Articles and Blog Posts by Daniel Pipes
Islam's Inadvertent Patterns
by Daniel Pipes • March 10, 2014 • The Washington Times
How does Islam shape the way Muslims live? The religion's formal requirements are the narrow base for a far wider structure of patterns that extend the formal rules of Islam, stretching them in unexpected and unplanned ways. A few examples:
The Koran strictly bans the consumption of pork, leading to the virtual disappearance of domesticated pigs in Muslim-majority areas, then their replacement by sheep and goats. These latter overgrazed the land which led, as the geographer Xavier de Planhol observes, to "a catastrophic deforestation" that in turn "is one of the basic reasons for the sparse landscape particularly evident in the Mediterranean districts of Islamic countries." Note the progression from Koranic dietary injunction to the desertification of vast tracts of land. The scriptural command was not intended to cause ecological damage, but it did.
Pollard Pardon? Not Now
by Daniel Pipes • February 23, 2014
Jonathan Pollard's life sentence for the crimes he committed nearly 30 years ago is, without a doubt, both a travesty of justice and completely disproportionate.
Indeed, I offered Pollard advice and help when he called me from prison for some years in the mid-1990s. For example, I published an original document about his trial in 1997 and evinced new information about him from Caspar Weinberger in a 1999 interview. I have maintained a weblog entry exposing the rank hypocrisy of U.S. leaders who come down so hard on Pollard even as American intelligence services spy no less, and probably much more, on Israel.
I mention these bona fides because I do not want Barack Obama to pardon Pollard.
Iran's Nuclear Buildup and American Irrelevance
by Daniel Pipes • February 22, 2014
The Menendez-Kirk "Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013" (S. 1881) threatens the Iranian regime with additional sanctions and appears to be the only way to counter the Obama administration's flaccidity vis-à-vis Tehran.
I am skeptical, however, that it can do much good.
- Like the megalomaniacs in North Korea, the mullahs are dead-set on building a nuclear arsenal regardless of the toll this takes on their long-suffering subject population. Yes, sanctions increase economic privation which could lead to a counter-revolution but the odds of that happening in time are very small. Thus, the Menendez-Kirk bill is more symbolic than real.
- Tehran has threatened to abandon the P5+1 negotiations should the Menendez-Kirk bill become law, but Tehran gains too much from diplomacy to scuttle it for symbolic reasons. Its threat is just a tactic to pressure the Obama administration into opposing the congressional bill. Were the bill to come into effect, Tehran will surely find an excuse to keep talking.
In short, Washington is no longer a player in the Iran game. The views and actions of the U.S. government count about as much as those of the Belgian government - i.e., hardly at all.
The Rushdie Fatwa 25 Years Later
by Daniel Pipes • February 14, 2014
Twenty-five years ago today, Ayatollah Khomeini brought his edict down on Salman Rushdie. Iran's revolutionary leader objected to the author's magical-realist novel The Satanic Verses because of its insults to the Muslim prophet Muhammad and responded by calling for the execution of Rushdie and "all those involved in the publication who were aware of its contents."
That Rushdie was born in India, lived in Britain, and had no significant connections to Iran made this an unprecedented act of aggression, one that resounded widely at the time and has subsequently had an enduring impact. Indeed, one could argue that the era of "creeping Shari'a" or "stealth jihad" or "lawful Islamism" began on February 14, 1989, with the issuance of that short edict.
Obama's Hollow Promises Abroad
by Daniel Pipes • February 12, 2014 • The Washington Times
As U.S. credibility and stature diminish in world affairs, the American president and his secretaries of state and defense engage in eloquent denial. Unfortunately for them, realities trump words, even persuasive ones.
At the World Economic Forum in Davos, "where the water-cooler chatter was about America's waning influence in the Middle East," John Kerry proclaimed himself "perplexed by claims... that somehow America is disengaging from the world." Nothing could be further from the truth, he asserted: "We are entering an era of American diplomatic engagement that is as broad and as deep as any at any time in our history." Likewise, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has called for "a renewed and enhanced era of partnership with our friends and allies."
In this spirit, Obama has made multiple promises to reassure allies.
Jews in Palestine?
by Daniel Pipes • February 6, 2014 • Israel Hayom
A brouhaha erupted recently in Israel over a completely theoretical question: could Israelis now living in the West Bank* be allowed to live under Palestinian rule? This debate usefully focused attention on one of the trickiest and deepest issues of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and so it bears pondering.
Israel's Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu started things off on Jan. 24: "I do not intend to remove a single [Jewish] settlement [on the West Bank]. I do not intend to displace a single [Jewish] Israeli." Glossing this statement, an unnamed official in the prime minister's office (PMO) explained that, "Just as Israel has an Arab minority, the prime minister doesn't see why Palestine can't have a Jewish minority. The Jews living on their side should have a choice whether they want to stay or not." That aide characterized this as Netanyahu's "long-standing" position.
Pretending Tel Aviv Is the Capital of Israel
by Daniel Pipes • February 3, 2014
Some, especially in the mainstream media, pretend that not Jerusalem but Tel Aviv serves as the capital of Israel. (Tel Aviv hosts the Ministry of Defense but not much else of the central government.) The weblog entry documents some of those delusions, which are appearing more often, in reverse chronological order:
Agence France Press: An article on Jan. 23, "Israel PM urges European 'fairness' in Mideast," states that four European Union states lodged "a formal protest against Tel Aviv's drive to expand settlements on the West Bank." (January 26, 2014)
The New York Times: A front-page headline today over a story by Mark Landler and Jodi Rudoren uses "Tel Aviv" as a synonym for Israel's capital: "Mideast Chaos Grows as U.S. Focuses on Israel—Kerry's Tel Aviv Push Raises Questions About Priorities." (July 2, 2013)
CTV, a Canadian television station: Reported on Jan. 8 that "Tel Aviv is dealing with a heavy rain situation. The storms flooded roads and brought chaos to the Israeli capital." (January 17, 2013)
Yawning over the Latest Headline News from the Middle East
by Daniel Pipes • January 26, 2014
The Middle East does offer some signs of hope, such as the inspiring example of Israel, the metaphorical "villa in the jungle"; the bracing prospect of Islamists falling into disarray; and the emergence of an independent Kurdistan.
But these are the exceptions. In general, the region these days spawns such unchanging, repetitious and dreary news that this commentator barely reads more than headlines and has little to say about them. Consider some leading issues of the moment:
The Middle East Forum Reaches Twenty Years
by Daniel Pipes • January 24, 2014 • National Review Online
Today marks the twentieth anniversary of the Middle East Forum.
January 24, 1994, was absolutely the wrong moment to establish an organization that worried about the Middle East. As one potential donor impolitely asked: "Who needs you?" The U.S. victory in Kuwait, the Soviet collapse, and the Oslo Accords had left Middle East watchers feeling uncharacteristically sanguine. As I joked at the time, it was an opportunity to improve one's tennis backhand and barbequing technique.
So, at our start, we had to work hard to convince the public that dangers were brewing. That meant dwelling specifically on problems. For example, I wrote in the introduction to the first issue of our journal, the Middle East Quarterly:
With the end of the Cold War, the Middle East becomes the most militarized region in the world. Situated in the vortex of Europe, Africa and Asia, the persisting enmities of the region joined to new military technologies portend much trouble both within and outside the region.
The Sick Middle East
by Daniel Pipes • January 24, 2014 • The Washington Times
The recent fall of Fallujah, Iraq, to an Al-Qaeda-linked group provides an unwelcome reminder of the American resources and lives devoted in 2004 to 2007 to control the city – all that effort expended and nothing to show for it. Similarly, outlays of hundreds of billions of dollars to modernize Afghanistan did not prevent the release of 72 prisoners who have attacked Americans.
These two examples point to a larger conclusion: maladies run so deep in the Middle East (minus remarkable Israel) that outside powers cannot remedy them. Here's a fast summary:
Bibliography – My Writings about the Middle East Forum
by Daniel Pipes • January 24, 2014
Introspective writings about the organization I founded in January 1994, prepared on the occasion of its twentieth anniversary, which is today.
On the whole of the Middle East Forum:
- "Thoughts on the Middle East Forum's 10th Anniversary." MEForum.org, January 23, 2004.
- "Why a Non-American Should Promote American Interests." DanielPipes.org, January 1, 2011.
- "The Middle East Forum: Strategy, not Advocacy." DanielPipes.org, January 31, 2012.
- "Considering Twenty Years of the Middle East." MEForum.org, November 25, 2013.
- "The Middle East Forum Reaches 20 Years." National Review Online, January 24, 2014.
On the Middle East Quarterly:
When Politicians State "I Am" or "I Am Not" Something
by Daniel Pipes • January 16, 2014
It's a handy rule-of-thumb that when a politician – usually in a press conference, where he's annoyed repeatedly with the same question about his judgment – announces that he is or is not something, well, he is that thing.
- "I'm not a crook": Richard Nixon set the gold standard in 1973 with this announcement, which the Watergate affair showed he exactly was.
- "I am not an ideologue": Barack Obama in January 2010, denying what he exactly is.
Recent examples of this phenomenon have come tumbling in hard and fast:
Has Iran Gained a Foothold in the Arabian Peninsula?
by Daniel Pipes • January 15, 2014
According to a sensational report by Awad Mustafa in DefenseNews, a Gannett publication, not only has Tehran signed an agreement with the United Arab Emirates over three disputed islands near the Strait of Hormuz, but it has also reached a possibly even more important accord with the government of Oman. Both of these agreements have vast implications for the oil trade, the world economy, and Iranian influence.
According an unnamed "high level UAE source," secretive talks taking place over six months led to a deal on the Greater and Lesser Tunbs finalized on Dec. 24: "For now, two of the three islands are to return to the UAE while the final agreement for Abu Musa is being ironed out. Iran will retain the sea bed rights around the three islands while the UAE will hold sovereignty over the land."
This is big news, but yet bigger potentially is the source's stating that "Oman will grant Iran a strategic location on Ras Musandam mountain, which is a very strategic point overlooking the whole gulf region. In return for Ras Musandam, Oman will receive free gas and oil from Iran once a pipeline is constructed within the coming two years."
Ten Percent of Muslims Call for Niqabs or Burqas
by Daniel Pipes • January 11, 2014
A survey conducted in seven Muslim-majority countries (Tunisia, Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Pakistan) finds that a median of 10 percent of the respondents prefer women to wear either a niqab (#2) or burqa (#1) when in public. The specific country figures range enormously, from 74 percent approval of these two garments in Saudi Arabia and 35 percent in Pakistan to 3 percent in Lebanon and Tunisia and just 2 percent in Turkey.
Woman #4, whose hair and ears are covered by an amira, was far and away, deemed the most appropriately dressed for appearing in public, with 44 percent of the vote, followed in a distant second place by the lighter hijab of woman #5 at 12 percent. No head covering at all found a measly 4 percent support.
"Kerry Is Just Not in Touch with Reality"
by Daniel Pipes • January 9, 2014
Despite all that's going on the Middle East – the Iranian nuclear buildup, the violence in Iraq, the shaking of Erdoğan's rule in Turkey, civil war in Syria, Egypt and Yemen in melt-down mode, Libya unraveling, Tunisia in political crisis – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has one main thing on his mind, and that's a Palestinian-Israeli accord. Unbelievably, he is paying a twelfth visit to the region on Jan. 13 to pursue this goal.
As he returns and returns again, senior Israeli diplomatic officials are showing impatience with him. Here are quotes from some, speaking not for attribution and very candidly to Israel Hayom. First, about process:
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