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Erdoğan Invaded; What's Next in Syria?
October 15, DanielPipes.org

Israel's Arab Vote, Secular Versus Orthodox and Recognizing Palestine
September 24, Albawaba

China's Uyghurs, Europe's Civilizationists
September 5, Between the Lines, Australian Broadcast Corporation

Mounting tension with Iran
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The Real Threat to Europe
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Understanding the U.S.-Turkish-Syrian Triangle
An Interview

by Niram Ferretti interviewer  •  October 21, 2019  •  Informale


Please assess President Trump's greenlighting Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to invade Syria and attack the Kurds there.

Trump sometimes acknowledges his lack of knowledge and governs following the advice of others (for example, in choosing judges). At other times, he feels he knows best and acts upon instinct, as in this case. The withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria is horrible on three levels: morally, in terms of betraying an ally; tactically, in terms of ceding territory to enemies; and strategically, in terms of sending a signal to allies around the world that the United States is untrustworthy.

John Podhoretz wrote of the Pence-Pompeo deal with Erdoğan that it "threatens to turn the stab-in-the-back of the Kurds into a direct and unquestionable stab-in-the-front." It not only gives the Turks "everything they wanted" but they don't even call it a ceasefire because they "want to make it clear they have bested the United States." Your view?

I agree with that analysis and also with Tom Rogan, who wrote that "American diplomacy has simply replaced Turkish tanks as the means to Turkey's victory." That deal is a joke and an enduring embarrassment to Pence and Pompeo.

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Fifty Years of Fascination
The Middle East and Me

by Daniel Pipes  •  September 29, 2019  •  American Thinker


At the start of my junior year in college, precisely fifty years ago this month, I changed my college major, making the leap from mathematics to Middle East studies. Math had become too hard, the region was too interesting.

I wrote about this life-altering move in a letter to my parents on Sep. 30, 1969 (mistakes are corrected, and references added):

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Should Israel Invade Gaza?

by Daniel Pipes  •  September 23, 2019  •  Washington Times


As Israeli frustration mounts about violence coming out of Gaza, the idea of a ground invasion, and once and for all to finish with Hamas aggression, becomes more appealing. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has endorsed this approach, saying that "There probably won't be a choice but to topple the Hamas regime." While sympathetic to this impulse, I worry that too much attention is paid to tactics and not enough to goals. The result could be harmful to America's foremost Middle East ally.

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China Disrupts the Middle East

by Daniel Pipes  •  September 11, 2019  •  Washington Times


As Vladimir Putin's declining Russia flaunts its power in the Middle East, Xi Jinping's ascending China eludes the attention it deserves. But the Communist Party of China has begun investing money and gaining influence in ways that have vast – and worrisome – implications.

"After years of relative passivity [Beijing] is now making a concerted effort to expand its strategic presence and economic clout" in the Middle East, writes Ilan Berman, senior vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council, in the current issue of the Middle East Quarterly. (I rely extensively on his fine analysis in what follows.) Berman rightly calls this "one of the most consequential ... trends of recent years."

Two motives – energy and ideology – explain China's regional ambitions. As the country becomes more prosperous, its growing energy consumption leads to more dependence on Middle Eastern suppliers. China imports more than half of its crude oil and of that, nearly 40 percent comes from the Middle East, with the proportion continuing to rise. In Berman's estimation, the region "is quickly becoming a key engine of Chinese economic growth," which in turn implies an imperative for Beijing to gain more influence over what happens there.

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How Trump Put Netanyahu in an Untenable Position

by Daniel Pipes  •  August 16, 2019  •  Washington Post


It was understandable but unfortunate that the Israeli government on Thursday banned a visit by two of its most hostile congressional critics, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.). On Friday, the reasons it wasn't a good idea became even more apparent.

The decision to block Omar and Tlaib was understandable because Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cannot afford to rile an emotional and unpredictable U.S. president. Last month the Israeli ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, said his country would allow a visit by the duo, who in 2018 were the first Muslim women elected to Congress and are ardent supporters of the boycott, divest and sanctions movement (BDS) against Israel. But after President Trump on Thursday morning criticized the Israeli decision, saying it showed "great weakness," Netanyahu deferred to Trump and cancelled the visit.

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Outrageous Covers at a Saudi Book Fair

by Daniel Pipes  •  August 12, 2019


After 250 years, the Saudi dynasty under Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman appears cautiously to be exiting the Wahhabi hammerlock. But books on display at the 2019 Riyadh International Book Fair gave no hint of this, as suggested by the following selection of current titles with an emphasis on the Arab-Israeli conflict:

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Yes to Nationalism, No to Imperialism

by Daniel Pipes  •  August 4, 2019  •  Washington Times


Yoram Hazony's breathtakingly counterintuitive book, The Virtue of Nationalism (Basic Books), corrects a simple but colossal mistake: The Nazi monstrosity, he argues, did not result from nationalism but from imperialism. Hitler aspired not to make Germany great in education, justice, and industry, but to create a thousand-year Reich (empire) and conquer the world.

This fact, obvious to everyone during World War II, soon thereafter disappeared from sight because post-war Germans, especially Chancellor Konrad Adenauer (in office 1949-63), believed that demonizing nationalism and transforming Germans into model Europeans would best serve to normalize their country and hinder yet another German drive to brutal conquest. Or, in Hazony's more pungent formulation, the Germans decided to pursue their imperial dream not through invasion but through the gentler mechanism of what today is called the European Union (EU).

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Poll: Israelis Find the Security Establishment "Too Timid"

by Daniel Pipes  •  July 23, 2019  •  Jerusalem Post


Twenty years ago, the idea of Israel defeating the Palestinians appealed to maybe 3 percent of Jewish Israelis. The dominant Oslo spirit asserted that, given enough concessions, money, and hope, Palestinians would abandon their enmity toward Israel and become its peaceable neighbors. So pervasive was the spirit of accommodation, even defeatism, that as late as 2007, the prime minister of Israel could declare that "Peace is achieved through concessions. We all know that."

But relentless Palestinian vitriol and violence eventually disabused most Jewish Israelis of this gentle hope. By now, according to a poll commissioned by the Middle East Forum, barely a quarter of them still hold on to the Oslo dream. (The poll with 703 likely Jewish voters and a 3.7 percent margin of error, was conducted in Hebrew by New Wave Research on July 7-11. It follows on similar MEF-commissioned polls in 2017 and 2018.)

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The Demon in Liberalism

by Daniel Pipes  •  July 14, 2019  •  Washington Times


"Why has Sweden become the North Korea of Europe?" That's what a Dane semi-facetiously asked Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks at a conference I attended in 2014. Vilks unconvincingly muttered about Swedes' partiality for consensus.

Now, along comes Ryszard Legutko, a Polish professor of philosophy and leading politician, with a better answer. His book, translated by Teresa Adelson, The Demon in Democracy: Totalitarian Temptations in Free Societies (Encounter), methodically shows the surprising but substantial similarities between Soviet-style communism and modern liberalism as defined by Sweden or the European Union or Barack Obama.

(But before exploring his argument, one clarification: Legutko discusses liberal democracy, a term I find too complex. So, I use liberalism here.)

Legutko does not claim liberalism resembles communism in its monstrosity, much less that the two ideologies are identical; he fully acknowledges that the first is democratic and the second brutally tyrannical. After recognizing this contrast, however, he gets down to the more pungent topic of what the two have in common.

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Polish Telephone Books Reveal My Family's History

by Daniel Pipes  •  July 4, 2019


Paper telephone books have virtually disappeared from our lives, but they recorded essential information during the twentieth century. Thanks to a recent visit to my father's hometown of Cieszyn, Poland, plus the discovery of an unpublished Warsaw telephone directory (unpublished due to the German invasion), I now have records of my ancestors dating from 1926 and 1939.

1926: The Cieszyn telephone book lists my father's father as "Pipes Marek, fabryk, Ciężarowa 2." Fabryk refers to owning the Olza SA chocolate factory that he had founded in 1920, where he manufactured the Prince Polo chocolate-covered wafer. I photographed the title page and p. 85 on a visit at the Muzeum Śląska Cieszyńskiego (Museum of Cieszyn Silesia) in May 2019.

1939: The Warsaw telephone book is available at the Library of Congress website. It also lists my father's father, now as "5 98 10 Pipes Marek, m., Chmielna 43." He lived 1893-1973.

With the help of Denis E. Lazarev, my second cousin, I have found that the Warsaw directory lists other relatives, including my:

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Istanbul's Election Puzzle

by Daniel Pipes  •  June 25, 2019  •  Washington Times


The Middle East rightly has a reputation for inscrutability, with seemingly illogical actions part of its routine business. The Saudi crown prince kidnapped Lebanon's visiting prime minister, forced him to resign, only to watch him return to his position on return home. The Palestinian Authority angrily refused to attend a conference in Bahrain where it could gain up to $27 billion. And then there's the Istanbul mayoral election re-run that took place Sunday.

The original election took place in March, when President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's candidate lost by a microscopic 0.16 percent. Discontented with this outcome, Erdoğan did what a dictator naturally does and ordered it nullified on the basis of a minor technicality, with a redo to follow. One would imagine he also told his minions to get it right the second time and ensure that his candidate won by a substantial margin. Instead, his candidate lost by a whopping 9.22 percent, almost 60 times' larger margin than his loss the first time.

This drama prompts two questions.

First, why did Erdoğan allow it to happen? He has ruled as a near-absolute dictator for about six years, so it would have been consistent for him to demand a big win. He controls the military, the police, the parliament, the judiciary, the banks, the media, and the educational system. He does whatever he wants. For example:

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Anywheres & Somewheres
Letter to the Editor

by Daniel Pipes  •  Summer 2019  •  Claremont Review of Books


To the Editor:

Christopher DeMuth's essay, "Trumpism, Nationalism, and Conservatism," skillfully delineates the real and critical battle between the two ideal-types he calls Anywheres and Somewheres (Claremont Review of Books, Winter 2018/19). The former are "cosmopolitan, educated, mobile, and networked," while the latter "are rooted in ... their families, neighborhoods, clubs, and religions."

Well done. But, reading his analysis, I noted that while author DeMuth, CRB editor Charles Kesler, and this reader unanimously favor the Somewhere viewpoint, we don't exactly fit its mold:

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Italy at the Crossroads

by Daniel Pipes  •  June 18, 2019  •  Washington Times


ROME – Italy is in the news these days for two main developments. First, Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has – against massive opposition from the media, the judiciary, and the church – shut the country's ports to illegal migrants and thereby reduced the number coming from the Mediterranean Sea by 97 percent between 2017 and 2019. Second, his civilizationist party, the League (Lega in Italian), went from winning 6 percent of the votes in the 2014 European parliamentary elections to 34 percent in those same elections last month, making it by far Italy's most popular party.

Seen from outside Italy, these dramatic developments suggest that growing numbers of Italy's 61 million inhabitants have stopped denying their country's apocalyptic immigration and Islamization problems and are ready to confront the country's existential threats. But is this really the case, have Italians turned a corner in the battle to control their destiny? What do the port closures mean and how significant is the rise of the League?

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Making Sense of Palestinian Logic

by Daniel Pipes  •  May 4, 2019


Palestinians do weird things: A few days ago, the Palestinian Authority (PA), which rules most of the West Bank, refused to accept the tax revenues it is owed by the Israeli government. Today, Hamas, which rules all of Gaza, launched more than 200 rockets against Israel.

Both of these are, on the surface, self-defeating steps that make no sense. Not taking the money means the PA could collapse; firing rockets means Hamas is getting battered militarily by the far superior Israeli forces.

So, why do the leaders of these quasi-governmental entities take such apparently self-defeating steps? Because they bring results. Follow the logic:

  • Israel is thriving in nearly every domain, from demographics to economics, from democracy to cultural creativity.

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The Cowardice of Middle East Studies

by Daniel Pipes  •  May 1, 2019


It's been ten years exactly since Ryan Gingeras published an extraordinary preface to his book, Sorrowful Shores: Violence, Ethnicity, and the End of the Ottoman Empire 1912-1923 (Oxford University Press). I therefore quote it at length:

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