Thursday, September 1, 2011

Egypt is Remilitarizing Sinai: Calling a Spade a Spade

by Daniel Pinner

It’s 1936 all over again, and Egypt is Germany, and the Sinai Desert is the Rhineland which is being remilitarised. There are none so blind as those who will not see.

Almost a third of a century ago, on 26th March 1979, Israel and Egypt signed the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty. The main provisions of the Treaty were that Israel would withdraw from the entire Sinai Desert and hand it over to Egypt, and that Egypt would keep the Sinai desert almost demilitarized. The Treaty divided the Sinai Desert into three zones:

In the western zone (closest to Egypt, bordering the Suez Canal), Egypt was limited to an “armed force of one mechanized infantry division and its military installations, and field fortifications”;

In the central zone, they were limited to “border units of four battalions equipped with light weapons and wheeled vehicles [to] provide security and supplement the civil police in maintaining order... The main elements in the four Border Battalions will consist of up to a total of four thousand personnel”;

In the eastern zone (bordering Israel), “only United Nations forces and Egyptian civil police will be stationed”.

Israel’s security was guaranteed by the 240 km (150 miles) distance that the Egyptian Army was to be kept from the Israeli border.

Last Friday, as a response to the threat of Islamist terror cells throughout the Sinai Desert, Defence Minister Ehud Barak proposed that Egypt begin to remilitarize the Sinai Desert.

The Economist ( reported that Barak and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will agree to Egypt “deploying thousands of troops in Sinai… [with] helicopters and armoured vehicles”.

Barak acknowledged the inherent dangers in returning Egyptian troops to the Israeli border, but argued that “sometimes you have to subordinate strategic considerations to tactical needs”.

Israel officially denied relaxing the restrictions on Egyptian remilitarisation of the Sinai Desert. However, these official denials are hardly reassuring.

Some seven months ago, on 31st January this year, Israel allowed Egypt to move two battalions (about 800 troops) into Sharm-el-Sheikh, ostensibly to prevent arms smuggling to Gaza. However, since Sharm-el-Sheikh is at the very southernmost tip of the Sinai Peninsula – about as far off the track to Gaza as it is possible to get – that explanation sounded somewhat unconvincing.

With hindsight, it is far more plausible that the then-president Hosni Mubarak was simply preparing this remote and easily defensible area as a refuge from the unrest which had started a few days previously, and wanted 800 soldiers there as his personal bodyguard. Though Mubarak fled Cairo for Sharm-el-Sheikh on 11th February, in the event, this did not help him as he was arrested there on 24th May.

It is entirely conceivable that Israel agreed to these two Egyptian battalions to re-occupy Sharm-el-Sheikh in order to protect Hosni Mubarak personally, and by extension the regime which he led. But though the revolution has successfully removed him from office, those units have remained there.

Similarly with all further troop deployments in the Sinai: any militarization allowed by Israel will be permanent, and any Egyptian units stationed in the eastern Sinai Desert, on or close to the Israeli border, will remain there as a constant potential military threat to Israel.

Four and a half years ago, on 13th November 2006, addressing the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America in Los Angeles, Binyamin Netanyahu (at the time leader of the Opposition) sounded a stark warning about Iran: “It’s 1938, and Iran is Germany, and it is arming itself with atomic weapons”.

With all due respect to Netanyahu, the reality is somewhat different: it’s 1936, and Egypt is Germany, and the Sinai Desert is the Rhineland which is being remilitarised.

According to the Treaty of Versailles of 1919, Germany was forbidden to maintain or to establish any military facilities west of the River Rhine, or within 50 km (30 miles) to the east; this demilitarised zone was designed to protect France and Belgium, which Germany had attacked during the First World War. So long as that strip of land remained demilitarised, western Europe was safe from German military aggression.

At 10:00 in the morning of 7th March 1936, Konstantin von Neurath, the German Foreign Minister, proposed to the British, French, Belgian, and Italian Ambassadors a 25-year pact, a demilitarisation on both sides of the Rhine frontier, a pact limiting air forces, and non-aggression pacts to be negotiated with eastern and western neighbours.

Just two hours later, Hitler announced to the Reichstag his intention to remilitarise the Rhineland; as he was speaking, columns of the Wehrmacht were marching across the bridges over the River Rhine. This was in accordance with formal orders which the Minister for War, Werner von Blomberg (who had represented Germany in the World Disarmament Conference of 1932), had issued five days earlier.

In one bold action, Nazi Germany effectively annulled the single greatest guarantee of peace installed by both the Treaty of Versailles and the Treaty of Locarno of 1925.

The Allies could not possibly have known it at the time, but Hitler and von Blomberg had given secret, but very strict, orders to the officers of the Wehrmacht: if there was any sign of Allied (British or French) reaction, then they were to turn round and return to their previous positions instantly. In 1936, Hitler did not yet dare risk war against two of Europe’s mightiest armies.

It is chilling to understand the implications: a few French jeeps could have forced the Wehrmacht to retreat – and that loss of face for the Nazi regime might have caused it to collapse. Almost six years later, on 27th January 1942, Hitler conceded this: “A retreat on our part would have spelled collapse” (Hitler’s Secret Conversations, 1941-1944, New York 1953). And 36 years later, in 1969, Albert Speer (the chief architect of the Third Reich, and later Hitler’s Minister of Armaments) wrote that when Hitler “was waging a war against almost the entire world, he always termed the remilitarisation of the Rhineland the most daring of all his undertakings” (Inside the Third Reich, chapter 6).

Put simply, it is conceivable that a dozen French jeeps and fifty French soldiers, had they but challenged Hitler’s troops on that spring afternoon of 1936, might have averted the Second World War with all its attendant horrors.

However, the political leadership in Britain and France refused to confront the Wehrmacht. Neither Britain nor France had any leading politicians who had the courage to be controversial enough to confront Nazi Germany. Winston Churchill, in The Second World War (Volume 1, Chapter 11), cites Lord Lothian’s words as a representative British view: “After all, they are only going into their own back garden”.

A few months later, in September 1936, David Lloyd George, the former Prime Minister who had led Britain to victory against Germany in the First World War, visited Berchtesgaden and came away with a signed photograph of the Nazi dictator, whom he called “the greatest living German”. In an article he wrote for the Daily Express of 17th September, Lloyd George wrote that “Hitler is the George Washington of Germany, the man who made his country independent of all of its oppressors”. He continued, “What Hitler said in Nuremberg is true. The Germans would resist to the last man any attempt to invade their country. But they have no desire to march into any other country”.

It was far easier to attempt to appease the dictator, in the desperate hope that appeasement would preserve peace.

Egypt has already begun to remilitarise the Sinai Desert, and Israel has either quietly ignored this or actively acceded. As a post-Mubarak Egypt becomes progressively less committed to the 1979 peace treaty with Israel, this Egyptian remilitarisation of the Sinai will inevitably become ever more extensive. And if Egypt falls to radical Islam – a fate that is almost inevitable given the strength and mass popularity of the Moslem Brotherhood – Egyptian remilitarisation will no longer be a question of if, but only when.

And as additionally Al Qaeda and other Islamist terror organisations consolidate their military capacity in the Sinai Desert, manoeuvring there with ever-increasing independence, the dilemma which Israel will face in the next few months is already clear: which poses a greater threat to her security – unrestrained Islamist cells on Israel’s south-western border, or the Egyptian Army?

It is hard, given the current political climate in Israel, to imagine that Israel will implement the third option: Israel reoccupying the Sinai Desert and driving out both the hostile Egyptian Army and the even-more hostile Islamist terrorists. True, a very few voices – General (res.) Uzi Dayan, for example – have suggested this. But even if Egypt were to officially rescind the treaty with Israel, it hardly seems likely that any Israeli prime minister would risk all-out war by sending the IDF into the Sinai Desert.

It’s 1936, and Egypt is Germany, and the Sinai Desert is the Rhineland which is being remilitarised. And at the present time, Netanyahu is acting like David Lloyd George.

Daniel Pinner is a veteran immigrant from England, a teacher and an electrician by profession; a Torah scholar who has been active in causes promoting Eretz Israel and Torat Israel. Source:

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Explaining Doublespeak to our Friends

by Isi Leibler

These are difficult times, as we simultaneously confront threats from our neighbors and intensified pressure from every direction.

The situation is aggravated by the upheavals in the Arab world, which have in all instances resulted in radical anti-Israel Islamic elements either taking control or significantly strengthening their influence. Even our peace treaty with Egypt is now in question. And at the same time, Hezbollah and Hamas have accumulated arsenals of deadly rockets which in the event of a conflict would be directed toward all the country's major populated areas.

In this context, the enthusiastic bipartisan congressional support accorded Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on his recent Washington visit should not create excessive euphoria. It is the White House, in the main, that controls foreign affairs, and in view of the current economic meltdown, the pro-Israel Congress is more likely to be concentrating on issues of urgent domestic concern rather than confronting Obama over his Middle East policies. We also have legitimate grounds for unease if Obama obtains a second term and no longer faces election constraints and party pressures; he will likely intensify his one-sided demands on us.

To this day, Obama has not diverged from his initial approach of appeasing Islamic states and making harsh demands on Israel. Yet the American president is respected by neither friend nor foe. The manner in which he unhesitatingly abandoned long-standing US ally Hosni Mubarak while delaying calls for the ouster of Syrian President Bashar Assad have encouraged America's traditional Muslim allies to lose confidence in him. At the same time, his adversaries consider him a wimp who capitulates on every front. Even dovish former Labor minister Yossi Beilin maintains that Obama "holds zero accountability for his presidency" and "waits for someone else to implement his grand plan."

We are confronted with a major challenge in September. Irrespective of whether the UN General Assembly endorses Palestinian statehood, there are likely to be concerted attempts to encourage tens of thousands of Palestinians to bypass roadblocks into Israeli territory. We will be obliged to exercise force to protect our security and sovereignty. Even taking maximum precautions, there will almost certainly be casualties, and Israel is likely yet again to face global condemnation.

In the face of these imminent challenges, only idiots or those relying exclusively on divine intervention would dismiss the crucial importance of maintaining US support. Aside from our essential defense requirements, only the US is in a position to economically pressure the Egyptian military regime to resist Islamic extremists baying for the annulment of the peace treaty with us. In addition, the absence of a US diplomatic umbrella would leave us at the mercies of the Europeans, who would have no compunction about supporting boycotts and sanctions at the UN in order to appease the Arab and Third World countries.

Politics is the art of the possible, and we must therefore resist populist attitudes exhorting us to be "tough" and face the world alone. In this context, one would not envy the role of an Israeli prime minister. He is obliged to retain the support and friendship of the American people and Congress. To achieve this in such a fake environment requires an extraordinary diplomatic balancing act in which he remains firm on essentials but must not be perceived as an obstacle to resolving the conflict.

It is in this context that one must assess the unconfirmed reports that Netanyahu has tentatively agreed to Obama's "revised" formula of employing "1967 borders with swaps" as a benchmark for negotiations with the Palestinians. In return, Obama has allegedly undertaken to revert to the Bush recognition of demographic changes that entitle Israel to retain the major settlement blocs and defensible borders.

Netanyahu is said to have made this offer subject to a quid pro quo by the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

As this would imply a repudiation of the Arab ‘right of return' - something the Palestinians would never endorse - this exercise remains an extension of the theater of the absurd, in which we are obliged to make meaningless motions to humor the Obama administration.

Unfortunately, previous experience has demonstrated that vague understandings are frequently selectively implemented. An example is the total disregard of the clause in the Quartet road map stipulating that prior to any further Israeli concessions, the terrorist infrastructure would be dismantled.

Any agreement along these lines with Obama may thus return to haunt us. In the absence of clear definitions of defensible borders and "major settlement blocs," these new undertakings could be exploited to pressure us into making territorial concessions with potentially disastrous long-term consequences.

The even more detrimental outcome of these theatrics is the confusion and bewilderment it sows among Diaspora Jews and our friends. On the one hand, we occasionally speak the truth and expose the Palestinians as a criminal society promoting a genocidal culture. Then, to placate our Western "allies" we relate to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as a ‘peace partner,' and babble on about negotiating for a settlement.

One day our prime minister has a confrontation with the US president and the next day Defense Minister Barak proclaims that Obama is God's gift to Israel. In contrast, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has a penchant for occasionally making aggressive statements (often based on reality) that enthuse his supporters but embarrass the government and detract from our international standing.

Of course, ministers of a government should ideally speak with one voice. However, the concept of cabinet responsibility in Israel has been ignored for many years, so individual ministers feel entitled to say what they like, even in stark opposition to the policy of their own government.

Nevertheless, within the constraints of the fantasy world in which our government must operate, a strategy must be devised to ensure that despite the doublespeak which portrays those seeking to destroy us as "peace partners," we ensure that Diaspora Jews and our friends are able to comprehend the reality of the situation.

This column was originally published in the Jerusalem Post

Isi Leibler


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How Do You Say Sayonara in Farsi?

by Russ Vaughn

I searched for the Web for the proper translation but to no avail. All I want to do is bid Sayonara to the Iranian Navy's Fifteenth Fleet as it sails into harm's way. And, boy, do I ever mean harm's way. As the Israeli Navy begins a buildup of warships to protect against growing Egyptian militancy, the Iranian government has decided to dispatch its Fifteenth Fleet to the Red Sea, "to patrol the high seas and thwart pirate raids."

Uh huh...

The Iranian Fifteenth Fleet, which consists of "a submarine and several other vessels," could very well be sailing straight through the Straits of Paradise should it attempt in any way to interfere with Israeli naval operations against Egypt, Syria or the Palestinians. For decades, the Israelis have repeatedly demonstrated that they do not suffer foolish military adventurism gladly. For the Iranians to threaten such bald interference into issues affecting Israel's borders is inviting a naval disaster comparable to leaping into another Lepanto.

I think the naval forces of most major nations would give long, thoughtful pause to the idea of going up against the small but extremely lethal Israeli Navy, especially within operational range of the Israeli Air Force. The advanced Israeli missile boats should be intimidating enough all by themselves but throw a submarine or two and a whole swarm of fast patrol-torpedo boats equipped with Hellfire missiles into the mix and I'd say the Iranians are definitely sailing straight into harm's way if not oblivion.

Perhaps Achmadinejad could coax the Twelfth Imam from the well just in time to go down with his ships.

Russ Vaughn


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Sweden is the Best Islamic State

by Herbert I. London

Walls can be used to keep people in and keep people out, as was true of he Berlin Wall erected in 1961 and today of the walls being erected throughout Europe.

These contemporary walls operate under the name of "no go" zones, areas that are off limits to non-Muslims. These zones function as micro-states governed by Sharia Law. In many locations from Malmo to Hamburg, and from Liverpool to Rotterdam, host country authorities have lost effective control over these zones, and often are unable to provide even basic public aid -- such as police and fire assistance and ambulance services -- without permission from the local imam.

Here, in unvarnished terms, are the influences of multicultural policies that encouraged Muslim immigrants to live in parallel societies "walled in" through both a desire for separation and the host's desire to avoid integration.

In Britain, for example, a Muslim group called Muslims Against The Crusades, has launched a campaign to convert twelve British cities – including London – into independent Islamic states. In the "Tower Hamlets" area of East London, extremist Muslim preachers routinely issue death threats to women who refuse to wear Islamic veils. Neighborhood streets are plastered with posters that declare: "You are entering a Sharia controlled zone; Islamic rules enforced." The Muslim extremist Abu Izzadeen heckled the former Home Secretary John Reid by saying, "How dare you come to a Muslim area!"

At last count, the French police maintain there are 751 "no go" zones (Zones Urbaines Sensibles, ZUS) listed on the French government website. And mosques in Paris have been broadcasting sermons and chants of "Allahu Akbar" on loudspeakers into the streets. By any stretch, this represents an occupation force in France.

In a widely publicized event, fire fighters trying to extinguish a fire in the town's main mosque in Malmo, Sweden, were attacked by Muslim stone throwers. The argument for the disruption was that the fire fighting team did not obtain permission from the imams to enter "their" community. According to Malmo-based Imam Adly Abu Hajar: "Sweden is the best Islamic state."

These walls that divide are having a crippling influence on European societies. Muslim extremists employ the separation as a tactic to proselytize, and Europeans often describe these zones as evidence that Muslims cannot be integrated. The governments in question, eager to maintain stability, acquiesce in favor of the multicultural position. However, the acquiescence does not yield an expected result. The "no-go" zones breed hostility; these areas are time-bombs waiting to be set off by even relatively benign circumstances.

For decades the Berlin Wall was a symbol separating two worlds: freedom and dictatorship. It is instructive that the new walls separate liberal values from notions of religious extremism in a manner not that dissimilar from the past. Although guns, tanks and barbed wire do not separate "no go" zones from host societies, the separation is no less real and no less dangerous.

Herbert I. London


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Spanish Town Becoming "New Mecca of the Most Radical Islamism"

by Soeren Kern

The municipality of Salt, a town near Barcelona where Muslim immigrants now make up 40% of the population, has approved a one-year ban on the construction of new mosques. It is the first ban of its kind in Spain.

The moratorium follows public outrage over plans to build a massive Salafi mosque that is being financed by Saudi Arabia. Salafism is a branch of revivalist Islam that calls for restoring past Muslim glory by forcibly re-establishing an Islamic empire (Caliphate) across the Middle East, North Africa and parts of Europe such as Spain, which Salafists view as a Muslim state that must be reconquered for Islam.

Much of Spain was ruled by Muslim conquerors from 711 and 1492; Salafists believe that the territories the Muslims lost during the Spanish Reconquista still belong to them, and that they have a right to return and establish their rule there – a belief based on the Islamic precept that territories once occupied by Muslims must forever remain under Muslim domination.

Sacrificing common sense on the altar of multiculturalism, the previous Socialist government in Salt secretly gave permission to the Salafi Muslims to build the mega-mosque, which, with four stories comprising 1,000 square meters (11,000 square feet) accompanied by towering minarets, would be the largest Salafi mosque in Europe.

The secret deal was only discovered after the Socialists were ejected from power in May 2011. Angry natives began pressuring the new town council – now ruled by the center-right Convergència i Unió (CiU) party – to prevent the mosque from being built. On August 24, the council approved the one-year ban on the building of new mosques in order to provide "some time for reflection."

The Salafi mega-mosque may still be built, however, because the construction permit was issued before the non-retroactive moratorium took effect. The building permit, which is valid for a period of six months, expires at the end of September 2011.

Muslim radicals associated with two Spain-based Salafi groups, Al Hilal Islamic Cultural Association and Magrebins per la Pau Association, are now asking groups in Saudi Arabia to advance the funds needed to begin construction of the mosque within the next few weeks, before the building permit expires.

The Catalan nationalist party Plataforma per Catalunya (PxC) – which opposes not only the mosques but also Muslim immigration – attempted to hold an anti-mosque protest in Salt on August 27. PxC spokeswoman María Osuna said the party, which has some 70,000 active members, did not want Salt to become "the new Mecca of the most radical Islamism."

But provincial law enforcement authorities banned the PxC demonstration after learning that Muslims from across Spain were organizing a counter-demonstration in the town on the same day. Fearing the risk of violence, the provincial interior ministry issued a statement saying that the anti-mosque demonstration would be banned because it could "hurt the religious feelings of the majority of Muslims in Salt." Around 12,000 of Salt's 30,000 inhabitants are Muslim immigrants.

Salt and other towns in the north-eastern region of Catalonia have become ground zero for Salafi Islam in Spain. The movement is based in the Catalonian city of Tarragona, but Salafi Islam also has a major presence in the municipalities of Badalona, Calafell, Cunit, El Vendrel, Lleida, Mataró, Reus, Roda de Bara, Rubí, Salt, Santa Coloma de Gramenet, Sant Boi, Torredembarra, Valls, and Vilanova, not to mention Barcelona, which hosts five Salafi mosques.

Salafi preachers in Catalonia teach that Islamic Sharia law is above Spanish civil law. They also promote the establishment of a parallel Muslim society in Spain. Salafi imams have set up Sharia tribunals to judge the conduct of both practicing and non-practicing Muslims in Spain and to punish those who fail to comply.

The leaders of Salafi Islam in Salt are the "Caliph" Mohammed Attaouil and his right hand man, the cleric Rachid Menda. They are two of the most effective anti-Western propagandists in Spain, and have been able to create a Salafi stronghold in Catalonia by employing the twin strategies of spreading fear and proselytizing.

In December 2009, for example, nine Salafists kidnapped a woman, tried her for adultery based on Sharia law, and condemned her to death. The woman just barely escaped execution by fleeing to a local police station.

In January 2010, a Salafi imam in Tarragona was arrested for forcing a 31-year-old Moroccan woman to wear a hijab head covering. The imam had threatened to burn down the woman's house for being and "infidel" because she works outside of the home, drives an automobile and has non-Muslim friends. Bowing to political pressure to prevent "a social conflict," a court in Tarragona on August 2 absolved the imam of all wrongdoing.

Much of the Salafi proselytizing occurs by means of conferences which are attended by thousands of followers, many of whom also provide the movement with an important source of financial support. Speakers at the conferences often include Salafi luminaries from Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, as well as from Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. As many of the latter have European passports, they do not require visas to enter Spain and are free to move about the country as they please.

Salafi conferences in Spain are almost always scheduled during Christian holidays such as Christmas and Easter with the objective of directly challenging the majority culture. Conference attendees are warned that Muslims should not integrate into the "corrupt" Western society.

The Madrid-based ABC newspaper estimates that there are more than 100 Salafi mosques in Spain where radical imams preach to the faithful each Friday. The newspaper says some imams have established religious police that harass and attack those who do not comply with Islamic law. ABC also reports that during 2010, more than 10 Salafi conferences were held in Spain, compared to only one in 2008.

From Catalonia, Salafists are planting roots in other parts of Spain, including the Basque Country, Madrid, and Valladolid as well as all along the Mediterranean coast. In Guadalajara in central Spain, hooded Salafists have assaulted at least six native Spaniards with rocks since July. Local citizens' groups are protesting the opening of a Salafi mosque in the city.

The mayor of Salt, Jaume Torramadé, says Muslim immigrants in his town have become noticeably more radicalized in recent years. In an interview with RAC1 radio, Torramadé told listeners: "A few years ago, the Maghreb women were more westernized, but nowadays one sees much less of that. The large numbers of Muslim immigrants in Salt have attracted imams who are enforcing conduct and dress codes. Muslim women used to wear blue jeans, but now they cover their hair. These imams are not promoting coexistence."

Soeren Kern


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Libya, Syria, and Paralysis at the UN

by Joseph Klein

During the last few days, there has been a flurry of talk at the United Nations Security Council regarding the post-conflict transition in Libya, as well as the situation in Syria.

With respect to Libya, there has been no concrete action from the Security Council since the approval last week of the release of $1.5 billion dollars in frozen assets for humanitarian relief.

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon gave a report to the Security Council on August 30th in which he emphasized that the United Nations must take the lead role on behalf of the international community in responding to the needs of the Libyan people as they move forward in a post-conflict environment. He said that the Libyan rebels’ National Transitional Council has requested help in five areas:

1. Restoring public security and order and promoting the rule of law;

2. Leading inclusive political dialogue, promoting national reconciliation, and determining the constitution-making and electoral process;

3. Extending state authority, including through strengthening emerging accountable institutions and the restoration of public services;

4. Protecting human rights, particularly for vulnerable groups, and supporting transitional justice; and

5. Taking immediate steps to initiate economic recovery.

Ban said that the “National Transition Council appears to be largely in control of Tripoli and other cities,” which appears to be an overstatement. While Qaddafi’s regime has collapsed, The New York Times has reported that top civilian officials of the National Transitional Council (NTC) are yet to arrive in Tripoli, citing personal safety concerns. Moreover, there is still a jockeying for power amongst rival regional and ideological groups. The Times quoted an influential member of the NTC, who said that there is a “power vacuum” in the civilian leadership in the capital. There are also sharp divisions among competing military brigades in determining who should be in command. Thus, the United Nations may be counting on dealing with a group that will turn out to be an essentially powerless organization.

The Secretary General made no mention of plans for any UN peacekeeping force or of NATO’s role in Libya going forward. However, the UN special advisor on Libya, Ian Martin, who is overseeing the UN’s efforts in Libya during the post-conflict transition, told reporters during a press briefing following closed-door Security Council consultations that no UN peacekeeping role was envisioned. There will be no “military observers” on the ground, he said, disavowing his own earlier recommendation for the presence of such observers and continued NATO support.

As for NATO, there appears to be a disconnect between NATO itself and key players at the UN on NATO’s future role.

Oana Lungescu, the NATO spokesperson, and Colonel Roland Lavoie, Operation ‘’Unified Protector’’ military spokesperson, paid lip service to the UN’s “leading role” during their press conference on August 30th, but also made it clear that it was up to NATO itself to decide when to cease its activities.

Colonel Lavoie said:

[M]y message is that despite the fall of the Qadhafi regime and the gradual return of security for many Libyans, NATO’s mission is not finished yet. We remain fully committed to our mission and to keeping the pressure on the remnants of the Qadhafi regime until we can confidently say that the civilian population of Libya is no longer threatened.

In reply to a question concerning the process for ending the NATO mission and whether NATO would look to the UN to make that decision, Oana Lungescu responded, “The decision will be taken by the North Atlantic Council on the military advice of our commanders of Operation Unified Protector and of the military authorities.” The NATO spokesperson claimed that Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had endorsed this approach, but Ban’s associate spokesman in New York as well as Ian Martin refused to confirm whether this was true.

The Chinese and Russian UN ambassadors have made no secret of their displeasure with NATO’s military actions in Libya, which they claim have exceeded the authority granted under UN Security Council 1973 and contributed to civilian casualties. They are likely to press for a quick end to NATO’s mission, now that the conflict is essentially over. Indeed, the Chinese Ambassador Li Baodong made this precise point in remarks to the press on August 30th.

As for any further UN Security Council action on Syria, two competing resolutions have been introduced. Russia, supported by at least China, has introduced what amounts to a reiteration of the bland, toothless Security Council Presidential Statement issued on August 3rd. The United Kingdom, on behalf of itself, France, Germany, Portugal and the United States, introduced a much stronger resolution containing economic sanctions. Russia and China point to the civilian casualties in Libya that accompanied NATO’s escalation there as justification for not starting down that slippery slope again in Syria.

Key non-permanent members India, Brazil and South Africa have not publicly indicated which resolution, if any, they would support, but it is likely they are leaning toward the Russian version. India’s UN Ambassador, Hardeep Singh Puri, who has served as the president of the Security Council during the month of August, tipped his hand to the press on August 30th when he used terms like “coercive” and “punitive” to describe the UK version.

In a demonstration of how ineffective the Security Council has been in dealing with the ongoing atrocities by the Assad regime against the Syrian people, it has spent days trying to decide which draft resolution was filed first for consideration.

Confusion, obfuscation and inaction continue to rei[g]n at the United Nations.

Joseph Klein


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Iran’s Ominous Red Sea Move

by P. David Hornik

Both Israel and Iran have sent warships into waters south of Israel. FoxNews reported on Wednesday that Israel had deployed two more warships to its Red Sea border with Egypt; Israel already has an unspecified naval presence in the area. Iran, for its part, was dispatching its 15th fleet to the Red Sea.

An earlier report on Ynet noted that Iran’s 15th fleet comprises a submarine and several warships.

Although it’s an uncertain call, the reports give the impression that Israel’s move came first and Iran’s is a response. As Ynet also reports:

Israeli security sources told the Associated Press on Tuesday that two additional warships have been dispatched…. Another source said that the operation was routine, telling Reuters that “two naval craft have been sent to the Red Sea. This is not unusual.”

As for Iran’s navy commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, he told Iranian TV that the Iranian fleet was being deployed for routine patrols and preventing pirate attacks.

Or as he put it: “The presence of Iran’s army in the high seas will convey the message of peace and friendship to all countries.”

Israel’s dual message to AP and Reuters sounds calculated to emphasize its move without unduly, one might say, ruffling the waters. As for Admiral Sayyari’s fraternal tidings, they’re certain not to be read literally in Israel.

With or without an Iranian move, Israel has already been on a special footing since Monday when its chief of staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz ordered a heightened alert throughout southern Israel and particularly near the Israeli-Egyptian border. Civilian roads have been closed and forces stationed at the border in a deployment that has been called unprecedented.

What prompted this full-blown alert was earlier intelligence about a squad of about ten Islamic Jihad terrorists making their way through Egyptian Sinai from Gaza. They were seen as aiming to infiltrate the Israeli-Egyptian border and carry out a terror attack even larger than the one on August 18, when terrorists from another Gaza-based organization, the Popular Resistance Committees, crossed the border and killed eight Israelis.

As DEBKAfile points out, since that attack Israel has been engaged in a cat-and-mouse game with the Gaza terror haven. It was at dawn on August 24 that the Israeli air force killed Ismail al-Asmar, an Islamic Jihad commander, in a missile strike—one of a string of assassinations of Gaza terror leaders that were aimed at restoring Israel’s deterrence after the August 18 attack.

And it was later that day that the Islamic Jihad squad in question set out from Gaza—“turning this equation on its head,” claims DEBKA, “by demonstrating that Israeli attacks on Palestinian terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip bring forth Palestinian reprisals from Sinai.”

Where’s Egypt in all this? Israel has been trying to get Egypt to clamp down—to an extent still constrained by the 1979 Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty—on the growing chaos and terror threat in Sinai. Reports in the Egyptian media say the Egyptian military has started operating against the terror hubs there.

DEBKA, for its part, claims such accounts are “pure fiction” and that “the Egyptian army…is sitting on its hands as the jihadists take up assault positions on its side of the Sinai border”—which is exactly what the Egyptian army did at the time of the August 18 attack.

Israel still hopes post-Mubarak Egypt won’t turn into another “Iran.” As for the Iran that already exists, it’s not about, at this point, to get involved on the tactical level should a border skirmish between Israeli forces and Islamic Jihad (a direct Iranian creation and proxy) break out. But its Red Sea naval presence is a reminder to Israel that Iran is the patron of Gaza terror and that the conflict is ultimately on the strategic level with Israel’s survival as the stakes.

The “Arab spring” has already erupted in a hot summer for Israel. With Egypt almost certain to get even less friendly and cooperative, and so long as neither the U.S. nor Israel is prepared to confront Iran as the strategic problem that it is, the fall augurs no relief.

P. David Hornik


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NY Times Would Prefer Settlers Defenseless Against Palestinian Attacks

by Leo Rennert

In a couple of weeks, the Palestinian Authority will be at the UN seeking statehood recognition over all of Gaza, all of the West Bank and all of East Jerusalem, including Judaism's holiest shrines. And the UN General Assembly is likely to oblige.)

It's in this context that the New York Times, in an Aug. 31 dispatch by Jerusalem correspondent Isabel Kershner, reveals the startling news that the Israeli military has been training settlers in the West Bank to defend themselves if unilateral UN recognition of Palestinian statehood triggers attacks on Jewish settlements in the West Bank -- or, as Kershner puts it in more politically correct terms -- should there occur "major disturbances." ("Israel Intensifies Training Of Settler Security Teams" page A4).

Kershner is clearly upset about Israel's chutzpah in training settlers in self-defense tactics. The military, for example, is drawing boundaries around settlements as "no-go" lines to warn potential Palestinian demonstrators not to enter any settlements. So, Kershner huffs that "it was not clear how the boundaries would be made clear to protesters."

Kershner also is concerned that settler rapid-response teams have been armed with M-16 automatic rifles. Presumably, she'd be happier if they only had squirt guns or water pistols.

The military's explanation that, to ensure the safety of settlers, it is "preparing them to deal with any possible scenario" doesn't satisfy Kershner. The military, she informs Times readers, "declined to go into further detail regarding what it called its 'operational preparedness.'''

It's typical, of course, for Kershner and the Times to huff and puff about settlements as the alleged obstacles toward peace, rather than Hamas's total control of Gaza and Mahmoud Abbas's refusal to make any compromises whatsoever to achieve a two-state solution. That basic reality is not to be found in Kershner's piece. Nor is the historical fact that Israel repeatedly has vacated settlements or offered to vacate them whenever there was a glimmer or prospect of peace with its neighbors -- i.e. the evacuation of all Sinai settlements as part of a peace deal with Egypt, the abandonment of all settlements in Gaza when Ariel Sharon foolishly believed this would pave the way for a an incipient, peaceful Palestine, the offers to vacate 95 percent of the West Bank by Ehud Barak in 2000 and Ehud Olmert in 2008.

None of this matters as much to Kershner as those pesky settlements portrayed as sole obstacle in the path toward peace.

Leo Rennert


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How to Topple Iran; Hamas Moving to Cairo?

by Anna Mahjar-Barducci

The Hamas government in Gaza failed to pay the salaries to its 40,000 employees of public and security services last July. Hamas leaders then promised full payments in August, but even this month, not all employees received their wages. Reuters reports that Hamas has denied that the movement is undergoing a financial crisis but says that "it faces liquidity problems stemming from inconsistent revenues from tax collection in the Gaza Strip and foreign aid". However, according to Arab media outlets, the reasons behind the lack of liquidity lie in the deterioration of its relations with Iran.

According to diplomatic sources, Iran has allegedly suspended aid to Gaza, primarily in retaliation for Hamas's silence about the uprising in Syria, Iran's staunchest ally. "Iran has cut back or even stopped its funding of Hamas after the Islamist movement, which rules the Gaza Strip, failed to show public support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad," Reuters reported.. Hamas's leadership has not made any statement either in support of Assad or against the protestors, mainly because the Syrian regime recently extended its brutality to a Palestinian refugee camp near the port city of Latakia. Syrian forces opened fire on the camp, causing an undisclosed number of victims and obliging 10.000 refugees to flee.

The Jerusalem-based Media Line reported that Basem Ezbidi, a Syrian political scientist at Bir Zeit University in Ramallah, said that Hamas is facing the "greatest dilemma," as Hamas is findin difficulties to reconcile its conflicting interests: "On the one hand, Hamas does not want the Syrian regime to disappear," Ezbidi told The Media Line; "but on the other hand, how can it justify its strategic alliance with a state that kills Palestinians?"

Further, in April, the Saudi daily Al-Hayat wrote that Hamas's political leadership were ordered to leave Syria following its neutral stance towards the popular uprising. According to the report, Qatar agreed to host Hamas political bureau chief Khaled Mashal. Hamas denies the allegations, however, and its political leadership remained in Damascus. Nevertheless, according to reports, there are rumors that Hamas might shift its political bureau from Damascus to Cairo

There are also rumors that Iran has started to finance a Salafist groups in Gaza. These most extreme fringes, however, although plentiful in the Gaza Strip, seem to be fragmented and, for the moment at least, with little or no central coordination -- of course that could change. Hamas has a contradictory relation with Salafist groups: at times it represses them, and at times it uses them to achieve its own goals. Political analysts seem to agree that these movements do not have a serious chance to take over Gaza, which will remain, in the foreseeable future, under the grip of Hamas.

Media Line also reported that Ayman Shaheen, a political scientist at Gaza's Al-Azhar University, said that Hamas will be flexible in adapting to the new political reality in the Middle East: "Hamas is wise. It will create a new set of alliances to replace the Teheran-Damascus-Gaza axis," Shaheen said. "Qatar is always open to Hamas, and there is rapprochement with Egypt as well." Hamas's finances cannot be sustained without external support. Last year Hamas's budget was $540 million; with taxes on merchants and goods from Israel only accounting for $55 million. Apart from donations received from different countries in the region, the rest of the funds needed have so far beenr provided by Iran, whose annual aid is estimated to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Iran, however, has another reason for cutting financial aid to Gaza: The Iranian government itself is at the moment experiencing a financial crisis partly due to sanctions, but above all due to difficulties in keeping up with oil production. As indicated by the Financial Times, "[Iran] produces 3.7 million barrels of oil a day. After years of insufficient investment in infrastructure, however, that output is threatened. Iran's deputy oil minister, Mohsen Khojasteh-Mehr, said that the country will have to invest at least $32 billion to maintain its production capacity. If it does not do so, output will fall to 2.7 million barrels per day by 2015."

All indications are that at a moment when the Syrian regime might be toppled, Iran is neithet politically nor economically in the best position to defend its vital ally, Syria. Political analysts consider Syria Iran's Trojan Horse in the citadel of the Arab world. Without Syria, Iran will never be able accomplish its dream of a renewed Persian Empire spanning up to the Mediterranean, with Israel wiped off the map.

The West woiuld do well to realize that such favorable conditions will be be difficult to meet; it should therefore push harder for the fall of the Syrian regime. Irs collapse would be a deadly blow to the hegemonic aspiration of the Ayatollahs, and might even lay down the condition for its fall. All that is necessary would be to show half the political and military determination displayed against former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Anna Mahjar-Barducci


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The Rise of Islamic No-Go Zones

by Mark Tapson

Three and a half years ago, one of the Church of England’s most senior bishops, Pakistani-born Michael Nazir-Ali, warned that Islamic extremists had created “no-go”areas across Britain too dangerous for non-Muslims to enter. His politically incorrect concern sparked a firestorm of denial and criticism. The Muslim Council of Britain, for example, dismissed it as the Bishop’s “frantic scaremongering” and “intolerance,” and scoffed,

We wouldn’t allow “no-go” areas to happen. I smell extreme intolerance when people criticise multiculturalism without proper evidence of what has gone wrong.

Well, the evidence of how multiculturalism “has gone wrong” is in. This week Soeren Kern at the Hudson Institute documented the proliferation of such no-go zones throughout Europe – autonomous Islamic “microstates” under Sharia rule (having rejected their host countries’ legal systems), where non-Muslims must either conform to the cultural, legal, and religious norms of fundamentalist Islam or expect to be greeted with violence. As Daniel Pipes puts it, “a more precise name for these zones would be Dar al-Islam” – the House of Islam, or the place where Islam rules.

England, Sweden, Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands – in every European country with a large Muslim immigrant population, the story is the same: Islamic supremacists refuse to assimilate into the Western melting pot; instead they carve out a foothold in a neighborhood, and then, through intimidation or outright violence, push out the infidels whose failed secular values are no longer acceptable. Even public services such as police, firefighters and ambulances are often driven out of such neighborhoods with stones, bottles or bullets. Lacking the political and cultural will to assert control in areas that in some cases have become urban war zones, the authorities have simply retreated and abandoned them. As Germany’s Chief Police Commissioner Bernhard Witthaut confesses,

In these areas crimes no longer result in charges. They are left to themselves. Only in the worst cases do we in the police learn anything about it. The power of the state is completely out of the picture.

In Britain, where there are already as many as eighty-five Sharia courts in operation, an Islamist group called Muslims Against the Crusades has launched an ambitious campaign to turn twelve British cities into independent Islamic states, including Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, and what the group calls “Londonistan.” In the Tower Hamlets in East London – or as the Muslims there refer to it, “the Islamic Republic of Tower Hamlets” – imams known as the “Tower Hamlets Taliban” issue death threats to unveiled women, and gays are attacked by gangs of young Muslim men. The neighborhood has been littered with leaflets announcing, “You are entering a Sharia controlled zone. Islamic rules enforced.” It was in East London, remember, that the Islamist Abu Izzadeen challenged former Home Secretary John Reid by saying: “How dare you come to a Muslim area?”

In France, there are an astonishing 751 so-called Sensitive Urban Zones (ZUS). “Sensitive” indeed: the nature of the ZUS, and chaos like the nightly burning of cars in Paris, are topics that the French media largely downplay to avoid accusations of racism or Islamophobia – hence, for example, their generic description of the immigrant gangs running wild in Paris Métro stations as “youth.”

An estimated (as of 2004) five million Muslims live in these ZUS, and there is barely a single French city that lacks at least one. In Paris and other French cities with a high percentage of Muslim populations, like Lyons, Marseilles and Toulouse, thousands of Muslims make their presence felt by blocking streets and sidewalks for Friday prayers. Some mosques have begun broadcasting sermons and chants of “Allahu Akbar” via loudspeakers into the streets. Local authorities sit on their hands rather than confront this “occupation without tanks or soldiers,” because they are afraid of the situation escalating into violence in the streets.

The Dutch government has released a list of forty “no-go” zones in the Netherlands. In Brussels, Belgium, which is twenty percent Muslim, police have to patrol with two police cars, to watch each other’s back. And yet the multiculturalist mindset is so deeply entrenched in Europeans that it is the police who are expected to avoid offending cultural sensitivities: officers, for example, who frequently are targeted with rocks by Muslim youth, have been ordered not to drink coffee or eat in public during the Islamic month of Ramadan.

In Sweden, which an imam there has labeled “the best Islamic state,” whole patches of the city of Malmö – which is more than twenty-five percent Muslim – are no-go zones. There and in Gothenburg, Muslim teenagers have been burning cars, attacking emergency services, throwing.stones at patrolling officers and temporarily blinding them with green lasers.

And where such zones have not been officially established, the process is underway. In Italy, for example, Muslims have been commandeering Rome’s Piazza Venezia for public prayers. In Bologna, Muslims have repeatedly threatened to bomb the San Petronio cathedral because it contains a fresco which depicts the Islamic prophet Mohammed being tormented in hell.

These dangerous enclaves are, the Hudson Institute’s Kern writes, “the byproduct of decades of multicultural policies that have encouraged Muslim immigrants to create parallel societies and remain segregated rather than become integrated into their European host nations.” Indeed, as the scholar of Islam Robert Spencer has put it, what the Islamic supremacists want is not merely a place at the table – equal rights under the law, as previous minority groups have sought in civil rights movements – but their own separate table, utterly distinct from the manmade laws of infidels.

Mark Tapson


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The Hypocrisy of the Israeli Left

by Charles Bybelezer

Jerusalem Post contributor Alon Pinkas recently penned an article entitled “September: Palestine, Stalemate or Armageddon?” in which he spews venom on the “policy-devoid [Israeli] government,” and condemns Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for “not com[ing] up with a peace plan” to avert the Palestinians’ September gambit to seek UN statehood recognition. Likewise, self-proclaimed far-leftist-cum-centrist Benny Morris last week wrote a National Interest article, “How Netanyahu Could Have Stopped Palestinian Statehood Bid,” denouncing Netanyahu’s failure to “publicly, clearly chart out the main lines of a territorial compromise,” which, Morris presumes, would have induced the Palestinians to abide by the Oslo Accords and forego the UN option.

The great paradox is that according to the Professional Peace-Processor Association (PPPA), which counts as members both Pinkas and Morris, a comprehensive peace plan is intended to be devised through bilateral negotiations, which Netanyahu is unequivocally calling for. In Netanyahu’s own words, “I am prepared to immediately start direct negotiations with [PA President] Mahmoud Abbas. I am willing to invite [Abbas] to my house in Jerusalem and I am willing to go to Ramallah.”

Yet Netanyahu’s willingness to resume negotiations with an obstinate PA is irrelevant to both Pinkas and Morris, since the prime minister, according to Pinkas, is presently “enhance[ing] the [international community’s] impatience with the perpetual ‘Israeli-Palestinian’ conflict/peace process/crisis/stalemate.” By refusing to do what, one might ask? Who knows: neither author informs the reader as to the steps they believe Netanyahu should be taking (although Pinkas does implore Netanyahu to “entertain” the Saudi Peace Plan, conveniently omitting the fact that the “peace” plan was devised by a country that bars entry to Israelis). Instead, they simply criticize the prime minister for “blatantly and foolishly, almost frivolously, fail[ing] to play the game,” in Morris’ words. The irony is that if Netanyahu had in fact forwarded a peace plan, chances are Pinkas and Morris would have devoted their columns to condemning the prime minister’s “offensive” unilateralism, while explaining away the Palestinians’ UN bid as a fair, in kind reaction.

Furthermore, like all leftists, both Pinkas and Morris view the current impasse in a contextual vacuum, ignoring that Netanyahu has already taken considerable steps to propel the peace process forward. They neglect that Netanyahu already broke with his own ideological lines by formally endorsing in 2009 the creation of a Palestinian state. They also ignore the fact that Netanyahu implemented a 10-month construction moratorium last year in Israeli “settlements,” which the Palestinians spurned (Morris nonetheless goes so far as to overtly blame the prime minister for not curbing settlement expansion, despite the fact that the construction moratorium for the most part remains de facto in place). Most importantly, both authors overlook that Netanyahu recently succumbed to the Palestinian—and White House—demand that Israel withdraw to the 1967 borders as a basis for jump-starting negotiations with the Palestinians, specifically in order to ward off the Palestinian Authority’s UN ambitions.

To recap: Netanyahu is to be condemned for not playing a “game” (although he has clearly done so via ongoing concessions to the Palestinians for more than two years), which, incredibly, both Pinkas and Morris then concede is merely a charade that has no chance of success given the Palestinian unwillingness to engage. In Morris’ words, “Abbas would still have refused to negotiate…[as] he has no interest in a two-state solution and is unwilling to recognize Israel as a Jewish or legitimate entity.” According to Pinkas, the “Palestinians seem to have concluded that a meaningful peace process is not tenable.”

Go figure.

Despite their blatant hypocrisy, the authors proceed to validate the Palestinians’ UN drive, with Pinkas borderline commending the Palestinians for “chang[ing] their strategy” in light of Netanyahu’s “[sitting] back, in love with the status quo.” Morris validates the PA’s UN move by invoking Opposition Leader Tzipi Livni’s most recent tirade, in which she “squarely laid the blame for the corner into which Israel has painted itself at Netanyahu’s feet,” and by suggesting that the recent approval by Israel to build an additional 277 homes in Ariel “[gave] the Palestinians their excuse for avoiding negotiations.”

The problem with both authors’ analyses—that “September is a cruel reminder that if you don’t come up with a policy, others will,” in Pinkas’ opinion—is that it resides upon two self-indulgent, leftist fallacies: the patently false assertion that anything other than their policy is equivalent to no policy, and the subsequent gross misattribution of Palestinian belligerence to the failure to implement said policy.

The result is that the Palestinians can do no wrong, their ongoing antagonism invariably ascribed to the Israeli Right (due to its not pursuing ‘their” policy, of course). For Pinkas, when Netanyahu was bowing to world pressure and conceding to Palestinian whims, the prime minister’s policy was “lean, mean…flexible and creative.” However, now that Netanyahu has run out of plausible ways to prevent Palestinian intransigence, the author denigrates the Israeli government as “paralyzed,” “cumbersome” and “devoid of ideas.” For Morris, Netanyahu “still has a very good hand,” implying that he was wisely conducting affairs when he was kowtowing to Palestinian demands, however, presently he is “fail[ing] to play it.”

All the while, no mention is made of the fact that the Israeli Left has been unable to usher in a modicum of enduring peace, despite 20 years of implementing its Oslo-ian policies. This rejection of reality also precludes the authors from conceptualizing a crucial point: that maintaining “the status quo” is in itself a policy, and one that Netanyahu is likely pursuing at all costs. For if Netanyahu shifts any closer to the likes of Pinkas and Morris, he will have effectively negated his own self.

Tragically for Pinkas and Morris, this occurrence would require them to revert back to their default-position: blaming Palestinian rejectionism on the so-called “occupation.” And they would once again find themselves in the familiar position of promoting a falsity that has been disproved time and again.

Charles Bybelezer


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The Secret Deals of the Gulf War

by Jamie Glazov

Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Pavel Stroilov, the exiled Russian historian and the author of Behind the Desert Storm. A secret archive stolen from the Kremlin that sheds new light on the Arab revolutions in the Middle East.

FP: Pavel Stroilov, welcome to Frontpage Interview.

The subtitle of your new book states that it “sheds a new light on the Arab revolutions in the Middle East.” Yet, most of it is based on the Soviet secret archives about the 1990-1991 Gulf War, or even older events. It may be interesting to a historian, but what is its relevance to the current events in the Arab world?

Stroilov: Thanks Jamie.

These revolutions may have come as a bolt from the blue to many politicians and experts, but in fact, they had been inevitable for decades. Sooner or later, any socialist regime exhausts its economy and the patience of its people. All these regimes – Egypt, Libya, Syria – are socialist regimes and former Soviet clients. What we witness today is simply the collapse of the Soviet empire in the Middle East, part of the same process which we had seen in Europe in 1989-1991. Unfortunately, at that time the Red Arabs were allowed to survive. They could be – and should have been – overthrown at least twenty years earlier, and with much better results. Why that did not happen is a long story; and I hope I have told much of that story in my book.

Amusingly, I thought I finished the manuscript just before the revolt in Tunisia erupted; and I concluded it by predicting that the Red Arab regimes would be overthrown. I did not expect that to happen so soon that I would have to update the book several times as the events unfolded. Yet, that was where the evidence had led me. The value of this book lies not in my own expertise (fairly modest), but in the unique documents it reveals.

FP: Tell us about the documents and how you obtained them.

Stroilov: Most of the documents are verbatim transcripts of closed-door negotiations between the political leaders of those times. They are still top secret in Russia; and analogous documents in Western countries have not been declassified either.

They came into my hands through a chain of lucky coincidences. When the Soviet regime collapsed in 1991, and Gorbachev was being thrown out of the Kremlin, members of his private office staff made copies of top secret documents they had access to. Those copies were then stored in the Gorbachev Foundation, unknown to the Kremlin at that stage. A decade later, Gorbachev allowed some limited access to the documents to researchers he thought to be friendly, myself included. In fact, I was not that friendly: when I realized what a valuable archive was there, I played some tricks with passwords on their computers, turned my limited access into an unlimited one, and copied the whole archive. That was just in time. In 2003, the Kremlin learned about the existence of that archive, and put pressure on Gorbachev to stop sharing it with researchers. But it was too late – I had already stolen it. I am now working to make it public, and hopefully, this book about the Middle East is only the beginning.

FP: So, what do we still not know about the Gulf War?

Stroilov: Many things.

For example, there were secret negotiations between Washington and Baghdad during the fall of 1990, with the Soviets mediating, in an attempt to resolve the conflict peacefully. Indeed, they were close to an agreement on that – and on fairly scandalous terms, too. Saddam would withdraw from Kuwait voluntarily in exchange for big concessions over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – it would have to be resolved under the Soviet scheme of a UN-sponsored international conference. That would certainly mean, to put it simply, a disarmament and a dismemberment of Israel.

The documents show that George W. H. Bush Administration agreed to that deal in principle. However, they were very keen to keep the ‘linkage’ between Kuwait and Israel completely secret. They wanted Saddam to withdraw from Kuwait as if unconditionally, and then the United States would help to put pressure on Israel as a part of a supposedly unrelated ‘peace process’. On September 9, 1990, George W. H. Bush asked Gorbachev to ‘sound’ Saddam out about such a deal, Gorby sent an envoy on a long round of shuttle diplomacy, but eventually, Saddam refused. He would agree to such a deal if it was made openly, but he did not trust the Americans to adhere to their side of a secret bargain.

Worse still, although the deal with Saddam was not reached, the Bush-senior Administration made many promises on Israel to their anti-Israeli allies in the Gulf War – to Gorbachev, to Mitterrand, to Mubarak, to Assad, etc. It seems that much in the subsequent ‘Middle East peace process,’ disastrous as it has been for Israel, is rooted here.

FP: These are serious allegations; you have the evidence to support this?

Stroilov: It is all in the book. There is a verbatim transcript of the summit-meeting between Bush and Gorbachev in Helsinki on September 9, 1990, where Gorbachev explains his ‘peace plan’ and eventually persuades reluctant Bush to accept it. Gorbachev then proposes to ‘send someone’ to Saddam and to ‘sound him out’; Bush gratefully agrees to that, but asks to keep those negotiations completely secret. It is interesting to compare that transcript with the accounts of that summit-meeting given in the memoirs of Bush-senior, Brent Scowcroft, and James Baker. All of them give a fictitious story: they mislead us to believe that Gorbachev wanted to mention Israel and Palestinians in a joint public statement, but then conceded the point. In fact, as the document shows, the argument was about a secret deal, not a public statement, it was Bush who conceded the point, and Gorbachev who won it.

In October, Gorbachev sent his envoy Yevgeny Primakov to Baghdad, then to Washington, and then to Baghdad again. Those trips were known at the time, but the substance of the negotiations was not. Again, Bush, Scowcroft and Baker pretend in their memoirs that the ‘Primakov’s mission’ took them completely by surprise. They mention briefly that Primakov brought some compromise proposals from Saddam, which Bush and Co. firmly rejected, and then reprimanded Gorbachev for his initiative. However, the Soviet archives suggest that both Bush and Baker actually thanked Gorbachev for it.

It was only in November 1990, just after Saddam’s firm rejection of the ‘peace plan,’ that the US began military preparations for an offensive into Kuwait.

FP: What about evidence of other agreements leading to the Israeli-Palestinian ‘peace process’?

Stroilov: At the same summit-meeting in Helsinki, according to the transcript, Bush promised to Gorbachev that the United States would no longer oppose the Soviet presence in the Middle East and would cooperate with Moscow to start an Arab-Israeli ‘peace process.’ In further negotiations, they discuss the role of the UN and of Western Europe. In effect, one can see in these documents that the present ‘Middle East Quartet’ was established secretly long before it started operating publicly; and its roots are in the secret diplomacy of the Gulf War.

At the meeting with Gorbachev near Moscow on July 31, 1991, Bush and Baker discuss arrangements for deceiving Israel and making it negotiate on unacceptable terms. Thus, they would bring some ‘moderate’ Palestinians to a negotiating table, but promised to Gorbachev that the PLO would be allowed to ‘command its people behind the stages’ from Tunisia. They openly promised to Israel that the status of East Jerusalem would not be negotiated, and secretly promised to Gorbachev and to the Palestinians that the issue would be eventually smuggled into the talks.

Some of the discussions of that period include much bolder proposals. Thus, French President Mitterrand talks about a two-state solution on the basis of not even 1967 borders, but of the 1947 partition plan. Italian Prime Minister Andreotti also supported that idea.

FP: Why would the US Administration make all these concessions? What for?

Stroilov: They developed a very peculiar theory at that time – which, unfortunately, became universally accepted by now. The theory is that a military intervention is ‘legal’ only if it is authorised by the UN; and therefore, you need a very wide global coalition in order to attack some petty dictator like Saddam in 1991 or Gaddafi now. Time and again, this approach leads to disastrous results. In 1991, it prolonged the life of Saddam’s regime for another 12 years. In the documents, we can see why that happened: the Soviets and the French put the pressure on Bush not to go beyond liberation of Kuwait, i.e. strictly follow the UN resolution.

Today we know this approach led to all sorts of disasters, including several further wars, and millions of people lost their lives because Saddam had been allowed to stay in power. And yet, when the West had to intervene in Libya this year, we took the same absurd approach: asked for UN authorization, for an Arab League authorization, and obtained all sorts of resolutions to tie our hands. It was ‘legal’ to bomb Gaddafi’s forces while they advance but ‘illegal’ to bomb them while they retreat. It was ‘legal’ to kill Gaddafi by accident but ‘illegal’ to kill him deliberately. As a result, it took many months for the whole might of the Western world to defeat a petty backward dictatorship.

In the documents of the Gulf War, we can see the detailed mechanism of a cumbersome and unfriendly coalition practically sabotaging the war; and even more importantly, we find the explanation why America agrees to that. Bush and Baker had a peculiar idea which they called ‘the new world order,’ introduced and supported by UN as a ‘prototype of the world government,’ to use Gorbachev’s expression. It was agreed between the world leaders at the time that America must no longer be a ‘global policeman,’ and the role should be gradually taken over by a UN-based world government.

Of course, you cannot fight a real war on the basis of such utopian ideas. On the one hand, Saddam fully exploited its weakness by making a very logical argument: well, if UN resolutions are now taken seriously and implemented by force, why do you start from me and not, for example, from Israel? After all, there is plenty of UN resolutions against Israel. On the other hand, the wide coalition opposing him inevitably included a powerful anti-American and anti-Israeli wing, led by Gorbachev, Mitterrand and Mubarak. They joined the coalition for real politik reasons, but between themselves, they openly said they did it only to ‘restrain the Americans.’ That is why the US had to agree to all those secret talks with Saddam, promise all these concessions at the expense of Israel, and eventually had to turn back from the gates of Baghdad and not overthrow Saddam. Even after Bush himself appealed to the Iraqis to revolt against Saddam and they did so, he abandoned them and left them at Saddam’s mercy just because a further military intervention would upset the Soviets and the French. The massacre that followed was the first bloody fruit of the ‘new world order’ utopia.

FP: Do you think similar things are happening with Libya now?

Stroilov: Of course. After reading these documents, you can see these events are simply inevitable in a global coalition of this kind. With all these limitations, it is lucky that NATO has won that war at all; but I bet we still don’t know the full price of that victory. The secret deals of the Gulf War are still haunting us twenty years later. It is because of these secret deals that Israel is now besieged and the whole region is still overwhelmed by wars and tyrannies. No doubt, there were similar secret deals in every ‘new world order’ war, in every global coalition constructed since then; and those deals will have equally serious consequences.

FP: How does Gorbachev look in these documents?

Stroilov: Whatever may be said about Gorbachev’s other policies, domestic and foreign, he was a typical Soviet leader as far as the Middle East was concerned. He did not change anything. The Soviet support to all sorts of terrorists continued as usual, and it is all well documented. Assad remained Moscow’s main ally in the region, and the transcripts of their meetings also suggest that Gorbachev and Assad-senior were personal friends. Gorbachev even backed the idea of a united socialist Arab superstate under Assad’s leadership. Gorby still saw Israel and the US as the main enemies in the Middle East. Thus, the transcript of Gorbachev’s talks with Arafat in 1988 record them as discussing a detailed plan of the first Intifada, which was certainly orchestrated from Moscow.

Take another example: in the run-up to the military operation against Saddam, two of Gorbachev’s advisors wrote a memo suggesting sharing information about Iraqi’s chemical and bacteriological weapons with the Americans. Gorbachev refused to do that. A month later, Margaret Thatcher raised the subject of Saddam’s WMDs in a conversation with Gorbachev. Not only did he decline to tell her anything, he actually told her a lie: he confirmed Saddam had chemical weapons but said he had no knowledge about the existence of Iraqi bacteriological weapons. At that time, this lie could have very serious consequences. Nobody knew whether Saddam would use his WMDs in the upcoming war. Imagine what would happen if the West believed Gorbachev, assumed he had no bacteriological weapons, and then Saddam had suddenly used them.

FP: Tell us about Ted Kennedy and his role in the Gulf War.

Stroilov: Ted Kennedy supplied Moscow with confidential sensitive information at least since the late 1970s, sometimes through KGB channels. This is all very well documented in my book. In the run-up to the US military operation against Iraq, in November 1990, the Bush Administration was still telling the Soviets they were prepared to resolve the conflict peacefully if Saddam withdraws from Kuwait. In that situation, Kennedy secretly sent his chief of staff, Larry Horowitz, to Moscow, to tell the Soviets this was not true: ‘a final decision to solve the crisis in the Gulf by military means has already been taken in the White House. The deadline is spring.’

There are a number of similar episodes with Kennedy and Larry Horowitz, many of them unrelated to Iraq or Middle East.

FP: With hindsight, what was the main mistake of the West in dealing with the 1990-1991 Gulf crisis?

Stroilov: Playing ‘new world order’ is a serious business, involving not only the world’s oil supplies, but millions of human lives.

FP: What should have we done instead?

Stroilov: They should have done what they successfully did 12 years later, in a much more difficult situation: forget about the UN and ‘world community’, fight that war as a normal war, and win it. Be a global policeman. Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait was not a very difficult problem in itself. In military terms it was fairly easy to drive him out. But it was also an opportunity which the West missed. We should have removed Saddam from power in 1991, and unlike 12 years later, the Western troops would then be greeted with flowers as liberators. There was a nationwide uprising again Saddam, provoked by Bush’s own appeal to the Iraqi people; and then the West allowed to drown it in blood. No wonder the West became not very popular with the Iraqis after such a betrayal. This is not to mention the fact that Saddam’s regime was given another 12 years to prepare for a full-scale guerrilla war.

We should have supported the uprising, removed Saddam, and established democracy in Iraq, which would have been much easier at that point. Furthermore, we should have made efforts to help that democratic revolution spread into other countries of the region. Again, it is happening now anyway, but in a much more difficult situation, where there is a very real danger that the revolution would be hijacked by Islamic Socialists or Socialist Islamists of some kind. In 1991, in the atmosphere of the end of the Cold War, the mood of the people would be much more pro-Western and pro-democratic, while the regimes would not have another twenty years to prepare their defences.

Unfortunately, the West not only missed that opportunity, but created all sorts of complications by pursuing its ‘new world order’ chimera. Worse still, we have not learnt anything even now, and repeat all the same mistakes in the present Middle East crisis. The war in Libya is the brightest example of this.

FP: Pavel Stroilov, thanks for joining Frontpage Interview.

Jamie Glazov


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