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Articles and Blog Posts by Daniel Pipes   RSS 2.0 Feed

That Failed Philadelphia "Islamic Jew-Hatred" Bus Ad

by Daniel Pipes  •  May 27, 2015  •  Philadelphia Inquirer

Did a controversial, austere, black-and-white advertisement that ran for one month on Philadelphia buses achieve its goal of winning sympathy for Jewish victims of Muslims?

The ad was sponsored by the American Freedom Defense Initiative and placed on buses of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), a regional-and-state-run authority. The ad read: "Islamic Jew-Hatred: It's in the Quran. Two thirds of all US aid goes to Islamic countries. Stop the hate. End all aid to Islamic countries. IslamicJewHatred.com." A November 1941 photograph ran with the caption, "Adolf Hitler and his staunch ally, the leader of the Muslim world, Haj Amin al-Husseini." SEPTA received $30,000 to run the 30-by-80 inch ad on 84 buses out of SEPTA's 1,400 buses during April.

No, the ad failed to achieve its goal, and spectacularly so. Count the ways:

To begin with, the text is factually inaccurate. Amin al-Husseini was never "leader of the Muslim world." He was a British appointee in the Mandate for Palestine, where Muslims constituted less than 1 percent of the total world Muslim population.

Second, Husseini's meeting with Hitler did not represent a permanent or universal alliance between Muslims and Nazis; it was a one-time, opportunistic consultation between a fugitive Palestinian figure and his patron.

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ISIS Attacks on the West

by Daniel Pipes  •  May 22, 2015  •  The Washington Times

The May 3 assault on a Muhammad cartoon contest in Garland, Texas, prompted much discussion about the assailants' connections to the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, ISIL, and Daesh. Did ISIS run them as agents? Are they part of a new network of terror in the West?

Clearly, the Garland jihadis had some connections to ISIS. The leader, Elton Simpson, used Twitter to trade calls for violence with Muhammed Abdullahi Hassan (also known as Mujahid Miski), 25, an ISIS recruiter who grew up in Minneapolis. On April 23, Hassan tweeted: "The brothers from the Charlie Hebdo attack did their part. It's time for brothers in the US to do their part," attaching a Breitbart.com story about the Muhammad cartoon contest. This appears to be what brought the Garland event to Simpson's attention; Simpson retweeted this call to action and responded: "When will they ever learn. They are planning on selecting the best picture drawn of [Muhammad] in Texas." Hassan then further goaded Simpson: "One individual is able to put a whole nation onto its knees."

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What Syrian Chemical Weapons Reveal about Obama

by Daniel Pipes  •  May 19, 2015  •  FoxNews.com

The famed "red line" warning that Barack Obama issued in August 2012 to Bashar al-Assad of Syria was arguably the defining foreign policy moment of his presidency: an unequivocal warning to a rogue leader to desist from war crimes or pay the price.

When Assad's crossing of this red line a year later ended in a blur, with Russian-backed promises that the Assad regime would hand over its chemical agents, responses were bifurcated. The president and his allies hailed this as a monument of diplomacy, whereby a plausible threat led bloodlessly to a major improvement in behavior. In contrast, critics presented Obama as a paper tiger who raged with threats that collapsed when offered meaningless assurances by a well-established liar.

For two years, there was no verdict; the two sides kept making their points without closure. But now, closure is at hand.

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The Middle East Runs out of Water

by Daniel Pipes  •  May 8, 2015  •  The Washington Times

A ranking Iranian political figure, Issa Kalantari, recently warned that past mistakes leave Iran with water supplies so insufficient that up to 70 percent, or 55 million out of 78 million Iranians, would be forced to abandon their native country for parts unknown.

Many facts buttress Kalantari's apocalyptic prediction: Once lauded in poetry, Lake Urmia, the Middle East's largest lake, has lost 95 percent of its water since 1996, going from 31 billion cubic meters to 1.5 billion. What the Seine is to Paris, the Zayanderud was to Isfahan – except the latter went bone-dry in 2010. Over two-thirds of Iran's cities and towns are "on the verge of a water crisis" that could result in drinking water shortages; already, thousands of villages depend on water tankers. Unprecedented dust storms disrupt economic activity and damage health.

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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.

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Decoding the Obama Doctrine

by Daniel Pipes  •  April 6, 2015  •  The 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.

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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.)

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Why Yemen Matters

by Daniel Pipes  •  March 28, 2015  •  The 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.

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Islam Bulldozes the Past

by Daniel Pipes  •  March 20, 2015  •  The 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.

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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.

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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."

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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."

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