16 readers online now  |  69 million page views

Latest Video and Audio

Yemen: Saudi-style version of political solution?
April 22, PressTV, The Debate

Musing on History
April 12, History News Network

Debating the Iran Deal
April 12, RT Television

Discussing the Obama Doctrine
April 12, The Rebel (Canada)

"Saudia vs Iran in Yemen - Rights and Wrongs"
March 29, PressTV, The Debate

"Turmoil in Yemen"
March 26, CTV

Hot Topics

Noteworthy

Follow

Facebook
Twitter
RSS
Join Mailing List

Articles and Blog Posts by Daniel Pipes   RSS 2.0 Feed

Today's Iran Debate Misses the Point

by Daniel Pipes  •  April 7, 2015

While hugely important in terms of Iranian relations with the outside world, U.S.-Israel relations, and Barack Obama's relations with Congress, the labored, contradictory, and unspecific Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action has little bearing on whether the mullahs do or do not get nuclear weapons. Let me explain:

If one assumes, as one should, that the Iranian leadership is determined to build a nuclear arsenal and the means to deliver it, then the economic issues (sanctions, boycotts, embargoes) that drive the P5+1 negotiations are tangential. They affect the speed, cost, and difficulty of building an arsenal, but do not impede its ultimate realization.

The only way to stop Iran's program is by using force, presumably by attacking its nuclear infrastructure from the air. Yet this prospect, now marginalized as the "war option" in contrast with two years ago, is no longer discussed.

Continue Reading

Decoding the Obama Doctrine

by Daniel Pipes  •  April 6, 2015  •  Washington Times

James Jeffrey, Barack Obama's former ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary to Iraq, has this to say about the administration's current record in the Middle East: "We're in a goddamn free fall."

Count the mistakes: Helping overthrow Muammar Qaddafi in Libya, leading to anarchy and civil war. Pressuring Husni Mubarak of Egypt to resign, then backing the Muslim Brotherhood, leading now-president Sisi to turn toward Moscow. Alienating Washington's most stalwart ally in the region, the Government of Israel. Dismissing ISIS as "junior varsity" just before it seized major cities. Hailing Yemen as a counterterrorism success just before its government was overthrown. Alarming the Saudi authorities to the point that they put together a military alliance against Iran. Coddling Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey, encouraging his dictatorial tendencies. Leaving Iraq and Afghanistan prematurely, dooming the vast American investment in those two countries.

And, most of all: Making dangerously flawed deals with the nuclear-ambitious mullahs of Iran.

Continue Reading

How Much Can Air Power Achieve?

by Daniel Pipes  •  April 6, 2015

Suddenly, wherever you look in the greater Middle East, you find air forces bombing guerrillas:

  • Syria: The government air force attacks the rebels, mostly Sunni, with notorious use of barrel-bombs. The U.S. air force attacks ISIS, minus the barrel-bombs.
  • Iraq: Government forces rely partially on air power to attack ISIS forces.
  • Libya: Egyptian jets attack ISIS and other Sunni Islamist forces.
  • Yemen: Saudi jets attack Houthi positions.
  • Somalia: Kenyan planes just started to attack the Shabaab forces.

One can imagine similar campaigns starting in Afghanistan and Lebanon.

Will these limited campaigns succeed? I doubt it. Although control of the air offers great advantages, it does not translate into control of land; for that, ground forces are essential. But infantry and cavalry soldiers tend to take more injuries and deaths than do pilots, so their use is politically riskier.

Governments unwilling to insert ground forces, cannot expect to prevail. They can bomb the landscape back to the proverbial stone age without effecting their will. (Recall the Americans' Vietnam and the Russians' Afghanistan.)

Continue Reading

Why Yemen Matters

by Daniel Pipes  •  March 28, 2015  •  Washington Times

The Middle East witnessed something radically new two days ago, when the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia responded to a plea by Yemen's president and led a 10-country coalition to intervene in the air and on the ground in the country. "Operation Decisive Storm" prompts many reflections:

Saudi and Egypt in alliance: Half a century ago, Riyadh and Cairo were active in a Yemen war, but then they supported opposing sides, respectively the status-quo forces and the revolutionaries. Their now being allies points to continuity in Saudia along with profound changes in Egypt.

Arabic-speakers getting their act together: Through Israel's early decades, Arabs dreamt of uniting militarily against it but the realities of infighting and rivalries smashed every such hope. Even on the three occasions (1948-49, 1967, 1973) when they did join forces, they did so at cross purposes and ineffectively. How striking, then that finally they should coalesce not against Israel but against Iran. This implicitly points to their understanding that the Islamic Republic of Iran poses a real threat, whereas anti-Zionism amounts to mere indulgence. It also points to panic and the need to take action resulting from a stark American retreat.

Continue Reading

Islam Bulldozes the Past

by Daniel Pipes  •  March 20, 2015  •  Washington Times

The recent bulldozing by the Islamic State (ISIS) of the ancient cities of Nimrud, Hatra, and Korsabad, three of the world's greatest archaeological and cultural sites, is just this group latest round of assaults across the large area under its control. Since January 2014, the flamboyantly barbaric ISIS has blown up Shi'i mosques, bulldozed churches, pulverized shrines, and plundered museums.

Continue Reading

Americans Battle the Arab-Israeli Conflict

by Daniel Pipes  •  Spring 2015  •  Middle East Quarterly

When, in the midst of the 2014 Hamas-Israel war, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration briefly banned American carriers from flying to Israel, Sen. Ted Cruz (Republican of Texas) accused Barack Obama of using a federal regulatory agency "to launch an economic boycott on Israel, in order to try to force our ally to comply with his foreign-policy demands." In so doing, Cruz made an accusation no Israeli leader would dare express.

This is hardly unique. Over the years, other American political figures both Republican (Dan Burton, Jesse Helms, Condoleezza Rice, Arlen Specter) and Democrat (Charles Schumer), have adopted tougher, and sometimes more Zionist stances than the Israeli government. This pattern in turn points to a larger phenomenon: The Arab-Israeli conflict tends to generate more intense partisanship among Americans than among Middle Easterners. The latter may die from the conflict but the former experience it with greater passion.

I shall document and explain this counterintuitive pattern, then draw a conclusion from it.

Continue Reading

Why Politicians Pretend Islam Has No Role in Violence

by Daniel Pipes  •  March 9, 2015  •  The Washington Times

Prominent non-Muslim political figures have embarrassed themselves by denying the self-evident connection of Islam to the Islamic State (ISIS) and to Islamist violence in Paris and Copenhagen, even claiming these are contrary to Islam. What do they hope to achieve through these falsehoods and what is their significance?

First, a sampling of the double talk:

President Barack Obama tells the world that ISIS "is not Islamic" because its "actions represent no faith, least of all the Muslim faith." He holds "we are not at war with Islam [but] with people who have perverted Islam."

Continue Reading

What Antidote to Radical Islam?

by Daniel Pipes  •  March 3, 2015

"Radical Islam is the problem, moderate Islam is the solution" has been my watchword since 2002, meaning that Islam's many problems will only be solved when Muslims leave Islamism, an attempt to regress to a medieval model, and favor a modern, moderate, and good-neighborly version of their faith.

Plenty of people disagree with this analysis, but no one offered an alternate solution. Now, Murat Yetkin editor-in-chief of the Hürriyet Daily News in Turkey has done so in a recent column, "Antithesis of radical Islam is not moderate Islam, it is secularism."

He finds my solution old and discredited: "As radical Islamist movements started to emerge, politicians in the West … tried to recruit 'moderates'," building them up "without realizing or bothering to understand that they would become the new radicals." Yetkin locates this pattern variously in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Egypt, Iraq, and Syria.

Continue Reading

Syria's Civil War Could Stabilize Its Region

by Daniel Pipes  •  February 26, 2015  •  The Washington Times

Population shifts resulting from Syria's four-year long civil war have profoundly changed Syria and its three Arabic-speaking neighbors: Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan. (Turkey and Israel have changed too, but less so.) Ironically, amid tragedy and horror, as populations adapt to the brutal imperatives of modern nationalism, all four countries are becoming a bit more stable. That's because the fighting has pushed peoples to move from ethnic minority status to ethnic majority status, encouraging like to live with like.

Before looking at each country, some background:

First, along with the Balkans, the Middle East contains the most complex and unsettled ethnic, religious, linguistic, and national mix in the world. It's a place where cross-border alliances deeply complicate local politics. If the Balkans set off World War I, the Middle East might well spark World War III.

Second, historic tensions between the two main Muslim sects, Sunni and Shi'i, had largely subsided before Ayatollah Khomeini's rise to power in 1979. Driven by Tehran's aggression, they have since flared anew.

Continue Reading

Remembering Malcolm X Fifty Years Later

by Daniel Pipes  •  February 21, 2015

​On this date fifty years ago, the man best known as Malcolm X was killed by a Nation of Islam (NoI) hit squad while speaking just north of Harlem, New York.

Born Malcolm Little in Omaha on May 19, 1925, to a Baptist minister father and West Indian mother, both politically involved, he lived on the streets of various eastern U.S. cities until he was jailed in February 1946, where, a year later, he began his self-education program. He first learned about the NoI from his brother in about April 1948 and joined it later that year. Three weeks after his release from jail in 1952, he met Elijah Muhammad, the NoI leader, and commemorated his new identity by throwing off his "slave name" in favor of Malcolm X.

Continue Reading

What Actually Causes American Fear of Islam and Muslims?

by Daniel Pipes  •  February 13, 2015

An ambitious 81-page document, Fear, Inc. 2.0: The Islamophobia Network's Efforts to Manufacture Hate in America, just appeared from the Center for American Progress, a liberal Democratic organization. Unlike its first iteration, in which a group with a $40-million annual budget and deep ties to big business had the nerve to claim that seven much smaller institutions were overpowering the country through their financial clout, this one looks at what the alleged "Islamophobia network" actually does.

The report, written by Matthew Duss, Yasmine Taeb, Ken Gude, and Ken Sofer, makes for interesting reading. Its premise is that critics of Islamism (1) are really anti-Islamic and (2) have single-handedly distorted a the fundamental American value, namely a "basic respect for the rights of minority groups throughout the country." According to the CAP study, "the views of anti-Muslim actors stand in stark contrast to the values of most Americans."

Continue Reading

Why the (toothless) Iran sanctions bill matters

by Daniel Pipes  •  February 13, 2015  •  The Washington Times

Nearly all the 54 Republican U.S. senators will vote in favor of the Kirk-Menendez bill requiring sanctions on Iran if the P5+1 negotiations fail. President Obama has promised to veto it. Now, the senate is gearing up for a high-drama vote; will Democrats provide the 13 to 15 votes needed for a veto-proof majority?

Lost in the shuffle is a little-noticed section of the bill that, if passed, guts it. The "Draft of Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2015," posted on the website of Sen. Mark Kirk (Republican of Illinois) contains a "Waiver of Sanctions." Designed to win the support of skittish Democrats, it also undermines the bill's goal of forcing Obama's hand in the negotiations. Section 208 bears quotation in full:

The President may waive the application of any sanction pursuant to a provision of or amendment made by this title for a 30-day period, and may renew the waiver for additional 30-day periods, if the President, before the waiver or renewal, as the case may be –

Continue Reading

About Those 14 "Muslim-American Leaders" Who Met with Obama

by Daniel Pipes  •  February 10, 2015  •  The Blaze

For the first time in his six years as president, Barack Obama met behind closed doors with an exclusively domestic group of Muslims for about an hour on Feb. 4. They covered the boringly predictable topics, judging by the official readout, accounts by participants, and news reports.

What about the guest list? It includes a curiously unimpressive and motley collection of modestly accomplished individuals of little renown:

Continue Reading

3 French Soldiers, 3 Sitting Ducks

by Daniel Pipes  •  February 4, 2015  •  Israel Hayom

Comes the news that another Islamist immigrant from Mali named Coulibaly has attacked another Jewish institution in France. The first one, Amedy Coulibaly, murdered four Jews at a kosher store in Paris on Jan. 9; this second one injured three soldiers yesterday as they protected a Jewish community center in Nice.

Police say Moussa Coulibaly, about 30 years old, with a record of theft and violence, and apparently not related to Amedy, pulled a knife about 8 inches long out of a bag, injuring one soldier in the chin, one in the cheek, and one in the forearm.

Coincidentally, I left Nice about four hours before this attack and had passed by that Jewish center a few days earlier, in the course of a tour of Muslim-majority areas in ten cities across France and Belgium. Those travels brought me repeatedly in proximity to the heavily armed soldiers who protect Jewish institutions and prompted several skeptical conclusions on my part about their presence:

Continue Reading

Does Europe Have No-go Zones?

by Daniel Pipes  •  January 20, 2015  •  The Blaze

Comments by Steven Emerson on Fox News have prompted a heated debate over whether predominantly Muslim "no-go" zones exist in Europe. On Jan. 11, Emerson said they "exist throughout Europe … they are places where the governments like France, Britain, Sweden, Germany don't exercise any sovereignty. .. you basically have zones where Shariah courts were set up, where Muslim density is very intense, where the police don't go in, and where it's basically a separate country almost, a country within a country."

Although Emerson, whom I admire for his moral courage and investigative skills, immediately apologized for his "terrible error" of saying that cities such as Birmingham, England, "are totally Muslim where non-Muslims just simply don't go," he did not address the larger question of whether no-go zones, in fact, do "exist throughout Europe" and are places where governments "don't exercise any sovereignty."

Is he right about this?

Continue Reading

Continue to Archives: Articles / Blog

History News Network
eXTReMe Tracker

Français | French

Italiano | Italian

Español | Spanish

简体中文 | Chinese (S)

Deutsch | German

Svensk | Swedish

Dansk | Danish

हिंदी | Hindi

日本語 | Japanese

Português | Portuguese

Pyccĸий | Russian

Slovenčina | Slovak

Polski | Polish

العربية | Arabic

עברית | Hebrew

Românâ | Romanian

Tϋrkçe | Turkish

Bahasa Indonesia | Indonesian

اردو | Urdu

فارسی | Persian

Nederlands | Dutch

Shqip | Albanian

Suomi | Finnish

Latina | Latin

پنجابی | Punjabi

Ελληνικά | Greek

Čeština | Czech

தமிழ் | Tamil

Norsk | Norwegian

Српски | Serbian

Български | Bulgarian

繁體中文 | Chinese (T)

Esperanto | Esperanto

Hrvatski | Croatian

Magyar | Hungarian

Eesti | Estonian

كوردی | Kurdish

All materials by Daniel Pipes on this site: © 1968-2015 Daniel Pipes. daniel.pipes@gmail.com and @DanielPipes

Support Daniel Pipes' work with a tax-deductible donation to the Middle East Forum. Daniel J. Pipes