Editor’s Note: As SUA has been reporting at length, for years now, it is the grand chess master in Tehran that is pulling the strings of its puppets from Tunisia to Syria, from Afghanistan to Iraq. Recent activity, as reported below, further demonstrates what is taking place in the Middle East. MG Vallely has described this, and has been warning all, that the Mullahcracy in Iran has been planning, staging, arming, and crippling other states in the region through its intermediaries like the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Hezbollah, and now, the Jihadi Islami!
Word from the streets of Lebanon and Syria points to a very hot September. The people in the region are very nervous, and talk is rampant that the conflicts and events of the Arab Spring, are now on the verge of erupting into a far greater conflagration than we have witnessed thus far.
The article below gives us, and should also give you, great pause, as predictions seem now to be becoming reality. The beginnings of a new fire storm, with Israel in the cross hairs, long anticipated, also bodes an ill-wind for the rest of the western world.
The role of Iran and Hizballah in manipulating the ongoing Palestinian war on Israel from Gaza is manifest, debkafile’s military sources report. They planned, orchestrated and funded the coordinated attacks on the Eilat Highway Thursday, Aug. 18 – in which gunmen shot dead eight Israelis and injured 40 – and its sequel: volleys of 90 missiles launched day and night from Gaza against a million Israeli civilians since then.
Yossi Ben-Shoshan, 38, from Ofakim, was killed by one of the dozen Grad missiles hitting Beersheba and his home town Saturday night. More than a dozen people were injured, at least one critically.
The prime mover in the missile blitz is Tehran’s Palestinian arm, the Jihad Islami, which is responsible for 90 percent of the launches. Hamas is left on the sidelines, cut off for the first time from top levels of authority in Tehran and Damascus.
The IDF is held back from substantive action to snuff out the Iran-backed offensive by the indecision at the policy-making level of the Israeli government, which is still feeling its way toward determining the dimensions and potential thrust of the military crisis landing on Israel out of the blue.
Under Egyptian, Israeli and US noses, Tehran managed to transfer to its Palestinian arm in Gaza, the Jihad Islami, more than 10,000 missiles well in advance of the violence launched three days ago. Most of them are heavy Grads bringing Beersheba, capital of the Negev and Israel’s 7th largest town (pop. 200,000), within their 30-kilometer range for a sustained, massive missile offensive.
Tehran has now launched the hardware smuggled into the Gaza Strip ready for a Middle East war offensive for five objectives:
To leave Syrian President Bashar Assad free to continue brutalizing his population and ignoring President Barack Obama’s demand backed by Europe that he step down.
To manufacture a direct military threat on the Jewish state, whose destruction is a fundamental of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s ideology.
To thwart the Egyptian military junta’s operation last week for regaining control of the lawless Sinai Peninsula and destroying the vast weapons smuggling network serving Iran in its capacity as the leading international sponsor of terror.
To render the Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and his bid for UN recognition of an independent state on Sept. 20 irrelevant. His isolation was brought home to him last Thursday by the coordinated Palestinian terrorist attacks near Eilat last Thursday.
To plant ticking bombs around Israel for potential detonation and explosion into a full-blown regional war.
debkafile’s Washington sources disclose that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton outlined this peril to Egypt’s military ruler, Field Marshall Muhammad Tantawi, Saturday night, Aug. 20, to dissuade him from recalling the Egyptian ambassador to Israel over the deaths of three or five Egyptian police in the melee over the Palestinian terror attack near the Sinai border.
This danger was on the table of Israel’s inner cabinet of eight ministers when they met early Sunday to decide on IDF action for terminating the Palestinian missile war.
However, just as Cairo discovered that its operation for eradicating al Qaeda and other Islamist radical groups’ grip on Sinai would give Iran the pretext for aggression, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the IDF high command found themselves at a loss to determine whom to attack.
Up until now, Israel declared the Hamas rulers of Gaza accountable for all attacks originating in the enclave.
That formula is no longer valid. The Eilat Highway attacks were planned and executed behind Hamas’s back and so was the missile offensive – until Saturday night, when Hamas decided to try and step in. Both Hamas and Cairo are in fact out of the picture.
Israel’s leaders are stuck for solutions because no one in Washington, Jerusalem or Cairo can be sure of the outcome of any military steps they might take. They can’t be sure whether they will douse the violence or just *play into the hands of Hizballah and Tehran* who may have more shockers in their quivers ready to loose.
Only three facts stand out from the fog of uncertainty:
First, the security crisis besetting Israel has the dangerous potential for dragging the Middle East into a regional war.
Second, America and Israel are paying in full the price of their quiescence in the face of Iranian, Hizballah and extremist Palestinian belligerence and active preparations for war, including the stockpiling of thousands of increasingly sophisticated weaponry on Israel’s borders.
Third, the first step an Israeli soldier or tank takes into the Gaza Strip to silence Jihad Islami’s missile fire is more likely than not to precipitate a second Iranian-orchestrated assault on another of Israel’s borders.
Sunday morning, no one in any of the capitals concerned was ready to risk guesstimating how far Tehran was ready to go in its current offensive and what orders Hizballah and its Palestinian puppets had received.
On March 3, 1993, two months after taking office, President Bill Clinton announced the National Performance Review. On the same day, the White House Office of Domestic Policy issued a press release that began with a quote from Bill Clinton followed by the announcement that Al Gore was to lead a revolution:
“The people demand and deserve an active government on their side. But they don’t want a government that wastes money, a government that costs more and does less. They voted for change. They wanted a literal revolution in the way government operates, and now, you and I must deliver.”
– President Bill Clinton, Remarks to the Cabinet, February 10, 1993
Today, the President has asked Vice-President Gore to lead a revolution in Washington that will change the way government does business. The American people deserve a government that treats them like customers…
A few months later, a report was produced from the National Performance Review and the next phase of the project began with a rename. The National Performance Review became the ‘Reinvention of Government’. With that, the revolution announced on March 3, 1993 began.
Al “Mussolini” Gore led an IT-centered revolution with the mandate to “Do More with Less”. The objective was to redesign the systems of government in the corporate model. The rulebook for ethics in government was virtually shredded and over the next eight years, legal constraints on government agencies were eliminated allowing the government employees, IT Consulting firms and representatives from the largest corporations to collude in the redesign of government systems.
Government employees were given the mandate to consider the corporations they formerly regulated as “partners” and “customers” in the redesign effort. Not surprisingly, the overhead functions of the large corporations were aggregated, normalized and passed off to the public sector. The result of this incestuous relationship between government and corporations was that the citizens and small businesses became the targets for regulation as captives in a “market” ruled by corporate titans. In redesigning the systems of government, they changed the nature of the government.
The easiest place to see the Invisible Hand is in the integrated school-workforce development system: The National Human Resource Management System. The schools were repurposed to become the supply chain for workers – incorporating “worker skills” into the curriculum and vocational training beginning at the high school level and in some states at the junior high school level.
The old state unemployment office was given a new mission: One Stop Shop – tasked with doing everything that has to do with the “development” of the market captives to keep them working. One Stop Shops list jobs coordinate training and maintain “performance records”. Essentially, this system is the aggregated and externalized personnel department for the corporate collective.
The universities were repurposed to become the Research and Development departments for the corporate collective. Product commercialization and “small business development” centered on technology-oriented businesses (anything with a chip) is connected to the universities by “partnership agreement” through Innovation Centers. The Innovation Centers provide subsidized facilities for the start-ups, business advisors with connections to venture capitalists, academic advisors with connections to the government grant and patent systems.
The above is the ‘New Economy’ sometimes called the Knowledge-based economy. The idea is that R&D and product commercialization can be commodified into an assembly line process. What it actually produces is an economic mirage – essentially the Invisible Hand produced a small business bubble machine – exemplified by the dotcoms of the late 1990’s.
If the start up business is a winner, the venture vultures win – and they win big but they never lose. The Reinvention of Government project included financing mechanisms through tax credits and securitization under New Markets Initiatives implemented by Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, former employee of Goldman Sachs.
There are a number of elements to the design of the “New Economy” all of which combine to form a System. Apparently, the Chinese are very good at systems thinking from a holistic approach and/or the venture vultures are very good at turning a loss into a profit – or both but regardless, the opportunity was created for Communist Chinese infiltration of the American economy including infiltration of our critical infrastructure through the university system – Small Business Bubble Machines. The story of Hoku Scientific is a classic case in point. The history of Hoku’s beginnings combined with the method of the Chinese takeover and the timing of their appearance on the scene are straight out of Sun Tzu’s Art of War.
Editor’s Note: – Why are we not hearing about the atrocities coming from Gazans (Hamas) and the recent terrorist attacks on Eilat in Israel? Why do we have to bring you news that is incredibly important to you from over seas sources and not from our own media? Is it because our media is so in the tank for the so-called “Palestinian Cause”? What would you do if Rhode Island had fired over 100 rockets on Massachusetts? The size is comparative, and you can imagine the carnage if the IDF did not have Iron Dome.
An unknown terrorist organization calling itself the “Jihadi Resistance” has claimed responsibility for the multi-pronged terror attacks in the Eilat area last Thursday.
Since the announced Gaza ceasefire on Monday night, rocket attacks have continued, albeit less frequently. There have been a number of rocket attacks during the night as well as today, striking Gaza border communities including the Chof Ashkelon Regional Council. Baruch Hashem, no injuries were reported.
Despite the sharp decline in the number of attacks and the Hamas-declared ceasefire, residents of southern communities are instructed to remain close to shelters and safe rooms.
During Monday’s meeting of the Political-Security Cabinet it was announced that the ceasefire is a unilateral move, on the part of Hamas, with the cabinet releasing a clear message to the media that Israel will respond to any and all attacks originating from Gaza. That said, there have been no reports of Israel Air Force retaliatory attacks to the rocket attacks that followed the ceasefire declaration. The cabinet also voted against a major IDF ground forces incursion into Gaza at this time.
In Gaza, it is being reported that senior Hamas commanders are underground, fearing they may be targeted in surgical IAF strikes.
A short time ago, media messages from Gaza indicate Hamas is officially accepting a ceasefire, but at the time of this report, there has been no such move from Jerusalem. The Popular Resistance terror organization has told the media that while it will refrain from rocket attacks into Israel for now, it will not accept a ceasefire.
Voices from the political community in Jerusalem signal this ceasefire, which is accepted by Hamas, will be the litmus test to Hamas’ ability to prove to the world it is capable of running a civil society with an acceptable form of government since most terrorist factions have signaled the ceasefire is meaningless for them.
Some public figures have publicly criticized Israel’s lack of response to the over 100 rockets that bombarded southern townships over the weekend. Interestingly, one of those voices was former Labor Party leader Amram Mitzne, a retired IDFmajor-general and an ardent supporter of the left-wing camp. He called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “a coward” and a leader who “simply reacts but fails to maintain his own policies”. Mitzne opposes a ground forces operation at this time, but feels the air force must inflict serious pain on Gaza terrorists to restore Israel’s deterrence capabilities, which he feels have all but been eliminated due to the failures of the current administration.
In a showing of solidarity with residents, President Shimon Peres today visited Ashdod, meeting with local leaders and trying to encourage residents to remain strong in the face of renewed rocket fire. Over the weekend, the president made shiva visits to the homes of the victims of Thursday’s attack near Eilat, which claimed 8 lives.
IDF Iron Dome commander Lt.-Col. Shabtai Ben-Bocher reports the rocket intercept system has prevented many attacks, but added it is far from perfect. In one successful Katyusha attack, one person was killed and eight injured. He was referring to the rocket that slammed into a Gur beis medrash in Ashdod on Friday.
Many terror victims remain hospitalized. A total of 8 victims remain in Soroka Medical Center in Beersheva. Three victims of Thursday’s multi-pronged terror attacks in the Eilat area are among those victims, with two listed in moderate condition and one light. Five persons injured by rocket shrapnel are also in Soroka. Two are listed in stable condition in intensive care units. Another is listed in moderate condition and two in light condition. Nine victim of Friday’s Katyusha rocket attack in Ashdod remain in Kaplan Hospital in Rechovot. Two are listed in moderate condition and the remainder light. Three victims of the Eilat area attack are also in Yosef-Tal Hospital in Eilat, reported in light and moderate condition.
Despite the summer recess, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin has announced a special Knesset plenum session for tomorrow, Tuesday, August 23, 2011, to discuss the recent renewal of rocket fire into southern Israel.
At this time, the state-of-emergency with all its accompanying restrictions on public gatherings remains in effect in the southern areas.
In the capital, Jerusalem police on Thursday afternoon stepped down from the heightened anti-terror alert in effect for 24 hours, an alert launched in response to credible intelligence community reports.
By Tom Marin – Vicki Davis – MG Paul Vallely US Army (Ret.)
Tawassul in Arabic, describes the Islamic understanding of intercession. According to Shaykh Nuh Keller, who was educated in philosophy and Arabic at the University of Chicago and UCLA, author of “The Sunni Path: A Handbook of Islamic Belief”, and “See Without Shore”, Tawassul, or intercession, can be described as “supplicating Allah by means of an intermediary, whether it be a living person, dead person, a good deed, or a name or Attribute of Allah Most High”.
In contrast to the international and Arab response toward Qaddafi, the Arab states have hesitated to adopt an assertive stance against Assad. Yet five months and two thousand dead later, different voices are starting to emerge: first, the joint statement by the Gulf Cooperation Council, which called for Syria to stop “the lethal oppression of its citizens,” and later the Saudi King’s statement, unusual for its severity, which declared that what is happening in Syria “is unacceptable to Saudi Arabia, which demands an end to the killing machine.”
This statement testifies to Saudi Arabia’s positioning itself against the radical front led by Iran – after it previously did so in Bahrain – as it understands that the events in Syria have reached a critical level that may tip the balance against the Assad dynasty. This joins Saudi Arabia’s adoption of a more assertive stance since the start of the uprisings in the Arab world and its attempt to redraw the map of regional alliances in accordance with its interests.
King Abdullah, who until now watched the regional upheaval from a distance, is at present eager to see Assad fall, if only because this would make Iran lose its primary ally, undermine the radical axis, and give Saudi Arabia the chance to lead a Sunni camp that is larger and more consolidated than in the past, should the Sunnis, who are the majority, rise to power in Syria. Until now, Saudi Arabia has failed to extricate Syria from Iran’s embrace and create a cohesive anti-Iranian front comprising pro-Western Sunni states.
The current protests in Syria give Saudi Arabia an extraordinary opportunity to realize this drive.
Although Saudi Arabia borders on some of the most extreme areas of conflict in the Middle East, it has to date preferred to neutralize these risks to its national security by avoiding overt use of military means and leadership-based activity. Diplomacy and cold cash were its preferred methods. Since the beginning of the Arab spring, the aging Saudi elite has started to understand that within a few years, it may find itself in very different political surroundings in which on the one hand vassals slowly become citizens with equal rights, and on the other, sectarian confrontations and instability grow. In its view, the Kingdom’s traditional means to shape its strategic environment no longer suffice, and thus it must shed its relative passivity in order to overcome national security threats and even, if necessary, attempt to lead the Arab region.
In this context, Saudi Arabia is doing its utmost to prevent Egypt from forging closer ties with Iran. The concern in Riyadh is that the “new” Egyptian leadership will lean more towards Iran, in part to placate the masses inclined this way. In the months following Mubarak’s fall, voices in Cairo were calling for renewed diplomatic ties with Tehran.
Senior Iranian officials warmly greeted the calls in Cairo for a clean slate in relations and went so far as to say that Egyptian resistance to Israel and “the adoption of the model of the Islamic Revolution” would create a common denominator between Egypt and Iran. In addition to assistance to the tune of $4 billion designed to help the Egyptian economy “float above water,” Riyadh also dusted off ideas on a series of joint ventures to strengthen bilateral ties, including an old proposal to construct a bridge over the Straits of Tiran to connect the two nations.
While it attempts to close ranks in the Gulf States, Saudi Arabia is also trying to bring Jordan (and maybe Morocco) into a bloc of monarchies in order to prevent reforms and perhaps, as Morocco’s Kings has started to do, establish the separation of powers and edge towards constitutional monarchies. Riyadh, seeking to inoculate the monarchies against possible dangers to their stability, is expected shortly to lead negotiations with Jordan in order to include the latter in some manner or another in the exclusive Gulf Cooperation Council club, despite the reservations of some member nations. Saudi Arabia has also given Jordan $1.5 billion.
It is unclear to what extent Saudi Arabia’s declarative assertiveness vis-à-vis Syria is backed by substantial support of the Syrian protest movement (Riyadh has for some time supported the Syrian opposition), but it certainly serves as an Arab and Islamic seal of approval for steps that have not yet been taken. Yet despite the positive contribution to consolidating an anti-Iranian camp, Abdullah’s efforts are liable to decrease his freedom to maneuver, both at home and abroad.
He will find it hard to rebuild his relations with Syria should Assad and his cronies stay in power. Is the king hoping to deflect criticism aimed at him? Perhaps!!! However, should the protest come knocking at his door, he will be hard pressed to explain why he hasn’t implemented his own recommendations. Assad’s possible fall is liable to be another domino in a process that ultimately leads to the Kingdom itself.
In order to back up his declarations (called “historic” by the Saudi press), the King recalled his ambassador for consultations, a move that may give legitimacy to other states to intensify the pressure on Syria. Indeed, a day after King Abdullah’s speech, Bahrain and Kuwait – the two Gulf States closest to Saudi Arabia – announced they too were recalling their ambassadors from Damascus to protest the violent suppression of the demonstrations (thus joining Qatar, which had done so previously). The King’s speech has already generated a number of government-sponsored demonstrations in the Gulf against the Syrian regime and harsher critiques of Syria in the Sunni Arab world. Abdullah may also be paving the path for a change in America’s hesitant policy and give President Obama an opportunity to toughen the tone about the continuing massacres.
What prompted King Abdullah’s response at this time? The assertive position vis-à-vis Syria has to do with the King’s anger at the continuing killing of Sunnis during the sensitive period of Ramadan, especially among tribes close to the Kingdom, and possibly also his frustration at having failed to promote a behind-the-scenes deal with Assad to restore calm. Saudi Arabia’s firm stance on Assad may be understood as an admission of its inability to affect the direction of events, in Lebanon as well as Syria, or as recognition that the balance is now, more than in the past, tilting in favor of the Syrian protesters. According to this rationale, Saudi Arabia sat on the sidelines until now in order to see which way the internal Syrian pendulum would swing. Abdullah was also slow to act because his concern of an Iranian reaction and uncertainty about America’s policy on Assad, but he changed his position because of the emerging ethnic nature of the protest.
King Abdullah is hoping that this step will distance him from Assad, understanding that the Alawi minority regime (a heretical minority, because of its leanings to the Shi’a) has been significantly weakened and may even collapse, and that Saudi Arabia must prepare itself for such an eventuality.
This is a dramatic step, certainly for King Abdullah who is usually quite restrained, and has the potential to generate a new direction for Saudi Arabia in the Arab and Islamic world. It is not distress about human rights violations that is at the center of the King’s concerns; therefore, there is no contradiction between his support for the Syrian protests and the help he extended to suppress the protests in Bahrain. Rather, considerations of balance of power and ethnic rivalries are intertwined in Saudi “activism”.
Since the foundation of the Sunni-Shia schism is based on the lack of a “will” or “directive” by Muhammad in regards to a clear succession of Islamic religious leadership, we should understand two of the core differences of the Sunni and the Shia sects as well as King Abdullah’s development of his “essence of being”, his life experiences, as he ascended to the throne.
With over 85% representation, the majority of Muslims in the world are Sunni who believe the traditions that were laid down by the prophet Muhammad and his companions as well as other common people in the history of Islam are to be followed. Whereas, Shia with representation of about 15% of Muslim community, with the majority of that population residing in Iran, Iraq, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Kuwait, Pakistan and India, and are also the largest religious denomination in Lebanon, believe that only the traditions of Muhammad and the family of the prophet are to be exclusively followed.
These views directly correlate to the differences of how the Sunni and Shia view the role of the Imam. For the Sunni, the Imam is the elected leader of a congregation in the worship of Islam and can also be scholars that give guidance to the community from the four (4) Sunni legal schools. Whereas the Shia believes that the Imam is chosen by God and incorporates many aspects of deity worship as the Inman is free from committing any sin.
In his book, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia: Leader of Consequence, Rob Sobhani noted that he received formal religious education and spent a long period of time living with the Bedouin people of his homeland in order to learn and understand traditional Arab values. As an adult and member of the Royal Family, he was appointed to a major role in his country’s homeland security, becoming head of the Saudi Arabian National Guard which provided security for the Muslim Holy Cities of Mecca and Medina, the royal family, and protecting against strategic threats to the House of Saud. His security force consisted of tribal militia from the Bedouin population. Although he is the first Saudi King to visit the Vatican and committed to advancing education, we should make note of the statement he made in addressing the 19th Arab League summit in March 2007:
“The first step on the path of salvation is the restoration of confidence in ourselves and in each other. Once confidence is restored, it will be accompanied by credibility. And if credibility is restored, then the winds of hope will blow. And when that happens, we will never allow any forces from outside the region to design the future of the region. Then no banner other than that of Arabism will hover over Arab land.”
Based on the current events in Syria, Egypt, and Libya, and the differences that have grown through the years from the Sunni-Shia schism, King Abdullah, as The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, could very well be viewing the current situation at his “moment” in history as indicated by his statement during Ramadan:
Jeddah, Ramadan 8, 1432, Aug 8, 2011, SPA – Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud directed a statement to his brothers in Syria, including the following:
“In the name of God the Merciful”;
“And prayers and peace be upon His Messenger and his family and companions”;
“To our brothers in Syria, Syria of Arabism and Islam”;
“Peace, mercy and blessings of God be upon you”;
“The repercussions of events in sister Syria resulted in the loss of large numbers of martyrs, whose blood was shed, and other numbers of wounded and injured”.
“Everyone knows that every sane Muslim and Arab or others are aware that this is not of religion, values, or ethics. Shedding the blood of innocent people for whatever reasons or justifications will not find a reassuring opening that can enable Arabs, Muslims, and the whole world to see a glimmer of hope except through activation of wisdom by the Syrian leadership and carrying out of its historic role in a crossroads that only Allah knows where it leads to”.
“What is happening in Syria is unacceptable to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The event is greater than can be justified by reasons, but rather the Syrian leadership can activate quick and comprehensive reforms. The future of Syria is between only two options: either it chooses wisdom willingly, or drifts into the depths of the brotherly Syrian government and people know the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s positions by it in the past.”
Today, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia stands before its historical responsibility towards her brothers, demanding the stoppage of the killing machine and bloodshed, use of reason before it is too late, introduction and activation of reforms that are not entwined with promises, but actually achieved so that our brothers the citizens in Syria can feel them in their lives as dignity, glory and pride. In this regard, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia announces the recall of its ambassador for consultation on current events there.”
An attempt to stop Iran and consolidate a Sunni front as a counter-force to Iranian influence. The fall of Assad would be the best outcome for Abdullah, second only to the fall of the Islamic republic itself, even if he understands, as Tarqi al-Faisal said, that “Assad will fight till the last Syrian standing.” Either way, the Kingdom seems more ready than ever to harness its not inconsiderable economic and political assets to tackle Iran’s regional ambitions.
If the Kingdom moves forward in taking action, we must consider how the dynamics of these events and the very nature of the two belief systems of the Islamic World and the roles of China and Russia affect the security of the United States and how our military and emergency responders are prepared to respond to any critical event that emerges, both foreign and domestic, from these geo-political forces that are exemplifying many similarities to the combination of forces of deity worship, imperialistic forces, and fascism that we faced once before in our history. And to further understand these dynamics and the true nature of this emerging situation, our Congressional and military leaders should review and understand the intelligence gathered in the field by both William Buckley and John O’Neill. They will be “shocked” and “surprised” to find out that many of the warnings of these two heroes have come true.
Given our economic doldrums and the still metastasizing debt, the legislation raising the debt ceiling won’t keep the economy from dominating the nation’s attention until next year’s election. This means foreign affairs will continue to be an afterthought, at a time when dangerous developments in the Middle East and the war against jihad are happening every day.
Start with Iraq and Afghanistan. The progress made in those conflicts over the last decade remains fragile. Terrorist violence continues in both states: the most recent attacks include seven Taliban suicide bombers killing 21 civilians in relatively stable Kabul, a day after the assassination of the mayor of Kandahar, itself merely the latest in a series of murders of government officials and tribal leaders. In Iraq on the same day, explosions killed 12 soldiers in Tikrit, the site of 3 earlier assaults that left over 150 dead.
This June was the deadliest month for American soldiers in two years, some of the attacks perpetrated by Shia militias trained by Iran, whose influence in Iraq is increasing. Though much reduced from previous years, this level of violence – created in part by still unresolved sectarian, tribal, and ethnic conflicts, as well as governmental dysfunction and corruption – bodes ill for the stability of both countries once US forces leave, their departure creating space within the disorder for the rebuilding of jihadist organizational infrastructure. This “pull-out fever” afflicting American citizens and politicians alike runs the risk of repeating the debacle of Vietnam, when a costly victory won on the battlefield was squandered by domestic politics and a collective failure of nerve.
Speaking of al Qaeda, the death of bin Laden and the degradation of its leadership by drone attacks in Pakistan have not put that lodestar of jihadist terror “on the run,” nor do they mean we can anytime soon “cripple al Qaeda as a threat to this country,” as newly minted Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has asserted. According to Michael Leiter, who recently stepped down as head of the National Counterterrorism Center, “the core organization is still there and could launch some attacks,” and “Pakistan remains a huge problem.”
Pakistan is still a duplicitous and unreliable partner in destroying al Qaeda sanctuaries and rooting out jihadist networks, something that cannot be achieved just by drone attacks, which are hostage to Pakistani political disorder, sympathy for the jihadists, and factional interests. Moreover, the center of al Qaeda gravity has shifted to Yemen, which is disintegrating from a civil war pitting the regime of Ali Abdullah Saleh against various tribal militias and jihadist militants, including al Qaeda fighters who are gaining experience and weapons in this war.
Yemen is also the hideout of one of al Qaeda’s most dangerous leaders, the American-born, tech-savvy Anwar al-Awlaki, the inspiration and mentor for the Fort Hood murderer Nadal Malik Hasan, the Christmas Day bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, and the Times Square bomber Faisal Shazad. Though the latter two attacks failed, we should not rely on the incompetence of al Qaeda’s recruits to keep us safe forever, particularly if Yemen becomes for al Qaeda what Afghanistan was in the 1990s.
Then there is the so-called “Arab Spring,” a wish-fulfilling false analogy with 1989 that blinds many to the dangers of the ongoing revolts against various despotic regimes in the Middle East. In Egypt, the tweeting and telegenic Westernized youth – who convinced many in the West that democracy was on the march in the Arab world – have been shoved aside by the more numerous Islamists, including the Muslim Brothers we keep hearing are pragmatic reformers. A few days ago Islamist demonstrators filled Tahrir Square in Cairo, chanting “Islamic, Islamic, neither secular nor liberal,” while a few dozen secular activists cowered in a tent until they were driven away.
One Islamist student made a simple point lost on many Western idealizers of democracy: “If democracy is the voice of the majority and we as Islamists are the majority, why do they want to impose on us the views of minorities — the liberals and the secularists?” Why indeed. Without the foundational ideals of individual human rights, separation of church and state, freedom of speech, and the primacy of law over religious or tribal loyalties, democracy is just machinery that can be used for all sorts of ends, including illiberal ones.
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