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We Now Talk More Openly About Islam
November 11, Centre for Independent Studies

Latest on the Syria Crisis
October 17, 630 KHOW Denver

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
June 25, WORLD Radio Blog with Jill Nelson

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Articles and Blog Posts by Daniel Pipes   RSS 2.0 Feed

Erdoğan's Turkish Delight
The Dangerous Reign of Ankara's Corrupt President

by Daniel Pipes  •  November 13, 2019  •  National Interest

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Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's rule over Turkey began in March 2003 and divides precisely into two eras.

In the first half, which lasted 8 years and 4 months, he was brilliant. He oversaw unprecedented economic growth and regional influence. He tackled long-festering problems, such as the Kurdish issue, while discreetly handling his military overlords. His string of successes culminated in July 2011 with an assertion of control of the military, an accomplishment that had eluded all of his predecessors.

The 8 years and 4 months since that turning point has seen that earlier brilliance vaporize, replaced by inconstancy, self-indulgence, and unpredictability. Count the ways:

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Middle Eastern Gyrations
Oil, water, Islamism and anti-Zionism in flux

by Daniel Pipes  •  November 11, 2019  •  Washington Times

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As ever, the Middle East is monumentally in flux. As usual, most developments are negative. Here's a guide:

Water replaces petroleum as the key liquid: Oil and gas still provide nearly 60 percent of the world's energy, but this number is declining and even the wealthiest oil producers are feeling the pinch ("GCC states look to new taxes as oil revenues remain weak"). Contrarily, tensions over water are becoming a major source of international tensions (e.g., Turkey vs. Syria, Ethiopia vs. Egypt) and a driving force of domestic change (the Syrian revolt of 2011). It's also a potential cause of massive migration; a former Iranian minister of agriculture predicts that water shortages will force up to 70 percent of the country's population, or 57 million Iranians, to emigrate.

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My Disastrous Meeting with the Soviets
On a 1983 conference of American Middle East experts and Soviet academics in Moscow

by Daniel Pipes  •  October 30, 2019  •  American Spectator

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Introduction: With the Cold War still raging, I joined a group of ten American specialists on the Middle East and related topics who traveled to Moscow in November-December 1983. We met intensively over four days with Soviet counterparts on a strictly confidential basis. It was the most useless academic exercise I've ever taken part in.

The teams were headed by Dankwart Rustow of CUNY and Yevgeny Maksimovich Primakov of the Institute of World Economy and International Relations (and in 1998-99 the prime minister of Russia). Distinguished American participants included Bernard Lewis, J.C. Hurwitz, and Gregory Massell; Soviets included Genrich Alexandrovich Trofimenko, Vitaliy Vyacheslavovich Naumkin, and Oleg Vitalevich Kovtunovich. An instructor at Harvard at the time, I was both by far the youngest member of the delegation and the most outspokenly conservative, i.e., anti-Soviet.

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[Syria Invasioin] Turkey May Go the Way of Venezuela

by Daniel Pipes  •  October 24, 2019  •  Wall Street Journal

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Turkish citizens are wildly optimistic about the invasion of Syria that began Oct. 9. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's decision finds broad support within Turkey, including from all the major opposition parties except the pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party. The incursion is understood domestically not only as a measure to protect the country from the Kurdish forces Mr. Erdoğan calls "terrorists," but also to affirm Turkey's status as a power; Ankara no longer must bow to the wishes of Washington, Berlin or Moscow.

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Understanding the U.S.-Turkish-Syrian Triangle
An Interview

by Niram Ferretti interviewer  •  October 21, 2019  •  Informale

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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"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

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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

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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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