Latest Analysis and Commentary

A Global Calamity: 340,000,000 Christians Persecuted

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

  • The "extreme persecution" that Christians experience in 10 of the absolute 12 worst nations comes from "Islamic oppression" or is occurring in Muslim majority nations. These include: Afghanistan (#2), Somalia (#3), Libya (#4), Pakistan (#5), Yemen (#7), Iran (#8), Nigeria (#9), Iraq (#11), and Syria (#12).

  • "80% of Indian Christians helped by Open Doors say they were passed over for food distribution during the COVID-19 pandemic." — Open Doors, World Watch List.

  • Considering that for the first time in over a decade, China has made it among the top 20 persecutors in the Open Doors World Watch List — up to #17 from #23 last year — this does not bode well for Christians, who are already "intensely monitored by the state."

  • Similarly, in Turkey, which rose to #25 from #36 last year, every citizen's "religious affiliation is recorded on the electronic chip of identity cards, making it easy to discriminate against Christians." — Open Doors, World Watch List.

  • "More Christians are murdered for their faith in Nigeria than in any other country." — Open Doors, World Watch List.

(Image source: iStock)

Every day around the world, 13 Christians are killed for their faith; 12 are illegally arrested or imprisoned; 5 are abducted; and 12 churches or other Christian buildings are attacked.

These are among some of the disturbing findings of the recently released Open Doors' 2021 World Watch List (WWL-2021). This annual report ranks the top 50 nations in which Christians are most persecuted for their religion.

All in all, "More than 340 million Christians suffer high levels of persecution and discrimination for their faith." About 309 million of these Christians "suffer very high or extreme levels. That's one in 8 worldwide, 1 in 6 in Africa, 2 out of 5 in Asia, and 1 in 12 in Latin America." (Unless otherwise indicated, all quotes in this article are from the 2021 Open Doors World Watch List.)

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Washington Riot and 'End of America' Crowd

by Amir Taheri  •  January 17, 2021 at 4:00 am

  • But, what if all the talk about "end of America and "death of the American dream" is based on partial or even total misreading and mis-description of the mini-riot in Washington?

  • What happened, however, seems to have been less dramatic than what the hate-America had wished.

  • However, for reasons not yet known, most of the over 2,200 members of the Capitol Police were told to stay home for the day.

  • The best way to probe that is for the Capitol Police to demand that the District Attorney in DC opens an inquest, collects evidence, hears witnesses....

  • In other words, American democracy is alive and well, with robust institutions capable of dealing with any political crisis within a constitutional framework.

Pictured: National Guard soldiers clear a street of protestors outside the Capitol building on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

This month's mob assault on the Capitol in Washington DC has injected new vigor in the "end of America" crowd across the globe. In China and Russia, the talk is centered on the claim that American democracy is no longer a model for nations seeking a global profile. For Khomeinists in the Islamic Republic in Iran and Chavista in Venezuela, the event marked "the beginning of the end" for the "Great Satan". Some chattering circles in Europe relaunched speculation about the end of America as leader in the international arena.

In the US itself, too, some commentators presented the incident as an historic turning point. Richard Haas of the Council on Foreign Relations, hailed by the Tehran daily Kayhan as "America's greatest strategist", saw the riot as the starting point of the "post-America" world order.

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US Media: 'Telling China's Story Well'

by Judith Bergman  •  January 16, 2021 at 5:00 am

  • "If foreign audiences know that a piece of information comes from an official Chinese media source, they are likely to interpret it as 'propaganda' rather than 'news,'" wrote China expert Anne-Marie Brady in 2015...

  • Fortunately for the CCP, China could rely on large segments of mainstream US media to help it....

  • The CCP evidently knew the West well enough to calculate that framing the debate [on the coronavirus] in terms of racism would be a highly successful strategy that would play into the divisive issue of identity politics in the US and Europe.

  • The CCP could not have done it, however, without the media's lack of critical judgment of China's behavior, as well as the media's utter lack of interest in the CCP's quest for global domination and, according to FBI Director Christopher Wray, its willingness to achieve it "by any means necessary."

(Photo by Greg Baker/AFP via Getty Images)

One of the foremost tasks of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) under Xi Jinping is, at his directive, to "tell stories about China well and spread China's voice well; enable the world to see a multidimensional and colorful China; present China as a builder of world peace, a contributor to global development, and an upholder of international order".

When the coronavirus pandemic broke out in December 2019 in Wuhan and the Chinese authorities allowed it to spread to the rest of the world, "telling China's story well" suddenly became an acute concern. It was necessary to save the regime's face, deflect blame and seek to portray China as heroically battling the pandemic, instead of the reality of having caused it. China went into an even more energetic propaganda mode than usual, seeking to control the narrative about the virus at every turn.

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Lebanon Wants an End to Iranian Occupation

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

  • The Lebanese are worried that their country will meet the fate endured by Iraq, Syria and Yemen, where the Iranians and their militia proxies are playing a major role in the civil wars currently plaguing these countries.

  • The Lebanese are demanding an end to Iranian occupation of their country; they are clearly hoping that the international community will intervene to assist them in freeing Lebanon from Iran's control.

  • A policy of appeasement or engagement with the mullahs will yield only one thing: blood running even more freely in the streets of Lebanon, Yemen, Syria and Iraq -- as well as nuclear weapons.

A recent announcement by the chief of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Brigadier General Amir-Ali Hajizadeh (pictured), that Iran intends to use Lebanon as a "forefront" for waging war on Israel, has enraged many Lebanese, who say that the time has come to end the Iranian occupation of their country. (Photo by Atta Kenare/AFP via Getty Images)

Iran's recent announcement that it intends to use Lebanon as a "forefront" for waging war on Israel has enraged many Lebanese, who say that the time has come to end the Iranian occupation of their country.

The Lebanese are worried that their country will meet the fate endured by Iraq, Syria and Yemen, where the Iranians and their militia proxies are playing a major role in the civil wars currently plaguing these countries.

The Lebanese were reacting to statements by the chief of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Brigadier General Amir-Ali Hajizadeh, who was quoted as saying that Lebanon is at the forefront of Iran's battle against Israel.

Referring to the missiles Iran has supplied to Hezbollah and Palestinian terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip, Hajizadeh said: "Whatever you see in Gaza and Lebanon is with our support; these days they use missiles instead of simple rockets.

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Restart, Reset or Renew? The Strategy against Iranian Nuclear Ambition

by Peter Schweizer  •  January 14, 2021 at 5:00 am

  • Even if the deal negotiated in 2015 by the Obama administration were worth the effort, it is impossible to imagine the Iranians willingly recommitting to enrichment levels they have long since blown past. No one believes in their professed "peaceful use" of nuclear energy. So why does a return to the deal make any sense?

  • The killing of top terror-funding IRGC official Qasem Soleimani by the US military and Iran's relatively toothless retaliatory attack against two US bases in Iraq suggest that the regime fears what an escalation of tensions would mean to its own future more than it desires to stab at the "Great Satan." The regime may finally be on the verge of collapse.

  • Those sanctions are the only leverage the U.S. really has against Iran, and they may finally succeed, much as the Reagan administration was able to do to the USSR in the 1980s. Now is not the time to reduce or remove them in exchange for paper promises born of a campaign slogan, from a regime whose movements suggest it fears its days are numbered.

  • Through covert operations, hidden diplomacy, an intense military buildup, and a series of actions designed to throw sand in the gears of the Soviet economy, American policy destroyed the USSR from its fingertips to its heart. Former Soviet leaders including Mikhail Gorbachev have admitted it with grudging admiration. The only ones who were wrong were those in the liberal foreign policy establishment who pretended it was all just a coincidence.

Iran's ruling mullahs have openly accelerated their nuclear research, and recently boasted that they have achieved uranium enrichment levels of 20%. There is little hope that Iran will throttle back its advances in uranium enrichment, new deal or no deal. Pictured: The Isfahan uranium enrichment facility in Isfahan, Iran. (Photo by Getty Images)

President-elect Joe Biden ran on a slogan to "restore the Iran nuclear deal." For those voters desperate to undo every accomplishment of the Trump administration, which abandoned the deal and imposed sharp sanctions on Iran's oil and financial sectors, it must have sounded attractive.

But now that Biden will be responsible for American security and not just criticizing Donald Trump, he would do well to slow down and consider alternatives.

The mullahs in Iran, claiming to be freed from the deal by Trump's 2018 decision to pull the United States out, have openly accelerated their nuclear research, and recently boasted that they have achieved uranium enrichment levels of 20%. The JCPOA restricted them, on paper at least, to 3.67%. Iran has vastly increased its stockpile of ballistic missiles, a grave concern to other countries in the region, particularly Israel.

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Turkey-Israel Reconciliation?

by Uzay Bulut  •  January 14, 2021 at 4:00 am

  • [I]t was Erdogan who in October called Jerusalem a Turkish city. Referring to the Ottoman occupation of Jerusalem (1517-1917), Erdogan said: "It is still possible to encounter traces of the Ottoman resistance in this city that we had to leave in tears during the First World War. In other words, Jerusalem is our city, it is a city from us."

  • Apparently, the Erdogan regime is hoping to expand trade with Israel and further gain diplomatic support in international matters. At the same time, instead of genuinely trying to fight anti-Semitism and other forms of racism in Turkish society through education and other means, the Erdogan regime has been indoctrinating its supporters with Jew-hatred and actively supporting Hamas terrorists.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has referred several times to Israelis as "Nazis." This notion appears to be a projection: it has been Turkish governments that have ethnically cleansed Turkey of almost all its non-Muslim citizens. Erdogan denies the 1915 Armenian genocide by Ottoman Turkey, even as he has called the genocide "the most reasonable decision at the time". (Photo by Adem Altan/AFP via Getty Images)

On December 25, a reporter asked Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan about his views on the news that Israel and Turkey were "re-establishing their relations recently." Erdogan replied:

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Erase and Criminalize

by Chris Farrell  •  January 13, 2021 at 5:00 am

  • There is a concerted effort to tar every Trump supporter with the brush of Capitol mob protester. That is a lie. It is deliberate and malicious. It is a plan to intimidate and silence.

  • Facebook is purging all content referencing "stop the steal" — although there is ample evidence of voting irregularities and cause for election reform. Twitter is suspending and expelling hundreds of thousands of users. President Trump is among them. Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Hosseini Khamenei, who leads public cheers of "Death to America!", is not.

  • Trump gave a speech stating: "if you don't fight like hell you're not going to have a country anymore." That remark is supposed to qualify as "incitement to insurrection." What a pathetic, transparent lie! Think of the number of times innumerable politicians have invoked "fight" to express encouragement for active public policy engagement. We "fight" for healthcare, justice, human rights, entitlements, civil rights — even peace.

  • The criminality of Hillary's outlaw email server, the phony Russia Hoax, the fake Ukraine Impeachment, FISA Warrant abuse, the politically contaminated and compromised FBI — that all gets a "pass" — but Trump telling supporters to fight for their country — THAT is impeachable?

  • Biden did not win in a landslide. Many feel disenfranchised.

(Image source: iStock)

Welcome to America's Cultural Revolution.

China's Cultural Revolution (1966-76) sought to purge remnants of impure non-Maoist thoughts from Chinese society and economy. It was a radical period of persecution.

We are witnessing and experiencing a perverse and dangerous effort to purge America of all things Trumpian — but more importantly — the conservative, traditional values of millions of Americans. It is not only about erasure, but criminalization. Ordinary Americans who support President Trump — and at least 75 million that voted for him — are being targeted with a barrage of efforts to sensationalize and marginalize their beliefs. The professional political and media classes of America's East and West Coasts are striking hard and fast to eliminate Trump. There is a concerted effort to tar every Trump supporter with the brush of Capitol mob protester. That is a lie. It is deliberate and malicious. It is a plan to intimidate and silence.

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The Double Standards and Hypocrisy of Social Media Giants

by Majid Rafizadeh  •  January 13, 2021 at 4:00 am

  • What, however, about Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who constantly tweets anti-Semitic and incendiary tweets and whose regime the US Department of State called "the world's worst sponsor of terrorism"? Khamenei, in fact, has become so emboldened on Twitter that, on it, he publicly calls for annihilation of Israel and denies Holocaust.

  • According to Twitter's "Violent organizations policy": "There is no place on Twitter for violent organizations, including terrorist organizations, violent extremist groups, or individuals who affiliate with and promote their illicit activities... Our assessments under this policy are informed by national and international terrorism designations..."

  • More shocking, in November 9, 2014 Khamenei posted a tweet laying out how to annihilate Israel "Why should & how can #Israel be eliminated? Ayatollah Khamenei's answer to 9 key questions. #HandsOffAlAqsa". Khamenei actually posted a screen shot exactly detailing the process to destroy Israel. These tweets are still up.

  • "I kid you not! At a Knesset hearing on Antisemitism, @Twitter rep tells me they flag @realDonaldTrump because it serves 'public conversation', but not Iran's @khamenei_ir call for GENOCIDE, which passes for acceptable 'commentary on political issues of the day'" — Human rights lawyer Arsen Ostrovsky, July 29, 2020.

(Photo Illustration by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Several social media giants recently made a controversial move by banning US President Donald Trump while allowing leaders of what the US Department of State has called the top state sponsor of terrorism, the Iranian regime, to operate freely on their platforms.

First, it was Facebook and Instagram that banned the President "indefinitely." Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said:

"We believe the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great. Therefore, we are extending the block we have placed on his Facebook and Instagram accounts indefinitely and for at least the next two weeks until the peaceful transition of power is complete."

Twitter immediately followed suit by suspending the accounts of President Trump, Michael Flynn and Sidney Powell. Regarding President Trump, Twitter claimed:

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Media: Israel Must Be Denigrated for Its World-Beating Vaccination Programme

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

  • The same negative policy [by the press and many purported human rights groups] extends to other major benefits that Israel has brought to the world, including scientific innovation, medical technology and life-saving intelligence. It goes against editorial agendas to report on the Jewish state in a positive light unless they can somehow twist a good story to turn it bad.

  • Under the Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestinians in the 1990s, which created the Palestinian Authority (PA), it alone and not Israel, is responsible for their health care, including vaccinations. Nearly 150 UN members recognise "Palestine" as a state, yet these media and human rights bodies, displaying deplorably predictable bias, cannot bring themselves to allow it agency.

  • Contradicting allegations of a racist or "apartheid" policy, Israel has been vaccinating its Arab citizens since the programme began. Given some reluctance to be vaccinated among these communities, the Israeli government, in conjunction with Arab community leaders, have been making concerted efforts to encourage them, including a visit by Prime Minister Netanyahu to two Arab towns in the last few days for this purpose.

  • The same approach can be seen over the Abraham Accords of 2020, historic achievements in a hitherto elusive peace between Israel and the Arabs. These have often been received with callous cynicism in the media as well as among veteran peace processors, whose own prescriptions have repeatedly failed.

  • [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu is the driving force behind the Abraham Accords, whose origins date back to his speech to a joint session of Congress in 2015, when he made a stand against Iran's nuclear ambitions. Netanyahu's solitary stance was seized on by Arab leaders, who began to realise they had common cause with the State of Israel, which could lead to a brighter future for them than one encumbered with unnecessary animosity.

Newspapers and broadcast media on both sides of the Atlantic have been contorting themselves — and the truth — to bash Israel over its remarkable success in vaccinating against Coronavirus. Pictured: A healthcare worker speaks to an Arab Israeli woman before giving her a COVID-19 vaccine at Clalit Health Services, in the Arab city of Umm al Fahm, Israel on January 4, 2021. (Photo by Jack Guez/AFP via Getty Images)

Prejudice against the Jewish state is so intense in the Western media that praiseworthy actions guaranteed to hit the headlines if attributable to any other country are frequently ignored, diminished or denigrated when it comes to Israel. When there is a disaster anywhere in the world, for example, Israel is often the first, or among the first, to offer assistance and send in relief workers. Most recently, last month the Israel Defence Forces dispatched a team to Honduras following the devastation of category 4 hurricanes Eta and Iota which left thousands homeless.

In the last 15 years IDF relief missions have deployed in Albania, Brazil, Mexico, Nepal, the Philippines, Ghana, Bulgaria, Turkey, Japan, Columbia, Haiti, Kenya, the US, Sri Lanka and Egypt — and many other countries in the years before.

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US Defenses Against Chinese Cyber Offenses

by Shoshana Bryen  •  January 12, 2021 at 4:00 am

  • [M]uch of the world is organizing to roadblock China's march to dominance in 5G telecommunications. That is, to get China's spying out of our system – although we are far from done, there is a lot of 2020 to build on in 2021.

  • Early in 2020, Huawei announced it had 91 commercial 5G contracts outside of China, including 47 in Europe and 20 in Asia.

  • China's goal was threefold: to broaden its capabilities in domestic spying, to broaden its worldwide ability to steal Western technology -- and, in particular, to infiltrate Western defense capabilities

  • Beijing inserted itself, often illegally, into American research institutions. And inserted spyware – hardware and software – into computers made in China and exported to the West. In the case of Super Micro Computers, providing services to Amazon, investigators discovered that extra microchips were implanted on boards in Chinese factories by operatives of the People's Liberation Army.

  • As the year ended, 26 of 27 EU member countries had joined the Clean Network initiative, along with 180 telecom companies and such important tech players as Israel, Japan, Australia, Singapore, Canada, New Zealand, India – and Taiwan, which is building a 5 nanometer chip production facility in Arizona. Partners in South America include Brazil, Ecuador, and the Dominican Republic.

With the United States in the lead, much of the world is organizing to roadblock China's march to dominance in 5G telecommunications. That is, to get China's spying out of our system. In April, the U.S. announced the Clean Network initiative and tightened restrictions on Huawei and, later, the Pentagon banned the company from providing services to the Department of Defense. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

This has been a (literally) breathtakingly awful year in so many ways that most people are thrilled to see it gone. But do not write off 2020 entirely. With the United States in the lead, much of the world is organizing to roadblock China's march to dominance in 5G telecommunications. That is, to get China's spying out of our system – although we are far from done, there is a lot of 2020 to build on in 2021.

Early in 2020, Huawei announced it had 91 commercial 5G contracts outside of China, including 47 in Europe and 20 in Asia. In a countermove in April, the U.S. announced the Clean Network initiative and tightened restrictions on Huawei and, later, the Pentagon banned the company from providing services to the Department of Defense. Most recently, the New York Stock Exchange delisted three companies linked to the Chinese military.

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Can the Senate Try Private Citizen Trump after He Leaves Office?

by Alan M. Dershowitz  •  January 11, 2021 at 5:00 am

  • Some pundits and Senators have suggested that a former President can be impeached and tried as a private citizen. I don't know if they think this applies to all former presidents, including Clinton, Carter, Bush and Obama, or whether it is applicable only to a president who has just recently left office. But either way, they are simply wrong as a matter of the Constitutional text and meaning.

  • The relevant text of the Constitution reads as follows: "The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors." (Article II, Section 4)

  • The Framers of the Constitution debated impeachment extensively. It is clear that they intended it to apply only to sitting presidents and other office holders and not to private citizens who previously held that office.

  • The Framers did, however, regard impeachment and trial as part of one single process, culminating in removal from office. And so, if removal from office is no longer a possibility, it would seem that Congress would have no jurisdiction to impeach.

  • What they want to do is to impeach President Trump without giving him an opportunity to defend himself at a Senate trial. This would be analogous to a prosecutor deciding to indict someone and then deny him a trial at which he could disprove his guilt or prove his innocence. That would be a core denial of due process, as would impeaching a president based on a majority of the House while denying him a trial in the Senate that requires a two-thirds super majority to remove.

Pictured: The Capitol Building in Washington, DC. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Some pundits and Senators have suggested that a former President can be impeached and tried as a private citizen. I don't know if they think this applies to all former presidents, including Clinton, Carter, Bush and Obama, or whether it is applicable only to a president who has just recently left office. But either way, they are simply wrong as a matter of the Constitutional text and meaning. The relevant text of the Constitution reads as follows: "The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors." (Article II, Section 4)

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Iran, China, Promise to be the Biggest Tests of Biden's Presidency in 2021

by Con Coughlin  •  January 10, 2021 at 5:00 am

  • There is eager anticipation among many of Washington's foes that Mr Biden's inauguration will result in the new president adopting a less confrontational tone with the outside world than his predecessor.

  • China's communist rulers, for example, are hopeful that Mr Biden will engage in the kind of meaningless trade deals so beloved of his Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama. These are the trade deals where Washington agrees to improve trade ties with Beijing on the understanding that China addresses the unfair trading relationship between the two countries, knowing full well that China's communist rulers have absolutely no intention of fulfilling their end of the bargain.

  • Before making any move that he may later regret, Mr Biden needs to think long and hard about the likely implications of trying to improve relations with Tehran.

  • As Iran has demonstrated consistently since signing the 2015 nuclear deal with the Obama administration, Tehran's primary objective is to become the dominant power in the Middle East -- not to live in peaceful coexistence with other nations in the region.

The revelation that Hezbollah has doubled the arsenal of advanced guided missiles it keeps trained on Israel is a timely reminder that Iran, together with the its terrorist proxies throughout the Middle East, promises to present the incoming Biden administration with its most critical foreign policy challenge in 2021. Pictured: An arch glorifying Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah (right) and Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei decorates a street in Beirut. (Photo by Anwar Amro/AFP via Getty Images)

The revelation that Hezbollah has doubled the arsenal of advanced guided missiles it keeps trained on Israel during the course of the past year is a timely reminder that Iran, together with the numerous terrorist proxies it supports throughout the Middle East, promises to present the incoming Biden administration with its most critical foreign policy challenge in 2021.

In many respects, so far as the ayatollahs are concerned, 2020 has been a year to forget. The year, for them, got off to a bad start when the Trump administration succeeded in carrying out the assassination of Qassem Soleimani, the iconic head of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' Quds Force -- the man who, as a trusted confidante of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was primarily responsible for disseminating Tehran's malign influence throughout the region.

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Marx, Heidegger and the Crocodile

by Amir Taheri  •  January 10, 2021 at 4:00 am

  • Because Fardid knew no German, his knowledge of Heidegger was based on scanty reading and misreading of French or Persian translations.

  • Fardid's understanding of Heidegger could be summed up in two erroneous beliefs: society's need for order and the need for an unimpeachable leader to impose that order. He also claimed a visceral hatred of Marxism in all its many different forms

  • No one was allowed to join the debate and suggest, ever so modestly, that maybe it was time for Iranians to use their own heads and begin thinking themselves.

At a time that the ruling elite in Tehran were busy marking the anniversary of the killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the Khomeinist movement lost another of its iconic figures: Ayatollah Muhammad-Taqi Mesbah-Yazdi (pictured). (Image source: Mostafameraji/Wikimedia Commons)

At a time that the ruling elite in Tehran were busy marking the anniversary of the killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the Khomeinist movement lost another of its iconic figures: Ayatollah Muhammad-Taqi Mesbah-Yazdi.

The 86-year-old cleric who changed his surname from Givehchi (sandal-maker) to Mesbah (Arabic for lamp) was alone among Khomeinist mullahs to have secured the title of "Super Scientist" (Allameh in Arabic) from the establishment. He was marketed as "the greatest living Islamic philosopher" and, as head of the Imam Khomeini Center of Studies, the custodian of Khomeini's theologico-political heritage.

However, Mesbah-Yazdi's chief distinction may well have been his role in providing a pseudo-religious basis for the cult of personality built around the "Supreme Guide" Ali Khamenei. This is perhaps why Khamenei took the unusual step of personally leading the "prayers on the mortal remains" of the cleric.

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Jack 'Uncle Horse' Ma Is a Bad Bet

by Gordon G. Chang  •  January 9, 2021 at 5:00 am

  • Beijing has... gone after Ma's business empire hard.

  • [R]egulators appear to be forcing Ant to restrict its profitable investment and loan businesses and making the company accept bank-like regulation. Tighter control would ensure that the fast-growing Ant would pose less of a challenge to state control of lending.

  • Rumor has it that Beijing ordered Ma not to leave the country. "His passport has supposedly been held by the Foreign Ministry for a long time," Anne Stevenson-Yang of J Capital Research told Gatestone, passing along financial community gossip.

  • Of course, this series of incidents also shows that foreign optimism about the Chinese markets—large inflows of capital have recently driven the Chinese currency sharply higher against the dollar—could be misplaced. If Jack Ma's business empire can be broken up—and that is what's happening—all foreign investment is at risk of confiscation.

  • Foreigners need to begin paying attention....

  • Jack Ma's fate, then, is a leading indicator.

If Jack Ma's business empire can be broken up—and that is what's happening—all foreign investment is at risk of confiscation. (Photo by BERTRAND GUAY/AFP via Getty Images)

Ma Yun, until recently China's richest individual, is in detention in a Chinese cell, is in hiding in China, is "embracing supervision" from the ruling Communist Party, or is in Singapore after having evaded Chinese authorities. One observer even argues Ma's disappearance, the object of intense speculation in China and elsewhere, is nothing more than a ruse.

Which version of the truth is true? Take your pick.

Facts are scarce. Jack Ma, as Ma is known outside China, possesses one of his country's most famous faces and evidently loves the limelight, but he has not been seen in public since the last day of October, vanishing soon after criticizing state bankers.

Ma's disappearance suggests deep troubles in China's financial circles and almost certainly problems in top Communist Party leadership ranks.

On October 24, Ma criticized China's state bankers at a high-profile event, the Bund Summit in Shanghai.

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EU-China Investment Deal: "It Spits in the Face of Human Rights"

by Soeren Kern  •  January 8, 2021 at 5:00 am

  • "It is a massive strategic blunder at a time when President Biden will be seeking to put together an international partnership of liberal democracies to deal with the bullying loutish behavior and assault on our international rules by Chinese Communists." — Former Hong Kong Governor Lord Patten, Daily Mail, January 7, 2021.

  • "We should not be seeking to contain China but to constrain the Chinese Communist Party." — Former Hong Kong Governor Lord Patten, Daily Mail, January 7, 2021.

  • "It is naive to believe that China will respect the agreement it has signed. It is naive to ignore the geopolitical implications of doing a deal with China right now. And it is naive to think that the darkening political climate in Beijing will never affect life in Brussels or Berlin." — Gideon Rachman, Financial Times.

  • "The EU Commission's haste to partner with Beijing despite its grotesque human rights abuses has removed a fig leaf. Some European officials and commentators liked to claim that the Trump Administration was an impediment to even deeper transatlantic cooperation. Now it is plain to all that this isn't about President Trump. It's about key European officials. Look in the mirror." — Former Deputy U.S. National Security Advisor Matt Pottinger, Twitter, December 30, 2020.

  • "Beijing's disregard for international law in Hong Kong is serving as a catalyst for a change in alliances — both Britain and Europe have serious choices to make." — Johnny Patterson, Director of Hong Kong Watch.

The EU has negotiated a controversial trade deal with China. The pact has been widely criticized because European leaders have sacrificed their professed concern for human rights on the altar of financial gain. The deal was negotiated in great haste by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel. Pictured: Von der Leyen (then Germany's Defense Minister) is honored by Chinese officials at the National Defense University in Beijing on October 22, 2018. (Photo by How Hwee Young/AFP via Getty Images)

The European Union has negotiated a controversial trade deal with China. The pact has been widely criticized because European leaders, in their apparent rush to reach an agreement, have sacrificed their professed concern for human rights on the altar of financial gain. Indeed, precisely one week after the deal was signed, China launched a massive crackdown on democracy activists in Hong Kong.

The so-called Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI), concluded on December 30, was negotiated in great haste by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel. Other EU countries were excluded from the negotiations. Merkel, under pressure from China, reportedly wanted an agreement at any cost before Germany's six-month EU presidency ended on December 31.

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