Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may have looked like he stood alone at the podium as he addressed Congress this week.
But as he hammered away at his view that a nuclear deal with Iran would dangerously empower an Iranian regime already in full expansion mode, his words no doubt drew vigorous nods from what might seem a surprising group: Arab leaders from Saudi Arabia to Egypt.
Already alarmed at the gains the Shiite government in Tehran is making in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and now apparently in Yemen, Sunni Arab leaders worry that an American accord with Iran on its nuclear program will seal the deal on a decade of expanding Iranian influence.
“The focus has been on Netanyahu and his concerns about a nuclear deal, as if he were the only one, but the Arabs are increasingly alarmed at the prospect of a flawed nuclear deal and what that would mean for the region,” says James Phillips, senior research fellow for Middle Eastern affairs at the Heritage Foundation in Washington.
That “alarm” has sharpened in recent months with the growing perception among Arabs that the Obama administration sees Iran as a “useful ally” in the fight against the Islamic State, Mr. Phillips says.
Category Archives: Iran
United States President Barack Obama is a sheep, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is a sheepdog. Today, despite Obama’s myopic de facto boycott, Netanyahu delivered a speech for the ages in front of a joint session of Congress on the subject of the ongoing “P5+1″ nuclear negotiations with Iran — a harrowing Chamberlain-esque capitulation to the forces of evil and fundamentalist jihadism that even the Washington Post editorial board has substantively described as having “major concerns.” In a speech that helps vindicate Zionism itself, Netanyahu spoke directly to the world about how the Jewish people are no longer stateless and passively defenseless to the threat of existential genocidal evil, and how Israel is thus prepared to act by itself if it sees America about to make a truly bad deal with the Iranian mullahs.
The contrast with Obama could not be more vivid: Netanyahu spoke with utmost moral clarity of the dangers of “Islamism,” “militant Islam,” and “jihad” — and not of amorphous “violent extremism” or of Jen Psaki-style “jobs for jihadists” underemployment. He spoke of how the West has been in a state of cold war with the Islamic Republic of Iran since the 1979 Iranian Revolution: from the Beirut barracks bombing of 1983 to the Argentinian AMIA bombing of 1994 to the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Africa to the arming of countless Iraqis with I.E.D.s used to kill Americans during the Iraq War to the arming of Hezbollah, Hamas, and Bashar al-Assad alike to the recent plot to blow up the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. in a tony D.C. restaurant to the repeated warnings to annihilate from the face of the Earth the mullahs’ dystopian characterization of the “little Satan” of Israel and the “great Satan” of America. He spoke of Iran’s recent role in effecting a coup in Yemen — a Western-aligned Sunni ally that has been indispensably important in the drone war against Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. He calmly explained how the Shia “Islamic Republic” of Iran and the Sunni “Islamic State” of ISIS are firmly rooted, despite their sectarian differences, in the common themes of jihad and anti-Western subjugation, and how “the enemy of our enemy” is thus still our “enemy.” He spoke of Iran’s consistent evading of International Atomic Energy Agency nuclear facility inspectors and of its covert Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (“ICBM”) program, and explained how the latter can only be militarily justified for planned use outside of the Middle East, once technology permits.
All the while, the speech had the distinct feel of a State of the Union Address — except less trivial and more substantive. Lawmakers arrived in the House chamber early to assure themselves aisle seats, where they might get a chance to personally shake hands with the Israeli Prime Minister. There were seemingly dozens of standing ovations, and myriad more applause lines. The Congress loves Benjamin Netanyahu, and so do the American people: he is, in fact, more popular right now with the American citizenry than is Barack Obama himself. Americans respect a leader who stands up for his nation, who stands up for his people, who speaks in unambiguous tones of moral clarity — of black versus white, of good versus evil — and who thus stands up for the West’s core values of individual liberty and representative democracy and stands fervently athwart the totalitarian threat of global jihadism. Benjamin Netanyahu is indeed the Winston Churchill of our time, and in a world in which the U.S. President serially apologizes to the Arab World for America’s ostensible sins he is indeed the de facto leader of the free world. No wonder the sheep Barack Obama cannot stand this sheepdog. Here is Dennis Prager’s simple yet eloquent encapsulation of this Manicheanism:
Those who do not confront evil resent those who do.
Near the end of his new autobiography, David Axelrod sheds some light on President Obama’s distaste for democracy. “Obama has limited patience or understanding for officeholders whose concerns are more parochial–which would include most of Congress and many world leaders,” Axelrod writes, in noting Obama’s preference for supercilious vanity projects. Yet while Axelrod paints with a broad brush, he gives two examples, and they are telling. He writes: “Whether it’s John Boehner or Bibi Netanyahu, few practiced politicians appreciate being lectured on where their political self-interest lies.” This passage is an important preamble to the current dustup between the two administrations.
One of the regular critiques from the administration and its spokesmen in the media of tomorrow’s speech by Netanyahu is that Bibi just wants to use the speech as a prop in his own reelection campaign. As Axelrod’s book demonstrates, catering to voters and representing their interests in the government is borderline incomprehensible to Obama. His disdain for other world leaders who follow the wishes of their employers–the taxpayers–instead of doing what Obama wants is especially strange, considering its undisguised imperialist overtones.
And Netanyahu, of late, has found himself the world leader who values democratic elections far too much for Obama’s taste. When Netanyahu pressed ahead with giving the speech to a joint session of Congress, the Obama administration said they’d hit back, and suggested one way of doing so would be for them to bash Bibi through the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, as they often do when they want to drive a wedge between the U.S. and Israel.
It’s no surprise the recitation of history makes Obama uncomfortable. As we’ve seen, the president’s ignorance of history is comprehensive, but he is especially unknowledgeable on Israeli and Jewish history. It doesn’t seem to interest him, and it shows.
So it’s always been a bit rich for the president who thinks history started with his own presidential election to accuse others of not thinking about the big picture. What Obama means by this is actually that these other politicians and world leaders aren’t thinking enough about Obama’s legacy, which he’d like them to prioritize over the needs and wants of their citizens, Israel being no exception.
The Bethlehem-based news agency Ma’an has cited a Kuwaiti newspaper report Saturday, that US President Barack Obama thwarted an Israeli military attack against Iran’s nuclear facilities in 2014 by threatening to shoot down Israeli jets before they could reach their targets in Iran.
Following Obama’s threat, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was reportedly forced to abort the planned Iran attack.
According to Al-Jarida, the Netanyahu government took the decision to strike Iran some time in 2014 soon after Israel had discovered the United States and Iran had been involved in secret talks over Iran’s nuclear program and were about to sign an agreement in that regard behind Israel’s back.
The report claimed that an unnamed Israeli minister who has good ties with the US administration revealed the attack plan to Secretary of State John Kerry, and that Obama then threatened to shoot down the Israeli jets before they could reach their targets in Iran.
Al-Jarida quoted “well-placed” sources as saying that Netanyahu, along with Minister of Defense Moshe Yaalon, and then-Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, had decided to carry out airstrikes against Iran’s nuclear program after consultations with top security commanders.
According to the report, “Netanyahu and his commanders agreed after four nights of deliberations to task the Israeli army’s chief of staff, Benny Gantz, to prepare a qualitative operation against Iran’s nuclear program. In addition, Netanyahu and his ministers decided to do whatever they could do to thwart a possible agreement between Iran and the White House because such an agreement is, allegedly, a threat to Israel’s security.”
The sources added that Gantz and his commanders prepared the requested plan and that Israeli fighter jets trained for several weeks in order to make sure the plans would work successfully. Israeli fighter jets reportedly even carried out experimental flights in Iran’s airspace after they managed to break through radars.
The emerging nuclear deal with Iran is indefensible. The White House knows it. That is why President Obama does not want to subject an agreement to congressional approval, why critics of the deal are dismissed as warmongers, and why the president, his secretary of state, and his national security adviser have spent several weeks demonizing the prime minister of Israel for having the temerity to accept an invitation by the U.S. Congress to deliver a speech on a subject of existential import for his small country. These tactics distract public attention. They turn a subject of enormous significance to American foreign policy into a petty personal drama. They prevent us from discussing what America is about to give away.
And America is about to give away a lot. This week the AP reported on what an agreement with Iran might look like: sanctions relief in exchange for promises to slow down Iranian centrifuges for 10 years. At which point the Iranians could manufacture a bomb—assuming they hadn’t produced one in secret. Iran would get international legitimacy, assurance that military intervention was not an option, and no limitations on its ICBM programs, its support for international terrorism, its enrichment of plutonium, its widespread human rights violations, and its campaign to subvert or co-opt Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon, and Syria. Then it can announce itself as the first Shiite nuclear power.
And America? Liberals would flatter themselves for avoiding a war. Obama wouldn’t have to worry about the Iranians testing a nuke for the duration of his presidency. And a deal would be a step toward the rapprochement with Iran that he has sought throughout his years in office. The EU representative to the talks, for example, says a nuclear agreement “could open the way for a normal diplomatic relation” between Iran and the West, and could present “the opportunity for shaping a different regional framework in the Middle East.” A regional framework, let it be said, that would leave American interests at risk, Israel one bomb away from a second Holocaust, nuclear proliferation throughout the Middle East, and Islamic theocrats in charge of a large part of a strategic and volatile region.
I feel safer already.
The reason is not complicated. Obama is not a religious person. He rarely appears in church, except for political purposes. He is titularly a Christian, but identifies emotionally, from his youth in Indonesian madrassas and from his ideological predisposition, with Third World Muslims. But now he is confronted with those same Muslims behaving like barbarians across Africa and the Middle East and sometimes into Europe and America.
What would be his reaction to that? Pretty much what it is for most throughout the Islamic world — shame. As many have noted, Islam is a shame culture (the kind of society that will go berserk over cartoons) and, like it or not, our president is part of it culturally. That does not mean he is stoning adulterers or cutting off the hands of thieves or treating women like chattel, but it does mean he is genuinely and quite deeply ashamed of the religion he, in part, came from. He cannot adjust to or accept the calamities it is causing. Unlike the president of Egypt, he cannot name it.
This also explains Obama’s determination to whitewash the behavior of Iran and make a deal with the Islamic Republic that will jeopardize the entire world. It also helps make more clear his ambivalent (at best) relationship to the state of Israel and its leaders.
It grieves me much to write this, because it is a horrible situation. Obama is not a Manchurian candidate and never was. He never had to be. He is just absolutely the wrong human being to be leading the West at this point in history. Heaven help us.
On the eve of a deadline in nuclear talks between six world powers and Iran, Lebanon’s militant Shiite Hezbollah organization has revealed that it has acquired advanced Iranian missiles with “pinpoint accuracy” that it could use against Israel in any future war.
“They [the Israelis] are well aware that Hezbollah is in possession of missiles with pinpoint accuracy, and thanks to the equipment Hezbollah acquired, and with the Islamic Republic’s support and Hezbollah’s readiness for any future war, [the next] war will be much tougher for the Israelis,” Naim Qassem, the deputy head of Hezbollah, said in an interview with Iran’s Tasnim news agency.
From the speaker’s podium at the National Cathedral, an Episcopal church, and in an interview with CNSNews.com, a Muslim leader said that American Muslims are opposed to the persecution of Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East.
“We condemn persecution of Christians – of any minorities in Muslim-majority countries,” Rizwan Jaka, chairman of the board of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society, told CNSNews.com at the Washington Natural Cathedral in Washington, D.C. on Friday where a Muslim prayer service was held.
When asked about the significance of the Muslim prayer service being held in a Christian church – an event that drew harsh criticism from some Christians and attracted one woman who tried to disrupt the service by shouting that Jesus Christ is the risen savior – Jaka said it reflects the country’s values.
“The significance is that America is a beacon of religious freedom and harmony, and that the Christian community embraces the Muslim community and that’s the message to the world,” Jaka said. “Look at the beautiful pluralism and democracy and harmony that we have in the United States of America.”
“And we ask that the world take that as an example that minorities in Muslim-minority countries should be treated with respect, treated with religious freedom, and that they should have the right to worship and the right to have equal rights and that we have to protect the churches and temples and synagogues in Muslim majority countries,” Jaka said.
When asked whether it was true that Christians are being persecuted in the Middle East, Jaka repeated his condemnation of the practice.
“We condemn persecution of Christians, of any minorities in Muslim-majority countries,” Jaka said. “We have actually had many initiatives – like I said the fundraising we do to rebuild churches is an example of that.”
The United Arab Emirates has officially designated 83 groups as terrorist organizations, including two based in the U.S., the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Muslim American Society.
UAE’s cabinet made the announcement following a meeting on Saturday.
Other groups designated as terrorists include al-Qaida, al Nusra, Boko Haram and the Muslim Brotherhood.
CAIR’s designation is interesting given its high profile here in the U.S.
The group was named an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation case in 2007. Leaders of the Holy Land Foundation were found guilty of aiding Hamas, which the U.S. has designated as a terrorist organization.
Starting in 2008, the FBI adopted a strict policy against dealing with CAIR in its investigations. Last year, the Department of Justice inspector general issued a report showing that the FBI had in some instances failed to maintain that arms-length requirement.
According to Reuters, which reported on UAE’s new terrorist designations, the country is at odds with Qatar over the latter’s relationship with Islamist groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood.