Category Archives: Islam

#ThanksObama: #Iran and the Mullahs’ Economic Renaissance

aKhameneiThe six world powers (known as the P5+1; Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States plus Germany) and Iran are holding talks to begin the process of lifting major economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

The sanctions, which had been enacted on the ruling clerics, were among the most comprehensive and efficacious regime of sanctions against any rogue state in our era. That’s why the sanctions brought the Ayatollahs to the negotiating table.

Nevertheless, it appears that the lifting of these sanctions may begin as early as the end of March, even before a final nuclear deal will be reached at the end of June.

The regime of sanctions had developed over thirty years due to the Islamic Republic’s defiance of the International Atomic Energy Agency, its non-compliance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the ruling clerics’ sponsorship of terrorism and human rights abuses.

As a result, the regime of sanctions is not solely imposed on Tehran because of its clandestine nuclear and underground activities. The removal of current sanctions will definitely overshadow Iran’s record in human rights violations, domestic repression, and support for militia groups across the Middle East.

It is worth noting that the Obama administration had already eased some major sanctions on Iran when the interim deal was struck. The easing of sanctions was linked to some of Iran’s sectors such as metal, petrochemical, and gold industries. Several billions of dollars were also released to the Islamic Republic by the United States.

More fundamentally, it was due the sanctions, primarily the ones enacted by the United Nations Security Council, the European Union, and the United States on Iran’s energy and financial sectors, that the ruling mullahs were brought to their knees and agreed to come to the negotiating table. With this regime of sanctions being lifted during the nuclear agreement, what leverage will the West have to bring the rogue state of the Islamic Republic to the negotiating table in the future? What political leverage will the West hold against the Ayatollahs in case they continued to sponsor militia groups, back up the Syrian regime, violate human rights, and interfere in the political affairs of other countries?

It took decades to get China and Russia to agree to pressure the Islamic Republic and pass four UN resolutions including banning Iran from buying and selling nuclear technology which are aimed at developing nuclear weapons, and imposing an arms embargo on the Islamic Republic.

With these UN resolution being reverted with the stroke of a pen, the West will significantly lose their say over Iran’s regional hegemonic ambitions and malicious activities. Bringing Russia and China back to agreeing on pressuring the Islamic Republic is not going to be a piece of cake.

On the other hand, when Iranian leaders are unshackled from the economic restrains imposed by the international community and when the lifting of economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic occurs anytime soon, this will bring about significant changes — not only in the economic status of the Islamic Republic in comparison to other regional powers, but also the geopolitical chessboard of the Middle East and the balance of power between Iran and other countries in the region.

Economically speaking, when sanctions on Iran’s energy and financial sectors are lifted, Iran will reenter the world trade market at full speed. Geopolitically speaking, Iran’s oil exports will ratchet up, increasing Iran’s leverage in OPEC and subsequently decrease the political leverage of other oil producing nations.

Being unshackled from economic sanctions, Iran will undoubtedly be a major economic power directing political situations in some countries more confidently. The Islamic Republic’s support of President Bashar al Assad will increase finically and militarily. Iran is more likely to interfere in other countries’ affairs including Jordan, Yemen and Bahrain by supporting some Shiite groups and oppositional groups which serve Iran’s national, geopolitical, and strategic interests.

Ultimately when the thirty-year regime of sanctions are lifted, the international community will lose its strong leverage against Iran in curbing its nuclear program. In other words, Tehran can continue its nuclear ambitions covertly or overtly without being concerned that its political system will be endangered due to economic restrictions.

It is time for the Obama administration to reconsider whether lifting the regime of sanctions so swiftly is a rational, wise, and intelligent move.

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CIA: Muslims Joining Islamic State Because of Economics and Illiteracy

aisisOriginally published by PJ Media.

Speaking at the Council of Foreign Relations on March 13, CIA Director John Brennan said that “the Islamic State had ‘snowballed’ beyond Iraq and Syria, estimating that at least 20,000 fighters from more than 90 countries have gone to join the militant group, several thousand of them from Western nations, including the United States.”

“Left unchecked, the group would pose a serious danger not only to Syria and Iraq, but to the wider region and beyond, including the threat of attacks in the homelands of the United States and our partners,” said Brennan.

Left unclear in his speech is why the Islamic State—which Obama and his crew regularly insist has nothing to do with Islam—is “snowballing”; why 20,000 “fighters” (AKA “Muslims”) are joining it.

Almost one year ago to the day, however, at the same Council of Foreign Relations gathering, Brennan did explain what makes Muslims from all around the world join the Islamic jihad (then under the rubric of “Al-Qaeda”).   After assuring all in attendance that al-Qaeda’s ideology is “a perverse and very corrupt interpretation of the Qur’an”; that “al-Qaeda has hijacked” Islam; that “they have really distorted the teachings of Muhammad”—Brennan still confirmed that, even so “that ideology, that agenda of al-Qaeda has gained resonance and following in many parts of the world.”

When asked why such a “perverse and very corrupt” understanding of Islam—one that has “distorted the teachings of Muhammad”—so resonates among Muslims, the CIA responded by saying that it was being “fed a lot of times by, you know, political repression, by economic, you know, disenfranchisement, by, you know, lack of education and ignorance, so there—there are a number of phenomena right now that I think are fueling the fires of, you know, this ideology.”

Interestingly, if you watch the video clip of Brennan’s speech, you will note that he only “you knows” in the above quotation (four times) and right before it, when he says that al-Qaeda has “distorted the teachings of Muhammad, you know, for violent purposes.”

The rest of his talk is relatively smooth.

Could Brennan be self-conscious of his own equivocations—hence all these stilted “you knows” in one sentence?

Could he be aware of the Rand Corporation report on counterterrorism, prepared for the Office of the Secretary of Defense in 2009?   It found that “Terrorists are not particularly impoverished, uneducated, or afflicted by mental disease. Demographically, their most important characteristic is normalcy (within their environment). Terrorist leaders actually tend to come from relatively privileged backgrounds.”

Or consider the following excerpt from Understanding Terror Networks, by Marc Sageman, a former CIA officer who worked closely with jihadi groups in Afghanistan (emphasis mine):

There was a definite shift in degree of devotion to Islam in adulthood by the mujahedin [jihadis], preceding their recruitment into the jihad.  This is not surprising given the fact that the global Salafi jihad is a Muslim revivalist organization.  Of the 155 mujahedin on whom I could find relevant information, all but one were considerably more devout right before joining the jihad than they had been as children.  More than 99 percent were very religious at that time, often donning Afghan, Pakistani, or traditional Arabic garb and growing beards…

“Devotion to Islam” is what causes Muslims to join the Islamic State. Despite this very obvious fact, Obama officials constantly deny it, offering more “sensible” motives. Thus during a recent interview on MSNBC’s Hardball, State Department spokesperson Marie Harf said that one of “the root causes that leads people to join these groups,” a reference to the Islamic State, is a “lack of opportunity for jobs.”

“Political repression,” “economic disenfranchisement,” “lack of education and ignorance,” and now a “lack of opportunity for jobs.” These, according to the Obama administration, are why countless, nameless Muslims from all around the world are waging jihad—not the commonsensical fact that jihad is integral to Islam, doctrinally and historically.

A final point of interest. This widespread tendency to project Western cultural explanations onto non-Western people is the height of arrogance and ethnocentrism—precisely what progressives and multiculturalists constantly warn against. Yet the irony is that such “open-minded” proponents of cultural relativism are also the ones most prone to ignore Islamic teachings. When Brennan, Harf et al insist that jihadis are really not motivated by religion but rather are products of political, economic, and social forces, is this total dismissal of the “other” and his peculiar motivations (in favor of familiar, Western paradigms) not the epitome of cultural arrogance?