Who’s The Real Troublemaker In The Middle East?

Except for maybe the Affordable Care Act, nothing gets Republican politicians fired up like Iran.

In the first GOP debate alone, Scott Walker promised that he’d tear up the Iran nuclear deal on day one of his presidency. Carly Fiorina blamed the country for “most of the evil that is going on in the Middle East.” Mike Huckabee vowed to topple the “terrorist Iranian regime and defeat the evil forces of radical Islam.”

Oddly, when the candidates complain about the “evil forces of radical Islam” or trouble in the Middle East, they never seem to mention Saudi Arabia.

Iran’s no democratic paradise. But on many counts, Washington’s Saudi allies are even worse. The Saudi royals crush dissent with an iron fist, spread extremist ideology, and invade their neighbors with impunity.

Domestically, the Saudi regime oppresses women, religious minorities, and millions of foreign workers. And it brutally represses criticism from human rights activists, prompting condemnation from both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, for example, was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes just for writing a blog the government considered critical of its rule. Hundreds of political prisoners languish in prison — including Badawi’s lawyer, who was sentenced to 15 years for his role as a human rights attorney. New legislation effectively equates criticism of the government and other peaceful activities with terrorism.

Saudi women aren’t permitted to appear in public without adhering to a strict dress code. They need the approval of a male guardian to marry, travel, enroll in a university, or obtain a passport; and they’re prohibited from driving.

The penalties for defiance are steep.

Saudi Arabia has one of the highest execution rates in the world, killing scores of people each year for a range of offenses including adultery, apostasy, drug use, and sorcery. It’s conducted over 100 public beheadings this year alone.

Meanwhile, the Saudi monarchy has used its military and financial might to impose its will throughout the Middle East.

In 2011, Saudi tanks invaded neighboring Bahrain and brutally crushed that nation’s budding pro-democracy movement. Two years later, the Saudis backed a coup in Egypt that killed over 1,000 people and saw over 40,000 political dissidents thrown into squalid prisons.

In their latest military intervention, the Saudis have used American-made cluster bombs and F-15 fighter jets in a bombing campaign over Yemen that’s killed and injured thousands of civilians and created a severe humanitarian crisis.

All the while, they’ve helped export an extremist interpretation of Islam around the globe. Let’s not forget that 15 of the 19 hijackers who carried out the 9/11 attacks were Saudis, as well as Osama bin Laden himself.

Despite all these abuses, Saudi Arabia has been a key U.S. ally for decades. Why?

One reason is oil: Saudi Arabia is the world’s second largest producer, trailing only the United States itself.

Another is the arms trade: The country is the largest purchaser of American-made weapons. In 2010, the U.S. government concluded a $60.5 billion arms deal with the Saudis — the largest in history. This means that for years to come, U.S. weapons will be used by the Saudis to maintain their repressive rule and impose their will on neighboring countries.

A third reason, ironically, is Iran. Since 1979, Washington’s pursued a policy of building up the Saudi military as a counterweight to Iran’s revolutionary government.

For Republican presidential candidates, this primary season is all about vilifying Iran. While they beat up on the White House for making peace with America’s enemies, maybe voters should ask them more questions about America’s friends.

 

Medea Benjamin, the founder of CODEPINK and Global Exchange, is the author of Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control.

Originally distributed by OtherWords.org. 

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

The Religion Of Peace – The Sunni Version

“Islam will rule the Earth.” The following statement was made by an imam on July 6th at the al-Aqsa mosque located on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem:  

“From here, from the land of the Prophet’s nocturnal journey, armies will set out to conquer Rome, to conquer Constantinople once again, as well as its [modern] symbols, Washington and London. This is Allah’s promise to His Prophet: Islam will rule the entire Earth.”

The same sermon statement could probably be heard at most Sunni mosques in the world, including in the United States! Full conquest of the world by Islam is not a new concept brought forward by al-Qaeda or the Islamic State; it is a premise of the religion set forth by Mohammed himself. Jihad to conquer the non-Islamic areas is a Muslim duty and has been heavily financed by the rich Sunni states since the discovery of oil in their countries. When we hear of an Islamic act of terror, there is nearly a 100% probability that the perpetrator is a Sunni. I say “nearly” because there have been acts of terror against Israel by Shiite Muslims as well.

Why are most acts of terror committed by Sunni Muslims? Because of their willingness to kill not only infidels but Muslims who disagree with them, the Sunnis control 85% or 90% of the Islamic world through past violence. The Shia or Shiites are about 10%, with another 5% consisting of various smaller “apostate” groups. Iran is the only nation directly governed by Shiites; but they are also the majority in Iraq, Azerbaijan, and Bahrain. In Lebanon, they are the majority Muslim group — but the nation is one third Christian, which makes every group a minority. Iraq, Syria and Lebanon have officially secular governments. Saddam Hussein was a Sunni who repressed the majority Shia and fought a war with Shiite Iran that the United States supported.

Do you see a trend here? None of the 9/11 terrorists were Shiites. All were Sunni, and fifteen of the nineteen were well educated Saudi Arabian citizens.

Shiites subscribe to a different doctrine of jihad than Sunnis, believing that it can only be waged under the command of the rightful leader of the Muslim community, whom they call the Mahdi. Shiites believe that he went into hiding in the year 874, and that the collective duty to wage expansionist jihad is suspended until his return in the apocalyptic future. Keep in mind the word “suspended,” because if some nutcase can convince the Shiites he is the true twelfth imam, or Mahdi, they will join the Sunnis in expansionist jihad. Future world domination by Islam is still the core belief of both Sunni and Shia Muslims.  

While they are against expansionist jihad at the present time, Shiite scholars do affirm the right to wage defensive jihad against infidel invaders. Iran believes it can wage jihad against Israel because the Iranian leaders wrongly view that tiny nation as an “invader” on Arab territory. For that reason, Iran supports Hezbollah in Lebanon, which conducts terrorist activities against Israel. Iran also saw the presence of Western troops in Iraq as an “invasion” of Muslim territory and supplied bomb making materials to those killing American servicemen before the Obama withdrawal. Now, the new Shiite leaders of Iraq, whom the United States installed, are buddies with the Iranians. Iran has forces inside of Iraq helping to fight the Islamic State (ISIL), which is Sunni.

Right now, the Sunni royals of Saudi Arabia see the Shiites of Iran as their worst enemies, and vice versa. At the present time, the Obama Administration seems to be on both sides. President Obama just signed a nuclear deal with Iran that angered the Sunni Saudi royals; and at the same time, he has been arming and paying salaries to Sunni fighters in Syria that are trying to overthrow the Shiite-led secular government of President Assad. Then in Iraq, President Obama is supporting the Shiites to fight the Sunni-led Islamic State. This is a very confused presidency.

How confused? President Obama celebrated the end of Ramadan in July with a salute to Islam saying: “As Muslim Americans celebrate Eid across America, the holiday is a reminder to every American of the importance of respecting those of all faiths and beliefs.”

“Respecting those of all faiths and beliefs” with one of the greatest Ramadan body counts ever. According to TheReligionOfPeace.com, this is the summary of Ramadan mayhem in 2015: Terror attacks 314 – Suicide bombings 63 – Dead that we know of 2,988 – Wounded 3,696.

All of the Suicide bombers were Sunni Muslims, and virtually all the other terror attacks were at the hands of Sunni Muslims. Obama in his statement also talked about “… an abundance of delectable foods and aromatic cuisines,” but forgot to mention the smell of death. Obama and the Western media can color Islam lily white, but the stains of blood still show through.

Currently, there are shouts from Capitol Hill that “Iran is the greatest state sponsor of terror in the world.” Yet virtually all of the current Islamic terror in the world is caused by Sunni Muslims; and a lot of those who commit terrorist acts find funding from wealthy Saudi citizens, including the royal family.

Perhaps the blinders need to be taken off by those on Capitol Hill in both parties who pander to the Sunni Muslim despots who run the hell-hole of human rights abuses called Saudi Arabia. The same sanctions and boycotts the United States has used to cripple nations in the past should be applied to the Saudi royals until basic human rights such as freedom of speech and religion are permitted in that nation. Sunni terror must be stopped, and the heart of expansionist jihad is Saudi Arabia.

The most powerful nation in the world should not be bowing to and suppling human rights abusers and sponsors of terror with the modern weapons of war to bomb civilians in a neighboring nation. Let us treat Saudi Arabia for what it really is.

William J. Murray is chairman of the Washington, DC based Religious Freedom Coalition and project director of Christmas for Refugees.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

New Suez Canal Built In Record Time Expected To Give A Boost To Egypt’s Economy

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi (pictured above) seems to know how to get things done.

Under his leadership, Egypt has experienced economic growth–and foreign investors have returned to the country. Last week, a 35-kilometer long second Suez Canal was inaugurated after more than 9000 workers must have established a new world record in canal digging. The building of the canal took only one year instead of the expected three. The old 164 kilometer-long Suez Canal, which was built 146 years ago, took more than 10 years to complete. One could say that the speedy completion time made the new Suez Canal a wonder of the modern world as the pyramids were a wonder of the ancient world.

The new canal is expected to double the number of vessels passing through Egypt and is expected to nearly triple the revenues from the Suez Canal to $13 billion a year.

The $8 billion project was launched in August 2014 and was overseen by the army after President al-Sisi ordered the construction to be completed in one year.

The building of a massive international industrial and logistics complex near the new Suez Canal is expected to deliver a further boost to the Egyptian economy.

The revenues of the canal and the new projects are scheduled to count for up to one third of GDP in the near future.

The Egyptian government succeeded in financing the huge project without being totally dependent on large foreign investments. A substantial amount of the construction costs were covered by donations from Egyptian citizens and companies. The rest of the money came from government bonds and loans from banks. Egypt received money from the Gulf States, among them Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The inauguration of the canal took place during the same week when Saudi Arabia and Egypt signed an agreement to enhance military, economic and political cooperation.

President Al-Sisi and Saudi Defense Minister Mohammed Bin Salman issued the so-called “Cairo Declaration,” a six-point document that outlined the strengthening of the cooperation between the two countries as follows:

1. Development of military cooperation and working towards establishing the Joint Arab Force. 2. Enhancing the joint cooperation and investment between the two countries in the fields of energy, electricity, and transportation. 3. Achieving economic integration between the two countries and working on making them a key focus of the World Trade movement. 4. Intensifying mutual investments between Egypt and Saudi Arabia, aiming to increase joint projects in both countries. 5. Strengthening cooperation in the fields of politics, culture, and media in order to jointly counter the dangers of the current regional destabilisation. 6. Defining the maritime borders between the two countries.

The signing of the agreement has everything to do with the continuing turmoil in the Middle East–the rise of Islamic State as well as Iran’s regional hegemonic aspirations. Both countries feel threatened by Iran and its involvement in the wars in Yemen, Syria and Iraq. The establishment of a Joint Arab Force must be regarded as the Arab answer to the activities of the Iranian Al-Quds brigade of the IRGC.

The signing of the agreement doesn’t mean the two countries are on the same page in every aspect of Mideast politics.

For example, the recent reconciliation between Hamas and Saudi Arabia, after Hamas leader Khaled Mashal visited the Saudi capital of Riyadh last month, drew the ire of al-Sisi, who is engaged in a continuing crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood and its Palestinian branch (Hamas.) Egypt isn’t exactly thrilled either by the Saudi effort to establish a Sunni-axis that includes Turkey in order to oppose the Iranian-led Shiite axis. Al-Sisi doesn’t trust Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and won’t forgive him for supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas.

So the strengthening of the ties between Saudi Arabia and Egypt is a matter of ‘realpolitik’. Since the retreat of the United States as the sole superpower dominating the Middle East and the rise of Iran and Islamic State, Arab countries like Egypt and Saudi Arabia are looking for new partners.

China and Russia are partly filling the gap the U.S. left behind, and even cooperation with Israel is now suddenly no longer taboo.

The IDF and the Egyptian army are cooperating in the battle against Hamas and Wayilat Sinai–the Islamic State offshoot in the Sinai Peninsula–and al-Sisi sent a new ambassador to Israel after former Egyptian President Morsi severed ties with the Jewish State in November 2012.

In addition, President al-Sisi recently met with a delegation of the American Jewish Committee and has started to battle widespread anti-Semitism in Egypt. He became the first Egyptian president to embark on a campaign to change Egyptian attitudes toward Jews. During Ramadan, the historical TV drama ‘Jewish Quarter’ was broadcast on Egyptian state television. The program depicted the Muslim Brotherhood as a greater threat to unity in Egypt than the Jews–and even the ‘Zionists.’

As Western Journalism has reported, Egypt is regarded as one of the most anti-Semitic countries in the world. Even President al-Sisi was the subject of anti-Semitic rants when respected commentators suggested on TV that he was a Jew who was trying to implement a Zionist conspiracy to turn Egypt into a province of Israel.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Saudi Prince: Obama’s Agreement With Iran Worse Than Clinton’s North Korea Nuke Deal

Prince Bandar Bin Sultan Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud of Saudi Arabia sent a letter to the Washington Post in which he wrote that President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran is worse than the nuclear pact former President Bill Clinton made with North Korea. Prince Bandar Bin Sultan was Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States from 1981 to 2005.

His devastating critique of Obama’s policy toward Iran must be regarded as the official Saudi reaction to the nuclear agreement between Iran and six world powers. Until now, the Saudi rulers have been very careful not to openly criticize the deal. King Salman has remained silent since the announcement of the agreement, and the only official reaction came from an unidentified Saudi official who told CNN that the deal was a “monumental historical miscalculation.”

President Obama discussed the nuclear agreement with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir on Friday. The White House later claimed that the Saudi FM had welcomed the agreement with Iran.

Prince Bandar wrote in his letter that he does not agree with the pundits who are saying “Obama’s deal with Iran stirs a déjà vu of President Clinton’s 1994 nuclear agreement with North Korea.”

“President Clinton made his decision based on a strategic foreign policy analysis, top-secret intelligence and a desire to save the people of North Korea from starvation induced by its leadership,” Prince Bandar wrote.

“It turned out that the strategic foreign policy analysis was wrong. If Mr. Clinton had known about the major intelligence failure, he would have made a different decision.” Mr. Obama made his decision on the Iran nuclear deal aware that the strategic foreign policy analysis, the national intelligence information and intelligence from U.S. allies in the region predict a worse outcome than in North Korea — and Iran will have access to billions of dollars.

He continued:

This deal will wreak havoc in the Middle East, which is already a disastrous environment. Iran is a major player in the destabilization of the region. Why would Mr. Obama go ahead with such a deal with Iran? It is definitely not because Mr. Obama is not smart enough, because he is. He must believe that what he is doing is right. Still, I am convinced that my good friend Henry Kissinger was correct when he said, “America’s enemies should fear America, but America’s friends should fear America more.”

“People in my region now are relying on God’s will and consolidating their local capabilities and analyses with everyone except (for) our oldest and most powerful ally.”

His remark about the people in the region now “consolidating their local capabilities” should be taken as a warning that Saudi Arabia could now go nuclear as well. The Saudi threat contradicts what President Obama claimed last week after the announcement of the nuclear deal with Iran. Obama said during an address to the nation that his administration “has stopped the spread of nuclear weapons” in the Middle East.

As Western Journalism reported earlier, Saudi Arabia has for a long time cooperated with Pakistan on the nuclear issue and is providing financial support for Pakistan’s nuclear program.

In March, after the announcement of the Lausanne interim agreement between six world powers and Iran, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan visited Saudi Arabia and reportedly discussed nuclear cooperation between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. At the same time, Saudi Arabia signed a nuclear deal with President Park of South Korea. South Korea will build two nuclear reactors in the Kingdom.

“Sharif’s visit to Riyadh came after Pakistan’s Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Rashid Mahmoud attended a series of top-level meetings with Saudi leaders about nuclear cooperation at the beginning of February. Business Insider reported at the time that Saudi Arabia and Pakistan could have renewed a secret nuclear weapons pact during Mahmoud’s visit and an earlier visit by PM Sharif at the end of January,” we reported at the time.

In May, Western Journalism reported that Saudi Arabia already might have purchased an “off the shelf” nuclear weapon from Pakistan. An anonymous U.S. official was the source of the report. He said: ”There has been a longstanding agreement in place with the Pakistanis (over nuclear weapons) and the House of Saud has now made the strategic decision to move forward.”

The Wall Street Journal interviewed Prince Faisal bin Saud bin Abdulmohsen, a scholar at the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies in the Saudi capital, at the same time.

“Our allies aren’t listening to us, and this is what is making us extremely nervous,” he said.

“If I am basing my judgment on the track record and our experience with Iran, I will say they will do anything in their power to get a nuclear weapon. A delay of 10 years is not going to satiate anything.”

“Should Iran gain the ability to produce weapons-grade uranium and ability to deploy such weapons,” developing a Saudi capability in response “would be considered as part of our homeland security,” he told the Wall Street Journal

The sense of abandonment by the U.S. described by Prince Bandar will force Saudi Arabia to develop its own strategies together with other regional opponents of Iran such as Egypt, Jordan, and even Israel.

Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu is said to have secret contacts with Saudi Arabia, and Israeli and Saudi officials have met at least five times since the beginning of the year to discuss the Iranian threat.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Khamenei Mouthpiece Kayhan: U.S. Will Cease To Be Visible On World Map

While U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, missed another deadline to close a deal about Iran’s nuclear program on Friday, millions of Iranians gathered for the traditional Al-Quds Day manifestations.

Al-Quds Day was established by the late Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979 for Muslims to rally against the existence of Israel and for the ‘liberation’ of al-Quds (Arabic for Jerusalem). The controversial holiday is internationally observed by millions of Muslims on the last Friday of Ramadan, the month-long Muslim fast.

This time, demonstrators not only chanted “Death to America” and “Death to Israel,” but they also displayed a caricature of King Salman of Saudi Arabia–whose head was depicted morphing into a Star of David and topped by a Stars and Stripes yarmulke.

Others burned the Stars and Stripes and the Israeli flag, and children were dressed up in camouflage gear. Some of them wore the traditional Yasser Arafat-style kaffiyeh on their heads.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was one of the leaders who attended the festivities. “With unity, resistance, jihad and sacrifice, the Muslims, including the Palestinian people, will reach their lofty goals,” he wrote on his website. He also blamed “the Zionist regime and the Global Arrogance (an Iranian nickname for the USA) for bankrolling the strife in the Muslim world.”

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the Iranian Supreme Leader’s mouthpiece, Kayhan, made clear what Rouhani meant by “lofty goals.”

The editor of Kayhan, who is appointed by Khamenei, denied the Holocaust ever happened and boasted that the Islamic Revolution of 1979 busted the myth of the Holocaust. He also wrote that “Al-Quds day has helped to heighten the resolve of the Palestinians to continue their culture of resistance; isolate Israel and its chief supporter the United States; give hope to the Palestinians in their resolve to form a new unity government; stop the ongoing Israeli war crimes in Gaza; draw the attention of certain Arab/Islamic states towards the dangers of normalization of ties with Israel.”

Khamenei’s mouthpiece also had a message for the United States: “…(T)he United States of America (USA), which currently terrorizes humanity as the sole superpower, will one fine day cease to be visible on the map of the world.”

Khamenei spoke on Saturday about the continuing fight against the United States during a meeting with students.

“Get ready to continue your fight against the global arrogance. The US is the true embodiment of the global arrogance,” the Supreme leader said in response to a question about what would happen when the talks to curb the country’s nuclear program were successful.

The same message appeared later on Khamenei’s Twitter account:

During the same meeting with students, Khamenei emphasized that Iran’s refusal to accept an “arrogant system” is the main reason behind the alleged world bullying powers’ hostility towards the Iranian nation.

Ayatollah Khamenei added that, based on Quranic principles, the campaign against arrogance will never stop.

He also pointed to Iran’s “astonishing and spiritual presence and influence” in the region, which have incurred the wrath of ‘Saudi aggressors.’

Khamenei said that Saudi Arabia and its allies have been pounding Yemen and brutally killing the innocent and oppressed Yemeni people over the past 100 days, mainly due to Iran’s influence in the region.

“Despite claims, the influence of Islamic Iran in the region is a God-given gift,” the Supreme Leader claimed.

Khamenei added that the U.S. and reactionary states of the region admit to Iran’s regional influence in their covert talks, but also that they can do nothing about it.

The news about the aggressive statements by Iranian leaders apparently didn’t reach the White House and Secretary of State John Kerry, who is leading the negotiation team that tries to reach a permanent agreement about Iran’s nuclear program in Vienna.

The negotiations continued unabated, and no White House official reacted to the words of Rouhani and Khamenei.

Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu was the only leader who did react to the events in Iran during Al-Quds Day. He said that apparently, “nothing can stop the deal if the ‘Death to America’ chants didn’t kill the talks.”

“If the concessions continued even after these unequivocal calls for the destruction of those conducting the negotiations, it seems that there are those who are ready to make an agreement at any price – and this bad agreement is unavoidable,” Netanyahu said on Monday.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth