Latest Analysis and Commentary

China's Vast New Nuclear Build-Up
When "China is 'Untouchable' in Terms of Military Power"

by Judith Bergman  •  September 21, 2021 at 5:00 am

  • "China's explosive growth and modernization of its nuclear and conventional forces can only be what I describe as breathtaking. Frankly, that word, breathtaking, may not be enough." — Admiral Charles Richard, Commander of US Strategic Command, Space and Missile Defense Symposium, August 12, 2021.

  • "There's been a lot of speculation out there as to why they are doing all of this. I just want to say right now, it really doesn't matter why... What matters is they are building the capability to execute any plausible nuclear employment strategy — the last brick in the wall of a military capable of coercion." — Admiral Charles Richard, August 12, 2021.

  • While China's official nuclear policy is that of "minimum deterrence" and a "no-first-use policy", there is no reason why the international community should trust such officially communicated doctrines. China continues to strengthen its military space capabilities, despite its public stance against the weaponization of space. China is widely known for breaking its pledges, as evidenced by, among other things, its militarization of artificial islands in the South China Sea, or its crackdown on Hong Kong in contravention of the UN registered treaty on the territory.

  • "Americans should know as clearly as the Chinese do about what level of nuclear power China really needs to build. It would be a nuclear force strong enough to make the US -- from the military to the government – fear...." — Asia Times, quoting Global Times, May 11, 2020.

  • "Their [CCP's] actions have long belied a posture more aggressive than their official policy — you've got to look at what they do, not what they say." — Admiral Charles Richard, August 12, 2021.

China is significantly increasing its nuclear weapons capabilities. The nuclear buildup must be seen in the context of the Chinese Communist Party's ambition to have, in President Xi Jinping's own words, "a world class military", as well as its ambition to achieve global domination. Pictured: DF-41 nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missiles at a military parade in Beijing on October 1, 2019. (Photo by Greg Baker/AFP via Getty Images)

China is significantly increasing its nuclear weapons capabilities. Several recent reports show that China is constructing 120 missile silos for intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) near Yumen in Gansu, up to 110 silos near Hami in the eastern part of the Xinjian region and up to 40 silos in Ordos in Inner Mongolia. ICBMs are defined as missiles with a minimum range of 5,500 kilometers, and primarily designed for nuclear weapons delivery.

"The silo construction at Yumen and Hami constitutes the most significant expansion of the Chinese nuclear arsenal ever," according to Matt Korda and Hans Kristensen, in a report on the Hami field for the Federation of American Scientists. "All told... discoveries indicate that China might be constructing nearly 300 new missile silos," they wrote in September.

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Why Arabs No Longer Trust the Muslim Brotherhood

by Khaled Abu Toameh  •  September 20, 2021 at 5:00 am

  • The people of Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and Sudan, who gave the Muslim Brotherhood a chance to rule, discovered that the organization is as corrupt and incompetent as the secular Arab regimes and heads of state.

  • As with the Islamists in Tunisia, many Arabs are now also celebrating the downfall of the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated party in Morocco.

  • [O]ne of the main reasons for the downfall of the Muslim Brotherhood is related to the ideological component of the organization's groups, including lack of separation between religion and politics, their alleged monopoly over the absolute truth, and their claim to represent the true Islam. — Amr Al-Shobaki, a researcher at the Egyptian Al-Ahram Center for Studies, Al-Hurra TV, September 12, 2021.

  • Al-Shoqiran continued: "After a decade of the rule of the Islamists in Tunisia and Morocco, the Muslim Brotherhood only contributed to the spread of corruption, disregard for the state and its institutions, and the theft of people's lives and money." — Ashraq Al-Awsat, September 16, 2021.

  • "[T]he Muslim Brotherhood parties.... rule without providing those they govern with any services other than illusory victories and corruption." — Hafez Barghouti, Palestinian columnist and editor, Al-Khaleej, September 17, 2021

  • Tunisia got rid of the Islamists because they destroyed the economy and "stole the people's money." In Morocco...the Muslim Brotherhood was in power for many years, plunging the country into an economic and social crisis. — Hafez Barghouti, September 17, 2021

  • "The great fall of the Muslim Brotherhood, politically and intellectually, began in Egypt, then Sudan followed Tunisia and finally Morocco. Due to their spectacular failure in those countries, they are expected to fall also in Libya during the upcoming legislative and presidential elections." — Mounir Adib, Egyptian expert on Islamic movements and international terrorism, Elbalad, September 10, 2021.

  • The question, therefore, remains: Will Western apologists for Islamists also wake up to this fact and cease dealing with them as though they are good guys who seek to improve the living conditions of Arabs and Muslims?

The people of Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and Sudan, who gave the Muslim Brotherhood a chance to rule, discovered that the organization is as corrupt and incompetent as the secular Arab regimes and heads of state. This month, Morocco's governing Islamist Development and Justice Party suffered a crushing defeat in parliamentary elections. Pictured: A woman casts her ballot during Morocco's elections, in Rabat on September 8, 2021. (Photo by Fadel Senna/AFP via Getty Images)

Since its establishment in 1928, the Muslim Brotherhood's main motto has been "Islam is the solution" (to all problems). The organization's followers have used this slogan over the past decade to rise to power in a number of countries, including Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and Sudan.

The past few weeks, however, have shown that many Arabs and Muslims no longer believe in the Muslim Brotherhood's ability to govern or in the claim that "Islam is the solution."

As Moroccan writer Saeed Nashed said, "The Muslim Brotherhood took Morocco into a decade of darkness."

The people of Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and Sudan, who gave the Muslim Brotherhood a chance to rule, discovered that the organization is as corrupt and incompetent as the secular Arab regimes and heads of state.

In the past two months, the Muslim Brotherhood suffered two major setbacks, first in Tunisia, and more recently, in Morocco.

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A Hinge Moment of History

by Mark Steyn  •  September 19, 2021 at 5:00 am

  • I have lived in countries that have real domestic terrorism movements.... No country blessed enough not to have a domestic terrorism movement should be inventing one.

  • We are living in a blizzard of lies.

  • [W]e are more dependent on a handful of woke billionaires to tell us what reality is. They are far more open than ever that they get to determine what are the agreed facts. Google made an explicit announcement about this recently. They said that sometimes they would put warnings on things that are factually accurate because, even though they are true, they do not think it is in society's interest for people to be seeing it.

  • [N]ow you will be banned or deleted or blocked or silenced simply for disagreeing with the official version of events. For example, the Great Barrington declaration, which was written by three of the most prominent epidemiologists in the world from Harvard, Oxford, and I think it was Stanford. That was basically deleted from YouTube, banned from Facebook, simply because it contradicted the WHO, CDC official version of events.

  • It is just groupthink enforced by a cabal of woke billionaires, who have more power than anyone else on the planet.

  • The other thing that emerged during this year very quickly is that we are at a hinge moment of history. We were told a generation or two back that, by doing trade with China, China would become more like us. Instead, on issues such as free speech, we are becoming more like China.

  • American companies are afraid of offending China. American officials are afraid of offending China. We are adopting Chinese norms on issues such as free speech and basic disagreements with the government of China.

  • We're living in the early stages of a future that is the direct consequence of poor public policy over the last couple of generations. We are not even aware of that....

  • Right now, we are witnessing a non‑stop continuous transfer of power to a country that is serious about using that power. This is China's moment. Take it as someone who grew up, in large part, in a great power in decline. There's no real explicit handover day. People, in hindsight, expect to pinpoint the day that the baton was passed.... My great worry is that actually, the transfer to China has already happened. The baton has already been passed. We just haven't formally acknowledged that yet.

  • I'll say it straight out loud. I do not think that Joe Biden "won the election." I don't think it is a question of "widespread fraud." I think the way the system works with the Electoral College, you only need actually to spread fraud in six key cities in six key states.

  • I would like some of these genius jurists, including [US Supreme Court Chief Justice] Mr. Roberts and his colleagues, to then give us a figure on what is the acceptable level of fraud in American elections. Denmark, in its history, has never actually had a plausible accusation of any kind of electoral fraud. As we know, in the United States, in cities like Philadelphia, this is a tradition that has long roots and goes back 150 years.

  • If you have no basic election integrity, essentially, all the other issues are irrelevant.

  • Big Tech has essentially wrecked the internet.

  • Now Facebook is working with state power. The first place these Big Tech guys learned to do this was with China.... I'm in favor of breaking these companies up as soon as we can.

  • Standard Oil was broken up because of its control over the oil business. Facebook and Google and Apple have far more control over their business than Standard Oil did 110 years ago. The difference is that their business is knowledge and the access to knowledge, which is more important even than oil.

  • At some point, if we're not prepared to stand up... My whole thing, in all the years, is that Western civilization is sliding off a cliff and most citizens of most Western nations are not even aware of it.

  • There is a moral component that we are overlooking. We live in an insane world where moral narcissism attaches to whether or not you rampage around some statue of a Confederate general who died 150 years ago. The fact that you're rampaging around the Confederate general while wearing shoes made by child labor somehow does not impact on your moral virtue at all.

  • We are the civilization that built the modern world. If you do not like us, we can go back to what it was 500 years ago. Basically, the world functions because of the world we built.

  • I take Iran seriously. Not so much because of the Iranians, but because of the promises and the expectations in places like Sudan that Iranian nuclear technology will basically be shared with some of the most lethal basket-case states on Earth. Iran is in some sense like Russia and China. These are all, in a certain sense, great civilizations that have become perversions of themselves in a relatively short time.

  • What we ought to be trying to do is connect the Iranian people with their great glorious past, which actually is a platform on which you can build a future.

Mark Steyn. (Image source: Mark Blevis/Flickr)

It was certainly the weirdest year. It began with a supremely weird decision by the entire world, except China and Sweden, to tank the global economy.

No one has ever done that before. The only major economic power to grow last year was China whose GDP is up by, I think, about 2.5 percent compared to declines everywhere else, including some actually catastrophic ones, such as 11% in the UK.

This decision to tank the entire global economy is something that strengthened China, the creator of the virus, and the exporter of the virus, and weakened any opposition to China -- and that is how they began.

This first year of the new weirdness ended with the United States government pretending that its principal threat is a domestic terrorism movement that does not exist.

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War on Terror: Not a Bad Record

by Amir Taheri  •  September 19, 2021 at 4:00 am

  • According to the Global Index of Terrorism, more than 57% of terrorism in the first 15 years of the Global War on Terror happened in four countries: Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria. In Syria, since 2011, most of the deaths in that category were the work of state terrorism.

  • Most of the active terror groups are located in what is known as ungoverned territories. These include Syria, part of Iraq beyond the control of Baghdad, the Sahel region, parts of Horn of Africa and parts of Yemen.

  • The last terror attacks by Hezbollah in Western Europe and the seizing of Western hostages took place in the 1980s. Even occasional action taken against Israel comes at the behest of Tehran in the form of state-sponsored terrorism.

  • The crushing defeats suffered by Islamist parties, most recently in Morocco, indicate the end of an era in which reference to faith could justify the worst postures.

Has the war on international terrorism been lost? Have the US and its allies dropped out of the war on terror that they declared two decades ago? These are some of the questions raised by commentators across the globe last week as the US marked the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Pictured: Newspapers announcing the killing of al Qaeda terrorist chief Osama bin Laden at a newsstand outside the World Trade Center site May 2, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Has the war on international terrorism been lost? Have the US and its allies dropped out of the war on terror that they declared two decades ago? These are some of the questions raised by commentators across the globe last week as the US marked the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Many commentators answered both questions in the affirmative.

Yes, they said, terror groups are still operating in no fewer than 20 countries, while start-up terror outfits have been able to carry out attacks in a number of Western countries, including the United States. At the same time, the US has reduced its footprint in a number of countries that continue to shelter terrorist groups.

In some cases, the "yes" answer came from professional America-bashers who miss no opportunity to portray the "Great Satan" either as an earth-devouring monster or a wet mouse looking for shelter from a hailstorm of unpopularity.

A closer look, however, may offer a different picture.

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Biden's Afghanistan Mistakes

by Peter Schweizer  •  September 18, 2021 at 5:00 am

  • Trump's Doha Agreement only bound the United States to a "complete withdrawal of all remaining forces" with the "commitment and action" of the Taliban on its obligations as laid out in the accord. Those terms bound the Taliban not to "allow any of its members, other individuals or groups, including al-Qaeda, to use the soil of Afghanistan to threaten the security of the United States and its allies," as well as "not to cooperate with groups or individuals threatening the security of the United States and its allies," and to "prevent any group or individual in Afghanistan from threatening the security of the United States and its allies."

  • Even prior to the final assaults on Kabul and the suicide bombings at Hamid Karzai International Airport, it was clear the Taliban was neck-deep in a proxy relationship with al-Qaeda via its relationship with the Haqqani network. Once again, the information that should have led to a pause and a hard-nosed assessment of how to complete the withdrawal in an orderly, safe way was ignored to meet a political deadline.

  • Instead, the Afghan men who helped the U.S., the women who breathed freedom for the first time, the military veterans from the U.S. and its allies who fought and died there all feel a sense of abandonment and frustration at this endgame incompetence. Those in the government who continue to hunt terrorist jihadis have lost their sources, bases of operation, and ability to quick-strike military targets that a resurgent al-Qaeda will now present there.

The details of the Biden administration's inner planning prior to the pullout from Afghanistan are beginning to emerge, and they are not comforting. "Failure is an orphan," as the old saying goes, but a paternity test is in order to explain a failed effort that will haunt the administration for years to come. Pictured: President Joe Biden (L) meets with his national security team on August 22, 2021 at the White House -- Secretary of State Antony Blinken (R), Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin (3rd L), Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley (4th L), National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan (2nd L), DNI Avril Haines and CIA Director William J. Burns. (Photo by the White House via Getty Images)

The details of the Biden administration's inner planning prior to the pullout from Afghanistan are beginning to emerge, and they are not comforting. "Failure is an orphan," as the old saying goes, but a paternity test is in order to explain a failed effort that will haunt the administration for years to come.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, appearing before congressional panel recently, tried to defend the rationale for the hasty withdrawal, claiming, "We made the right decision in ending America's longest war." This, of course, dodges the question of how the withdrawal was conducted.

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Biden Administration Blocks Rescue of Persecuted Christians from Afghanistan

by Raymond Ibrahim  •  September 17, 2021 at 5:00 am

  • "The State Department has blocked us every step of the way. The State Department and the White House have been the biggest problem.  Everyone else, everyone else, has been working together, putting aside differences and trying to get these people to safety. The State Department and the White House have blocked us every single step of the way. In fact, an ambassador was called in Macedonia last night and told not to accept any of these people... We have to send people into even greater danger to try to smuggle these Christians out, who are marked not just for death, but to be set on fire alive because they're converted Christians."   — Glenn Beck, Tucker Carlson Tonight, August 26, 2021.

  • Although nearly 80 percent of all persecution Christians experience around the globe is committed in the Islamic world, Afghanistan is actually the worst of all Muslim nations.

  • According to the World Watch List, which ranks the 50 nations in which Christians are most persecuted for their faith, Afghanistan is the second-worst nation in the world, followed on the heels of the worst nation, North Korea.... That report was published nine months ago — when a U.S.-supported government ran Afghanistan. Since then, matters have only significantly worsened for Christians....

  • Even worse, because U.S. and Western leadership are careful not to show any interest in Christian minorities — a sentiment that goes hand in hand with Western acquiescence to "Islamic sensibilities" — they are more prone to turn a blind eye to the persecution of Christians than even some Muslim governments.

While preventing Christian victims of Islamic terror from escape or entry into the US, the Biden administration is possibly granting refugee status to countless, inadequately vetted male Muslims from Afghanistan — not a few of whom may share in the same worldview as ISIS and the Taliban. Pictured: Afghans, hoping to leave Afghanistan, line up at the main entrance gate of Kabul airport on August 28, 2021. (Photo by Wakil Kohsar/AFP via Getty Images)

The Biden administration is preventing the rescue of persecuted Christian minorities from the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, where they face certain and likely gruesome death.

This information surfaced on August 26, during an interview between Glenn Beck and Tucker Carlson on Fox News. Through his charity, the Nazarene Fund, Beck had chartered planes to airlift 5,100 Christians out of Afghanistan and into neighboring nations. Before long, however, U.S. officials intervened and prevented the escape of a group of 500 Christians, mostly women and children, who were ordered outside of Kabul airport's protected area: "I have pictures of them pleading to get back through the gate," Beck continued:

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UK: Record Number of Migrants Crossing English Channel

by Soeren Kern  •  September 16, 2021 at 5:00 am

  • More than 14,500 migrants have crossed the Channel in around 600 small boats so far in 2021, surpassing the 8,713 arrivals (in 650 boats) during all of 2020, according to Migration Watch, which notes that the actual number of arrivals is probably far higher than what has been recorded in official statistics. Since the beginning of 2021, not a single migrant has been deported to the safe European countries they traveled through.

  • "The incentives are skewed so that they encourage, rather than discourage, illegal (and dangerous) trips that often lead to asylum abuse." — Migration Watch UK.

  • "They want to go to England because they can expect better conditions on arrival there than anywhere else in Europe or even internationally. There are no ID cards. They can easily find work outside the formal economy, which is not really controlled." — Mayor of Calais Natacha Bouchart.

  • "Both traffickers and migrants know that 'no civilized country can allow people to drown at sea'; this is why people get on overcrowded vessels. 'And this is why Britain is about to be plunged into a similar crisis to the one Italy faced three years ago, albeit on a reduced scale.'" — British news magazine, The Week, quoting James Forsyth in The Times.

  • "Instead of the United Kingdom being able to choose the children and families most in need, illegal immigration instead allows those who pay people smugglers, or who are strong, to push their way to the front of the queue.... Our legal system needs reform. It is open to abuse." — Immigration Control Minister Chris Philip.

  • "First it was a few, then hundreds, and now 1,000 in a day, the French just waving them through with a cheery 'Bon Voyage.' If the French won't stop the small boats then we need to by turning them back, making returns and taking firm control of our borders." — Natalie Elphicke, Conservative MP for Dover.

The British government is struggling to stop illegal migrants attempting to cross the English Channel on small boats — partly because of its need for cooperation from France. British authorities have repeatedly accused their French counterparts of not doing enough to stop small boats from leaving French territorial waters. Pictured: Illegal migrants walk ashore on the beach at Dungeness, England on September 7, 2021. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Nearly a thousand migrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East have attempted to cross the English Channel on small boats in just one day to illegally get into the United Kingdom. The record-breaking surge in illegal crossings is being facilitated by warm weather and calm seas.

The British government is struggling to stop the crossings — partly because of its need for cooperation from France. British authorities have repeatedly accused their French counterparts of not doing enough to stop small boats from leaving French territorial waters.

Although the UK has pledged to pay France tens of millions of pounds to stop migrants crossing the Channel, French naval vessels are accused of escorting small boats into British waters.

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China's Belt and Road Initiative: Bad News for Human Rights

by Judith Bergman  •  September 16, 2021 at 4:00 am

  • Findings about BRI's negative impact on human rights in Cambodia and Guinea raise the much wider issue of how China's Belt and Road Initiative affects human rights worldwide. According to the Council on Foreign Relations, around 139 countries -- more than half the countries in the world -- have now joined BRI.

  • China has also invested in multiple large-scale BRI projects in Iran, which has reportedly been leasing out its territorial waters in the Persian Gulf to Chinese industrial ships for more than a decade. This arrangement has led to a situation... where Chinese fishing vessels are "illegally cleaning out fish resources in the Persian Gulf" while "Iranian fishermen are forced to pay ten thousand dollars in bribes to Somalian pirates to let them fish on the African shores".

  • Such a compromise of locals' food-and-income security is a measure of China's influence in the country -- and a practice coupled with the Iranian government's disregard for the living conditions of its own citizens. Scant regard for human rights is presumably also one of the reasons why China prefers to deal with autocratic regimes.

A new report has found that one of China's Belt and Road Initiative projects in Cambodia -- a hydroelectric dam known as the Lower Sesan 2, completed in 2018 -- resulted in severe human rights violations. The project displaced nearly 5,000 mainly indigenous people and ethnic minorities. Pictured: The Lower Sesan 2 dam. (Photo by Ly Lay/AFP via Getty Images)

A new report, "Underwater: Human Rights Impacts of a China Belt and Road Project in Cambodia," has found that one of China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects in Cambodia -- a hydroelectric dam known as the Lower Sesan 2, completed in 2018 -- resulted in severe human rights violations. The project displaced nearly 5,000 mainly indigenous people and ethnic minorities, who had lived in villages along the Sesan and Srepok Rivers for generations, earning a living from fishing and agriculture. The project, the report estimates, negatively affected the lives of tens of thousands of other locals, who depend on fishing in the rivers for food and income. The project compromised locals' food security, and their losses were either inadequately compensated or not compensated at all. The Lower Sesan 2 is just one out of seven BRI hydroelectric projects in Cambodia.

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Why Arabs Do Not Trust the Biden Administration

by Khaled Abu Toameh  •  September 15, 2021 at 5:00 am

  • The main concern for the Arabs is that the "humiliating" manner in which the US ended its presence in Afghanistan has sent a message to Iran and its proxies -- Hamas, Hezbollah and the Houthis -- that the Americans are not only weak, but that they cannot be trusted to support or defend their allies.

  • The Iran-backed Houthis appear to be be telling themselves: If the US is so weak and has no problem betraying its allies and friends, perhaps this is the right time to step up the attacks on Saudi Arabia.

  • The past few days have witnessed a significant escalation in the attacks of the Houthi militia in Yemen against civilian areas in Saudi Arabia.

  • [T]he Biden administration had already sent another message to Iran and its proxies when it removed the Houthi militia from the list of terrorist organizations.

  • "[T]here is no indication that the Houthis will stop their aggressive policy aimed at imposing a fait accompli [Iranian control] on the Arab Peninsula," which includes Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen, as well as the southern portions of Iraq and Jordan." — Kheirallah Kheirallah, veteran Lebanese journalist and political analyst, Al-Araby.co.uk, September 3, 2021.

  • "Iran... is working to perpetuate a reality in Yemen that resembles the reality of Hamas's control of the Gaza Strip since 2007." — Kheirallah Kheirallah, Al-Araby.co.uk, September 3, 2021.

  • Yemeni journalist Zakaria Al-Kamali expressed fear of what he called "the Afghanization of Yemen." — Al-Araby.co.uk, September 7, 2021.

  • What the Arabs find most disturbing is that the Biden administration has failed to take a tough stance against the increased Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia. So far, the Biden administration has responded to the attacks by issuing laconic statements describing the drone and missile attacks on civilian targets in Saudi Arabia as "unacceptable."

  • Iran... is leveraging the weakness and confusion in the Biden administration to extend its control more widely.

The main concern for the Arabs is that the "humiliating" manner in which the US ended its presence in Afghanistan has sent a message to Iran and its proxies -- Hamas, Hezbollah and the Houthis -- that the Americans are not only weak, but that they cannot be trusted to support or defend their allies. Pictured: Shrapnel-riddled glass at Saudi Arabia's Abha Airport, damaged in a drone attack launched by the Houthis from Yemen, which wounded eight people on August 31, 2021. (Photo by Fayez Nureldine/AFP via Getty Images)

Is there a connection between the hasty and disorganized US withdrawal from Afghanistan and the increased attacks on Saudi Arabia by the Iranian-backed Houthi militia in Yemen?

Many Arabs political analysts and writers are convinced that the Biden administration's flawed handling of the crisis in Afghanistan, which resulted in the Taliban takeover of the whole country, has emboldened various extremist Islamic groups, including the Houthis, who are now threatening Washington's Arab friends and allies.

The Houthis have been fighting the Saudi-led coalition-backed government in Yemen since 2015.

The main concern for the Arabs is that the "humiliating" manner in which the US ended its presence in Afghanistan has sent a message to Iran and its proxies -- Hamas, Hezbollah and the Houthis -- that the Americans are not only weak, but that they cannot be trusted to support or defend their allies.

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Surrendering Afghanistan to the Taliban: Who Is Managing Biden?

by Chris Farrell and Shea Bradley-Farrell  •  September 15, 2021 at 4:00 am

  • As we bear the humiliation of Biden's surrender, remember: the United States has the power to affect whatever it wishes.... It is only a question of political will. Deadlines, such as the artificial August 31st withdrawal from Afghanistan, mean absolutely nothing if we do not wish it.

  • The US could financially squeeze Pakistan -- the country that has harbored and funded the Taliban for two decades -- and change the entire operating environment in Afghanistan. Overnight, the circumstances could have be reversed 180 degrees at 100 mph -- yet, for this administration, it seemed not "desirable."

  • Nothing was "missed." .... Similar deceit and double-talk have surrounded Biden's crisis and national security disaster at our southern border.

  • Are we to expect to be lied to, placated, deceived, or misdirected by our administration?

  • WWII was predicated on an unconditional "war guarantee" by France and Britain to defend Poland, should any country attack Poland.... At the end of WWII, who got Poland as a war prize? Stalin. Thanks, FDR. Twenty years of combat following the Taliban/al Qaeda attacks of 9/11, and to whom does Biden surrender Afghanistan? The Taliban. Thanks, Joe.

We have witnessed the collapse of U.S, political and moral will to continue in Afghanistan and pretty much anywhere else in the world. As we bear the humiliation of President Joe Biden's surrender, remember: the United States has the power to affect whatever it wishes.... It is only a question of political will. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

"America is back!" President Joe Biden declared, in February 2021.

If so, what happened?

The last eight months have been a rolling U.S. disaster domestically and internationally. We have witnessed the collapse of U.S, political and moral will to continue in Afghanistan and pretty much anywhere else in the world. Given the daily headlines of the last two weeks, what is the Biden administration's message for Israel, Taiwan, Ukraine, and South Korea? Not to mention, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Mexico?

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Giving the Taliban International Legitimacy Would Be a Disastrous Mistake

by Con Coughlin  •  September 14, 2021 at 5:00 am

  • European plans to forge closer ties with Kabul are, though, being severely undermined by the conduct of the new Taliban regime which, rather than living up to its promise to mend its ways, instead appears to be reverting to its old, uncompromising approach.

  • Recent reports claim that at least four elite Afghan counterterrorism agents have been hunted down and killed by the Taliban during the past three weeks, in one case pulling out all the victim's fingernails before shooting him.

  • "We have to stop pretending that the Taliban have changed," warned Mr McMaster . "Our self-delusion has led many to embrace an Orwellian reversal of morality in which they view jihadist terrorists as a partner.... The Taliban are determined to impose a brutal form of sharia on the Afghan people and are intertwined with terrorists determined to continue their jihad..." — HR McMaster, former US National Security Advisor, The Sunday Times, September 12, 2021.

Naïve attempts by a number of leading Western powers to foster relations with the newly-installed Taliban regime in Kabul are being undermined by the uncompromising attitude the new Islamist regime. Pictured: Taliban gunmen organize a pro-Taliban demonstration by burqa-clad women, aimed at improving the regime's image in the foreign media, in Kabul on September 11, 2021. (Photo by Aamir Qureshi/AFP via Getty Images)

Naïve attempts by a number of leading Western powers to foster relations with the newly-installed Taliban regime in Kabul are being undermined by the uncompromising attitude the new Islamist regime.

Following the Taliban's dramatic seizure of control of Afghanistan last month, a number of prominent Western leaders have indicated their willingness to work with the new Afghan regime, following claims by some Taliban leaders that they want to establish a more moderate form of government than the former Taliban regime that terrorised the country in the late 1990s.

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What Should the World Expect of Gifting Afghanistan to Fundamentalists?

by Hamid Bahrami  •  September 13, 2021 at 5:00 am

  • The Taliban, by trying to introduce themselves as "moderate," also appear to be playing "good cop, bad cop" regarding Islamic State Khorasan Province (IS-K), presumably to get international support and recognition. The West should be skeptical. As long as the Taliban and other terror groups, whether Shi'ite or Sunni, have not changed ideologically, they will remain a significant threat to the US and the Free World.

  • Although the Taliban pledged to protect future US economic interests on Afghan soil by vowing that it would not allow other groups to form and organize terrorist attacks against the US and its allies, this promise will probably last only as long as the US keeps complying with the Taliban's blackmail demands regarding the US hostages and co-workers Biden abandoned.

  • The newly formed government consists of acting interior minister, Sirajuddin Haqqani, who has a $10 million bounty on his head , is on the FBI's Most Wanted List, and whose family are longtime supporters of al-Qaeda; and four of the senior commanders are terrorists whom former President Barack Obama released from Guantanamo Bay in exchange for US Army deserter Bowe Bergdahl.

  • Reports have also begun questioning if Biden's surrender of Afghanistan with not a trace of resistance – including the great Bagram airbase and nearly as much military aid as the US has provided to Israel since 1948 -- might have been deliberate in view of China's "investment" of $1.5 billion in Biden's son, Hunter, when Biden was vice-president, as well as for possible future returns.

  • A few key questions remain unanswered: Has America, in seeking coordination with a terror group against which it fought for years, ended its own supremacy? Is America about to cap the horror by officially recognizing a state run by known terrorists, armed to the teeth with America's finest military equipment, and who seem to have every intention of establishing a terrorist state?

  • Another question is the geostrategic factor, if any, of the West's position in the future of Afghanistan, Central Asia and the Free World?

  • So far, the main losers in Afghanistan disaster, apart from the US and the Free World, are the people of Afghanistan, especially those who helped the US and found themselves betrayed, and the women who for 20 years, thanks to the US and its allies, had for the first time known freedom.

The Taliban, by trying to introduce themselves as "moderate," also appear to be playing "good cop, bad cop" regarding Islamic State Khorasan Province (IS-K), presumably to get international support and recognition. The West should be skeptical. As long as the Taliban and other terror groups, whether Shi'ite or Sunni, have not changed ideologically, they will remain a significant threat to the US and the Free World. Pictured: Taliban gunmen patrol a road Kabul, Afghanistan on September 9, 2021. (Photo by Wakil Kohsar/AFP via Getty Images)

The team that assisted former President Barack Obama to destabilize the Middle East in Syria, Libya and Yemen, the instability of Egypt, the surrender of Iraq to Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the annexation of Crimea to Russia, apparently wishes to go the same route in Central Asia by gifting this strategic region to Shi'ite and Sunni Islamic fundamentalists.

The election of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris may be giving onlookers around the world a sinking feeling that we could see the same collapse happen again in Afghanistan and, as the Kabul airport suicide attack signalled, that Afghanistan has again become a center for narcotics, violence, terror and hostage-taking.

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The Other Special Relationship: Britain and the UAE

by Richard Kemp  •  September 12, 2021 at 5:00 am

  • No world leader is better equipped to help us understand and contain this rising threat to Britain and our international interests than Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and the greatest foe of radical Islamism in the Arab world.

  • He helped stem the escalating regional challenge of the Muslim Brotherhood from Egypt; his forces combatted Al Shabab in Somalia, supported the Libyan National Army against its Islamist opponents and fought against Islamic State in Syria and Iran-sponsored Houthi insurgents, Al Qaida and the Islamic State in Yemen.

  • Lord Trimble, former First Minister of Northern Ireland and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, nominated Mohamed bin Zayed for the same award in recognition of his "historic achievements in advancing peace in the Middle East".

  • [W]e should be looking to the UAE's leadership to further strengthen and broaden them. Britain should stand with them. As with the UAE, we are a close and historic ally of Israel, with significant influence across the Middle East. Freed by Brexit from our stifling dependency on the EU, we should now be ready to play a leading role alongside Abu Dhabi in this strategically important process, both in our own interests and in the interests of peace in the region.

No world leader is better equipped to help us understand and contain this rising threat to Britain and our international interests than Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi (pictured). Intelligence provided by the UAE has helped save British lives and the country is a world-leader in combatting terrorist finance and extremist propaganda, including on the internet. (Photo by Karim Sahib/AFP via Getty Images)

Here in Britain there has been great concern about ruptures to the UK-US special relationship following the catastrophic unilateral US withdrawal from Afghanistan and US President Joe Biden's intransigence over the emergency evacuation from Kabul.

Another long-term special relationship enjoyed by Britain — with the United Arab Emirates — was also affected by events in Afghanistan, but in a positive direction. A few days ago, Britain's ambassador in Abu Dhabi said the evacuation of UK citizens from Kabul was made possible by the assistance of the UAE who provided a staging airport as well as support from across government ministries.

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In Tehran Much Talk of Talks

by Amir Taheri  •  September 12, 2021 at 4:00 am

  • The current anxiety in Tehran may provide an opportunity for the Vienna talks to be expanded beyond the chimeric issue of Iran's nuclear ambitions.

  • Concern about what Tehran might do if and when they make a bomb need not exclude concern about the mischief it is doing across the Middle East, notably in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and, of course Afghanistan and Pakistan.

  • It would be interesting to see how the Biden administration plays an unexpectedly strong hand it now holds against a regime that claims "the end of America" as its strategic goal but secretly hopes that the "Great Satan" will help it get out of the historic black hole dug by a weird ideology.

It would be interesting to see how the Biden administration plays an unexpectedly strong hand it now holds against the Iranian regime that claims "the end of America" as its strategic goal but secretly hopes that the "Great Satan" will help it get out of the historic black hole dug by a weird ideology. Pictured: Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi speaks before parliament in Tehran on August 25, 2021. (Photo by Atta Kenare/AFP via Getty Images)

"Return to the nuclear talks!" This is the advice that China, France and Russia have been publicly giving to Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi's new team in Tehran since they assumed power last month. Other powers, notably Germany, have echoed that advice in private. There are signs that the new Raisi team may be listening to that advice or, at least, trying to prepare public opinion for a return to Vienna with its flag in its pocket.

Raisi, who had once dismissed any negotiations with big powers as "out of the question," now says he always regarded negotiations as "one instrument of policy."

Several developments have contributed to what seems a less belligerent stance by Tehran.

The first is that the Biden administration seems extra-keen to deal with what it regards as an "underbrush" issue at a time that the new US president wants to disengage from the Middle East and focus on the Asia-Pacific, the main theater of rivalry with China.

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Cyberwar, Part Two: "Flipping Switches"

by Peter Schweizer  •  September 11, 2021 at 5:00 am

  • President Thomas Jefferson's decision to fight the Barbary pirates was not without its detractors. Many Americans, including John Adams, believed it was better policy to pay the tribute. It was cheaper than the loss of trade.

  • Sanctions and other punitive measures should address Russia's refusal to sign onto the so-called Budapest Convention, a pact that obliges signatories to prevent cyber-crimes that are conducted within their borders. European Union nations and the United States are all signatories. Russia has resisted doing so, even as cyber-crime traced to the Russian mafia and other "advanced persistent threat" actors is repeatedly traced to its soil.

  • An article from the February 2015 issue of Brigham Young University Law Review argues persuasively that "Russia has an obligation to monitor and prevent trans-boundary cybercrime under the standard of due diligence." But Russia will not, because the cyber-hackers advance Vladimir Putin's goal of creating havoc and depressing the morale of the countries he targets.

  • The cat-and-mouse games played every day between cyber-crooks and cyber-cops cannot be ended by one daring raid. But as the stakes of the crimes rise with the world's reliance on connected systems to operate more and more physical infrastructure, the urgent need to shove the pirates off the deck before they can burn the ship grows more pressing.

A historical reference well describes the situation where state-sponsored or state-condoned thieves prey on innocent businesses through cyber-crime, cyber-espionage and the financial threats caused by cyber-extortion: the Barbary pirates. President Thomas Jefferson's decision to fight the Barbary pirates was not without its detractors. Many Americans, including John Adams, believed it was better policy to pay the tribute. It was cheaper than the loss of trade. (Image source: iStock)

Discussing Russian hacking capabilities in a video discussion for the Heritage Foundation recently, Prof. Scott Jasper of the Naval Postgraduate School recalled a hack in 2018 in which the attackers succeeded in penetrating electrical power companies in the U.S., as they did in Ukraine

"We had evidence from CISA (Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency) that Russian actors had penetrated up to 20 to 24 utilities by compromising vendors that had trusted relationships," Jasper said. "They had taken control to the point where they could have thrown switches. They did this in Ukraine and flipped the switches of substations. So, this is a real threat."

Those are sobering words from an authority on Russian cyber-crime, cyber-espionage, and the financial threats caused by cyber-extortion. And the most recent large-scale ransomware hack shows the stakes of that problem.

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