Arabs: Abu Ivanka (Trump) Is a Hero!
A new hero has been born in the Arab world and his name is Donald Trump. And this is not a joke.
Arabs and Muslims love leaders who talk tough and do not hesitate to use force. In the Arab world, compromise is a sign of weakness.
Until recently, Trump was anathema to many Arabs and Muslims. So what happened? U.S. President Donald Trump did something Arab leaders have failed to do: he helped the Syrian civilians who were being gassed by their ruler.
Arabs and Muslims have long lost faith in their leaders' ability to deal with the crises plaguing Arab and Islamic countries. The civil war in Syria, which has been raging for more than five years and which has claimed the lives of more than half a million people, is seen as a shining best example of Arab and Muslim leaders' incompetence and apathy.
The most recent Arab League summit in Jordan, which brought together many Arab heads of state and monarchs, will be best remembered for the photos of leaders falling asleep during the discussions. These pictures, which have been circulating widely in the Arab media, feel like salt in the festering wound of Arab leaders' indifference to their peoples' plights.
The summit, which utterly failed to find a solution to the ongoing killings in Syria, Yemen, Iraq and other Arab countries, is now being sarcastically referred to by many Arabs as the "Sleep Summit."
Few Arabs, of course, were expecting their leaders to step up. As far as many Arabs are concerned, their leaders are "traitors" and "puppets" in the hands of the U.S. (and sometimes Israel), and interested only in preserving their seats and enriching themselves and their families on the backs of their constituents.
Even gassing civilians in Syria did not surprise the Arab people. Scenes of children and other civilians suffocating from poisonous gas are not new to the Arab world. Similar atrocities have already taken place in Iraq and other Arab countries in the past few decades.
Desperate for a leader who is willing to send a strong message to the Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, many Arabs and Muslims are now looking at Trump as their "savior." His recent action in Syria stands in sharp and positive relief to the treacherous inactivity of the corrupt Arab heads of state who have turned their backs on their own people.
The missile strike that Trump ordered in retaliation for the use of chemical weapons in Syria has earned him unprecedented appreciation and respect throughout Arab and Islamic countries. The last time a U.S. president won such praise was when George W. Bush liberated Kuwait from Saddam Hussein's army.
Now, Arab leaders can only sit on the side and watch with envy as their constituents heap praise on Trump for ordering the military strike against Assad's forces. Thousands of Arabs have taken to social media to express their admiration and gratitude for Trump after the U.S. missile strike. Many are affectionately referring to Trump as "Abu Ivanka al-Amriki."
Others are calling Trump "Lion of the Sunnis", "Caliph of the Muslims" and "Defender of the Islamic Holy Sites." Some wrote: "Blessed be the hands of Abu Ivanka al-Amiriki (Trump)," and expressed hope that he would do more to rid the Syrian people of their dictator. "We love you Trump" and "Trump is our hope" are two of many hashtags that have become extremely popular on social media, especially Twitter. Many of the writers are Syrians, Egyptians and Gulf citizens.
Arabs are replacing their profile photos on Facebook and Twitter with an image of Trump. "Trump did in a few months what Obama was unable to do in eight years," many of them commented. "For the first time in six years, the Assad regime is being held accountable for its atrocities."
Lebanese journalist Maria Maaloof wrote: "Thank you Mr. President for not ignoring the cries of the (Syrian) children."
By striking Syria, Trump seems to have made America great again, at least in the eyes of many Arabs and Muslims.
Many Arabs and Muslims perceive themselves to have been betrayed by the Obama administration. They felt, rightly, that the Obama administration turned its back on Washington's friends and allies in the Arab world in favor of Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood. It is no surprise, therefore, that Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries were among the first to voice support for the U.S. strike against Syria.
For now, Trump's military strike in Syria has partially restored U.S. credibility among Arabs and Muslims. Moreover, it has broadcast that the days of the Obama administration's appeasement and inaction are over. Arabs love world leaders who stand up to oppression and injustice; his swift and strong response accounts for the about-face on Trump in the Arab world. The U.S. strike is a first step towards restoring the U.S. role as a true leader. It remains to be seen whether Trump will demonstrate the same determination in dealing with the duplicity and malevolence of other Arabs and Muslims.
Bassam Tawil is a scholar based in the Middle East.
Saturday, April 15, 2017
Graham compares Rice's surveillance scandal to Benghazi lies
by Paul Bedard |
The South Carolina senator said, "I'm not going to prejudge. But I know, do know during Benghazi which you're well aware of, that she started the storyline of a protest caused by a video. It was always a terrorist attack on day one. They manipulated the information, I think for political reason."
Graham said that in Intelligence Committee hearings into the scandal he expects key intelligence officials will be called in a bid to figure out what happened when Trump officials were spied on in a probe of Russia.
He also told the upcoming Sunday public affairs show Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson that he is concerned his phone calls with foreign officials could be tapped.
The following is from his conversation with Attkisson for her show which appears on Sinclair TV stations and online Sunday at 9:30 a.m.:
Sharyl: "If this was done to President Trump and his team during the campaign at a time when nobody really thought he was going to win, doesn't that raise a question in your mind of whether it was possible it was done to other candidates?"
Sen. Graham: "Yeah, here's what I don't quite understand. Why should they listen to a conversation between somebody running for president and a foreign agent unless you believe that person's committed a crime? So, if I'm talking to a foreign leader as a United States senator, it's one thing to be monitoring the person I'm talking to for intelligence gathering, it's another thing to listen to my conversation. There's a separation of powers issue here. As a member of the legislative branch of government, I don't want the executive branch of government collecting my conversations even if they're incidental because I don't want them to know what I'm talking about. This is really scary to me. I understand incidental collection is part of the process, but when you have government officials like myself, the Trump team, I think you should cut the machine off."
After Trump used Twitter to raise the issue and point a finger at Rice, she went on TV to deny any wrongdoing in "unmasking" the name of those listened to. She said, "I leaked nothing, to nobody, and never have and never would."
Why Does the West Keep Colluding with Terrorists?
Only a fortnight after a vehicular terrorist attack in Westminster, London, another similar attack took place in Stockholm, Sweden. On one of the city's main shopping streets, a vehicle was once again used as a battering-ram against the bodies of members of the public. As in Nice, France. As in Berlin. As so many times in Israel.
Amid this regular news there is an air of defeatism -- a terrible lack of policy and lack of solutions. How can governments stop people driving trucks into pedestrians? Is it something we must simply get used to, as France's former Prime Minister Manuel Valls and London's Mayor Sadiq Khan have both suggested? Must we come to recognise acts of terror as something like the weather? Or is there anything we can do to limit, if not stop, them? If so, where would we start? One place would be to have a frank public discussion about these matters. Yet, even that is easier said than done.
There is a terrible symmetry to this past week in the West. The week began with the news that the Somali-born author and human-rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali had been forced to cancel a speaking tour in Australia. "Security concerns" were among the given reasons. A notable aspect of this issue, which has been made public, is that one of the venues at which Hirsi Ali was due to speak was contacted last month by something calling itself "'The Council for the Prevention of Islamophobia Incorporated". Nobody appears to know where this "incorporated" organisation comes from, but its purported founder -- Syed Murtaza Hussain -- claimed that the group would bring 5000 protestors to the hall at which Hirsi Ali was scheduled to talk. This threat is reminiscent of the occasion in 2009 when the British peer, Lord Ahmed, threatened to mobilise 10,000 British Muslims to protest at the Houses of Parliament in Westminster if the Dutch politician Geert Wilders were allowed to speak. On that occasion -- as on this one -- the event was cancelled. Promises to mobilise thousands of angry Muslims can have such an effect. But the long-term implications often get lost in the short-term outrage.
Other attacks on Hirsi Ali began, in fact, weeks before her now-cancelled tour had been due to start. On the web, for instance, a widely-watched video was disseminated showing a group of headscarf-covered Australian Muslim women. All were attacking Hirsi Ali and protesting her appearance in the country. Addressing her directly, they complained that, "Your narrative doesn't support our struggles. It erases them."
Like other criticisms of Hirsi Ali, the effort was to portray her as the problem itself rather than the response to a problem. Once again, mixing up (deliberately or otherwise) the arsonist and the firefighter, such groups present a homogenous, agreed-upon opinion -- or "narrative" -- as the only necessary answer to any problems that may or may not exist. Hirsi Ali, according to them, thinks the "wrong" things and says the wrong things. Therefore she must be stopped.
That this type of campaign can succeed -- that speakers can be stopped from speaking in Western democracies because of the implicit or explicit threat of violence -- is a problem our societies need to face. But in the meantime, we also have to face the reality that a shut-down of opinion has on our public policy as well as our public discourse.
What, after all, is the acceptable discourse -- or "narrative" -- on which we can agree to speak about the attacks in Stockholm, Berlin, Nice and elsewhere? Can the discussion be allowed to include the Islamic portion? Can anyone be allowed to say that the attackers act in the name of Islam, or must we continue to present all jihadist terrorists as people suffering from any affliction apart from that one?
In the middle of the week, at a memorial service in Westminster Abbey, the Very Reverend John Hall, Dean of Westminster, said that the UK was "bewildered" after the terrorist attacks of a fortnight earlier. He went on in his sermon to ask:
"What could possibly motivate a man to hire a car and take it from Birmingham to Brighton to London, and then drive it fast at people he had never met, couldn't possibly know, against whom he had no personal grudge, no reason to hate them and then run at the gates of the Palace of Westminster to cause another death? It seems likely that we shall never know."If it is true that our societies are "bewildered", as the Dean says, might it be because we have not heard a wide-enough range of possible explanations for such outrages -- because we have deliberately cut ourselves off, by choice,- from the warnings of ex-Muslims such as Hirsi Ali? Amid the "narratives" that are acceptable and to be tolerated, perhaps we have failed to listen to the explanations that outline the sheer scale of the religious and societal problem now in front of us?
Of course, for many Muslims, such as those critics of Hirsi Ali in Australia, there is a clear reason why they want to stop her speaking. Were people to hear her, they would realise the vast enormity of the challenge ahead of us and the depth and breadth of its nature. Her audiences would discover the defensive play around the world in which many Muslim organisations are engaged -- a campaign to limit speech precisely in order to protect their own interpretation of their religion and keep out any other.
It is, however, the dissenting, silenced voices such as Hirsi Ali's that are precisely the voices the world needs to hear at present. How tragic that a week that began with a silencing, should end with yet another all-too-predictable terrorist attack -- one which Sweden will do as much to fail at comprehending as Britain did two weeks before her.
Hearing from voices such as that of Hirsi Ali could lift the fog of our "bewilderment" and explain, for instance, what does motivate some people to drive a car or truck into crowds of people going about their lives. There is a whole pile of reasons why Islamists want to stop her explanations from being aired. But why -- when the attacks keep on happening -- do our own societies collude with such sinister people to keep ourselves in the dark?
Douglas Murray, British author, commentator and public affairs analyst, is based in London, England.