to kill our soldiers, damage our interests, and drag out conflicts.

That would be hard to believe of any American leadership – until now. It is ludicrous. Worse, it is lunatic. But Obama has never concealed or disguised his wish to weaken America’s military capacity.

The decision “to further limit our capabilities to use power in politically relevant ways” will result in “even more global unrest: more conflict, more shooting, more blood, more extortion and political thuggery menacing civil life in the world’s poorer and more vulnerable nations”, and that cannot be good for America. The point is that -

These unpleasant trends will spill over into civil life in the wealthier nations soon enough

As it has, she points out, in Ukraine, Thailand, and Venezuela, “whether directly or through second-order consequences”.

Peace and freedom have to be tended constantly; they are not the natural state of geopolitical indiscipline, but its antithesis. …

We’re extraordinarily unprepared for the world that is shaping up around us. …

[And] a world that doesn’t want quiescent trade conditions, tolerance of dissent, the open flow of ideas, and mutual agreements, peacefully arrived at, will not have them.

That’s the world we are sentencing ourselves, for now, to live in. Perhaps we will learn from the consequences how to think again: about what it takes to guard freedom, and indeed, about what freedom actually is. 

It is Obama who needs to think again, but there is no reason to hope that he will. It could hardly be more obvious that he does not care for freedom.

Stupid, evil, communist 2

An American female lawyer and communist, Lynne Stewart, helped Muslim terrorists carry out mass-murder and torture by relaying messages from their jailed leader.

These are extracts from Wikipedia:

Lynne Stewart was convicted on charges of conspiracy and providing material support to terrorists in 2005, and sentenced to 28 months in prison. Her felony conviction led to her being automatically disbarred. She was convicted of helping pass messages from her client, Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, an Egyptian cleric convicted of planning terror attacks, to his followers in al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya, an organization designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the United States Secretary of State.

She was re-sentenced on July 15, 2010, to 10 years in prison in light of her perjury at her trial. She served her sentence at the Federal Medical Center, Carswell, a federal prison near Fort Worth, Texas.

Stewart was released from prison on December 31, 2013 on a compassionate release order because of her terminal breast cancer diagnosis.

Out she came with the clichés that pass for “thought” in the parrot minds of communists:

Stewart believes that violence is at times needed to correct for the perceived injustices of capitalism. She states that she doesn’t “believe in anarchistic violence but in directed violence,” with directed violence being that which is “directed at the institutions which perpetuate capitalism, racism and sexism, and at the people who are the appointed guardians of those institutions, and accompanied by popular support.”

Muslims as such are not against capitalism, though they have hypocritical ways of taking interest on invested capital so as not to call it that. As for racism, there is no ideology more racist that Islam except its old ally, Nazism. And when it comes to sexism, in theory and in practice, Islam is the world champion. Lynne Stewart apparently saw no need to square her stated “beliefs” with her activity for the benefit of the Muslim terrorists she conspired with.

This commentary on the Lynne Stewart case is from Front Page by Daniel Greenfield.

“Oh, Muslims everywhere!” Omar Abdel Rahman wrote from his American prison cell. “Cut the transportation of their countries, tear it apart, destroy their economy, burn their companies, eliminate their interests, sink their ships, shoot down their planes, kill them on the sea, air, on land.”

This fatwa, or one very similar to it, was distributed to Al Qaeda terrorists in terror training camps while Mohammed Omar Abdel Rahman, the blind sheikh’s son, lectured them on their duties as Jihadists.

While Al Qaeda was working on terror plots that would eventually develop into the attacks of September 11, the blind sheikh was producing threatening sermons from prison warning that America would bring “destruction” on itself if it interfered with the forces of Islam.

On September 2000, a year before the attack, Bin Laden released a video together with Rahman’s son, vowing to free the blind sheikh while Rahman’s son urged Muslims to “move forward and shed blood.”

A year later they did.

It wasn’t easy for the blind terror chief to remain relevant in prison. His devoted attorney Lynne Stewart helped keep Omar Abdel Rahman relevant by helping him pass messages to his followers from prison. …

Omar Abdel Rahman’s followers carried out the first attack against the World Trade Center. Ramzi Yousef, the perpetrator of the World Trade Center bombing, was a follower of the blind sheikh, and his uncle, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, was also the architect of the September 11 attacks.

Afterward, the blind sheikh’s followers unspooled a terror plot larger in scale than September 11 targeting New York landmarks.

Lynne Stewart didn’t just conspire to aid any terrorist. The man she was aiding was a crucial figure in a wave of terror rolling around the world from Egypt to Afghanistan. Islamic terrorists, including Al Qaeda, hung on his words and derived inspiration from his incitement to violence.

Stewart was present when Rahman was told that the bombing of the USS Cole had been carried out in his name and that there were plans to carry out further operations unless he was released. While the sheikh and his follower talked of terror, Lynne Stewart sat and scribbled, pretending to take notes so that the prison guards would not become suspicious.

In an interview, Lynne Stewart suggested that maintaining the blind sheikh’s “exchange value” was part of her job. “It could be very important that that person is still perceived as worth exchanging, perhaps, for someone else,” she suggested. “Once he … becomes a non-person on the international scene, he loses currency, he loses credibility. He is no longer someone who perhaps would be viable for people to consider in some kind of swap or exchange.” …

A year after Rahman was sentenced to life in prison, terrorists from his Muslim Brotherhood splinter organization, the Islamic Group, carried out the Luxor Massacre in Egypt. European tourists had their ears and noses cut off before being killed. The attack had been carried out to take hostages to exchange for Lynne Stewart’s client. A note calling for the release of Rahman was found in a disemboweled body.

When asked about the Luxor Massacre, Stewart accused Americans of being “two-faced about violence” adding that, “The basic desire of people to be free hasn’t changed. And I’m not sure that I want to second-guess what methods other people use.”

In the massacre that Lynne Stewart refused to second-guess, the methods included the murder of Shaunnah Turner, a 5-year-old girl. …

A year before the September 11 attacks, the terror lawyer went too far and held a press conference confirming that the blind sheikh wanted an end to the temporary ceasefire between the Islamic Group and the Egyptian government that had been brokered the year of the Luxor Massacre. … Lynne Stewart was no longer functioning as an attorney. Instead she was acting as the spokeswoman for a terrorist organization. After September 11 fulfilled the fatwa of her client, she expressed her support for Osama bin Laden and said, “I’m pretty inured to the notion that in a war or in an armed struggle, people die.”

The people in the World Trade Center ”never knew what hit them. They had no idea that they could ever be a target for somebody’s wrath, just by virtue of being American. They took it personally. And actually, it wasn’t a personal thing.”

Nothing going on out there is “personal” to a communist. Everything that happens is the inevitable progress of history. “It” only becomes personal when it hits him or her personally.

Lynne Stewart’s career of defending domestic terrorists had prepared her to take this callous view of the lives of the men, women and children murdered by her clients. Stewart had defended Weather Underground terrorists not for money, but because she agreed with their views.

“I am guilty of no crime,” Stewart has said. And she has gone on playing the victim while showing not an ounce of remorse. “Oh, I would do it again in a minute,” she told an interviewer.

And now that Obama has decided to set her free, she may get the chance.

Stewart has cancer and the Bureau of Prisons and the U.S. Attorney’s office asked for her compassionate release. The request has been granted. Compassionate releases are rare, but the old radical has friends in high places. Less than a dozen prisoners are granted compassionate release each year. Lynne Stewart won the lottery, but it’s doubtful that luck had anything to do with it.

[Attorney General] Holder has filled the Justice Department with terrorist sympathizers and made it a place where Lynne Stewart would feel right at home.

The American Taliban’s lawyer is now the Acting Associate Attorney General and the Principal Deputy Solicitor General was the lawyer for Bin Laden’s driver. They join at least seven other lawyers who have defended terrorists. Lawyers whom Attorney General Eric Holder declared were “patriots” for representing terrorists.

The Second Circuit Court wrote that Stewart suffered from a “stark inability to understand the seriousness of her crimes.” … She did not accept … that they were crimes. That is something that she has in common with Attorney General Eric Holder.

In her opening argument for the blind sheikh, Stewart contended that ”he has advocated for the suffering of his people at home, in Egypt. He has advocated by any means necessary, and that is not acceptable to this government.”

Omar Abdel Rahman’s idea of advocacy was mass murder. So was Lynne Stewart’s.

Now Stewart is being treated with the compassion that she denied his many victims; including Shaunnah Turner. And if Lynne Stewart lives to continue her crimes, she will repay that compassion the same way that her favorite terrorists always have.

She has no idea that she could be a target for somebody’s wrath, just by virtue of being American. 

Though she will never be the target of America’s wrath, just by virtue of being a traitor.

A pity, that.

“My chain of command won’t let me die” 2

Today,

America honors her heroes in recognizing Veterans Day, including our brave SEALs.

Mark Baisley spells out what “SEALs” stand for – their name and their cause:

That virtuous moniker is actually an acronym for Sea, Air, And Land, indicating that these guys cover every quarter and every dimension. Members of the United States Navy SEALs are a special kind of human, incredibly smart athletes with unthinkable endurance and unimaginable tolerance for pain. The greatest attribute of a SEAL is devotion.

But in a brand new book, a tragic truth is revealed about the Obama Administration’s unrequited devotion from our most selfless of heroes. Aaron Carson Vaughn is honored by his heartbroken dad in Betrayed, The Shocking True Story of Extortion 17 as told by a Navy SEAL’s Father. The book chronicles the events that led to the death of Aaron Carson Vaughn and was authored by Billy Vaughn, with co-authors Monica Morrill and Cari Blake.

Aaron Carson Vaughn “once wrote a note of assurance to his concerned parents about his chain of command saying, ‘They won’t let me die‘. But they did.

The book details the events of August 6, 2011 in Afghanistan surrounding the shooting down of an American Chinook helicopter that held the evocative name of “Extortion 17″.

A high-value Al-Qaeda leader was pinned down in a village by U.S. Army Rangers. Three hours into the intense ground engagement, Extortion 17 was tasked to carry seventeen SEALs into the battle with the onerous task of capturing the Al-Qaeda leader alive.

The Chinook was operated by a crew of five from the National Guard and carried an additional 22 Navy personnel in support of the elite SEAL team. One Afghan interpreter was also on board and, just before taking off, seven Afghan commandos were curiously assigned to the final flight of Extortion 17.

As the Chinook approached its destination, the enemy could be seen running into a building with a tower that gave them an advantageous shooting position. The two Apache escort helicopters had all the visibility and firepower to resolve the battle before Extortion 17 delivered the SEAL team. But the Apaches were denied permission to attack.

Under the Obama Administration’s new rules of engagement, no strike could be made on that building without assurance that no civilians were inside. The enemy knows these rules, which is why they run into buildings where civilians may be located.

Just as in Gaza, where Hamas terrorists do the same. And PLO fighters in Lebanon used to place their guns on the roofs of schools and hospitals, and use UNRWA schools as arsenals. Such is the honor of the Muslim warrior.

Under the protection of Obama rules, the enemy set up on the tower of the building and shot down Extortion 17 using three rocket-propelled grenades. The Chinook fell to the ground in a tremendous explosion, killing all 30 people on board.

The parents of those SEAL Team members who died were gathered for a briefing and were given hundreds of pages of information from the investigation of the event. Betrayed includes many pages of that original material; material that raised enough unsettling questions that Billy Vaughn wrote a book.

One question asked at the briefing was why, even in the minutes following the shoot-down of Extortion 17, America’s massive firepower was withheld.

Three-star Admiral Robert Harward explained to the parents that a drone strike wasn’t used because, “we need to win their hearts and minds”. 

Can a three-star admiral actually believe in such a goal? Did he manage to say it with a straight face?

What the Commander-in-Chief was really after becomes terribly clear only with the knowledge that he put Afghans in command of American troops who were in Afghanistan to defeat Afghans:  

Evidently, this policy of social politeness on the battlefront motivated the Obama Administration to relegate authority over American troops under Afghan command one year before the Extortion 17 crash, the greatest loss of U.S. military SEALs in a single incident.

Social politeness? It may look like that. But a commander-in-chief who puts his troops under enemy command is not just being socially polite. He is not trying to “win hearts and minds” like a missionary. He is helping the enemy to win. He is making sure that the enemy will win. 

All knowledge, forethought, and mission planning for American troops within that country are under the joint oversight of the Operational Coordination Group, a command of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

And win the enemy did:

While George W. Bush was in office, we were treated to a steady drumbeat of casualty reports. But the silence of American media over the past five years has covered up the fact that far more of our troops have been killed and injured under the Obama Administration’s rules of engagement.

It could not have been otherwise. That’s what those rules of engagement were designed to do.

During the seven years of war in the Bush Administration, 630 Americans died in Afghanistan and 2,638 were wounded in action. During the first four years of the Obama Administration, 1,544 Americans have died in Afghanistan and 15,036 have been wounded in action.

Obama supported the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. He has invited Muslim Brotherhood members into his administration as advisers and consultants. He is letting Muslim-theocratic Iran become nuclear-armed. He has had all critical references to Islam purged from army training materials. He withdrew all American forces from Iraq so letting Iran become a force of influence in that land whose soil is soaked with American blood. And his crippling rules of engagement have allowed the Taliban back into power in Afghanistan.

But today he will be seen honoring American veterans, in the posture of mourning for the heroic dead:

 

A libertarian’s foreign policy 3

What Muslims are doing to Christians is atrocious. The Muslims must tell themselves to stop it.

The hole in the political theory of libertarians is foreign policy. One of them is trying to fill it in. Senator Rand Paul has been speaking up for the Christians persecuted in Muslim lands, especially those in Syria. He’s still for non-intervention. But he’s showing that he’s not unconcerned about what’s going on out there in the dim and irrelevant Rest Of The World. He rightly analyses that what’s going on is – nasty. And he has advice for how that Muslim-on-Christian persecution problem should be fixed.

Cliff May reports and comments at Townhall:

Last month, at the Values Voter Summit, a gathering of conservative activists from around the country, Senator Rand Paul gave a speech [you can hear it all on this YouTube video] on what he called “a worldwide war on Christians by a fanatical element of Islam”.

The senator was careful [as almost all Western politicians always are] not to paint all Muslims with the brush of fanaticism. He stressed that only a minority of Muslims read Islamic scripture as mandating an armed struggle against Christians and other “unbelievers.”

How does he know that? If it were the case, it would mean that only a minority of Muslims read the Koran. Or that the majority of those that read it don’t take in what it says.

But because the global Muslim population is so large — more than 1.5 billion — even a relatively small percentage translates into tens of millions of jihad supporters.

Paul cited a few of the atrocities not making the evening news: a priest shot in the head in Zanzibar; churches bombed in Kenya; the beheading of three girls on their way to a Christian school in Indonesia; converts to Christianity murdered in Cameroon; churches burned and worshipers killed in Egypt; a pastor in Iran tortured and ordered to renounce his faith. …

All true. And he did not mention Nigeria, where thousands of Christians have been killed by a Muslim terrorist group calling itself Boko Haram (“book-learning is forbidden”), and where the random slaughter is on-going.* It is one of the few places where the Obama administration had something to say about the Muslim-on-Christian violence: it warned the Nigerian government, when it attempted to take military action against the Boko Haram terrorists, that it must not “violate their human rights”.

Syrian Christians, more properly called Syriacs, are widely believed to be pro-Assad. But that’s not quite accurate. A recent newsletter of the European Syriac Union states proudly that they were among those asking Assad for “their rights.” As a consequence, they have been seen as “the enemies” of the regime that continues to “attack, arrest, torture and imprison Syriac people.”

Syrian Christians have appealed to the U.S. government for assistance and … have been turned down. Paul argues: “We must work to ensure our country, our policies, our tax dollars, are on the side of ending this violence rather than encouraging those who perpetrate it.” But he never gets around to saying who or what he has in mind.

What he says instead: “How someone could believe that killing innocent people would further one’s cause is beyond me.” Is that really so hard to fathom? Both the Nazis and the Communists killed innocent people by the millions to further their causes. By now we should understand that totalitarianism is totalitarianism — whether [the ideology] is based on race, class, or religion.

It’s not entirely true that he didn’t say what might be done to discourage violence against Christians: he sensibly said that “not one dollar of US money” should go to any place where they burn the US flag, and no money should go to Pakistan where Christians are being held in jail – at least one of them on death row – for the offense of being Christian.

He also, interestingly enough considering the general pacifism of the libertarian movement, declared that “there are times when it is right to use military action”, for instance “after 9/11″. But he thinks (and we do too) that it would be wrong for the US to intervene militarily in the Syrian civil war.

“Radical Islam will end only when Islam begins to police Islam,” Paul adds. Can you imagine Churchill saying Nazism will end only when Germans begin to police themselves? Can you imagine Reagan saying Communism will end only when Russians begin policing themselves?

Paul insists that “Islam needs to remember and recreate the good in their history.” But those waging jihad believe the best in their history was when there was an Islamic empire as extensive as Rome at its zenith, dominating, and often destroying, communities of Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, Hindus, and other “infidels”.

The presumption of radical Islam, wrote Bernard Lewis (the world’s leading scholar of the Middle East before that field of study became extensively politicized and compromised), is that “the duty of jihad will continue, interrupted only by truces, until all the world either adopts the Muslim faith or submits to Muslim rule”. 

Western politicians have been reluctant to acknowledge this reality and act on it by developing a strategy aimed at defeating revolutionary Islam in both its Sunni and its Shiite variants. The best President Bush could do was to declare a global War on Terrorism — as if we objected only to the jihadis’ weapon [method, tactic] of choice. President Obama insists we’re fighting “violent extremism,” a term so nebulous as to be meaningless.

Yes, but it enables him to dissolve events like the Boston marathon bombing in the general problem of violent extremism soon to be practiced his administration alleges – by the Tea Party and US army veterans. But while those potential terrorists are named and pre-shamed in DHS reports and military training guides, Islam goes unmentioned. If you were to accuse him of never saying anything against Islamic terrorism, he’ll get members of the press to point out that he has emphatically condemned “violent extremism”.

Senator Paul has yet to improve on these flawed conceptual frameworks. “The ultimate answer must come from Islam itself,” he told his audience. “They will never accept us through force of arms. …

We don’t want them to accept us. We want to be rid of them.

“Somehow, though, they must come to understand that they must police themselves, that they must root out and destroy the sadists and killers who distort and contort religion to justify killing civilians and children.”

So Rand Paul found out nothing about Islam before making this foreign-policy speech!  It is no distortion or contortion of Islam, the killing of civilians and children. It’s what Islam does. It’s what the Koran – a military manual for ruthless conquerors and enslavers – requires Muslims to do. It’s what Islam is all about. He seems to think of “religion” as one big bundle with the golden rule and cheek-turning instructions tucked up inside it.

“Somehow, though, they must come to understand” is neither a policy nor a strategy. Senator Paul is to be commended for speaking out about the plight of Christians in Muslim-dominated lands at a time when so many other voices are silent. But if he would step back from the trees he’d see a deep and dark forest: attacks on Christians are battles in a “War against the West” being waged by the 21st century’s most lethal imperialists. If Paul seriously aspires to be a world leader, he would be well-advised to begin developing a response not based on retreat, passivity, and drift.

Another thing Rand Paul said was, ‘Make no mistake – this is about religion.”  He’s right of course. Ever more human suffering because of religion. (But that was not what he meant.)

The part of his speech with which we thoroughly disagree, and strongly object to, is an extended eulogy (as routine for politicians, when they make any criticism of Islam, as proclaiming that most Muslims are peaceful persons full of goodwill towards the infidel) on a purely mythical Medieval Islam, a beacon of cultural light; caliphates bristling with scientists and mathematicians, steeped in Greek and Latin learning, irreproachably tolerant.** Either he was only repeating this nonsense because he felt the politician’s need to do so, or he has really swallowed all that deceitful Muslim propaganda. He makes the case that as such an Islam existed once, it could exist again. Which would be a persuasive argument, if it were not untrue that it had ever existed at all.

 

* We have posted a number of articles on the murder of Christians by Boko Haram, the Muslim terrorist group in Nigeria. See for instance: More acts of religion in Nigeria, January 19, 2012; More Christians burnt to death by Muslims, July 11,2012; Another murderous act of religion in Nigeria, May 10, 2013; More Christians slaughtered by Muslims in Nigeria, September 30, 2013.

**There is a large body of literature refuting the Muslim claim to an enlightened Islamic Civilization in the Middle Ages. Some of the best articles are:  The Real Islamic ‘Golden Age’ by John O’Neill, who also wrote a book on the subject titled Holy Warriors: Islam and the Demise of Classical Culture; Who Is Really Being Dishonest About Islam? By Robert Spencer; ‘Islamic Civilization’ – The Biggest Lie Known to Man by Ali Hassan. On the intolerance of Islam throughout its rule over Christians and Jews the leading authority is Bat Ye’or. Among her magisterial books on the subject are: The Dhimmi: Jews and Christians under Islam, 1980; Islam and Dhimmitude, 1984; The Decline of Eastern Christianity under Islam: From Jihad to Dhimmitude, 1996. This great historian was chiefly responsible for making the word “dhimmi” known to the West.

 

Sinister figures guide the US government 1

We cannot stress strongly enough that the Obama administration is committed to the protection and promotion of Islam in the world at large, and in America.

One of the few (known) just men of Europe, Douglas Murray, writes at the website of the Gatestone Institute:

Say hello again to two of the most appallingly over-promoted and sinister figures involved with the current U.S. government: Mohamed Elibiary and Dalia Mogahed. …

Thankfully there are a number of people who can still rouse themselves to point out how outrageous Western governments’ hiring policies are these days – as when Mohamed Elibiary was promoted to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Advisory Council. Yet despite these heroic individuals pointing out Elibiary’s track record of support for Islamists worldwide, the appointment held – and so it was that the U.S. government welcomed another fox into its chicken coop.

In September, when violence against Egypt’s Copts had reached another peak, the new Department of Homeland Security Advisor, Elibiary, used his twitter account to blame American Coptic activists for the murder of their co-religionists by Muslim Brotherhood extremists of the type Elibiary has a track record of supporting.

On September 15, he wrote, “For decade since 9/11 attack extremist American Coptic activists have nurtured anti Islam and anti Muslim sentiments among AM[erican] R[igh]T wing.” A day earlier, Elibiary blamed American Copts for protesting against attacks on their relatives in Egypt, and recommended an article “on need to reform #Coptic activism in #US including stop promoting #Islamophobia.”

So while Copts were actually being targeted and killed in Egypt, Mr. Elbiary chose to try to switch attention onto the fictional persecution of Muslims in the U.S. …

Unfortunately, thanks to our enthusiastic, politically-correct attitudes and radical Islamist ideologies, Elibiary is not alone in the U.S. administration.

It was Dalia Mogahed, you will recall, who helped President Obama draft the 2009 Cairo Speech — a “reset” speech, regarded as seminal across several rooms in the White House. It was Mogahed who helped draft the address which apologized for America’s past actions while giving the benefit of the doubt to most of its self-stated enemies.

Dalia Mogahed, advisor to the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

Mogahed is not only one of the geniuses credited with that speech; her record also includes other glowing occasions. Such as the time, that same year, in which she cropped up on a U.K. television program, which aired on the most notorious satellite Islamist channel. Mogahed took part in a discussion about the empowerment of women through Sharia.

A reminder of just some of the ways in which sharia law – the law of Islam – treats a woman as half-a-human-being at best:  The testimony of two women equals that of one man. A woman can inherit only half of whatever would go whole to a man. A woman who is raped, unless she can produce four male witnesses to actual penetration by the rapist, is guilty of adultery and can be stoned to death. The Koran says she can be beaten by her husband. To sum up – Islam, far from empowering women, enslaves them.

She participated, seemingly happily, in the program hosted – and introduced as such – by a member of the radical Islamist group Hizb-ut-Tahrir. Mogahed also seemed unfazed when, for instance, passionate fellow participants called for the restoration of the Caliphate (a key pipedream of Hizb-ut-Tahrir). …

[Now], after 80 Coptic churches had been burned down by Brotherhood supporters, Ms. Mogahed decided to single out for criticism not the perpetrators but – the Egyptian media! “The Egyptian media took advantage of the Copts to achieve many personal/political gains which has angered the West,” she wrote on one of the Facebook pages to which she spends her time contributing: “Egyptian Americans for Democracy and Human Rights.” … One of the strangest sets of messages any American government has surely ever given out.

If you were one of those Christian Copts standing in the ruins of your village or church, what message would you take from all this? If the officials of the current U.S. administration are managing to blame the media, or even fellow Copts in the U.S., for your slaughter and the desecration of your churches, would it be any surprise if they took the message that the current U.S. administration is not just indifferent to the suffering of Christians across the Middle East and the rest of the world, but actively asking them, “Would you mind dying quietly, please?’

When attacked, Christians, drop boldly to your knees 2

AS IF in response to our post of yesterday, the Archbishop of Canterbury has spoken out against the persecution of Christians in Pakistan and other Muslim lands.

This is from a report of his interview with the BBC:

Islamist attacks against Christians in Muslim countries are creating an atmosphere of fear and creating martyrs of the faithful in exceedingly growing numbers, the Archbishop of Canterbury said in an interview with BBC Radio. …

The Most Rev. Justin Welby said that there had been more than 80 Christian “martyrs” in the last few days alone.

He was speaking about the suicide bombing of All Saints Anglican Church in Peshawar, Pakistan. Eighty-five people were killed and more than 200 injured in the bombing, which occurred after a Sunday morning service.

The Archbishop …  added that Christians were also being singled out for violence in other Muslim-majority nations.

Christian communities which have existed “in many cases since the days of Saint Paul” are now under threat in countries such as Syria and Egypt, he said.  …

He said that in many instances, turmoil in these areas of the world is caused by multiple factors including historical conflicts that have little to do with religion. But these factors cannot explain recent attacks on Christians in places such as Peshawar.

Tentatively, hesitantly, he touches on the possibility that the Christians are being persecuted and “martyred” because they are Christians:

I think Christians have been attacked in some cases simply because of their faith,” he said. “I think it is true to say — and also in Peshawar — that we have seen more than 80 martyrs in the last few days. … [these  Christians] have been attacked because they were testifying to their faith in Jesus Christ by going to church. That is outside any acceptable expression in any circumstances for any reason of religious difference.”  …

He said British Muslim leaders were appalled by the attacks, as were Muslim leaders around the world.

Oh? Really? First we’ve heard of it.

So, as usual, the Christian religiously correct position to take when atrocities are being committed is to proclaim that the victims are martyrs, hallelujah! Not a word of moral condemnation of the murderers, even though it’s okay to speak of Muslim leaders being “appalled”. (Go  on, Welby – name one, we challenge you!)

There you have it. “Resist not evil.” The core principle of Christian morality. Don’t try to stop the murders, the burnings, the tortures, the abductions … After all, you don’t want to jeopardize the gain in martyrs.

So does Welby offer no suggestions at all as to what might be done?

Sure he does:

“As Christians one of the things is that we pray for justice and particularly the issues around the anger that comes from this kind of killing,” he added. “But we are also called as Jesus did at the cross to pray for those who are doing us harm.”

Welby, who leads almost 80 million Anglicans around the world, said Christians have a duty to pray for their killers.

Don’t be angry, Christians. Take strong measures – get down on your knees and pray.

That’ll teach ‘em.

The silence of the shepherds 4

Are the Christian churches doing anything about the bloody, growing, relentless persecution of Christians in Arab and other Islamic countries?

No.

The Pope?

No.

The Archbishop of Canterbury?

No.

Some at least of the innumerable Christian denominations in America?

No.

The primates of the Russian Orthodox Church?

No.

Are priests and parsons at least preaching against it from their pulpits?

No report or even a rumor of any such sermon has reached our ears.

Why not, we wonder. And then we recall that Christians make a virtue out of being persecuted. But of retribution, judgment of the persecutors, stopping the evil – nothing. Maybe because their man-god, in a sermon on a mountain or a plain, reputedly enjoined them not to resist evil. Thus giving evil a completely free hand.

Surely the United States is doing something about it? At least objecting to it verbally?

No.

What about diplomats and churchmen in the countries where the persecution is happening?

Never! No Western diplomat would risk being caught criticizing anything Muslims do. And Middle  Eastern churchmen, who cannot help noticing the dwindling numbers of their flocks and even hear cries in the endless night of their consciences, have found ingenious ways to blame Israel – ie the Jews. It’s an old tradition that they’re comfortable with.

Try Googling the subject. Dig hard and you’ll find some crumbs.

You’ll find Pakistani Christians have protested recently over the massacre of some 85 of their number, killed coming out of church by a couple of Muslim suicide bombers. Some of the protestors have since been beaten up by their Muslim neighbors for daring to complain.

And you can, if you search, find reports of thousands of Nigerian Christians being killed by Muslims in regular weekend raids – and on some week days too. The Muslims – who are passionately against literacy – cut up their victims with machetes and throw small children on to fires. (See also our posts: Christians murdered by Muslims, March 9, 2010; Muhammad’s command, March 30, 2010; Suffering children, May 11, 2011; Victims of religion, October 16, 2011; Acts of religion in Nigeria revisited, October  16, 2011; Christians slaughtered by Muslims in Nigeria, October 17, 2011; Boko Haram, the Muslim terrorists of Nigeria, November 10, 2011; More acts of religion in Nigeria, January 19, 2012; More Christians burnt to death by Muslims, July 11, 2013.)

What about those great humanitarians, the Communists, who fill Western universities and run a few countries? After all, the professed essence of their creed is concern for the underdog. But no, the butchery, the torture, the abduction of children – none of it bothers them. To their way of thinking, Christians can never be authentic underdogs. But all Muslims are, however rich and powerful many of them may be.

What about the media? At least the Christian media surely …?

Here’s a fine example from a Christian website. It starts off promisingly, but soon gets round to denying that the persecutions are due only to religious intolerance and explaining that the police who should protect Christians are unfortunately otherwise engaged; then seems to criticize Western Churches for find a Christian bright side to look on – the mistaken idea that converts can be won from among observers of the tortures and killings – but drops suddenly into pious reflections of its own.

I have been surprised that the media has actually covered many of the church burnings that have taken place. The reason that I am surprised is because in most of the uprisings and protests that have taken place throughout the Middle East, church burning and persecution of Christians has taken place without the media reporting on it. In Egypt’s case, the Muslim Brotherhood has used the crackdown on the protests as an opportunity to loot and burn churches and Christian businesses. The Daily Star, Lebanon’s English language newspaper said attacks on churches coincided with assaults on police stations, leaving most police “pinned down to defend their stations or reinforcing others rather than rushing to the rescue of Christians under attack”.

The reality is that the persecution in Egypt is just the most popular of a long list of these things happening currently all over the world. Statistics show that this year alone 163,000 people will die because of their faith. It is estimated that by 2025 that number could rise to 210,000 per year.

So they’re expecting a further increase in the productivity of this appalling industry? Is this an example of pessimism or optimism?

There is any number of reasons for persecution, and it is not just because of religious differences, although that usually plays a major role. Other reasons include politics, finances, anti-Western bias, and racism. Many times all of these issues are rolled up into one that supports the persecution taking place. There is also a disturbing myth among Western Christians that persecution causes the church to grow. In fact, since persecution in the country of Turkey began the percentage of Christians has dropped from 32% to 0.2%. Syria has seen a drop from 40% to 10%. Iran saw a drop of 15% to 2%. Persecution is something that will always be with the church and will even ramp up as the Great Commission comes to completion, but it is not good. Persecution is the result of a fallen world and a real enemy that must be fought against. This enemy is not flesh and blood, though, so our fight must take place in the heavenly realm through prayer.

Yeah, good idea. That always helps.

The atrocities that we are seeing on television should prompt us to fight the spiritual battle. We must first pray that God would be glorified. God is not surprised by what is taking place in Egypt. We need to pray that the believers and Christian workers there would have faith and use this as an opportunity to share the love of Christ with others. We also need to use this as motivation for ourselves individually to get better informed and learn about the persecuted church so that we would know how to pray. Lastly, I would challenge you to consider going to these places. There is nothing quite like a real, physical hug to encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ. It could be your visit and encouraging words that gives strength to the church to continue fighting the good fight.

So if prayer fails, a hug may do it.

There are a few honorable exceptions among journalists. Raymond Ibrahim, the Front Page Magazine columnist, and himself a Copt from Egypt, is keeping the record and writing regularly and fully about the subject. His articles are well worth reading.

And an atheist, Nat Hentoff, writes:

Largely absent from nearly all our sources of news and commentary is deep, continuing coverage, if any, of the horrifying massacres of Christians in Egypt and especially Syria and the burning down of their churches.

The world’s most prominent Christian, Pope Francis, has denounced the violence, but our media has mostly ignored him [on this subject] …

One of the few penetrating protesters of this violence is Rich Lowry, editor of the National Review:

For the first time in 1,600 years, they didn’t pray this past Sunday at the Virgin Mary and Anba Abraam monastery in a village in southern Egypt. Islamists firebombed and looted the monastery, which dates back to the fifth century. For good measure, they destroyed a church inside. They then announced that they would be converting the monastery into a mosque. (Egypt’s Anti-Christian Pogrom, Lowry, National Review, Aug. 20).

… And as for our president: “In his remarks after the bloodshed began in Egypt, President Barack Obama relegated his concern over the anti-Christian attacks to a three-word dependent clause at the end of one sentence.”

As for daily life in Egypt, Morning Star News reported that earlier this month, “a Coptic Christian girl walking home from a Bible class at her church was shot and killed … in Cairo by an unidentified gunman, human rights activists said.” The girl’s uncle, a church pastor, said “he didn’t know for sure if the shooting was religiously motivated but quickly added that violence against Christians ‘seems to be normal’ in Egypt now” (Coptic Christian Girl Shot Dead in Egypt, Morning Star News, Aug. 9).

Meanwhile in Syria, “the nation’s 2 million-plus Christians are caught in the middle of a Muslim war. Jihadist rebels threaten and kidnap them while coercing others to become Muslims. Government troops loyal to President Bashar Assad order them to fight the opposition or face death” (Christians are in the crosshairs of bloody Muslim wars in Mideast, Rowan Scarborough, the Washington Times, Aug. 1).

But in spite of all this, says John Hayward of Human Events, “the international community never seems terribly exercised about the persecution of Christian minorities. … The same advanced democracies that had agonized internal discussions about whether freedom of speech should be curtailed, in order to avoid offending Muslims, don’t seem particularly angry about the destruction of Coptic churches, and other Christian property. Egyptian mobs are targeting Christian property for destruction by writing Islamist graffiti on the walls.”

But, thankfully, there are still those who are angry and vocal about this violence toward Christians. One of these media commentators who persistently denounce the absence of sustained American outrage at this merciless pogrom is Michael Savage, host of the Cumulus Radio program “The Savage Nation”.

Meanwhile, in this democratic country, will our Congress’s cold indifference continue? And will the nation’s religious leaders and activists – not just Christians – be confronted by those they lead? Will they say something and try to save what’s left of those Christian minorities in Egypt and Syria?

No.

As for the rest of us, are there any street demonstrations coming in front of the United Nations? Or does the very idea of insistent involvement from the U.N. – its reason for being – provoke anything but sardonic laughter at the prospect that its members will do anything lasting at all?

No.

Keeping count 2

From time to time we reproduce a snapshot of the Islamic terrorist record as kept by the valuable – ironically named – website, The Religion of Peace.

Here is today’s tally.

2013.09.11 (Baghdad, Iraq) - At least thirty Shia worshippers are torn to shreds by a suicide bomber at the entrance of their mosque.
2013.09.11 (Rafah, Egypt) - A Fedayeen suicide car bombing leaves eleven dead.
2013.09.10 (Baqubah, Iraq) - Ten people at an outdoor market are sent to Allah by al-Qaeda bombers.
2013.09.10 (Ghazni, Afghanistan) - Three children are among seven civilians blown to bits by the Taliban.
2013.09.10 (Yala, Thailand) - Two people are killed when Muslim ‘rebels’ set off a bomb at a school.
2013.09.09 (Landi Kotal, Pakistan) - Religious extremists behead three members of a peace committee.

 

Posted under Afghanistan, Arab States, Egypt, Iraq, Islam, jihad, Muslims, Terrorism by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, September 11, 2013

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A brief colorful history of the modern state of Syria (and its neighbors) 2

Until the end of World War I, the states of Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan did not exist. The territory they now cover had been part of the Empire of the Ottoman Turks for some 400 years. The names Syria and Mesopotamia designated Middle Eastern regions of the Ottoman Empire, roughly where Syria and Iraq are now.

In World War I the Turks were allies of Germany. The Arabs were loyal to their Ottoman overlords, and were also on Germany’s side.

But the British incited sedition among some of them, bribing a man in high religious office to head a rebellion. The inducement they offered him was power and glory: rule of an Arab independency of undefined dimensions.

The man was Hussein Ibn Ali, of the clan of the Hashemites and the tribe of the Quraish, Sharif of the Holy City of Mecca, putatively a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad.

The British gave him arms, supplies, subsidies and advisers. When he asked also for a firm definition of his dream-kingdom, the British High Commissioner in Cairo, Sir Henry McMahon, sent him a “clarification” in a letter dated 24 October 1915, in which he made it clear that he could not make it clear. The British, he explained, could not promise territory to Hussein which the French might claim, and they did not know what the French might claim.

In 1916 the British and French agreed, in a secret document known as the Sykes-Picot Agreement, on how they would divide up the territory between them once they had conquered it from the Turks. It was against the spirit of the times, when high principles were asserted against the old ideas of empire; principles which President Wilson of the United States set out in 14 points and became enshrined on the Covenant of the League of Nations. The new ideal was that never again would great powers impose their will on smaller nations.

In 1918, the British made another promise to the Arabs. It is known as The Declaration to the Seven. The “Seven” were from the Syrian region. They went to Cairo to ask the British what their intentions were in the Middle East. They were given a pledge that Britain would recognize “the complete and sovereign independence of any Arab area emancipated from Turkish control by the Arabs themselves”. It was an uncharacteristically precise promise.

It prompted the self-dramatizing Englishman, Colonel T.E.Lawrence, who had a highly romantic view of the Arabs (a view that has polluted the atmosphere of the  British Foreign Office ever since), to exert himself to lead Hussein’s forces to a decisive victory. He marched them to Damascus, but the Australian Light Horse Brigade got there first, and took the city from the Turks. Lawrence persuaded the British to pretend that his Arabs had conquered the city. So the British ordered the Australians to drift out and let the Arabs march in. This set a really bad precedent by which the Arabs expected always to have a fictional version of reality replace any facts on the ground which inconvenienced them. It also gave the Arabs as a whole a false understanding of their own military power and achievements. (If they had beaten the mighty Turks at Damascus, how could they not be victorious against the new little Jewish state of Israel in 1948?)

When the British, French, and Americans won the Second World War, the British set about fulfilling – more or less –  their promise to Hussein.

Hussein himself already ruled the Hejaz. His son Ali was his heir to that kingdom. (They were, however, to lose it in 1924,when Abdul Aziz al Saud conquered it. Saud was to join the Hejaz and the Nejd together and found a new state, Saudi Arabia, named after himself, in 1932.) But new kingdoms were created by the British for Hussein’s other sons, Abdullah and Faisal. They were to be called Syria and Iraq.

They made Faisal King of of the new state of Syria, and proposed to put Abdullah on the throne of a new state of Iraq. 

Faisal ruled Syria only from March to April, 1920. The French knocked him off his throne and threw him out of the country, whose destiny they claimed was rightfully in their hands. (The French were granted mandates over Syria and Lebanon.)

The British had to find another throne for Faisal, so they made him King of Iraq instead of his brother, and then considered what they could for Abdullah.

What remained in their power to give away – or so they made out – was an area of the Ottoman Empire to which the ancient Romans had given the name Palestine when it was still part of their empire. In July 1922, the League of Nations granted Britain a mandate (also agreed on at the San Remo peace conference in 1920) over the Palestine region. The British pleaded that they needed it in order to carry out a promise they had made, in the Balfour Declaration of 1917, to let the region become a National Home for the Jews. According to the terms of the Mandate they were  to “settle Jews closely on the land”. But when they were confronted by the problem of Abdullah being kingdom-less, they found that there was no need to let Jews settle closely on all the land. So they presented three-quarters of it, stretching eastward from the River Jordan to a chosen line in the desert, to Abdullah and called it the Emirate of Transjordan.

All the newly created Arab states fell short of Arab dreams. One was to flourish fairly well as a monarchy: the Emirate of Transjordan renamed itself the Kingdom of Jordan in 1949, when the Arab armies had failed to crush the new state of Israel, but the Transjordanian forces – known as the Arab Legion, under the able command of a British officer, John Bagot Glubb, better known as Glubb Pasha - had advanced across the River Jordan and taken control of what has ever since been called the “West Bank”. (Israel conquered it in its defensive war of 1968.)

The French held a mandate over Syria until July 1941. In September 1936,  a treaty of independence was  negotiated, but the French Legislature would not ratify it. Only when the British and Free French beat the forces of Vichy France in Syria and Lebanon in the Second World War, did Syria become an independent republic. But coups and attempted coups followed hot on each other, and the state was extremely unstable.

The Kingdom of Iraq also had a history of instability with numerous uprisings, massacres and assassinations. In 1958 the monarchy came to an end. The king, Faisal II, was eleven years old. His uncle, Abd al-Ilah, was  regent. He was an ambitious man. He had plans to dominate an Arab unity embracing Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Kuwait. In February 1958 he achieved a union between Iraq and Jordan, the two remaining Hashemite kingdoms. This was intolerable to the president of Egypt, Jamal Abd al-Nasser, who had just created a union of Egypt and Syria in the same  month. The union of Egypt and Syria under Nasser’s domination was intolerable to Abd al-Ilah.

Nasser had nationalized the Suez canal. Britain and France, who were joint shareholders in the Canal, lost their ownership of it. Nasser closed it to Israeli shipping. Israel saw this as a cause for war. Britain and France arranged with Israel that Israeli forces would strike into the Sinai on 29 October 1956, and they would invade Egypt on the pretext of restoring peace between the belligerents. President Eisenhower – unwisely – put a stop to the invasion when it had only just begun. America’s intervention allowed Nasser to pretend that he had won a victory, and felt encouraged to pursue his pan-Arab dream.

On February 1 1958, the union of Egypt and Syria as the United Arab Republic (UAR) came into being, with Cairo as its capital and Nasser as its president. Yemen was added a month later to form a confederation called the United Arab States.

Nasser’s agents and sympathizers went to work throughout the Middle East to spread his national socialist ideology. In Baghdad officers sympathetic to “Nasserism”  plotted the destruction of the Iraqi monarchy. In 1958, under pro-Nasserite leadership, a contingent of Iraqi troops despatched by the Regent  to quell a pro-Nasser uprising and civil war in Lebanon (actually put down by US forces) turned instead on their own ruling house. At dawn on 14 July 1958, the boy-king Faisal was murdered, along with his grandmother, his aunt, and others in the palace, including a helpless harmless orphan boy who lived with them.

Abd al-Ilah was dragged through the streets of Baghdad tied with ropes to the back of a truck, then – whether still alive or not when the tuck stopped – his body was dismembered with axes and his limbs and head tossed about by the hysterical mob. His trunk was hung from a balcony and chunks of its flesh were sliced off and thrown to the crowd below. The Prime Minister, Nuri al-Said, disguised himself as a woman and tried to escape, but he was caught and killed, and his body flung down on a busy street to be driven over, squashed and broken by the cars full of exulting motorists. His successor too was murdered after five years in power, and his body was fed to dogs.

In 1961, Syria revolted against Egypt’s domination and reasserted its independence. So the UAE was dissolved, and Yemen released. Hafez Assad became president of Syria in 1971. Under his dictatorship, and after him the dictatorship of his son Bashar Assad, rebellion has been put down with ruthless massacres.

Or not put down, as is the case now that civil war rages; or war waged by numerous militias and terrorist groups against the forces of the state. There is no reason to expect a peaceful or stable Syria to emerge out of the chaos, whether Great Powers intervene or not. The Syrians have no precedent for peace and stability in their young unhappy country. 

 

Jillian Becker  September 9, 2013

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