When politicians are in election mode, they can see nothing but victory. All decisions, all considerations, are subservient to one question: how they can convince voters to check their name at the ballot box. As someone who ran for office nine times, I know what I am talking about. But for the candidate who wins the election, and for the voters, there is always the day after.
The rise of anti-Western Islamist movements — exemplified this week by the victory of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi in Egypt’s presidential election — represents a grave threat to U.S. interests and values in the Middle East. The next president of the United States, on the day after the election in November, will have to cope with this new reality. If he is to be successful, he must develop a strategy that takes into account the new state of affairs in this region and develop a long-term strategy to unite America’s friends and confront its enemies.
Unfortunately, the new reality in the greater Middle East is bad for the United States and its allies, including my country. Most importantly, the president should recognize that Islamist forces are on the move: They have seized control from Waziristan to the Atlantic Ocean in almost uninterrupted territorial contiguity. Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Libya are at the midst of a brutal and destructive battle for their identity. Their future territorial integrity is in doubt. In these five countries, and now in Egypt, the Islamist and extremist forces have the upper hand. The media has already replaced the term “Arab Spring” with “Arab Awakening.” Sooner rather than later, it will be replaced again by “Islamist takeover.”
In no country are these Islamist forces friends of the United States. The extremists among them despise its culture and way of life. They deplore its status as a global superpower. The pragmatists are ready to receive U.S. financial and military aid, but will not heed U.S. advice on foreign and domestic policy.
As Islamist movements gain strength, America’s traditional allies are wavering about how to confront this new threat. They doubt the loyalty of the United States, and wonder if they will enjoy American backing and support when they need it most. They are exploring other options to protect their interests.
Nor are there any glimmers of progress when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. The Israeli government continues to expand and foster settlements in the West Bank. The Palestinians — to whom everybody, including their Arab brothers, have given a cold shoulder — are swept into a dangerous despair and growing radicalization. The lack of a serious Israeli-Palestinian dialogue is leading to a binational state, which would signal the end of the Jewish national dream and the Palestinian one.
The complete international illegitimacy of the settlement project and of the occupation aimed to protect it — combined with the combustibility of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — is a liability for U.S. foreign policy. It will remain so even if other parts of the world become a higher priority to the United States than the Middle East.
Both U.S. presidential candidates and their advisors need to begin thinking about the day after the election, and how the next American president will deal with this complex reality. As one who lives in the midst of it, here is my advice.
The Dean of Koranic studies at the Islamic University of Gaza has given a TV interview in which he talks about hopes for the conquest of Andalusia (Spain) and for the capture of Rome. According to a MEMRI translation:
Following are excerpts from an interview with Dr. Subhi Al-Yaziji, dean of Koranic studies at the Islamic University of Gaza, which aired on Al-Aqsa TV on May 25, 2012:
Subhi Al-Yaziji: The conquest of Andalusia is an old dream, something Muslims proudly hope for and will continue to hope for in the future.
We place our hopes in Allah and trust that the day will come when our triumph will not be restricted to Palestine. Our hopes go beyond that – to raise the banner of the Caliphate over the Vatican, the ‘Rome’ of today, in accordance with the hadith of the Prophet Muhammad: ‘Constantinople shall be conquered and then Rome.’
The Boston Globe has profiled the Islamic University of Gaza (IUG), closely tied Hamas. According to the report:
The real war on women is in the Middle East.
In “Distant View of a Minaret,” the late and much-neglected Egyptian writer Alifa Rifaat begins her short story with a woman so unmoved by sex with her husband that as he focuses solely on his pleasure, she notices a spider web she must sweep off the ceiling and has time to ruminate on her husband’s repeated refusal to prolong intercourse until she too climaxes, “as though purposely to deprive her.” Just as her husband denies her an orgasm, the call to prayer interrupts his, and the man leaves. After washing up, she loses herself in prayer — so much more satisfying that she can’t wait until the next prayer — and looks out onto the street from her balcony. She interrupts her reverie to make coffee dutifully for her husband to drink after his nap. Taking it to their bedroom to pour it in front of him as he prefers, she notices he is dead. She instructs their son to go and get a doctor. “She returned to the living room and poured out the coffee for herself. She was surprised at how calm she was,” Rifaat writes.
In a crisp three-and-a-half pages, Rifaat lays out a trifecta of sex, death, and religion, a bulldozer that crushes denial and defensiveness to get at the pulsating heart of misogyny in the Middle East. There is no sugarcoating it. They don’t hate us because of our freedoms, as the tired, post-9/11 American cliché had it. We have no freedoms because they hate us, as this Arab woman so powerfully says.
Yes: They hate us. It must be said.
Some may ask why I’m bringing this up now, at a time when the region has risen up, fueled not by the usual hatred of America and Israel but by a common demand for freedom. After all, shouldn’t everyone get basic rights first, before women demand special treatment? And what does gender, or for that matter, sex, have to do with the Arab Spring? But I’m not talking about sex hidden away in dark corners and closed bedrooms. An entire political and economic system — one that treats half of humanity like animals — must be destroyed along with the other more obvious tyrannies choking off the region from its future. Until the rage shifts from the oppressors in our presidential palaces to the oppressors on our streets and in our homes, our revolution has not even begun.
So: Yes, women all over the world have problems; yes, the United States has yet to elect a female president; and yes, women continue to be objectified in many “Western” countries (I live in one of them). That’s where the conversation usually ends when you try to discuss why Arab societies hate women.
But let’s put aside what the United States does or doesn’t do to women. Name me an Arab country, and I’ll recite a litany of abuses fueled by a toxic mix of culture and religion that few seem willing or able to disentangle lest they blaspheme or offend. When more than 90 percent of ever-married women in Egypt — including my mother and all but one of her six sisters — have had their genitals cut in the name of modesty, then surely we must all blaspheme. When Egyptian women are subjected to humiliating “virginity tests” merely for speaking out, it’s no time for silence. When an article in the Egyptian criminal code says that if a woman has been beaten by her husband “with good intentions” no punitive damages can be obtained, then to hell with political correctness. And what, pray tell, are “good intentions”? They are legally deemed to include any beating that is “not severe” or “directed at the face.” What all this means is that when it comes to the status of women in the Middle East, it’s not better than you think. It’s much, much worse. Even after these “revolutions,” all is more or less considered well with the world as long as women are covered up, anchored to the home, denied the simple mobility of getting into their own cars, forced to get permission from men to travel, and unable to marry without a male guardian’s blessing — or divorce either.
Not a single Arab country ranks in the top 100 in the World Economic Forum‘s Global Gender Gap Report, putting the region as a whole solidly at the planet’s rock bottom. Poor or rich, we all hate our women. Neighbors Saudi Arabia and Yemen, for instance, might be eons apart when it comes to GDP, but only four places separate them on the index, with the kingdom at 131 and Yemen coming in at 135 out of 135 countries. Morocco, often touted for its “progressive” family law (a 2005 report by Western “experts” called it “an example for Muslim countries aiming to integrate into modern society”), ranks 129; according to Morocco’s Ministry of Justice, 41,098 girls under age 18 were married there in 2010.
By: Murad Batal Al-Shishani
Full article available on mlm.jamestown.org
Unlike most of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) releases, the death of Tariq al-Dhahab was confirmed by al-Fajr Media Centre, al-Qaeda’s official media arm, instead of Al-Malhim, AQAP’s media arm. This could represent a new effort designed to centralize the “condolence” statements and messages of the al-Qaeda affiliated groups.
At 35 years old, al-Dhahab was a tribal strongman, Anwar al-Awlaki’s brother-in-law, and the leader of AQAP’s newly formed “Ansar al-Shari’a” in al-Bayda Governorate. The stated aim of Ansar al-Shari’a is to implement Shari’a in various areas of Yemen. On February 16, 2012, al-Dhahab was reportedly killed by his half-brother Hizzam al-Dhahab (Ma’rib Press, February 16). Hizzam was accused of receiving orders from Yemeni authorities to attack his brother.  In ordering Tariq al-Shabab’s death, Yemeni authorities were trying to exploit an old tribal rift in the leadership of the al-Dhahab clan.
Hizzam al-Dhahab, who supported Yemeni authorities and the Saleh regime, fundamentally disagreed with Tariq’s ties to AQAP. With Tariq’s death Hizzam, his older brother, temporarily held leadership of the Yemeni city of Rada’a. Tariq’s AQAP affiliates were quick to retaliate to the killing of Tariq. They initiated an attack on Hizzam al-Dhahab’s home, killing Hizzam by planting a car bomb. Hizzam was dead less than twenty-four hours after the attack and death of his brother Tariq.
In the al-Fajr Media Centre statement AQAP said: “Sheikh Tariq al-Dhahab…was the first among tribes that resorted to rule and judge by Shari’a. His home was a shelter for those oppressed and the refuge of the needing persons.” Among other laudatory mentions, the statement described al-Dhahab as wise, patient, polite and brave. 
AQAP Affiliate Not Member
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s statement and the prompt revenge they conducted show the importance of al-Dhahab to them, although he was not a formal member of AQAP as many media outlets have suggested. 
Al-Dhahab’s connection to AQAP as an affiliate became apparent in mid-January 2012 when fighters led by him seized the al-Amiriyah historical site and announced Shari’a rule in the city of Rada’a, Yemen. Al-Dhahab later withdrew from the city following a tribal mediation that led to the release of his brother, Nabil al-Dhahab, and AQAP members held by Yemeni authorities.
Nabil was arrested by Syrian authorities in 2006 while travelling to Iraq to join the jihadi fight against American troops. Syria repatriated Nabil to Yemen. Tariq then sought Nabil’s release from the custody of Yemeni authorities. In 2007, Tariq appealed to Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh, asking him to release Nabil with the threat that his tribe, “Qaifah” – one of the largest in Yemen, will do what it takes to release their sons.  Later, in return for Nabil’s freedom, Tariq agreed to withdraw AQAP troops from Rada’a but he reneged on this agreement.
Nabil al-Dhahab and Kaid al-Dhahab, Tariq and Hizzam’s brothers, are said to be taking steps to consolidate Rada’a in the wake of the family massacre. Tariq al-Dhahab was accused on multiple occasions of being a puppet of Saleh and executing his policies in order to send a message to the West that the alternative to his regime is al-Qaeda. Tariq denied the allegations, retorting that he could not be aligned with a regime that “imprisons our children, is loyal to the U.S. and does not rule by Shari’a.” 
AQAP Integration into Yemeni Tribes
Tariq al-Dhahab’s strongest link to AQAP was his relation to American-born Yemeni cleric and prominent AQAP leader Anwar al-Awlaki (killed in September 2011) who was married to al-Dhahab’s sister.  Continue reading
International Olympic Committee rules require that countries allow both men and women to compete as a prerequisite for their participation in the Olympic Games. Saudia Arabia, a country that has never sent a female athlete to the games, has been warned of this, promised to correct the situation, and then sort of did nothing for awhile and hoped that no one would notice.
Now, one human rights group says enough is enough and is encouraging the IOC to bar the Middle Eastern Kingdom from the Games, on account of the fact that they’re clearly dragging their feet on this. In a letter to the IOC on Wednesday, the organization demanded Saudi Arabia be barred from the upcoming London Olympic Games if they fail to send a lady to compete.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ended a weeklong tour of Latin America on Jan. 12. Tensions between the United States and Iran in Latin America surrounded the visit. While Iran’s influence in the region poses some risks to the United States, those risks are limited by the lack of resources among Iran’s Latin American partners and the fear of U.S. retribution. The main contest between Washington and Tehran will remain in the Middle East.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad left Ecuador on Jan. 12 after a weeklong tour of Latin America, during which he also visited Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua. This was Ahmadinejad’s fifth visit to the region, and it came amid elevated tensions between the United States and Iran in the wake of the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. Although Ahmadinejad signed many cooperation agreements during his Latin American trip, the visits were largely geared toward garnering international attention.
The ongoing covert war between the United States and Iran generally plays out in the Middle East. However, much like Russia, Iran sees utility in cultivating close relationships in Latin America to maintain involvement in a traditional U.S. sphere of influence. Iran has close diplomatic ties with many of the countries on the left end of Latin America’s political spectrum, primarily because these countries’ relations with the United States are strained. Washington’s objections to Iran’s influence in Latin America have grown in recent years, peaking with the October 2011 allegations that an Iranian agent intended to solicit a Mexican cartel to help assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington and more recent allegations that led the United States to expel a Venezuelan consul general. Continue reading
Jan 5, 2012
The organisers, led by Mohammed Miftah, said the party was not be restricted to any particular sect or a group. Most of the people who attended Al Omah party’s inaugural ceremony were supporters of the Houthis.
by Florian Flade
Izzaddin Abdel Aziz Khalil from the Syrian town of Al-Qamishli is now international terrorist celebrity. The 29 year-old Syrian has been added to the U.S. Most Wanted List of terrorists. A $ 10 Million reward is offered for information leading to his killing or arrest.
Khalil who is known as “Yassin al-Suri” is labeled as a senior Al-Qaida facilitator based in Iran. According to U.S. authorities Al-Suri is moving terrorist recruits across the Middle East into Iran and then to Pakistan and Afghanistan. His activities are known to Iranian authorities, the U.S. claims.
“Iranian authorities maintain a relationship with al-Suri and have permitted him to operate within Iran´s borders since 2005″ – the U.S. Ministry of Justice states – “Al-Suri funnels significant funds via Iran for onward passage to al-Qaida´s leadership in Afghanistan and Iraq”. Continue reading
Ahmadinejad visits Armenia – On Friday, December 23, President Ahmadinejad travelled to Armenia along with a top-level delegation and met with his Armenian counterpart. The two emphasized the right of each country to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and the importance of resolving Iran’s nuclear issues through diplomacy. They further discussed the need to expand trade between the two countries and increase cooperation in the economic, energy, communication, industry and investment spheres.
Conference of Iranian diplomats on “Islamic Awakening” – On December 25, the general conference of Iranian delegations overseas convened. This year’s conference focused on the Islamic Awakening (the Iranian term for Arab Spring). Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman said that the official opening ceremony of the ten-day conference to convene in the Foreign Ministry headquarters in Tehran would be attended by the President.
Security committee to free Iranian in Syria established – Ambassador to Syria, Mohammad Ra’uf Sheybani, has said that a security committee has been set up to free the five Iranian hostages. He said that two objectives seem behind the kidnapping: to exert pressure on the Iranian government to change its stance towards the Syrian developments and to generate a negative impact on Iranian economic investments in Syria. Deputy Foreign Minister for Middle East and Africa Affairs, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, said that according to the latest news the seven Iranian electrical engineers and technicians abducted in the western Syrian city of Homs are in good health. Amir-Abdollahian said, “What the abductors did was actually designed to help the enemies of the Syrian people.”
Iran asks China to stop filtering Iranian radio that broadcasts in China – Senior Iranian officials contacted Chinese government cultural officials and requested that they act to remove cease blocking the radio frequency of Voice of Iran broadcasts in China. The Iranians submitted a report detailing radio activity in order to persuade the Chinese government to allow the radio to operate.
Iran renews offer to IAEA to visit Iranian facilities – Ali Asghar Soltaniyeh said Iran’s permanent envoy to the IAEA said that Iran had renewed its invitation for an IAEA team to travel to Tehran to discuss issues related its nuclear program and that preliminary arrangements for the visit would be made in the first week of January. “Any time after that, after the composition of the team is finalized, they are welcome to come. Therefore I assume that perhaps in January this visit will be made.”
Women hold pictures of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei outside the former U.S. Embassy in Tehran on November 4, marking the day in 1979 when protesters stormed the embassy and took 52 Americans hostage for over a year.
December 25, 2011
The Arab Spring; nuclear activity; mysterious killings at home and alleged assassination attempts abroad; house arrests; fears of impending air strikes; the storming of an embassy — these are events that made 2011 the year of the threat in Iran.
And as made clear by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in November, Iran doesn’t take such threats lying down. “We reply to threats with threats, he said. “Anyone who thinks of carrying out any act of aggression against the Islamic Republic of Iran should prepare themselves for strong slaps and steel fists from the powerful nation of Iran.”
Some observers, such as Patrick Clawson, director of research at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, would go so far as to say there is already a covert war under way between Iran and the West.