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Posts Tagged ‘Iraq’

Rep. Allen West recently gave an awesome speech to the Center for Security Policy.

While it seems that our media can only focus on one “crisis” at a time, Allen West never takes his eye off of all the threats to U.S. national security.

No teleprompter, you’ll notice. The man is a walking encyclopedia, and he can communicate.

What Paul Ryan does for budget issues, Allen West does for national security.

Hat Tip: Big Peace

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“Judenrein” was the ghastly word used by the Nazis to describe areas “cleansed” of all Jews.

It appears that there is a large and active contingent of people in the Middle East who would like to make it “Christenrein” — rid of all Christians. Catholic News Service describes the ongoing nightmare:

An Iraqi archbishop spoke of “near-genocide conditions” for Christians in his country and said those fleeing violence were straining resources in other parts of the country.Archbishop Bashar Warda of Irbil, Iraq, said part of the problem was the country’s “weak constitution, which tries to please two masters.”

“We are living in a region which cannot decide if it is for democracy or Islamic law,” he said March 16 at news conference sponsored by the Catholic charitable agency Aid to the Church in Need.

Archbishop Warda criticized “neighboring governments feeding insurgents with money and weapons to destabilize the Iraqi government” and said the rest of world’s governments had “turned their backs on us, as if the human rights abuses and near-genocide conditions Iraqi Christians experience are temporary.”

Archbishop Warda said that since the U.S.-led occupation of his country began in 2003, more than 500 Christians had been killed in religious and politically motivated violence.

Between 2006 and 2010, 17 Iraqi priests and two bishops were kidnapped and beaten or tortured. One bishop, four priests and three subdeacons were killed.

“In most cases, those responsible for the crimes stated they wanted Christians out of Iraq,” the archbishop said.

Referring to the “systematic bombing campaign of Iraqi churches,” he said 66 churches had been attacked or bombed; in addition, two convents, one monastery and a church orphanage also were bombed.

Iraq’s Christian population has dropped by more than 60 percent in the last 20 years, from approximately 1.4 million then to about 500,000 now — and even that figure is “highly optimistic,” according to the archbishop.

“The past is terrifying, the present is not promising, so everything is telling us that there is no future for Christians,” Archbishop Warda later told Catholic News Service.

Describing the situation in the Middle East as “boiling,” he said Christians in the region “expect another war” due to the instability in so many countries and the ongoing tensions between Shiite and Sunni Muslims.

“In many countries, the situation for Christians seems to be worsening, sometimes to the point that we wonder if we will survive,” he said. He added that the place of Christians as one of the original inhabitants of the Middle East had been “wiped from collective memory.”

The Chaldean Christians of Iraq are one of the oldest continuous Christian communities in the world, having common roots with the Assyrian Church of the East, which dates back to the 1st century A.D.

The Christian community in Egypt also dates back to the 1st century A.D. Tradition has it that St. Mark the evangelist was the first to preach the Gospel in Alexandria and founded the church there during the reign of Roman emperor Claudius, around 42 A.D. This ancient Christian community has been persecuted ever since Muslim armies swept through North Africa in the seventh century — but persecution has worsened since the downfall of Mubarak.

I wrote here several weeks ago about Egyptian Army violence against several communities of Christian monks. In that post, I expressed bewilderment as to why the Army, as opposed to the Muslim Brotherhood, would be attacking unarmed Christians. Many Christians, both here and in Egypt, had hoped that the Army might stand between Christians and the Muslim Brotherhood.  We were dreaming. From the Pakistan Christian Post:

There is now no doubt there is an unholy alliance between the military and the radical Muslim Brotherhood. It has become crystal clear that the young, educated secular activists who initially propelled the non-ideological revolution are no longer the driving political force. The Muslim Brotherhood with its link to the military is now dictating the future destiny of Egypt.

The hopes and aspirations of the young protestors, that the country would embrace secular democracy after the fall of the dictator Hosni Mubarak, suffered a major setback as the country went to the polls last week to vote on constitutional changes.

The proposed constitutional amendments put to the vote [on March 19] largely dealt with the articles of the 1971 constitution pertaining to presidential elections and the president’s term in office. The changes made no mention of the notorious Article 2, which states that “Islam is the religion of the State, Arabic is its official language, and the principal source of legislation is Islamic Jurisprudence (Shariah).”

The imposition of Article 2 on the debate was for the most part the handiwork of a treaty between the Salafist movement and the Muslim Brotherhood. While the Muslim Brotherhood control the political front, the Salafist movement has become its muscle on the street, they prohibit any political opposition to a Muslim ruler. Salafists hold strict and literalist interpretations of Islamic doctrine; they advocate the full veil and open hostility with non-Muslims, particularly Egypt’s large Coptic Christian community, estimated at some 10 million. They used anti-Coptic incitement to sway the referendum. Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist’s were among the fiercest advocates of the “Yes” vote, declaring it a religious duty for all Muslims. “No” campaigners were portrayed as Christian and secularists “enemies of Islam”. Rather than confront the radicals, the majority of eligible voters abstained with only 41% of potential voters turning out for the referendum.

Pamphlets and advertisements were published, “It is ‘un-Islamic’ to vote “No”, this angered the youth who asserted, “that Islamists and Salafists were pushing their agendas through religious manipulation instead of political participation, this is our revolution and we will protest again.”

Upon the declaration from the youth, the Brotherhood quickly swung into action, to prevent further protests and demands for a new referendum on the constitution. The ruling military approved a law banning and criminalizing any future strikes, protests, marches or rallies in the country.

Not only is the Army cracking down on protesters, they made it a point — in true shariah fashion — to particularly target female protesters, as reported by human rights group Amnesty International. From Elder of Ziyon:

After army officers violently cleared the square of protesters on 9 March, at least 18 women were held in military detention. Amnesty International has been told by women protesters that they were beaten, given electric shocks, subjected to strip searches while being photographed by male soldiers, then forced to submit to ‘virginity checks’ and threatened with prostitution charges.

‘Virginity tests’ are a form of torture when they are forced or coerced.

…According to information received by Amnesty International, one woman who said she was a virgin but whose test supposedly proved otherwise was beaten and given electric shocks.

Since shariah requires violence against women, I guess we shouldn’t be surprised. What did surprise me was how quickly the Egyptian Army has moved to appoint itself the enforcer of shariah law.

And since shariah also requires persecution of non-Muslims, it was only a matter of time (but how short a time!) before we started seeing stories such as this one, from International Christian Concern’s blog Persecution.org:

Christian protestors who staged a nine-day sit-in calling for the rebuilding of a church torched by Islamists have come under attack by the Egyptian army.

According to a news release from Barnabas Aid, the demonstrators were reportedly shot at and struck with electric batons outside the state television headquarters in Maspero, downtown Cairo. Fifteen suffered injuries, including broken limbs, head wounds and burns.

The assault happened in the early hours of March 14 – two hours before an agreed suspension of the sit-in. Representatives of the demonstrators had met with Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharaf and members of the military council the previous afternoon to discuss their demands.

Barnabas Aid reported the army has said it will rebuild the church in Soul, which was destroyed on March 5. The demonstrators agreed to suspend the sit-in until March 25 to give the government time to fulfill its pledges.

Around 500 people were still at the site when military forces smashed the demonstration in the early morning hours. Barnabas Aid reported one of the organizers said the soldiers cut the wire fences and started running towards the people, shouting the Islamic war cry “Allahu Akhbar” (“god is great.”)

Thousands of Christians took to the streets of Cairo last week in protest over the attack on the village of Soul, 30 km from the capital, where Christian homes were targeted and the church destroyed by a mob of nearly 4,000 Muslims.

Barnabas Aid said on the evening of March 8, a Muslim mob attacked the Christian demonstrators around Mokattam [a garbage-collectors’ village; see my post about this inspiring community here], resulting in deadly clashes. Thirteen people were killed and 140 wounded. Witnesses have since said that they saw people being killed by the army, who were firing shots apparently to control the riots.

Every day that goes by demonstrates a little more how mistaken we were to think that the Egyptian Army would be independent of the Muslim Brotherhood, much less a restraining influence on them.

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Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians have been split for nearly 1,000 years — but in Egypt, they are united in suffering, now so more than ever. Via Catholic Online, the Catholic News Agency reports  [all boldface mine, throughout]:

As the U.S. urges Mubarak to step down, Egyptian Christians worry that radical Islamic ideology may fill a void left by his absence.

Issam Bishara, Vice President for Pontifical Mission activities in Egypt, detailed the concerns of Coptic Orthodox and Catholic Christians in a Feb. 3 report provided to CNA by the Catholic Near East Welfare Association.

“Though some of the primary opposition leaders in this revolt appear to be modern secular reformers, church leaders believe the main engine fueling and organizing the demonstrators is the Muslim Brotherhood,” Bishara wrote. “They fear that the brotherhood intends to seize power through future elections, compromising all patriotic and ideological parties participating in the protests.”

The head of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Pope Shenouda III, has maintained his support for the Mubarak regime, and urged Coptic Orthodox Christians not to join the street protests. The Coptic Orthodox patriarch, whose church claims 95 percent of Egypt’s Christians, has instead advocated a program of internal reforms.

So far, most of the demonstrators opposing President Mubarak have kept religion out of the picture. However, the prominent role of the Muslim Brotherhood – considered to be the best-organized opposition to Mubarak’s National Democratic Party – is causing concern among Egyptian Christians.

The group’s stated aim is to make Islam the “sole reference point” for Egypt’s government and society.

That is entirely in keeping with the Muslim Brotherhood’s motto:  “God is our objective; the Koran is our law; the Prophet is our leader; jihad is our way; and death for the sake of Allah is the highest of our aspirations.”  CNA continues:

“Coptic Christians – as well as Egypt’s Armenian, Greek Orthodox, Latin, Maronite and Melkite Greek Catholics – all fear a fate similar to that of Iraq’s Christians,” Bishara stated, recalling how a power vacuum in that country “left its minorities, especially the Christians, marginalized and exposed to the terror of Islamic extremists and criminals.”

Indeed, it is estimated that from 40% to 60% of of Iraq’s Christians have fled in recent years.  This is part of the more general problem of the vanishing of Christians from all over the Middle East. Four-fifths of Lebanon’s Maronite Christians have emigrated in the last 50 years, though they were once the majority population in Lebanon. The Christian population in the Palestinian Territories has been decimated through outmigration (although the Christian population of Israel has increased since 1967). And in a part of the world where people of every religion  have much longer memories than their counterparts in the West, the Ottoman Turks’ genocide of approximately 1.5 million Armenian Christians between 1915 and 1923 continues to cast a long and palpable shadow.  Christians in Egypt couldn’t help but be nervous, even before the street protests began. According to CNA,

Anxiety was already running high among Egyptian Christians, after a Jan. 1 church bombing that killed or injured more than a hundred worshipers. On Jan. 24 – one day before protests broke out against President Mubarak – a report by Human Rights Watch detailed “widespread discrimination” against Christians, who comprise about 10 percent of the 90-percent Muslim nation.

The Muslim Brotherhood officially describes itself as a non-violent movement, and has stated its commitment to democracy. But the brotherhood’s connections within the Arab world have caused many to question its professions of peace. Its historical role as the source or inspiration for virtually every radical Islamic political movement now in existence is well-established.

Hamas and al-Qaeda, for example, are both offshoots of the Muslim Brotherhood, a fact that is frequently ignored by the same people who ignore the fact that, in the words of the Team B II report, Shariah: The Threat to America, “nearly every major Muslim organization in the United States is actually controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood or [one of its] derivative organization[s].”

CNA continues:

Nina Shea, an international human rights lawyer who directs the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom in Washington, D.C., urged Westerners to regard the Muslim Brotherhood with extreme caution – both on account of the group’s history, and because of the recent trend toward radicalization in Egyptian religious culture at large.

“The Muslim Brotherhood started off in Egypt, during the 1920s, with violent tendencies and violent tactics,” Shea recounted. “It shifted those tactics, as it was repressed, to moderate ones. In other places where it flourished – like in Gaza, or Sudan – it’s been anything but moderate.”

The Muslim Brotherhood, in choosing to be more “moderate” when it’s in a less powerful position, then turning more violent once it has control, is merely following the example of Muhammad, who preached tolerance in his earlier days, when he and his followers were at a disadvantage, but then, once he was in the ascendancy, turned very violent indeed.

“[The Muslim Brotherhood is] very tactically-minded,” [Shea] acknowledged. “In the short term, for tactical reasons, I would expect them to be moderate. But in the medium-term, they would revert to their roots” – including their core principle of imposing Islamic law throughout Egypt.

Westerners who choose to support the protesters unreservedly are playing “high-stakes poker,” Shea said – and should take into account that no popular uprising in the Middle East has ever resulted in a more democratic or pluralistic system of government.

“There are no precedents for it,” Shea said. “On the other hand, there is the precedent of Iran” – where the 1979 populist revolt, against a U.S.-backed authoritarian leader, ended with his replacement by the Ayatollah Khomeini and the nationwide institution of Islamic law.

In the event of a takeover by the Muslim Brotherhood, she said, Christians could expect to live as “dhimmis,” a traditional Islamic designation that strips non-Muslims of many legal protections.

In this arrangement, Shea explained, the government does not need to terrorize Christians at any official level. Rather, officials can simply ignore, or even tacitly permit, religiously-motivated violence and repression by other segments of society.

About two-thirds of Christians in the Middle East now live in Egypt. For this reason alone, Shea said, a takeover by the Muslim Brotherhood could have drastic consequences for Christians throughout the region.

“We could see the virtual end of Christianity’s native presence in the Middle East, faster than anyone thought, if they come to power.”

Via Infidel Bloggers Alliance, we get bad news from Reuters:

In a poll of 1,000 Egyptians done last April and May — i.e., long before the current crisis — Egyptians showed themselves to be what we westerners might call “of two minds.” On the one hand, 59% said democracy was preferable to any other form of government, and 61% are concerned or very concerned about Islamic extremism in Egypt. On the other hand, 85% say Islam’s influence on government is a good thing, and their views on crime and punishment are quite consonant with shari’a law: 82% believe adulterers should be stoned, and 84% believe Muslims who leave Islam should face the death penalty.

So, as Israelis shudder at the possibility of the largest Arab nation in the world taking up arms against them for the first time in decades, Christians within Egypt itself wonder if they could be the next group of Middle Eastern Christians to face expulsion or death.

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We’ve talked about the ongoing family feud in the Republican party between “fiscal” and “social” conservatives.  Probably the liveliest discussions, with the most thoughtful — and thought-provoking — comments, that I’ve seen on this matter have been a couple of articles (and their comment threads) over at RedState.

As important as this fiscal-versus-social discussion is, aren’t we forgetting something?

Recall that Ronald Reagan is remembered as a brilliant politician because he was able to unite the three — not two, but three — strands of conservatism, namely, fiscal, social and national security/defense. Reagan called it a “three-legged stool” — because a three-legged stool cannot stand if even one of the three legs is missing.

Isn’t it a little strange — not to mention, dangerous — for that third leg to be neglected when we are, after all, at war, with “hot” fronts currently in two different countries?

You will not find Victor Davis Hanson neglecting it.  (Elsewhere on this site I have compared Allen West to Hanson, since both are military historians, with advanced degrees — Hanson, a doctorate; West, a master’s — and both men not only know the truth about Islam, but are bold enough to come right out and say it.)  In his recent piece, “In Defense of Defense,” Hanson makes the case that, as we go about the very necessary task of drastically reducing government spending, the defense budget should have some degree of immunity.

Hanson’s argument immediately got my attention, because I remembered that Allen West had said recently that everything should be “on the table” for budget cuts — even defense.  As West’s brilliant speech about Afghanistan made clear, however, we are wasting a lot of money — and American lives — with our dunderheaded non-strategy in Afghanistan.  We could fight leaner if we would fight smarter.

Not long ago, I read a disturbing novel, a thriller:  John Lescroart’s Betrayal.  The title had multiple meanings in the book, but one of the main ones was the nefarious behavior — including huge-scale embezzlement — of one of the many private contractors working with the U.S. military in Iraq.  Granted, it was only a work of fiction; and granted, Lescroart — though one of my favorite writers — may tend toward the liberal side of politics.  Still, he was describing things that really do happen.  As long as there have been private defense contractors, there have been waste and fraud.  How Allen West, if elected President, will attack this problem remains to be seen — but I’m sure that he saw some things in Iraq that will give him some pretty clear ideas of how and where our mammoth defense budget might be tightened up.

Meanwhile, conservatives should read Hanson’s piece.  The fiscal-versus-social conservatism debate will be moot if we lose in Afghanistan, and give radical Islamists around the world a morale boost that will drastically increase their numbers and their boldness.

hat tip:  Big Peace

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