United Arab Emirates

Containing the Islamist Revolution

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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.

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Iran News Round Up April 16, 2012

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Revolutionary Guards
Revolutionary Guards (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A selection of the latest news stories and editorials published in Iranian news outlets, compiled by Ali Alfoneh, Ahmad Majidyar and Michael Rubin (E) = Article in English

Politics

  • Gholam-Hossein Elham, Islamic Steadfastness Front co-founder, says the Supreme Leader appointed some individuals to the Expediency Council just to keep them employed. He continued: “In the Expediency Council, appointment of individuals is also based on some kind of expediency… Reappointment of Mr. Hashemi [Rafsanjani] is what the Leader found more expedient than his replacement, but it is clear that the Council has lost its effectiveness… which may be due to its vengeful and harsh behavior towards the cabinet…”

Diplomacy

  • The United Arab Emirates withdraws its ambassador from Tehran following Ahmadinejad’s visit to Abu-Musa island, which the UAE claims as its territory.
    • Jomhouri-ye Eslami editorializes: “We found it necessary to recommend the Sheikhs of the Emirates know their limits… Reacting to the Iranian president’s visit to the Iranian island of Abu-Musa, the foreign minister of the Emirates did not even observe politeness in his words and used expressions outside the diplomatic norms like primitive Arabs… Statements made by the foreign minister of the Sheikhdom of the Emirates, should they not be due to his ignorance, may have a dangerous background. And one can see the hands of colonial powers and Zionist provocations behind it… We recommend the Sheikhs of the Emirates not to ignite the wood which would start the hell in the region which the Zionists and colonial Western powers desire.”
  • Farzad Esmaeili, Air Defense Commander:
    • “The Air Defense Force… is the first line of defense in the face of any aerial threat of the enemy. By using the entire potentials of the armed forces… and by establishing a command and control system, it safeguards Iran’s air territory… Divided into air defense zones, it is tactical and self-reliant in most areas in Iran. It reports to the Army, but has a centralized command structure utilizing the air defense units of the Army and the [Revolutionary] Guards…”
  • [E] Chairman of the Iranian parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Alaeddin Boroujerdi on Monday rejected a recent offer made by the US for the resumption of ties and direct negotiations between Tehran and Washington.

Military and Security

Nuclear Issue

  • Negotiations in Istanbul between Iran and the 5 1 Group:
    • Said Jalili, Supreme National Security Council secretary, defends the Islamic Republic’s record of negotiations with the 5 1 Group:
      • “We believe the positions of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the behavior of the Islamic Republic of Iran provides a great opportunity for cooperation in nuclear issues. The fatwa [religious edict] of the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution against nuclear arms and considering them haram [religiously impermissible] is a great opportunity to move on and to disarm…”
      • “We have always cooperated with the nuclear inspectors… and it is not that the NPT demands unhindered access to all sites…”
      • “You know that the IAEA general secretary has, in 25 reports, announced that Iran has not deviated from its peaceful nuclear goals. This was also announced by the United States intelligence agencies…”

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Mossad spy network allegedly busted in Mauritania

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Afghanistan arrests British citizens with 30 unregistered AK-47s

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