Middle East

The Middle East’s biggest fool

Featured image I thought that Dennis (“fool me a dozen times, shame on all of us”) Ross had retired that title. But Jamie Weinstein makes a strong case for awarding it to John Kerry. In his pre-Secretary of State days, Kerry made a strong bid when he decided, along with Nancy Pelosi, that Bashar al-Assad was not only a potential ally but the key to peace between Israel and the Palestinians. With »

Waves of Egyptian fighters and the shape of things to come

Featured image The Washington Post reports that “waves of Egyptians” are pouring into Syria to join the fight against the Assad regime and its allies, Hezbollah and Iran. The Egyptians in question are “fired by the virulently sectarian rhetoric of Sunni preachers” who are “call[ing] for jihad.” In other words, the Egyptians pouring into Syria are Islamic jihadists. Under Hosni Mubarak, the government did all it could to prevent such jihadists from »

Of “red lines” and red herrings

Featured image Chuck Hagel has announced that the United States believes, “with varying degrees of confidence” that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons against its people. Taken literally, Hagel’s statement makes no sense. No one — and no entity — can believe something with varying degrees of confidence. What Hagel means, I assume, is that the relevant players within our government believe that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons against »

Reality temporarily interferes with the fantasy world of John Kerry

Featured image Over the weekend, I wrote about how the Palestinian Authority blew off John Kerry’s efforts to keep Salam Fayyad in power as Prime Minister. Kerry’s failure, I believe, “demonstrates once again the lack of U.S. influence over the PA” and the futility of our efforts to cause it to make any concessions to Israel. As for Fayyad, I dismissed him a “PA pol.” But, plainly, that’s not how the U.S. »

The Palestinian Authority blows off John Kerry

Featured image Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has accepted the resignation of his Prime Minister Salam Fayyad despite pleas from the U.S. and the EU that he retain Fayyad. Actually, I am wrong to say “despite.” According to Fatah officials, U.S. pressure on Abbas to keep Fayyad in power proved counterproductive. Let us not probe the merits of Abbas’ decision to accept Fayyad’s resignation or explore the demerits of Fayyad’s tenure as »

Groundhog Day in the Middle East

Featured image Steve wrote earlier today that he feels like he is living in a personal Groundhog Day, where it is perpetually April 1. I have that feeling too, never more so than with regard to the Middle East. The phrase “deja vu” doesn’t begin to do it justice. Today we got this report from the Associated Press: “Thousands of Palestinians protest in West Bank.” Stop me if you’ve heard this story »

What does Obama hope to accomplish by visiting Israel?

Featured image Today’s Washington Post (print edition) proclaimed that “Obama’s trip to Israel aims to fix missteps.” But for what purpose? The Post suggests that Obama needs to fix the mistakes of his previous approach to Israel so that he can “revive” his “ill-fated effort to secure an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.” I don’t doubt that President Obama would like to revive that effort. And it’s reasonable for Obama to conclude, albeit belatedly, »

“Mother of the Decade” Dies

Featured image Yesterday, Mariam Farhat died in Gaza City after a long illness. Mark Steyn noted her passing with a quote from his book America Alone. Steyn was writing about Hamas’s victory in the 2006 election: Among the incoming legislators was Mariam Farahat, a mother of three, elected in Gaza. She used to be a mother of six but three of her sons self-detonated on suicide missions against Israel. She’s a household »

American public increasingly sympathetic towards Israel

Featured image The extent to which Americans sympathize more with Israelis than with Palestinians has reached its all-time high, according to a new Gallup poll. The survey found that the sympathies of 64 percent of Americans reside with Israelis, compared to only 12 percent for the Palestinians. The 64 percent figure matched the previous record high from 1991, during the first Gulf War. At that time, though, only 7 percent of Americans »

The growing tension between Iran and al Qaeda — what does it mean?

Featured image Recently, Iran has been expelling al Qaeda officials who holed up there for years. Bin Laden’s son-in-law, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, is only the latest example. U.S. officials and terrorism experts tell the Washington Post that these expulsions suggest growing tension between Iran’s Shiite clerics and al Qaeda’s Sunni terrorists. Yet officials and experts also believe that Iran still permits al Qaeda to use Iranian territory as a transit route to »

Talking back to Erdogan

Featured image In his Impromptus column yesterday, Jay Nordlinger wrote: Something that happened last week caused a flashback in me. Let me explain: Speaking at a U.N. event in Vienna, the Turkish leader Erdogan blasted Zionism as “a crime against humanity.” Ban Ki-moon, the U.N. secretary-general, sat on the stage with him, silent. Erdogan and Ban Ki-moon shared a stage in Davos, in 2009. Ban blasted Israel, though in indirect terms. Erdogan »

From the mixed-up files of Obama’s trusted friend

Featured image In his most recent verbal assault against Israel, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan has characterized Zionism as a crime against humanity along with anti-Semitism, fascism, and, of course, Islamophobia. Isn’t leaving homophobia off such a list itself a crime against humanity? Prime Minister Netanyahu has issued this concise response: “This is a dark and mendacious statement the likes of which we thought had passed from the world.” Netanyahu is constrained by »

How Arafat got away with murder

Featured image Yasser Arafat was responsible for the 1973 Black September operation in Khartoum that resulted in the murder of the American ambassador to Sudan (Cleo Noel) and his departing aide (Curt Moore). I read everything I could get my hands on about the operation for the Weekly Standard article “How Arafat got away with murder,” including key cables released by the State Department in the immediate aftermath of the murders. I »

The American Mind with Mark Helprin

Featured image The Claremont Institute continues its American Mind series with host Charles Kesler, editor of the Claremont Review of Books, and guest Mark Helprin. Helprin is the acclaimed novelist and observer of the contemporary scene. He has been a ferocious critic of our response to 9/11 in Afghanistan and Iraq. The institute posts the interview in segments on a weekly basis here. We are pleased to post the interview in its »

What’s News, and What Isn’t

Featured image The liberal media manifest their bias not primarily by writing things that aren’t true–although that sometimes happens–but rather, by selecting what they do and do not report as news. Major scandals and events of great importance are simply ignored if they do not reflect well on the Democratic Party, while minor stories receive endless attention if they advance the liberal agenda. You could illustrate this every day; here are a »

The Barry Rubin free books project

Featured image Barry Rubin is the learned historian and commentator on the Middle East who serves as director of Israel’s Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. In our Picks we frequently link to his online comments on current events posted online at The Rubin Report as well as PJ Media’s Rubin Report. The GLORIA Center has now posted 13 »

Giving them the rope: The ambassador explains

Featured image Here I’ve foolishly wondered why we’re giving Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood regime — you know, the one in which the President from the Brotherhood forced out the country’s top two military chiefs in order to consolidate his power over the armed forces — a slew of F-16s. If I’d only waited a few days, all would have become clear. At a ceremony marking the delivery of the first four F-16s to »