October 14, 2014

News and Analysis (10/14/14)

Have the Western media and mainstream Muslims exaggerated the barbarity of the so-called Islamic state? IS explains why it advocates slavery, concubinage, and violence in its own words (with a coerced assist from hostage John Cantlie):

“Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who took office last month, has admitted to previous ‘excesses’ by security forces and vowed to govern for all Iraqis. He has not yet commented directly on allegations contained in the Amnesty report but has previously said Iraq faces an ‘existential’ battle against militants from Islamic State”:

US mulls an expanded role as Kurds slow down IS troops near the Turkish  border, but Turkey maintains its ambiguity over the Kurdish, and its own, role:

“Allowing extremist Israeli settlers to raid Al Aksa compound protected by the Israeli police is a further proof of the belligerent agenda of the extremist Israeli government. Such actions are part of the Israeli goal to turn Jerusalem into an exclusive Jewish city” — PLO statement against the most recent Israeli provocations ….

… In contrast, Indian Muslims clean a synagogue, “its furniture and artifacts” so that it will be available for prayers to the Indian city’s twenty or so remaining Jews:

“The shared need for change has nudged along a series of compromises that set the stage for a conference on Sunday in Cairo where world donors are expected to fork over billions of dollars for reconstruction in Gaza”:

“One specific reservation [about the assault] is whether the abduction of a single soldier could have justified such heavy and relentless use of force in a populated area”:

Britain’s House of Commons voted 274-12 to recognize the Palestinian state. The vote is strictly symbolic and “the decision will not decide government policy”; but it sneds a message to Israel that he world’s patience is running out:

“I think a final settlement can be achieved in these remaining 40 days. We will not return to the situation a year ago. The world is tired and wants it to end, resolved through negotiations”:

“[W]orkers threw rocks, burnt tires and closed a major road late Sunday to protest their employers’ negligence. The protesters say they should have been provided transportation back to Egypt by now. The men are among 1,700 seasonal butchers who stay in Saudi Arabia during the month of hajj”:

October 10, 2014

News and Analysis (10/10/14)

While IS murders innocent humanitarians …

… Muslim neighbors of a one victim of IS murder raise funds “to help provide financial support for Alan’s family and other ongoing projects to benefit those in need to ensure his legacy continue”:

The continuing series of American missteps in the Middle East now threatens one of our most moderate and stable allies:

“Egypt has clamped down on security and tightened control over faculties…. ‘Our demands have not changed, but the situation has moved on without us. All we achieved were friends in prison, friends in graves,’ says Hend … [who took] a leading role in Al Azhar’s Muslim Brotherhood protests” …

.. and in the streets of Cairo and Alexandria the repression continues:

“It’s not fair that we have to constantly keep justifying and explaining things that people have not put any effort in trying to understand” — Amirah Amin, a “social worker … mentoring a handful of young women … [in a] group, called ‘SisterHOOD'”:

“The Instagram account has since been frozen by its users, with the explanation that it has been ‘shut down due to the high amount of false publicity'”:

“Last year, I said that I do not deserve it, and I still say that because I have started a campaign and it’s not over yet. It’s not completed yet”:

“By fusing both their sense of fashion with their faith, this growing group … is reinterpreting traditional notions of what it means to dress conservatively. They’re spawning a new market for niche fashion brands and finding unexpected supporters among some mainstream brands, as well as from conservative Christian and Orthodox Jewish women”:

“Distraught families plead that their girls are kidnap victims, but a proposed French law would treat them as terrorists liable to arrest upon return”:

“[T]he group, which swept to power in Somalia in 2006, stayed a potent force after it was driven from Mogadishu in 2011 and the latest setbacks are unlikely to halt its campaign that has included attacking the presidential compound, assassinating officials and ambushing the Western-backed African Union force”:

October 8, 2014

News and Analysis (10/8/14)

As the town of Kobane teeters before the IS onslaught despite US airstrikes, Kurds press for a deeper Turkish involvement, but Erdogan insists an escalation must be part of the fight against the Asad regime” …

… and IS signals it is ready and wiling to use control of the water supply to squeeze the population on the land it occupies as the Israelis have used water to squeeze the Palestinians on the land it occupies …

… and issues rules for domestic journalists, forcing them to swear allegiance to al-Baghdadi and clear all reports with his media bureau and prohibiting them from speaking al-Arabiyya, al-Jaxeera, Orient, or having any contact with any “international and local satellite TV channels …. in any way”:

“[Y]ou certainly don’t have to believe in Angels, God, Angelic military forces…. However what you do have to do is allow … texts to speak without projecting a particular meaning on to them detached from the text and the context…. [S]hallow misinterpretations of religious and irreligious extremists almost always lead to … violence”:

“It’s the indifference of good people that is bringing us down”:

Kassig’s former cell-mate says that to some of the “captors, I had the feeling that it made no difference” whether the hostages were Muslim or not, explaining their expressed willingness to behead the converted aid worker …

… while in the Central African Republic, Christians have no compunction against beheading a local Muslim cab driver:

“The attackers – armed and some dressed in police uniforms – … dragged the women from their cars before raping them. There was a chorus of outrage. Many [human rights] campaigners in Afghanistan – where women who are raped sometimes find themselves [punished for adultery – … wanted the executions to go ahead” …

… while in Saudi Arabia, “a former athlete and advocate for girls’ sports … thinks that attitudes may be changing…. ‘There’s a lot more acceptance of women’s involvement in sports today than there used to be a decade ago,'” she says, and there are reports of plans under consideration for “sections in stadia for female spectators”:

Islam is not monolithic. Afghanis, Pakistanis, and Palestinians in the occupied territories prefer Jewish law (stoning to death) to punish adultery, but the majority elsewhere prefer Islamic law (a lashing and prohibition against their future marriage to chaste Muslims):

“In an urgent action statement, Amnesty called for his immediate release, saying ‘the charges against him do not constitute a recognizable criminal offense'”:

As negotiators meet to try to iron out differences over details in the resolution of the dispute of Iran’s nuclear program before the Nov. 24 deadline, Rouhani insists Iran will not give up its right under the nonproliferation treaty to veto particular individuals assigned to the inspection teams:

“Monday’s gunfire and mortar shelling was one of the worst violations of a 2003 cease-fire between India and Pakistan”:

October 6, 2014

News and Analysis (10/6/14)

“To give the Islamic State a free hand is to allow proponents of the caliphate to exploit the instability that U.S. efforts … have fostered. But to make Syria the latest free-fire zone in America’s never-ending Middle East misadventure will almost surely prolong and exacerbate the agonies that country is experiencing”:

“I am obviously pretty scared to die but the hardest part is not knowing, wondering, hoping, and wondering if I should even hope at all. If I do die, I figure that at least you and I can seek refuge and comfort in knowing that I went out as a result of trying to alleviate suffering and helping those in need” — Abdul-Rahman Kassig:

Stories of Iraqis murdered and tortured not by IS but by “fighters under the control of the former, western-backed prime minister Nouri al-Maliki” are unreported because “[n]o white westerners were forced to recite chilling messages in professionally made videos before being murdered, so no horror is expressed by western politicians”:

“[I]n a country where soccer is deeply entwined with a polarized political landscape, and with the government facing allegations of creeping authoritarianism, the so-called ‘Passolig’ system is being viewed by many fans as an attempt at covert surveillance and clamping down on dissent”:

“The actor reacted furiously to claims by Maher that Islam manifested as ‘the only religion that acts like the mafia'” and to Sam Harris’s insistence that any charge that “criticism of the religion gets conflated with bigotry towards Muslims as people [is] intellectually ridiculous”:

“[M]uch of the contemporary scholarly discourses surrounding the Muslim Brotherhood, whether it concerns analyses of its charitable associations and social welfare projects or its performance in state elections, stems from developments for which this generation [of young student activists] was responsible”:

“[A]dministration officials … have found that security rules put in place to defend America from a terror attack have played a role in alienating young Muslim men and women — the exact group being courted by the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL”:

“The White House confirmed the call to the UAE, a day after Mr Biden offered a similar apology to Turkey”:

Reports “say more than 45 fighters on both sides were killed Sunday near the town of Kobani. The Observatory’s chief Rami Abdurrahman said Monday that one of the attacks against Islamic State fighters was carried by a female Kurdish fighter who blew herself up, killing” ten IS fighters:

“The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists says Iran has around 35 imprisoned journalists and is in the top three countries for jailing reporters”:

October 3, 2014

News and Analysis (10/3/14)

“According to local reports, Kurdish leaders in the border region have called on both sides to observe a ceasefire during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, which starts on Saturday. Isis said that they would pray in Kobani on the first holiday of Eid…. Air strikes conducted by the US-led coalition have not slowed the Isis advance”:

In Australia, “Muslim women wearing the niqab or burqa were to be made to sit in a glass enclosure in Australia’s parliament house. That’s the latest episode in two months of anti-terror theatre” …

… while in France, entrepreneurial women circumvent the headscarf ban by starting home businesses:

“[A]nother woman approached her and began verbally abusing her with racist remarks. The woman’s abuser grabbed her by the hair and neck as her head was bashed several times on the wall of the train’s carriage. The Muslim woman was then pushed off the train when it arrived in Batman Station in Coburg North”:

“Humanitarian arguments, if consistently applied, could be used to flatten the entire Middle East.” Including Israel:

“There is no Muslim monolith, just an endless pattern of nuance and difference”:

The report says that “mass executions, abducted women and girls as sex slaves, and used child soldiers … may amount to systematic war crimes”, but also that “Iraqi government air strikes on the Sunni Muslim militants had caused ‘significant civilian deaths’ by hitting villages, a school and hospitals in violation of international law”:

The “video shows the beheading of a man identified as the pilot of a missing Nigerian Air Force jet and burnt out parts of a plane — the first indication that Nigeria’s homegrown Islamic extremist group has the capability to bring down aircraft”:

“France called on Israel on Thursday to drop plans for new settlements in East Jerusalem, joining the United States and Berlin in criticism of the move” that would preempt any two-state solution by “effectively severing the northern and southern West Bank” …

… just as Sweden signals it will become “the first long-term EU member country to” recognize the Palestinian state:

Journalist Amira Hass was “reminded of the image that Israelis commonly have of Palestinians: irrational hotheads,” but “she has received messages of support from many Palestinians. Hundreds signed a petition saying they were shocked by the expulsion, calling her a courageous defender of Palestinian human rights”:

October 1, 2014

News and Analysis (10/1/14)

“She also said IS leaders were ignoring the ‘verdict of their own justice system’ – in a previous statement she said she had been told a Sharia court found Mr Henning ‘innocent of being a spy'”:

“Iraqi Kurdish troops drove Islamic State fighters from a strategic border crossing with Syria on Tuesday and won the support of members of a major Sunni tribe…. The victory, which could make it harder for militants to operate … was … achieved with help from Kurds from the Syrian side of the frontier, a new sign of cooperation”:

“A Muslim NFL player was slapped with unsportsmanlike conduct for a religious celebration that went unpunished in Christian counterparts, like Tim Tebow. The NFL said it was mistake to punish Husain Abdullah of the Kansas City Chiefs with a 15-yard penalty after he prostrated himself and prayed in the end zone”:

“How great the distance between the Abbas who now extols the … BDS movement … work against ‘Israel’s occupation and apartheid policies’ and the Abbas who once expressed his opposition to boycotts directed against Israel (as opposed to those directed against settlement-made products), and … referred to it as a neighbor'”:

“It is beyond the capabilities of U.S. intelligence, or any other western states for that matter, to gain the complex strategic and tactical insight and the instinctive feel to successfully manipulate the conflict in the directions we want':

Not only is the U.S. still in Afghanistan …

… but “[m]onths after Owais Jakhrani was sacked from the Pakistan navy for radical Islamist views, he led an audacious mission to take over a warship and turn its guns on a U.S. naval vessel in the open seas”:

“Artist Giulia Marchi describes her project, ‘Call Her Fatimah — Musilin,’ as being at the intersection of gender, religion and ethnicity…. [H]er niche photography series centers on the female [M]uslim population in China, a group … that challenges … perceptions of what it means to be a woman and religious outside of Western culture”:

“[O]ne reason IS poses a more complex threat than al Qaeda, the Islamist group from which it grew…. Islamic State sees itself as both army and government. ‘Wheat is a strategic good. They are doing as much as they can with it,’ said Ali Bind Dian, head of a farmers’ union”:

“The irony [of the media silence on Muslim criticism of Muslim extremists] is that the real antidote to Islamic State’s poison is Islam itself”:

September 29, 2014

News and Analysis (9/29/14)

Notwithstanding claims that the air strikes have helped Iraqi ground forces to halt IS militia advances, civilian deaths from American led attacks on economic targets like grain silos and oil refineries can’t be winning any hearts or minds …

… and “the west does not intend mass murderers to benefit from its wars any more than it intends civilians to die in its airstrikes. If when the accountants of violence make their reckoning, the dictators are as triumphant as the civilians are dead, that is no concern of ours” …:

… and, beyond the moral issues, there is the strategic consideration about policies violate the first rule of war by uniting rather than dividing or enemies:

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told a Washington Post columnist this month that U.S. intelligence had underestimated Islamic State and overestimated Iraq’s army”:

The U.S. has demanded that Tehran limit enrichment to about 15% of current rates, while “Iran insists the output should remain at the [current] level … and be allowed to expand more than ten-fold over the next decade” as permitted under the nonproliferation agreement which Iran has signed and regional rival Israel did not:

“[H]owever well the arguments of Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins might work at illustrating the evils of religion in a broader sense, they do little in the face of a perfectly moderate family that just happens to be Muslim. It’s like hating Fifa (as you should) and then screaming at kids kicking a ball around in their garden”:

“Police databases found that Nolen had ‘Jesus Christ’ tattooed across his chest and ‘As-salaamu Ataikum,’ tattooed on his stomach, which could be a misspelling of “As-salaamu Alaikum,” a standard Muslim greeting that means ‘Peace be upon you'”:

“In response to the IS message released last weekend urging followers to kill Westerners, including the ‘dirty French’ – a message that appears to have been directly linked to the beheading of Hervé Gourdel – a group of prominent Muslims pushed back in a provocative letter … yesterday entitled: ‘We are also dirty French':

The anti-Muslim violence has receded, bug in its aftermath, “Muslim business owners said they had lost anywhere from 40 to 80 percent of their income, which at $300 to $1,000 a month can be the difference between just getting by and poverty”:

“The first democratic handover of power in Afghanistan’s history has been far from smooth: the deal for a unity government was cobbled together after months of deadlock…. Illustrating the problems facing the new president, a blast on a road near Kabul airport just before Ghani was sworn in caused some casualties”:


September 26, 2014

News and Analysis (9/26/14)

The Constitutional scholar says the U.S. Constitution disfavors war and 126 Islamic scholars say Islamic law prohibits injustice. Who knew?

“Six weeks of bombing hasn’t budged ISIS in Iraq, but it has caused ISIS recruitment to soar” …

… and focusing on Syrian oil, U.S. airstrikes fail to stop advancing terrorists burning villages ad lopping off heads …

… and although Iraq’s PM claims to have “credible’ intelligence that Islamic State militants plan to attack subway systems in Paris and the United States” but a deputy national security adviser to President Obama, said it hasn’t been shared with the U.S.:

“In a speech to the UN, the Iranian president blamed ‘certain intelligence agencies’ for fomenting extremist groups in the Middle East. He said a nuclear deal with Iran should mean more security cooperation”:

Muslims tweet apologies for everything from algebra to the death of Mufasa in “The Lion King”:

“My feminine body has been attacked in a new way. They have used me as a symbol of a threat to democracy. My scarf and niqaab are now not only symbols of subjugation, but also that of a facilitator of terrorism. I am now both the oppressed and the oppressor”:

“[T]he 20-year-old woman was discovered on Wednesday, saying she had been ‘dropped off by suspected Boko Haram militants’.” There was “no explanation why she might have been released. The Islamists offered last May a prisoner swap to release the girls, but the proposal was rejected by the government”:

A “16-year-old girl has been barred from an outstanding London state school because she insists on wearing the niqab, or full-face covering…. Hundreds have already signed a petition protesting that what you wear “does not affect anyone else”:

In Syria a “woman walked the streets of Raqqa with a camera hidden in her niqab. The video offers a rare glimpse of what life is like in the IS stronghold”:

The “deputy chairman of Hamas’ political bureau, said “The United Nations will come to an agreement with Israel and the unity government on how to run the crossings”:


September 23, 2014

News and Analysis (9/23/14)

Will the IS’s war against Islam in the name of Islam reconcile the Saudis and the Iranians?

“Few people join IS out of religious belief. Most are in it for power, money, and recognition, or simply to have their backs covered if they have problems in the community. The tragedy is that the youth and children are easily brainwashed, so this will be a long-term problem”:

Despite the U.S. administration’s optimism about airstrikes, the Pentagon continues to signal the expectation that soldiers may be needed on the front lines and Israel shoots down a Syrian plane for flying over Syria …

… while Christians and Kurdish civilians flee, Kurdish soldiers claim to hold the line, but IS calls for international attacks on French and American citizens gets a response in Algeria …

“Ilham Tohti … was sentenced to life in prison…. Most of the charges … relate to … a website he started … to promote better understanding between Han Chinese and Uighurs. It featured articles in the two languages about customs and values—which the Chinese authorities decided … have ‘bewitched and coerced young ethnic students':

If a man tells his wife, “‘please wear the niqab, I don’t want any other men to see you’,” Dr. Raihan Ismail says, then “the problem is not the niqab, it is being married to someone who is possessive and oppressive. By banning the burka or niqab you are preventing some women in freely practising what they believe in”:

“Launched by the British community organization Active Change Foundation, based in east London, the social media campaign urges young Muslim Twitter users to ‘fight back against ISIS,’ as the rogue terror organization sweeping through Iraq and Syria has been called, and ‘denounce their violent actions in your own words':

“Abbas would ask the U.N. Security Council to issue a binding resolution, with a specific date for ending Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem…. In the event of a likely U.S. veto at the Security Council, Abbas will seek membership in dozens of international institutions and agencies, including the” ICC:

The Houthis have long been shunned by Yemen’s political elite. They complained they were left out of a Gulf-brokered power transfer deal after “Arab Spring” protests forced veteran leader Ali Abdullah Saleh to quit in 2012 in favor of his then vice president”:

September 22, 2014

Dynamics of Regional Crises Run Amok: Implications for Arab and U.S. Interests and Policies

The success of the terrorist group formerly known as ISIL or ISIS (acronyms for translation of its Arabic name, Islamic State in the Levant, or Iraq and Syria) in occupying much of eastern Syria and western Iraq has set the stage for renewed American intervention. Last month, the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations and the U.S.-GCCC recently convened a program of speakers to explore the dynamics of the regional crises and its implications for Arab and U.S. interests and policies.

Samir Sumaida’ie, formerly Ambassador of Iraq to the United States (2006-2011) and formerly Permanent Representative of Iraq to the United Nations (2004-2006) noted that actions and policies can have long term devastating consequences. We are suffering from actions taken decades ago. When he grew up in a Baghdad the country was doing well and prospects were good. Then a military coup set the country on a downward course beginning with the Baathist regime and ending with the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. What he did not destroy the sanctions did. Enter the Americans without much idea of what it was they were walking into. Everyone was happy that Saddam was gone, but they made bad decisions disbanding not only the military but the police. Looting and chaos followed.  There followed an attempt to create a new political order in the American image, but with a vision of an Iraq divided into Sunnis, Shias, and Kurds, they implemented a system that deepened these divisions. At the same time Islamists trained outside the country found it in their interests to play that game in a winner-take-all system that created the conditions that led to the current situation. The entire region is only beginning to wake up from the Middle Ages. They need to catch up. The Arab spring faltered for both internal and external reasons. This is the context of the current catastrophe. We have refugees who must be dealt with today. We need a stable political order. We need a long-term international alliance to combat the ideology of terrorism. These three must be wedded in an overall strategy embraced by all parties. We must recognize that without a resolution of the Palestinian Israeli dispute the potential for instability will remain.

Dr. Imad Harb, Distinguished International Affairs Fellow at the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations, observed that there is an arc of instability from Iraq to Lebanon and another from Yemen to Libya. There has been no president elected since Michel Suleiman, and the parliament’s extended tenure is about to expire. The U.S. has sought a consensus candidate, neither Michel Aoun nor Samir Geagea. Electoral committees were to be called into action to prepare November elections. Maronites want the presidency to be established before any extension of the existing parliament. For the first time people in the poor sections of Lebanese cities are listening to jihadist talk. Recruiters are helped by outside funding and the presence of Palestinian refugee camps. Jihadists even took over one town and although driven off they took some police as hostages with them. Hezbollah nearly controls the country. The U.S. is called upon to help implement U.N. Res. 1701 that ended the Israeli incursion. Lebanon is now involved in the Syrian war. Syria is attracting jihadists from everywhere while the moderates are ineffective. Cities are under control of the regime and the countryside is i the control of extremists. Communities that had remained neutral are being forced to take sides. It is not just ISIS, but Jabhat-an-Nusrah, as well. Geneva 2 collapsed. It is unclear what the U.S. can do. They could bomb ISIS, but the outcome may be more unintended consquences.

Dr. Thomas Mattair, Executive Director, Middle East Policy Council, sad that Iran has restricted its enrichment of uranium to a limit of 5% and are in discussion of the use of recently discovered facilities and the U.S. has agreed to some modest limits on sanctions. Gulf Arabs remain concerned that these negotiations were started without informing them and they are still not included. There are still large gaps in limits and time horizons and testing. Mattair doubts that agreement will be reached within the four month time limit. Gulf Arabs see themselves as being on the front line and they, like Israel, oppose any Iranian enrichment whatsoever and might start enriching themselves. They fear U.S. acquiescence in Iran’s regional ambitions. They warned us against invading Iraq and are uneasy that we have not intervened more robustly in Syria and are disappointed in our failure to produce an Israeli-Palestinian agreement. Obama identified loosely connected networks of terrorists rather than Iran’s nuclear program as the greatest danger to American interests in the region. Although the U.S. has supported some collective action against Syria, it has not gone as far as Jordan and other Arab states wish. We’ve struggled over to whom we could safely give weapons, and indeed IS has captured American weapons. Because of inadequacy of the Iraqi government, IS has found supporters on the ground.

Professor David Des Roches, Senior Military Fellow at the Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies, National Defense University and Malone Fellow in Arab and Islamic Studies to Syria. He focused on military aspects of he situation in Iraq. IS is not Napoleon sweeping through Europe. It was fighting a regime unpopular with the locals. It has positioned itself as the defender of the downtrodden. Paying the Sunnis not to oppose the Shia led federal government put them in the position of either accepting a subordinate position with them or standing apart from them. When ISIS took Mosul, the Kurds took Kirkuk. The Barzanji and Talabani factions of the Kurds are at war with another and we cannot give heavy weaponry to them. They would divert military assets towards the big prize of Kirkuk. Neutralizing IS requires a troop commitment Obama is not interested in making. If the enemy is completely defeated, the Baghdad government will have no incentive for reform.

Mr. Matthew A. Reynolds, North America Representative, United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) arvued that the one constant in Middle East history since WWII is the unresolved nature of the Palestinian issue. There are 5 million Palestinian refugees. He focused on Gaza, but mentioned the current situation of the Palestinian refugees in Syria. The devastation is much worse than we see on TV. Gaza is mostly 3 miles wide and one third of that is made into no man’s land by Israel. It was already called the world’s largest open air prison before the current war. We have reached a tipping point and must now confront health issues. Eleven of his UNRWA colleagues were killed in the recent hostilities. One-half of the supply of all poultry has been eliminated. The only power plant will be inoperative for months. Untreated sewage dumped into the sea will adversely affect Israel itself. Gaza needs nothing less than a new deal: Freedom to trade, freedom to move, and freedom from aid dependency.  With modern technology there is no justification for a medieval type surge against Gaza civilians. The violence Israel sows will only hurt their own people.

Joshua Yaphe with Bureau of Intelligence Research at the U.S. Department of State said Saudi Arabia has offered $500,000 million for Gaza reconstruction. The Gulf states have become more active in diplomacy, most recently calling for U.N. chapter 7  to be applied to Israel. Qatar called for suspension of Syrian membership in Arab League in 2011. In 2012 its membership in OIC was suspended. Most experts have not noticed this unprecedented outburst of diplomacy. Compared to the response in previous Gaza wars when actions involved consultation with all stakeholders and required no long term commitments beyond humanitarian financial, GCC states now take a more direct role.

The following points were made during the discussion:

Maliki had ministers from diverse groups but high jacked the ministries by appointing his own cronies. We must find a way to prevent this.

Capital is a coward and does not want to go into places that are insecure and unstable. The displacement in Gaza is equivalent to the displacement of 48 million Americans.

Without reconciliation among the major factions in  Iraq we will get more of the same, with a distinct possibility of more fragmentation. A change requires staging not just the cabinet but the PM’s office and the security forces with diverse personnel.

IS is proud of stoning adulterers and executing those who will not support them. You defeat such a group only by shrinking the base of their support and they see no alternative although they may change their minds after living under them long enough.

Israel seems to be using Hamas as a prop to say no to Palestinian rights. The PLO, too, was told that once it recognized Israel there would be peace.

The interpretations of Islam coming out of the Nadj simply cannot be applied in cities like Cairo and Baghdad, but they indoctrinate children into believing that anything else is heresy, ISIS is the extreme of the extreme. Abu Dhabi has established a new institution of scholars to try to challenge the more extreme ideologies as has al- Azhar.

Saudi society is more conservative than the Saudi monarchy. King Abdullah is moving deliberately. They had a wake up call when al-Qaeda took action in the peninsula. The Saudi government is now very harsh in fighting fundraising for terrorism, but there is a concern with the education of children that paves he say for terrorism.

At one point Iraq accused Syria of involvement in terrorist bombing, but one year later Iraqis were prohibited from criticizing Syria obviously for sectarian reasons.

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Ph.D.
Minaret of Freedom Institute

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