Latest Analysis & Commentary

What The "Two State Solution" Has to Do with the Rise of Islamic Extremism: Zero

by Khaled Abu Toameh  •  October 20, 2014 at 5:00 am

The "Arab Spring" did not erupt as a result of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Rather, it was the outcome of decades of tyranny and corruption in the Arab world. The Tunisians, Egyptians, Libyans and Yemenis who removed their dictators from power did not do so because of the lack of a "two-state solution." This is the last thing they had in mind.

The thousands of Muslims who are volunteering to join the Islamic State [IS] are not doing so because they are frustrated with the lack of progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

The only solution the Islamic State believes in is a Sunni Islamic Caliphate where the surviving non-Muslims who are not massacred would be subject to sharia law.

What Kerry perhaps does not know is that the Islamic State is not interested in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at all. Unlike Kerry, Sunni scholars fully understand that the Islamic State has more to do with Islam and terrorism than with any other conflict.

'Forget ISIS... let's talk more about a Palestinian state.' Above, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry greets U.S. Special Representative to Muslim Communities Shaarik Zafar during an Eid al-Adha reception on Oct. 16, 2014 at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. (Image source: State Dept.)

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's claim that the lack of a "two-state solution" has fueled the rise of the Islamic State [IS] terrorist group reinforces how clueless the U.S. Administration is about what is happening in the Arab and Islamic countries.

Speaking at a State Department ceremony marking the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, Kerry said that the resumption of peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians was vital in the fight against Islamic extremism, including Islamic State.

"There wasn't a leader I met with in the region who didn't raise with me spontaneously the need to try to get peace between Israel and the Palestinians, because it was a cause of recruitment and of street anger and agitation," Kerry said. "People need to understand the connection of that. And it has something to do with the humiliation and denial and absence of dignity."

The U.S. State Department later denied that Kerry had made the statement attributed to him.

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Will Mahmoud Abbas Reject Israeli Protection?

by Steven J. Rosen  •  October 20, 2014 at 4:00 am

Palestinian officials have generally been silent about security cooperation with Israel. They are loath to acknowledge how important it is for the survival of the Palestinian Authority [PA], and fear that critics, especially Hamas, will consider it "collaboration with the enemy."

"You smuggle weapons, explosives and cash to the West Bank, not for the fight with Israel, but for a coup against the Palestinian Authority. The Israeli intelligence chief visited me two weeks ago and told me about the [Hamas] group they arrested that was planning for a coup... We have a national unity government and you are thinking about a coup against me." — Mahmoud Abbas, PA President, to Khaled Mashaal, Hamas leader.

According to Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, if the IDF leaves the West Bank, Hamas will take over, and other terrorists groups such as the Islamic Jihad, Al-Qaeda and Islamic State would operate there.

In recent months, Abbas has been making a series of threats against Israel. If Abbas becomes another Arafat, it could be the Israeli side that loses interest in security cooperation.

Mahmoud Abbas (r) meets with the Hamas political bureau chief Khaled Mashaal in Qatar, July 20, 2014. (Image source: Handout from the Palestinian Authority President's Office/Thaer Ghanem)

Shortly after the death of Yasser Arafat on November 11, 2004, and the election of Mahmoud Abbas to the Palestinian Authority [PA] presidency in January 2005, the U.S. Department of State increased its security assistance to the PA and began to promote Palestinian security cooperation with the Israeli security services. The motive was not personal support for Abbas, but a belief that Fatah under Abbas could become a more reliable partner for maintaining order and keeping peaceful relations with Israel.

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Turkey's Love Affair with Hamas

by Burak Bekdil  •  October 19, 2014 at 5:00 am

It was the Islamists who, since they came to power in the 2000s, have reaped the biggest political gains from the "Palestine-fetish."

But the Turkish rhetoric on "solidarity" with our Palestinian brothers often seems askew to how solidarity should be.

Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (right) gives a warm welcome to Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, who travelled from Gaza to Turkey on an official visit in January 2012. (Image source: MEMRI)

"The Palestinian cause" is a unique charm that brings together Turks from different ideologies. Turkish Islamists view it as an indispensable part of "jihad;" the conservatives feel attached to it because it has a religious connotation; for the leftists it is part of an "anti-imperialist" struggle; the nationalists embrace it just because most Turks embrace it. In the 1970s, when a dozen Turks a day on average were killed in street violence, the "Palestinian cause" was the only issue that otherwise warring fractions of the Turkish left, right and Islamists could agree on.

But it was the Islamists who, in the 2000s, made the biggest gains from the concept. Since 2002, when they came to power, they have reaped enormous political gains from the "Palestine-fetish," to which they also love to be ideologically attached. For the Turks, it has been like abusing alcohol and wanting to have a healthier life. It still is.

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Maligning Malala

by Raheel Raza  •  October 19, 2014 at 4:00 am

One blogger writes that Malala hates Pakistan's military. I believe it is the other way around.

I would so like to see the day when Malala is welcomed back in Pakistan, with the whole country cheering.

Malala Yousafzai is awarded the Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought, by Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament, in Strasbourg on November 20, 2013. (Image source: Claude Truong-Ngoc/Wikimedia Commons)

Ever since Malala Yousafzai -- winner this month of the Nobel Peace Prize -- came on the scene in October 2012 in a shocking way, after being shot in the face by the Taliban at the age of 15, I have been watching the conspiracy theories unfold.

One of the highlights of The Girl Summit, hosted by Prime Minister David Cameron in the UK last July, was that Malala attended, along with her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai. As a fellow Pakistani, I congratulated him on Malala's successes and for being the model father that every girl would want to have. He said thank you but acknowledged, sadly, that in Pakistan there is a lot of hostility against them.

This did not come as a surprise. Not everyone is proud of Malala. Sadly, Pakistan has not fully celebrated its Nobel laureates, and conspiracy theories still abound.

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What China Sees in Hong Kong

by Francesco Sisci  •  October 18, 2014 at 5:00 am

Democratic evolution in China was being seriously considered. The failures of U.S. support for democracy in Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt and Libya gave new food for thought to those opposed to democracy. Lastly, the United States did not strongly oppose the anti-democratic coup d'état that overthrew a democratically elected government in Thailand.

On the other hand, Russia -- dominated by Vladimir Putin, a new autocrat determined to stifle democracy in Russia -- provided a new model.

The whole of Eastern Europe and most of Latin America, formerly in the clutches of dictatorships, are now efficient democracies. This seems to indicate that while democracy cannot be parachuted into a country, there is a broader, longer-term global trend toward democracy and that its growth depends on local conditions.

As economic development needed careful planning, political reforms need even greater planning. The question remains: is China preparing for these political reforms?

Protesters occupy Harcourt Road, Hong Kong on September 29, 2014, in front of Admiralty Centre and the Central Government Offices. (Image source: Wikimedia Commons)

The current difficult situation and predicament in Hong Kong is not just about what is happening now or has been happening for the past decade in the territory, but also calls into question the future and overall political direction of China.

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UK: Political Earthquake Next May?

by Peter Martino  •  October 18, 2014 at 4:00 am

The United Kingdom Independence Party [UKIP] not only managed to halve the Conservative vote, but also the Labour Vote and the Liberal Democrat vote.

UKIP stands for small government, low taxes, and preservation of Britain's identity and sovereignty, values that appeal to Conservative voters; and it wants to pull the United Kingdom out of the European Union. UKIP also stands for strong policies on law and order and immigration, which appeal to the traditional old Labour heartlands.

Strategically, to pick up Labour votes, UKIP would need to move to the left, but examples in France, Switzerland, Denmark and Geert Wilders's PVV in the Netherlands, show that it is possible to attract voters from both the left and the right.

Nigel Farage, leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party [UKIP] (Image source: Euro Realist Newsletter/Wikimedia Commons)

Last Thursday, the United Kingdom Independence Party [UKIP] won its first ever seat in the British House of Commons. For years, UKIP, led by the flamboyant Nigel Farage, has been a major party among the British contingent in the European Parliament, but winning a seat in the British national parliament had so far never succeeded.

UKIP stands for the preservation of Britain's identity and sovereignty. It wants to pull the United Kingdom out of the European Union and aims for tougher immigration policies. Last August, Douglas Carswell, Member of Parliament for Clacton in Essex (a prosperous county to the East of London) defected from the Conservative Party to UKIP. Carswell had been elected for the Conservatives in 2010 with a 53% majority – a 28% lead over Labour. After his defection, he gave up his seat, so that a by-election had to be held. On October 9, Carswell was re-elected on a UKIP ticket, with 60% of the vote and a 35% lead over the Conservatives.

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Iron Dome: "Rigged Success"?

by Peter Huessy  •  October 17, 2014 at 5:00 am

Critics of missile defense must have seen their whole multi-decade, multi-million dollar campaign to stop U.S. missile defenses in danger of crashing to the ground.

"All flight tests of the weapon have been rigged," William Broad, New York Times, June 9, 2000.

The success of Iron Dome apparently gave the lie to the repeated claims that missile defense tests are rigged; that missile defense systems cannot work; that they do not save lives, and that the threat of rocket attacks must be dealt with through appeasement and concessions.

A battery of the Iron Dome missile defense system. (Image source: IDF)

Imagine that hundreds of armed terrorists from ISIS are in a secure sanctuary in northern Mexico. For nearly two months in 2015, they launch 4479 rockets into the United States. Their targets are schools, hospitals, apartment buildings and day-care centers in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.

Then imagine that not a single person is killed from this terrorist rocket barrage (although mortar fire at one border crossing kills two Americans).

Why are so few Americans harmed? A missile-defense system along America's border with Mexico was able to shoot down over 90% of the incoming rockets that were engaged, while others could be ignored as they fell harmlessly into the southwestern American desert.

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"Boxed and Packaged Islam" Trying to Pass Itself Off as Mainstream Islam

by Raheel Raza  •  October 17, 2014 at 4:00 am

In one short interview, the two Muslim speakers had ensured that: a Zionist conspiracy is in place; ISIS is not really dangerous; the West is at war with Muslims, and the killing must continue; Muslims must not speak out on Western media about violence within the faith, and those who do are liars desperately seeking the limelight. So most Muslims stay silent.

This brand of boxed and packaged Islam, started by Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini, has been so cleverly marketed that most Muslims do not even know what hit them.

Then there are those have moved outside the box -- scholars, reformers and academics, who, like me, are considered heretics but are still part of the faith. We do not accept the branded, "boxed" version of Islam -- exported largely from Saudi Arabia on the wings of billions of petro-dollars in unobtrusive packaging -- that is trying to pass itself off as mainstream Islam.

The debate about "Moderate Muslims" has gone viral. From Bill Maher to Ali Rizvi in his Huffington Post article, it is trending.

As someone who used to call herself a moderate, I am now moving away from that terminology. One reason is a recent interview a cable TV talk show called Bilatakalluf.

On the program were two members of The North American Muslim Foundation (NAMF) -- Imam Shehryar and Farooq Khan -- and the discussion was about ISIS and being a Canadian Muslim. Below is a translation of some of the "quotable quotes":

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UK Votes Overwhelmingly for a Racist, Terrorist, Apartheid State

by Douglas Murray  •  October 16, 2014 at 5:00 am

The House of Commons is filled with people who would like to flaunt their anti-racist credentials… and show they are tough on terrorists. Yet here they were trying to will into existence a state which in the words of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, speaking last year, "would not see the presence of a single Israeli -- civilian or soldier -- on our lands." It is a pre-Mandela apartheid they are willing into existence.

"Our enterprise extends far beyond Palestine: Palestine in its entirety, the Arab Nation in its entirety, and the entire world." -- Mahmoud al-Zahar, speech, 2010. It is what the proxies and officials of al-Qaeda and Iran have said in European capitals for years and what they say every day.

All efforts to stop the mad rush to declare Palestine a state, without the Israel's agreement as assured under international law, are dismissed as "Israeli propaganda." The idea that sensible people can sensibly object is washed away.

The United Kingdom Parliament in London. (Image source: Wikimedia Commons)

On Monday night British Members of Parliament passed a motion by 274 to 12 saying, "That this House believes that the Government should recognize the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel as a contribution to securing a negotiated two-state solution." It comes only weeks after the Swedish Parliament passed a similar unilateral motion.

Before coming to the alarming parts of this, let me break the good news. The motion is non-binding, having been proposed not by the government but by backbench MPs. Secondly the coalition government officially made it a "matter of conscience" vote, though behind the scenes advised its own MPs to stay away and so abstain from the vote. Thirdly the UK government announced in advance of the vote that if the result of the vote was a passing of the motion then the UK government would not accept the vote as in any way binding.

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Turkey's Boomerang War in Syria

by Burak Bekdil  •  October 16, 2014 at 4:00 am

Bashar al-Assad's departure from power would illustrate to all countries in the world that that a regime unwanted by Turkey would not survive.

Both of Prime Minister Davutoglu's references to Muslim prayers seem to symbolize his strong, inner desire for "conquest:" the "conquest" of Jerusalem by the Palestinians, and the downfall of al-Assad and the establishment of a Sunni, pro-Turkey regime there.

The Turkish interior minister was right when he said that legitimate states have a right to use proportionate violence when they face violence. But he is wrong to think that this right can only be enjoyed by his own country.

Best friends no more. The Erdogans and al-Assads sharing a moment in better times.

At the end of 1998, Turkey threatened to take military action against President Hafez al-Assad's regime in Syria unless Damascus immediately stopped harboring Abdullah Ocalan, leader of the violent Kurdish separatist group, PKK. Al-Assad decided not to take the risk. And the Turks, in cooperation with the U.S., finally captured their public enemy No. #1 in Kenya, brought him to court and sentenced him to life. In a war-torn region, a war had been averted.

A decade or so later, the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (now president) and his foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu (now prime minister), declared al-Assad Jr., Bashar, and heir to the elder al-Assad's throne, their country's best regional ally.

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Germany: Holy War Erupts in Hamburg

by Soeren Kern  •  October 15, 2014 at 5:00 am

"We are living in Hamburgistan." — Daniel Abdin, imam of Hamburg's Al-Nour Mosque.

One politician has been repeatedly threatened with beheading as the price to pay for leading a fundraising campaign to provide food and water for Kurds in northern Iraq.

"As a society we must ask ourselves: how can it be that people who live in Germany and... born and raised here, are supporters of a brutal, inhuman and fundamentalist group such as the IS and attack peaceful protestors with knives, sticks and machetes. Here in Germany, the IS threatens to become a refuge for frustrated young people…." Claudia Roth, Vice-President, German Parliament.

"Under no circumstances should [politicians who receive death threats] give in and change their stance, otherwise the extremists will have achieved their objectives." — Wolfgang Bosbach, CDU official.

German police in riot gear, accompanied by armored vehicles and water cannons, charge into a street battle between Kurds and radical Islamists in Hamburg, Oct. 8, 2014. (Image source: N24 video screenshot)

Parts of downtown Hamburg, the second-largest city in Germany, resembled a war zone after hundreds of supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State [IS] engaged in bloody street clashes with ethnic Kurds.

The violence—which police say was as ferocious as anything seen in Germany in recent memory—is fuelling a sense of foreboding about the spillover effects of the fighting in Syria and Iraq.

Some analysts believe that rival Muslim groups in Germany are deliberately exploiting the ethnic and religious tensions in the Middle East to stir up trouble on the streets of Europe.

The unrest began on the evening of October 7, when around 400 Kurds gathered outside the Al-Nour mosque near the central train station in Hamburg's St. George district to protest against IS attacks on the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani.

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Support Allies, Not Terrorists

by Shoshana Bryen  •  October 15, 2014 at 4:00 am

Kerry's international party should be trying to aid the Kurds, our friends and the mortal enemy of ISIS, instead of trying to lavish more international funds on Hamas and Fatah -- two sides of a movement dedicated to destruction.

Can anyone spare some change for the Kurds of Syria? Above, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (front row, 5th from left) in a group photo at the Gaza Donors Conference in Cairo, Oct. 12, 2014. (Image source: U.S. State Department)

For the moment and against the odds, Kobani stands. Kurdish men and women, abandoned by the United States and watched but not aided by Turkey, hold the line against the sweep of ISIS across Iraq and Syria; one little point of heroism that may be gone by the time you read this. ISIS, on the other hand -- well-financed, armed, vicious, and fighting on toward Baghdad -- will assuredly not be gone.

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How the Donors Saved Hamas

by Khaled Abu Toameh  •  October 14, 2014 at 5:00 am

Rebuilding or repairing infrastructure in the Gaza Strip is the best thing that could have happened to Hamas. Hamas knows that every dollar invested in the Gaza Strip will serve the interests of the Islamist movement. The promised funds absolve Hamas of all responsibility for the catastrophe it brought upon the Palestinians during the confrontation with Israel.

Hamas will now use its own resources to smuggle in additional weapons and prepare for the next war with Israel. Hamas can now go back to digging new tunnels and obtaining new weapons instead of assisting the Palestinians whose homes were destroyed as a result of its actions.

The biggest mistake the donor states made was failing to demand the disarmament of Hamas as a precondition for funneling aid to the Gaza Strip. Hopes that the catastrophic results of the confrontation would increase pressure on Hamas, or perhaps trigger a revolt against it, have faded.

Who decides whose aid money is used for terror tunnels and weapons, and whose aid money towards humanitarian aid? Above, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry shakes hands with Qatari Foreign Minister Khalid bin Mohammad al-Attiyah at the Gaza Donors Conference in Cairo, Oct. 12, 2014. (Image source: U.S. State Department)

It would be naïve to think that Hamas would not benefit from the billions of dollars that have just been promised to help with the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, during a donor conference in Cairo.

The Palestinians were hoping for $4 billion, but the donor states pledged $5.4 billion, half of which will be "dedicated" to the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, according to Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende.

It is not yet clear how the second half will be spent.

Qatar, a longtime supporter and funder of Hamas, promised $1 billion, while US Secretary of State John Kerry announced immediate American aid of $212 million. The European Union, for its part, pledged $568 million.

Donor states said they would funnel the aid only through the Palestinian Authority [PA]. But this does not mean that Hamas, which continues to maintain a tight grip on the Gaza Strip, would fail to benefit from the financial aid.

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Turkey: Jihad-Lite

by Burak Bekdil  •  October 14, 2014 at 4:00 am

Turkish and U.S. officials are now planning to push the "moderates" onto the battlefield. The "moderates" -- Islamists featuring lighter shades of jihad -- will be trained at a military base in Turkey to specialize in bombing, subversion and ambush, paid for by U.S. taxpayers, and expected to fight Islamists featuring darker shades of jihad.

The "moderates" are a potential threat to Western security interests. They are potential allies of Turkey's Islamists.

If Turkey had not funded and armed ISIS in the hope that it would bring Assad's downfall, none of this would have happened.

Turkey's Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu seems unsure which is worse, the radical Islamists of ISIS or Syria's President Bashar Assad. (Image source: Agencia Brasil)

In November 2013, Iran's ambassador to Ankara, Alireza Bigdeli, said: "Just as Imam Khomeini did it in Iran, the Justice and Development Party [AKP] have paved the way for the advancement of Islam in Turkey."

Nearly a year later, the AKP's new leader (and Turkey's Prime Minister) Ahmet Davutoglu rephrased the Iranian diplomat's "praise" for Turkey's Islamists: "We have made the conservative, pious (Muslim) masses not a just a part, but the main actor, in the political system."

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U.S., Canada's RCMP Team Up with Islamists

by Christine Williams  •  October 13, 2014 at 5:00 am

The handbook, endorsed last week by the U.S. State Department, is an alarming joint venture between the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the National Council of Canadian Muslims, which has connections to terrorism.

The handbook recommends discontinuing the use of the words "jihad" and "terrorism," and balks at the use of the word "moderate" to describe Muslims.

Counter-terrorism specialist and lawyer David Harris testified that "there are many individuals and groups who masquerade" as moderates, who are really "faux-moderates."

"[T]heir [Muslims'] work in America is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and 'sabotaging' its miserable house by their hands… so that God's religion [Islam] is made victorious over all other religions." — Mohamed Akram, Muslim Brotherhood operative.

Racism and labeling are indeed social ills, but a different issue altogether. They are not to be used to hide the face of Islamism, terrorism and jihad under a veil of trying to marginalize or silence whoever points them out as "racists" or "Islamophobes" -- even as violent jihadi terrorism rampages throughout the world.

Images from the cover of "United Against Terrorism".

A handbook entitled United Against Terrorism, supposedly aimed at preventing youth radicalization, was endorsed last week by the U.S. Department of State, according to a report by Andrew McCarthy in National Review Online.

The handbook, however, released at a mosque in Winnipeg (Manitoba), Canada, is an alarming joint venture between the Royal Canadian Mounted Police [RCMP] and the National Council of Canadian Muslims [NCCM], formerly CAIR-CAN -- now conveniently renamed -- which has connections to terrorism.

CAIR-CAN is the Canadian branch of CAIR [Council on American–Islamic Relations], which was designated an "unindicted co-conspirator" in the largest terrorist financing trial in U.S. history -- the Holy Land Foundation trial.

The handbook has already caused dissension among the RCMP, which now is backing away from it, due to its "adversarial tone" -- and also possibly the embarrassing fallout.

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