Archive for Arab World

War of Words Escalates

We’ve shared plenty of news of Obama’s jihad against Israel with you—we haven’t seen that many bombs tossed at the Zionist entity since the last war with Hezbollah.

But more than a few are coming back this way:

“… The Obama administration realizes quite well that the war on ISIS as it is currently being waged has destructive sectarian repercussions, which if not dealt with will blow up in everyone’s face. But has this administration…done a thing to correct how this war is being conducted?…Certainly not! This administration has acted, and continues to act, contrary to the fears that it itself has expressed.

Obama has gone further than that: together with Russia, he has given Iran a free hand in Syria to support the Syrian regime and crush the local opposition. Thus, the American president’s opportunism is very clearly exposed.

It is wrong [for us] to remain silent in light of a policy that is dragging the region into more destructive religious wars just because Mr. Obama aspires to reach an agreement with the Iranians…”

Strong words. Strong Arabic words:

[I]n recent weeks dozens of articles in the Arab press, and particularly in the Saudi press, have harshly criticized the Obama administration’s policy in the region – especially its Iran policy, which they term “destructive”, “idiotic”, “dangerous” and “narrow-minded.”

“Why does Obama consider it necessary to reach such an agreement? Because the president’s objective is to tie the Iranians’ hands for 10-15 years, in hopes that by then, Iran will have a new leadership, and will become a different country – perhaps a democratic country with less of a desire for nuclear weapons. Obama seems to be basing his policy on this risky issue on hope, not on political considerations; thus, he is gambling with the future of the region…

“At the same time, the Arab countries must deal with the other aspect of the American position, which is no less idiotic and dangerous. This aspect is reflected in Obama’s response to events in the region – [a response] based on a nearly absolute belief that the danger currently threatening the world is Sunni extremism and the terrorism emanating from it, and that the only option for stabilization is through cooperation with Iran.

The choir of voices is swelling. I don’t think the Mormon Tabernacle can hold it.

It is inconceivable that there will be a nuclear Iran in the region while the rest of the countries of the region stand by. The response to the existence of an Iranian bomb will undoubtedly be an Arab nuclear bomb.

“[A]ll the relevant countries in the region must consider every possible option in responding to this absurd American move that can release the [Ayatollah Ruhollah] Khomeini genie – which will bring to the region nothing but destruction and civil war.”

Here’s another one:

“…The Americans should know that their reputation in the region… is poor and that those whom they consider their friends [among the Arab countries], and who are indeed [their friends], have grown tired of them, of their policy, and of their behavior, and repeatedly say – if not loudly then with a whisper – ‘Allah save us from our friends; our enemies we can handle ourselves.’

“Barack Obama is acting strangely.

One might say stupidly, but I don’t think so. In the Obama narrative, there may be no hero—but there is a villain, and we’re it. We are white, Western, imperial, Christian, and successful. Not one of those can be forgiven, consequences be damned. This will end in catastrophe.

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Must-See TV

Democrats may boycott the Israeli Prime Minister’s speech before Congress, but there’ll be another demographic bloc who will be all eyes and ears:

Arab governments have been privately expressing their concern to Washington about the emerging terms of a potential nuclear deal with Iran, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday, citing Arab and U.S. officials involved in the deliberations.

According to the report, the direction of American diplomacy with Tehran has added fuel to fears in some Arab states of a nuclear-arms race in the region, as well as reviving talk about possibly extending a U.S. nuclear umbrella to Middle East allies to counter any Iranian threat.

The major Sunni states, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, have said that a final agreement could allow Shiite-dominated Iran, their regional rival, to keep the technologies needed to produce nuclear weapons, according to these officials, while removing many of the sanctions that have crippled its economy in recent years.

Arab officials said a deal would likely drive Saudi Arabia, for one, to try to quickly match Iran’s nuclear capabilities, according to The Wall Street Journal.

“At this stage, we prefer a collapse of the diplomatic process to a bad deal,” an Arab official who has discussed Iran with the Obama administration and Saudi Arabia in recent weeks told the newspaper.

Arab governments have steered clear of aligning their statements with Israel, but share many of that country’s fears, U.S. and Arab diplomats said.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who has been perhaps the most vocal critic of the deal with Iran, said last week that Israel knows the details of the planned nuclear deal with Iran and warned that it is a bad one.

“I think this is a bad agreement that is dangerous for the state of Israel, and not just for it,” said Netanyahu, adding, “If anyone thinks otherwise what is there to hide here?”

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki later questioned whether Netanyahu indeed knows “more than the negotiators” about the talks, saying “there is no deal yet.”

Many years ago, Mrs. BTL and I were in discussions with our school system about the proper education of the heirs to the Bloodthirstani throne. We were at loggerheads. The school psychologist asked, with pain and exasperation, “Why don’t you trust us?” The sirens and flashing lights that followed were not from a school fire drill, but from the BS alert system hardwired into our brains. The question was either irrelevant or it answered itself. Either we had a disagreement over the facts of the case—in which case trust did not apply—or the facts were not in dispute—in which case something else explained the disagreement.

But mostly it was the manipulative nature of the question that so pi**ed us off. It’s not about you, we answered.

It’s the same tone I hear from Jen Space Cadet. She implies that we should trust the regime. But it’s not about the regime, or not just. It’s about the Islamic Republic of Iran that has compared the “Zionist entity” to a “filthy microbe” and has sworn to wipe it off the map. Israel is not a disinterested party in these negotiations.

And who is Jen Psaki that we should trust?

Psaki began her career in 2001 with the re-election campaigns of Iowa Democrats Tom Harkin and Tom Vilsack. Psaki then became deputy press secretary for John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign. From 2005 to 2006, Psaki served as communications director to U.S. Representative Joseph Crowley and regional press secretary for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.[7]

Throughout the 2008 presidential campaign of U.S. Senator Barack Obama, Psaki served as traveling press secretary.[7] After Obama won the election, Psaki followed Obama to the White House as Deputy Press Secretary and was promoted to Deputy Communications Director on December 19, 2009.[8][9] On September 22, 2011, Psaki left that position to become senior vice president and managing director at the Washington, D.C. office of public relations firm Global Strategy Group.[10][11]

In 2012, Psaki returned to political communications as press secretary for President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign.[12] On February 11, 2013, Psaki became spokesperson for the United States Department of State.[12]

She’s a Democrat political flack—which is fine; she’s obviously successful. But when one’s very existence hangs in the balance, as Israel’s does, does she inspire trust? She—and trust—are irrelevant.

Oh yeah, what about her second in command, Marie “Jobs for Jihadis” Harf?

Harf began her career at the Directorate of Intelligence at the Central Intelligence Agency as an analyst focusing on Middle Eastern leadership issues. She later became the media spokesperson of the CIA.[3]

During the 2012 presidential election, Harf helped craft President Obama’s national security and communications strategy, and also served as campaign spokeswoman on national security issues.[2][3]

In June 2013, Harf was appointed Deputy Spokesperson for the US State Department, where she currently serves as deputy under Jen Psaki.[2][3]

Better: she at least earned a job in the field of her expertise. But she too exists largely as a mouthpiece for others. And I seriously doubt her former colleagues at the CIA who have studied ISIS and its ideology agree that all we need to do to defeat it is find them positions as stock clerks at Walmart. At least I pray not.

Why don’t we trust you? The question answers itself.

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Brother, Can You Spare a Dinar?

Not as gratifying as a newspaper calling President Obama an “assclown” (see post below), but still a heartwarming story:

UN political affairs chief Jeffrey Feltman told the Security Council that donors who had promised $5.4 billion to the Palestinians at the Cairo conference four months ago “have yet to fulfill the vast majority of their pledges,” according to AFP.

“This is, quite frankly, unacceptable, and cannot continue if we hope to avoid another escalation in Gaza,” Feltman told the 15-member council during a meeting on the Middle East.

In a sign of growing impatience with pace of reconstruction efforts, dozens of protesters forced their way into a UN office in Gaza on January 28, after the world body announced it was suspending an aid program to support home repairs and refugee shelter assistance.

Feltman described the situation in Gaza as “increasingly worrisome” and cited the slow pace of reconstruction along with security and governance problems as creating “an increasingly toxic environment.”

“This approach is neither sufficient nor sustainable,” he warned.

I can’t be sure which I’m enjoying more: suffering in Hamasstan, or the UN’s pique. Both, I guess! You can have your cake, and eat it too.

PS: Plus, of course, Arab betrayal. My cup runneth over.

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Palestine Is Not a Nation, But It’s in the Midst of a Civil War Anyway

Who needs statehood when you can just get on with the internecine killing?

Despite having formed a unity agreement last April torpedoing peace talks, Hamas and Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction seem to be slowly sliding into open warfare in Gaza, as an attempted assassination on a Fatah official on Monday caps off incessant back and forth car bombings.

Mamoon Sweidan, the Fatah official who serves in the Gaza office on foreign relations, told the Palestinian Arab Ma’an News Agency that on Monday two masked gunmen in a Subaru conducted a drive-by shooting, targeting him as he was getting into his car outside the al-Saadi building in Gaza City where he lives.

The official said two of his guards exchanged fire with the would-be assassins, and that both guards were wounded.

The assassination attempt is just the latest in a recent string of attacks that risk pushing Hamas and Fatah back into outright warfare; the two have been enemies since Hamas ousted Fatah by force in 2005, seizing control of Gaza, and the lukewarm unity deal has done little of substance to lessen that enmity.

On Sunday unidentified attackers set the car of Fatah official Abed al-Munim Ramadan Tahrawi on fire in the Nuseirat “refugee camp” before fleeing the scene.

That arson came just hours after the car of a senior Hamas official in the interior ministry of the terrorist organization’s government was likewise set on fire in Jabaliyah in northern Gaza earlier on Sunday.

Just over a week ago, the car of Hamas official Sheikh Sami Hams was bombed in Nuseirat.

The spate of back and forth car bombings was in full swing in January as well, with the car of Fatah official Adil Udeid set on fire in front of his Gaza home, and Fatah leader Ahmad Alwan’s car blown up in Gaza City.

Just prior to that the car of Administrative and Financial Manager of the Hamas-run military police, Helmi Khalaf, was blown up in Gaza City.

Did you know any of that? We follow this crap, and we didn’t. These are the so-called Palestinians, and these are the lovable underdogs so championed by world leaders.

Well, not all world leaders:

Untitled

Like ISIS, maybe? Arab leaders don’t like existential threats from terrorists who threaten to wipe them off the map? Can’t imagine why.

Carry on, Hamass; carry on, Fatah. Car bombs and drive-bys may be an odd way of life, but who are we to judge?

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Arab Spring a Big, Stinking Pile of Failure

Fifty million refugees can’t be wrong!

The two “ghost ships” discovered sailing towards the Italian coast last week with hundreds of migrants – but no crew – on board are just the latest symptom of what experts consider to be the world’s largest wave of mass-migration since the end of the second world war.

Wars in Syria, Libya and Iraq, severe repression in Eritrea, and spiralling instability across much of the Arab world have all contributed to the displacement of around 16.7 million refugees worldwide.

A further 33.3 million people are “internally displaced” within their own war-torn countries, forcing many of those originally from the Middle East to cross the lesser evil of the Mediterranean in increasingly dangerous ways, all in the distant hope of a better life in Europe.

“These numbers are unprecedented,” said Leonard Doyle, spokesman for the International Organisation for Migration. “In terms of refugees and migrants, nothing has been seen like this since world war two, and even then [the flow of migration] was in the opposite direction.”

If I read his point correctly, the “displaced persons” to whom he refers are those Jews who survived a nearly-global effort at their extermination. But let’s not dwell on that now.

“We know people who died – they used to live with us,” said Qassim, a Syrian refugee in Egypt who now wants to reach Europe. “But we will try again to cross the sea because there’s no life for us Syrians here.”

In Egypt, up to 300,000 refugees from the Syrian war were initially welcomed with open arms. But after Cairo’s sudden regime change in summer 2013, the atmosphere turned drastically, leading to rampant xenophobia against Syrians and increased arrests and detentions of those who, for understandable reasons, did not carry the correct residency paperwork.

The situation is even worse in Jordan and in Lebanon, which now houses more than 1 million Syrian refugees – more than a fifth of the country’s total population.

Those cheerleaders out there who told us that the so-called Arab Spring was the dawning of democracy…what have you to say for yourselves? Like everyone else, I looked at those young attractive Arabs in Tahriri Square—but I also looked at the dark hordes massing behind them. I couldn’t have imagined it being this bad, but I knew it wasn’t going to be good.

We in the West may be shallow and fatuous, but we can survive simple-minded liberal pieties (if only just). Egypt can’t. They went from strongman (Mubarak) to strongman (al-Sisi) with just a spot of bother (Morsi and the MoBros) in between. And they should count themselves lucky.

Don’t get me wrong: General al-Sisi is not my ideal leader. But he may be Egypt’s.

Indeed, he may be the ideal leader for the entire Arab World:

Many have called for a reformation of Islam, but for the leader of the largest Arab nation to do so has world-changing implications.

Here are the key parts as translated on Raymond Ibrahim’s blog:

I am referring here to the religious clerics. We have to think hard about what we are facing—and I have, in fact, addressed this topic a couple of times before. It’s inconceivable that the thinking that we hold most sacred should cause the entire umma [Islamic world] to be a source of anxiety, danger, killing and destruction for the rest of the world. Impossible!

That thinking—I am not saying “religion” but “thinking”—that corpus of texts and ideas that we have sacralized over the years, to the point that departing from them has become almost impossible, is antagonizing the entire world. It’s antagonizing the entire world!

Is it possible that 1.6 billion people [Muslims] should want to kill the rest of the world’s inhabitants—that is 7 billion—so that they themselves may live? Impossible!

I am saying these words here at Al Azhar, before this assembly of scholars and ulema—Allah Almighty be witness to your truth on Judgment Day concerning that which I’m talking about now.

All this that I am telling you, you cannot feel it if you remain trapped within this mindset. You need to step outside of yourselves to be able to observe it and reflect on it from a more enlightened perspective.

I say and repeat again that we are in need of a religious revolution. You, imams, are responsible before Allah. The entire world, I say it again, the entire world is waiting for your next move… because this umma is being torn, it is being destroyed, it is being lost—and it is being lost by our own hands.

“Boo-yah!” as the late Stuart Scott would say. “Ain’t that a kick in the head,” as Mark Steyn would quote Sammy Cahn. But you need to be a strongman—preferably a general—to say it.

I wish our metrosexual-in-chief had.

PS: I would not be truthful if I did not credit the one success of the Arab Spring: its source, Tunisia:

Tunisia is rightly hailed as the lone success story of the Arab Spring: the only country that has threaded a path from the uprisings of 2011 to genuine multiparty democracy today. Yet the future of freedom in Tunisia is far from assured. With the election of a new parliament and president in recent weeks, the most important experiment in Arab democracy is entering a difficult and potentially perilous new phase — one in which greater U.S. support and attention are urgently needed.

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Man in the Arab Street

Let’s walk among the common people, shall we, and see what our Arab brethren think. And I use “think” in its broadest possible sense:

Ludovic-Mohamed Zahed, the imam of a gay-friendly mosque in Paris, said: “I believe that it was Allah who created homosexuals… Allah does not speak against homosexuality in the Quran.”

Wow! How enlightened!

Who else?

In a statement posted on the Internet on December 18, 2014, Jordanian preacher Sheik Yassin Al-‘Ajlouni said that the Jews should be given a place of worship on the Temple Mount.

I call upon the Islamic world and upon the Hashemite sovereign to allocate for the peaceful among the Jewish Israelites a house of prayer within Beit Al-Maqdis.

Beit Al-Maqdis is the place sanctified by Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, as well as by Jesus son of Mary and by the Muslims. There should be a special place of worship for the Jews among the Israelites under Hashemite and Palestinian sovereignty, and in agreement with the Israeli regime.

I might quibble a bit—Israel should have complete control of the Temple Mount, and allow free access to pious Muslims to their holy site—but even I have to admit this is a refreshing change from the typical “apes and pigs” rhetoric.

Which, we must admit, is never far from the surface:

In a recent Hamas TV children’s show, a young boy recites a song titled “I Do Not Fear the Gun”

Abd Al-Rahim Al-Zarad: I do not fear the gun. I do not fear the gun.

You are all nothing but herds of deluded idiots.

Jerusalem is my land, Jerusalem is my honor, Jerusalem is my life and my dew-covered dreams.

Oh you slayers of Allah’s pious prophets, you who have been raised on the shedding of blood – humiliation and suffering have been decreed upon you.

Oh sons of Zion, oh the most evil of creatures, oh barbaric apes, Jerusalem rejects you and vomits your filth.

Oh impure ones, Jerusalem is like a pious virgin.

Oh filthy ones, Jerusalem is pure and clean.

I do not dread barbarism, as long as I have my holy book and my city in my heart, as long as my arms [can throw] stones, and as long as I am free and do not sell out the cause.

I will not dread your masses and will never fear the gun. I will never fear the gun.

Let’s not leave it there. How about something a little happier:

In an Al-Arabiya TV interview, Egyptian playwright Ali Salem said that Hamas and ISIS, and not Israel, were Egypt’s enemy.

Amen to that, brother.

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Random Thoughts While Waiting for Obama to Bring Down the Hebrew Hammer on Israel

So, The US is considering sanctions against Israel.

I think. Sort of.

ED HENRY, FOX NEWS: There were reports that the administration is considering sanctioning Israel over the settlements issue. I wonder if you could say true or false.

JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE: Well, uh, I’ve been informed of some of these reports. What I can tell you is that I’m not going to talk about any sort of internal deliberations inside the administration and certainly not inside the White House. But I will say something that I have said many times before, which is that Israel is a close and strategic partner of the United States. And I don’t need to remind you…zzzzzzz

What? Huh? Sorry, where was he?

That being said, we have also been crystal clear about our view of settlement activity. That view has not changed. We believe that settlements are illegitimate, and we have deep concerns about highly contentious planning and construction activities that the Israeli government is…

And if you order now, you’ll get a second Swiffer at no extra cost!

Again, sorry. Just wanted to see what else was on.

HENRY: So very clearly you are not denying that sanctions are on the table against even an ally?

EARNEST: I am very clearly not denying we have strong concerns about that settlement activity that’s underway in Israel. But it has not and will not affect the…

Rondo to Olynik for three…got it!

Just checking the Celtics. Where were we?

HENRY: But how can you be telling Congress don’t issue more sanctions against Iran at the same time you’re considering sanctions against an ally in Israel?

EARNEST: Again, I’m not going to comment on those reports about our discussions as it relates to Israel.

HENRY: But you are talking about sanctions. You’re leaving that door wide open here.

EARNEST: I’m not saying I’m not willing to talk about those conversations.

HENRY: So you’re not considering sanctions?

EARNEST: I’m not saying I’m not willing to talk about those kinds of conversations. But what I am saying is that we have been clear about what our strategy is against Iran….

Oy. Can we just bail now?

Anyway, while we’re talking about illegitimate activities in Middle Eastern countries, perhaps we can start here:

Two Saudi women activists have been detained for nearly a week for defying the kingdom’s ban on women driving, family members and an activist said Sunday.

The kingdom’s hard-line interpretation of Islam, known as Wahabbism, holds that allowing women to drive encourages licentiousness. No such ban exists in the rest of the Muslim world, including Saudi Arabia’s conservative Gulf neighbors.

That sure sounds like a War on Women to me. What are we, Switzerland?

How about another country that has Obama’s ear (for which they need both hands!):

In March, King Abdullah II reappointed Abdullah Ensour as prime minister. Authorities stepped up attacks on independent media, censoring over 260 websites that refused to comply with new government registration requirements.

Freedom of Expression and Belief

Jordanian law criminalizes speech deemed critical of the king, government officials, and institutions, as well as Islam and speech considered defamatory of others. In 2013, the authorities failed to amend the penal code to bring it into compliance with constitutional free speech guarantees strengthened in 2011, and continued to prosecute individuals on charges such as “insulting an official body,” using vaguely worded penal code articles that place impermissible restrictions on free expression.

On September 17, police arrested Nidhal al-Fara`nah and Amjad Mu`ala, respectively publisher and editor of the Jafra News website, after it posted a third-party YouTube video that authorities deemed insulting to the brother of Qatar’s ruler. Prosecutors charged both men with “disturbing relations with a foreign state” before the State Security Court, whose judges include serving military officers.

Jordan, a Palestinian state in all but name, is significantly more repressive than Israel. But do we hear about sanctions?

Oh yeah, what about Qatar?

Migrants continue to experience serious rights violations, including forced labor and arbitrary restrictions on the right to leave Qatar, which expose them to exploitation and abuse by employers.

Forced labor: does that mean slavery?

Workers typically pay exorbitant recruitment fees and employers regularly take control of their passports when they arrive in Qatar. The kafala (sponsorship) system ties a migrant worker’s legal residence to his or her employer, or sponsor. Migrant workers commonly complain that employers fail to pay their wages on time if at all, but are barred from changing jobs without their sponsoring employer’s consent other than in exceptional cases and with express permission of the Interior Ministry. Adding to their vulnerability, they must obtain an exit visa from their sponsor in order to leave Qatar. Migrant workers are prohibited from unionizing or engaging in strikes, although they make up 99 percent of the private sector workforce.

Sounds like it.

In February, an appeal court reduced to 15 years the life imprisonment sentence imposed on poet Mohammed Ibn al-Dheeb al-Ajami, a Qatari national, in November 2012, by a court in Doha. The court convicted him of incitement to overthrow the regime after he recited poems critical of Qatar’s then-emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani. In June 2013, the emir abdicated, handing power to his son, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.

Who’s a hell of a guy, I hear. Speaking of guys:

Provisions of Law No. 22 of 2006, Qatar’s first codified law to address issues of family and personal status law, discriminate against women. Article 36 states that two men must witness marital contracts, which are concluded by male matrimonial guardians. Article 57 prevents husbands from hurting their wives physically or morally, but article 58 states that it is a wife’s responsibility to look after the household and to obey her husband. Marital rape is not a crime.

So far, we’re not sanctioning Iran for trying to build an A-bomb; we’re not sanctioning Jordan for rampant censorship and repression; and we’re not sanctioning Qatar for slavery and the decriminalization of marital rape.

But we are sanctioning Israel.

This is fun!

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) continues to crack down on freedom of expression and association. The authorities are arbitrarily detaining scores of individuals they suspect of links to domestic and international Islamist groups. A court convicted 69 dissidents in July after a manifestly unfair trial, in which evidence emerged of systematic torture at state security facilities. The UAE made no reforms to a system that facilitates the forced labor of migrant workers.

More slavery!

Saud Kulaib, an Emirati national, spent five months in incommunicado detention between December 29 and May 27. In addition to enduring solitary confinement, extremes of temperature, and sleep deprivation, he told family members and other inmates that officers beat him, sliced his hand open with a razor blade, threatened to pull out his fingernails, and told him that his wife was in detention and on hunger strike.

Who else has been a bad boy?

Borders controlled by Iraq’s central government remained closed to Syrians fleeing civil war, while as of November, nearly 206,600 Syrians fled to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)-controlled area.

In December 2012, thousands of Iraqis took part in demonstrations in mostly Sunni areas, demanding reform of the Anti-Terrorism Law and the release of illegally held detainees. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki announced in January 2013 that he had created special committees to oversee reforms, including freeing prisoners and limiting courts’ use of secret informant testimony. At time of writing, there was little indication that the government had implemented reforms. Security forces instead used violence against protesters, culminating in an attack on a demonstration in Hawija in April, which killed 51 protesters. Authorities failed to hold anyone accountable.

I’d like to see Israel get away with that! Not really, just a figure of speech.

Are we done? Not hardly:

Kuwait continues to exclude thousands of stateless people, known as Bidun, from full citizenship, despite their longstanding roots in Kuwaiti territory.

The government has aggressively cracked down on free speech, often resorting to a law forbidding any offense to the ruler (emir).

Kuwait has no laws prohibiting domestic violence, sexual harassment, or marital rape. In addition, Kuwaiti women married to non-Kuwaiti men cannot give their spouses or children Kuwaiti citizenship. Kuwaiti law does not let women marry a partner of their choice if their father will not grant permission.

In May, the Kuwaiti authorities announced that Saudi Arabian women would not be provided with drivers’ licenses while in Kuwait without the permission of their male guardians.

The United States, in its 2013 US State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons report, classified Kuwait as Tier 3—among the most problematic countries—for the seventh year in a row. The report cited Kuwait’s failure to report any arrests, prosecutions, convictions, or sentences of traffickers for either forced labor or sex trafficking, and weak victim protection measures.

Even more slavery—and sex trafficking! Do Kuwaitis know how to party, or what? No wonder Saddam wanted a piece of the…action. (What did you think I was going to write?)

We haven’t exhausted the region, but it’s doubtful we’ll be able to top that. And I’m sure we’ll get around to tsk-tsking them as soon as we ding Israel for putting a spare bedroom over the garage.

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Why Don’t You Hummus a Few Bars?

Very good. But is it better than his earlier oeuvre on the subject?

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Toward a Kinder, Gentler BTL

In an attempt at self-improvement, to drag myself out of the La Brea tar pits of ignorance and prejudice, I have attempted to engage with the contemporary world.

Hence my following of Lena Dunham on Twitter:

Bitch is so stupid she doesn’t even know her favs are public

(Nothing yet on the refutation of her spurious rape charge while in college, but I’ll keep checking!)

And, of course, my ongoing and uphill battle to understand contemporary Islam.

The role of women, for example:

The Jordanian parliament is no stranger to screaming matches but a recent incident was so controversial that it provoked people to poke fun at their MPs online.

Earlier this week, during a heated argument over the Muslim Brotherhood, independent MP Yehia al-Saud was cut off by one of his female colleagues, Hind al-Fayez.

“Sit down Hind!” al-Saud yelled several times.

When al-Fayez ignored him, al-Saud turned his gaze and hands upwards and shouted “May God have his revenge on whoever brought quota to this parliament!” – a reference to female parliamentary quotas.

Local media reported that al-Saud later made another comment that women were created to put on make-up and cook for their husbands.

The earlier, unevolved BTL would have made a juvenile remark about an attractive woman named Hind, but that’s…behind me now.

Good for Jordan, as this al-Saud fellow is now a national joke.

Or is he?

Women’s rights groups responded angrily Tuesday to comments by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that women and men are not equal “because their nature is different.”

Eight groups signed a statement condemning his remarks as violating the national constitution and international agreements, saying he aimed to “denigrate decades of effort by women’s movements for gender equality.”

“Equality is turning the victim into an oppressor by force or vice versa. What women need is to be able to be equivalent, rather than equal, so it is justice. That is what we need,” he said.

“You cannot bring women and men into equal positions; that is against nature because their nature is different.”

Erdogan also told the event, organized by the Women and Democracy Association, that a woman cannot do every job that a man can do because “it is against her delicate nature.”

According to Turkey’s semiofficial Anadolu news agency, Erdogan also insisted his government has always been behind women in their struggle for equal rights….

I’ll bet you have, you randy old goat!

What?! So I made a little joke. There’s only so evolved I can get. You feminists need a sense of humor.

Stay with me for the further adventures of BTL trying to get hep to the modern age. This’ll hurt me more than it will you.

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IS is as IS Does

Let’s give them a state!

A poll carried out by the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies in Doha gauged opinion on the Arab street regarding the current US-led campaign to “rollback” and ultimately defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria. 5,100 respondents from seven Arab countries (Lebanon, Iraq, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, “Palestine”, as well as Syrian Arabs in Turkish refugee camps) were asked about their views both of the operation and of ISIS itself.

The results showed that a full 85% of Arabs hold a view of ISIS that is either “Negative” or “Negative to some extent,” whereas just 11% saw them as “Positive” or “Positive to some extent.”

The Arab group with the highest level of support for ISIS were Palestinians, with nearly a quarter (24%) of Palestinians polled viewed ISIS in a positive light.

4% of Palestinians viewed ISIS as purely “Positive,” in line with the average response rate of other Arab groups – only Saudi Arabia (5%) and Tunisia (7%) had higher percentages in that category. However, a full 20% viewed ISIS as “Positive to some extent” – well over the overall average of 7%. Additionally, even those Palestinians with negative views of ISIS were more ambivalent than other Arabs; just 36% held a wholly negative view of ISIS (compared to an average of 72%), and a further 36% were only “Negative to some extent” (compared to just 13% overall).

The results contradict Palestinian Authority claims that Palestinian Muslims are far more “moderate” than Muslims elsewhere.

You take that back!

Why don’t we just call it PalISIStine and be done with it?

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The Louse That Roared

Shell Jewish kindergartens, win valuable prizes!

A donor conference in Cairo to raise money to rebuild the Gaza Strip after this year’s war between Hamas and Israel ended with pledges of $5.4 billion for reconstruction there, Norway’s foreign minister said Sunday.

Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende offered the figure at the end of Sunday’s one-day conference, far beyond the $4 billion initially sought by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

In the Peter Sellers movie, The Mouse That Roared, the Grand Duchy of Fenwick declares war on the United States because they know they will lose without a shot being fired, and profit immeasurably from America’s generosity to its vanquished opponents (such as through the Marshall Plan).

As ever, farce plays out as tragedy in Arab-occupied Israel.

Qatar pledged $1 billion toward the reconstruction, once again using its vast wealth to reinforce its role as a regional player as Gulf Arab rival the United Arab Emirates promised $200 million.

The pledges followed US Secretary of State John Kerry earlier announcing immediate American assistance of $212 million. The European Union pledged 450 million euros ($568 million), while Turkey, which has been playing a growing role in the Middle East in recent years, said it was donating $200 million.

Let me see what I have in my pocket: a green Life Saver, a gas station receipt, some lint. They can have the lint.

The Kurds, true heroes in the fight against the Islamofascists of ISIS, can’t get a pea-shooter from Turkey. Heck, Turkey won’t even let its own Kurds go fight with Syria’s Kurds. Yet they give the Islamofascists of Hamass $200 million. We’re even worse—thank you, John Kerry—at $212 million.

Who’s up for insult to injury?

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon blamed last summer’s Gaza war on Israel’s “occupation” of Palestinian territories, as he called on both parties to finalized an agreement for a two-state solution.

“We must not lose sight of the root causes of the recent hostilities: a restrictive occupation that has lasted almost half a century, the continued denial of Palestinian rights and the lack of tangible progress in peace negotiations,” Ban said.

I really owe Kofi Annan an apology. I used to shred him for statements like these. But it’s not him, it’s not even Banki. It’s the UN. Hamass planned the kidnapping and murder of three Jewish Israeli teens, then let fly with thousands of missiles, mortars, and rockets across Israel. They violated every “rule” of war, deliberately targeting civilians and even more deliberately putting their own civilians at risk of death. And they still came in at 35% over their fundraising budget. What lesson would you take away from this except that war pays—handsomely?

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Hope and Change

Well, change anyway.

President Obama, September 3rd:

“We can continue to shrink ISIL’s sphere of influence, its effectiveness, its financing, its military capabilities to the point where it is a manageable problem.”

President Obama, September 5th:

“You can’t contain an organization that is running roughshod through that much territory, causing that much havoc, displacing that many people, killing that many innocents, enslaving that many women. The goal has to be to dismantle them.”

“Dismantle” is a little closer to “gates of hell” than “manageable” is, for which much thanks. But he needed David Cameron’s balls to get even that far.

I happened to hear the week-in-review roundtable on NPR’s On Point this morning. The Atlantic’s former editor, Jack Beatty, a five-star general among Obama apologists, first tried to paint Russia’s invasion as merely “exerting power on its border”. Tell that to Crimea. Tell that to Donetsk. David Ignatius chimed in that Putin’s territorial gain came at great cost: a hostile government in Kiev, a united Europe against him. He claimed Putin was playing a weak hand. Tell that to Putin. This sounds like the same tone deaf talk that appeased Hitler. Not one person mentioned Obama’s Chamberlain-esque pose.

When talk turned to the Middle East, Beatty got his second wind. He quoted an administration source as saying that “avoiding another Iraq is his guiding principle”. Beatty followed with “it seems to me that’s also the guiding principle of the American people…. We don’t want this.”

Don’t we? Of course we don’t, if you put it in those terms. Who wants “another Iraq”? But do we want our reporters getting their heads chopped off (other than the 75-80 we could all agree on)? Do we want to see their unrivaled savagery (too savage for Al Qaeda) rip asunder whole countries and regions? Do we want what’s happening over there to be happening over here?

No wonder Obama looks uncertain, Beatty declared, uncertainty is the reality. That’s one way of looking at it.

Another way is that you can’t run your affairs by trying to be different from the other guy. Avoiding “another Iraq” is a dog whistle for George Bush; so is “don’t do stupid stuff”. But the world Bush had to deal with, for better or worse, is five and a half years in the past, an eternity. Most of his big decisions are a decade old by now. Facing today’s realities with policies based on rejecting the previous president’s policies is almost too idiotic to write, let alone implement. And now that Obama is in Bush’s shoes (several sizes too big for him), he should have the decency and maturity to acknowledge that maybe he sees things a little differently.

Lastly, ISIS is not really “another Iraq”, but Iraq II:

On the eve of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, a 36-year-old Jordanian who called himself “the Stranger” slipped into the suburbs of Baghdad armed with a few weapons, bags of cash and an audacious plan for starting a war he hoped would unite Sunni Muslims across the Middle East.

The tattooed ex-convict and high school dropout had few followers and scant ties to the local population. Yet, the Stranger — soon to be known widely as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi — quickly rallied thousands of Iraqis and foreign fighters to his cause. He launched spectacular suicide bombings and gruesome executions targeting Americans, Shiites and others he saw as obstacles to his vision for a Sunni caliphate stretching from Syria to the Persian Gulf.

Zarqawi was killed in a U.S. airstrike in 2006, but the organization he founded is again on the march. In just a week, his group — formerly known as al-Qaeda in Iraq and now called the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS — has seized cities and towns across western and northern Iraq at a pace that might have astonished Zarqawi himself. Already in control of large swaths of eastern Syria, the group’s black-clad warriors appear to have taken a leap toward realizing Zarqawi’s dream of an extremist Sunni enclave across the region.

The mission is still not “accomplished”, President Obama. It’s been your responsibility since you took the oath of office.

No fair leaving it for the next guy:

“This, as the President has said, is going to have to be a sustained effort. … It’s going to take time, and it will probably go beyond even this administration to get to the point of defeat.”

Do your effing job.

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