Posted tagged ‘Theocracy’

Sebastian Gorka Speech at the Republican National Lawyers Association

May 6, 2017

Sebastian Gorka Speech at the Republican National Lawyers Association, C-SPAN via YouTube, May 5, 2017

(Dr. Gorka addresses the Islamic Caliphate, aka the Islamic State, its history and how to defeat it and its affiliates. Please see also, President Trump slams the book down on calumny campaign against Dr. Gorka. — DM)

 

Middle East: A Shift from Revolution to Evolution

April 8, 2017

Middle East: A Shift from Revolution to Evolution, Gatestone InstituteNajat AlSaied, April 8, 2017

The lesson the Trump administration might learn from the disastrous mistakes of its predecessor is that the main sources of terrorism in the region are political Islam and all its related religious groups. All these radical groups, including ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Jabhat Al-Nusra and Hamas have been spawned by a political Islam driven by the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The fight, therefore, should not be against Islam, but against political Islam. Islam needs to be practiced the way other religions are, as a private personal faith that should be kept separate from public life and politics, and whose expression should be confined to worship only.

Mosques, whether in the Arab and Muslim world or in the West, should be places of worship only and must not transformed to centers for polarizing society or for recruitment by political religious groups.

After each Islamist terrorist attack in the West, the public is divided into two camps: one angry and one indifferent. The problem with defeating Islamist terrorism seems to be that either it is attacked by conservatives who call Islam an evil cult or it is forgiven entirely by liberal apologists. What, then, is the answer?

One of the main failures in Western analyses of the origins of terrorism in the Middle East and North Africa is that the West attributes them to a lack of democracy and a lack of respect for human rights. This is, indeed, part of the cause, but the root of the problem is a lack of development and modernity. U.S. President Donald Trump did not exaggerate when he said that the Obama administration’s foreign policy was disastrous. It was catastrophic mainly for two reasons. One was the knee-jerk support for the “Arab Spring” and for extremist Islamic political groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood. The second was the alliances the Obama administration built with unreliable countries such as Qatar, which supports radical political groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood. In addition, Obama made the mistake of continuing to try to appease Iran’s theocratic regime.

The Arab Spring’s uncalculated, hasty attempt to establish so-called democracy only generated more turmoil and chaos in the region. Certain radical political groups simply exploited the elections to serve their own political and sectarian agendas; that swoop for power only resulted in more authoritarian and dictatorial regimes, as have played out, for instance, in Egypt, where we have witnessed the murder of civilians and police officers by the Muslim Brotherhood. In other countries, the situation is even worse; attempts to install democracy have totally destroyed the state and facilitated the spread of terrorist militias, as in Libya.

It is ironic that Western countries and their advocates stress the need to apply democratic practices in Arab countries, but evidently do not recall that development and secularism preceded democracy in Western Europe. The United Kingdom, which has the oldest democratic system, did not become fully democratic until 1930. France became fully democratic only in 1945, 150 years after the French Revolution.

The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, at the Arab Summit in Jordan on March 28, 2017 delivered a speech in which he indicated his continuous support for the Muslim Brotherhood:

“If we are serious about focusing our efforts on armed terrorist organizations, is it fair to consider any political party we disagree with as terrorist? Is our goal to increase the number of terrorists?”

Many Arab leaders were infuriated by his speech; at the forefront was President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt, who left the Arab Summit Hall during the speech to meet King Salman of Saudi Arabia.

Most Arab leaders and analysts, in fact, are enraged by Qatar’s continuous support for Islamist political groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood, because these groups are a threat to their national security.

President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt speaks at the Arab Summit, on March 29. The previous day, Sisi walked out of a speech by the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani. Sisi was infuriated by Al-Thani’s declaration of support for the Muslim Brotherhood. (Image source: Ruptly video screenshot)

Another consequence of Obama’s foreign policy — in particular attempts to get close to Iran’s hostile regime — has been a fraying of relationships with old Arab allies of the United States. Some of Obama’s advisors thought that replacing Saudi Arabia with Iran was somehow “better” for the United States, if Iran “is beginning to evolve into a very civilized and historically important country” — an analysis that can be described as completely short-sighted.

The Saudi regime, with all its flaws, is a monarchy run by princes; the Iranian regime is a theocracy run by clerics. The Saudi regime is not a theocratic regime but a hybrid structure, which is neither wholly secular nor wholly religious. As such, the religious class functions under the authority of the ruling class. Princes are driven by self-interest; clerics are driven by ideology. In terms of extremism, the Iranian regime is pushing for hegemony, whilst Saudi Arabia has been taking only a defensive, rather than an expansionist, position.

The motivation of Saudi Arabia in exporting mosques world-wide and installing radical Saudi imams is defensive, not expansionist as in Iran. Saudi Arabia’s impetus is to confront Iran’s hegemony and the spread of its hostile ideology. It is this strategy, which Saudi Arabia has practiced since 1979 to balance Iran’s power and to combat its rebellious ideology, that must change.

That Iran’s Khomeini regime sought to embarrass Saudi Arabia — a country that is home to Islam’s two holiest mosques, in Mecca and Medina — by portraying it as not sufficiently Islamic, meant that the foundational Islamic Wahhabism of the Saudi Kingdom was aggressively reinforced. This emphasis resulted in even more constraints being put in place in Iran: especially on entertainment. Since the Khomeini revolution in 1979, all plays, fashion shows, international events, and cinemas have been banned. As for women, the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice has increasingly harassed them. As for minorities, especially Shia challenging the Iranian Shia regime and its support for Shia militias — particularly the dominant Revolutionary Guards — books were published attacking the Shia:

More books appeared, attacking the Shias and especially Khomeini’s views. These books – like the arguments of Khomeini’s followers – rejected modern thinking as an “intellectual invasion.” Saudi Arabia, considered the guardian of Sunni Islam, spent billions of dollars on challenging the Khomeini-backed Shiites.

This religious one-upmanship — a competition over which body can be the “most religious” — must stop. Saudi Arabia would do well to understand that in order to confront the hegemony of the Iranian theocratic regime, the answer is not to radicalize Saudi society but to return to the way it was before 1979.

The best way to defeat the rebel hostile regime in Iran might be through creating an inclusive and tolerant society in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia needs to change its approach towards Iran because the current strategy has not worked. The current strategy has done nothing except to strengthen the Iranian regime’s dominance; distort, globally, the image of Saudi Arabia and accelerate terrorism.

The lesson the Trump administration might learn from the disastrous mistakes of its predecessor is that the main source of terrorism in the region are political Islam and all its related religious groups. All these radical groups including ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Jabhat Al-Nusra and Hamas have been spawned by a political Islam driven by the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood. Extremist jihadists such as Osama bin Laden, Abdullah Azzam and Ayman al-Zawahiri were all taught by the Muslim Brotherhood.

Political Islam practiced by the Iranian theocratic regime has been comfortably generating Shia radical militias, including the terrorist group, Hezbollah. The fight, therefore, should not be against Islam, but against political Islam. Islam needs to be practiced the way other religions are, as a private personal faith that should be kept separate from public life and politics, and whose expression should be confined to worship only. Mosques, whether in the Arab and Muslim world or in the West, should be places of worship only and must not transformed to centers for polarizing society or for recruitment by political religious groups. Unfortunately, Western countries have turned a blind eye to the political activities inside these mosques.

The danger of these religious political groups is that they do not believe in democracy or human rights; they just use elections to grasp power in order to impose a system of “Islamic Caliphate” as their only form of government. Most of these groups use religion as an ideology to oppose governments other than their own, and when they are criticized or attacked, they play the role of the oppressed.

The Trump administration needs to take advantage of the fact that the majority of people in the Middle East and North Africa have lost faith in religious political groups, especially since the failure of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Tunisia.

Before the Arab Spring, support for these groups was huge; now it stands at less than 10% of the population. This study was conducted in the Arab world, not including Turkey. The Muslims who support Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan are the Muslim Brotherhood.

Most recent polls indicate that the majority of people in Arab and Muslim countries prefer religion to be kept separate from politics.

The country that is working the most systematically to fight these religious political groups in the region is the United Arab Emirates (UAE). There are several institutes and think tanks researching how to combat these groups. Dr. Jamal Sanad Al-Suwaidi, Director General of the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR), has given a robust analysis of these groups and how to combat them in his book, The Mirage. In it, he cites a study on public opinion on political religious groups: A survey of the UAE population, on how these groups are able to influence the public by taking advantage of certain flaws in the system: 53.9% because of corruption; 47.9% because of poverty and 29.1% because of an absence of civil society groups that confront these opportunists.

The Middle East-North Africa region will undoubtedly have to go through several stages before it can successfully establish democracy. An evolutionary developmental approach will definitely be better than the failed revolutionary democratic one pursued by the Obama administration.

Secularization is also crucial in the fight against terrorism. Trying to build a democracy before going through the stages of secularism and political reformation — which includes rectifying existing flaws, such as corruption; modernization which means the liberation of the region from extremist totalitarian religious dogma and all other forms of backwardness in order to kick-start a renaissance; and scientific development — will not only be inadequate but will actually generate more terrorism by helping radicals to keep gaining power. It would be like a farmer who wants to plant roses in arid desert soil full of thorns.

Senior National Security Experts Calling for Working with the Iranian Opposition Applauded by Iranian Americans

January 18, 2017

Senior National Security Experts Calling for Working with the Iranian Opposition Applauded by Iranian Americans, Iran News Update, January 18, 2017

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This bi-partisan urge to the incoming Trump administration “to establish a dialogue with Iran’s exiled resistance, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI),” who have called for free elections to establish a secular, democratic, non-nuclear republic in Iran, as well as to end to Tehran’s “religious dictatorship.”

Successive US administrations, offering concessions in a futile attempt to moderate the behavior of the totalitarian regime, have failed, and ignored 80 million freedom loving people in Iran.

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In an article published in the PR Newswire, a Cision Company on Jan. 16, 2017, the Organization of Iranian American Communities-US (OIACUS), the largest, most active and enduring grass root organization of Iranian-Americans in the United States welcomes the letter initiated by nearly two dozen bi-partisan former senior U.S. government officials who have urged President-elect Donald Trump to work with the Iranian opposition, as an integral part of a new policy on Iran.

Signed by 23 former top officeholders during the past five administrations the letter to the president-elect states, “To restore American influence and credibility in the world, the United States needs a revised policy based on universally shared norms and principles reflecting the ideals of peace and justice. A policy highlighting, and demanding an end to, Iran’s domestic human rights violations and malevolent regional actions will attract broad support and generate needed leverage against Iran’s threatening behavior.”

This bi-partisan urge to the incoming Trump administration “to establish a dialogue with Iran’s exiled resistance, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI),” who have called for free elections to establish a secular, democratic, non-nuclear republic in Iran, as well as to end to Tehran’s “religious dictatorship.”

Successive US administrations, offering concessions in a futile attempt to moderate the behavior of the totalitarian regime, have failed, and ignored 80 million freedom loving people in Iran.

The OIAC calls on the new administration to reach out to the Iranian people and their well-organized opposition movement, saying that foreign military intervention is not the answer, and that the United States should recognize the aspirations of Iranian people for a free and democratic future as the only effective and viable policy.

Our members have a range of political and party affiliations. However the members are unified in the belief that democracy and human rights in Iran are imperative to the national security of America, peace in the Middle East, and beyond. “In this honorable endeavor, we shall welcome your engagement and decisive decision-making.”

At a January 24th Congressional briefing, Iranian Americans will also join their representatives to present their policy recommendations on Iran with their representatives in Washington, DC.

Obama: “That’s Not Who we Are.” Part I, America and Islam

January 18, 2016

Obama: “That’s Not Who we Are” Part I, America and Islam, Dan Miller’s Blog, January 18, 2016

(The views expressed in this article are mine and do not necessarily reflect those of Warsclerotic or its other editors. — DM)

Obama keeps telling us what America is not. What does He think she is? Does He think that Obama’s America is America, or that His supporters are what America is? Does He think they make America great? Will America become acceptable to Obama, and hence “who we are,” only after He or His successor finishes her fundamental transformation?

“Benefits” of the Iran Scam

By virtue of the now-implemented Iran nuke “deal,” Iran’s possession of an atomic and/or hydrogen bomb will be delayed for a few years unless she cheats (as in the past), reneges on the “deal” or out-sources nuke development to her long term partner, North Korea.

The Islamic Republic of Iran is now reaping the benefits of more than $100 billion in immediate sanctions relief plus a settlement of Iranian claims amounting to $1.7 billion.

Secretary of State John Kerry said today that the settlement is $400 million debt and $1.3 billion in interest dating back to the Islamic revolution. That’s separate from the sanctions windfall Iran will receive.

Iran will also benefit on a long-term basis from trade with countries formerly prohibited by sanctions.

According to Tasnim News Agency,

Back in June 2015, Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei had outlined the general policies of the country’s 6th quinquennial development plan.

On defense and security, the proclamation necessitated an increase in Iran’s defense capabilities at the level of a regional power in order to fulfill the national interests by allocating at least 5 percent of the national budget to boosting the defense power. [Emphasis added.]

With increased funding, Iran will be able to increase its already substantial support for Shiite terrorism throughout the Middle East; it will likely do so.

Iranians continue to experience Islamic human rights. Here’s a link to an article titled The Real War on Women in a Nightmarish Islamic State by Dr. Majid Rafizadeh. An Iranian-American political scientist and scholar, he is the president of the International American Council and serves on the board of the Harvard International Review at Harvard University.

When it comes to executions, girls are systematically more vulnerable due to the Islamist penal code of Sharia law.

Let’s take a look at the Islamist state of Iran, which creates its laws from the legal codes of Sharia and Quran. The first type of discrimination is related to age: girls are held criminally accountable at the maturity age of 9 Lunar years. (This will automatically put girls at a higher risk of execution by the court.)

Iranian ruling politicians hold the highest record when it comes to the most executions per capita in the world. Intriguingly, in the last two years that the so-called moderate, Hassan Rouhani, has been in office, there have been more than 2000 executions conducted in Iran. That is nearly 3-4 executions a day.

More importantly, Iranian leaders are also the largest executioner of women and female juveniles. Some of these executions were carried out on the mullahs’ charge of ‘Moharebeh’ (enmity with Allah), or waging war against Allah, ifsad-i Fil Arz (Sowing Corruption on Earth), or Sab-i Nabi (Insulting the Prophet). [Emphasis added.]

There are three methods of execution for women and female juveniles: 1. Stoning  2. Public hanging 3. Shooting. Some women are also beaten so severely in the prison that they die before reaching the execution. Shooting, which is the fastest method of the three for execution, has not been used since 2008. Instead, the most common method to execute women is public hanging or stoning. Some of these women are flogged right before they are hanged. Public hanging not only imposes fears in the society but also aims at dehumanizing and controlling women as second-class citizens. According to the Islamist penal code of Iran, women offenses are classified as: Hadd, Diyyih, Ta`zir, and Qisas. [Emphasis added.]

Please read the entire article. Isn’t it heartwarming that “we” are giving even more than a mere $100 billion to Iran? Perhaps some of the new money can be used to buy sharper stones and new devices for hangings. How about some new torture devices?

Islam, The Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliates

The Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas-affiliated Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) claims to represent Muslims in America. They do represent those who favor terrorism and despise human rights (in the name of which they ironically claim to act).

[T]he Council on American-Islamic Relations, is a prominent Islamic group, but which has a long history of involvement with extremist and terrorist causes. In 2009, during the Holy Land Foundation terror financing trial, U.S. District Court Judge Jorge Solis concluded that, “The government has produced ample evidence to establish the associations of CAIR… with the Islamic Association for Palestine, and with Hamas.” [Emphasis added.]

During the trial, CAIR was designated an “unindicted co-conspirator.” As a result of CAIR’s apparent links to a terrorist movement, the Justice Department in 2009 announced a ban on working with CAIR. The FBI also severed relations.

The FBI’s no-work-with-CAIR policy was commonly ignored, according to a liberally redacted Justice Department report released in 2013, and now appears to have become moribund. CAIR representatives are often invited to the Obama White House:

[F]or the past seven years, the Obama White House has opened its doors to the entire spectrum of radical Islamist groups, just like CAIR. These groups have rationalized the actions of Islamic terrorist groups that have killed Americans, warned American Muslims against cooperating with law enforcement, smeared genuine Muslim moderates like Zuhdi Jasser and Asra Nomani as traitors and accused anyone who dared to utter the term “radical Islam” as “Islamophobic.” These are the groups that the White House should have marginalized. The fact that Obama legitimized radical Islamist groups will be his real legacy. [Emphasis added.]

Returning to the previously quoted article about CAIR and whom it claims to represent,

Very few American Muslims, however, seem to feel that CAIR is a legitimate ambassador for American Islam. According to a 2011 Gallup poll, about 88% of American Muslims said that CAIR does not represent them. Muslims all over the world, in fact, apparently do not think CAIR is a moderate or legitimate Muslim group: in 2014, the United Arab Emirates, a pious Muslim state, designated CAIR a terrorist organization, along with dozens of other Muslim Brotherhood organizations.

In reality, American Muslims are extremely diverse, and no single group can claim to speak on their collective behalf. American Islam comprises dozens of different religious sects and political movements, many of which advocate distinctly different ideas. But for Islamist bodies such as CAIR, it suits their agenda if American Muslims are portrayed as a monolithic community. If American Muslims can be seen as homogenous, then a group such as CAIR has a better claim to represent their interests.

Even CAIR’s own research, however, undermines their claim to speak on behalf of American Muslims. A 2011 report reveals that a majority of American mosques are not affiliated with any American Islamic body.

Addressing a conference in 2000, Sheikh Abdul Hadi Palazzi, a Muslim cleric and secretary general of the Italian Muslim Assembly, explained that, “[CAIR] is a Muslim Brotherhood front organization. It works in the United States as a lobby against radio, television and print media journalists who dare to produce anything about Islam that is at variance with their fundamental agenda. CAIR opposes diversity in Islam.”

In truth, CAIR only speaks on behalf of a small extremist ideology that, as discovered by federal prosecutors, emerged across the United States during the 1990s out of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. Although CAIR does not represent American Muslims, it managed, before the Holy Land Foundation terror trial in 2008, to persuade a great many people that it did. Enough time has passed that CAIR seems to believe it can try this move once again.

Are CAIR and other similar Islamist organizations who claim to represent Muslims in America who we are? Not according to a bill now pending in the Congress, which would

state that Congress believes the Muslim Brotherhood fits the State Department’s criteria of a Foreign Terrorist Organization. The Secretary of State would be required to designate the Brotherhood within 60 days or to provide a detailed report explaining why it does not. Three U.S.-based Brotherhood entities named in the bill are CAIR, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT). [Emphasis added.]

The House version of the bill (HR3892) was introduced by Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) with Reps. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Randy K. Weber (R-TX), Diane Black (R-TN) and Mike Pompeo (R-KS) as original cosponsors. They are now joined by Reps. Steve King (R-IA); Steven Palazzo (R-MS); Kay Granger (R-TX); Jim Jordan (R-OH); Steve Stivers (R-OH); Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA); Ilena Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL); Charles W. Dent (R-PA); Bill Johnson (R-OH) and David A. Trott (R-MI).

HR3892 was referred to the Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security on December 4, 2015. Two cosponsors, Rep. Gohmert and Rep. Trott, sit on that subcommittee.

The Senate version of the bill (S2230) was introduced by presidential candidate Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and later cosponsored by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT). It was referred to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on November 3. Two of Senator Cruz’s presidential rivals, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) sit on that committee and have not taken a position on the bill.

Although the bill has yet to earn bi-partisan support at this early stage, it is supported by members of Congress from different spectrums of the Republican Party. It includes endorsers of the presidential campaigns of Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush and John Kasich and not only supporters of Ted Cruz.

If enacted by the Congress, Obama will almost certainly veto it. If He signs it, He will ignore or bypass it as He often does.

Britain recently declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization. Here are thirteen quotes from the British Government’s review and Prime Minister Cameron’s official statement:

1. “The Muslim Brotherhood’s foundational texts call for the progressive moral purification of individuals and Muslim societies and their eventual political unification in a Caliphate under Sharia law. To this day the Muslim Brotherhood characterizes Western societies and liberal Muslims as decadent and immoral. It can be seen primarily as a political project.”

2.  “Aspects of Muslim Brotherhood ideology and tactics, in this country and overseas, are contrary to our values and have been contrary to our national interests and our national security.”

3.  “From its foundation the Muslim Brotherhood organized itself into a secretive ‘cell’ structure, with an elaborate induction and education program for new members…This clandestine, centralized and hierarchical structure persists to this day.”

4.  “The Hamas founding charter claims that they are the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Muslim Brotherhood treat them as such. In the past ten years support for Hamas (including in particular funding) has been an important priority for the MB in Egypt and the MB international network.”

5.  “From at least the 1950s the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood also developed an international network, within and beyond the Islamic world. Europe became an important base for the growing Muslim Brotherhood global network.”

6.  “The wider international network of the Muslim Brotherhood now performs a range of functions. It promotes Muslim Brotherhood ideology (including through communications platforms), raises and invests funds, and provides a haven for members of the Brotherhood who have left their country of origin to continue promoting Brotherhood activity.”

7.  “[F]or the most part, the Muslim Brotherhood have preferred non violent incremental change on the grounds of expediency, often on the basis that political opposition will disappear when the process of Islamization is complete. But they are prepared to countenance violence—including, from time to time, terrorism—where gradualism is ineffective.”

8.  “Muslim Brotherhood organizations and associated in the UK have neither openly nor consistently refuted the literature of Brotherhood member Sayyid Qutb which is known to have inspired people (including in this country) to engage in terrorism.”

9.  “[The review] concluded that it was not possible to reconcile these [MB] views with the claim made by the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood in their evidence to the review that ‘the Muslim Brotherhood has consistently adhered to peaceful means of opposition, renouncing all forms of violence throughout its existence.’”

10.  “In the 1990s the Muslim Brotherhood and their associates established public facing and apparently national organizations in the UK to promote their views. None were openly identified with the Muslim Brotherhood and membership of the Muslim Brotherhood remained (and still remains) a secret.”

11.  “[MB fronts] became politically active, notably in connection with Palestine and Iraq, and promoted candidates in national and local elections…sought and obtained a dialogue with Government….were active members in a security dialogue with the police.”

12.  “The Muslim Brotherhood have been publicly committed to political engagement in this country. Engagement with Government has at times been facilitated by what appeared to be a common agenda against al Qaida and (at least in the UK) militant Salafism. But this engagement did not take into account of Muslim Brotherhood support for a proscribed terrorist group and its views about terrorism which, in reality, are quite different from our own.”

13. “Senior Muslim Brotherhood figures and associated have justified attacks against coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

The linked article goes on to note that

The U.S. government, without even conducting any kind of review of its own, issued a statement to the Investigative Project on Terrorism rejecting any ban or even any “de-legitimizing” of the Brotherhood at all. [Emphasis added.]

Do the Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliates represent Obama? Are they or Obama “what we are?” I don’t think so and hope not.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali and reformation of Islam

In Heretic (which I reviewed here), Ayaan Hirsi Ali wrote,

For years, we have spent trillions on waging wars against “terror” and “extremism” that would have been much better spent protecting Muslim dissidents and giving them the necessary platforms and resources to counter that vast network of Islamic centers, madrassas, and mosques which has been largely responsible for spreading the most noxious forms of Islamic fundamentalism. For years, we have treated the people financing that vast network — the Saudis, the Qataris, and the now repentant Emiratis — as our allies. In the midst of all our efforts at policing, surveillance, and even military action, we in the West have not bothered to develop an effective counternarrative because from the outset we have denied that Islamic extremism is in any way related to Islam. We persist in focusing on the violence and not on the ideas that give rise to it. [Emphasis added.]

Here is a video of which Hirsi Ali was the executive producer. It features Muslim and former-Muslim women discussing Islam and the Islam-mandated male domination of women.

Here’s Part II of Honor Diaries:

Here’s a video characterizing Hirsi Ali as an “Islamophobe.”

Along with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Azeezah Kanji — the featured speaker in the above video — has been very active in disparaging Hirsi Ali and Honor Diaries. Like CAIR, she has ties to the Obama White House and was named a “Champion of Change” by the White House in 2011. What changes in Islam does Ms. Kanji champion? None, apparently, of those intrinsic to it.

Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the CAIR, condemned Hirsi Ali as “one of the worst of the worst of the Islam haters in America, not only in America but worldwide.”

On becoming a U.S. Citizen

On becoming a U.S. Citizen

Who better represents American values? Hirsi Ali, once a refugee from Somalia and a proud citizen of the United States since April 25, 2013, or President Obama? In the immediately linked Wall Street Journal article, she offers suggestions on American immigration with which I plan to deal in a subsequent post. In the meantime, here is her 2014 address at the William F. Buckley Program at Yale University on the clash of civilizations. If you have not yet watched it, please do so. If you have watched it, please do so again. I just did. Every time I watch it, there is something I had not previously considered.

Conclusions

To Obama and His acolytes, Islam is the religion of peace and tolerance; the Islamic State, its equally non-peaceful and intolerant franchisees and other comparable terrorist organizations are “not Islamic.” If “not Islamic,” what are they?

Despite Obama’s many statements and gestures, He has yet to convince any Islamic terrorist group that it is not Islamic. He has convinced them only that He is ignorant of Islam, a liar or both.  Perhaps He needs a better joke writer.

Obama’s last State of the Union Message

was very striking for the one-sidedness and disproportion of the president’s concern for religious suffering.

President Obama worried that “politicians insult Muslims, whether abroad or fellow citizens.”

But he couldn’t bring himself to worry aloud about the Christians being driven from Middle Eastern countries, the churches being burned from Nigeria to Malaysia, or the 22 Coptic Christians who were beheaded on video on a beach in Libya by Islamic supremacists.

Insulting Muslims: bad. Killing Christians: irrelevant. [Emphasis added.]

Will our next president at least make a concerted effort to un-transform Obama’s America? Will he name and fight our enemies, foreign and domestic? Or will he simply “go with the flow” and do none of the above. Much depends on who it is and on the composition of the Congress.

During the Democrat Party debate on January 17th, Hillary Clinton “linked herself to the president again and again. And again.” An Obama clone to continue Obama’s fundamental transformation of America is the opposite of what we need. Nor will merely “fixing” broken parts of the governmental apparatus with duct tape and bailing wire be satisfactory. As I wrote last September, To bring America back we need to break some stuff.

In later posts in this series, I hope to deal with immigration, race relations, the ways in which Obama is distorting the Constitution, the decline of education and Obama’s very foreign foreign policy.

The anatomy of denial

November 23, 2015

The anatomy of denial, Front Page MagazineBruce Thornton, November 23, 2015

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Western secularism has rendered us incapable of understanding passionate religious beliefs. The banishment of faith from public life is nearly complete in Europe, and we Americans are on the same trajectory.

In contrast, most Muslims are intensely religious to a degree most Westerners can hardly imagine. Religion suffuses their lives, most noticeably in the muezzin’s daily five calls to prayer, and the commands of Allah and the words and deeds of Mohammed are a living presence in every aspect of a devout Muslim’s life. Nor is this religiosity a private affair kept away from the public square, and compartmentalized in people’s lives apart from politics, economics, or foreign policy.

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The murder of 27 hotel guests in Mali’s capital city by Boko Haram, now an al Qaeda franchisee, highlights yet again the delusional futility of asserting that, as Hillary Clinton put it in a tweet, “Islam is not our adversary. Muslims are peaceful and tolerant people and have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism.” Like Obama, Hillary also vigorously condemns the use of a phrase like “Islamist radicalism.”

These evasions are contrary to the history and doctrines of Islam consistent over 14 centuries, and contradict the professed motives for the continuing violence perpetrated across the globe––27,295 deadly attacks just since 9/11–– by Islamic terrorist groups who emulate the Prophet and take seriously his injunction to “slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captive and besiege them, and lie in wait for them in every ambush” (9.5), one of 109 verses––the direct commands of Allah–– that order war against infidels.

Moreover, that most Muslims do not engage directly in such violence, or may even condemn it, does not change the fundamental doctrines that justify it, no more than the millions of Catholic women who use birth control invalidate the church’s doctrine against contraception. The doctrine of jihad has been part of Islam from its beginning, enjoined by the Koran and Hadith, and confirmed and celebrated by the most eminent Islamic historians, jurisprudents, and theologians. One of the most famous, the late-14th century writer Ibn Khaldun, wrote in the Muqaddimah, “In the Muslim community, the holy war is a religious duty, because of the universalism of the Muslim mission and the obligation to convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force.” When we see Muslims in the 21st century killing and dying in service to this traditional religious imperative created in the 7th century, it is perverse blindness to claim that there is no connection between Islam and Islamic terrorism.

The more important question is why anyone would assert something that would have struck our Western ancestors––for a thousand years the victims of Muslim invasion, occupation, enslavement, and slaughter–– as a dangerous fantasy. One rationale appeared in the months after 9/11, when George W. Bush distinguished al Qaeda from the larger Muslim community and engaged in outreach to the latter, inviting imams to the White House and proclaiming Islam the “religion of peace.” The idea was that alienating millions of Muslims would make it harder to fight the jihadists, and even aid in their recruitment. This tactic, of course, has been an obvious failure for over a decade, as there is no evidence that being nice to Muslims––for example, rescuing Afghan and Iraqi Muslims from murderous autocrats––changed traditional Muslim attitudes toward infidels, and predisposed them to turn on their fellow Muslims.

The better answer lies in several bad ideas spawned by modernity. Western secularism has rendered us incapable of understanding passionate religious beliefs. The banishment of faith from public life is nearly complete in Europe, and we Americans are on the same trajectory. What remains of religion is reduced to a private life-style choice, commercialized holiday traditions, and a vague comforting “spiritualism” that makes few demands on its adherents. Secularists relentlessly patrol the public square to attack any sign that religious belief is stepping outside its private ghetto. And any recognition that the Judeo-Christian tradition contributed to the foundational beliefs of the West––equality, unalienable rights, and freedom––is attacked as spiritual colonization and “fundamentalist” bigotry. Hence Obama calls “shameful” the suggestions that Christian Syrians, currently suffering a genocidal persecution, be prioritized over the mostly economic Syrian refugees.

In contrast, most Muslims are intensely religious to a degree most Westerners can hardly imagine. Religion suffuses their lives, most noticeably in the muezzin’s daily five calls to prayer, and the commands of Allah and the words and deeds of Mohammed are a living presence in every aspect of a devout Muslim’s life. Nor is this religiosity a private affair kept away from the public square, and compartmentalized in people’s lives apart from politics, economics, or foreign policy. As Bernard Lewis writes,

In most Islamic countries, religion remains a major political factor, for most Muslim countries are still profoundly Muslim in a way and in a sense that most Christian countries are no longer Christian . . . in no Christian country at the present time can religious leaders count on the degree of belief and participation that remains normal in the Muslim lands . . . Christian clergy do not exercise or even claim the kind of public authority that is still normal and acceptable in mot Muslim countries.

Lacking the constant public presence of spiritual reality in our own lives, we find it hard to accept that religious doctrines advocating violence against the unbeliever, or basing all social, economic, judicial, and political order on a code of law formulated over a thousand years ago, can be real enough to compel violence against innocents. This failure of imagination has been a powerful enabler of our feckless strategies.

So too has been our ignorance of history. Worse yet, what history we do rely on is false or ideologically warped. Few politicians in charge of our foreign policy seem to be aware of the long, violent assault of Islam against the West, the chronicle of massacre, slaving, kidnapping, occupation, and exploitation, all in service to the commands of Allah and the practices of Mohammed. At the same time, our president invents the mythic “golden age” of enlightenment and tolerance in Muslim Cordoba, harps on the Crusades and the Inquisition, excoriates Israel for defending itself against the progeny of invaders, colonizers, and immigrants to the ancient Jewish homeland of Judea and Samaria, and apologizes for imperialism and colonialism. Meanwhile Muslim Turkey is in its fifth decade of the occupation of northern Cyprus that followed an invasion accompanied by ethnic cleansing, population transfers from Turkey, and the destruction or vandalizing of 300 churches.

A good example of this bizarre historical ignorance is the demonic role assigned to the 1916 Sykes-Picot agreement. An ISIS billboard in Iraq reads, “We are the ones who determine our borders, not Sykes-Picot.” In this false history borrowed from self-loathing Westerners, the imperialist French and English divided up the Ottoman Empire in an act of stealth colonialism. This history is false, and strangely diminishes the region’s Muslims, making them the mere passive pawns of external manipulators. But as Efraim Karsh points out in his indispensable new book The Tail Wags the Dog, the region’s leaders “have been active and enterprising free agents doggedly pursuing their national interests and swaying the region pretty much in their desired direction, often in disregard of great-power wishes.” The true history of the region shows that the disorder today has two main sources: the doctrines of Islam that keep the region mired in a premodern, tribal mentality; and the disastrous decision of the Ottoman sultan to join the Central powers in World War I, against the advice of the British, who wanted not colonies, but an Arab empire to replace the Ottomans’.

Such distorted history, in which the West is to blame for dysfunctions created by Muslims themselves, justifies an apologetic tone like that of Obama’s Cairo speech, and rationalizes Muslim violence as an understandable reaction to historical injustice––just as John Kerry did in his despicable comments that the Charlie Hebdo murders had a “rationale that you could attach yourself to.”

Finally, multiculturalism, which is an expression of this false history that makes the West the global villains deserving of payback from the oppressed dark-skinned “other,” compromises a robust and muscular response to Islamic violence. The lexicon of political correctness, predicated on the commandment never to blame the victim “of color,” leads to the sort of duplicitous evasions mentioned earlier, in which traditional Islamic doctrine disappears as motivating force, and effort is wasted on pursuing remedies––economic development, flattering outreach, or democracy promotion––that will not solve the problem of metastasizing jihadism. Moreover, like the British sympathizers with Germany in the 20s and 30s, the charges of racism and neo-imperialist oppression thrown around by the multiculturalists foster a spirit of appeasement and accommodation, sapping our morale and inhibiting our response.

The denial of Islam’s sanctified violence, confessional intolerance, and global ambitions is the biggest impediment to our destroying the enemy. The solution is simple, and memorably expressed in the New Testament: “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

Israel’s Risk Aversion Problem

October 2, 2015

Israel’s Risk Aversion Problem, Town Hall, Caroline Glick, October 2, 2015

Netanyahu and glasses

Because his strategy is based on ideological beliefs rather than power calculations rooted in reality, Obama’s position cannot be swayed by evidence, even when evidence shows that his administration’s policies endanger US national security.

The more Israel allows other actors to determine the nature of the emerging regional order, the less secure Israel will be. The more willing we are to take calculated risks today the greater our ability will be to influence the future architecture of regional power relations and so minimize threats to our survival in the decades to come.

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On Wednesday the Obama administration was caught off guard by Russia’s rapid rise in Syria. As the Russians began bombing a US-supported militia along the Damascus-Homs highway, Secretary of State John Kerry was meeting with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, at the UN. Just hours before their meeting Kerry was insisting that Russia’s presence in Syria would likely be a positive development.

Reacting to the administration’s humiliation, Republican Sen. John McCain said, “This administration has confused our friends, encouraged our enemies, mistaken an excess of caution for prudence and replaced the risks of action with the perils of inaction.”

McCain added that Russian President Vladimir Putin had stepped “into the wreckage of this administration’s Middle East policy.”

While directed at the administration, McCain’s general point is universally applicable. Today is no time for an overabundance of caution.

The system of centralized regimes that held sway in the Arab world since the breakup of the Ottoman Empire nearly a century ago has unraveled. The shape of the new order has yet to be determined.

The war in Syria and the chaos and instability engulfing the region are part and parcel of the birth pangs of a new regional governing architecture now taking form. Actions taken by regional and global actors today will likely will influence power relations for generations.

Putin understands the opportunity of the moment.

He views the decomposition of Syria as an opportunity to rebuild Russia’s power and influence in the Middle East – at America’s expense.

Russia isn’t the only strategic player seeking to exploit the war in Syria and the regional chaos. Turkey and Iran are also working assiduously to take advantage of the current absence of order to advance their long term interests.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is exploiting the rise of Islamic State in Syria and Iraq to fight the Kurds in both countries. Erdogan’s goal is twofold: to prevent the establishment of an independent Kurdistan and to disenfranchise the Kurds in Turkey.

As for Iran, Syria is Iran’s bulwark against Sunni power in the Arab world and the logistical base for Tehran’s Shi’ite foreign legion Hezbollah. Iranian dictator Ali Khamenei is willing to fight to the bitter end to hold as much of Syrian territory as possible.

Broadly speaking, Iran views the breakup of the Arab state system as both a threat and an opportunity.

The chaos threatens Iran, because it has radicalized the Sunni world. If Sunni forces unite, their numeric advantage against Shi’ite Iran will imperil it.

The power of Sunni numbers is the reason Bashar Assad now controls a mere sixth of Syrian territory. To prevent his fate from befalling them, the Iranians seek to destabilize neighboring regimes and where possible install proxy governments in their stead.

Iran’s cultivation of alliances and proxy relationships with Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaida, and its phony war against Islamic State all point to an overarching goal of keeping Sunni forces separated and dependent on Tehran.

The Iranian regime also fears the prospect of being overthrown by its domestic opponents. To counter this threat the regime engages in large-scale and ever escalating repression of its perceived foes.

Iran’s nuclear program also plays a key role in the regime’s survival strategy. As Khamenei and his underlings see things, nuclear weapons protect the regime in three ways. They deter Iran’s external foes. They increase domestic support for the regime by enriching Iran which, no longer under international sanctions, sees its diplomatic and economic prestige massively enhanced due to its nuclear program.

Finally, there is Iran’s war with Israel and the US. A nuclear-armed Iran is a direct threat to both countries.

And this, too, is a boon for the mullacracy. From the regime’s perspective, fighting Israel and the US serves to neutralize the Sunni threat to the regime. The more Iran is seen as fighting Israel and the US the more legitimate it appears to Sunni jihadists.

This then brings us to the Americans. Like the Russians, the Turks and the Iranians, President Barack Obama and his associates are strategic players. Unlike those powers however, the administration is moved not by raw power calculations but by ideological dictates.

Obama and his advisers are convinced that the instability and radicalization of states and actors throughout the region is the consequence of the actions of past US administrations and those of America’s regional allies – first and foremost, Israel and Egypt. The basis for this conviction is the administration’s post-colonial ideological underpinnings.

Because his strategy is based on ideological beliefs rather than power calculations rooted in reality, Obama’s position cannot be swayed by evidence, even when evidence shows that his administration’s policies endanger US national security.

This brings us to Israel.

Israel has limited power to influence regional events.

It cannot change its neighbors’ values or cultures. Israel can however limit its neighbors’ ability to harm it and expand its ability to deter would be aggressors by among other things, using its power judiciously to influence now forming power balances between various regional and world actors.

Israel has followed this model in Syria with notable success.

At an early stage of the war our leaders recognized that aside from the Kurds, who have no shared border with us, there are no viable actors in Syria that are not dangerous to Israel. As a result, Israel has no interest in the victory of one group against others.

The only actor in Syria that Israel has felt it necessary to actively rein in is Hezbollah. So it has acted repeatedly to prevent Hezbollah from using its operational presence in Syria as a means for augmenting its offensive capabilities in Lebanon.

The problem with this strategy is that it has ignored the fact that from Hezbollah’s perspective, there is no operational difference between Lebanon and Syria.

The war in Syria spread to Lebanon years ago.

Now, with Iranian and Russian assistance, Hezbollah is beginning to develop the industrial capacity to bypass Israel and independently produce advanced weapons inside Lebanon. This rapid industrialization of Hezbollah’s military capabilities requires Israel to end its respect for the all-but-destroyed international border and take direct action against Hezbollah’s capabilities in Lebanon.

This brings us to Hezbollah’s boss, Iran. For the past several years, the same caution that has led Israel to grant de facto immunity to Hezbollah forces in Lebanon has led to Israel’s passivity and deference to the Obama administration in relation to Iran’s nuclear program.

With regard to Iran’s nuclear installations, the strategy of passivity has largely been forced onto an unwilling political leadership by Israel’s military leaders.

For the past several years, the IDF’s General Staff has refused to support the government’s position on Iran’s nuclear program.

Our military leaders have justified their insubordination by arguing that if Israel takes independent action against Iran’s nuclear program it will undermine its bilateral relations with the US, which they consider more important than preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

Although under the best of circumstances, the IDF’s position would be unacceptable from the perspective of democratic norms of governance, since the ideologically driven Obama administration took power seven years ago, the military’s position has imperiled the country.

So long as Obama – or the ideology that informs his actions – remains in power in Washington, US security guarantees towards Israel will have no credibility.

The IDF’s assessment that ties to the US are more important than preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear power will remain incorrect, and dangerously so.

Today is Israel’s opportunity to shape the future of the Middle East by not only preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear power, but by preventing a regional nuclear arms race.

The closer Iran comes to emerging as a nuclear power, the more Sunni regimes, including Islamic State, will seek their own nuclear capabilities. It goes without saying that the more regional actors have nuclear weapons, the more dangerous the region becomes for Israel, and indeed for the world as a whole.

For many Israelis, the story of the week wasn’t Russia’s air strikes against US-allied forces in Syria. It was PLO chief and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s speech at the UN General Assembly.

Leftists expressed horror in the face of Abbas’s threat to end the PLO’s adherence to the agreements it signed with Israel in the 1990s (and has stood in material breach of ever since). The government insisted, for its part that the reason the peace process has not brought peace is because Abbas and his PLO refuse to negotiate with Israel.

Unfortunately, both sides’ responses to Abbas’s speech indicate that Israel has lost all semblance of strategic purpose in regard to the Palestinians.

Fifteen years ago this week, on September 28, 2000, the Palestinians opened their terrorist war against Israel. Ever since it has been clear that no Palestinian faction is interested in living at peace with Israel.

Despite this, for the past 15 years, Israel has refused to reconsider its strategic allegiance to the false notion that it has the ability to influence the hearts and minds of the Palestinians and bend them in the direction of peace.

This delusional thinking is what caused the IDF’s General Staff to convene immediately after Operation Protective Edge ended and try to figure out how to rebuild Gaza.

Ever since the cease-fire came into force, Hamas has diverted all the assistance it has received from Israel and the international community not to rebuild Gaza, but to rebuild its military capacity to harm Israel. And yet, from the IDF’s perspective, ever since the war ended our most urgent task has been to save Hamas and the Palestinians alike from reckoning with the price of their aggression.

Likewise, Israel continues to insist that we have a strategic interest in peace with the PLO. Even if this is true in theory, chances are greater that unicorns will fall from the sky and prance through Jerusalem’s Old City than that the PLO will agree to make peace with Israel.

Our continued defense of the PLO as a legitimate actor harms our ability to secure other strategic interests that are achievable and can improve Israel’s regional position. These interests include securing transportation arteries in Judea and Samaria and strengthening Israel’s military and political control over the areas. These interests have only grown more acute in recent years with the rise of jihadist forces throughout the region and among the Palestinians themselves.

This brings us back to McCain and his strategic wisdom.

Israel must not allow the risks of action to lure us into strategic paralysis that imperils our future.

The more Israel allows other actors to determine the nature of the emerging regional order, the less secure Israel will be. The more willing we are to take calculated risks today the greater our ability will be to influence the future architecture of regional power relations and so minimize threats to our survival in the decades to come.

Ben Carson in CAIR’s crosshairs

September 21, 2015

Ben Carson in CAIR’s crosshairs, Front Page MagazineRobert Spencer, September 21, 2015

(Isn’t it shameful that Dr. Carson is a politically incorrect “Islamophobe?” What is that, anyway?

Don’t we want another a Muslim in the White House? Then Obama could be truly proud of America. What could possibly go wrong? — DM)

ben-carson

Carson was right. But now the media sharks, ever eager to do the bidding of Hamas-linked CAIR and other Islamic supremacists, will be circling – and hungry. If he is forced to drop out for saying things CAIR doesn’t like, it will be just one more nail in the coffin of the free society that CAIR disingenuously professes to love and support, but which it is actually doing all it can to subvert.

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If Ibrahim Hooper of the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has any say in the matter, whoever the next President is, it won’t be Ben Carson. “He is not qualified to be president of the United States,” fumed CAIR’s Ibrahim Hooper, no doubt an unimpeachable authority on who is and is not qualified to be President, on Sunday. “You cannot hold these kinds of views and at the same time say you will represent all Americans, of all faiths and backgrounds.” What views? Carson said: “I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that.” He said that this was because Islam contradicted important Constitutional principles.

CAIR, designated a terror organization by the United Arab Emirates, sent out an email Sunday saying it would hold a news conference demanding that Carson withdraw from the presidential race for daring to say these things. “Mr. Carson clearly does not understand or care about the Constitution, which states that ‘no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office,’” said CAIR top dog Nihad Awad. “We call on our nation’s political leaders – across the political spectrum – to repudiate these unconstitutional and un-American statements and for Mr. Carson to withdraw from the presidential race.”

But the problems with a Muslim being President aren’t religious, they’re political. Islamic law infringes upon the freedom of speech, forbidding criticism of Islam. Islamic law denies equality of rights to women. Islamic law denies equality of rights to non-Muslims. If a Muslim renounced all this, he or she could be an effective Constitutional ruler, but in today’s politically correct climate, no one is even likely to ask for such a renunciation. Instead, no one even acknowledges that these really are elements of Islamic law.

No one, that is, except the Muslim clerics who agree with Carson. Syrian Islamic scholar Abd Al-Karim Bakkar said in March 2009: “Democracy runs counter to Islam on several issues….In democracy, legislation is the prerogative of the people. It is the people who draw up the constitution, and they have the authority to amend it as well. On this issue we differ” — because in Islamic thought, only Allah legislates.

Abd Al-Karim Bakkar was reflecting a common view. Pakistan Muslim leader Sufi Muhammad said in May 2009: “I would not offer prayer behind anyone who would seek to justify democracy.” Mesbah Yazdi, leader of the Shia Taliban in Iran, said in September 2010 that “democracy, freedom, and human rights have no place” — in Islam, that is. Australian Muslim cleric Ibrahim Saddiq Conlan said in June 2011: “Democracy is evil, the parliament is evil and legislation is evil.”

In January 2013, the Saudi Islamic scholar Sheikh Abdul Rahman bin Nassir Al Barrak declared: “Electing a president or another form of leadership or council members is prohibited in Islam as it has been introduced by the enemies of Moslems.” The idea of popular elections, he said, “has been brought by the anti-Islam parties who have occupied Moslem land.”

Some Muslims in the West hold these views as well. In April 2015, Muslims in Wales plastered Cardiff with posters reading: “Democracy is a system whereby man violates the right of Allah and decides what is permissible or impermissible for mankind, based solely on their whims and desires. This leads to a decayed and degraded society where crime and immorality becomes widespread and injustice becomes the norm. Islam is the only real, working solution for the UK. It is a comprehensive system of governance where the laws of Allah are implemented and justice is observed.”

And two Muslim groups in Denmark last June called on Muslims to boycott the elections that were held that month. One explained: “We are committed to being active participants in our society, but it has to be on Islam’s terms, without compromising our own principles and values. Democracy is fundamentally incompatible with Islam, and it is a sinking ship.” The Grimshøj mosque in Aarhus agreed, issuing a statement saying that “people should stay clear of the voting booths. We have concluded that only Allah can pass laws, as he says himself in the Koran that this is so.”

Tunisian author Salem Ben Ammar wrote last month: “‘To hell with democracy! Long live Islam!’ One hundred percent of Muslims agree with that. To say anything else is apostasy from Islam. These two competing political systems are antithetical to each other. You can’t be democratic and be a Muslim or a Muslim and be a democrat. A Jew can’t be a Nazi and a Nazi can’t be a Judeophile.”

Question for Hamas-linked CAIR’s Hooper and Awad: are all these Muslims “Islamophobes” for saying that Islam and democracy are incompatible, or is that honor reserved only for Carson (and other infidels)? And are either or both of you cognizant of the irony of pretending to uphold Constitutional values while demanding that a man drop out of the Presidential race for the crime of exercising his freedom of speech? Are either or both of you aware that you have thereby just become poster children for how correct Ben Carson really was?

Carson was right. But now the media sharks, ever eager to do the bidding of Hamas-linked CAIR and other Islamic supremacists, will be circling – and hungry. If he is forced to drop out for saying things CAIR doesn’t like, it will be just one more nail in the coffin of the free society that CAIR disingenuously professes to love and support, but which it is actually doing all it can to subvert.

The Shady Family Behind America’s Iran Lobby

September 15, 2015

The Shady Family Behind America’s Iran Lobby, Daily Beast, Alex Shirazi, September 15, 2015

(The National Iranian American Council is the voice of the Iranian regime. It found great favor with the Obama administration while becoming a significant part of it. — DM)

How one enterprising Iranian expat family and its allies successfully pushed for U.S.-Iran rapprochement—and now stands to make a fortune from sanctions relief.

When the world’s major powers struck a deal over Iran’s nuclear program in Vienna in July, it represented a victory not just for the Islamic Republic, which has now been granted international legitimacy as a nuclear threshold state, but also for a small but increasingly influential lobby in America, one which has long sought rapprochement between Washington and Tehran and now seeks to leverage a successfully concluded nuclear deal as a means to that end.

This Iran lobby, publicly represented by the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), has become a staunch institutional ally of the White House selling the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as the nuclear deal is known. But while NIAC has done the heavy-lifting—the ad-buying, the leafleting, and Congressional meet-and-greets, all designed to sell lawmakers on the Iran deal—its political efforts also underwrite the economic interests of one very well connected but low-profile Iranian family, the Namazis, who played a key role as intellectual architects of NIAC.

Little known to the American press, the Namazis have rarely acted as spokespersons for their own cause. In fact, attempts to reach various members of the family for comment on this story were met with increasing levels of hostility and threats of legal action. Yet in many ways, the Namazi clan is the perfect embodiment of Iranian power politics, at least as it has played out among the Iranian diaspora. Those close to the Namazis say that they are savvy financial operators rather than ideologues, eager to do business with the West and enjoy all of its political freedoms and perquisites, and yet ever mindful that they’re straddling the delicate fault-line between cashing in with a theocratic dictatorship and being frozen out entirely. They have stayed on the right side of international law if not always on the right side of prevailing political interests in the Islamic Republic.

Nor did they begin their rise to prominence as supporters of the Islamic Revolution. Mohammad Bagher Namazi, also known as Baquer Namazi, is the patriarch of the family and formerly the governor under the Shah of the oil-rich Iranian province of Khuzestan. Despite his relationship with the ancien régime, Baquer Namazi was not persecuted by the Khomeinists after they seized power in 1979, and he and his family were allowed to emigrate in 1983 to the United States. There he raised two well-educated and Americanized sons, Babak and Siamak, while his niece, Pari Namazi, married Bijan Khajehpour, another Iranian expatriate.

The 1980s were the years of the fiery-eyed Ayatollah Khomeini and Iran’s ferocious war with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Iranian-backed terrorism in Lebanon included the bombing of the U.S. embassy and the Marine barracks there, while Iranian “hit teams” hunted down and murdered opponents of the regime in exile. Iran’s Hezbollah clients kidnapped Europeans and Americans, and in the Irangate scandal the Reagan administration was exposed trading weapons systems for hostages. Afterward it effectively went to war against Iran on the waters of the Gulf, and in the process blew an Iranian civilian airliner out of the sky. There seemed no possibility of improved relations between Washington and the theocracy in Tehran. But after the Iran-Iraq war ended in 1988 and Khomeini died in 1989, new possibilities for rapprochement—and huge deals for international companies—started to emerge.

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Doing serious business in Iran has always required some measure of political protection. The Islamic Republic is a web of rival economic interests. Broadly speaking, the three largest are those tied through various semi-clandestine fronts to  Khomeini’s successor as “supreme leader,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei; those linked to the regime’s praetorian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC); and those associated with Iran’s president, who may hold the most conspicuous position in the country’s political life, but whose official powers are limited. Typically, to get things moving in the mire of Iran’s notorious bureaucracy, businesses have to have connections in one or more of these groups.

From 1989 to 1997, the president of Iran was Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, known as “the Shark,” an Iranian reference to a beardless man. He was also famous for getting rid of his rivals and political competitors one by one, like a great white shark. In addition, Rafsanjani had a reputation for corruption and taking advantage of power.

In this environment of increased willingness to do business with the West, the stage was set for a return of the Namazis. In 1993, Pari Namazi and her husband Bijan Khajehpour founded a company in Tehran called Atieh Bahar Consulting (AB). It offered a range of legal and industrial services to foreign enterprises, most importantly the access it provided to the regime, and the advice it dispensed on how best to navigate the vagaries of the regime’s entrenched factions and competitive interests.

At the time, it looked like Iran might even be opening up to big American-based oil companies, then unencumbered by any sanctions regime on the Islamic Republic. But after an announcement in 1995 that Iran had given Conoco a contract to develop an offshore gas field, and an uproar in the U.S.  Congress, the Clinton administration imposed unilateral sanctions and barred U.S. companies from doing business there.

Eventually Siamak Namazi, who had worked from 1994 to 1996 at Iran’s Ministry of Housing and Urban Planning, also joined AB. So did his brother Babak, a lawyer. And the AB client list just kept growing. Plenty of companies based outside the U.S. were more than happy to do business in Iran once they had the right connections. As Siamak eventually told Lebanon’s Daily Star newspaper, “If oil companies want to operate in the Iranian market they need to link up with a local partner, and this is where we step in and help them to find the right partner.”

With the surprise election of the “reformist” presidential candidate Mohammad Khatami in 1997, political and economic enthusiasm for better Iranian relations with the West grew dramatically. Meanwhile the “pragmatist” Rafsanjani took other powerful positions in the regime. In those optimistic times, AB’s non-American clients—free from any sanctions regime—included the German engineering giant Siemens; major oil companies BP, Statoil, and Shell; car companies Toyota, BMW, Daimler, Chrysler, and Honda; telecom giants MTN, Nokia, Alcatel; and international banks such as HSBC.

But the political winds were shifting. A nuclear cloud darkened the horizon, and the United States, slowly but surely, found ways to broaden the sanctions against Iran, forcing many international companies to dial back on their investments there or pull out altogether.

The Namazis, of course, had every reason to want to bring them back.

***

Atieh Bahar Consultancy had aligned itself with Rafsanjani’s faction early on by forging an especially close relationship with Rafsanjani’s influential son, Mehdi.

From 1993 to 2005, Mehdi Hashemi was employed at the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), the state-owned entity that controls almost all oil and gas production in a country that has the world’s largest gas reserves and third-largest oil reserves.

But Mehdi Hashemi brought some serious problems to the relationship. In 2004, Norway’s Statoil was caught paying bribes to a prominent Iranian official using the company Horton Investment, an entity run by a close Mehdi Hashemi confidant as intermediary. Hashemi would later be imprisoned for his complicity in the bribery, along with two other charges, and ordered to pay a total of $10.4 million; $5.2 million of the bribe money, plus an additional $5.2 million in fines. Abbas Yazdanpanah Yazdi, meanwhile, was allegedly kidnapped in the UAE in 2013 and has since “disappeared.”

The scandal came just as the elder Rafsanjani was plotting a presidential comeback in the 2005 elections, and it gave substance to the rumors of corruption that always swirled around him and his son. (Mehdi Hashemi denied the Statoil bribery allegation and said it was designed to hurt his father’s reputation.) He managed to make it into the second and final round, but finally lost to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who staked out a position as a “clean” populist who would give money to the poor and who didn’t give a damn about foreign business interests.

After Ahmadinejad came into office, the nuclear cloud grew much darker.

In 2003, the United States had led the invasion and occupation of neighboring Iraq, eliminating Iran’s old enemy Saddam Hussein in order to be sure that he had no weapons of mass destruction. And, as it turned out, by then he did not. A few months earlier in 2002, however, Israeli intelligence turned up evidence that Iran, a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, had developed a secret uranium enrichment operation at a site called Natanz. (The first public airing of this intelligence came from a militant Iranian dissident group that had been nurtured by Saddam Hussein.)

This did not distract from the march to war with Iraq, but a few months later Iran was declared in material breach of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), and, under threat of heightened sanctions, a process of negotiations began between Iran and the European Union to limit the nascent enrichment program. At the time Iran had only 160 of the centrifuges needed to enrich uranium, and thousands would be required to get it to the point where it could produce fissile material for a bomb. U.S. intelligence estimates eventually concluded “with high confidence” that the Iranians also had a secret nuclear weapons program, in addition to enrichment, but shut it down in the fall of 2003.

When Ahmadinejad took over in 2005, he ditched all pretense of willingness to compromise over Iran’s “peaceful” nuclear program, an intransigence that led Western countries to tighten sanctions, making foreign investment ever more difficult. And what was worse for AB and the Namazis, Ahmadinejad went after his political rivals, particularly the Rafsanjani faction, with a vengeance. Mehdi Hashemi, naturally, was a prominent target. Ahmadinejad barred him from conducting any business in relation to Iran’s oil and gas sector. Ten years later, the courts actually sentenced him to a collective 25 years—and 50 lashes—in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison for all three charges against him including the Statoil corruption case. In reality, he will only serve 10 years.

AB needed to shore up some new alliances, and bide its time. Co-founder Bijan Khajehpour, worked for a leading Iranian politician named Hassan Rouhani who had served under the Khatami government as Iran’s nuclear negotiator. Rouhani also was the president of a think tank called the Center for Strategic Research (CSR). But relations with Iran in the middle of the last decade were almost as bleak as they had been after the 1979 hostage crisis and the grim terror and counter-terror campaigns of the 1980s.

By 2006, Iran, was in effect at war with the U.S. in Iraq. The Revolutionary Guards’ expeditionary Quds Force led by Qasem Soleimani had been training, financing, and arming Shia militias killing U.S. soldiers.

Moreover, the West was growing more alarmed about Iran’s nuclear program, which it seemed powerless to stop. Ahmadinejad had declared the resumption of uranium enrichment “irreversible” just as the country’s nuclear scientists had mastered the fuel cycle. He’d appointed conservative Ali Larijani as chief negotiator with the European Union (before Iran withdrew from talks altogether), and he said he’d “wipe [his] nose” on international sanctions.

A war with Iran, most likely started by Israel with the United States drawn in, began to seem possible, then probable, and almost inevitable. The International Atomic Energy Agency referred Iran to the UN Security Council for action forcing it to curtail its nuclear activities.

Out of this dark morass, the Namazis struggled to keep alive hopes of rapprochement and trade, while avoiding a war at all costs. And by then they had in place the architecture for convincing a war-weary U.S. policy establishment that not only was avoiding a military confrontation with Iran possible, but the Islamic Republic was really just a friend America had yet to make.

***

In November 1999, when Khatami was still president and, Siamak Namazi got together with a Swedish-Iranian expat named Trita Parsi at a conference in Cyprus. The conference, titled, “Dialogue and Action Between the People of Iran and America,” was convened jointly by the Centre for World Dialogue, a Cypriot non-governmental organization, and by Hamyaran, an Iranian non-governmental resource center for other NGOs, which was chaired by Mohammad Bagher Namazi, the family patriarch. Namazi fils and Parsi there presented an influential white paper (PDF), “Iran-Americans: The bridge between two nations,” which called for three steps to ameliorate U.S.-Iranian relations in advance of reconciliation:

1. Hold “seminars in lobbying for Iranian-American youth and intern opportunities in Washington DC.”

2. Increase “awareness amongst Iranian-Americans and Americans about the effects of sanctions, both at home and in Iran.”

3. End “the taboo of working for a new approach on Iran”—i.e., end the then two-decade-old U.S. policy of containment.

Namazi and Parsi wrote that “the fear of coming across as a lackey of the Iranian regime is still prohibiting many Iranian Americans from fully engaging in the debate on the future of Iran-U.S. relations.” The way around this, they submitted, was to mobilize the Iranian-American community and enlist “Americans of non-Iranian background” to lessen the adversarial posture of both nations.

The white paper led to the creation two years later, in 2001, of NIAC, a Washington, D.C.-based organization which Parsi founded and currently heads. During the formative period preceding NIAC’s launch, Parsi had sought advice and guidance from numerous sources, including and especially Mohammad Bagher, as was disclosed in documents (PDF) obtained during a defamation law suit brought by NIAC and Parsi against one of their most outspoken critics.

Parsi was extremely well-placed to front the Iran lobby. He had obtained a doctorate at Johns Hopkins on a subject intimately tied to the lobby’s central thesis—the relationship between Israel and Iran and how the former hindered the latter’s acceptance in the U.S. He even studied under Francis Fukuyama, a onetime neoconservative policy intellectual who abandoned his ideological comrades when the Iraq war went south. Finally, Parsi had gained valuable political experience on the Hill by working for Republican Congressman Bob Ney, a connection he has not included in his curriculum vitae and official website. (Ney went to jail in 2007 for accepting bribes from mega-lobbyist Jack Abramoff’s Native American casino clients.)

While serving as president of NIAC, Parsi also wrote intelligence briefings as an “affiliate analyst in Washington, D.C.” for AB, focusing on such topics as whether or not the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) would revive its anti-Iran campaigning on the eve of the Iraq war, or on efforts by the Mujahideen-e Khalq (MeK), the militant Iranian opposition group that exposed Natanz in 2002 would get itself de-listed as a terrorist entity by the U.S. State Department. Parsi was paid for his work for the consultancy, as disclosed by an email sent from Bijan Khajehpour to him, dated Sept. 22, 2002, an employment that Parsi did not mention when fulsomely praising Khajehpour in the Huffington Post as an ideal Iranian businessman.

Although it has only 5,000 dues-paying members, a mere one percent of the estimated 470,000 Iranian-Americans, NIAC’s network of activists and event attendees is said to extend into the tens of thousands. In June of this year, as the Iran deal looked likely, NIAC inaugurated an official “lobbying” arm called NIAC Action registered with the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(4) organization, but for years, internally, the group has described its activities (PDF) as lobbying. NIAC Action is explicitly meant to counter the influence of AIPAC, which has spent millions to block the Iran deal’s passage in Congress by securing a veto-proof bipartisan majority of senators opposed to it—an effort that now appears close to failure.

Since its founding, NIAC has also proved a useful finishing school for rapprochement-minded Iranian-Americans, many of whom have either come from positions in U.S. government or graduated into them. Its current research director, for instance, is Reza Marashi, an Iranian-American dual national, who worked for Atieh Bahar until 2006 when he landed a  job at the U.S. government’s Institute for National Strategic Studies at the National Defense University, which acts as a research center for the Pentagon. Marashi then went to work for the Office of Iranian Affairs at the U.S. State Department as a desk officer overseeing Iran democracy and human rights programs.

Marashi is very outspoken on social media against any critics of NIAC’s agenda. Along with the rest of his organization’s staff, he has accused Jewish opponents of the Iran deal of being dual loyalists. “Shame on Chuck Schumer for putting #Israel’s interests ahead of America’s interests,” he tweeted after the New York senator’s decision to come out as the senior-most Democrat against the deal.

Given the obvious connection between NIAC and the Namazi family, Marashi makes no mention of his job at AB in his biography on NIAC’s official website. Nor did he respond to The Daily Beast’s repeated requests for comment on this story.

Perhaps NIAC’s most accomplished alum is Sahar Nowrouzzadeh, who is now National Security Council Director for Iran in the Obama administration and therefore the top U.S. official for Iran policy, bringing together the various departments of government working on U.S. strategy toward the country. She is also, after the White House principals, one of the leading advisors to President Obama on Iran. No doubt owing to the sensitivity (and influence) of her government role, Nowrouzzadeh has maintained a low profile, but her work at NIAC is publicly available. She drafted one of the organization’s annual reports for 2002-2003 (PDF) and was referred to by Dokhi Fassihian, then executive director, as a “staff member” (DOC). The Obama administration insists that Nowrouzzadeh was only ever an intern with NIAC, and Nowrouzzadeh does not seem eager to play-up her affiliation with the group. According to her LinkedIn profile, she has worked at the State Department and the Department of Defense. The profile doesn’t mention NIAC at all.

Such inconspicuousness stands in notable contrast to how other Obama administration officials who emerged NIAC’s nemesis—the pro-Israel lobbying establishment—tend to invoke their past credentials as a means of establishing their diplomatic bona fides.

But then, Israel is a longtime and “sacrosanct” American ally, as Obama has stated. Iran, on the other hand, has been a pariah state where crowds are encouraged to chant “Death to America.”

On NIAC’s website, in its mailings and in media interviews, NIAC rarely criticizes the IRGC or the Quds Force, a U.S.-designated terrorist entity. Parsi characterizes the Iranian regime, of which the Quds Force is the main military enforcer, as a U.S. ally in the war against the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS.  But neither he nor NIAC has discussed the Quds Force’s military role in Syria where it plays a key role in targeting U.S.-backed rebels deemed the best bulwark against both Assad and the so-called Islamic State widely known as ISIS and, more broadly, organizing the savage defense of the Assad dynasty, for which several of the Quds Force’s personnel have been sanctioned by the U.S. government.

NIAC publicly opposes designating the IRGC as a whole as a terrorist entity because doing so would only conform to part of a pattern of failed sanctions, “further entrenching U.S.-Iran relations in a paradigm of enmity.”

Instead, campaigning against any U.S. sanctions on Iran has been the mainstay of NIAC’s endeavors, and this held even when the Obama administration thought sanctions the most effective way to bring the Iranians back to the negotiating table. NIAC has maintained (PDF) that sanctions have cost the U.S. economy billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of job opportunities.

Parsi’s activism won him praise from the Iranian regime during the very dark days a decade ago. Former ambassador to the United Nations Javad Zarif, who is now the heavily spotlighted foreign minister, wrote to Parsi in 2006, “Your help is always welcome,” and, after catching part of a Parsi interview on the BBC the same year, Zarif called his performance “Great.”

In March 2006 (at the height of the covert Iranian war with the U.S. in Iraq), Parsi told a colleague not to worry about a trip to Tehran, “NIAC has a good name in Iran and your association with it will not harm you.” When the colleague was briefly questioned by the regime, then released, he reported back (PDF) to Parsi that he’d been told the reason he was let go was “that they knew NIAC had never done anything seriously bad against the Islamic Republic.”

***

In 2009, Sen. Mark Kirk called NIAC Iranian “Regime Sympathizers” (PDF), stating “they came to Capitol Hill urging members of Congress to cut off U.S. funding for democracy programs in Iran.” NIAC had sought to eliminate the Bush administration’s “Democracy Fund” for programs in Iran, which it saw as nothing more than a vehicle for attempted regime change. NIAC responded to Kirk by calling the $75 million fund a “brainchild” of the Bush administration’s “disastrous Middle East policy,” which aimed to finance Iranian NGOs seeking overthrow the government of Iran.

And NIAC does some name-calling of its own, calling organizations it doesn’t like (i.e., those too critical of the Islamic Republic) “neocon puppets,” and warmongers. Indeed, it has also tried to define the parameters of acceptable Iranian civil society groups (i.e., ones that never really undermined the regime) by partnership with Hamyaran, described by NIAC as an “NGO umbrella organization” (PDF). In reality, however, it was conceived as more of a governmental non-governmental organization and launched by those close to Iranian President Mohammad Khatami—its board member was Hossein Malek Afzali, a deputy minister in Khatami’s government). By NIAC’s own admission, the organizatiom (PDF) “operates independently, but with the implicit permission of the Iranian government.” (Emphasis added.) Hamyaran’s board of directors was also once chaired by Namazi paterfamilias Mohammed Bagher.

Hamyaran obtained support from the congressionally funded National Endowment for Democracy—as did NIAC, which received Endowment funding in 2002, 2005, and 2006 in the collective amount of close to $200,000. NIACdescribed Hamyaran to the Endowment in 2004 as its “main partner in Iran.” Perhaps unsurprisingly, among those civil society groups selected for NIAC and Hamyaran’s “Digital Film Production Workshop Report,” a training program for Iranian activists to learn how to use digital media, were those described as having been “contracted by the Iranian government” or “worked closely with the Iranian government.”

As for NIAC, Carl Gershman, the president of the National Endowment for Democracy, told The Daily Beast, “We’re not supporting NIAC now and we have nothing to do with them.”

“Back then there were people arguing, ‘Try to get into Iran’ and we thought this was a way forward,” Gershman said. “We weren’t aware when these grants were made that NIAC were presenting themselves as a lobby. We didn’t know that. Our effort was to work with emerging space in Iran. We were trying something that might be a way to help people on the inside. But that quickly became unworkable; the grant didn’t work. Then NIAC showed itself as a lobby organization, so we have nothing to do with them anymore. Not every grant works out the way you want it to.” Asked if that meant that NED regretted working with NIAC , Gershman answered: “Yes, I think that’s true.”

At the same time it was taking U.S. taxpayer money, NIAC wanted to end U.S. government support for NGOs which categorically opposed the Islamic Republic. In April 2007, NIAC held a strategy meeting with international human rights groups including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW). The HRW representative was himself a former NIAC board member, Hadi Ghaemi, who had (PDF) worked for NIAC in Iran, and then served HRW from 2004 to 2008. During the meeting, according to an email sent by Parsi afterward, Ghaemi “noted that certain groups being funded by the state dept [sic] are covers for regime change and that we need to be careful. Many groups misrepresent themselves as wanting to improve human rights and democracy in Iran.” Ghaemi did not specify which groups. When The Daily Beast contacted Ghaemi via email, he replied that he could not confirm the meeting in question. He was unavailable for further comment after The Daily Beast showed him Parsi’s email asking if that refreshed his memory.

***

In 2008, NIAC made a strategic mistake, waging a not-so-quiet campaign against the Voice of America’s Persian service, a U.S. government-funded broadcast medium. Both NIAC and the Namazis were aggravated by the frequent appearances of Hassan Dai, an Arizona-based Iranian exile, who lambasted NIAC as a regime mouthpiece.

Siamak Namazi (PDF) called for Dai to be banned from VOA in February 2007. NIAC chief lobbyist Emily Blout petitioned (PDF) Congress in September 2007 for an “independent review” of VOA Persian. After Dai appeared again on VOA in 2009, Parsi (PDF) remarked that its hosting of a NIAC critic “won’t change until the VOA leadership changes.” He was right. Today the editor-in-chief of VOA Persian is Mohammad Manzarpour, a former employee of Atieh Bahar Consultancy.

But serious damage to NIAC’s reputation was done, and much of it was self-inflicted. In 2008, Parsi and NIAC had brought a defamation suit against Hassan Dai, alleging that he had made “numerous false and defamatory statements that characterize plaintiffs as agents of the Iranian government.” Parsi and NIAC lost the case in 2012, with the judge rejecting their self-portrayal as critics of Tehran. “That Parsi occasionally made statements reflecting a balanced, shared blame approach is not inconsistent with the idea that he was first and foremost an advocate for the regime,” U.S. District Court Judge John D. Bates (PDF) wrote in his judgment. “After all, any moderately intelligent agent for the Iranian regime would not want to be seen as unremittingly pro-regime, given the regime’s reputation in the United States.”

Nor did NIAC do itself any favors in during the trial and on appeal. Three circuit judges of the U.S. Court of Appeals found its behavior (PDF) “dilatory, dishonest, and intransigent” and accused it of engaging in a “disturbing pattern of delay and intransigence. Seemingly at every turn, NIAC and Parsi deferred producing relevant documents, withheld them, or denied their existence altogether. Even worse, the Appellants also misrepresented to the District Court that they did not possess key documents [Dai] sought. Most troublingly, they flouted multiple court orders… A court without the authority to sanction conduct that so plainly abuses the judicial process cannot function.”

Unsurprisingly, then, NIAC and Parsi lost their appeal and were ordered to pay $183,480.09 in monetary sanctions in February 2015.

“NIAC and Parsi filed the lawsuit to break me under the financial burdens and silence other critics but they totally failed,” Dai told The Daily Beast. “The lawsuit, which lasted nearly seven years, showed the deceptive character of an organization that lobbies in favor of the mullahs’ theocratic regime but represents itself as a defender of peace.”

***

The fortunes of the entire Namazi clan waned after 2009, when a popular uprising against Ahmadinejad’s fraudulent re-election was met with murder, mass arrests, and torture.

Bijan Khajehpour was imprisoned because of the struggle raging in the regime between the Supreme Leader and the IRGC on one side, and the Rafsanjani camp on the other. And while praising the Obama administration for not speaking up on behalf of those who resisted the stealing of the 2009 election, the so-called Green Movement, on the grounds that doing so would have only given the regime an excuse to murder and torture more people, Parsi rushed to the defense of his friend and former employer Khajehpour, “who neither participated in the protests nor had any involvement with the opposition” but was instead a “self-made man” and “top-notch consultant drawing the attention of multinational and local firms to investment opportunities in the country.”

In The Huffington Post Parsi wrote as an acquaintance or friend of Khajehpour, nowhere disclosing his past business relationship writing reports for Atieh Bahar Consulting.

Khajehpour subsequently was released from prison and he and his wife, Pari Namazi, moved to Vienna.

Siamak Namazi also faced harassment after the 2009 election and the subsequent unrest. He left Iran for the United Arab Emirates and is currently the head of Strategic Planning at the UAE-based Crescent Petroleum, an oil and gas company based in Abu Dhabi.

Business in Iran was drying up. Ahmadinejad may have held onto power after he broke the Green Movement, but his drive toward nuclear “self-sufficiency” raised so many alarms that the Obama administration was able to persuade the four other members of the UN Security Council to impose draconian sanctions on the regime. Hundreds of billions of dollars worth of assets were frozen, and international commerce ground toward a halt.

Then, in 2013, Khajehpour’s former employer Hassan Rouhani, the former nuclear negotiator, the Rafsanjani-style “pragmatist,” was elected Iran’s new president. The ever affable-seeming former UN ambassador, Javad Zarif, was appointed foreign minister. Suddenly the door looked like it was open wide to a new relationship with the West of just the sort the Iran Lobby had worked for so hard and for so long. Rouhani was avuncular, good-humored, and had made it his goal to open Iran for business, if only the nuclear issue could be dealt with.

By the time serious talks with Washington were opened, Ahmadinejad’s nuclear program had built almost 14,000 centrifuges, and Iran was within a year, by some estimates within months, of producing enough fissile material to build a bomb, at least in theory.

Although there was talk in Washington about compelling Iran to dismantle the whole program, there was never really any question of that, and the deal as finally signed merely buys time—pushing Iran’s possibility of producing a potential nuclear weapon back from months to as many as 15 years.

As these pieces fell into place in the age of Obama, Parsi and NIAC found themselves in the unlikely position of power brokers. One prominent faction of the Iranian regime—Rafsanjani’s—sees them as convenient conduits for disseminating a pro-Iranian line in U.S. politics, while the “hardline” Iranian security services have classified their activities as benign to the interests of the Islamic Republic.

The U.S. government, meanwhile, has adopted many of NIAC’s talking points. Both Parsi and Atieh International, one of the companies in the Atieh Group, were fixtures on the sidelines of the Geneva and Vienna negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran. In fact, Atieh International held a joint briefing with NIAC at the Marriott in Vienna on June 29 to discuss a most pressing topic—renewed economic possibilities for the West once a deal was inked. The speakers were Bijan Khajehpour and Trita Parsi.

The Namazis’ alignment with Rafsanjani and Rouhani can now pay off. Because they were attacked so often and sometimes so viciously by “hard liners”—the very Iranian officials the Obama White House claims constitutes the only Iranian opposition to the nuclear deal—the Namazis and NIAC, the think tank and lobby they helped create, have gained great renewed credibility in the West, even promoting the idea that they can liberalize what remains by and large a fanatical theocracy and a fiercely competitive kleptocracy. At the same time, they can present themselves in today’s Iran as the best go-betweens with, well, with the not-so-Great Satan, who loves to listen to their advice.

— Alex Shirazi is a pseudonym for a well-known Iranian dissident who requested that The Daily Beast keep his identity concealed for fear of what might happen to his family in Iran in retaliation for this article.

Nuclear Jihad

September 7, 2015

Nuclear Jihad, Gatestone InstituteDenis MacEoin, September 7, 2015

    • In the year 628, Muhammad, now ruling in Medina, signed the ten-year Treaty of Hudaybiyyah with his long-time enemies, the tribal confederacy of Quraysh, who ruled Mecca. Twenty-two months later, under the pretext that a clan from a tribe allied with the Quraysh had squabbled with a tribe allied to the Muslims, Muhammad broke the treaty and attacked Mecca, conquering it. It is as certain as day follows night, that the Iranian regime will find a pretext to break the deal. Already, on September 3, the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamene’i made it clear that he would back out of the deal if sanctions were not completely removed at once.
    • The Iranian regime not only despises democracy; it considers all Western law, including international law, invalid.
    • The Shi’a consider themselves underdogs, who are willing to sacrifice all to establish the rights of their imams and their successors. That was what the 1979 revolution was all about, and it is what present the Iranian regime still insists on as the justification for its opposition to Western intrusion, democracy, women’s rights and all the rest, which are deemed by Iran’s leadership as part of a plot to undermine and control the expansion of the Shi’i faith on the global stage. These are not Anglican vicars.
    • The Iranian Army and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps “have responsibility… for a religious mission, which is Holy War (Jihad) in the path of God and the struggle to extend the supremacy of God’s law in the world.” — Iran’s Constitution, Article “The Religious Army”.
    • A Third World War is already taking place. The Iran deal strengthens the hands of a regime that is the world’s terrorist state, a state that furthers jihad in many places because its clerical hierarchy considers itself uniquely empowered to order and promote holy war.
    • Obama’s trust in Khamene’i’s presumed fatwa of 2013, forbidding nuclear weapons, rests on the assumption that it even exists. It does not. Even if it did,fatwas are not permanent.
    • Why, then, is this deal going ahead at all? Why is one of the world’s most tyrannical regimes being rewarded for its intransigence, and especially for repeatedly violating the Non-Proliferation Treaty?

“[Some] analysts,” writes the historian and former Israeli Ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, “claimed the president [Barack Obama] regarded Iran as an ascendant and logical power — unlike the feckless, disunited Arabs and those troublemaking Israelis — that could assist in resolving other regional conflicts. I first heard this theory at Georgetown back in 2008, in conversation with think tankers and former State Department officials. They also believed Iran’s radical Islam was merely an expression of interests and fears that the United States could with sufficient goodwill, meet and allay. … Iran, according to Obama was a pragmatic player with addressable interest. For Netanyahu, Iran was irrational, messianic, and genocidal – ‘worse,’ he said, ‘than fifty North Koreas.'”[1]

Since the signing of the deal at the UN, hot-tempered criticisms and defences have gone into overdrive in the political, journalistic, and diplomatic spheres. Acres have been written and are still being written about the deal, making it the hottest political potato of recent years. Expert analysts such as Omri Ceren and, more recently, Joel Rosenberg have cut through the deliberate obfuscation to show the extent of the dangers the deal presents to the Middle East, the United States, Israel, and the world.

The deal’s supporters insist that it will bring peace and calm to the region, while a host of denigrators — chief among them Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu — have exposed the enormous risks it entails. Already, a vast majority of American citizens are opposed to the deal.

Within the U.S. Congress, bipartisan opposition to the deal is high and mounting. Yet, on September 2, President Obama succeeded in winning over a 34th senator, enough that ultimate passage of the deal is a foregone conclusion. That does not, however, mean that the debate will end. In all likelihood, it will grow fiercer as time passes and true consequences become clearer to the public and politicians alike.

Recent revelations that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which oversees nuclear developments worldwide, has agreed that only Iranians will be allowed to inspect the most controversial of Iran’s nuclear sites, have raised anxieties about proper monitoring of the deal. The military complex of Parchin, where Iran is suspected of work on nuclear weapons, will be closed to outside inspection, making it certain that, if Iran decides to cheat (something it has done before), it will be able to do so with impunity. Sanctions will not be re-imposed. And, as we shall see, cheating on the deal can be justified by the Iranians who could always refer to the practice of the prophet Muhammad with the Quraysh tribe in Mecca.

Obama, his Secretary of State John Kerry, and the entire US administration are not merely behind the deal, but almost fanatically so. Many argue that Obama is more interested in securing his “legacy” as the world’s greatest peacemaker (or war-creator, as the case may well turn out to be), the statesman par excellence who alone could bring the theocratic regime of Iran in from the cold and shower the Middle East with true balance in its troubled affairs.

To bring this about, Obama has had to diminish, if not leave totally open to obliteration, American support for Israel, the single country in the world most clearly exposed to a possible genocide should the Iran’s Islamic regime choose to exterminate it, as it has so often threatened to do.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s words mellal-e Eslami bayad Esra’il-ra qal’ o qam’ kard – “the Islamic nations must exterminate Israel” — have been given renewed vigour now that it is highly likely that Iran, evading serious inspections by the IAEA, will soon possess the weapons to do just that.

Even if the treaty is a done deal, it is time to show yet another massive hole in the administration’s strategy. Already, Obama, Kerry and the tightly knit administration have shown themselves remarkably obdurate in turning a blind eye to the many concerns that surround the deal. At the end of the “sunset period,” if not sooner, Iran gets to have, legitimately, as many bombs as it likes. Other problems include breakout times; centrifuge production; centrifuge concealment; uranium enrichment by stealth; refusal to allow the IAEA to inspect military sites; the acquisition of intercontinental ballistic missiles — presumably to be used intercontinentally at guess who. It is no secret that the hardliners in Iran still speak of America as “The Great Satan” and consider it their enemy. That does not even include the implications of lifting sanctions on, and paying billions of dollars to, the world’s main sponsor of terrorism.

As Michael Oren has shown, however, the American president presumably thinks he is doing a deal with a logical and pragmatic regime. Barack Obama, an intelligent, well-read man of Muslim origin, knows almost nothing about Islam; that is the greatest flaw in the Iran deal he has fought so hard to inflict on the human race. With access to platoons of experts, to some of the greatest libraries with holdings in Islamic doctrines and history, and with the Mullahs and Iran’s public still daily promising to destroy America, Obama apparently still believes Islam is a religion of peace and that a theocratic, terror-supporting, medieval regime should have the power to make nuclear bombs. The obverse is that he might like, perhaps not wittingly, to see America, Israel and the West brought to their knees.

This author has previously exposed one aspect of Iran’s serious lack of logic, rationality, or pragmatism — namely the extent to which apocalyptic thinking, messianic prophecy, and dreams of Islamic transcendence through universal conflict pervade the clerical elite, a high percentage of the masses, and even the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. One might assume that this would be especially true when they are flush with cash and nuclear weapons, and the risk to their own survival is substantially lower.

On August 17, just over a month after the signing of the nuclear deal, Iran’s Supreme Leader, ‘Ali Khamene’i, addressed a religious conference, where he expressed his undying hatred for the United States. He said, for example:

We must combat the plans of the arrogance [i.e. the West, led by the U.S.] with jihad for the sake of Allah. … jihad for the sake of God does not only mean military conflict, but also means cultural, economic, and political struggle. The clearest essence of jihad for the sake of God today is to identify the plots of the arrogance in the Islamic region, especially the sensitive and strategic West Asian region. The planning for the struggle against them should include both defense and offense.

The deal has done nothing whatever to stop military threats to Israel, an ally of the United States (though treated with disrespect by America’s president). Speaking on 2 September, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp’s top commander in Tehran province, Brigadier General Mohsen Kazemayni, stated that, “… they [the US and the Zionists] should know that the Islamic Revolution will continue enhancing its preparedness until it overthrows Israel and liberates Palestine.”

There is a simple word for this: warmongering.

Why is the U.S. President insisting on a bad deal with a warmongering regime?

When a military force at its strongest fantasizes about the coming of a Messiah (the Twelfth Imam) to lead them to victory over all infidels, talk of logic, rationality and pragmatism seems acutely out of touch with reality.

Obama’s assumption that there is something solid about the Iranian regime that makes it suitable as a recipient for such largesse and the chance to enrich uranium until kingdom come seems to be based on false consciousness. The regime has been in place for almost forty years, quite a respectable time for a dictatorship. In part, that has been because it has mastered the art of suppression, giving its people a degree of freedom that is missing in several other Islamic countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Sudan, or Afghanistan. These partial freedoms, especially for young people, lull the population into risk-averseness, possibly helped along by the memory in 2009 of pleas for more freedom, which the United States ignored and the mullahs savaged.

Obama, in his ongoing attempt to portray Islam as benign — and a dictatorial regime as a sold basis for peace and understanding in the Middle East — ignores the religious element of the theocracy, as well as the sadistic repression, and in doing so misses a lot.

First of all, Shi’ite Islam is different from its Sunni big brother. It is deeply imbued with features largely absent from Sunni Islam. The most important Shi’i denomination is that of the Twelvers (Ithna’ ‘Ashariyya), who, from the beginning of Islam, have believed themselves to be not only the true version of the faith, but the group destined by God to rule in its name. Beginning with ‘Ali, the son-in-law of the Prophet and the fourth Caliph of the Sunnis, the Shi’a began as his supporters. (Please see the Appendix that follows this article: it contains material that even Barack Obama and his advisors need to know; without it, they simply will not “get” what the ayatollahs are about. It comes to an important conclusion that has considerable bearing on today’s events — and not the one you may expect.)

Beneath the smiles and banter lie the unsmiling masks and the taqiyya-flavoured lies. Beneath the wheeling and dealing and the refusals to compromise lies a sense of destiny for the regime, a belief that it stands on the brink of the realization of the centuries-old Shi’ite dream: that God will finally set his people on the pinnacle of the world and usher in the never-ending reign of the Imam Mahdi, with all injustice gone, the martyrs in paradise, the ayatollahs and mujtahids andmaraji’ in glory, and all the infidels in hell.

It is precisely because Barack Obama and his aides have never got down and dirty to take in hard information that they have remained utterly out of touch with the real springs and cogs of Iranian Shi’ite thinking.

Obama has, when all is said and done, let himself be deluded by the charm offensive of Hassan Rouhani and his henchman Javad Zarif. Obama may not believe in the mystical land of Hurqalyaor the white steed on which the Twelfth Imam will ride to the world’s last battle any more than you or I do. But the clerical elite of Iran, and those who follow them blindly — men and women brought up from birth on these tales, and who travel in the thousands every day to send a message to the Imam at the Jamkaran Mosque near Qom — believe these things with absolute devotion, and that is why this story matters, because it has political consequences.

Shi’i Muslim law enshrines jihad, holy war, as fully as does Sunni law. For Sunnis, jihad has always been possible under the authority of a Caliph, whether fought under his orders or led by kings and governors under his broad aegis.

The Shi’a, however, do not recognize the Caliphate and have often been the victims of Sunni jihads. They may feel impelled to fight a holy war, but under what authority could they do so?

The power of the clergy had waned under the anti-clerical reign of Iran’s Pahlavi dynasty (1925-1979), only to burst out more strongly than ever in the Islamic Revolution, which placed all authority in a new system of government: rule by a religious jurist, a faqih.[2] Overnight, a jihad state was brought into existence; a jihad state with vast oil reserves, modern military equipment, and, at first, the support of almost the entire Iranian population. The clerical hierarchy under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini did not just intend to prepare the way for the coming of the Mahdi. They were now his earthly deputies, in whose hands lay life and death for millions.

The new Shi’ism allowed the clergy to take on powers they had never imagined. More and more economic and legal power came to be concentrated in the hands of a narrow body of scholars, and sometimes a single man could be the source of religious and legal authority for the entire Shi’i world — in Iran, Afghanistan, eastern Arabia, Bahrain, and so on. Thus were the foundations laid for the revolutionary rank of Supreme Leader, taken by the Ayatollahs Khomeini and Khamene’i.

Look for a moment at the preamble to the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran.[3] You will see quickly that this does not read like any other constitution you have seen. The preamble sets the tone. Here, in an account of the circumstances leading to the revolution we read of the clergy as the ruhaniyyat-e mobarez, “the militant or fighting clergy.” These are not Anglican vicars at their prayers or rabbis studying Talmud. A mobarez is a warrior, a champion, a fighter. Not far down the preamble, one encounters a description of their struggle as “The Great Holy War,”jihad-e bozorg. We are not in Obama’s world of logical and pragmatic striving for political and diplomatic coherence. This is made even clearer in one of the constitution’s earlier articles, “The Religious Army.” Here, we read that the Iranian Army and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps “have responsibility… for a religious mission, which is Holy War (Jihad) in the path of God, and the struggle to extend the supremacy of God’s law in the world.”

How do you reach a compromise and a pragmatic deal with a regime that thinks in this way? Are the U.S. administration and the P5+1 blind to something the Iranians have never even bothered to conceal? Do they really take everything in the talks at face value? Perhaps they think references to jihad and fighting clergy are nothing more than pious talk “for domestic consumption,” as they tried to explain — as real and everyday as the myths and legends of other faiths. If they do, then they have far less excuse for their blindness, for the Iranian regime is already at war and is already fighting its jihad.

In Iraq, for example, a country with a majority Twelver Shi’i population, Iranian-backed militias have been at war for many years, first against the Americans, then the Sunnis, and now the hordes of Islamic State. In June 2014, Grand Ayatollah al-Sayyid ‘Ali al-Husayni al-Sistani issued a fatwa calling on Iraqis to fight against Islamic State, justifying their fight as jihad wajib kafa’i: a Jihad that is compulsory for those who choose it, but not for the entire population. The ruling calls for a struggle against ISIS’s irhab – their “terrorism.” Jihad is a religious and legal duty, and even though ISIS may call its fighting jihad, it is here condemned as terror.

Hezbollah, created and backed by Iran, is by far the largest terrorist group in the region. Hezbollah is considered a state within a state, with forces and infrastructure inside Lebanon and Syria. It has used the name “Islamic Jihad Organization” to cover its attacks on Israeli forces in Lebanon. In its 1988 Open Letter (Risala maftuha), it describes its followers as “Combatants of the Holy War” and goes on — in terms similar to those in the Hamas Covenant — “our struggle will end only when this entity [Israel] is obliterated. We recognize no treaty with it, no cease fire, and no peace agreements, whether separate or consolidated.”

Hezbollah and its creator, the Iranian Islamic regime, have a curious link to the Palestinian terror movement, Hamas, despite Hamas being exclusively Sunni. By financing, arming, and defending Hamas, Iran is fighting a strange proxy jihad that serves its own purposes of defying the West, achieving regional hegemony, and winning praise from all Muslims in the world for its own war against Israel. It also furthers the goals of the Muslim Brotherhood (of which Hamas is the Palestinian branch) in the same struggle.

I have dragged you through the briars and mud because it is important here to see another culture through its own eyes. If we insist in pretending that Shi’i Muslims think like Sunni Muslims or, worse still, like Jews or Christians — if we brush all that history and all those doctrines under the carpet of “any deal is better than no deal ” — we will go on making the same mistakes. We will believe that a purely political and diplomatic enterprise to bring Iran in from the cold and create a new trading alliance will transform an evil regime into a land of sweetness and light.

Members of the U.S. Congress must wake up and examine, in however cursory a fashion, these views that motivate the Iranian leadership, and must stop pretending that they are as logical and pragmatic as would be convenient for the wishes of the West.

Not that Obama and Kerry have ever sounded logical or pragmatic in how they have approached this debate and this deal-making process. In an act of supreme folly, the White House has dismissed Ayatollah Khamene’i’s recent call for “Death to America;” they pretend it is just empty rhetoric for the Iranian people.

1169Left: Senior Iranian cleric Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Movahedi Kermani, speaking on July 17 in Tehran, behind a banner reading “We Will Trample Upon America” and “We defeat the United States.” Right: Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, proclaims “Death to America” on March 2

We are walking with a blindfold toward sure disaster. Forget the dreams of a Messiah if you will, but do not for one moment let yourself be lulled into thinking that only ISIS is serious about waging a jihad.

Despite their oft-expressed delusion that “Islam is a religion of peace,” President Obama, Secretary John Kerry and other leaders are, like it or not, already engaged in a war against jihad. They have already fought it in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and elsewhere. However much Obama wants to stand off from involvement in the jihad struggles of the Middle East, he cannot: Western states are fighting jihad, sometimes abroad, increasingly at home.

A Third World War is already taking place, a war the Islamists and Islamic states understand, but which many in the West still refuse to grasp. They are not even willing to respect the true motivations of the enemies against whom they fight. The Iran deal strengthens the hands of a regime that is the world’s terrorist state, a state that furthers jihad in many places because its clerical hierarchy considers itself uniquely empowered to order and promote holy war.

Let us for the moment ignore the nuclear aspect of this deal and look instead on what it offers the world’s leading jihad state. The removal of sanctions coupled with the business deals Europeans and others are rushing to secure, the delivery of perhaps $150 billion to Tehran, and the turning of many blind eyes to both Iran’s internal repression and its jihad wars in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Gaza, and Lebanon leave the ayatollahs poised to dominate much of the Middle East.

And that is not all. Obama’s belief in the stability of the Iranian regime seems to rest on its endurance since 1979. His trust in Khamene’i’s presumed fatwa of 2013, forbidding nuclear weapons rests on the assumption that it even exists. It does not. No one has ever seen it. Even if the fatwa did exist, fatwas are not permanent. They are always regarded as temporary rulings with Twelver Shi’ism. This is a crucial technical point that the White House seems incapable of — or ill-disposed to — grasping.

Further, Obama’s faith in Iranian President Hassan Rouhani as a reformer and moderate flies in the face of Rouhani’s devotion to the hardline clerical leadership of which he is a part. Here are a few facts:

  • ‘Ali Khamene’i is 76 years old, but his health is poor and he may not live much longer. Already, factions within the hierarchy will be jostling for the Supreme Leadership.
  • In the Usuli Twelver version of Shi’ism, once a Mujtahid dies, his fatwas are no longer valid. A new Mujtahid or, in this case, a new Supreme Leader, has to issue fatwas of his own. A new fatwa may confirm an old one or radically differ from it.
  • A new Supreme Leader is an unpredictable personality.
  • The Iranian nuclear program is already up and running.
  • The breakout time for weapons grade materials may be as short as three months.
  • Iran already has and is acquiring ballistic missiles with an intercontinental range.
  • Jihad is hard-wired into the regime’s philosophy.
  • Iran is already conducting a series of jihad wars abroad.
  • Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has expressed a hope to return to the presidency in 2017. Ahmadinejad and his clique are bent on apocalyptic outcomes and actions to bring the Hidden Imam back to this world.

We only have to get this wrong once. Chants of “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” are not narcotic iterations of slogans but sincerely felt expressions of intent.

Khamene’i last month praised the Iranian people for calling for the deaths of the USA and Israel, and said that he hoped God would answer their prayers because in at most ten years, the Iranian mullahs and their IRGC will possess the power to exterminate Israel, if they and their God so wish.

Why, then, is this deal going ahead at all?

Why are sanctions against the world’s leading exporter of jihadi terrorism being lifted, not strengthened?

Why is one of the world’s most tyrannical regimes being rewarded for its intransigence, and especially for repeatedly violating the Non-Proliferation Treaty?

Why has Israel’s Prime Minister been vilified and sidelined simply for drawing attention to the weaknesses of a deal that could lead to the death of all of his people?

Why have the P5+1 never taken seriously the Shi’ite rule that it is permitted to lie to infidels and conceal one’s own true intentions?

Why are secrets being kept — such as the contents of the two side-deals?

Why is the U.S. Congress being asked to vote without the benefit of full disclosure?

Why is the IAEA banned from spontaneously inspecting only declared Iranian nuclear sites, and why are military sites completely off-limits?

The questions are so many and so critical that we remain in the dark about where this will lead mankind. No one who has ever done a financial or political deal would ever sign on the dotted line until they had answers to all their questions. Far more hangs on this deal than perhaps any deal in history. Yet those who want to make it enforceable under international law are uninformed about the most basic contents of the deal, as well as the beliefs and historical roots of their enemy.

Such folly is almost without precedence, except possibly in the process of appeasement that endeavoured to placate the Third Reich and treat Adolf Hitler as the best friend of democracy.

The Iranian regime not only despises democracy, it considers all Western law — including international law — invalid. This view has several deep roots. For both Sunni and Shi’i Muslims, only rule under God is valid, under a Caliph or a clerical theocracy under a Supreme Ruler. Human beings have no right to interfere. Democracy leads to the making of human laws that may contradict shari’a law, and such effrontery is considered arrogant and presumptuous. The democratic elements in Iran are tightly controlled, and supremacy rests in all areas beneath clerical authority. The same principle applies to international law, UN resolutions, treaties and so forth.

Iran has openly genocidal intent, as well as a devotion to holy war that goes to the very deepest level.

Before we leave the subject of jihad, there is one other factor that everyone has overlooked. It is the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah, the most important agreement in early Islamic history. In the year 628, Muhammad, now ruling in Medina, signed the ten-year Treaty of Hudaybiyyah with his long-time enemies, the tribal confederacy of Quraysh, who ruled Mecca. Twenty-two months later, under the pretext that a clan from a tribe allied with the Quraysh had squabbled with a tribe allied to the Muslims, Muhammad broke the treaty and attacked Mecca, conquering it.

What is important about this is that Muhammad had made the treaty while he was still relatively weak. But in the months after signing it, his alliances and growing conversions meant that he now possessed superior military strength — and that was when he pounced.

In 1994, the treaty became crucial to the issue of peace between Israel and the Palestinians.[4]In September 1993, Palestinian leader Yassir Arafat signed the Oslo Accords along with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, and the following year the two leaders were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

However, even as he awaited that prize, Arafat spoke at a mosque in Johannesburg alluded to the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah and referred to “a jihad to liberate Jerusalem”: “I see this agreement,” he said, “as being no more than the agreement signed between our Prophet Muhammad and the Quraysh in Mecca.”

Non-Muslims may well have misunderstood this as a reference to some early Muslim peace-making. But Arafat made his meaning clear: “We now accept the peace agreement, but [only in order] to continue on the road to Jerusalem.”[5]

The nuclear deal that President Obama and his supporters have imposed will strengthen Iran considerably, removing sanctions and delivering perhaps $150 billion to the country. It is as certain as day follows night, that the Iranian regime will find a pretext to break the deal. Already, on September 3, the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamene’i made it clear that he would back out of the deal if sanctions were not completely removed at once.

Whatever happens in the days ahead, the U.S. Congress, backed by a majority of the American public, needs to strike this madcap deal down before it wreaks a storm of tribulations on everyone.

Denis MacEoin has a PhD (Cambridge 1979) in Persian Studies and has written widely on Iran and its religious beliefs.

Appendix

‘Ali became the first in a line of twelve imams, all deemed the true leaders of Islam, but all denied their right to rule and all but one assassinated (or so it is claimed) by the Sunni Caliphs. From this comes the Shi’i sense of suffering, injustice, oppression by despots, neglect and rights — all of which played an important part in the 1979 revolution and continue to play out across society.

The Shi’a are the underdogs who are willing to sacrifice all to establish the rights of their imams and their successors. That was what the 1979 evolution was all about, and it is what present the regime still insists on as the justification for its opposition to Western intrusion, democracy, women’s rights and all the rest, which are deemed by Iran’s leadership as part of a plot to undermine and control the expansion of the Shi’i faith on the global stage.

The twelfth imam, according to Shi’ite legend, was a young boy, Muhammad al-Mahdi, the son of the murdered eleventh imam. Born in 869 in the Iraqi city of Samarra during the reign of the Sunni Abbasid Caliphate, his father, Hasan al-‘Askari, died when Muhammad was born.

It is said that young Muhammad, in order to avoid his enemies, went into something called Occultation (ghayba). Even if this originally was physical, he was never seen alive again and is supposed to have entered the celestial realm of Hurqalya, from which he will one day return as the promised Saviour, the Qa’im bi’l-Sayf, the One Who will Arise with the Sword to do battle with injustice and infidelity.

This belief is what waters modern Shi’i apocalypticism, something promoted intensely by former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. This expectation has considerable significance for Iran’s drive to nuclear power. But that is not why I raise the issue here. There is another, more mundane, aspect to the Imam’s disappearance and continued Occultation, and it may be even more relevant to the matters at hand.

The answer to what authority they could fight under was that only the Imam in each generation could order or lead jihad. But when the twelfth Imam vanished from human sight, was jihad to remain in abeyance until his return or could it be fought under another authority? The answer was not at first simple, but one thing started to happen: the Shi’a began to consider their religious scholars to be the intermediaries with the Imam, and this laid the basis for the possibility that they might have the right to order jihad. For some time, this was just conjectural, for the Shi’a had little worldly power.

In 1501, a new dynasty, the Safavids, came to power in Iran, forced most of the population to convert to Shi’ism, and created a line of kings under whom the clerical class became more and more powerful. The Shah could still lead jihad, but the clergy were needed to give permission. The Safavid dynasty lasted till 1722, and an interregnum was followed by the emergence of a new line of Shahs, the Qajars, who ruled from 1796 to 1925.

Under the Qajars, the Shi’i clerical hierarchy underwent deep and lasting changes, producing today’s version of Twelver Islam, the Usulis.

The newly powerful ‘ulama of the 19th century took on the mantle of deputies for the Hidden Imam and ordered jihads in 1809 and 1826 (against Russia), 1836, 1843, and 1856-7 (against the British). In 1914, when the British occupied Iraq at the start of World War I, the Shi’i clergy in the shrine centres there declared jihad to reinforce the call for Holy War by the Ottoman empire.

__________________________________

[1] Ally by Michael Oren

[2] As in Khomeini’s theory and book, Velayat-e Faqih, the Custodianship of the Jurisprudent.

[3] Here in English, here in Persian.

[4] For a detailed discussion of the treaty and its implications for making peace with Muslims, see Daniel Pipes, “Lessons from the Prophet Muhammad’s Diplomacy,” The Middle East Quarterly, September 1999, pp. 65-72.

[5] Natasha Singer, “Arafat Text Raises Ire,” Forward, May 27, 1994.

The nuclear chess game begins: Iran plays for sanctions relief before compliance with deal

September 4, 2015

The nuclear chess game begins: Iran plays for sanctions relief before compliance with deal, DEBKAfile, September 4, 2015

Leadership_9.15A long way to go for Iranian approval of nuclear accord

The crowing this week over Barack Obama’s success in gaining congressional support for his Iranian nuclear deal against Binyamin Netanyahu’s defeat was premature. The July 14 Vienna deal between Iran and six world powers was just the first round of the game. Decisive rounds are still to come, before either of the two can be said to have won or lost.

The biggest outstanding hurdle in the path of the accord is Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his silence on where he stands on the deal whether by a yea or a nay.

Without his nod, nothing goes forward in the revolutionary republic. So the nuclear accord is not yet home and dry either in Tehran or even in Washington.

While Obama gathered congressional support in Washington for the accord to pass, Khamenei made three quiet yet deadly remarks:

1. “Sanctions against Tehran must be lifted completely rather than suspended. If the framework of sanctions is to be maintained, then why did we negotiate?”

White House spokesman Josh Earnest answered him: “Iran will only see sanctions relief if it complies with the nuclear deal.”

There lies the rub. For the Obama administration, it is clear that Iran must first comply with the accord before sanctions are eased, whereas Tehran deems the accord moot until sanctions are lifted – regardless of its approval by the US Congress.

Here is the first stalemate, and not the last. DEBKAfile’s Iranian sources foresee long, exhausting rounds ahead that could drag on longer even than the protracted negotiations, which Secretary of State John Kerry and Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif brought to a close in Vienna.

2. Khamenei next took the step of referring the accord to the Majlis (parliament) for approval, pretending that to be legally in force, the accord requires a majority vote by the parliament in Tehran. He put it this way, “I believe… that it is not in the interest of the majlis to be sidelined.”

This step was in fact designed to sideline President Hassan Rouhani, on whom Obama and Kerry counted to get the nuclear deal through, and snatch from him the authority for signing it – or even determining which body had this competence.

It had been the intention of Rouhani and Zarif to put the accord before the 12-member Council of Guardians for their formal endorsement. But Khamenei pulled this rug out from under their feet and kept the decision out of the hands of the accord’s proponents.

3. His next step was to declare with a straight face: “I have no recommendation for the majlis on how to examine it. It is up to the representatives of the nation to decide whether to reject or ratify it.”

This step in the nuclear chess game was meant to show American democracy up in a poor light compared to that of the Revolutionary Republic (sic). While Obama worked hard to bring his influence to bear on Congress he, Khamenei, refrained from leaning on the lawmakers, who were freed to vote fair and square on the deal’s merits.

This of course is a charade. Our Iranian sources point out that the ayatollah exercises dictatorial control over the majlis through his minion, Speaker Ali Larijani. He has absolute trust in the lawmakers never reaching any decision on the nuclear deal, or anything else, without his say-so.

Congressional approval in Washington of the nuclear accord may give President Obama a fine boost but will be an empty gesture for winning endorsement in Tehran. It might even be counter-productive if American lawmakers carry out their intention of hedging the nuclear deal round with stipulations binding Iran to full compliance with the commitments it undertook in Vienna, or also continue to live with existing sanctions or even face new ones.

Netanyahu and the Israeli lobby AIPAC, far from experiencing defeat in their campaign to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, are well fired up for the next round: the fight for sanctions.