Is Kia Ora Gaza a hate group?

November 13th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Shalom Kiwi blogs:

New Zealand group, Kia Ora Gaza claims to be a humanitarian organisation dedicated to delivering aid to Gaza, breaking “Israel’s siege” of Gaza, “fostering fraternal relations”, and “enhancing the understanding of the Middle East”.

The reality is that Kia Ora Gaza’s activities are hardly humanitarian, and it actively works against peace and reconciliation between the Palestinians and Israelis. In effect it works to prolong the conflict, while fomenting hate and distrust through a deliberate campaign of misinformation and incitement.

In short, Kia Ora Gaza is a hate group. How do we know this? Quite simply, we listened to its rhetoric, the rhetoric of its representatives, and reviewed and analysed what it posts on its website and onsocial media.

Here are six good reasons why Kia Ora Gaza is a hate group:

The six reasons are:

  1. Kia Ora Gaza supports terrorism
  2. Kia Ora Gaza promotes anti-Semitic libels
  3. Kia Ora Gaza seeks the destruction of Israel
  4. Kia Ora Gaza uses humanitarian aid money for illegal and foolhardy publicity stunts
  5. Kia Ora Gaza is completely one-sided in its condemnation
  6. Kia Ora Gaza promotes the bigoted Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement

Sadly this group gets support from Maori TV, so is effectively taxpayer funded.

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The NZ UN Middle East resolution

November 2nd, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

New Zealand has drafted a United Nations Security Council resolution that calls for Israel to stop building settlements in occupied territories and for the Palestinians to refrain from referring cases to the International Criminal Court.

The two-page draft also asks both sides to avoid provocative acts and not to question the “integrity or commitment of the other party or its leaders.”

Good to see the draft NZ resolution is relatively balanced and calls for restraint on both sides. Far too many UN resolutions only make demands on Israel.

The text was circulated this week to the 15-member council, Israel, the Palestinians and other countries in the region to gauge reaction. New Zealand UN Ambassador Gerard van Bohemen said the aim was “to try and get the council to speak with a united voice even if in a relatively modest way.”

“There’s been a worrying deterioration on the ground and we’re stuck with nothing happening in the peace process and no commitment in the council to do anything,” van Bohemen said. “We have to find a starting point and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

It isn’t a roadmap to peace, but a useful step forward.

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Herald on UN Security Council

July 8th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

New Zealand campaigned long and hard for a seat on the United Nations Security Council. Now that our turn has come to chair the council for a month, Foreign Minister Murray McCully says we will put at the top of our agenda an attempt to revive peace talks between Israel and Palestine. Nobody can accuse him of picking the easy ones.

Indeed. It will be amazing if we can make a breakthrough – but worth trying.

But our diplomats will be under no illusions of how difficult it will be to interest Israel in a UN initiative. The UN is regarded with resentment and contempt among conservative Israelis who seem to be the majority these days.

Not just conservative Israelis. The UN is incredibly biased against Israel.

As things stand in the Middle East, Israel has the upper hand and is enjoying relative calm while Islamist terror wracks the surrounding states. Attention is off the West Bank settlements and conditions in Gaza. Israelis who now believe permanent siege is their only possible security are content with the status quo. It will be hard to convince them to try yet again for genuine peace.

It’s not the Israelis you need to convince of peace. They’d like nothing more. It is the Palestinians that have rejected pretty much every peace proposal over 40 years. They’ve been offered territory equal to the 1967 boundaries, and even part of Jerusalem. They’ve been offered their own state.  But they insist on a “right of return” to Israel which would mean the effective destruction of Israel as a Jewish state.

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Will UN Security Council be fair with Israel?

February 27th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

NZ is now on the UN Security Council, and one of the issues before it is a draft resolution regarding Israel and Palestine.

I recently met with Dr Einat Wilf, who is a former Labor MP in the Knesset, a former intelligence officer, McKinsey consultant, and foreign policy advisor to Shimon Peres. She is a regularly published commentator and academic.

Her bio describes her as an atheist and a Zionist so we had a fun discussion over whether Judaism is a religion, a race or a culture. Her view was definitely not a race, and both a culture and a religion. There are quite a large number of “secular” Jews and she said that one definition of being a Jew is a belief in “up to one God” :-)

We covered the normal range of topics such as the impact of the Islamic State, Iran, whether despositic dictators were better for the region than the status quo etc. But also quite a bit on Israel and Palestine.

Wilf is very critical of the draft Security Council resolution, which NZ appears to be supporting. She makes the point:

A Security Council resolution that is balanced, even-handed and has the potential to make a real contribution to peace. In its present form, the proposal is very specific on demands from the Israeli side, while leaving the obligations of the Palestinians and the Arab states up to “fair and agreed solution.”  

 This leaves all the issues crucial to Israel up for negotiation, while whatever concessions Israel could have offered to advance them, have already been predetermined. It further leads to a situation where at the end of the 24-month implementation period, if such a resolution is passed, Israel could be found in material breach of a United Nations Security Council resolution, while no Arab or Palestinian action or refusal to take action can be. There is no specific metric for Palestinian non-compliance, since the draft speaks of their obligations in the most general of terms. 

So the resolution appears balanced on the surface as it appears to have obligations on both sides, but the obligations on the Palestinian side are so general, that it is basically impossible for them to ever be found in breach.

On the question of territory, the draft resolution leaves very little ambiguity.  It calls for a complete Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines with agreed, mutual swaps and on Jerusalem, it insists on a “shared capital” for both states.

Such specific and unequivocal demands of Israel could have been paired with equally forceful statements renouncing the Palestinian demand for the “return” of the descendants of refugees from the 1948 war — which would effectively turn democratic Israel into an Arab country with a Jewish minority.  But here, the resolution only asks for an “agreed, just, fair, and realistic” solution.

The demands for a right to return would effectively see the wiping out of Israel as we know it. If you want a peace settlement, then that needs to go off the table.

The resolution calls on all parties to refrain from actions “that could undermine the viability of the two state solution on the basis of the parameters defined in this resolution,” but then lists as its only example of such action “settlement activities.”  Settlement activity is the only specific action of any party that is criminalised in this text, whereas the text makes no mention of Palestinian attacks on Israeli civilians, nor of suicide bombings, or racist or genocidal incitement. It never deplores the Arab boycott as illegitimate or unacceptable, and it doesn’t even specifically call for its end as part of a comprehensive peace.

Not much incentives for Israel!

Where it is specific

about Israeli concessions on territory, it is very vague about the “security arrangements” that will come after an Israeli withdrawal. The details are to be worked out in future negotiations, but one detail is already built in: “a full phased withdrawal of Israeli security forces.” Israel’s concerns that the West Bank, which overlook every major Israeli city and town, could become a base for Gaza-style rocket attacks, are not even a consideration.

This means that in a period where nearly every Arab regime has been threatened with an Islamic insurgency, or fallen to one, or just been ripped apart by civil war, Israel is expected to commit ahead of time to a security arrangement with zero Israeli military presence — and where any future military presence will automatically place it in breach of a UNSC resolution.

So why is NZ supporting this resolution?

I believe New Zealand can make a real contribution to peace and to the strength of the United Nations system by insisting that if such a resolution moves forward it will not “pick and choose” between the sides and the issues, but treat all of them equally and in equal measure and detail.

We campaigned on being independent and fair. I hope we live up to that.

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Middle Eastern political relationships in one easy lesson

January 24th, 2015 at 2:31 pm by Lindsay Addie

Last year Slate published this diagram using smilies to show the state of relationships in Middle Eastern politics.

Middle East Friends and enemies

Some of these relationships may have changed in light of more recent events but assuming for a moment that they’re reasonably accurate as shown.

  • Everyone but Iraq have more enemies than friends.
  • ISIS and Al-Quida not surprisingly don’t have any friends.
  • The Palestinian Authority seem for whatever ever reason to have a lot of complex relationships.
  • The Israel – USA relationship is probably a friendly relationship that has got a bit complicated bearing in mind the squabble about Netanyahu being invited to address a joint session of the US Congress by Boehner. The White House have accordingly got their knickers in a knot.
  • Saudia Arabia don’t have an oversupply of friends.

I must add that some countries like Yemen and Jordan haven’t been included.


A former Saudi Commodore on Israel

August 27th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Abdulateef Al-Mulhim is a retired Royal Saudi Navy Commodore. He wrote a couple of years ago in Arab News:

 From the period of 1948 and to this day many confrontations have taken place. Some of them were small clashes and many of them were full-scale battles, but there were no major wars apart from the ones mentioned above. The Arab-Israeli conflict is the most complicated conflict the world ever experienced. On the anniversary of the 1973 War between the Arab and the Israelis, many people in the Arab world are beginning to ask many questions about the past, present and the future with regard to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The questions now are: What was the real cost of these wars to the Arab world and its people. And the harder question that no Arab national wants to ask is: What was the real cost for not recognizing Israel in 1948 and why didn’t the Arab states spend their assets on education, health care and the infrastructures instead of wars?

The total cost of the conflict is massive.

The Arab world wasted hundreds of billions of dollars and lost tens of thousands of innocent lives fighting Israel, which they considered is their sworn enemy, an enemy whose existence they never recognized. The Arab world has many enemies and Israel should have been at the bottom of the list. The real enemies of the Arab world are corruption, lack of good education, lack of good health care, lack of freedom, lack of respect for the human lives and finally, the Arab world had many dictators who used the Arab-Israeli conflict to suppress their own people. 

These dictators’ atrocities against their own people are far worse than all the full-scale Arab-Israeli wars. 

Israel is a convenient diversion for many rulers in the region.

Many Arabs don’t know that the life expectancy of the Palestinians living in Israel is far longer than many Arab states and they enjoy far better political and social freedom than many of their Arab brothers. Even the Palestinians living under Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip enjoy more political and social rights than some places in the Arab World. Wasn’t one of the judges who sent a former Israeli president to jail is an Israeli-Palestinian? 

The region would do much better if there was peace with Israel.


Hamas encouraging its own citizens to get killed

July 20th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

William Saletan at Slate writes:

Hamas seized control of Gaza seven years ago. Its reign has been disastrous. Unemployment and poverty are around 40 percent. The government is bankrupt. Israel’s control of Gaza’s borders has played a huge role in that. But Hamas has done everything possible to tighten Israel’s grip and delegitimize Palestinian resistance.

And the latest:

The vast majority of the damage in Gaza has been inflicted by Israel. Yet Hamas has contrived to make the carnage worse. It has encouraged Gazans to stand in the way of Israeli missiles. When Israel advised 100,000 Gazans to evacuate an area targeted for invasion, Hamas instructed them to ignorethe warnings. It added: “To all of our people who have evacuated their homes—return to them immediately and do not leave the house.”

Unbelievable. They actually are encouraging their own citizens to try and get killed, so they get propaganda from it.

That’s what Hamas is doing. It’s trading Palestinian blood for political ambitions it foolishly expects to achieve through war. No amount of suffering in Gaza has persuaded it to stop. During the war’s first week, there was vague talk of a cease-fire, with each side reportedly holding out for further demands. Netanyahu declared that “no international pressure will prevent us from operating with full force.” Israel looked like a belligerent bully. On Monday, when Egypt announced acease-fire proposal based on ideas sketched by Abbas, all Hamas had to do was say yes. The proposal entailed no concessions. It was just a break in the bloodshed, followed by talks.

The gist was simple. As of 9 a.m. Tuesday, both sides would stop shooting. Then they’d start talking, through Egypt, about a truce. The discussions would include Hamas’ demands for easing Israeli control of Gaza’s borders. Egypt’s foreign ministry emphasized that the proposal was “aimed at stopping the killing of the Palestinians.”

The Arab League embraced the plan. Abbas issued a statement that “urged all parties to comply with this truce in order to stop the shedding of Palestinian blood.” Israel accepted it and announced that, as of 9 a.m., it had stopped shooting. For six hours, Israel held its fire.

But Hamas kept shooting. Rockets continued to fly from Gaza into Israel—nearly 50 in the next six hours—and Hamas took credit for them.

People need to understand how this makes the chance of there ever being peace minimal. When Israel agrees to a cease-fire, and Hamas fires 50 more rockets off, you’d have to be bonkers to think Israel will then do another ceasefire.

Hamas didn’t just reject the cease-fire. Its spokesmen mocked Israel for agreeing to the plan, calling this acquiescence “indicative of Israel’s weakness.” They “condemned international and regional support for the ceasefire initiative.” They derided Egypt, scoffing that “the Egyptian initiative is an attempt to defeat us” and that “those who ignore the Palestinian resistance should not be dealt with.”

Anyone who equates Hamas and Israel is basically an Israel hater.

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What is ISIS

June 22nd, 2014 at 11:52 am by David Farrar

Prospect Magazine look at what is ISIS:

What is ISIS?

It is a Sunni Muslim militant group operating in Western Iraq and Syria. The name is an acronym, standing for “the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (the Levant).

What does it want?

International recognition as an independent state for the territory it controls, which spans parts of eastern Syria and western Iraq. In this area, it functions as a de facto government, operating schools and courts. It also wants to control more territory. If it can sustain and consolidate its new gains in Iraq, it will control much of the northern part of the country, and reports say it plans to mount an assault on the capital, Baghdad (its advance has been halted just short of the city). It also wants to seize control of rebel-held areas in central Syria and potentially expand into the Lebanon to the West. In both Iraq and Syria, ISIS’s enemies are Shia Muslims.

So it wants to carve a Sunni country of of Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

Who are its members?

Reports vary, putting the total number of recruits at anything from 3,000-10,000. According to Gareth Stansfield, professor of Middle East politics at the University of Exeter, the group tends to recruit most heavily among Syrian and Iraqi locals, but it does have some foreign fighters, mostly Chechens, Afghans, and Pakistanis, as well as some Europeans. Michael Stephens, Deputy Director, Qatar for the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), says there could be as many as 300 Britons fighting for ISIS, and a further almost 300 other Europeans. 

Any Kiwis I wonder?

How dangerous is it?

The group is well-resourced. Its new adventure in Iraq has seen it seize military bases in Mosul. In Syria, it controls oil fields, and it may yet gain control of Iraq’s largest oil refinery in the town of Baiji. Stephens says that individual Saudi and Kuwaiti donors are giving money to ISIS, either through European financial institutions or, in some cases, by smuggling suitcases of bills across the border. It is also ruthless: the group has been blamed for a string of assassinations in Syria, including two alleged crucifixions. Most importantly, this particular militant operation is very good at recruiting people to its cause. “This idea of fighting Shia seems to be really mobilising young men to fight in a way that fighting Westerners didn’t,” says Stephens. “They [say] they’re saving Islam from itself. 

That’s fascinating that the are more motivated to fight Shia than the West.


So Iran are now the good guys?

June 14th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Iran has reportedly sent its Revolutionary Guard forces to fight al-Qaeda-inspired militants who are sweeping across Iraq.

The Wall Street Journal and the Times reported that two battalions of the Quds Forces, the elite overseas branch of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, that have long operated in Iraq, have come to the aid of the Shia-dominated Government.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki Government last night remained in paralysis, unable to form a coherent response after militants blitzed and captured entire chunks of the nation’s Sunni heartland this week, including major cities, towns, military and police bases as Iraqi forces melted away or fled.

What’s that old saying – my enemy’s enemy is my friend. So true.

The new reality is the biggest threat to Iraq’s stability since the United States’ withdrawal at the end of 2011, and it has pushed the nation closer to a precipice that would partition it into Sunni, Shia and Kurdish zones.

That may not be the worst outcome – three separate countries. Can the Shia and Sunni sects live together now? Kurds are already autonomous. But actual separate countries could also be destabilising as Turkey would not want a Kurdistan as neigbours.

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Sharon’s plans

January 14th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

An interesting article in Haaretz on what Sharon was looking to do:

Ever since Ariel Sharon sank into a coma eight years ago, many have wondered whether he would have taken the peace process with the Palestinians any further after the 2005 withdrawal from Gaza.

A series of cables from the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv to the State Department that were leaked to Wikileaks show that in fact, even before the Gaza withdrawal, Sharon was planning his next big diplomatic move. Moreover, leaked Palestinian documents show that after Yasser Arafat’s death in November 2004, and even more so once Mahmoud Abbas was elected Palestinian president the following January, Sharon made efforts to coordinate the Gaza withdrawal with the Palestinian Authority. …

In his summary of that meeting, then-U.S. Ambassador Dan Kurtzer makes it clear that Sharon had no intention of stopping with the Gaza withdrawal, but planned to take far-reaching steps in the West Bank and Jerusalem. Kurtzer noted that Sharon put emphasis on annexing the major settlement blocs, implying he would concede other parts of the West Bank, and that while he would not even discuss dividing Jerusalem, he would consider handing over some Arab neighborhoods, “but not the Temple Mount, Mount of Olives or the City of David.”

We’ll never know what would have happened if Sharon had lived, but I think we would be closer to a peace settlement. However I doubt we would have one, as both parties need to want peace, and while Fatah sort of do, Hamas do not.

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A small but symbolic tweet

September 6th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar


This tweet was from the President of the Islamic Republic Republic of Iran.

The Washington Post reports:

The tweet called special attention to Iran’s Jews – there are thought to be perhaps 25,000 living largely in peace – but it’s the reference to “all Jews” that seems especially significant. Given the long-standing enmity between Iran and Israel, and the years of official Iranian rhetoric condemning Israel in often anti-Semitic language, this is quite a shift.

After eight years of fiercely anti-Israeli rhetoric from former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his government, which often veered well into anti-Semitism, it’s difficult to separate discussion of Jews in Iranian political discourse from discussion of Israel. That’s obviously not a particularly helpful habit. But the point is that this tweet, purportedly from Iran’s president, seemed to be offering a very small gesture of goodwill at least partially toward Israelis, who can usually expect nothing but hateful rhetoric from Iranian rulers. It’s not exactly a unilateral declaration of peace – tomorrow, Iran will probably still support Hezbollah – but it’s yet another hint of Rouhani’s efforts to dramatically soften Iranian foreign policy and rhetoric.

The former President talked often of wiping out Israel and denied the Holocaust occurred. This one sends Rosh Hashanah greetings to all Jews. It is just symbolic, but a very welcome change of tone.

A spokesperson has tried to deny the account is the President’s, and it may be run by someone on his behalf, but it is thought he approves any messages on it.

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Will this get widely reported?

November 22nd, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Houston Chronicle reports:

Masked gunmen publicly shot dead six suspected collaborators with Israel in a large Gaza City intersection Tuesday, witnesses said. An Associated Press reporter saw a mob surrounding five of the bloodied corpses shortly after the killing.

Some in the crowd stomped and spit on the bodies. A sixth corpse was tied to a motorcycle and dragged through the streets as people screamed, “Spy! Spy!”

No doubt the evidence was carefully considered in a fair trial.

Witnesses said a van stopped in the intersection, and four masked men pushed the six suspected informers out of the vehicle. Salim Mahmoud, 18, said the gunmen ordered the six to lie face down in the street and then shot them dead. Another witness, 13-year-old Mokhmen al-Gazhali, said the informers were killed one by one, as he mimicked the sound of gunfire.

They said only a few people were in the street at first — most Gazans have been staying indoors because of the Israeli airstrikes — but the crowd quickly grew after the killings. Eventually several hundred men pushed and shoved to get a close look at the bodies, lying in a jumble on the ground. One man spit at the corpses, another kicked the head of one of the dead men.

“They should have been killed in a more brutal fashion so others don’t even think about working with the occupation (Israel),” said one of the bystanders, 24-year-old Ashraf Maher.

One body was then tied by a cable to the back of a motorcycle and dragged through the streets. A number of gunmen on motorcycles rode along as the body was pulled past a house of mourning for victims of an Israeli airstrike.

Funnily enough, Hamas brutally murdering Palestinians gets far fewer headlines, than Israel missile strikes killing Palestinians.

UPDATE1: A Hamas official has criticised the killings, or at least criticised “The way these collaborators were killed and the images after their death …”. 

UPDATE2: Egypt has announced a truce between Israel and Hamas. This is a good thing. Now if Hamas could just drop their objective of destroying Israel, then a durable peace for land settlement could be contemplated.

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The power of cartoons

November 21st, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

From coNZervative.

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Obama on Israel

November 19th, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Washington Post reports:

At the start of a three-day trip to Southeast Asia, President Obama said at a news conference in Bangkok on Sunday that Israel has a right to defend itself.

“There’s no country on Earth would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside it’s borders. So we are fully supportive of Israel’s right to defend itself from missiles landing on people’s homes and workplaces and potentially killing civilians. And we will continue to support Israel’s right to defend itself.”

It’s funny how weeks and weeks of missile attacks on Israel rarely warrant even a minor news story. It is only when they strike back that the world’s media give it 24/7 coverage!

But, the president added, “we are actively working with all the parties in the region to see if we can end those missiles being fired without further escalation of violence in the region.”

It is sad when people die on either side. I note however that for Hamas their definition of success is killing as many civilians as possible while for Israel, it is killing as few civilians as possible.

No doubt many from the safety of their homes, advocate that Israel should do nothing about rocket attacks on them from Gaza. Maybe they believe that they threaten only a few homes near the border. Well thanks to the Israeli Embassy, here is some perspective.

A peace settlement on 1967 borders is only possible if there is actual peace for land. But when the land already given up is used to launch thousands of rocket attacks on civilians, then it hardly provides much of an incentive to give up even more land.


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Pallywood Returns to Gaza

November 17th, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

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Syrian PM defects

August 7th, 2012 at 4:51 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

As Aleppo shudders under a barrage of shellfire, the desertion of Syria’s PM marks one of the most high-profile defections from President Bashar al-Assad’s government.

Syria’s prime minister began planning his break from the regime two months ago when Bashar Assad offered him the post and an ultimatum: Take the job or die.

The full scope of Riad Hijab’s carefully executed flight to the rebel side – described by an aide who escaped with him to Jordan – reverberated Monday through Syria’s leadership.

Hijab became the highest-ranking government official to defect, emboldening the opposition and raising fresh questions about the regime’s ability to survive the civil war.

If Assad is eventually toppled, and jailed (or killed), it will send out a very strong signal to Middle East regimes that if your citizens demand democracy, responding by killing them will end badly for you. Qaddafi found this out also.

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The Arab League

January 24th, 2012 at 8:30 am by David Farrar

Reuters reports at Stuff:

Syria has rebuffed an Arab League call for President Bashar al-Assad step down in favour of a unity government as interference in its affairs, underlining its determination to defeat a 10-month-old uprising seeking Assad’s overthrow.

It was not immediately clear whether Syria would accept the League’s decision to keep Arab observers in the country for another month despite their failure to stem bloodshed in which hundreds of people have died since they deployed on December 26.

But any credibility the mission might retain was undermined when Saudi Arabia, a foe of Syria’s closest ally Iran, announced it would withdraw its own monitors because of the Syrian authorities’ failure to cooperate with its mandate. It was unclear if other Gulf states would follow suit. …

Rami Khouri, a Beirut-based commentator, said the unusually bold Arab plan announced at the Arab League’s Cairo headquarters on Sunday was clearly “bad news” for Assad.

“The fact that Arab countries would propose such a clear intervention and essentially order him to step aside and give him a mechanism to do so is quite a dramatic sign of how much credibility and legitimacy he has lost in the region,” he said.

It’s good to see the Arab League putting the pressure on Syria to stop killing its people, and to have elections. It makes it much harder for the regime to say the opposition is a tool of the United States etc.

However it is ironic that you have a league made up of so many countries that themselves do not have democratic elections, pushing for elections in Syria. I guess the difference is their monarchies are  relatively benign, and are not killing their citizens. However even the House of Saud may feel the winds of change one day.

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Hypocrisy alert

March 16th, 2011 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Reuters reports:

Bahrain has declared a state of emergency following weeks of unrest on the island kingdom, state television announced on Tuesday, saying the measure would come into force immediately and last three months.

An order by the king “authorised the commander of Bahrain’s defence forces to take all necessary measures to protect the safety of the country and its citizens,” said a statement read out on television.

Meanwhile, Iran called the arrival of Saudi troops in Bahrain unacceptable and urged the kingdom to respond to pro-democracy demonstrators peacefully.

For fuck’s sake – I don’t know whether to cry or laugh.

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March 1st, 2011 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Most analysts think Gaddafi has lost control of so much of Libya, that his downfall or demise is just a matter of time. I hope so.

The death toll is in the thousands, and those lives could have been saved if Gaddafi had done a Muburak. Of course the difference may just be that the Egyptian Army was less willing to kill it own citizens. To be fair most of the Libyan Army has been reluctant also.

A part of me sees some good from his decision to try and supress the pro-democracy movement by arms. Because it looks like he will fail, and will depart office (or life) reviled internationally.

This may prove a useful lesson to other dictatorships in the Middle East, and encourage them to peacefully engage with pro-democracy movements – not try and crush them.

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Which country will be next to go?

February 21st, 2011 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Will it be Bahrain or Libya?


The importance of moderates

October 6th, 2010 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Reuters reports:

Jewish settlers on Tuesday gave new copies of the Koran to Palestinians in a West Bank village whose mosque was burnt in an attack blamed by Palestinians on militants in the settler movement.

Several copies of Islam’s holy book were scorched in the arson attack and threats in Hebrew were scrawled on the wall of the mosque of Beit Fajjar early on Monday.

The village sits on the edge of the sprawling Jewish settlement bloc of Gush Etzion.

Suspicion immediately fell on settler militants opposed to a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, in which some settlements would be turned over to a Palestinian state.

“This visit is to say that although there are people who oppose peace, he who opposes peace is opposed to God,” said Rabbi Menachem Froman, a well-known peace activist and one of a handful of settlers who went to Beit Fajjar to show solidarity with their Muslim neighbours.

This is a nice story, and something it would be good to see more of. All religions have extremists (some have more than others), but they also have moderates. And when extremists do something in the name of your religion, it helps if others in that religion decry them, or as in this case show in a practical sense your disgust.


Lunch with Daniel Pipes

August 25th, 2010 at 3:27 pm by David Farrar

Just returned from the Wellington Club where myself and around eight journalists had lunch with Daniel Pipes, who has authored more than a dozen books on the Middle East or Islam. The Israeli Ambassador kindly hosted the lunch.

Daniel spoke on five broad topics, and we had a lively Q+A. I’ll go through them, off memory.

Iraq & Afghanistan

Pipes was very pessimistic for both countries, and said that the aim of transforming the countries into modern democratic states has and will fail. Worse, he believes they won’t even achieve the status of “a decent place to live”.

What makes his view of significance, if he was a supporter of the invasions of both countries. So he is saying, that the US has failed and will fail.

I asked whether the US were too ambitious trying to turn Iraq into a post-war Germany or Japan, and whether they would have been better to basically shoot Saddam, and the next ten in the line of succession, tell No 11 that he is now in charge, that he should leave the Kurds alone, and bring in some elections and basically pull out, leaving the infrastructure, the Baath party, the army etc intact.

Pipes basically agreed, and said that has been his long held position – that the US should have found a strongman, who was more palatable than Saddam, and left him in charge. It would not have achieved a secular liberal democracy, but it might achieve the country becoming a semi-decent place to live.

US Policy

Pipes made a strong case that in terms of foreign policy, there is very little difference between Bush and Obama. Obama at one stage had more troops in Iraq and Afghanistan than under Bush. Also Obama has approved 50 attacks from unmanned drones, compared to 38 under the entire Bush presidency.

Obama’s outreach to Islamic states, with his Cairo speech did result in a more favourable impression of the US at the time. But a year later, the views of the US in the Islamic world have shrunk back to what they were under Bush.


Pipes thinks there is no doubt Iran is developing nuclear weapon – and that in fact it is a logical thing for Iran to do, as it makes you a military power, but in a far cheaper fashion than an increase in conventional forces.

He decried both the Bush and Obama strategy on Iran on the basis he has yet to work out what either of them is.

Pipes believes the threat of a nuclear armed Iran, under its current leadership, is so dangerous, that a military strike will be necessary.

I actually pushed back against this, on the basis that most Iranians want to get rid of their President, and an attack on their nuclear facilities is the one thing which will make his popularity soar, and guarantee the hardliners keep control for at least a generation.

Pipes said that he does think that Iran is the one country where the Islamic leadership is under real threat, and if left alone they are likely to be removed from power in the future. However he still regards the danger in the interim of an Islamic Iran with nuclear weapons to be so great, that he still thinks a strike is needed – but accepts the consequences will be a massive increase in terrorism etc.

Israel & Palestine

Pipes is a pessimist on a diplomatic solution. He asserts that you only have diplomatic solutions after the war is over, not as a way to stop a war. Until one side “wins” diplomacy will not work.

His preferred course of action is to try and increase the proportion of Palestinians who accept Israel has a right to exist from 20% to over 50%. He says only when a majority of Palestinians accept they will not succeed with their desire to destroy Israel, will a diplomatic solution have any chance of working.

Islam and Europe

Pipes says the growing Islamic population in Europe is partly due to the indigenous populations not producing enough children to maintain population, and partly the desire of people in Islamic countries to move to places with a better standard of living.

He says that there are three possible paths ahead:

  1. Europe muddles through with peaceful co-existence. He says that he sees no evidence at all that this is the likely scenario.
  2. Over time Europe becomes more “Islamised” with Islam as the dominant religion in Europe, and wide-spread sharia law – even some Islamic states in Europe.
  3. A massive back-lash from the indigenous Europeans, with neo-fascist and even fascist parties gaining support across the Europe.

A vigorous discussion on this topic. Canada was held up as one of the few Western countries which has managed Muslim immigration, which has not been radical Islamists. I suggested that NZ has also been successful at having Muslim immigrants, with almost no radicalisation here.

Pipes suggestion for keeping it that way, is that one should not discriminate against Muslims who wish to migrate here, but that one should absolutely discriminate against Islamists.

He said many people do not get the difference between Islam/Muslims and Islamism/Islamists. He says Islam is a religion like Judaism, Christianity etc. Islamism is a political belief like communism, zionism, fascism.

Was a very interesting 90 minute lunch and discussion, even if somewhat depressing in terms of the outlook for key conflicts, and for Europe. Barry Soper commented that it made him glad to live in New Zealand – for which I have to agree.

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Eve Teasers

June 14th, 2010 at 2:22 am by The Wanderer

Can’t let this slip by without mention.

Seems like Kuwait has reverted to old school justice, the likes of which haven’t been seen in Europe since WWII, and in Kuwait since the 1980’s apparently.

Hat tip: Desert Girl

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No virgins for you!

April 22nd, 2010 at 10:54 pm by The Wanderer

He’s not the first, but his is perhaps the best – Foreign Policy’s article on Tahir ul-Qadri introduces you to the Pakistani Islamic Scholar who has issued a fatwa condemning terrorism as un-Islamic. Not only does he label terrorism as “haram”, or forbidden under Islam, he goes so far as to describe acts of terrorism as acts of disbelief. To put this in context, for a practising muslim, an act of disbelief is pretty much the worst offence he or she can commit against Islam.

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Reaction to rape

April 22nd, 2010 at 7:51 pm by The Wanderer

I came accross a new website here the other day, called Kuwait Exposed , where people can anonymously post their “confessions”. While most of the posts are pretty lame and rather whiny, I was disgusted to read a confession of rape .  I’m inclined to believe it as genuine following the poster’s further comment in response to some of the other comments (where he was stupid enough to use his own name – not that that’ll assist in any legal action, which is highly unlikely to eventuate in any case).

It’s surprisingly easy enough to live in a place like this and let the dichotomy of an expat vs Kuwaiti view on the world pass you by, and many people do, despite experiencing the differences on a daily basis.

What struck me most about this “confession” was the reaction in the comments. This creature says he loves this poor girl, whom he has raped.  He seems to realise on some level that what he has done is wrong, but he still sees her as the future wife and mother of his children.

And many of the commenters seem to as well! For example:

” Telling ur mother idf the best thing to do even taking her with u wen u are going to Apologize, the virginity thing could be fixed only if she have an adult helping her. Then if u truly wanna show her that u love her ask ur mam to call hers and engage her to u !” [sic]

“If you really love her and want to make it up, there is a way you could do it. if I were in your place, I would go and ask for her hand in marriage.”

Some don’t even see a need to confess: “what’s left is between you and God”

The comments about the need/ability to “fix” a loss of virginity have got to stop you in your tracks also.

Compare that to comments from those with Western names.

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