Archive for November, 2011

Funds and Refiners Ponder oil Armageddon, War on Iran

November 30, 2011 Leave a comment

Oil consuming nations, hedge funds and big oil refineries are quietly preparing for a Doomsday scenario: An attack on Iran that would halt oil supplies from OPEC’s second-largest producer.

Most political analysts and oil traders say the probability of military action is low, but they caution the risks of such an event have risen as the West and Israel grow increasingly alarmed by signs that Tehran is building nuclear weapons.

That has Chinese refiners drawing up new contingency plans, hedge funds taking out options on $170 crude, and energy experts scrambling to determine how a disruption in Iran’s oil supply –
– however remote the possibility — would impact world markets.

With production of about 3.5 million barrels per day, Iran supplies 2.5 percent of the world’s oil.

“I think the market has paid too little attention to the possibility of an attack on Iran. It’s still an unlikely event, but more likely than oil traders have been expecting,” says Bob McNally, once a White House energy advisor and now head of consultancy Rapidan Group.

Rising tensions were clear this week as Iranian protesters stormed two British diplomatic missions in Tehran in response to sanctions, smashing windows and burning the British flag.

The attacks prompted condemnation from London, Washington and the United Nations. Iran warned of “instability in global security.”

While traders in Europe prepare for a possible EU boycott of imports from Iran, mounting evidence elsewhere points to long-odds preparation for an even more severe outcome.

In Beijing, the foreign ministry has asked at least one major Iranian crude oil importer to review its contingency planning in case Iranian shipments stop.

In India, refiners are leafing through an unpublished report produced in March to look at fall-back options in the event of a major disruption.

And the International Energy Agency, the club of industrialized nations founded after the Arab oil embargo that coordinated the release of emergency oil stocks during Libya’s civil war, last week circulated to member countries an updated four-page factsheet detailing Iran’s oil industry and trade.

The document, not made public but obtained by Reuters, lists the vital statistics of Iran’s oil sector, including destinations by country. Two-thirds of its exports are shipped to China, India, Japan and South Korea; a fifth goes to the European Union.

Hedge funds, particularly those with a global macro-economic bias, have taken note, and are buying deep out-of-the-money call options that could pay off big if prices surge, senior market sources at two major banks said.

Open interest in $130 and $150 December 2012 options for U.S. crude oil on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) rose by over 20 percent last week. Interest in the $170 call more than doubled to over 11,000 lots, or 11 million barrels. Still more traded over-the-counter, sources say.

McNally says that oil prices could surge as high as $175 a barrel if the Strait of Hormuz — conduit for a fifth of the world’s oil supply, including all of Iran’s exports — is shut in.


This month’s speculation of an attack on Iran is the most intense since 2007, when reports showing that Iran had not halted uranium enrichment work fuelled speculation that President George W. Bush could launch some kind of action during his last year in office. Those fears helped fuel a 36 percent rise in oil prices in the second half of the year.

The latest anxiety was set off by the International Atomic Energy Agency’s November 8 report citing “credible” information that Iran had worked on designing an atomic bomb. A new round of sanctions followed, including the possibility that Europe could follow the United States in banning imports.

That alone would roil markets, but ultimately would likely just drive discounted crude sales to other consumers like China.

A more alarming — if more remote — possibility would be an attack by Israel, which has grown increasingly alarmed by the possibility of a nuclear-armed Iran. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on November 19 that it was a matter of months, not years, before it would be too late to stop Tehran.

In that context, every tremor has been unnerving for markets. Some experts say an explosion at an Iranian military base earlier in the month was the work of Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency. An unusually large tender by Israel’s main electricity supplier to buy distillate fuel raised eyebrows, although it was blamed on a shortage of natural gas imports.

No country has more reason to be concerned than China, which now gets one-tenth of its crude imports from Iran. Shipments have risen a third this year to 547,000 barrels per day as other countries including Japan reduce their dependence. Sinopec, Asia’s top refiner, is the world’s largest Iranian crude buyer.

The Foreign Ministry and the National Development and Reform Commission, which effectively oversees the oil sector, have asked companies that import the crude to prepare contingency plans for a major disruption in supply, a source with a state-owned company told Reuters.

The precautionary measure preceded the latest geopolitical angst and is broadly in line with Beijing’s growing concern over its dependence on imported energy. Earlier this year it issued a notice for firms to prepare for disruptions from Yemen.

But the focus has sharpened recently, the source said.

“The plan is not particularly for the tension this time, but it seems the government is paying exceptionally great attention to it this time,” said the source on condition of anonymity.

In India, which gets 12 percent of its imports from Iran, refiners had a potential preview of coming events when the country’s central bank scrapped a clearing house system last December, forcing refiners to scramble to arrange other means of payment in order to keep crude shipments flowing.

That incident — in addition to the Arab Spring uprising and the Japanese earthquake — prompted the government to document a brief but broad strategy for handling major disruptions.

The document, which has not been reported in detail, says that India could sustain fuel supplies to the market in the event of an import stoppage for about 30 days thanks to domestic storage, and would turn to unconventional and heavier imported crude as a fall-back.

It also urged the country’s state-owned refiners to work on developing domestic storage facilities for major OPEC suppliers, consider hiring supertankers to use as floating storage and to sign term deals to price crude on a delivered basis, a copy of the document seen by Reuters shows.

The government has not tasked refiners with additional preparations this month, industry sources say. And in any event, there’s not much they could do.

“If they cut supplies we will be left with no option than to buy from the spot market or from other Middle East suppliers,” said a senior official with state-run MRPL, Iran’s top India client.

To be sure, there’s only so much any refiner can do. The gap left by Iran will trigger a frenzy of buying on the spot market for substitute barrels, likely leading the IEA to release emergency reserves, as it did following the civil war in Libya, or other countries like Saudi Arabia to step into the breach.

“We probably need to do this ASAP but are putting our heads in the sand so far,” said one oil trader in Europe.

For refiners like Italy’s Eni and Hellenic Petroleum, the most pressing issue is not necessarily an unexpected outage but an import boycott imposed by their government. France has won limited support for such an embargo, but faces resistance from some nations that fear it could inflict more economic damage.

Unlike in 2007, there’s not yet much evidence that a significant geopolitical risk premium is being factored into prices.

European benchmark Brent crude oil has rallied 4 percent in the past two days, partly due to accelerating discussion of a Europen boycott as well as Tuesday’s unrest in Tehran, during which protesters stormed two British diplomatic compounds.

But it is also down 4 percent since the IAEA’s November 8 report. Analysts say that it’s impossible to extract any Iran-specific pricing from a host of other recently supportive factors, including new hope to end Europe’s debt crisis, strong global distillate demand and upbeat U.S. consumer data.

“I don’t think there’s very much evidence (of an Iran premium),” says Ed Morse, global head of commodities research at Citigroup and a former State Department energy policy adviser.

And he does not see an attack as likely: “I think it’s a low probability event. Maybe higher than a year ago, but still low.”

But that is not stopping some from looking ahead. Oil prices would likely spike to at least $140 a barrel if Israel attacked Iran, according to the most benign of four scenarios put forward this week by Greg Sharenow, a portfolio manager at bond house PIMCO and a former Goldman Sachs oil trader.

He refused to predict a limit for prices under the most extreme “Doomsday” scenario in which disruptions spread beyond Iran and the Straits of Hormuz is blocked.

With that in mind, hedge funds are buying cheap options in a punt on an extreme outage. For about $1,500 per contract, a buyer can get the right to deliver a December 2012 futures contract at $150 a barrel; even if prices do not rise that high, the value of the options contract could increase tenfold.

The spark of demand for upside price protection this month is an abrupt reversal from most of this year, when the bias was toward puts that would hedge the risk of economic calamity.

“The kind of put skew we were seeing in the last three to six months was remarkable with people preparing for disaster – the Planet of the Apes trade, another massive market crash,” says Chris Thorpe, executive director of global energy derivatives at INTL FC Stone.

“Only in the last three or four weeks has there been increased call buying.”

Options remain relatively costly compared to earlier in the year, with implied volatility — a measure of option cost — of 43 percent above this year’s average of just below 35 percent, the CBOE Oil Volatility index shows.

But nonetheless it’s clear that for some funds the potential upside of violence in Iran means that interest is increasing.

Says Thorpe: “It’s at the back of people’s minds.”

Jonathan Leff – (Reuters)
Nov 30, 2011

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Time for the West to Shut all its Embassies in Iran

November 30, 2011 Leave a comment

An Iranian mob’s ransacking of the British embassy compound in Tehran suggests that 2011 is the new 1979. Then, as now, Iranian actions were far from spontaneous. The take-over of the American embassy in 1979 was actually the second time Iranians had breached that compound. What led to the students turning a 48-hour vigil into a 444 day ordeal?

On November 5, 1979, a Carter national security aide—most probably Gary Sick, who had the Iran account in the National Security Council—leaked to the Boston Globe that the Carter administration had taken a military response off the
table. When Iranian officials read that thenext day, they concluded that they could up their demands and hold the hostages for the long-haul.

While fault for the latest incident lays 100 percent with the Iranian regime, the British government should have seen this latest embassy attack coming: The Iranian government refuses to respect the inviolability of diplomatic property. Why should they, after all, when they repeatedly reap rewards for their defiance?

The British embassy is especially vulnerable because the Iranian regime does not take the British government seriously. In Iraq, the Iranians laughed at Britain’s much vaunted softly-softly approach. While British officials chided their American counterparts for reacting to insurgency with force, the British famously just bent over and thought of the Queen. Under British supervision, Basra became a safe-haven for both Muqtada al-Sadr’s radical militia and the Iranian-trained Badr Corps. 

If the Iranians had any doubts about messing with the British, these were resolved on a spring day back in 2007 when Iranian guardsmen captured, disarmed, and humiliated their British counterparts. While the British tried to dismiss that as a rogue occurrence, it was anything but: Two days before, against the backdrop of allied efforts to sanction Iran at the UN Security Council, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei declared, “If they take illegal actions [such as sanctioning our nuclear program], we, too, can take illegal actions and will do so.” And, indeed, he did.

If the British are going to earn Iranian respect, they must lay down the law and punish Iran for its actions. The West must isolate Iran until its government seeks penance for all its violations of diplomatic norms. It’s time the West shutters all its embassies in Tehran.

There is good news, however. The Iranians have finally shown their hand: They may dismiss the efficacy of sanctions, but they certainly seem afraid of new sanctions. Now that Tehran has shown sanctions hurt, perhaps it’s time to pile on and grind Iran’s banking sector to a halt. After all, what will Iran do to protest? Seize Zimbabwe’s embassy?

Michael Rubin
Nov 29, 2011

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Syria: Military Intervention

November 29, 2011 Leave a comment
Opposition delegation of the Syrian National Council, led by Chairman
Burhan Ghalioun, attend a news conference 

After nine months of brutal repression that has killed over 3,500 people—the vast majority being nonviolent protestors—Syrian opposition groups are escalating the frequency and variety of their demands for international military support. What form that external intervention might take, what the intended military and political objectives would be, and what countries may contribute, remain altogether unclear.

On Thursday, Colonel Riyadh al-Assad, chief of the Free Syrian Army (FSA)—an armed opposition group of reportedly 15,000 Syrian soldiers who defected—explained:

“We are not in favor of the entry of foreign troops as was the case in Iraq but we want the international community to give us logistical support. We also want international protection, the establishment of a no-fly zone, a buffer zone and strikes on certain strategic targets considered as crucial by the regime.”

Col. Al-Assad has also repeatedly requested that other countries supply weapons to his militia.

Al-Assad’s statements are indicative of an increasing trend of Syrian opposition members—or foreign activists lobbying on their behalf—making selective demands of outsiders to provide military support, albeit on their own terms.

This represents the trend toward “intervention a la carte,” whereby overhead surveillance assets, logistical enablers, peacekeepers, armed drones, combat aircraft, ground troops, or smuggled weapons are demanded and presumably applied as opposition movements see fit.

This has been particularly evident in the public discussions on whether a no-fly zone (NFZ) should be imposed over Syria. An anonymous twenty-five year old FSA member boasted, “The [Assad] regime would only last thirty days” with a NFZ. Another FSA member, Lt. Col. Abdullah Yousef,claimed, “If there is such a zone, the regime will not last for a week.” Such wishful thinking is reminiscent of statements by Abdel Hafeez Goga, the deputy chief of the Libyan rebels’ Transitional National Council, who—before the western intervention—mistakenly believed, “We are capable of controlling all of Libya, but only after the no-fly zone is imposed.”

NFZs have the dual benefits of applying coercive pressure on a targeted regime while simultaneously allowing an opposition movement to claim that its uprising is free of foreign footprints on the ground. In Syria, however—as was true in Libya—a NFZ becomes irrelevant when civilians are mainly attacked by tanks and snipers on the ground. As the State Department spokesperson pointed out earlier this month, “What a no-fly zone does in a situation like that is not particularly clear.” Warnings from a Libyan doctor on the eve of NATO’s intervention also apply to Syria: “This no-fly zone doesn’t mean anything to us because Qaddafi only had a few planes and they were doing nothing. We need a no-drive zone because it is tanks and snipers that are killing us.”

Likewise, Syrian opposition groups do not agree on the intended objectives of international military support. All of the groups endorse President Assad’s downfall, including the Syrian National Council, which lists “toppling of the regime” as a founding goal. Yet, rather than simply acknowledging that outside intervention is to help assure regime change, each group claims that they only need support to protect civilians. Although this strategy makes sense after Libya demonstrated that a regime change double-team by domestic and external forces is a resource intensive, uncertain, and open ended commitment, it is impossible to distinguish between the two intertwined objectives. This was summarized in an interview with Burhan Ghalioun, the purported SNC spokesperson, when asked: “Is the international protection you are demanding intended to protect civilians or to topple the regime?” Ghalioun replied:

“Our goal is to protect civilians. Toppling the regime is the task of the Syrian people, not foreign forces. But protection would certainly help sustain the revolution and expand the base of those participating in it.”

Finally, apparently beggars can be choosers, as Syrian opposition groups are also selective about which countries should participate in the intervention. An elder statesman of the opposition, Haitham al-Maleh, initially called for NATO to intervene under the principle of R2P, but laterclarified his position:“I do not and did not agree to NATO intervention…NATO means America and I’m against that.” Lt. Salem Odeh, a Syrian army defector, noted: “I just hope there will be Turkish military intervention. It’s better, and they have longstanding blood ties from old times, and they are closer to the East than West.” An exiled Muslim Brotherhood member agreed: “If other interventions are required, such as air protection…then the people will accept Turkish intervention. They do not want Western intervention.” Another, more tolerant, activist in Deir al-Zour welcomed the idea that “Arab governments should make a no-fly zone over Syria.”

Before NATO, Turkey (a NATO member, by the way), or “Arab governments” intervene in Syria, they must provide a plausible explanation as to how military force can succeed in civilian protection and/or regime change. Moreover, given the competing and disjointed demands among Syrian opposition groups, any intervention force should explain why it has privileged the interests of one group over another. Even then, the likelihood of the intervention succeeding is uncertain. The notion that external military force is an easily controlled tool that can be applied piecemeal to assure regime change is dubious. Nonetheless, if the level of violence against the civilian population worsens, and diplomatic and economic sanctions fail to compel a change in Assad’s behavior, it is an option that must be debated and considered.

Micah Zenko
Nov 28, 2011

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IRI Thugs & Ruffians Storm British Embassy

November 29, 2011 Leave a comment

IRI Thugs and Ruffians stormed British diplomatic compounds in Tehran, smashing windows, hurling petrol bombs and burning the British flag in a protest against sanctions imposed by Britain.

U.S. State Dept. on Jailed Afghan Rape Victim

November 28, 2011 Leave a comment

In 2009, 18-year old Gulnaz was raped, impregnated as a result of the rape, and subsequently put in prison for adultery. Gulnaz (who was a virgin and unmarried) was raped by her cousin’s husband. She along with her baby daughter, who was born in prison, have been imprisoned for almost two years. She has been victimized and told that the only way for her to maintain her honor and to secure her & her daughter’s release out of prison was for her to marry the man who raped her.

U.S. State Dept. on jailed Afghan rape victim: “We expect Afghan prosecutors to properly apply the law while also upholding Gulnaz’s rights”.

Here is the problem: even at face value, the statement is vague and non-committal, but while those words would mean one thing in the American legal system, they mean quite another in Afghanistan. Officials surely believed they were properly applying the law and upholding Gulnaz’ “rights.” The question becomes: whose law is being applied? Sharia is enshrined as the highest law of the land in Afghanistan according to the current constitution.

Women like Gulnaz who make allegations of rape may be expected to produce four witnesses in accordance with the Qur’an’s standards for proving a sexual crime (24:13), or they run the risk that all they have done is admitted to having sex.

The ridiculous burden of proof for establishing the crime of rape is a major reason why Gulnaz and so many others like her are in jail. Indeed, half of the women in Afghan jails are there for “moral crimes.” Communities in Afghanistan are enforcing Sharia, and Kabul will not contradict them.

An update on this story. “Nearly 5,000 sign petition calling for release of Afghan rape victim,” by Nick Paton Walsh for CNN, November 27:

Kabul (CNN) — Afghan President Hamid Karzai received a petition Sunday with nearly 5,000 names endorsing a plea for the immediate release of a rape victim who has been jailed because of her attack and is being forced to marry her rapist.

Kim Motley, a lawyer for 21-year-old Gulnaz, said the palace received the petition, which gathered 4,751 names in just over 48 hours, on Sunday afternoon. The petition comes with an official plea for clemency addressed to the president, who has the power to immediately pardon Gulnaz, currently in jail for adultery because her attacker was married at the time of the attack.

Gulnaz was sentenced to 12 years after the attack as her rapist was married though that term was recently reduced to three years.

Gulnaz’s plight gained international attention when the European Union blocked the broadcast of a documentary made about her ordeal saying that it would further jeopardize her safety.

Gulnaz was raped two years ago by her cousin’s husband but did not immediately report the attack, fearing reprisals from elements of Afghanistan’s conservative society. Yet she conceived a child from the rape, and went to police after showing signs of pregnancy.

She is now raising the daughter in jail and has agreed to marry her attacker in order to be released and legitimize her daughter. She also fears attack from her rapist’s relatives, something he denies is a risk.

A spokesman for the attorney general, Rahmatullah Naziri, told CNN last week that her sentence had been reduced to three years, leaving about a year to serve. He explained that while the original sentence for adultery was reduced, she had failed to report her rape quickly enough and would have to serve further time in jail for that offense.

No trial, apparently; just another alleged crime and more prison time tacked on.

The U.S. State Department, while not explicitly calling for Gulnaz’s release, said in a statement Thursday: “Gulnaz’s situation is one no woman should have to face. Our heartfelt condolences go out to Gulnaz and her young daughter. We expect Afghan prosecutors to properly apply the law while also upholding Gulnaz’s rights.”


Nov 28, 2011

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Halal USA

November 28, 2011 Leave a comment

Back on March 1, 2010, almost 2 years ago I wrote,“What is happening here is no different than what happened in Europe. Well, maybe a bit different, I think, because in Europe Sharia was creeping into the society and here it is steamrolling.”

No matter how many examples I give, no matter how much occurs day after day in this country, there are still those that say “Creeping Sharia, is not happening here”.

Well, I guess that’s true, it’s not ‘creeping’. According to one dictionary the word ‘creep’ is defined as, to approach slowly, imperceptibly, or stealthily. When it comes to Sharia in the U.S., there is nothing slow, imperceptible or stealthy about it. It’s in our face every day and now it’s even the food we buy and it’s becoming more so daily.

What do the companies Costco, Wal-Mart, Whole Foods, Kentucky Fried Chicken, McDonalds and Subway all have in common? They all serve or sell ‘Halal’ foods in some, or even all of their locations. If you don’t care you may want to re-think it.

First let’s examine exactly what ‘Halal’ means and for that we can go right to the source. According to the Halal Food Authority website,

The word ‘halal’ literally means permissible- and in translation it is usually used as lawful.

The Halal food Authority rules for halal are based on Islamic Sharia. Opposite to halal is haram, which means unlawful or forbidden.

Put plainly and simply, ‘Halal’ is part of ‘Sharia’ law or Islamic law.

Devout Muslims eat ‘Halal’ just as many Jews eat ‘Kosher’ and many Catholics don’t eat meat on Fridays during Lent. But the question remains, why are so many American companies selling or serving Halal even in the areas where Muslims are well below the minority?

A study by Pew,“The Future of the Global Muslim Population” from earlier this year states that Muslims in the U.S. make up only 2.6 million or .08 percent of the overall population.

Of course, depending on where you live that number may be higher or lower. For example, the area of the U.S. that I live in, Muslims make up only .02 percent of the population. So why does my local Costco sell Halal meats and poultry?

When asked, the Costco Management said they are “selling to their base”. Really? When asked if the sales of their meats or poultry have gone up since they started carrying Halal foods, the answer was a simple “no, it’s about the same.” When asked, then why bother to sell it at all, the answer was “the decision was made at a corporate level.”

It would seem then to me, that they are not really selling to their base, but rather folding under pressure from Muslim organizations such as CAIR (the Council on American Islamic Relations) that often use their minority status to their benefit. If you don’t “cater” to the Muslims then you are labeled a racist, a bigot or Islamophobe and threatened with being ostracized by the mainstream media who will gladly portray you and your company as such and play it 24/7.

I say this for several reasons, but the most obvious would be the population of another minority, Jews in America. According to a 2010 report by the North American Jewish Data Bank, Jews in the U.S. numbered over 6.5 million or 2.1 percent of the overall population.

Getting back to where I live, the Jewish and Muslim population is very close in number. Yet, if I want to purchase Kosher food, I have to pre-order it from a Kosher Butcher once a month who then drives from a neighboring state hundreds of miles away and meets those buying his meats in the parking lot of a local synagogue.

But here is the real interesting part. Muslims are permitted to eat both Kosher as well as non-Kosher foods. That is not opinion, but rather written in the Quran in Surah 5:5,

This day are (all) things good and pure made lawful unto you. The food of the People of the Book is lawful unto you and yours is lawful unto them.

People of the book, yes that would be the food of both the Jews and Christians are allowed or ‘lawful’ for Muslims, yet it does not work the other way around (even though the Quran says it is so).

Some Imam’s and Muslims will tell you they are not allowed to eat non-Halal, my question in response, “what did Muslims eat prior to Halal food being available here in the U.S.?”

There used to be a Kosher butcher in my town, he served both Jews and Muslims until 9/11. After 9/11 the Imam at the local Mosque told his members to no longer support “Jewish owned stores” and the Kosher butcher went out of business shortly thereafter because without the local Muslim population as patrons, he no longer sold enough to remain open.

It’s humorous that according to the Quran, both Jews and Christians are allowed to eat their food, but according to the book that matters, that is totally false and forbidden. Anything connected to idolatry or idol worship is forbidden both in Biblical text and in rabbinic law as explained in Exodus 20:3-5

3. You shall not have the gods of others in My presence.
4. You shall not make for yourself a graven image or any likeness which is in the heavens above, which is on the earth below, or which is in the water beneath the earth.
5. You shall neither prostrate yourself before them nor worship them, for I, the Lord, your God, am a zealous God, Who visits the iniquity of the fathers upon the sons, upon the third and the fourth generation of those who hate Me

Kosher is far from Halal. Aside from both Jews and Muslims not eating pork there are many foods that Muslims can eat that Jews cannot. The overall preparation of Kosher is different than that of Halal, the mixing of meat and milk is totally forbidden by Kosher Jews, but not Halal. Muslims can eat shell fish, Kosher Jews cannot, I could go on and on, but the bottom line is they are far from even being close to the same.

When it comes to the slaughter of the animal, Halal is where both Jews and Christians should have issue. Again, according to the Halal Food Authority website in order for an animal to be slaughtered according to Halal, the butcher must be facing Mecca and recite the “shahada or tasmiya, Bismillah Allahu Akbar” while the animal is killed.

So what does this mean to Christians who make up approximately 84 percent of the population? For this question I consulted my friend Pastor Scott Stewart, MA. Pastor Stewart holds both a BA and a M.A. in Middle Eastern History and is currently completing his PhD.

According to Pastor Stewart,

As Gentiles were beginning to accept Jesus as the Jewish Messiah and thereby were now connected to the Jewish faith through that acceptance a set of rules were put into place; not for the purpose of salvation but for inclusion into the greater body of Judaism. The rules set upon for the Gentiles are known Theologically as the “Noahide Laws” and Acts 15:28-29 provides a synopsis of those laws:

“For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves ye shall do well…”

Based upon the scriptural prohibition given to us in Acts 15 Christians are prohibited from consuming any meats that may have been offered up to idols, which would most certainly include any Islamic certified “Halal” meat. As it is commonly known “Halal” meat is meat that has been set aside, consecrated and offered to the god of Islam making it unfit for either Jewish or Christian consumption.

There is another side to the “idol” point as well. Mecca, Saudi Arabia is home to the ‘Black Stone’ known in Arabic as al-Ḥajar al-Aswad. This rock is the eastern cornerstone of the Kaaba, the ancient stone building towards which Muslims pray, in the center of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

During the yearly ritual of the ‘Hajj’ Muslim pilgrims circle the Kaaba to stop and kiss the Black Stone, emulating the kiss that it received from Muhammad, according to Islamic tradition. The website Sacred Sites offers this explanation of the black stone,

Whatever its ultimate origin, the stone was most probably a sacred object of the pre-Islamic Arabian nomads who had settled around the Zamzam spring that flows at the center of old Mecca. Upon completion of the Ka’ba, Abraham and Ishmael, accompanied by the archangel Gabriel, then performed all the elements which constitute the Hajj ritual of today.

According to the original words of Muhammad, the Hajj pilgrimage is the fifth of the fundamental Muslim practices known as the ‘Five Pillars of Islam’. The Hajj is an obligation to be performed at least once by all male and female adults whose health and finances permit it.

Entering the great Mosque in Mecca, the pilgrim first walks seven times around the Ka’ba shrine in a counterclockwise direction; this ritual is called turning, or tawaf. Next, entering into the shrine, the pilgrim kisses the sacred stone.

So in order for an animal to be slaughtered according to halal, it or the butcher must be facing Mecca and the Black stone, the very definition of idol worship.

Just 2 days ago Ahlul Bayt News Agency (ABNA) reported that an Australian Member of Parliament, Luke Simpkins, told the Parliament,

“By having Australians unwittingly eating Halal food we are all one step down the path towards the conversion, and that is a step we should only make with full knowledge and one that should not be imposed upon us without us knowing.”

Mr. Simpkins said he had carried out an unofficial survey in his northern-suburbs electorate of Cowan and had discovered that most meat at major chains such as Coles or Woolworths had been killed under Halal conditions, but had not been labeled as such.

He tabled a petition demanding that all Halal meat be clearly identified, complaining people could not buy meat for their “Aussie barbecue” without the influence of the “minority religion”.

Mr. Simpkins said that Prophet Mohammed (s.a.w.w) had talked of how Islam could be expanded around the world by getting people to eat Halal meat. “He reportedly said, ‘The non-believers will become Muslims when, amongst other things, they eat the meat that we have slaughtered’. This is one of the key aspects to converting non-believers to Islam,” Mr. Simpkins said.

The petition tabled by Mr. Simpkins had been organised by the Barnabas Fund, an organisation that supports Christians living in Muslim countries.

The Barnabas Fund’s halal petition states: “The spread of halal is part of a Muslim commitment to Islamic mission (dawa) and the Islamisation of non-Muslim societies. The imposition of sharia practices on non-Muslims may be interpreted as an assertion of Islamic supremacy.”

Once again we must only look overseas to see where we in the U.S. are headed. Right now we can see the ‘Halal’ labels on our food, but how long before we are facing the same situation as Australia and not knowing?

I guess it all depends on if you care if what you are eating is halal. After all, you are what you eat. Contributing Editor Gadi Adelman is a freelance writer and lecturer on the history of terrorism and counterterrorism. He grew up in Israel, studying terrorism and Islam for 35 years after surviving a terrorist bomb in Jerusalem in which 7 children were killed. Since returning to the U. S., Gadi teaches and lectures to law enforcement agencies as well as high schools and colleges. He can be heard every Thursday night at 8PM est. on his own radio show “America Akbar” on Blog Talk Radio. He can be reached through his website

Gadi Adelman
Nov 28, 2011

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US Carrier Strike Force Enters Syrian Waters. Russian Carrier on the Way

November 26, 2011 Leave a comment

The Syrian crisis aassumed a big power dimension this week with the build-up of rival United States and Russia naval air carrier armadas in Syrian waters, DEBKAfile’s military sources report.

The USS George H.W. Bush arrived Wednesday, Nov. 23, in the wake of the three Russian warships anchored earlier opposite Tartus which established a command post in the Syrian port. They will be augmented by Russia’s only air carrier the Admiral Kuznetsov, which is due in mid-week.

By deploying 70 ship-borne fighter-bombers plus three heavy guided missile cruisers and five guided missile destroyers opposite Syria, Washington
has laid down military support for any intervention the Arab League in conjunction with Turkey may decide on.

Bashar Assad can see for himself that Washington has hoisted a nuclear aerial umbrella to protect its allies, Israel, Turkey, and Jordan, against the retaliation his armed forces high command pledged Friday for the deaths of six Syrian air force elite pilots in an ambush Thursday.

For some time, Ankara has been weighing the creation of a protected haven for rebels and refugees inside Syria. France has proposed slicing “humanitarian corridors” through Syria for them to flee safely from military tank and gunfire and secure supply of food, medicines and other essential supplies to the cities under army siege.

Both plans would depend on being safeguarded by substantial ground and air strength inside Syria which would certainly face fierce resistance from Assad’s military.

The Arab League has scheduled weekend meetings to decide how to proceed after Damascus ignored its Friday deadline for accepting hundreds of monitors. Saturday, Nov. 26, AL finance ministers will discuss economic sanctions. In the past 48 hours, at least 70 people were reported killed as the Syrian army continued its crackdown in the face of spreading armed opposition.

The Russian Kuznetzov carrier and its accompanying strike vessels will join the three Russian warships parked opposite Tartus for more than a week. It will enter the same Syrian offshore waters as the USS Bush and the US Sixth Fleet, which is permanently posted in the Mediterranean.

The Syrian crisis is therefore building up to a superpower face-off unparalleled since the Cold War between America and the Soviet Union ended in the nineties, DEBKAfile’s military sources note.

While Washington clearly stands ready to back operations against the Assad regime, Moscow is drawing a red line around his presidential palace in Damascus. The Kremlin is warning the US, NATO and the Arab League that they will not be allowed to repeat their feat in Libya of overthrowing Muammar Qaddafi against Assad.

In the face of this escalating big power standoff and the high possibility of the Syrian ruler deciding to lash out against his country’s neighbors, the Israeli, Jordanian and Turkey armies have declared a high state of war preparedness.

Nov 26, 2011

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Egypt’s Nude Revolutionary, Aliaa Elmahdy, Calls for Headscarves for Men

November 26, 2011 Leave a comment

Egyptian Internet revolutionary and controversial blogger, Aliaa Magda, Elmahdy, whose self-pubilshed nude photographs shocked the country, has called on men in Egypt to wear a “Hijab” (a headscarf) and show solidarity with women.

Elmahdy and her blogger-boyfriend, Kareem Amer, have been at the receiving end of a number of death threats, online complaints and even a court case, filed by the Coalition of Islamic law graduates for “insulting” the Islamic religion and for “advertizing immorality”. Elmahdy herself had termed her nude photo campaign as a “scream against a society of violence, racism, sexism, sexual harassment and hypocrisy”.

Her recent campaign asks men to upload photographs of themselves wearing headscarves, in an attempt to create awareness over the hypocritical attitudes that require only women to cover their heads.

A statement, posted on her Facebook page before it was removed, said: “Those who call on women to wear Hijab should not attack men if they chose to wear the Hijab.” The page, which was being used as a tool to garner support for her cause, had been taken down due to the sheer number of complaints.

Elmahdy plans to re-launch the page and resume her Internet campaigns.

Meanwhile, the legal case against Elmahdy was submitted to the general prosecutor. The 20-year-old blogger is accused of “trying to spread her obscene ideology through the nude pictures.”

The Facebook page of the Coalition of Islamic law graduates has the full report submitted to the general prosecutor.

Amrutha Gayathri
Nov 26, 2011

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Islam Was Not For Me

November 26, 2011 Leave a comment

My breach with Islam started as far back as I could discern things. More to the point, I never embraced Islam in the first place, although I was born and raised in a Muslim family.

For one thing, I had a very difficult time following a so-called religion whose founder and followers had butchered my ancestors, raped and sold our women, burned our libraries, and destroyed our magnificent culture. 
Islam was forced down the throats of Iranians with the sword of Allah. In my heart, I never considered myself a Muslim. However, I didn’t reveal this until later in life for fear of retribution by radical Muslims.

Sharia law stipulates that any Muslim who turns his back on Islam should be given a chance to revert to the faith. For an unrepentant male apostate, death is the prescribed punishment and life imprisonment for the female apostate.

“Kill whoever changes his religion.” __Sahih al-Bukhari 9:84:57

Islam considers an apostate as a person who unilaterally breaks the covenant he has made with the faith. An apostate is condemned as guilty of turning his back on Allah’s immutable eternal religion.

I came to the realization that the root cause of my peoples’ degradation and suffering was Islam. It was a creed imposed on an enlightened, tolerant and free people at the point of the sword by savages hailing from the Arabian Peninsula during the seventh century with promises of booty and women in this world and glorious eternal sensual rewards in the promised paradise of Allah in the next. With each passing day, I rejoice more and more in my good fortune; in my ability to avoid the yoke of Islamic slavery and its blinders that imprisons a billion and half people by walls of superstition, hatred of others, and a celebration of death.

Things Islamic not only did not resonate with me, they often clashed head on with what I valued and loved. What appealed to me and even enchanted me were more often than not, taboo in Islam or anathema to the creed. I loved life, beauty in all its forms, poetry, ancient Iranian culture and traditions. I loved laughter, celebrations of joy such as birthdays; our yearly festivities of Nowruz, my favorite, lasts for thirteen days. Nowruz, this ancient festival, has been celebrated for thousands of years by my people; it ushers in the spring, welcomes renewal of life, and expresses optimism for the year ahead to bless us with good health, abundant food, family, and friends in the land of a civilized and free people.

I have always believed one cannot possibly be a Persian and hold to the lofty tenets of the ancient Iranian Zoroastrian triad of good thoughts, good words, good deeds, and remain a Muslim. In the same fashion, one cannot cherish American values, the Bill of Rights and the United States Constitution and be a true Muslim. They are comprehensively incompatible with Sharia Law.

Iranian Muslims are victims of the Islamic virus that has destroyed in them their traditional respect for diversity. It is the Iranian ancient fundamental belief in the validity and value of diversity that is enshrined in the Cyrus the Great Cylinder, the unconditional respect for the complete rights of all the people of the world (an anathema to the Islamists’ credo) that has held the nation together over the millennia. Although Islam was imposed on Iran some 1,400 years ago, Iranians deeply value their own ancient non-Arab identity and have never fully surrendered to the Arab culture.

Currently, a large number of Iranians are completely fed up with Islam and they want to leave this dogma of hate and violence. In fact, many already have, but they simply aren’t able to come forward and announce it, for obvious reasons.

Such duplicity exists within the Iranian culture. Originally, Iranians were forced to accept Islam to save their lives from Arab invaders, but deep within the heart of every single Iranian alive today, exists a burning resentment of the Arab-Islamic invasion of their homeland and culture. It is ironic that many Iranians may actually confess to being Muslims; yet, an overwhelming number of Iranians have never read the Quran or understand its language. The events in history have toughened present day Iranians. They have become great pretenders. But the totality of 1400 years of Islamic barbarity and savagery must end. We no longer need to pretend that we are practicing Muslims; when in fact, we are not.

Realistically speaking, there is perhaps 10-15 percent of the population that continues to support the clerical system in varying degrees. Many in this group are government employees, Mullahs, and hired thugs such as the Basiji. Also, the regime has some backers among the poor, the less educated, and the deeply religious. Yet, the alienation from the regime and Islam spans the entire spectrum of the Iranian society with the intelligentsia and the university students leading the determined opposition to end Islamic rule.

Masses of Iranians are irreparably alienated from a corrupt and oppressive Islamic rule. The rule of the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) is crumbling. The previously solid edifice, or at least the appurtenance of it, is finally showing many cracks that continue to grow. There are just too many fault lines to list here.

My fellow secularist Iranians and I have indeed done, and continue to do, what we can to help our compatriots in Iran, who are on the front line fighting Islam and the Islamic Regime.

The 2009 protests were just as much against the Islamic Republic as they were about Shi’a Islam. In fact, much of it was against Islam itself. People have experienced what a primitive and defective system of belief Islam is and aim to abandon it for good. Many will still hang on to it to some extent for some time. Yet, a great many would simply leave Islam and even actively oppose it.

There are still those who foolishly claim that Muhammad was a messenger from God and the Quran is a divinely revealed book. My suggestion is that they use their intellect and read the Quran fully for themselves without the assumption that the book is the literal word of God and that Muhammad was their messenger. Without this assumption as their starting point, they will find better than 90% of the book is about violence, threats of hell, exclusion of people, and the like. What kind of God would dictate things like what you find in the Quran? It took Muhammad 20 years to reveal this hodge-podge book that reads more like expressions of a delusional individual with multiple personality disorder.

I bemoan the plight of my native land and the people who have suffered and continue to suffer under Islam. Without Islam there wouldn’t be any Muslims to hoist the banner of hate and violence against non-Muslims. A few claim that Islam has done some good in the past. Well, that’s debatable. There are those who are equally convinced that Islam has inflicted a great deal of suffering on others from its inception to the present. What we all must agree on is that Islam and its sharia laws, at the very least, do not fit in today’s world.

Islam is a creed of an ignorant people in a primitive and barbaric age. It is fixated in time and place; it harbors the ambition of taking the 21st century world back 14 centuries and ruling it by its dogma of violence, intolerance, injustice and death. Yet, Islam is not only an obsolete vestige of a defunct era, but itself is an infinitely fractured belief that can hardly put its own home in order. The numerous Islamic sects are at each other’s throats; sub-sects and schools despise one another as much as they hate non-Muslims. Hatred, not love, drives Islam.

I am not against Muslims. I condemn Islam with all its derivatives and those who support and promote it. Muslims are patients and Islam is a disease. You want to help the patients to rid themselves of the affliction. You want to eradicate a horrifically communicable disease. Although many prefer to tackle the militant version of Islam “Islamism,” for all intents and purposes, there is no sharp demarcation between, Islamists, Jihadists and Islamism. One and all are progeny of Islam itself. Any differences among the three are of degree and not kind. When one addresses Islamism and jihadism, their source is also addressed.

Regrettably, Islam cannot be reformed. Keep in mind that Islam claims it is the perfect eternal faith for mankind. Splits have occurred and will continue to occur in Islam. Yet, reformation has not happened in nearly 1400 years and is not going to happen. Islam is carved in granite, just the way it is. No change. Allah’s book is sealed.

In the monumental task of dealing with Islam and its variations, every individual, group and government must combine their resources and energies to prevail. We must urge all people to resist Islam’s encroachment and not be deceived by its sanitized version presented in non-Islamic lands. The destiny of civilized life hangs in the balance. Shirking of this responsibility would be an unpardonable act of every enlightened human being and organization that values human liberty and dignity.

Amil Imani is the author of a new book “Operation Persian Gulf.” 

Amil Imani
Nov 23, 2011

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Saudi Arabia and the Global Islamic Terrorist Network

November 25, 2011 Leave a comment
U.S. & the West’s Fatal Embrace of Islamic Terrorist Network

FrontPage’s Interview’s guest today is Deborah Weiss, an attorney, freelance writer and public speaker. A 9/11 survivor of WTC attacks in NYC, she formerly worked for the Committee on House Oversight in Congress and the Office of the Corporation Counsel under Giuliani. She is currently President of Vigilance, Inc., and is an expert in OIC UN resolutions. She has written a chapter in the new book, Saudi Arabia and the Global Islamic Terrorist Network: America and the West’s Fatal Embrace. She can be reached at

FP: Welcome Deborah. Glad you could join FPM today.
Weiss: Thank you for inviting me.

FP: Let’s begin with you telling us a about Saudi Arabia and the Global Islamic Terrorist Network.

Weiss: Thanks, Jamie.

As you know, Western petro-dollars have made Saudi Arabia a rich country. The Saudis use the money in part to export a radical Islamist ideology into the West. The ideology is antithetical to the Western values of freedom, equality and human rights.

The book was put together and edited by Sarah Stern, President of Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET). It has chapters by various experts and well-known authors, including James Woolsey, Steve Emerson, Daniel Pipes, Rachel Ehrenfeld and others. Your readers are probably familiar with many of the authors.

For decades now, the West and America in particular, has been pretending that Saudi Arabia is our ally. This book lifts the veil off that myth by demonstrating the various ways that Saudi ideology has infiltrated America and the West, posing a threat to our freedom and way of life. It includes chapters on Saudi penetration into American NGO’s, American so-called “mainstream Muslim” organizations, the American school curriculum, finances, and more. The point is to illustrate the negative impact our addiction to oil will ultimately have on our society. It’s really about the stealth jihad.

FP: How did you got involved in the book?

Weiss: I am a 9/11 survivor from NYC, and have been working on the issues of non-violent radical Islam for years, as you know, Jamie. Every year, there is an event on Capitol Hill, timed to coincide around the time of 9/11, that showcases speakers and experts on the topic of Saudi infiltration. I was one of the speakers the last two years. So when Sarah asked me if I’d be willing to contribute a chapter on the same subject, of course I said yes.

FP: What is your chapter about?

Weiss: My chapter is titled, “The Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Defamation of Religions, and Islamophobia.” The OIC is the largest Islamic organization in the world, comprised of 56 member states plus the Palestinian authority. Its members tend to vote together as a bloc in the UN, so they hold quite a lot of power and sway. Yet, most people have never heard of them.

They are an Islamist organization, which seeks to make Islam a victorious political power and to deny freedom to anyone who doesn’t want to live under Sharia law, including Muslims who don’t want to live under Sharia law. One of its main goals is to eventually internationally criminalize free speech on any Islam-related topic, including Islamic theocracies, Muslims, Islamic terrorism, Islamic human rights violations, and Sharia law. I know it sounds crazy, but partly because the public is not paying attention to this issue, and partly because the OIC’s strategy is to achieve its goal in small increments, it is actually making significant inroads. The OIC has successfully targeted various UN bodies with resolutions on this issue, called “Defamation of Religions” and it has targeted several EU Parliaments as well. The language is presented in a watered down form, so instead of asking for speech to be criminalized, the OIC will ask for states “to take effective action” or “condemn” the speech or discourage the speech. It has also presented Muslims as the victims of so-called “Islamophobia” in order to win more support for their cause.

FP: What exactly is the Defamation of Religions?

Weiss: Well, in America we have the concept of defamation of individuals or groups. Generally, defamation in the U.S. has to be a false statement and with negligent or reckless disregard of the truth, depending on whether you’re defaming a public figure or a private citizen. And it has to be a statement that is likely to result in either a pecuniary harm or harm to that person’s reputation. In America, truth is a complete defense. And I might add that in our system, defamation only applies to statements of fact. The First Amendment gives us protection to express any opinion we desire, no matter how negative it might be.

Defamation of Religions by contrast, gives protection to an idea, in this case a religion, as opposed to protecting a person or group. Also, it constitutes protection from criticism, even if the statement is true. And to boot, the way it is applied in countries that implement it, and the way the OIC interprets it, it is really only applied to Islam. In fact, the original title was called Defamation of Islam, but in order to get more support for it, the OIC changed the title. Still, Islam is the only religion mentioned in the text, and in practice it is only Islam that is afforded protection from criticism. Believe me, the OIC is totally fine with Defamation of Judaism and Defamation of Christianity. Additionally, the Muslim countries that have these types of laws usually impose a harsh criminal penalty for its violation, rather than a civil penalty. People who “defame Islam” are often jailed, flogged, sometimes even executed.

FP: Implementing Defamation of Religions laws obviously harms people.

Weiss: Yes, Jamie, it does. What’s ironic about it is that the OIC wants to make “Defamation of Religions” a human right. But in reality, it constitutes the very opposite of a human right. In countries that have this law, there are gross human rights violations. Not only are the penalties very harsh, but it also has the effect of oppressing those with minority religions. For example, if you are Christian and you say, “I believe Jesus is the Son of G-d”, that is not only blasphemy, but could be considered Defamation of Religions. Saying this could have dire consequences. This law even hurts Muslims who have a minority interpretation of Islam that differs from the official interpretation of the government. For example, in Pakistan it is illegal to be an Ahmadiyya Muslim. Ahamadiyyas are peaceful, loving, egalitarian-minded Muslims. But because they believe in a Prophet after Mohammad (named Ahmad), the Pakistani government considers them heretics and openly practicing their faith is a crime.

FP: Defamation of Religions is clearly harmful to religious freedom and human rights. What are some other negative implications?

Weiss: The ramifications also include the hampering of national security and terrorism prevention efforts. If you know anything about war, the threat doctrine dictates that the first rule of war is that you must know your enemy and be able to name it by name. Unfortunately, to the degree that the West censors discussion of Islam and Islamic terrorism, it hamstrings the ability of intelligence professionals to come up with strategies to defeat the problem.

FP: Here in America, we are still allowed to discuss these things, right?

Weiss: So far, America is the last bastion of freedom in terms of free speech. Unlike Europe, we do not have hate speech laws – yet. However, we have moved from self-censorship to having our government and other institutions issue restrictive guidelines on speech. For example, DHS, the State Departmentand the NCTC have all issued memos to their professional employees discouraging them from using words such as Islamic terrorism. The National Security Strategy Memo, which guides our whole US national security policy, also has had all references to Islamic terrorism deleted. There have been various other measures taken, especially in this administration, to cleanse all official and unofficial policy from discussion, mention, or even acknowledgement of Islamic terrorism.

FP: Why would our government do this?

Weiss: That’s a good question, Jamie. But first let me tell you why the OIC countries want this. The OIC countries want this because in their interpretation of Islam, it is considered blasphemy to say anything negative about Islam. They want to impose this rule on everyone else. Many of the Muslim majority countries have blasphemy laws in one form or another, even if it’s informal. The OIC has a big push to gradually move the West in this direction. Part of it is due to their ideological belief system. The other part of it is that they really have a political agenda. To the degree that they can obfuscate, confuse, or prevent us from knowing what they are doing, that gives them the upper hand in winning the war.

We are not really in a War on Terror; terrorism is a tactic. We are in a war against – not all Islam – but certainly radical Islam, and nobody wants to acknowledge that. The OIC doesn’t want to acknowledge that because going back to the threat doctrine, if we don’t know our enemy, it gives them an edge. Our government doesn’t want to acknowledge it for other reasons. One is political correctness. Two is if one has a political ideology but cloaks it in the language of religion, nobody wants to sound like they are criticizing a religion. Plus we have freedom of religion in America. Third, I hate to say it, but in this administration, I also think Obama is politically sympathetic to the OIC. If you recall during his speech in CAIRO, he said that it was his job as President to combat negative stereotypes of Islam wherever he finds them. Notice he said Islam, not Muslims. Anyway, I don’t remember learning in law school that this was one of the President’s functions. Maybe I was absent that day, but it’s certainly not in the enumerated powers. There are other reasons we don’t discuss this as well.

It poses a big problem because intelligence professionals are now being told to focus on terrorist behavior and disregard the underlying ideology that motivates it. If we are going to win the WOT, it is the ideology that needs to be addressed, not just the terrorism. Terrorism is just a symptom. Additionally, those who adhere to this radical ideology are not always terrorists. Many have a non-violent strategy to undermine our freedoms from within. As I said, it’s a stealth jihad and it’s not being adequately addressed.

FP: Where is the West on the issue of stifling free speech on Islam-related topics?

Weiss: Well, Europe has been much more Islamized than America. Additionally, many of the EU countries have hate speech laws of one sort or another. Canada has Human Rights Commissions that regularly fine people for defaming Islam even if they didn’t defame a person. If a Muslim or Muslim group files a complaint and it is found that they said something that is “likely to cause hatred” against that group, they will most likely be fined. That is true even if there is no intent to cause hatred, and no result of hatred. Not to mention that hatred is an emotion, so we’re not limiting this to the prevention of violence or legal discrimination.

In other countries, one can also get fined for negative speech on Islam or Muslims. Also as you know, recently in the Netherlands, Geert Wilders was actually criminally prosecuted for expressing his views on Islam. He was acquitted, but the mere prosecution has a chilling effect on free speech. And that is in a country where there’s only about 5% Muslims. The whole thing is rather scary.

FP: What is the status of the Defamation of Religions resolutions now?

Weiss: It has been passed in numerous UN bodies year after year starting in 1999. This year, 2011, is the first time that the OIC did not introduce that resolution.

FP: Why not?

Weiss: It has gotten declining support in the last few years. So this year Secretary Hillary Clinton contacted the OIC and the EU to join together with the US and draft a resolution that would hopefully address the West’s concerns about free speech, while still addressing the OIC’s concerns about alleged Islamophobia.

FP: Tell us about the new resolution.

Weiss: The new resolution is titled, Resolution 16/18 to Combat Intolerance based on Religion or Belief. It passed in March of this year and the State Department is touting it as a big success. The State Department is under the impression that the resolution will move from protecting ideas from defamation to protecting individuals. But the OIC has made it very clear in other documents and statements that it has not dropped its goal of achieving the concept of Defamation of Religions.

FP: So the State Department is wrong about this resolution?

Weiss: Well, the whole issue comes down to how the words in the resolution are interpreted and implemented. On its face it seems that the State Department is interpreting the resolution one way, while the OIC is interpreting it another. The new resolution certainly omits the word “defamation” but instead, it replaces it with European hate-speech type language. There is no question that the language embodied in the new resolution can still be manipulated to achieve a Defamation of Religions concept. And that is exactly how the OIC intends to interpret it.

FP: But UN resolutions aren’t binding, so is there still cause for concern?

Weiss: Unfortunately, there is Jamie. First, if the resolutions keep passing and EU parliament implement similar language, eventually it can be considered “customary international law” and the US would be pressured to adhere to it. Second, the State Department has called a series of meetings with the OIC in order to move this last resolution to implementation. The first meeting is in December.

FP: What do you think will take place at the meeting?

Weiss: The OIC will use this as an opportunity to pressure Western governments to regulate speech on Islam-related topics. We’ll have to see exactly how this plays out. Secretary Clinton and the Obama administration have already shown a willingness to “shame” people who talk about these topics in a critical manner. Merely having this meeting with the OIC gives the OIC legitimacy and is cause for concern. As I explain in my chapter, America’s values and the OIC’s values are not in sync. It is futile to try to work with the OIC to show “respect” because the OIC’s definition of respect is that we should just shut if we’re saying anything it doesn’t like, and instead submit to its religiously-based speech codes.

Contrary to the popular belief that restricting our free speech on Islam will show “sensitivity” and win over the affection of Islamic countries, in reality, it will hamper our ability to protect our freedom and national security. It is a slippery slope and it is vital that we remain vigilant in order to keep America free. I hope people will buy the book. Becoming informed is the first step.

FP: Deborah Weiss, thank you for joining us.

Jamie Glazov
Nov 25, 2011

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Reports of Coming Military Action in Syria

November 25, 2011 Leave a comment

Syrian dictator Bashar Assad can feel the noose around his neck tightening. France is now calling for a humanitarian corridor in Syria and multiple reports talk of a Turkish-Arab military action following an authorization from the Arab League. The U.S. is telling its citizens to immediately leave the country. War may be on the horizon.

On Thursday, the French Foreign Minister asked the Arab League to endorse a “secured zone to protect civilians” in Syria. France is also officially embracing the Syrian National Council, an umbrella of opposition groups and figures, as a legitimate body. Foreign Minister Alain Juppe played a game of semantics, saying France was not endorsing a military intervention for a “buffer zone,” while admitting that the proposed “secured zone” would need military protection to ensure the delivery of aid.

At the same time, Israeli officials expect Turkey to soon establish buffer zones within Syrian territory near the border to create a safe haven for civilians and military defectors. The Turks are already housing the leadership of the Free Syria Army that is waging an armed struggle against Assad. The Kuwaiti Al-Rainewspaper is being told by senior sources in Europe that the plan is for a no-fly zone to be enforced by Arab and possibly Turkish air power after the Arab League approves of it. The U.S. will be involved behind-the-scenes, offering logistical support but no direct participation. NATO has ruled out military action in Syria.

According to the report, the no-fly zone will not be limited to only stopping Syrian airplanes and helicopters, which have been rarely used in putting down the uprising. It will enforce a ban on all movement of military vehicles and artillery, forcing them off of the streets. It is hoped that Assad’s military will be forced to end operations “in less than 24 hours.” This account differs from the Israeli one in that it states that Turkey has ruled out sending its military into Syrian territory to create a buffer zone.

Turkish state television revealed on Tuesday that the commander of the army was evaluating the forces stationed along the border with Syria. The Syrian military is reinforcing its positions in the area, digging trenches and moving tanks behind trees. The Turkish government is telling its citizens returning from their pilgrimage to Mecca not to travel through Syria following an incident where Assad’s security forces fired upon two buses filled with Turkish citizens.

The U.S. is telling its citizens in Syria to immediately depart. Ambassador Robert Ford’s planned return to Syria has been canceled. It should be noted that the Obama administration waited to support military intervention in Libya until all American citizens had left.

Three cities near the Turkish border have become the focal points of the protests and the fighting between the regime and the Free Syria Army: Idlib, Homs and Hama, the lattermost being the base of the Muslim Brotherhood revolt in 1982 that was crushed by the regime. Part of Idlib is said to be free of the regime’s control. This makes it a candidate to be the Syrian version of Libya’s Benghazi where the opposition headquartered its revolution.

The Free Syria Army’s strategy is to create a safe haven in northern Syria near Turkey and then win international support for its fight to overthrow Assad. The leader of the Free Syria Army claims to have 15,000 defectors under his command, up from the number of 10,000 he regularly boasted of. This may be an exaggeration, but it is clear that the forces’ capabilities are increasing. It recently carried out attacks on the Air Force Intelligence headquarters near Damascus and the ruling Baath Party headquarters in the capital.

The rhetoric of Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan towards Assad has become much more aggressive over the past week. He accused him of “cowardice” and said he’ll share the fate of Hitler, Mussolini and Qaddafi if he doesn’t resign.

“Just remove yourself from that seat before shedding more blood, before torturing more and for the welfare of your country as well as the region,” Erdogansaid to Assad. He has been saying as far back as August that “the Syrian issue is an internal Turkish affair.”

Jordanian King Abdullah II became the first Arab leader to explicitly tell Assad to give up power. “If I were in his shoes, I would step down…If Bashar has the interest of the country, he would step down,” he said.

The Arab League suspended Syria’s membership in a measure that only Yemen (where Syrian pilots are reportedly helping the regime) and Hezbollah-controlled Lebanon voted against. Iraq abstained, likely out of fear of Iranian proxy Moqtada al-Sadr, who is standing by Assad. The Arab League is signaling its support for regime change by meeting with the Syrian National Council in Cairo. An advisor to the Secretary-General of the Arab League said sanctions are being prepared against Assad and that it is working on “uniting the Syrian opposition on a united vision regarding the future of Syria during the transitional period.” Syria has until the end of Friday to allow a team of 500 human rights monitors into the country.

Iran is standing by Assad, helping his forces to put down the revolution. At the same time, Iran tried to reach out to the National Coordinating Committee opposition group, which is opposed to foreign intervention. It is unknown if Iran is trying to build relations with the opposition in case Assad loses or if Iran is trying to split the opposition and empower the one opposed to outside help. Either way, the Committee rejected Iran because “no one trusted Iran.”

Russia has deployed warships to the Mediterranean Sea, which was widely interpreted as an expression of solidarity with Assad. According to one Arab newspaper, the Russian ships transported technical advisors to Syria to install advanced radar systems at every critical site. The advisors are said to be helping Assad set up the Russian S-300, an advanced air defense system, which the report says was delivered in recent weeks. Iran paid for the delivery. The Russians offered the same kind of aid to Saddam Hussein shortly before the invasion of Iraq.

Iran and Assad will not take this lying down, and Assad will not go down without a bloody fight. The Middle East is about to become an even hotter place.

Ryan Mauro
Nov 25, 2011

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Obama’s Half-Measures on Iran Fall Short

November 25, 2011 Leave a comment
No Sanction on Iranian Central Bank

The Obama administration pledged that Iran would suffer painful consequences for plotting to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington and for refusing to freeze its nuclear program. Key European allies and Congress — not to mention Israel — are ready for decisive action. But on Monday the administration unveiled another series of half-steps. Sanctions were toughened on Iran’s oil industry, but there was no move to block its exports. The Iranian banking system was designated “a primary money laundering concern,” a step U.S. officials said could prompt banks and companies around the world to cease doing business with the country. But the administration declined to directly sanction the central bank.

The result is that President Obama is not even leading from behind on Iran; he is simply behind. At the forefront of the Western effort to pressure Tehran is French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who issued a statement Monday calling on the European Union, the United States, Japan, Canada and “other willing countries” to “immediately freeze the assets of Iran’s central bank” and suspend purchases of Iranian oil. France rejects the Obama administration’s view that these steps would cause a counterproductive spike in oil prices. In any case, higher oil prices are preferable to allowing an Iranian bomb — or having to take military action to stop it.

Congress is ahead of Obama, too. It’s likely that large bipartisan majorities will support legislation mandating sanctions against the central bank; in the Senate’s case it could be attached to the defense authorization bill. Another comprehensive sanctions bill, targeting both Iran and its ally Syria, could be brought to the Senate floor within a couple of weeks.

The administration’s slowness to embrace crippling sanctions is one of several persistent flaws in its Iran policy. Another is its continued insistence on the possibility of “engagement” with a regime that has repeatedly rejected it while plotting murder in Washington.

By now it should be obvious that only regime change will stop the Iranian nuclear program. That means, at a minimum, the departure of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who has repeatedly blocked efforts by other Iranian leaders to talk to the West. Sanctions that stop Iran from exporting oil and importing gasoline could deal a decisive blow to his dictatorship, which already faced an Arab Spring-like popular revolt two years ago. By holding back on such measures, the Obama administration merely makes it more likely that drastic action, such as a military attack, eventually will be taken by Israel, or forced on the United States.

The Salt Lake Tribune
Nov 24, 2011

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