17 readers online now  |  69 million page views

Forty Years after the Invasion of Cyprus

July 20, 2014

Print Send Comment (9)

Today marks the gloomy 40th anniversary of the day that Turkish troops overpowered the tiny, almost undefended island of Cyprus in a brutal exercise of military might whose immorality only intensifies with the passing decades. Some thoughts in honor of the day:

Continue to full text of posting...


Are Millions Worldwide Protesting Israeli Actions?

July 19, 2014

Print Send Comment (16)

RT, the Russian government's news network – and successor to the Soviet-era Pravda – published an article under the extreme, attention-seeking headline, "'In our millions, we're all Palestinian': Wave of protests worldwide demand end to Gaza slaughter." The article goes on to list anti-Israel demonstrations. However, if one actually reads the article, it quickly becomes apparent that the headline contains two major inaccuracies:

Continue to full text of posting...


Muslims Turn away from Islamism

July 15, 2014

Print Send Comment (25)

The Pew Research Center, a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts, has the means to sample opinion with unique frequency and on a major scale. It has used its funds to track Muslim attitudes toward Islamism in general, toward specific terrorist groups in particular, and also suicide bombing over the past decade . The most recent study, "Concerns about Islamic Extremism on the Rise in Middle East," released on July 1, conducted among 14,244 respondents in 14 countries between April 10 to May 25, 2014, holds much interest. Pew summarized the overall results:

Continue to full text of posting...


Surprising Support for Israel, not Hamas

July 11, 2014

Print Send Comment (32)

The current Hamas assault on Israel has lured the predictable coven of Palestinian nationalists, Islamists, Leftists, and antisemites from the woodwork to bash the Jewish state. But, more surprisingly, Israel is getting support, or at least restraint and fairness, from unexpected sources:

Continue to full text of posting...


CAIR Steals My (Intellectual) Property

July 5, 2014

Print Send Comment (10)

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, founded by Hamas supporters and seeking to overthrow Constitutional government in the United States, has engaged in so many morally dubious activities that there's a bibliography of my writings on not trusting CAIR; also, America's self-styled "Largest Civil Rights and Advocacy Organization" has played so many dirty tricks on me that I finally had to document these in both an article and then a follow-up blog.

Continue to full text of posting...


One Year After Morsi, How Goes Egypt?

July 3, 2014

Print Send Comment (15)

Egyptians took to the streets in numbers never seen anywhere, ever on June 30, 2013 to protest against their Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi. Three days later, Defense Minister Abdul Fattah al-Sisi responded to this outpouring by overthrowing Morsi. How do things look now, exactly a year later?

Pretty awful. Looking at the two most urgent arenas, Islam and the economy, almost nothing offers a sign of hope.

Continue to full text of posting...


Netanyahu's Steady Hand

July 2, 2014

Print Send Comment (21)

Israel's Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu gave an important speech worthy of discussion when he addressed the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv on June 29. The following excerpts are from the official translation on the prime minister's office website:

An historic change is taking place in our region, with major repercussions for Israel's security and the security of the entire world. The Sykes-Picot agreement which, almost a century ago, defined the borders in our region, has come to an end. … we are now looking at many years of conflict and instability.

Binyamin Netanyahu speaking at the INSS.

Continue to full text of posting...


The Acute Danger of Iraqi Dams

July 1, 2014

Print Send Comment (10)

It's been apparent at least since the American-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 that the Mosul Dam, Iraq's largest, could spell devastation for Iraq due to a combination of faulty construction, governmental indifference, and an ongoing civil insurrrection. Were it to collapse, it would lead to the largest human-induced loss of life in history. (For more on this problem, see my coverage here and here.)

The conquests in 2014 by what used to be known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and now just as the Islamic State, have dramatically shown that other dams in Iraq can also pose problems, if not on so catastrophic a scale.

First, when ISIS seized Falluja in January 2014, it also took control of the Falluja Dam (or Barrage), which is on the Euphrates River, and proceeded to manipulate it for its purposes. Hamza Mustafa of Asharq Al-Awsat quoted a pro-government militia leader a few months later, after Baghdad government forces managed to recapture the barrage, explained ISIS' tactics: ISIS

realized after closing the dam gates—which resulted in a rise in water levels behind the dam—that if the closure continued, they will be besieged twice, once by the armed forces, and the second by rising water, and if they had to withdraw, they would drown, which in turn forced them to reopen the floodgates.

The militia leader also explained the motives behind these maneuvers:

ISIS has two objectives: on the one hand, they want to drown the areas surrounding Fallujah, but the sudden attack by the [government] army foiled that plan; on the other hand, they want to cut off water supply to the central and southern governorates in order to give their war a sectarian dimension.

The Falluja Dam (or Barrage).

The wall of water from the Fallujah Dam destroyed farmland 160 kilometers to the south and left millions in the majority-Shiite cities of Karbala, Najaf and Babil without water. Jeremy Bender explains:

Mohammad Al-Hayis, the head of the Sons of Iraq Council, a Sunni tribal movement opposed to al Qaeda, told Asharq Al-Awsat that ISIS' control of the Fallujah dam had "two objectives: on the one hand, they want to drown the areas surrounding Fallujah, but the sudden attack by the army foiled that plan; on the other hand, they want to cut off water supply to the central and southern governates in order to give their war a sectarian dimension." …

The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad estimated that ISIS' actions in Fallujah caused a water shortage for hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. ISIS has also previously rendered water sources undrinkable. On April 17, gunmen detonated IEDs on a oil pipeline causing a massive spill which contaminated the western half of Baghdad's water supply.

Second, ISIS approached the Haditha Dam, Iraq's second-largest, in late June, raising here too the possibility of catastrophic flooding. Reports the New York Times:

The ISIS militants advancing on the Euphrates River dam, about 120 miles northwest of Baghdad, were coming from the north, the northeast and the northwest. The fighters had already reached Burwana, on the eastern side of Haditha, and government forces were fighting to halt their advance, security officials said. … "This will lead to the flooding of the town and villages and will harm you also," the employee said he told the officers. According to the employee, who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to speak to the news media, the officer replied, "Yes, I know, it will be against us and our enemies."

Haditha Dam in 2006.


(1) Mesopotamia, one of the most ancient areas of human civilization, has always been defined by its two great rivers, the Euphrates and the Tigris; how ironic that these life-giving sources could potentially also be the vehicle of the country's doom.

(2) To put this threat in context, note the 1938 breaching of Yellow River waterworks by the Chinese Nationalist forces fighting the Japanese invader, called the "the largest act of environmental warfare in history." Here is the abstract of an article on the topic, "Drowned Earth: The Strategic Breaching of the Yellow River Dyke, 1938," Geoscience, November 1, 2009 pp. 287-297, by Diana Lary of the University of British Columbia:

Early in the war of resistance against Japan, the Chinese military command used a tragic version of scorched-earth tactics: they denied access to the Japanese imperial army to a vast stretch of China not by literally scorching it but by drowning it. In June 1938 the Chinese command turned the ultimate symbol of Chinese civilization, the Yellow River, into a weapon of war. The southern dyke of the River was breached at Huayuankou (Flower Garden Mouth) in Henan, 30 miles to the west of the Japanese vanguard. A cataclysmic flood swept through the breach, killing by the lowest estimate half a million people and turning millions of others into refugees.

The breach of the dyke was an attempt at strategic interdiction, to limit the mobility of the Japanese army and stop it moving further west. The waters of the River were to do what soldiers had not been able to do: to halt the Japanese advance. The breaching was a strategic move born of desperation. As the Japanese armies continued their relentless advance across China, sober strategic thinking in the Chinese command gave way to a mood close to panic, in which any conceivable action could be taken to stop the Japanese advance.

(3) The combatants in Iraq's growing civil war need to be compelled by their patrons (Turkey and Qatar, especially in the case of the Islamic State jihadis, Iran in the case of the Baghdad government) to agree on some basic terms of combat, such as not using waterworks as weapons of war. This is where outside powers (the West, Russia, China) can be of help. (July 1, 2014)

Continue to full text of posting...


The Worst Day in History

June 28, 2014

Print Send Comment (22)

Gavrilo Princip.

A hundred years ago today, June 28, 1914, was arguably the worst day in human history. Not that anything so awful happened during those 24 hours, but the assassination in Sarajevo of the heir to the Hapsburg throne by a 19-year-old Bosnian Serb nationalist, Gavrilo Princip, initiated a series of events that led to not just the horrors of World War I but arguably also those of World War II as well as the rise to power of the fascist and communist movements.

Continue to full text of posting...


More on Turkish Support for ISIS

June 18, 2014

Print Send Comment (3)

In an article today, "Turkish Support for ISIS," I made the case that the AKP government of Prime Minister Erdoğan stands behind the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. This blog pursues the topic with new proofs.

To begin with, Michael Rubin has simultaneously with me published an article on this same topic, "Turkey: Al-Qaeda Not Terrorists."

Continue to full text of posting...

Archive Listing


eXTReMe Tracker

Follow Daniel Pipes

Facebook   Twitter   RSS   Join Mailing List

All materials written by Daniel Pipes on this site © 1968-2014 Daniel Pipes. Email: daniel.pipes@gmail.com

You can help support Daniel Pipes' work by making a tax-deductible donation to the Middle East Forum. Daniel J. Pipes